Another Social Media Thing

I’ve been using Scoop.it for awhile. This is my second account. I used to have more topics, but when I started my second account (again, not keeping two accounts), there were even more limits on free accounts. Now it isn’t even working that well. At this point I’m probably doing more for their traffic than they do for mine. Not that I’m getting huge traffic and not that they particularly gear the site for sexual or adult topics either. Is it worth keeping?

I do like having a place to post links, beyond this site where I can’t just post the link and leave it. I like posting links for people to find and read more if they have an interest. But, if it’s on my site I have to add some kind of commentary, grab an image (usually) and add the link to the source. One of the things I like about using Scoop.it is the software which does that for me.

Also, I like using the search to see what else is suggested for my topic. I can’t find something like that which I can run myself, self-hosted especially. I would prefer not to use a web service, they can disappear or change without notice or approval.

So, staying with Scoop.it in particular is becoming less ideal for me. I could get a business (premium) account but… that makes so little practical sense considering my budget of zilch.

One other feature of Scoop.it is auto posting to social media. I’ve never been a complete fan of that. But, I don’t mind it so much since it only posts once and I forget to do it myself.

I will watch for an alternative but, I wonder if life would be simpler without it. Do I use it mainly for myself and the idea of generating traffic or do I really like sharing links this way? Would it be just as simple to create a feed of links in my own sidebar here and auto share posts with a plugin? I would miss the suggested content but, the reason I started writing this was the break down in that feature. It used to be much better. Possibly, they (Scoop.it) has limited that more than before as well. Tonight, it was especially not useful, and hasn’t been for several weeks.

So… more choices and more changes.

Documenting the Decline of the Bingo Hall

Documenting the Decline of the Bingo Hall
From thriving social clubs to piles of rubble.

abandoned bingo
(Image credit: Forsaken Fotos via Flickr)

The rough-hewn simplicity and rustic charm of traditional land-based bingo halls have captivated the imagination of thousands of people throughout the decades. Indeed, brick-and-mortar bingo halls are teeming with vibrant characters and interesting personalities that bring life to a time-honored establishment. So it’s not too surprising to learn that a few talented photographers have devoted their time and energies to document the humanity inside these old-school bingo halls. Washington resident Andrew Miksys was exposed to bingo at an early age. His father published the daily Bingo Today newspaper, which Miksys then delivered to bingo halls and convenience stores across Seattle. Miksys eventually toured America’s bingo halls to present a respectful look into the communal spirit that’s part of a bingo hall’s character.

There’s even more proof that the time-honored game is a veritable treasure trove of expressive portraits. German photographer Michael Hess is a structural engineer by training and a self-taught photographer by choice. Currently residing in London, Hess lived near a bingo hall in Southampton in 2005 and always wondered what happened inside. One fateful game in that same bingo hall was all it took to motivate Hess to travel to almost 70 bingo halls in the UK for the next four years. The result was Bingo and Social Club, a good-natured and graciously rare peek into the enigmatic society of bingo halls.

However, bingo halls are believed to be not long for this world, with many different bingo halls now closing all over the world. The classic game has found its new home online, where various companies have begun to launch online bingo portals which are much more convenient and easy to play. The Virtue Fusion software that runs the games on Betfair Bingo also allow for a variety of themed games to be held simultaneously, and land-based bingo halls just cannot keep up. As such, many bingo halls have shut down, their doors closing as though to keep their memories nestled within.

While they’re no longer visited by the average bingo player, these abandoned bingo halls have made for some truly evocative images, inspiring wayward photographers with the stories they seem to tell. Web Urbanist has even come out with a collection of haunting photographs of abandoned bingo halls called “Punched Cards”. The selection of photos has everything from dilapidated signage to the remains of old bingo cards and the remains of old structures that have now been reduced to rubble, and they make one think about all the history and memories that have been made in these places. Where people once crowded and fought to shout, “BINGO!”, there lies nothing but shambles and old signs. But often, these are exactly what the urban photographer is looking for.

Open Source Embroidery

Open Source Embroidery

Embroidery is constructed (mostly by women) in hundreds of tiny stitches which are visible on the front of the fabric. The system of the stitches is revealed on the back of the material. Some embroiderers seal the back of the fabric, preventing others from seeing the underlying structure of the pattern. Others leave the back open for those who want to take a peek. A few integrate the backend process into the front of the fabric. The patterns are shared amongst friends in knitting and embroidery ‘ciricles’.

Software is constructed (mostly by men) in hundreds of tiny pieces of code, which form the hidden structure of the programme or interface. Open Source software allows you to look at the back of the fabric, and understand the structure of your software, modify it and distribute it. The code is shared amongst friends through online networks. However the stitches or code only make sense to those who are familiar with the language or patterns.

The same arguments about Open Source vs Free Software can be applied to embriodery. The needlework crafts also have to negotiate the principles of ‘freedom’ to create, modify and distribute, within the cultural and economic constraints of capitalism. The Open Source Embroidery project simply attempts to provide a social and practical way of discussing the issues and trying out the practice. Free Software, Open Source, amatuer and professional embrioderers and programmers are welcome to contribute to the project.

Open Source Embroidery pays homage to Ada Lovelace (1816-52) who helped to develop the Analytical Engine, the first idea for a universal computer, with Charles Babbage. Lovelace wrote “we may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jaquard Loom weaves flowers and leaves.” (Gere, 2002, p24). The Jaquard Loom (1810) was the first machine to use punched-card programming.

The above is the introduction cut and pasted from the site. It was information which I wanted to have to read over again so I decided to post it all here with the link.

I wonder if anyone is doing something like this with machine knitting?

Does anyone know about Cory Doctorow?

The first piece of writing I put into this I was told I write like Stephen King. But it was a short bit I wrote as a writing prompt and an odd style. An off style for me. My second try at it came back:

I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

I’ve heard the name Cory Doctorow but don’t know a thing about him or his writing.

Using eBooks for Erotica

E-Book ‘Em, Danno!
By Adrian Hunter

Reports of the demise of the e-book are greatly…accurate.

Two years ago, publishers watched in horror as horror fans download 400,000 copies of a digitized Stephen King short story. They figured they were about to get Napstered (in which customers abandon traditional atom-based entertainment products like compact disks for fast, free online bytes) after barely recovering from being Amazoned (in which customers abandon traditional atom-based retail outlets for online stores). They were both nervous and giddy over the prospect of getting rid of the printing process while maintaining a pricing structure that values new hardcover books just south of tickets to The Producers.

They were wrong.

Electronic versions of popular culture are a tricky beast to tame. Playback is the key; it’s easy to turn a computer into a decent stereo, but nobody reads TV, which is how e-books work today, given the paucity of dedicated devices that work as well as paper for the display of rows of tiny type in a form factor that fits in your pocket.

And it turned out that the market for literature not worthy of immortalizing on dead trees was about the same size as the market for proprietary content on the Internet in general (i.e., nonexistent), which led to the demise of dozens of companies like MightyWords that specialized in selling electronic text.

In other words, the professionals say that e-books are just another dot-coma sob story…shut down the web site, cue the pallbearers and sell the Aeron chairs on eBay.

They were wrong, too.

E-books are going to be a huge success in specific categories where paper is actually a liability. Let’s see, what kind of reading material do people not want lying around their coffee tables? Three guesses, starts with a “p”…

Pornography is the perfect field for e-books, especially in categories that appeal to niche audiences like my chosen specialty, bdsm. Before the Internet, commercially-available bondage novels were limited to The Story of O, Anne Rice’s genre experiments, John Norman’s Gor series and seedy F.E. Campbell potboilers sold exclusively in adult bookstores. Dog-eared photocopies of treasured tomes were surreptitiously traded by aficionados, which presumed the reader was brave enough to join the local knitting circle in the first place.

Distribution options increased exponentially with the advent of Amazon and other online storefronts that provided a much higher level of privacy for people who wanted to read quality fictionalized accounts of their favorite obsession. New imprints quickly filled the void with dozens of distressed-damsel titles that could be shipped in ye olde plain brown envelope.

Today, you can’t swing a bullwhip without cracking it against some great bdsm porn. But just because it’s easier to read bondage books doesn’t mean it’s easier to get them published. Either we sell our 100,000 carefully-crafted words for fractions of a penny to traditional bookmakers who handle printing and distribution, or we give them away for free on the Internet.

Enter the lowly e-book, and its digital cousin, print-on-demand (POD) services. Instead of playing “pitch ‘n pray,” writers can sell their stories as e-books directly to an audience that’s often willing to put up with the inconvenience of reading text on a PC monitor in exchange for the cloaking capability.

Of course, this isn’t exactly easy. First, you have to have an audience, which implies you’re pretty good, and you’ve published a few pieces to prove it. In this case, posting stories on newsgroups or web sites absolutely counts. The goal is to develop brand awareness in which your byline is equated with “erotica worth paying for.” Besides, if readers don’t like your tail tales when you give them away, what makes you think a publisher is going to pay for the privilege of trying to sell them? Giving away samples helps seed the search engines, too.

Second, you have to put together an e-commerce operation in which you convert your masterpiece into an appropriate format like Adobe Acrobat and program the software to collect the fees and deliver the goods. It’s not rocket science, but it’s definitely fiddling with liquid hydrogen. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll have to hire someone who does, or (insert vicious circle) work with an established purveyor of similar works who will naturally exact a significant percentage of your profits for their services.

Third, you have to actually sell your e-books. Perversely paradoxical as it sounds, the best marketing ploy is to make the electronic version available as traditional paper-based one, hence the earlier POD reference.

By self-publishing your pornographic novel through a 21st-century vanity press such as Xlibris.com or ImprintBooks.com, you tell the reader that the e-book they’re buying is a “real” book and not some shady “paid content” drill (the difference between The Wall Street Journal and Salon). A paper-based book also establishes a higher price ceiling, so the $7.99 you charge for the e-book looks like a heck of a deal compared to $21.99 for the trade paperback.

The real paradox is, you’ll probably sell one “real” book for every 20 e-books, which is just dandy since the per-copy net is higher for the enhanced-electricity version versus the inky tome.

There are upfront costs involved. You will have to pay the POD publisher (a minimum of $100) and the credit card processor (up to 20 percent of each transaction). But you can cut corners by using an advertiser-supported web host such as Yahoo! Geocities and subscribing to Adobe’s Acrobat conversion application for $9 a month instead of buying the software for $250.

Yes, it can be a hassle when readers have problems downloading files (hint: immediately send them the e-book via an email attachment…to be successful on the Internet, you can’t afford any unhappy customers). But the benefits of controlling your own destiny and reaping most of the profits definitely outweigh the downside of becoming intimate with CGI scripts.

Hey, your DIY labors might even catch the eye of an established publisher. Since you didn’t sell the rights to your book to anyone else, you’re free to sign on the dotted line.

Under any circumstances, selling your own e-books sure beats beating the bushes and/or begging. Then again, bondage authors are experts at those particular sports, not to mention related perverse paradoxes like pleasurable pain. Like we say on Usenet, YMMV (your mileage may vary), but at least you’re the one who’s driving.

***

Adrian Hunter began posting his fiction on the Internet in 1993. Four years later, he compiled his stories on a web site, AdrianHunter.com, which has attracted more than a million visitors. In 2000, he was the recipient of the “Best Bondage Writer” award from SIGNY. He has published two anthologies of his short stories, Crash Your Party Dress and Something Just Clicked, as well as a full-length novel, Once Bitten, with co-author Chelsea Shepard. For more information, please visit http://www.adrianhunter.com, or write to him at admin@adrianhunter.com.

Serif Free Software

Free versions of Serif software, includes WebPlus and DrawPlus for creating sites and making your own graphics. I found this a few years ago and never did do much to try them out. Now they are updated and still have free versions, which was nice to find. Or, you can pay and get a few more features. Or, go to the main site and get the latest versions of the same software. Pretty reasonable, even for the newest versions, when compares to DreamWeaver which is up to $500 now versus the $100 it was when I first got ahold of what is now an older version, before Adobe added it’s name to the whole thing.

Vector Drawing Tips Link

Vector Drawing Tips – I need to start figuring out how to use the graphic software I have had for years. Kind of typical of me that I am looking at the latest version of Paint Shop Pro, now part of Corel instead of Jasc, yet I have not done more than use it for a screen capture a couple of times. I really need to get to work on it rather than just upgrade the software. Why do I so often do this sort of thing? I have a stack of books about CSS and HTML and web design in general yet I have only read one of them and not even totally finished that one.

Blogger Backup

Found something new for backing up Blogger blogs: Blogger Backup. Will be giving it a try with Word Grrls later today/ tonight. The real challenge will be this blog which has far more content. A heavy duty job for any blog backup software.

I did use Getleft before and it seemed to work well, on this blog. I have not done it in awhile and never had an urgent need to test it. So far. Kind of good to know there is a backup plan though.

Comic Press for WordPress Comic Publishers

Comic Press – is a theme to be used with the WordPress blogging software for publishing a comic to the Web. ComicPress can be downloaded for free. ComicPress is developed and maintained by Tyler Martin, who originally created it for publishing his own comic, Wally & Osborne. Unlike other WordPress themes that are designed to be your final layout, ComicPress has a basic and clean layout that looks good as is, or is easy enough for you to build on. With just a couple images and a few color code changes in the Stylesheet you can have your own custom comic Website in no time. Check out what some people are doing with ComicPress in our featured section.

You’ve Been Vista-ed!

Old games never die they just need old operating systems. It’s frustrating to have all these games which I really enjoy (especially when Zack, my nephew, is visiting, as he is for a couple of weeks) but not be able to get most of them working on the new computer running Vista. Carmageddon, my favourite, runs but without the sound. It is still fun but kind of bland to play it silently. Most of the others will not even load up at all.

New games are expensive. Not all the games I like have new versions. Like Carmageddon they stopped development on them and even though there is talk about a new Carmageddon I’ve yet to see anything new in the store.

Why can’t they make an operating system (a Windows in my case) that works with the old games? Why do they intentionally eliminate old software and force us to buy new software? I wish they would cut that out!