Friday, March 27, 2015

Rosetta of Gliese - Now an AudioBook

I have been helping some voice actors editing and preparing their files for various publishers, and finally got around to doing the same for my own book - Rosetta of Gliese. So if you prefer to listen to your books rather than read them, you can now do so. I gather that there are special deals if you're just now signing up for Audible, and that you can pick this as your free book. Just in case that matters to you :-)

It should also show up shortly on Amazon (where the Kindle and Paperback version are as well) and in iTunes (just the audio version).

If you've ever wondered what my voice sounds like, here's a way to find out...

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Fool me three times? You must be Amazon

It seems that some of the frustration I was experiencing with Amazon's shipping and customer service toward the end of last year has just gotten worse as I have had several late, and now three totally missing shipments in the last month.

On the last one, yesterday, I finally asked them not to ship a replacement or give me a refund as it just seems so pointless. Either way I don't have what I ordered, I don't have it when they "guaranteed" it would be delivered, and you have to go through several levels of customer service to get to anyone who isn't just using a canned response. Which is easy to identify when you are having to deal with them this often.

As I pointed out to them, I notice that of all the issues I've had most of the lost items have been through USPS (i.e. the Postal Service) and the late deliveries have been through UPS. Which leads me to suspect that FedEx is charging more (hence the reason Amazon doesn't select them as often) for a better service.

Sadly, I remember back to when I first started using Amazon and would get a gift each year as a thank you for being a customer. I guess it's time to find some other place where they aren't so busy adding new services and instead can concentrate on actually doing what you are paying them for and doing it exceptionally well. When I start having to order from WalMart because Amazon isn't reliable enough, I think that speaks to a failure on Amazon's part pretty loudly.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Why I wish Firewire had caught fire - USB Bus saturation

Many moons ago, I tried to make sure that any external drives I got used Firewire either as their primary interface, or as an interface option. When I last replaced drives about two years ago, that became next to impossible, and so now I go with USB 3.

The problem with using USB 3 is that you are sharing a bus among all the devices. There is plenty of headroom for your network adapter, wireless keyboard and mouse, and an external drive to all coexist happily. The problem comes in when you need a bit more.

Today started out with me opening two new Tripp Lite Two-Bay RAID devices. Was very impressed with the toolless tray setup, and soon they each were configured with two 6TB drives each in a RAID-0 configuration. I attached the first drive, and watched Windows freeze for about 15 seconds as the drive was announcing itself to the Disk Configuration utility. But then everything was back to ok, and I soon had started up a copy of all the files from my older array to the new one. Windows estimated a time of about 6 hours - not bad.

I then started getting ready to add the other drive, and noticed that my mouse was all wonky, and keyboard input was hit and miss. It took me twenty minutes of stubbornness to get everything setup (a lot of right clicking rather than trying to double-clicked helped), and as the copy to the second drive started, the estimate for the first drive changed to 13 hours, and the second one showed 14 hours.

With both going it is next to impossible to do anything else on the machine. This is a core i7 with 9 gigs of RAM and a GTX 770 video card - a pretty decent machine - and yet when the USB bus gets busy you'd be almost as well off with a core i3.

Of course Firewire was more expensive because you aren't sharing a channel, and so more chips and wire meant a lot more expense even though most folks don't do this sort of thing very often. Still, the price premium you would have to pay for a Firewire card (since many motherboards no longer have native support) and a Firewire enclosure makes it even less likely that an occasional user could justify the expense.

Still, it is kind of sad to think of all that horsepower being blocked by this one narrow bus...

For your consideration.

Coleman 1080p Video Glasses - Example and some thoughts

Have been doing the occasional flight with my Parrot Bebop, and it has been interesting to see how well it is able to stabilize video through software. Borrowed a GoPro and did not have quite as much success, and then ran into a site talking about various video glasses.

Ended up with a pair of Coleman 1080p glasses. Chose that over the other models mainly because the lenses are designed to be removable - so I can use clear for indoors and polarized for outside.

Below is a lightly edited video - basically just stabilization - that came from the glasses.


As you can see, this isn't half bad for something that you wear on your head. Detail is decent, and stabilization produces a watchable (if not award winning) product.

My main reason for doing this is wanting to record some video of hikes along the Riverwalk, and hopefully at Rocky Mountain National Park later this summer. In addition to the national park restrictions on drones, the flight time of only about 11 minutes makes that an impractical solution. I had looked at getting a GoPro and a Feiyu electronic stabilizer, but you are looking at over $1K for something that I would use only occasionally.

Glasses and a 32 gig Micro SD card were under $200. I won't try to argue that the video is as good, but it's not that bad, and the money saved will make it easier to afford a backup charger or two to allow me to shoot a complete hike.

Just in case you're looking for something like this yourself...

Monday, February 09, 2015

Preparing for our AI Overlords

If you somehow haven't already read "Wait But What's" discussion of the future of AI and what that says about OUR future, you should probably take a few minutes to check it out now. Make sure to read the second part as well. Kind of puts it all in perspective.