Al Gore: Inventing the Net, Now Inventing the Book

April 28th, 2011 Kathleen O'Reilly Posted in Reading Matters, Techie Things Comments Off

If it wasn’t Apple-bies behind this, I would scoff at the concept of a tool to turn a book into an app.  And there is the whole “Al Gore” thing, but still…

Intriguing.

I watched the video, and I kept picturing Al Gore saying “Lock Box”.

As a reader, I’m not that fascinated by the idea of a more interactive book, my imagination has always been better than almost anything I’ve seen on a screen.  But as an author, I do like the idea of embedded author notes, videos, character notes, maps, or Easter Eggs…

 

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Kindle Changes the E-Game

August 4th, 2010 Kathleen O'Reilly Posted in Kindle, Reading Matters, Techie Things Comments Off

WSJ has a really good article on the upcoming Kindle and Amazon’s ereader strategy.  To be fair, I have a Kindle, I love it, nearly as much as my children, sometimes more.  People (publishers and a good chunk of authors) are not happy with the Amazon cut-throat pricing strategy (reminescent of Wal-Mart in its earlier years), but looking objectively, I think the world has gone very dog-eat-dog (or book-eat-book) and I don’t fault them for it (and I do LOVE $9.99 hardbacks that I would never read before).

This is my favorite quote from the article:

“For the vast majority of books, adding video and animation is not going
to be helpful. It is distracting rather than enhancing. You are not
going to improve Hemingway by adding video snippets,” he said.

At the RWA, there was a lot of mainstreaming of digital books, digital rights, e-readers.  The first time that I’ve ever noticed the the Publishing Powers That Be have openly embraced the idea with not only excitement, but legitimacy as well.

A $139 Kindle sold at Target is a game-changer.  I will most likely buy one for both of my kids.  My daughter is a selective Luddite (with two computers, an ipod, and an iHome).  She eschews the idea of reading a ‘book’ (picture hoity voice) on a device.  Of course, she can heft a 50 pound Harry Potter volume with ease.  I, now in my dwindling arm muscle years, have aches to accompany JK Rowling.  My son (who is no Luddite and LOVES tech), loves to read on the Kindle and loves the idea of instant book gratification.  I have friends who are voracious readers, who will now probably take the dip.  In my expert opinion, Amazon is going to sell a hella-lot.

There are a lot of what I deem ‘not-hardcore’ readers who poo-poo the Kindle.  It doesn’t have color.  It doesn’t play TV shows.  What if I want to browse the web?  If this is you, do not buy the Kindle, because you are not a hardcore reader.  You do not read cereal boxes at breakfast.  Your bathroom is not accessorized with a magazine rack.  Your bedside table is not invisible beneath the pile of books.  If these symptoms apply to you, then you, too may have readeritis, a serious, but non-debilitating disease that causes a slight twitch when you are jonesing for a book.  The tingle of excitement when you hear about a story that appeals.

I think the Kindle is here to stay in some form or fashion.  I think Amazon is going to rule the ebook market, and I do believe we are in for some wild roller-coaster e-swings.

You heard it here — not exactly first — but probably two-hundred-and-twenty-two-second.

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Kindling a Little Nookie

April 8th, 2010 Kathleen O'Reilly Posted in Reading Matters, Techie Things Comments Off

Or, how the big-box retailers stopped worrying that reading wasn’t cool and learned to love the e-reader.

It isn’t a huge surprise that less than a week after Apple released the AWESOME, SPECTACULAR, HOLYMOLYTHISTHINGWILLCHANGETHEWORLD ipad, Target and Best Buy have drunk the e-Kool-Aid. Not that I’m implying that there is something *hinky* about e-reader luv. Not that I haven’t been known to lovingly caress my Kindlicious (it’s a pet name). But it is fascinating to note the timing. Seems that Best Buy is getting the Barnes & Noble Nook, and Target (who is sometimes known to strangely and mysteriously know my purchasing decisions even before myself) is selling the Kindle.

Woot! (and no, neither device can be found on woot — yet).

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For the Geeky NY’s Eve Party

December 29th, 2009 Kathleen O'Reilly Posted in Techie Things Comments Off

LED Wine Charms

I found this one via Lifehacker, but I love the idea of it, and I think it’s what we may be doing tomorrow afternoon.  Light up Wine Charms…  The actual instructions are located on the DIY  site here. If we get them done, I’ll report back (with pics).

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Focus in a Twittering World

May 22nd, 2009 Kathleen O'Reilly Posted in Newsflash, On Biz, On Writing Miseries, Reading Matters, Techie Things 12 Comments »

New York mag has a fascinating article on focus v. distraction and how it’s affecting the brain.  There’s a lot of really cool insights in the article, which is sort of a hodge-podge of anecdotes (Malcolm Gladwellian style).  A few tidbits:

Only in the last ten years—thanks to neuroscientists and their functional MRIs—have we been able to watch the attending human brain in action, with its coordinated storms of neural firing, rapid blood surges, and oxygen flows. This has yielded all kinds of fascinating insights—for instance, that when forced to multitask, the overloaded brain shifts its processing from the hippocampus (responsible for memory) to the striatum (responsible for rote tasks), making it hard to learn a task or even recall what you’ve been doing once you’re done.

And this little bit:

The only time multitasking does work efficiently, Meyer says, is when multiple simple tasks operate on entirely separate channels—for example, folding laundry (a visual-manual task) while listening to a stock report (a verbal task). But real-world scenarios that fit those specifications are very rare.

I knew that!!!  Laundry days at the O’Reilly household are planned around TV watching nights.  The scenario plays out where Laundress O’Reilly dumps all clothes on the couch, in which laundry-drone O’Reilly members must actually fold in order to — get this, it’s the really strategic one — find a place to sit on the couch in order to watch TV.

Anyway, I wanted to share.  Wired had an article on the future of reading in this month’s issue (I’m not sure there’s a link to this, the website seems to link to last month’s issue, not the current) , and they also had an interview with Guillermo del Toro on moviemaking, and the common link on both with the desire to make the creation/experience of movies and books more of a collective experience.  This makes a lot of sense to me because when a person *owns* something, the emotional response is higher than if they have no ownership investment in the process.  I remember a writer friend talking about Diana Gabaldon posting pieces of what would become Outlander on the web and get comments and criticism.  I sometimes wonder how much that little piece of the process affected the outcome of Outlander.

I’m not sure how a collective book could be written or reviewed.  As a writer, I know what paths work best for a story, which paths I’m most invested in, and I’m not sure if Readers Group chose Plot Pathway B as the route to proceed along, that I would care as much about *my story*.

Anyway, I’m mulling it over, and if anybody has any ideas about how the collective could work, I’d love to discuss.  I think it will be some sort of the future, but I’m not sure how to get there…

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My Brain on Wires

March 4th, 2009 Kathleen O'Reilly Posted in On Writing Miseries, Techie Things Comments Off

So, yesterday Wired had an article on TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation.  TMS, a device that looks much like a better mousetrap (at least to my untutored eyes) uses a weak current to charge up brain cells in the cortex.  The device can cause physical movements, create ‘savant-like skills’, increase a person’s tolerance for risk, treat depression, and schizophrenia.  So, basically, a whole lot of brain-junk.  Anyway, the article is neuro-geek, but one sentence jumped out at me:

Boyden theorizes that TMS could someday be a “prosthetic for creativity,” based on its ability to increase concentration and risk-taking. That is, if people can get past how strange the whole thing seems.

Immediately, I jump back (no TMS necessary) and visualize Kathleen writing with a wired cap on her head, fingers flying across the keys in a Pavlovian manner, characters leaping to life, sublime metaphors crackling through the synapses.  The muse.  The elusive muse.  It was not a piece of our soul; all along it was a mere cattle-prod to the brain. 

Apparently MIT has an open-source, do-it-yourself TMS project so that kids, you too can shock your own brain.

I’m tempted.  Tres tempted.

Today’s goal: 3000 words, no TMS allowed.

 

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Kindle Me This….

January 30th, 2009 Kathleen O'Reilly Posted in Reading Matters, Techie Things 4 Comments »

There are a lot of rumors about the Kindle 2.0 version that will be coming out (possibly) on February 9th.   And I thought I’d write about how my reading and book-buying habits have changed because of the Kindle.

  1. I’m more invested in a series, or an author’s backlist when I finish a book.  On the Kindle, I’m currently reading the In Death books by JD Robb, starting with #1, and currently #3.   Prior to this, I read to Death #7 (or thereabouts) and quit because I was getting too far behind.  On the Kindle, I can finish one book and immediately Kindle the next, and start reading.  It makes glomming much easier.  I did this with Jodi Picoult, and Tess Mallory as well.
  2. My reading habits are more diverse.  Due to the $9.99 pricepoint on NY Times bestsellers, I’m more prone to pick up a Kindle version that I would have never bought in the store.  I have now read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, Hot, Flat, and Crowded by Thomas Friedman, and The Last Patriot by Brad Thor.  Also, in trade fiction, I’ve gotten some books that I would have never either libraried or bought:  The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (loved it!)
  3. I don’t buy anything over $9.99.  There’s too many choices available within my price point to have to go over.
  4. Most of the books that I purchase are either less than retail or equivalent to retail, with most being less.  I believe that I paid $9.99 for Water for Elephants, and I might have paid $9.99 for the Guernsey and the Knitting Club, but I’m not sure.  Note to self, actually pay attention to retail vs. ebook next time that I can blog more intelligently.

I am curious about the features in Kindle 2.0, and a rumored $300 price tag.   My DH is anxious to get a Kindle, although his usage is for more educational and non-fiction types of reading.    I have heard of nothing in 2.0 that would make me want to upgrade, but I will be watching….

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A matter of cliched distinction

January 21st, 2009 Kathleen O'Reilly Posted in On Writing Miseries, Techie Things 3 Comments »

I snickered in a empathetic way on this one….  Ken Follett busted by the Kindle for his well-trodden cliche, “his heart in his mouth.”  Now, that wouldn’t be the words in my mouth, but as a writer who has been around the block a time or two, I find/replace as often as the day is long — but not nearly as much as I shoulda, woulda, coulda.  Sadly, time passes much too quickly when the deadline approaches ….

 

 

 

 

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Oh, the taxing times are these…

March 27th, 2008 admin0 Posted in On Writing Miseries, Techie Things 2 Comments »

 

I’m sitting here, miserably doing my taxes (thank God for Turbo-tax), and searching desperately for a procrastination tool, so I decided to blog about the experience.  I love Turbo-Tax.  My favorite part is watching the box in the corner that tells you what you owe, or what your rebate will be as you walk through the software.  It’s always fun to see it go from red (start writing the check now, and imagine the Mac and cheese the family will live on for the next four months) to green (do you think we could get a new car?).  For me, tax time is like running the slots.  I never know what will come out.  Sometimes it’s three cherries (ka-ching!), and sometimes, it’s two bells and a star (write the painful check, and try not to think of how many starving children in Africa could be fed with your tax dollars, because God knows our legislators are using the funds to study feral hogs in Missouri — that is actually not a joke, I wish it were).

As a side note, I did not consider the ramifications of Sex, Straight Up (with an accountant hero) coming out during tax month, but others have commented on it, and then I realized that the trilogy (hot, Irish-American guys) starts out in March (during St. Patrick’s Day), and you know, those Harlequin people are smart cookies.   Funny how sometimes these things happen…. serendipity.

But back to the deathly dullness of taxes.  First of all, you should all know that I am an organizer.  I have a folder for each year that contains all tax things ever for that year.  Last year, I got the bright idea of adding sub-folders for various categories (postage, books, etc), but that really never went over well.  So, I suppose I am a quasi-organizer.  I try and divvy up receipts by categories, by where do you put the chocolate that you bought for the bookseller luncheon centerpiece?  Or, for instance, is the IRS going to frown if I deduct the entire 2007 Nora Roberts collection for “research purposes”?  And then I’m faced with the question on the depreciation of my printer.  “Can you prove that this printer was used more than 50% for business purposes?”  So, I’m wondering, okay, if I come to the IRS office with a stack of my books that were written in the necessary year, can we add up pages, figuring 2 drafts for some books, (3 drafts for the more *eh* troublesome books)?  Which got me thinking, what if I wrote stuff with ‘toys’?  Are some toys deductible under the heading of research?  I mean, how are you going to describe some of these suckers (and I use that word literally, not just metaphorically), if you don’t know what they do?  So, the whole idea of deductions is a quandry to me.

So, here’s my strategic tact (which I don’t recommend to anyone): I try and hold back receipts, so in case of an audit, I can whip out the unused receipts from that year and say, “Oh, maybe you can’t use those, but let’s use these instead!”   The old bait-and-switch.    I have yet to be audited since I’ve been a writer, so I don’t know if this will work.  If I do get audited, I’ll report back.

I did get audited when I was 18  –I had worked as a waitress for a restaurant that got audited.  I don’t remember much about the experience, but I had no receipts, I had no documentation, I meekly wrote my check out to the IRS, and slunk away, embarassed.  Since that time, I have changed to a defensive, rather than offensive strategy.  An audit will do that to you.

And another note, for all you writers that get 1099 from your agency’s….  So, you know how your agency receives a check from the publisher, takes their cut, and then writes you another check?  Well, guess what?  They don’t report your income to the IRS as the amount of those checks they cut you.  Oh, no, that would be too clever by far.  Instead, they report your income as the amount the publisher sends THEM in your name.  And you are expected to remember that you have to DEDUCT the agency commissions as a separate expense item on your Schedule C.  I did not know this, but then I received a letter from the IRS telling me that I had reported my 2006 income as XX, while my agency reported my 2006 income as XX++.  At first, being naieve, I thought my agency had made a tax paus.  But no, they did it correctly.  I even called the IRS and asked which should I report as income, my actual monies received, or the amount the agency received in my name before they took the cut.  The little man I talked to said I should report actual monies received.  HA!  Little does the little man at the IRS know.  Anyway, I wrote a very polite letter to the IRS explaining my innocence and my ignorance, and how it actually doesn’t affect the bottom line of tax owed.  Hopefully the IRS can forgive and forget, but we shall see. 

I suppose I have procrastinated long enough.  Those million little receipts are whispering my name. 

Must….return…to…taxes….

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Adding a wiki

March 23rd, 2007 admin0 Posted in On Writing Miseries, Techie Things Comments Off

Okay, I turned in my proposal today, so I’ve been tinkering….  I started a wiki that I’m hoping to use in place of my articles page someday….  So, ta-da!

Kathleen’s Wiki

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