Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tribute to Shep, My Favorite Dog Ever

Shep and Jason Matthews in Reno Nevada
Shep, my German Shepherd Doberman mix and best friend
It's been just over 5 years since Shep passed away. I was thinking of him today, which is pretty normal.
It doesn't surprise me how many kids like the free bedtime story at Amazon about him. He was and still is a winner.
Shep was an unwanted puppy that lived in my neighborhood. His owners weren't married, just dating, and decided to rescue him from the pound as a "thing to do." He was about 8 weeks old when they got him. Over the next several months he spent most of his time outdoors in the deep snow of Squaw Valley during the huge winter of '94-'95. How a puppy spent that much time in the snow is beyond me--good thing he had a thick coat.
As his owners grew apart, Shep may have sensed his need for a new home. When he was 9 months old I got a call from a friend asking me to take him. At first I refused, saying I hadn't gotten over the death of my previous dog, another puppy who had been hit and killed by a car right in front of me.

Shep the dog in snow at Alpine Meadows
Shep in deep snow at Alpine Meadows
Finally I gave in and went to his owner's apartment to pick him up. To my surprise, Shep jumped right into my truck and drove off with me. Later he plopped down on my bed a crashed asleep.
He never once looked back to his old home, and for the next 10 years he became my very best friend.

If you're thinking about getting a dog, I recommend rescuing one who needs it. They might just rescue you in return.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Charleen's iPhone Picture of the Sun at Carlsbad

Amazing photo of sun and lighted objects over ocean at Carlsbad California
My good friend, Charleen Buriello, took this amazing photo while walking near the beach in Carlsbad, California. She said the sun just looked different, sort of "hexagonal," and so she snapped this image with her iPhone. She also felt something, like a powerful presence about the whole situation.
Later when she looked at the photo, she noticed... it just looked incredible. The sun and the smaller well-defined white light to the right, the circular and transparent image behind that light. It all kind of gave her goose bumps in a good way.
I really love this photo and could stare at it for a long time. Plus it's a lot safer than staring at the sun.
What do you think? Other energies at play here or just some lighting effects on an iPhone?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Google Editions, Pardon Me, Google Ebooks is Here at Last!

Article first published as Google Editions, Excuse Me, Google Ebooks is Finally Here! on Technorati.

Google Ebookstore logo
Google Ebooks, not Google Editions
We expected it as announced for the summer of 2010. We also expected it to be called Google Editions. Neither of those turned out to be accurate prophesies for the highly anticipated ribbon-cutting ceremony when the world’s largest search engine would open its ebook store for business, but I guess nothing like keeping your word really matters when you’re sitting on a gazillion dollars and have a strangle-hold on the most cherished aspect of the internet.

So, fast forward from summer to the near winter of 2010 and Google Ebooks is actually here and functioning (sort of, see below). It’s good to see they abandoned the original concept of Google Editions, a term that likely would have left a few scratching heads, and went with the impossible-to-misinterpret-but rather-boring-storefront-name of Google Ebooks. Maybe they’ve finally been taking my advice on SEO tips.

A few interesting things to note:

* Google doesn’t have a dedicated reader, like Amazon’s Kindle for example.
* Google makes ebook files readable on any electronic reading device, except Amazon’s Kindle.
* Google is openly against DRM (digital rights management, an encryption code) for the intention of allowing one download to be read on several devices throughout the day. DRM was made famous and still used by, you guessed it, Amazon’s Kindle.

See a theme here? Fortunately for Amazon, it has a loyal customer base, a fine-working and inexpensive product plus a plethora of other ways to make money just in case the combination punch of Apple’s iPad and Google Ebooks eats up too much market share.

One thing that bugs me an as independent author is that Google Ebooks is not anywhere near as user-friendly a place to publish as is Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes&Noble. At those other retailers I can simply fill out the info for my ebook, upload a jpeg cover file, upload a pdf or MS Word doc, review my uploads and presto, it’s done and ready for sales.

Last night I attempted to upload some of my ebooks with Google. I tried and failed with two different methods and currently am waiting on technical support along with several other (from the help forums) independent authors. Surprisingly, Google walked me through a long-winded tutorial on how to rename your cover and content files instead of just loading them up like filling out a form. After I did so, their program had trouble recognizing my user name and password which I painstakingly made sure to type correctly about ten times. Then during an alternative approach the program would not recognize the very file names it asked me to create. And I’m a pro at this! What about all the newbies who’ve never done this before? Those User-Interface guys are mostly Stanford grads, right? You’d think they’d be smart enough to streamline a platform when they have perfectly working examples to go by.

So for now I’m happy that yet another free vendor exists to sell my ebooks, but I’ll look forward to the improvements to their system coming in the winter… maybe spring… hopefully by summer of 2011.
Home Page of author Jason Matthews.

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