Sunday, March 28, 2010

Cats and keyboards

One of the mysteries of life is why cats are drawn to lay on the keyboard as you are trying to write. As the day goes on, they take the keyboard over inch by inch. It is like the keyboard is a giant black hole attracting them with a massive energy field.

Don't believe me?

Then kindly explain how the sleeping cat on the back of the sofa suddenly rolls over and falls directly onto my keyboard.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Dumbest idea ever to stop internet pirates

Continuing onto today's theme of torrents and pirates (see my post on how my favorite torrent client got banned over on Nerd Dreams), I recently read the dumbest idea ever to deal with internet pirates.

The idea was simple, just get all the content producers to commit to quit making stuff for ten years, so the pirates have nothing to steal. Brilliant, isn't it?

I just see a few problems with this plan. First off, some content producers' sole source of income flow comes from producing new content. I do not think that you are going to be able to convince them to go along with this plan.

Second off, some content producers are making way more than they are losing to piracy. Do you honestly think that you can convince everyone in Hollywood to quit making movies, television shows, and music for ten years?

Third off, in order for this to be effective, you would have to convince every content producer to go along with this idea. This includes content producers that have not joined the field yet...hmmm, I think that they may chose to use this as an opportunity to get their stuff heard without fighting the competition---it is called a monopoly.

Fourth off, you would have to convince those content producers that are beginning to figure out how to operate in this new envirnoment. There are some content producers (think pro-bloggers) that have figured out how to make money while giving their stuff away (go ahead, give this to your friends). I so doubt that you can convince them to go along with this idea.

And because of these reasons, this is the dumbest idea on how to deal with internet pirates ever.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Badly researched mailing lists

The other day, I recieved a piece of junk mail from Sports Illustrated. I am not sure how much it costs them to send me an advertisement in the mail, but they are definitely wasting their money. This particular piece was good because it was based on market research that just doesn't apply to me.

First off, the special offer was a "Game Day Jacket of your Favorite Team!" And on the envelope they have a picture of a Denver Broncos jacket. Ok, this is based on faulty logic and research...I live in Denver, therefore I must be a Broncos fan.

I am not a Broncos fan. I might even be a Broncos hater. I had the honor of helping clean up after one of their Super Bowl win parades. I am not sure exactly where it says that if your team wins the Super Bowl, you are allowed to break the windows of businesses as you celebrate; but it must be written someplace because I ended up cleaning up a lot of broken glass that day. Because of that, I decided to cheer for whatever team that they are playing is nothing personal; I just do not want to ever have to put up with that damage to one of my businesses ever again (either as an owner or manager---come to think of it, I do not want to deal with it as an employee either).

Second off, my tastes in clothes do not lean towards wearing team jackets. Don't get me wrong; I do have some sport themed items of clothing. Outside of the stuff from the University of Colorado, most of it has either been gifted to me or brought from the bargain bin. Some of it is second hand. I am a writer, as long as it is comfortable I do not care what it looks like. (Ok, not completely true, I will not wear any Raiders gear: that stuff is simply ugly.) My wife cares what I wear...I suspect that she would consider this jacket unacceptable.

Third and most important, I am NOT a sports fan. Outside of the nightly news, I watch about ten minutes of football a year. I average about twenty minutes of hockey. I will willingly watch an entire baseball game (Go Rockies!), but only if I am there in person (games on the TV just are not the same).

So why I am getting this advertisment in the mail? Well, I think that Sports Illustrated's logic is that I am a man living in Denver, therefore I must be a sports fan. Gee, that is some really good market research, Sports Illustrated. Now, we must admit that on some level it is all they need for the most part. I am not saying that men are herd animals...oh wait, maybe I am...but Sports Illustrated has been using this same system for years, and they have yet to go bankrupt.

(Before getting married, I used to buy a single issue of Sports Illustrated every year: the swimsuit issue. Hardly worth getting an entire subscription.)

It is not just Sports Illustrated that does not know the real me. For instance, I keep getting flyers about refinancing my mortage (that would require some more income and a better credit rating) and switching auto insurance companies (I don't drive).

Of course, the prize for badly researched mailing lists actually goes to the companies that keep sending my wife clothing catalogs and book club offers. My wife does not dress up (provided that what they are offering is dressing up); the clothes are the wrong style, and the models are the wrong ethnic background (just because we live in this neighborhood does not mean that we fit in...though I am not sure how anyone thinks this neighborhood is anything other than mixed, but I digress). As for the books, my wife does not read romances and she sure is not a Republican.

So here is to the badly research mailing lists...and the fact that you must mail a million of them out in a shotgun effect to make them worthwhile.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bad week, Bad mood, Bad writing day

One of the problems with being a writer is that being in a bad mood can threw a monkey wrench in your ability to write. Today is one of those days for me.

This last week has been less than nice on the monetary end. Between being denied a line of credit, the little tiff between the state of Colorado and Amazon, and the fact one of the programs I was taking part in is now only paying in credit vouchers, it has been unpleasant from a monetary viewpoint.

It is weeks like this that make me wonder if my toxic writing friends are right, and I should have never got involved in the writing business in the first place. Then I remember that it was a bad monetary situation that made me get serious about being a professional writer.

Honestly, I would have never became serious about being a writer if I did not become unemployed. My childhood taught me that being self-employed is a good way to lose everything you own. Then again, so is being unemployed.

It is on days like this, where my mood is basically black and toxic, that I am glad that I make to-do lists. A to-do list is the only thing that is keeping me going today...that and the fact that I refuse to give my toxic writing friends the satisfaction of seeing me quit the writing business.

So what if I was denied a line of credit? Everyone is being denied credit at the moment. Both consumers and business people are straped for credit at the moment. As long as I can figure out a way to stay one step ahead of the wolves, I will be ok. Being denied a line of credit is no reflection on my state of self-worth.

So what if Amazon is going to quit doing business with their Colorado based Amazon Associates because they are upset with the new tax law that the state of Colorado passed? I did not have that big of a stake in the program to begin with. It would have been nice to have the income flow, but there are other sources to tap that I have not started using yet.

The same can be said about the program that switching to credit vouchers. I did not have that much invested in the program to begin with. Getting paid in money would have been nice; but given the fact that I was not that much into being a glorified salesman, maybe it is best that I drop doing the program anyways.

(Note that from a business and economic viewpoint, I understand the reasons for each of these decisions that came down the pike this is just that understanding the reasons does not make it any more pleasant to deal with the effects on my bottom line.)

And none of these decisions should make me rethink what I am doing overall. My plan for my business is about as sound as it was before. On one hand, there is that thought that maybe I should change my plan, or that I should be hunting for a big score; on the other hand, I know from previous experience that making a decision in the mood that I am in leads to nothing but indecision.

So I will stick to my plan...for now...until I see that it needs to be revised...and I am rational enough to see the logic is changing it. Besides that it why you create a business plan for in the first use it for guiding your decisions when you are incapable of making a decision. Or at least, that is what I use them for.

As for my black bad mood, it is starting to is hard for it to survive the light that actual writing shines into it. Besides I have deadlines to meet with actual paychecks involved. And actual income should always win over potential "might happen" income.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

First Helium article in ages

Today before my online Inner Order class, I managed to write almost an entire article for Helium. (I needed to write the final paragraph after the online class was over, but outside of grammar checking it was done.)

This is the first article I have written for Helium in nine months. I sort of gave up writing for Helium when they decided to make rating mandatory for payment. As in actually maintaining a rating star.

I had no problem rating before this policy change. Rating was something I used to do when I was looking for article ideas, or thought I should be working and did not actually feel like doing any actual writing.

I did have a problem with rating after the policy change. Basically, there are times I only have a few minutes to write, and forcing me to rate instead annoyed me. There were a couple of times I even lost my rating star...and the few pennies I had coming to me. Since the policy change, they have revised the standards toward maintaining a rating star closer to what I have time for.

Yes, I do have an article that makes it worth my time to maintain a rating star. I am not going to point it out, but there is an article that I am earning a dollar a week from. Considering that I can now maintain a rating star with just a half hour of time a month, it makes sense to do so for my entire set of articles there (which together make it worthwhile to sepnd the time to maintain the penny flow---it beats restaurant work).

It was last month during one of my sessions of rating that I ran across a set of articles that I just did not like. They were about the importance of word count and article length on Helium. And honestly, I thought that they all missed the boat. I kept hoping for an article that was actually better than the others---alas, it never showed up.

After reading (and rating) a half dozen articles that said, "It is the rules" or "You must understand the history of the word count policy," I decided that another article was needed. Personally, I could care less about the fact that it is the rules for our Helium articles to be at least four hundred words, and that we are discouraged from going over 1500 words. I could care even less about the history of the policy which I already know.

What matters to me is that if you don't hit between these two amounts, odds are that your article is not going to be read. And let's be honest, I am all about the page views and Google love. Yes, I am interested in the real reason for the policy...after all, I am a working writer.

Any writer that does not have the skill to write between these amounts is not going to make much money on the internet. Or anywhere else for that matter. I came from the print market, and still work in it on occasion, and one of the first things that comes out of a writer's mouth when being given an assignment is "How many words?"

Over the last month, my mind kept going back to this bad set of articles. (Ok, they were not that bad...but they would not be what I would be looking for if I was searching for why it was important to maintain a certain standard for word count purposes.) So today, I just decided to write a more informative article. Or at least, I hope that it is more informative.

If nothing else, I know what type of writing drives me to the point that drives me to write better.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Yes, I used to write trash

Today, one of my friends commented about a link that one of his friends posted (hey, it is Facebook---this is how news travels nowdays). It was talking about the possibility that maybe exposure to pornography is not as bad as some people would like us to think it is.

I am not sure if it is or not. What I do know for sure is that I did a few rounds writing pornography when there was still a print market for it (the days before the birth of the internet). So I would like porn to have some redeeming social aspects.

Now, I am quite sure that some people are shocked that I will admit to this---openly where every future employer, friend and relative might see it.

First, I am a man...of course, I have been exposed to pornography.

Second, I live in the United States...of course, I have been exposed to pornography.

Third, I am a working writer, in pursuit of the happy buck...therefore, of course I have written and submitted pornographic stories. I cashed checks from this particular type of writing. For me, it was a job.

Would I consider writing pornography in the future? How much is someone willing to pay me? Honestly, a large enourgh paycheck and I am willing to consider writing anything.

I think that any employer who is considering hiring me as a writer will understand that I have done this. And they will not care. All they will care about is can I string a sentence together. Yes, I can.

As for my friends...well...if they are real friends, they already knew this. And any so-called friend who is shocked and decides to not be my friend because of some of the stuff I have written in the past, and possibly in the future, are not actually friends. I am not sure what they are, but friends they are not.

(I think most of my writing friends will definitely understand. Especially those who make their living though the pen.)

As for my I have any who have not disowned me already? It is hard to be concerned about what my relatives think when they have already used their last Trump against me and utterly failed to convince me to confirm to the limits of their opinions about right and wrong, about I should and should not be doing. In fact, I do not think that there anything that I could write that would not meet with their disapproval.

For those who are curious to read the article that I am talking about, it is Porn: Good for us?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Why is no one reading my stuff?

There is nothing like going to check one of your writing accounts that you get paid by the page view and seeing that you have no page views from the day before. I think that Associated Content is trying to give me a heart attack. Checking the forum, I realize that it must be a bug in the system (I am not the only one with zero page views for yesterday---there is at least a dozen of us); nevertheless, Oy Vey!

Update (3/5/2010): Today when I checked my zero pageviews had been revised upwards. It made me feel much better.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quote of the day: Sedaris on Illusion of control

Writing gives you the illusion of control, and then you realize it's just an illusion, that people are going to bring their own stuff into it.
--- David Sedaris