Filed under: Arthur C. Clarke, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Brave New World, Expert systems, Humor, Marketing, movies, Paleo-Future, Predictions, Science Fiction, Society, tech, TIME Magazine | Tags: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke, artificial intelligence, blogging, Communion of Dreams, HAL, HAL9000, humor, jim downey, movies, predictions, Science Fiction, Seth, St. Cybi's Well, technology
One with an ‘expert’ like Seth from Communion of Dreams?
Ha! Sucker. You should know that reality would prove to be more … banal. And corporate. Like this:
The phone call came from a charming woman with a bright, engaging voice to the cell phone of a TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer. She wanted to offer a deal on health insurance, but something was fishy.
When Scherer asked point blank if she was a real person, or a computer-operated robot voice, she replied enthusiastically that she was real, with a charming laugh. But then she failed several other tests. When asked “What vegetable is found in tomato soup?” she said she did not understand the question. When asked multiple times what day of the week it was yesterday, she complained repeatedly of a bad connection.
Over the course of the next hour, several TIME reporters called her back, working to uncover the mystery of her bona fides. Her name, she said, was Samantha West, and she was definitely a robot, given the pitch perfect repetition of her answers. Her goal was to ask a series of questions about health coverage—”Are you on Medicare?” etc.—and then transfer the potential customer to a real person, who could close the sale.
Hmm, I think I can still work “Samantha” into St. Cybi’s Well …
Filed under: Augmented Reality, Brave New World, Civil Rights, Comics, Connections, Constitution, Government, Humor, Politics, Predictions, Preparedness, Privacy, Science Fiction, Society, tech, Terrorism, Writing stuff | Tags: augmented reality, blogging, comics, Constitution, Edward Snowden, government, humor, jim downey, Non Sequitur, NSA, politics, predictions, privacy, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, technology, Washington Post, writing
As I’ve noted before, it’s hard to keep up with the steady trickle of revelations about what the NSA has been up to, and how the reality of what has actually been going on keeps surpassing the dystopian aspects I have been writing about in St. Cybi’s Well. For example, here’s this passage from the beginning of the book:
He turned the hand-held on, did a quick check to make sure it had the software and apps he’d asked for. Everything was there. He’d pick up a burner phone later, and swap the SIMM card into the hand-held. He turned off the hand-held, dropped it into a special pocket inside his vest – one which was RF-blocked. He had another such compartment in his satchel. These, like the wallet/holster, were prohibited items and grounds for arrest in the States, but while they would raise an eyebrow in the UK they weren’t technically illegal.
With this item from yesterday’s Washington Post revelations that the NSA and related agencies are basically tracking every cell phone on the planet:
The NSA’s capabilities to track location are staggering, based on the Snowden documents, and indicate that the agency is able to render most efforts at communications security effectively futile.
Like encryption and anonymity tools online, which are used by dissidents, journalists and terrorists alike, security-minded behavior — using disposable cellphones and switching them on only long enough to make brief calls — marks a user for special scrutiny. CO-TRAVELER takes note, for example, when a new telephone connects to a cell tower soon after another nearby device is used for the last time.
Now, see, I was thinking I’d use something exactly like that as the ‘rude surprise’ which would trip up my protagonist later in the novel, since he wouldn’t expect that the NSA would have that level of data-collection ability.
*Sigh.* So much for my trying to come up with a dystopian reality …
And this is timely:
Filed under: Amazon, Bad Astronomy, Feedback, ISS, Kindle, Marketing, Music, NASA, Phil Plait, Promotion, Science, Science Fiction, Space, YouTube | Tags: Amazon, Bad Astronomy, blogging, Communion of Dreams, feedback, ISS, jim downey, Kindle, music, NASA, Phil Plait, promotion, reviews, science, Science Fiction, space, video, www youtube
Yeah, what Phil said:
Stop whatever you’re doing (unless you’re performing brain surgery) and watch this astonishing and enthralling time-lapse video, showing the Earth from space using photographs taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station
I rarely read sci-fi anymore, but this reminds me of the best I read when I was younger. There’s a lot of background on the worlds the author is creating, followed by a resolution to multiple problems in the worlds. I truly enjoyed it.
If you’ve read the book and haven’t yet gotten around to posting a review, please consider it. It’s a little thing that does more than just massage my ego — it helps others have some idea what to expect from the book. And every so often I do things like give away nice hand-bound copies of the book . Thanks.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Failure, Feedback, General Musings, Health, Hospice, Kindle, Marketing, Predictions, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, health, Her Final Year, hospice, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, literature, predictions, promotion, Science Fiction, St. Cybi's Well, writing
So, without a lot of fanfare I went ahead and scheduled a two-day promotion for the Kindle edition of Communion of Dreams the other day, as mentioned. After I posted something about it on Facebook, John Bourke, my primary co-author on Her Final Year asked whether we might as well do a similar promotion for the Kindle edition of that book. D’oh! An oversight on my part.
But, I think, an understandable one. Right now I’m focused on writing St. Cybi’s Well, the prequel to Communion of Dreams. So there’s that.
And there’s something else. This passage from a post last February sums it up for me:
I am frequently struck just how much of our life doesn’t make sense until seen from a distance. Just recently I was surprised at the revelation of *why* the failure of Her Final Year to be more successful bothered me as much as it did: it was because I had seen the book as being a way to create something positive (for the world) out of the experience of being a long-term care provider. To have the book only reach a limited audience was, in my mind, saying that our roles as care-givers didn’t matter.
Yeah, that. In a word: disappointment.
And when things disappoint, it is only natural to disengage somewhat from them, to not sink a lot of additional emotional energy into it. At some point you just say “well, OK, that’s done — time to move on.”
Except moving on isn’t always the best course, or even possible. John reminded me of that. So I went ahead and scheduled the promotion for Her Final Year to run the same time as the one for Communion of Dreams did.
And guess what? Her Final Year, for the very first time, did better in terms of the number of downloads than Communion of Dreams did. Not by a lot — just a dozen books — but still, it did better. Whereas in the past when we did promotions for the two books at the same time, CoD almost always did better, by upwards of a factor of 10. And for the first time, one of my books was downloaded through the Amazon Australia portal. Guess which one it was. Right: HFY. And I think that’s pretty cool.
I hope you had a similarly good Thanksgiving holiday.
PS: If you missed this promotion, don’t worry. For people who get new computers/readers/mobile devices, we’ll repeat in shortly after Christmas. And of course you can always just go to the links above and buy either book for only $3.01.
Filed under: Alzheimer's, Amazon, Connections, Feedback, General Musings, Health, Hospice, Kindle, Promotion, Publishing, Science Fiction, Society | Tags: Alzheimer's, Amazon, blogging, care-giving, Communion of Dreams, direct publishing, feedback, free, health, Her Final Year, jim downey, John Bourke, Kindle, promotion, Science Fiction, Thanksgiving, writing
As those close to me know, I’m not really “into” holidays the way many people are. Oh, I’m happy to have an excuse to eat and drink more, to visit with family & friends, to relax a bit more than usual. And I can appreciate the rituals which surround the holidays, and how those rituals can give some definition and context for things. Marking birthday milestones. Taking time to remember loved ones and Veterans. Observing the change of seasons and acknowledging the passing of years. Giving thanks.
Those forms are important. I understand why holidays exist even unto this modern age, when everything seems to exist in a constant froth of work, commerce, and entertainment.
But it is easy — far too easy — to come to think of those holidays as things in themselves, rather than reminders. The meanings of the rituals are lost, and only the rituals themselves become important.
And there, I just did the same thing. I just fell into the ritual of bemoaning how holidays have lost their meaning.
What I want to say is this: thank you. Thank you for being family, thank you for being a friend, thank you for just reading my stuff. I try to remember to be appreciative for all this, and for so much more, to make that appreciation more of an attitude than a holiday.
Filed under: Amazon, Connections, Constitution, Feedback, Humor, Kindle, Promotion, Publishing, Religion, Science Fiction, Society | Tags: Amazon, blogging, Christians, Communion of Dreams, Constitution, direct publishing, Edenists, feedback, free, highlights, humor, jim downey, Kindle, promotion, reviews, Science Fiction, Thanksgiving
I was scheduling a “free Kindle copy” promotion of Communion of Dreams a while ago, and as part of that I was poking around a little deeper into the Amazon ratings/rankings/comments. Something they evidently added a while back that I hadn’t noticed is that people can “highlight” passages in the Kindle edition, and share that info with other readers.
Anyway, about a year ago someone highlighted a passage (in italics below) and added a comment which I find rather amusing, and I thought I’d share it:
JohnB: I resent the author’s allusion to Christians in this negative light. More unConstitutional bashing.
Take your worst nightmare right-wing Christian fundies,
Really makes me wonder if he continued to read the book at all past that point.