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Getting Married is Like Having a Ring in Your Nose

On this 25th anniversary of our wedding, I tell the tale that many of you have heard, and cemented everyone’s admiration for my lovely bride.

She’s sneaky…and gorgeous. As skeptical as I was about marriage, I am continually surprised at how my love for her continues to grow after all these years.

I published this essay about how, to everyone’s surprise, I came to be married to this lady in the book Voices In My Head, written for my mother and father on their 70th and 75th birthdays, respectively. I offer it now to mark the date 25 years ago when Audrey (and Sara) changed my life… and Audrey made sure I knew what I was getting in to.

= = =

Not much scares us. After all, my Granddad (Dad’s side) survived the trenches in World War I, plus the Great Depression. And we are fierce American Indians on my Mom’s side (Choctaw or Cherokee, depending on who is telling the story) and Comanche on my Dad’s side. We are built tough.

But the movie Jaws scared me.

When Jaws came out when I was a kid, every time my hand was over the side of my mattress in my sleep, I’d dream that mattress was a raft and my hand was dangling in the water, like chum for that shark to come and munch on. I’d be out of that bed and into my brother’s in a heart beat. It would irritate Terry, but he didn’t kick me out… that’s what brothers are for.

Sharks used to scare me. They don’t intimidate me much any more, since I got my scuba license and floated down amongst them for a bit (not bite). They are really enjoyable creatures to watch.

Many years (okay, decades) ago, marriages and weddings used to scare me too. Scare and intimidate, and I was loud and vociferous about my objections to them to hide those fears. Every wedding I went to during my days as a young man, I would torment the groom as much as possible with stories of their impending slavery. My tagline (which I should have made into a t-shirt and sold the rights to Vercie): “Being married is like having a ring in your nose that your wife can use to pull you
around by.” There were usually some creative curse words embedded in the phrase, but you get the drift.

I’m not exactly certain where this fear and disgust of marriage originated; my parent’s marriage seemed actually quite happy, until it was over. And I mean that with all sincerity. As you’ve seen (hopefully) from these stories, my mom and dad are excellent people. Divorce was more of a trend than an event at that time, most of my friends parents were busy getting divorces; some of them had parents who collected divorces like some people collect stamps.

I actually enjoyed going to most weddings; the party atmosphere, and the happiness after the tension (and the teasing that can go on to help ease the tension) are good experiences. I’ve been best man at several weddings (that I can remember). I did yeoman clean-up work after my brother’s post-wedding party, even gave a nice little toast where I refrained from trashing his new found marital status. I played cameraman, best man AND gave the bride away at my man Vercie’s wedding (this was after I was married, but it still makes a nice story…and the video is priceless). I managed to keep up with the Polish folk drinking whiskey at 9am on the day of Tim’s wedding (and I still remember the object lesson of scheduling too early of a flight home from Iowa so hungover that I white knuckled the takeoff, the ride and the landing).

We even did weddings in other countries. For a short time, we had three Mexican (or half Mexican) step sisters, and had three weddings in Mexico: one in Mexico city, one in Cuernavaca, and one in a place I can no longer remember. The Cuernavaca wedding was memorable for several reasons:

  • my sister hung out and smoked with the mariachis, appalling the Mexican side of the family because the mariachis were at the bottom of the social scale (and I’m sure that is exactly why Jan spent time with them);
  • we got to visit the pre-Columbian ruin Xochicalco, which has an “observatory” that is amazingly accurate in its astronomy;
  • I spent a long time at a disco speaking really poor Spanish to one of our new step-half brothers, who responded in equally good English;
  • I almost passed out when I saw the bill, due to my son (who was a pre-teen at the time) ordering the only thing he knew in Spanish (nachos de pollo) repeatedly while we were with the wedding party and he and his sister were in the room. Of course after swimming in the hotel’s very cold pool, I’m sure he needed lots of nourishment.

= = =

But, no matter who’s wedding, I teased them all, tortured them with the thought of me, free for all time of the chains of bondage that was marriage. I came downstairs in my apartment during college to find my brother and his bride-to-be in a very romantic embrace on the fold out couch. Turns out he had just asked Marie to marry him, and I was shocked that he would bring such cooties into my home. What if it’s contagious? What if I get infected? I wasn’t sure if I should wash the couch, fumigate or just move!

No ring in the nose for ole Lar, no siree.

Until Audrey got me in her sites on the Rugby field. You’ve already heard that story, or at least how I remember it.

I only asked her to marry me five times: four times when we had been drinking (she, of course, turned me down, with a not so subtle “ask me when we’re sober”), and one time sober. The last time occurred while we were doing yard work at the house she was renting. We were both dirty, sweaty and disgusting (well, I was disgusting; she even looks good dirty)…the picture of marital bliss. I proposed, she finally accepted.

And then I freaked.

I actually didn’t speak to her for several days, with her leaving me messages saying “It’s okay, I know this scares you, I won’t hold you to it.”

But I held myself to it. Why would I let her go?

When our wedding week came around, I was still nervous, but had enough sense of the event that I planned our joint bachelor and bachelorette party on April Fool’s Day. Many of my friends were certain that I was still joking, and came just to see the punchline. Some are still waiting.

But the following weekend, April the 8th, we gathered again. The punchline could have been that I had one of my Texaco drinking buddies, Bill who was an ordained minister, perform the ceremony. Audrey uses that factoid to this day, when she decides we are not really married because Bill couldn’t have been a minister and it wasn’t legal.

During the ceremony, I concentrated on staying vertical, staring at Bill, certain everyone could see the sweat rolling down my back. My bride was wearing her mother’s antique wedding dress, and Sara made a great flower girl/witness/interested party trying desperately to stay awake. With my brother at my side, just like he was during those scary shark nights, I thought I just might make it through the formalities to a shot of liquid courage afterwards.

When Bill pronounced us, my brother leaned into me and said “Welcome to the club” or something to that affect. I couldn’t focus my eyes, I was so glad the ceremony was over. When I finally did, I saw a thin gold ring in my brother’s nose.

A quick scan of the assembled friends and family showed me that EVERYBODY had a ring through their nose.

Again, sensing that I’d been had by a friend, I accused Kenny, my friend and Compaq colleague who was fond of practical jokes.

“Dude, it wasn’t me,” he said. “I’d check out your blushing bride.”

Stunned, I turned to Audrey. She flashed me one of those smiles that said many things, but mainly “I love you, but you should never underestimate me.”

Somehow, while I was sweating it out under the pressure of the day (and assumed she might be nervous as well), she managed to sneak in a large amount of toy gold rings that could be easily spread apart and attached fashionably to one’s nostrils. While I was doing some glad handing or other triviality, she was talking the entire gathered assembly, family and friends, young and old, into putting these things into their nose while I was frozen with fear.

We’ve been married twenty-five years. I love her more than I ever thought possible. And she still has a bag of those rings around here somewhere…just in case I need a reminder.

= = =

from VOICES IN MY HEAD © 2010

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Audrey and Me

Audrey, Rugby and Rod Stewart’s wife

Twenty-five years ago today, my wife and I had our combined bachelor-bachelorette party – yes, on April Fools Day. Most of my friends indeed thought I was kidding…and are still awaiting the punchline.

I published this essay about how Rugby led me to my wife (or her to me?) in the book Voices In My Head, written for my mother and father on their 70th and 75th birthdays, respectively. I offer it now to mark the date 25 years ago when Audrey could have said “April Fools!” and walked away…I’m infinitely better off that she wasn’t fooling.

= = = = =

Audrey and Me
Young men play sports. Young men in Texas MUST play sports. I believe it is part of the state constitution, under the Articles of Testosterone, right after the one about “Men must hunt deer” and right before “Texas has the right to secede from the Union whenever we damn well please.”

Go to the State Capitol; look it up.

The first sports team I can remember was the baseball team Terry and I were on in Spring Branch called the Bears. These weren’t the “Bad News” Bears, these were the “We just plain Suck Rocks” Bears. We played at a field that was dusty and rough, with very little grass, and our skill level wasn’t even worthy of that. Terry was our only good player (a lefty first baseman, and the oldest) and I’m not sure why he stuck around; probably because of me, or maybe cause mom told him to. I clearly remember pitching (I only got to pitch when we were way behind), with a kid from the other team taunting me to throw it over the plate. I walked a couple of batters to catcalls from the opposing dugouts.

Then I started aiming for the batters.

It made me throw a lot harder. But I still missed. That is when I first learned to trash talk. Words sometimes hit harder than a baseball (and I was more accurate in throwing them).

I learned two very valuable lessons at that young age: channeling your anger can be good in sports if you can control it; and I absolutely abhor baseball. The sport is adequately described as two guys playing catch with lots of others standing around watching. It is no wonder that when little kids play t-ball they inevitably end up picking grass or putting their glove on their heads; face it folks, America’s pastime is boring unless it is the ninth inning with a runner in scoring position…and even then only because most of the crowd got their third beer at the seventh inning stretch. (more…)

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Interview with Andy Weir, author of THE MARTIAN, on SFSignal.com

My interview with Andy Weir, author of the bestseller THE MARTIAN, is live on the two-time Hugo award winning SFSignal.com.

An excerpt:

LARRY: In the Ares 3 mission team in THE MARTIAN, you have a Commander, Pilot, Doctor and three “mission specialists” (to use the NASA term). Could any of the others have coped with being stranded better than Watney?

ANDY WEIR: Excellent question. I’ve actually put some thought in to that. I think most of them would have died under the circumstances, with the exception of Johanssen. Johanssen is a software engineer and electrical engineer. She would probably know how to fix the communication system and get back in contact with NASA right away. So she would have had all of NASA to come up with ideas to keep her alive.

LARRY: Agreed, but without the botany skills, it would have been a race between how long it would take her to get comms back online versus when she started to run out of food. One of my favorite employees came to me one day and said she’d been offered her dream job and could no longer work for me. I told her I could outbid them, but she said it was working in video/images/audio for NASA. I cried and asked her to hire me in the future. In recompense, she sometimes regales me of astronaut stories (and has shown me the refrigerated vault where the original Mercury, Gemini and Apollo films were kept before they were translated to digital!). One astronaut story was of an ISS astronaut who would put signs in front of the cameras (which the world could see eventually, via the Freedom of Information Act, as you use in your book) some that would say “Please make up room.” Astronauts are smart asses. So is your Mark Watney. What research did you do for his character? Who did you speak with?

ANDY WEIR: I didn’t do any research at all on astronaut personalities. I had no contacts at NASA or JPL before the book came out. I made his personality up for the story.

At the time, I figured it was unrealistic. I assumed real astronauts were much more serious and professional. But after the book came out, I got emails from NASA personnel and actual astronauts saying the personalities of Mark and the other Ares 3 astronauts were very plausible. So I guess I stumbled in to that one with luck.

Mars, The New Space Race

LARRY: The type of hobbyist passion for space one has to have to make a simulator to make sure orbital dynamics are correct seems to be making a resurgence.  That passion and enthusiasm may head toward the levels it hit during the space race days (which I enjoyed experiencing while my Dad was chasing Apollo rocket stages in the South Atlantic working for RCA) which spawned many industries and general interest from citizens. Then most of the world and most Americans went into a lull, with only events/accidents similar to what you portray in your book (Apollo 13, the Space Shuttle tragedies) re-kindling any interest. Now with SpaceX, Planetary Resources and other companies in the news, and with other countries pushing themselves into space, interest seems to be flaring up again. THE MARTIAN and books like it could be nice fuel for this, since your book is ‘near-future’, describing technology that is mostly in-hand and could be used. As an enthusiast, what levers and buttons do you think need to be pushed to get Americans and the world excited about the need for space travel, and a Mars landing in particular?

ANDY WEIR: I’m not sure how to get Americans excited over the prospect. The truth of the matter is that there is no profit motive for going in to space, so it’s hard to justify spending the tens of billions a manned mission to Mars would cost. Though there is one thing we Americans have a history of valuing over money, and that’s national pride.

The Chinese are working on their space program and have a manned Moon landing planned for the 2020s or 2030s. If they see that through, you may see Americans start to demand a better space program.


Read the entire interview at SGSignal.

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Google Glass

On being a Google Glass-hole

It’s not a very attractive phrase, but it does seem to be prevalent, and addresses invasion of privacy concerns.

And, yes, I have joined the ranks of Google Glass “Explorers”, Google’s name for folks interested enough to shell out an amount of cash larger than the cost of a fully loaded MacBook Air for the chance to test, play and develop.

There are several pieces that my company is working on that, for obvious reasons, I won’t divulge here. But I will describe my experiences, some good, some bordering on not usable.

Ordering was straightforward, there were several options of shades/shields, single and stereo earpieces if you don’t like the built in audio, and a few other odds and ends. It arrived quickly, intact from Louisville, KY.

Hinge and prism/screen

Fitting to one’s face is not intuitive, at least not for me. There are several videos online on how to do it, but I didn’t see one that said the screen (which looks like a prism in front of the right side) is actually on a hinge. Until I discovered that, the projection from the screen was always a bit out of my site, too far to the left. When the info on the screen is a bit out of focus, I found the somewhat obvious solution of moving the Glass (not Glasses, that’s a marketing no-no) forward or backward on my nose brings it into focus.

My Glass came with software version XE12. I connected it to my iPhone via the App Store Glass app, which is supported starting with XE12 (per the release notes). I have a Samsung Note 2 I plan to test with as well.

Battery life is a challenge…ok, it sucks. I’ll have some statistics I’ll add before too long, but it is back to the recent old days of “if you don’t remember to plug it in, it won’t last long.”

There are three ways to take photos, and taking photos is key to several things we want to do with Glass with company projects (and with some personal experimentation):

  • You can say “ok, glass, take a photo”. This works really well when you are around lots of people, if you want to be the center of unwanted attention;
  • You can tap the camera button on Glass.
  • You can wink, if you have this feature enabled (and you have software version XE12, as noted above)

The “Wink” feature has the most promise, as it is hands and voice free. But there appears to be a significant delay between when you line up your photo, wink, and then Glass takes the picture. You have to hold you head aimed on the subject, and have it framed. I’m going to try to measure the delay.

Videos are, by default, ten seconds, unless you hold down the photo button while taking a video. Then you have to tap the button again to stop (there may be another way to do this that I haven’t discovered yet). I took a video while power-washing the driveway; yes, that may seem a bit over the top, but training applications are certainly a big part of what Glass could help with…plus I wanted to show my son that under all that muck our old basketball stencil was still there. Video quality was good, but it took a while for the videos to get uploaded to the sync sport (at Google Plus), so it is certainly not close to an always on technology. The audio is pretty impressive, considering I had a gas-powered power washer going.

Getting the videos out of the Auto-Backup at Google Plus is currently a process that has too many steps. You cannot link to the videos. You cannot upload them from Auto-Backup straight to You-Tube (many people have been complaining about that for a long time). I’ll figure out a way to share the videos later.

From a development standpoint, there are currently two options: the GDK to run apps on Glass, and a Mirror API, which allows access to several programming languages and allows mirroring of certain information onto Glass from an app. That looks like the most promising route.

More next time.

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Interview with James Gunn, Grand Master of Science Fiction

My interview with James Gunn, recipient of the Damon Knight Grand Master of Science Fiction award, was posted on the Hugo award winning SFSignal. It was also picked up by io9 where a nice discussion has ensued.

An excerpt:
LARRY: Your novel THE LISTENERS (1972) is an excellent example of that feeling you describe as “unity of goal and effort, and mutual sacrifice, and a feeling that we were all in this great enterprise together.” Robert MacDonald, the protagonist, keeps the band of searchers together for several decades in spite of political and religious opposition to their “great enterprise”, with the goal of finding evidence of alien life. The SETI Institute parallels (and was no doubt inspired by) your novel; founded in 1984, nearly three decades later they are still searching, and others have been searching longer. There have been scientists modifying the Drake equation to make it more optimistic (including this interesting one from Sara Seager at MIT that revamps it from radio aware life to focusing on the presence of alien life), and some that make it more pessimistic (as I was getting a Physics degree one of my professors was Dr. Michael Hart, who co-edited Extra-Terrestrials, Where Are They? In 1982). That is a long-winded way of asking: are you optimistic? Pessimistic? Are they out there? Or are we alone?

JAMES GUNN: Story premises require different states of mind.  When I read Walter Sullivan’s WE ARE NOT ALONE in the last 1960s (I think I got it from the Science Book Club), the thought that inspired THE LISTENERS was how humanity could sustain an effort for a century without results, and for that purpose it was necessary to assume that the only contact with aliens that was possible was through messages propagated by something like radio waves.  But I do believe–and have been convinced by powerful voices like Carl Sagan’s–that there are intelligent aliens out there and maybe even intelligent aliens with technology, but that the difficulties and costs and lack of compensation for interstellar travel are such that we are unlikely to ever come into contact.  But we can still share the intelligent beings burden of understanding the universe and our place in it by means of some such means as I describe inTHE LISTENERS, and that would be a shattering accomplishment that would change us and our world-view, and would be quite enough.

But that doesn’t keep me from writing about interstellar travel as I have in GIFT FROM THE STARS and TRANSCENDENTAL, in the furtherance of larger goals.

So, in spite of everything, I’m an optimist.  I believe in what William Faulkner said in his Nobel acceptance speech, that humanity not only will survive but will prevail.

And I hope science fiction will be a tool in that.

LARRY: It would be interesting to see a timeline of waves of optimism, pessimism and other historical movements, juxtaposed with science fiction novels from those times…a project for another day.

JAMES GUNN: It was hard for optimism to survive the brutality of two world wars.

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WorldCon 71 / LoneStarCon 3

I only had a half-a-con, spending the mornings at the conference and the afternoons/evenings with family in San Antonio. But even a half-a-con was full

  1. SFSignal, which I occasionally post an article here and a review there, won its second Hugo for Best Fanzine. John DeNardo, the hardest working man in the blogverse, won his second…showing that sometimes these popularity award are actually given to those that deserve it. Hats off to JP and Patrick for their first Hugos.
  2. SFSignal is a group blog, as JD describes it. And, thanks to his efforts, I got to meet several of the SFSignal irregulars in person whom I’d only emailed, commented or heard on Podcasts. Derek, Jeff, Stina, Karen, Matthew, Josh, Jaime…enjoyed seeing the faces. It is always better to connect in person.
  3. Joe Lansdale did a demo and discussion of Shen Chuan, the martial art he created. Master Lansdale is deservedly in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and he asked me to be one of his demo boys. Always better to learn up close and personal, and a hard reminder of how much I’ve let my own martial arts training slack off.
  4. I am interviewing Grand Master of Science Fiction James Gunn for SFSignal, and stalked him throughout the conference. At age 90, his memory is better than mine at 30..and he is gracious and polite. I look forward to more questions, and learning through the interview process. And I found some excellent out-of-print Gunn books on sale in the dealer room and got them before DeNardo. Fred Pohl was on of Professor Gunn’s first agents, and it was very sad to hear of Mr. Pohl’s passing just as WorldCon was ending.
  5. The “what happened to the boom in Spanish language books” panel had only two participants, and one of them was Norman Spinrad. I wasn’t sure why, until he went through the tale of his publishing of his book Mexica with a Mexican publisher.
  6. As I was carousing the dealer room, looking at books, this taller grey bearded gent was following me…except he was pulling out books to sign. I had the pleasure of asking Harry Turtledove if he was practicing for his upcoming autograph session, and he replied “Practice helps me remember my name.” I briefly accused him of stalking me.
  7. Hogg Shedd. Saturday night Rock and Roll. It has nothing to do with WorldCon, but everything to do with my past, present and future in San Antonio. If you haven’t seen Louis, Danny, Darryl and Craig rock it, what are you waiting for?
  8. The Legacy of Omni magazine panel was entertaining, with Ben Bova, Bob Silverberg and Ellen Datlow doing most of the reminiscing about the Bob Guccione slick that merged Science Fact with Science Fiction. I still have a collection of many of the original Omnis. Rumors of a reboot persist, but I would rather see the legend remain a legend.
  9. The Doc Savage panel, on his 80th anniversary, was missing Will Murray (who is no doubt hard at work on the latest Doc Savage novel).
  10. The Thursday evening Ghost Tour was hot and humid (expected in San Antonio) and, though I’d heard many of the stories before, the tour guides did an excellent job. We visited the Menger, the Emily Morgan, the San Fernando Cathedral (which looked great at night) and the old Bexar County Jail, which is now a Holiday Inn Express. The tour guides said room 305 was where the gallows used to be, and that the pool was the location of the crematorium. Enjoy your next stay.
  11. I also managed to hang a drapery valance for my mom, do multiple virus clean-ups for my step-dad, set up mom’s new email…and fall a bit more for my beautiful wife, which happens most days.


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Packers Preseason – what to do when no broadcast available

Finally, the Packers are back. Sure, it’s only preseason. But offensive line injuries, new running backs, 1st round draft pick Datone Jones and new pickup Vince Young peaked Pack fans’ curiosity.

But calling around to our favorite watching spots, the Pack was nowhere to be viewed.

Rob, the great bartender at our normal spot, Kilburn’s, tells me that the Pack is not showing on NFL Ticket. A few more calls echoed that, with the gent from the BrickHouse Tavern stating that NFL Ticket showed a random set of preseason games.

Enter a bit of technology, and NFL Preseason Live.

For a mere $19.99 (which is more than I would spend on beer at Kilburn’s) you get access to all of the preseason games that are not blacked out (we could not watch the Texans game, but it was on regular local broadcast TV).

The broadcast comes on tablets or smartphones (iOS or Android) or browsers, in nice HD. And, using an Apple TV, I was able to display the game on our HDTV. For some reason, this only worked using AirPlay on a Mac. When we tried AirPlay from an iPad, it would not display.

There was a few times with a bit of lag. But it was in HD and, even better, the commercials were few and low volume. And the picture in picture worked well, so we could watch a second game.

It is doubtful that we would subscribe for the entire season, as the games are quite available…but for 20 bucks and some tech, the Packers preseason is taking care of. Now we just need the team to execute.


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Review of The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams up on SFSignal

Tad Williams is one of my “read-everything-he-puts-out” authors…except for the cat book. No cat books.

My review of the first book in his latest series, The Dirty Streets of Heaven, is up on the Hugo award winning and 2013 Hugo nominated SFSignal.

An excerpt:

Tad Williams in known for his LARGE (door stoppingly LARGE), genre-jumping, hard to categorize series:ShadowmarchOtherlandMemory, Sorrow and Thorn. (And apparently he’s known for a cat book, which, since I’m a dawg guy, I probably won’t read.) One characteristic that runs through all of these is that Williams not only follows the “show don’t tell” writers’ philosophy, he also follows “show, but don’t show everything.” Both Otherland and Shadowmarch possessed some pieces that were never quite explained, which made me wonder about them even long after I’d finished. (And sometimes tempt me to re-read…but re-reading is a no-no…there are too many books in this world!)

I appreciate Williams thoughtfulness for those of us who can’t remember the last book…as he always adds in a Here’s-What-Happened-Before synopsis to the front of books that come later in his series. I’ve also read his short story collection A Stark and Wormy Night (no synopsis needed, they were short enough that they didn’t test my old memory). But Williams’ new Bobby Dollar series is different from all of the rest. It is, again, a hard to categorize tome — some call it urban fantasy, but that label reminds me retchingly of Twilight — but it differs from his previous works in several aspects:

  • It is based in a somewhat modern locale, as opposed to a world built in fantasy or cyberspace. The fictitious city of San Judas is mapped to the Palo Alto/ Silicon Valley area (and includes Stanford U.), which is the area where Williams grew up.
  • It is written in 1st person. Bobby Dollar spends quite a bit of time talking to the reader.
  • While it still “shows”, this novel does an awful lot of telling. (I smell misdirection here, but a bit on that later.)
  • It is not door-stoppingly LARGE, on my shelf next to the Otherland and Shawdowmarch hardbacks, it looks like it has been on an Atkins diet compared to the rest.

With Bobby Dollar, an advocate angel, Williams explores the people and beings that populate Heaven, Hell and Earth and the rules that keep Armageddon from a’comin’. There is a mystery to be solved, and there is more than a bit of crime noir bent to the telling. But rules that Dollar tells the readers in the beginning and what actually happens to Dollar turn the rules upside down.  And while some of the rules follow the norm of the Western cultural definitions of Heaven and Hell, this is the unknown fringe that Williams enjoys playing in, and he definitely seems to enjoy  himself.

Quotes and spoilers from here down, so turn back now if you haven’t read the book and are planning on it.

Read the rest here.

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Untappd on AppAnnie

The Psychology of UnTappd

If you haven’t heard of or used the app known as Untappd, you may not be a beer drinker. But the rise in Craft Beer brewing and drinking in America (see a good infographic here) has pushed many Americans out of their lager drinking malaise and into enjoying the multitude of tastes that are presented by the craft beer industry.

If they treated introductions like a MLM scheme, I’d own part of UnTappd by now :). And that is the beauty of the mixture of social media, location, goals/badges and history/statistics that UnTappd succeeds at: it is an app that you want to share, and after sharing, you encourage your friends to use. That psychology is what all social media type apps should strive for.

The app is simple: you have a beer, you log that beer in UnTappd. If you desire, you can include a ranking (one to five bottle caps), a location (from Foursquare’s massive location database), a picture (which, like all social media photo sharing can come back to haunt you) and a comment.

This app is free, and that, plus making it available on as many platforms as possible, is a genius move by the developers.  By simply giving users the means to track their beers, they are building a huge data warehouse of likes, dislikes and drinking characteristics (when, where, what type, with whom) that any brewery or pub/bar would be mad not to take advantage of. Breweries can register to manage their brand on the site here.

This is the opposite approach of the app which is leading in profits in May 2013 on the iOS App Store, Candy Crush Saga. Candy Crush is also free but makes revenue based on in-app purchases that help get through levels users are stuck on (note that one does not have to purchase anything to get through the levels, a user just needs patience…the fact that Candy Crush Saga is leading in revenues is a clear indicator that US app users want instant gratification and are willing to pay for it).

The appeal and staying power of the app is revealed in this chart from App Annie: since its release in October 2011, the app has stayed in the top 250 for Free iOS App Downloads and usually in the top 100. (chart after the break) (more…)

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Apple Mac Air 13″ and Migration Assistant

I’ve had a mid-2011 11 inch Mac Air for two years. This was my first Mac laptop, and the size (perfect for traveling), the instant on and several other features sold me on it. I had Compaq laptops for my duration at Compaq (of course) and had meandered from Sony VAIO’s (good product) to ASUS netbooks before deciding that paying four times the cost of a Windows laptop might actually be worth it. It would be difficult at this point to convince me to go back to Windows (though I do keep a Windows desktop for some apps).

But I upgrade to the just announced Mac Air 13 inch for several reasons:

  • Size. Yeah, I know, I said that. But customers squinting at the 11 inch screen to see demos just didn’t get the point across;
  • Battery life. The new 13″ was spec’d at 12 hours of battery life. Running multiple apps plus XCODE and sometimes Eclipse just wasted the battery on the little 11″.
  • Performance. See above…sure, I could shut some apps off, but why should I?

My local Apple store, who I have a good relationship with, had the fully loaded 13″ (8 GB RAM, 512 Flash storage and the upgraded processor) in stock. My son’s big ole Windows laptop was giving him fits so he was the designated hand-me-down recipient of the 11″ Mac Air.

This lead me to try Apple’s Migration Assistant.

I have never been a big fan of automated migration programs. They either seem to miss a configuration (or several), don’t move all your files, or just plain don’t work.

In addition, I had three types of XCODE development profiles and certificates on my Mac: one set for Media Sourcery, one set for JoSara MeDia (our publishing company) and one customer’s (an Enterprise License that we develop under for them). Having just been through the un-documented gyrations of renewing and reissuing the one Apple Enterprise cert/profile, I was not optimistic.

However, after a false start or two, Migration Assistant blew my incredibly low expectations away.

It not only moved all my files, it:

  • moved all of the certs and profiles that XCODE requires, without any additional configuration;
  • moved all WiFi configurations;
  • moved browser history;

Except for the Microsoft Office license (yes I run Office for Mac, and will as long as my customers use it).

My main hiccup was when I first set it up, Migration Assistant projected a nice 75 hours for copying files over. That issue was attributed because Larry has too many WiFi networks at home, including a new one from an AirPort Time Capsule (more on that in another post). When I made certain that both laptops were on the same WiFi network, Migration Assistant projected a more reasonable 4-5 hours to copy everything over.

I let it run over night, and started getting used to a bigger screen (which isn’t easy…the 11″ is nice…the things we do for our customers). But, just for precautions, I asked my son not to delete anything on the old Mac for a while.


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