February 27, 2010

Owe Nothing has Advanced in Amazon's 2010 Breakthrough Novel Awards

Read sample chapters or purchase Owe Nothing online
A good start: I'm excited to report that Owe Nothing is now one of 1000 entries that has advanced to the second round in Amazon's 2010 Breakthrough Novel Awards!

This fiction contest is sponsored by Amazon and Penguin USA. I'll keep you posted...

February 21, 2010

Spam, as poetry (or "O, yes, into a thousand similes. This file defines the custom interfaces.")

At work, back in 2007, our spam bucket received this message.

Here is my theory on the genesis of the following bizarre prose:

Mix tech docs, pulp novel and just a smattering of Biblical prose, and voila - vile spam prose!

Just go with it. It almost works...

Here it is, the theory. Suddenly she stood up, very pale, and with a strange light in her eyes.

Blood, blood, blood, was rushing through his entire body. Evening's coming on, and we
ought to get a move on.

Nevertheless, the average user can still gain much important information from them. WX5DX presents the Best Cyber Ham Award.

By the time I tipped my hat back, he was past us. There was undisguised respect in his voice.

Just because you bought the disc, don't expect to use it in some way in which its owners don't approve. I still squirm and emit low moans of remembered embarrassment.
Min discovered she was hugging Rand's unconscious form tightly. Starts an asynchronous invocation of a method of an XML Web service.

For some clear answers to such questions, see the no misunderstandings page. You can
populate a cfgrid with data from a cfquery.

They did not pause to rest along the way, but passed through Alundil at a rapid but
dignified gait. The steak, Flint swore, was the best food he had ever eaten. On the creative arrow, structural information is lost, and on ours it spontaneously reforms. You must specify all three options explicitly.

Alas, poor fool, why do I pity him That with his very heart despiseth me. You must
specify at least 2 characters, for example, US.

O, yes, into a thousand similes. This file defines the custom interfaces. Believe it or not, there doesn't exist an example for every single possible coding practice in every possible platform. But Perrin knew he did not have Mat's way with the girls.

An excerpt from my second novel, "The Two Sisters"

Read sample chapters or purchase Owe Nothing online
The following little scene is from my second novel, tentatively called "The Two Sisters".
This will be a sequel to my first novel, "Owe Nothing".
I hope you enjoy this little preview...

"Jack looked down at his plate, still preoccupied with thoughts of the Paradise Car Wash. He wondered what to eat next. The more he sat back and thought about the Paradise, the more crazy the whole thing seemed, as if the farther away he got from the place, the more different (and maybe more objective) his view of it became. The idea that a car wash could front for a secret operation which fed information to law enforcement (or god knows who else) sounded utterly fantastic and completely ridiculous. Car wash attendants acting as amateur field operatives - it was like something out of a bad novel, except it became all too real once he was hip-deep in some operation with Parm. As unlikely as it seemed, it had turned out to be financially rewarding and exciting work, and on more than one occasion, Jack had proven himself to be surprisingly adept at spying on people and appearing natural while recording the sights and sounds around him. Even though the idea of skulking around old warehouses or creeping down dirty alleys would never have appealed to him if anyone had suggested it, once he'd started doing the night-time work as one of Bill's Insiders, he was amazed to learn that in practice, he got a huge rush when doing something that could be considered dangerous or even illegal. It was a weird thrill, and a guilty, secret pleasure.

Jim looked at his quiet son and wondered what was eating him, and why he was eating his dinner. Then Kelly noticed her Dad's interest and looked over to Jack as well. “You're not still working at that car wash, are you Jack?” she asked. Kelly had always tried to be supportive of her little brother, but it used to grate on him that she'd never thought very much of that job."

"The Night I Met Einstein - by Jerome Weidman"

A great story about Albert Einstein:

"When I was a very young man, just beginning to make my way, I was invited to dine at the home of a distinguished New York philanthropist. After dinner our hostess led us to an enormous drawing room. Other guests were pouring in, and my eyes beheld two unnerving sights: servants were arranging small gilt chairs in long, neat rows; and up front, leaning against the wall, were musical instruments. Apparently I was in for an evening of Chamber music.

After a while, becoming aware that the people around me were applauding, I concluded it was safe to unplug my ears. At once I heard a gentle but surprisingly penetrating voice on my right.

“You are fond of Bach?” the voice said.

I knew as much about Bach as I know about nuclear fission. But I did know one of the most famous faces in the world, with the renowned shock of untidy white hair and the ever-present pipe between the teeth. I was sitting next to Albert Einstein."

Read the rest of the story here:

February 14, 2010

Real ink on paper? Where's that going?

In my life, I wonder if ink on paper is slipping away from me, just a little bit. There's something reassuring about a newspaper: you know what it is, it's size and shape and depth are self-evident.

Yet, I now receive much more info each day on my Pre than I could ever read (or need to, for that matter). Online news text has replaced the newspaper for me. I have never subscribed to one of the local dailies, and rarely pick one up. I think that eventually, I'm going to do most of my reading on my handheld.

Podcasts (mostly the CBC) and MP3 music files have started to replace my radio. It seems like more motorists listen to the radio than others, these days. (I'm just guessing...)

The "convergence" that people have referred to in mass media is the tri-fold convergence of broadcast, print and computer technologies. At leat, that's what I learmed back in Media Class, back in 1988. Like Vannevar Bush's idea of a "Universal Machine", computers and digital tech have co-opted, transformed and consumed the roles of older analog media. Digital is a medium for media, or a medium about other media. A meta-media?

Now, is the "convergence" truly occurring between my mind and the Internet? It seems like that digital immediacy that I've become used to in the past 5 years is the kinds of convenience that's most likely to change my perception of the world around me.

February 13, 2010

A few 2010 moments in Vancouver...

Went to downtown (Vancouver) to check out a few Olympic venues and see what we could see. Truly, the nicest moment today was seeing how social people are to each other on rapid transit! Normally, folks don't just up and chat with each other on SkyTrain (our light rapid transit system). Normally, folks just keep to themselves.

Today, it was like being in a rolling living room, with folks freely chatting away across the aisle with complete strangers. It was nice to see...

My 2nd favourite Vancouver Olympics moment: A few dudes on SkyTrain, all wearing parkas and tuques, and I hear one say to another "How's it going, eh?" (And for real... not in that faux-hoser way).

I know that's not the same spirit as everywhere else in the city right now... Every large event like this carries with it a fair degree of controversy (remember Expo 86, anyone?).

It's nice to see friendly, welcoming spirits though, even if only because it's a party, and company's come.