Reviewing Sonos, or “I want to build a stereo system out of Lego and I have too much cash!”

Reviewing the Sonos is overdue. I’ve had a Sonos system since early 2013 and, well, I know reviews are supposed to tease you all the way to the end of the many thousands of words I’m writing for free…

…the long and the short of it is that Sonos is freakin’ awesome and if you can afford to buy into it you should.

Bear in mind this isn’t so much of a proper review as it is an embarrassing admission to how many of these things I ended up buying.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Just in Time: The Pebble Time Steel Review

A lot of people enjoyed my original Pebble review (way back when), so I thought I’d try to do my new Pebble Time Steel some justice.

I’m a special flower, as a double Kickstarter supporter, so my edition of the Pebble Time Steel has a nice ‘Champion!’ engraving and trophy on the back.

Some Context

We’re not comparing Pebble Time Steel to Apple Watch here, since there is no point. Apple Watch integrates better with my iPhone, works better, looks better, costs twice as much, and has no always-on screen or comparable battery life, I can’t officially swim with it… So it’s all about compromise. My context for reviewing this watch is:

  • I can’t afford Apple Watch
  • I will buy Apple Watch v2 hardware (sorry Pebble, but you are on … borrowed Time)
  • I loved Pebble despite its limitations and wore the black thing for years.

Overview

If you don’t want to read the whole review, let me tl;dr it for you here:

  • If you liked Pebble, Pebble Time Steel is so much better looking and functioning that you should definitely upgrade.
  • If you can’t afford an Apple Watch or are on the Android system (why?) and you value battery life over fancy shit like ‘touch screens’ then definitely get this watch.

For the full review, read on.

Continue reading

My Book is Now Magic: The Lumio Review (HT: @hellolumio)

I’m constantly spending money on nerdy and/or wanky crap, and then reviewing it on this site. I even do it constantly without any payment or free things from the manufacturers, can you believe it!

This time, I’m gushing about my latest Kickstarter arrival. For those of you who haven’t switched a computer on in a while, Kickstarter is one of the largest crowd funding sites out there. The Lumio was funded on March 15, 2013, and I received mine in the mail on Friday 14, 2014. I think, for a project of such ambition, that is more than reasonable. I waited longer than that (I think) for my Pebble.

Fair warning: this review is mostly awesome* photos.

TL;DR: If you have $160-$200 to spare (depending on postage) and you like books and portable lights and functional art, don’t bother reading this and go buy one here now.

*I am not a photographer.

Continue reading

Tom and Nyssa Talk Zombies (with @Cacotopos and @VintageZombie)

When I talk zombies online, I inevitably talk zombies with my Twitter pal Nyssa Harkness, who is writing (and apparently finishing it before she dies) a Masters thesis on zombies in literature and film.

OY!

Oh hey! Today Nyssa joins me to talk about zombies in film and literature! I’ve marked my text in black and hers in indented, bloody red. I hope it’s enough!

Also I’d like to thank Gary Kemble for the banner picture – that’s from Brisbane Zombiewalk 2011, with me and my son there on the right! I think I zombie-kidnapped him.

I’m not really a zombie expert in terms of having watched every classic zombie movie, but it seems from our discussions that I have at least some contribution to make in this area, specifically by throwing a sabot into the finely tuned semantic engines used to frame a discussion on zombies.

Continue reading

Bioshock Infinite is #InfiniteBS

There, now I’ve got your attention.

As part of my loose effort to write something every day this year, I’m reflecting on my experience playing Bioshock Infinite in a single game session while I was sick, on the first day of 2014 (Yes, I have a huge pile of shame full of acclaimed games I’ve not played.)

There will be massive spoilers.

Now, I want you to know that this is just my opinion, coloured by my perspectives and whatnot. This doesn’t invalidate your own experience, or your own personal opinions about how amazing this game is. Do we understand each other?

Good. So now let me explain why you are wrong to like this bad game.

Continue reading

Part 3 – Building Your Storefront

This is the final step of my 3 part (and one introduction) series on setting up your own shop of digital short fiction. It’s much shorter and easier than the other parts. You’ll need the links to your products that were generated by FetchApp in the previous step.

A thing to bear in mind

This is the $0-dollars-invested version of setting up your own shop. I’m sure there are much better (read: much shoppier) ways to set up your digital shop, but I don’t think there is a better way to do it for free. I’m aiming my cost/benefit analysis at what I think is an optimistic estimate of at most  $5 of sales a month, until you start making a bit of a name for yourself. So anything that costs you more than $5/month is going to be a money sink, in my opinion.

So this is my $0 solution.

Continue reading

Part 1 – Dance with me: Converting a Word .doc into clean HTML for ePub

Well, how could you resist an article with such a sexy, non-technical title?

Part 1 – Converting a .doc file into clean HTML

To go back to the main article, click here.

Introduction

The first part of our walkthrough is the hardest: finding a story you can sell. I’ve chosen to sell only previously published stories, which requires me to make sure that I have the rights to reprint them. Usually when you sell a story to an anthology, you are not allowed to reprint or resell that particular story for a given period, generally a year or more. You should check your individual contracts.

Of course nothing is stopping you from selling your unpublished work right alongside your published work.

I’ll explain my personal process here, which you can choose to ignore. This tutorial will help you just as much, regardless of your approach.

I will be alternating between Windows and Mac version of the system, as I’m writing this article on different computers. Hopefully it won’t be too confusing. Most of the steps are the same.

This is a long article, and I hope it mostly makes sense. Ask away in the comments or on the social media provider of your choice (that I am also on), and let me know what works and what is confusing. There’s a lot to go through.

Continue reading

Selling Your Shorts All By Your Lonesome

And no, I don’t mean pants. People! Honestly. This is a serious blog. I use swears sometimes.

Introduction

Books are complicated beasts. Books need legitimacy, and legitimacy is an ISBN. That’s a way for people to order your book. It files you in the Great Big Library in the Cloud.

There’s no such unique code for short fiction, and short fiction (in my inexpert opinion) languishes in the digital era. Amazon is making a push for it with their StoryFront imprint, which assigns each story an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number), a number which is of no interest or use to anyone else. Worse, they treat short stories like novel length works, providing tremendously useful information such as the number of ‘Print Pages’ for each story. Amazon doesn’t take this shit seriously and I’m tired of it.

Anyway, since I’m nobody, I decided I would simply take my own published fiction for which I had publishing rights, and produce the stories as ePubs. (This would work for poems, too, to an even lesser degree. Depressing, when you think about it really.)

Having taken on this burden, I began an exciting journey, one I have chronicled here for you in many parts. The first part begins here.

Continue reading

I love Hue – A Requirements Specification (Addendum to the Hue Review)

[Update Feb 15, 2014: As time has progressed most of this specification is now redundant. The Hue doesn’t yet manage animations on the Bridge, and I’m not sure it will in the near future, but the rest of it is pretty thorough. I’ll leave this article up for historical purposes, but beware it’s mostly redundant now]

[Update Late 2013: I’ve been poking through the Hue API and it seems a lot of this is possible through the 1.1 version of the API. I will be investigating and seeing if I can make my own controller app]

After writing my extensive Hue review, I couldn’t help but think of what I wanted out of my system, so I came up with this list.

This is a public list of requirements for a useful Hue system. Any developers are welcome to take this list and use it as a feature set checklist for any program they are developing to control the Hue. If you do, and you find this list helpful, it would be nice if you acknowledged my contribution somewhere. Also, if you develop anything that does the majority of these things, please let me know so that I can GIVE YOU MY FUCKING MONEY.

Continue reading