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New Lifebox Website , Writing Notes , New CAPOW, Podcast (?) of a New SF Story

I got my first printed copy of The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul. It looks great. If you want to help me out, please go on Amazon and advance-buy a copy now. The sooner they get some sales, the better off I’ll be.

WARNING. Some negatively energized individual at a place called the “Reed Business Group” (specializing in “business to business services”) wrote a horrible review of my Lifebox book for Publisher’s Weekly, and Amazon has a contractual deal with PW that they print the PW reviews first. The attack is so uninformed and inaccurate that I’m guessing there’s something about my politics that teed-off this little b-to-b drone, who takes umbrage at my having met Tim Leary. Help me out of this minicrisis by ordering the book now, lest the Pig smother my Magnum Opus in its cradle. That CA image above shows my crying towel…

There’s better comments and reviews on the Lifebox web site, which I’ve been spiffing up of late. In the process I made a nice new build of my CAPOW program with about a 100 Meg’s worth of good pattern files to load; the big *.CAS pattern files have multiple CAs in them. You can download the new build of CAPOW by using the Download Software button on the Lifebox page.

The first CA group shown today, was “The Kind Rain.CAS,” the next is “AintPaint.CAS,” and the one below is “LuckyNumber.CAS.” Each of these images goes with one of the short-short stories that separates the chapters of my Lifebox book.

One other bonus on the newly upgraded Lifebox web site: a 66,000 word PDF of my writing notes for the book!


My blog's not broken, I’m just distracted. I got a new IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad X40, and getting that working the way I wanted took some time. It’s a nice machine. While it was on its way, I could check its progress from Shanghai to Oakland to Los Gatos. The computer stork flying here from China.

I’ve been driving around a lot, going to Fry’s for this and that. I picked up a SONY IC recorder, it records about 2 and a half hours of stereo onto a chip that I can then, after a number of intricate computer acrobatics convert into an mp3 file.

If I took pictures of my California surroundings with the energy I bring to foreign countries would it look interesting? Gosh, look at all those cars.

I saw a cute baby in Starbucks. Kicking and rocking and reaching for his hanging toys. I’m hanging out in coffee shops more, now that I have the laptop.

I was planning to record my lecture in my philosophy course at SJSU yesterday, but of course the switch was off for the first half. But I did get a file of me reading a draft of a new SF story I’m working on, “Chu and the Nants”. I had posted the 35 Meg stereo 128 kbps MP3 of me reading a new SF story and discussing it with students here for a few days, and got some feedback from my helpful readers about how the audio sounded (not great) and how I might upgrade posting an mp3 on a RSS enabled site into a true podcast. But now (Sept 23, 2005,) having mailed off the story last week, I learn the story has been accepted by Asimov's SF Magazine (hooray!), so I don't want to muddy those waters by leaving the low-fi draft-version audio up.

By the way, “Chu and the Nants” is, in a way, an Answer Song responding to a concept in Stross’s Accelerando that really bugs me, to wit, the idea that it might be “reasonable” to grind Earth up into a Dyson sphere of nanomachines capable of running us all as agents in a virtual Earth that’s “just as nice.”

10 Responses to “New Lifebox Website , Writing Notes , New CAPOW, Podcast (?) of a New SF Story”

  1. MP3 quality, enclosures, and links Says:

    The quality of the recording of your reading is not good enough, unfortunately, in my opinion. It sounds like the recorder was on the top of a table, or something. You should put the recorder in your pocket, and use a lapel mike, with a nice stubby foam noise reducing protector. Q&A sessions are best handled without shuffling mikes in the public, but simply repeating the question to the audience, and the recorder (this sometimes helps by rephrasing the question, and making sure it was correctly understood). Discussions in small groups could either have the lapel mike being passed around with a long enough cord, or a cordless mike. I hope you’ll keep experimenting.
    For being considered a podcast proper, the formatting of your rss should expose the mp3 as an enclosure, not as much a link. The podcasting clients, which I admittedly do not use, grab the enclosures automatically, so humans can pretendend to listen to tens, or hundreds of hours of more or less intelligent talk while commuting (yes, it is in order to avoid this pretense that I do not use those specialized clients).
    Hey, make our life easier, and sell more books: when you say “go on Amazon”–link to it! …and if you want to earn a few more cents, you can also embed an affiliate ID in the link. We won’t mind at all.

  2. Rudy Says:

    I’m doing some fixes to block those pesky sp*mmers.
    So now if you put up the six-u or the hooterpootie components of web addresses it should fail.

  3. Alex McLaren Says:

    I’ve pre-ordered the The Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul today.
    I’m really looking forward to reading this book. And I sure wish I was in San Jose so I could take your class!
    Keep up with the great work.

  4. Lisa Williams Says:

    Hello, Rudy,
    Thank you so much for making these recordings available. A bit more technical information:
    Podcast clients that automate the download of podcasts — like iTunes or iPodder — read the RSS file and look for a link to a file wrapped within tags. Some blogging systems do this automatically, but most don’t, and after looking at your feed I can see that the enclosure statements aren’t being generated.
    So, easy way to do it, there are two:
    1. You can use Feedburner or Listgarden. These two programs will take your existing feed and munge it to make it more podcast-friendly.
    2. You can use a site like Gigadial. On Gigadial, you can drag and drop links into your “station.” They can be from lots of different places or all your own podcasts. Gigadial automatically creates an RSS feed with the podcast bits — and, essentially, you can be an RSS DJ, dragging and dropping any audio on the net into the feed.
    (I wonder if it works on video, like Mefeedia and FireAnt?)
    Lisa Williams

  5. Lisa Williams Says:

    As far as quality goes, I like to hear a nicely produced podcast — it’s like getting the opportunity to drive a Bentley. But I don’t think of less highly produced ones as “bad quality” but rather more like a Jeep Willys — certainly not as smooth as the Bentley but with its own rugged charm. That said, a simple clip-on mike is inexpensive and really does dramatically increase audibility. Try a site like Podcast 411 for suggestions.
    Lisa W.

  6. Marshall Says:

    Going over to Amazon now.

  7. emilio Says:

    Friends don’t let friend go to star bucks unless there are no other options available.
    I have to concur with the comment about audio quality. OTOH, it is understandable.
    I find it fascinating that the same guy pushing “everything is a computation” has trouble with the idea that there should be any difference between us a agents and us as “real.”
    It reminds me of a thought that I keep coming back to, that survival is our measure of things. That is, we value those things that represent our survival to us. I mean this in a very personal sense.

  8. emilio Says:

    The audio quality of the dialog portion is pretty poor. I couldn’t even understand myself:-( OTOH, you are still clear and it gives folks a feel for your style.

  9. Mac Says:

    Publishers Weekly seems committed to dumb-as-dirt reviews. No tolerance for originality. Their review for my nonfiction book was equally wrong-headed, if not quite as stupidly diminishing. “Negatively charged” indeed.

  10. Gunnar Says:

    wrt Reed reviewer:
    You had me at: “gnarled prose of computer science”

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