My Book, One (ish) Week in.

So, I put ‘Space Rogues‘ up for sale a few days ago, well last Tuesday to be precise. (BTW, join my newsletter if you want to stay up to date on what Wil and the crew are doing, and get sample chapters of the next story!)

It’s selling. I won’t be retiring on writing money anytime soon, but holy crap, people (presumably not all ones I know) are buying my book.

In fact, I know it’s not all people I know because the first review is in and it’s a stranger (I think). Better than that, it’s a 4-star review! Unfortunately, I bet the update that I released this weekend, would have gotten five stars. I ponied up and paid for a year of Grammarly (MONEY WELL SPENT) and spent all day Friday feeding each scene through it and cleaning it up, as our President says, ‘bigly’. Ah well, despite my playing fast and loose with commas, she liked it.

Anyhow, back to my main point in this post, DATA!

 

Space Rogue sales since launchSo this shows the first five days that ‘Space Rogues’ was available.

 

The 29th is when both Nicole and I really made noise about it. I posted here on the blog, we both shared on social media, etc.

Then, understandably buzz started to wear off. Surprisingly to me, things didn’t just drop to zero.

That cute little gray box on Friday, that’s a print book sale. Interesting, that on Friday no ebooks sold though.

I’ve been holding off doing too much marketing since I’m waiting for an improved cover. While I’m happy-ish with mine, it’s without a doubt, ‘developer art’. A good friend is working on a cover for me, so when that’s done I’ll be pushing the book harder.

I hadn’t really thought about the cover when I put it on sale, but once I saw it there, I knew that cover wasn’t sufficient.

Kindle Unlimited

Space Rogues Kindle Unlimited ReadershipWhile I’ve been a Kindle Unlimited (Seriously, give it a try if you haven’t. 30-day trial and a great way to discover new writers!) Subscriber since it launched, I’ve only followed how it works from a high level.

My understanding is that this graph is showing the “Kindle Edition Normalized Pages” which is how they determine your slice of the KU pie. Once your book is processed, they figure out the pages (discounting TOC, cover, etc) and then you get paid for each page that’s read.

I assume from this graph, two people got and finished the book in one sitting, while at least a few others have begun reading. OR a whole lot of people got it and started reading it. Either is ok with me.

I’m very interested to see how the whole Kindle Unlimited thing pans out. I’ve seen other (far more successful) writers say they make more than from books sales. I find that hard to accept, but hey. Maybe once the crew of the Ghost has gone on twenty adventures, who knows.

 

Anyhow, I’m really stoked. Especially now that I feel like ‘Space Rogues’ is at a place I can let Vol. 1 do its thing and focus on the sequel.

I Published My (first) Book

'Space Rogues' Book coverSo you may recall I wrote a thing. I’ve spent the last nine months, waiting for feedback from beta readers, tweaking, reviewing, tweaking again.

Oh, and I started on the sequel too.

This past weekend I finally decided to pull the trigger. I’ve been tweaking the story for months, it’s time to get it out into the world. So, it is. You can get it here, if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free, otherwise, it’s $2.99.

It’s $2.99 because as tempting as it would be to make it $.99 that doesn’t put a lot of value on my time. I spent a month feverishly getting the story down on (virtual) paper, and nine more months polishing it. I believe we should pay creators for their creations. Whether that’s in the Kindle Unlimited Model (I’ve found several authors via KU, that I now buy their book outright) or buy directly purchasing their work.

I’ve watched so many ‘races to the bottom’ that I can’t contribute to that. Want to read (what I think is) a good little sci-fi adventure? It’ll cost a few bucks. Don’t enjoy it? I’ll buy you a coffee to make up for it.

Space Rogues‘ was a blast to write, I’m enjoying the story that’s developing in the sequel every bit as much as this first story.

I’ve learned a lot about my writing style, and the craft in general over this past almost year. I’ve (re) fallen in love with writing. I’ve found joy in trying out new tools to help take my writing to new levels. I hope you get even half as much enjoyment from reading my work as I get from writing it :)

I hope the wait for ‘Space Rogues 2: Saving the universe, again” (Working Title) isn’t too unbearable :)

Using Dabble to plotline my next story

After finishing NaNoWriMo, I started working on a second story. Same characters and universe. The first story just kind of fell out as I wrote it, it told itself.

The sequel isn’t following suit.

A friend of mine recently released a writing app called Dabble. and while it’s not quite what I want in a writing app (Scrivener sets a high bar), it recently added a feature I’ve fallen in love with .

Enter the Plotline. 

Dabble's awesome plotline viewBeing able to lay out plot points and see the whole story is great!

I already had the first few chapters down, and kept going back and tweaking them, as I wasn’t happy with how things were flowing.

I’ve only gotten about a third or so in, and will likely change much as I go, but so far good.

 

What’s nice is Dabble is a work in progress and Jacob is awesome :) The other night as I was working, I realized I had to scroll up quite a bit to see the title of each column, so I submitted an idea to freeze the top of the screen.

Shortly after I hit ‘submit’ Jacob and I were chatting about the idea.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, straightforward writing app, take a look at Dabble and help craft it into the perfect app.

Google Wifi box

Thought on My First week with Google Wifi

I just switched out my Apple Airport Extremes for Google Wifi. I’m normally all in on the silo I’ve chosen (Apple usually). I’ve had Apple Airport Extremes since the second generation of them. They’ve never been the best devices, but again the silo. They worked remarkably well within the Apple ecosystem. Mac and iOS would see APs that needed setting up, etc. Easy. The app was nice enough.

Updates were few and far between, barely a scrap of pro user support, or more modern considerations, but they worked and managing them was easy enough from a non shitty app.

Google Wifi unboxingI’ve been keeping an eye on the emerging Mesh Wifi world, and saw this review. Wirecutter has a great writeup as well, but it didn’t cover Google Wifi and a few others, because they hadn’t shipped yet. One of my main things was it has to look not terrible since at least one will live in plain sight. Apple kit sets the bar high there.

I’ll admit, the unboxing was Apple like. A nice plain white box, subtle logo, three very pretty little pods resting inside. Cords and unsightly bits in nice individual compartments below. Nice.

Google Wifi Setup

Setup is pretty straight forward, and you can read all about it in the blog post linked above, so I won’t re-hash that. One thing I’ve learned in keeping up a home network, changing your network name is a big pain in the ass, so don’t unless you need to. Prior to booting the first Google Wifi up, I powered down the AirPort Extreme. Then as I went through the process I named my network the exact same name as the majority of devices would look for, and made sure the password was the same. Most things just reconnected no problem.

The one hassle I had in this area is that Airport Extremes let you treat your 2.4 and 5gHz networks as separate things, so I had “Wilker” and “Wilker 5G”. This was also my own thing, since it made sure my machines connected to the faster AP that was was serving 802.11ac and the slower b/g/n wouldn’t slow down the ac connections. A hold over for sure. The downside was that the device that would be the biggest headache, were the ones on the “Wilker” network. iDevice switches and the Sonos speakers. Things that don’t have a UI to interact with. Long story short, lots of resetting and reconnecting later, everyone is happy on the new and improved “Wilker 5G” network.

Google Wifi App

Google Wifi appWhile I like the app, it’s clean and pretty easy to use, it’s also the only way to interact with your Google Wifi. No desktop app, no (blech) web interface, sadly also no iPad app. Phone only. Deal breaker? No, but a pain sometimes when I’d rather use my iPad.

It is nice to be able to see my network like this, it’s one of the things I liked with Apple’s Airport Utility. This is even better since I don’t have to look at each device to see what’s on the network. They’re all listed regardless of which AP they’re talking to, very nice.

I’m not sure of it’s overall utility, but the idea of a priority device is in the app. google Wifi device list When looking at the list, you can tap that little green circle in the bottom right, and assign a device on your network priority traffic for one, two or four hours. I’m not sure why I would care do to that. It might be useful to do it indefinitely for say my media center, or the AppleTV to ensure streaming is always good, but I can’t imagine having to every few hours, pick who gets priority.

 

The other really nice thing in the device list, is seeing the data usage. You can see it in the list, and tapping on a device let’s you see that devices traffic either real time or back a few days/weeks/months. Kinda neat.

Google Wifi Mesh

Google Wifi meshI’ve been interested in mesh since I started reading about. The idea isn’t new, in fact I’ve used my previous generations of Airport Extremes in a mesh setup, but it’s much more manual and labor intensive to setup and manage. Google Wifi makes it much easier!

I do wish you could wire additional base stations to help spread the load down through the modem, but not a deal breaker.

The hardest part of set up was placing the units. Our house is a rowhouse, tall and skinny. My first thought was one unit in the office closet where the Airport Extreme was, then one upstairs at the entry to the rooftop deck since usually internet up there is the pits.

Except as you can see, the office closet isn’t a great location, I suspect because the washer and drier are right in line between the main google wifi unit and the office one. I’ll play with location later.

The rooftop one right now is in the master bedroom, straight down the hall from the office. The Unit gave an error, when on the roof. I’m not sure if it was just a fluke or if all units need to be close the main unit (which goes against my understanding of how mesh works). Will play with that one as well later.

I did some tinkering and realized my office AP was on the closet because that’s where the old Apple one lived. It was in there because that’s where the network drop was. Lightbulb moment, I moved the office unit into the room on a shelf and signal strength was vastly improved. The closet still has a switch for the wired devices.

Final thoughts.

So far so good. All devices are connected and doing well, internet speeds don’t seem any different, things stream well, etc. These are smaller and more discreet than Airport Extremes which is nice. We’ll see how Google does as far a feature updates, etc.

One update, I had a weird google service issue the other day. I don’t know if it was google DNS, or their servers or what, but it directly impacted the google wifi since the app talks to their servers as well, quite frustrating.

 

 

 

I often wonder if Amazon even cares about the Kindle

I love my Kindle, it’s packed full of books, hundreds of them. It sucks.

Amazon from the start with the Kindle has been a weird duality. At the same time, making it super easy to buy a book, start reading it almost instantly, and making it nearly impossible to manage your library either on the Kindle or online.

Amazon has never since the launch of the Kindle had what might even be considered a strategy. As a customer, it seems they don’t care how we manage our library. I think they thought, “They’ll just have a virtual pile on their device and dig around for their next book.” Assuming they even thought about it.

Collections

Kindle for MacYou might think you could manage your library on a desktop app, that makes sense, there’s screen real estate, a rich UI, etc. NOPE.

Even collections I’ve created on my device aren’t visible in the Kindle desktop app.

Long long ago, there was a time that the Kindle firmware made managing your books pretty easy. You created collections, and there was a view that consisted only of collections and unassigned books, so once you saw only your collections, you were organized. A subsequent firmware update did away with that, forever. Thanks Obama.

(UPATE: As Mike points out in the comments, this feature is actually present. I stopped looking a long time ago, so maybe it was only missing for a point release or two, but it’s there now, which is awesome!)

Gooddreads shelvesOne might think the acquisition of good reads would make managing your library somewhat easier, or even possible. NOPE. Good reads has ‘shelves’ and you can add books to the ‘currently-reading’, and ‘read’ via your Kindle, but that’s it. Collections aren’t represented in Goodreads at all, nor are your Goodreads shelves represented on the Kindle.

As Kindle owners know, there’s the “manage your devices and content” section within Amazon. You might think you could go there to sort your vast library of books purchased from Amazon. NOPE, you can see them all listed, download them to your computer (handy for using CalibreAmazon manage your content screen to manage your library), re-deliver to your Kindle and just recently assign books to collections. That’s right, the Amazon site knows collections are a thing, knows you have them.

Awesome, except there’s no “collection view” on the site, so you can’t actually take a look at your ‘sci-fi’ collection, see what’s in it. Oh and if you want to re-assign a book to other collections, or add itAmazon manage your content screen 2 to more, once you’ve done that initial sorting, you can’t. Amazon’s site (at least on Safari) basically sucks, and you get a blank dialogue.

Initially, well ‘initially’ being the last 5 or so years I’ve owned a Kindle, I’ve endeavored to just suck it up and manage all my content on my handy little e-ink screen. It was the pits.

There are third party tools, like Calibre, that I love for managing my library, but this solution isn’t realistic for the less technically inclined. I might write up my current workflow which more or less works, until Amazon updates their ebook format, temporarily breaking things, and activating the hacker Kindle community to work on new patches. It’s tedious, but beats thumbing through screen after screen on your device for your next reading adventure.

I demoted my Apple Watch

I’ve been debating whether to continue using the Apple Watch for a while now. AppleWatch has definitely gotten better since launch, but still hasn’t found a killer app/feature. Activity tracking is the thing that has kept it on my wrist. I had a Fitbit for years, and loved the data collection around my daily activities and health, Apple upped that game.

wooden watchThe final straw as it were, was my 40th birthday, my wife got me a nice wooden bodied watch. I wanted to wear it. So I made the decision to move my Apple Watch to my right wrist, and switch to an activity specific face.

If I were to buy a new Apple Watch I’d likely buy the smaller face model so it’s a little less “obvious”

Wearing two watches admittedly is some solid ’80-90s stuff, but so far it’s working.

I’ve dialed down the notifications on the watch so it’s just stuff I really really want to know about. I’ve switched to a face that shows temp, and activity.

Apple Watch as activity trackerI do miss seeing my calendar entries, but that’s a small price to pay. I’ve already begun rotating through my watch collection again and love it. I need to go to a jeweler and get batteries put in a few. They’ve been neglected too long and their batteries are dead.

My Review of the D-Link Omna HomeKit Camera

UPDATE:

Ok, so I’ve been using the Omna for a while now and wanted to update my review. I decided to not post a second one, but just update this one, so the original is below.

Overall I’m still happy with my two Omna cameras. There are however some issues that kinda suck. Namely the SD recording function. Specifically, it’s unreliable at best.

There are times I’m certain someone is in the house (thankfully my Schlage Touch sense deadolt is WAY more reliable) and yet the camera never once captures it. Worse even, half the time the camera fails to capture things, it will capture before and after someone is in the house.

Example; I leave the house for a showing (we’re selling). My lock tells me the realtor has arrived. Some time later my lock tells me they’ve left. I take a peak at the camera to see if they walked around and liked the house or walked in and right back out. No recording. The camera captured me leaving, then captured me coming back home, but somehow never once captured what happened in between.

I still like the Omna overall, but it’s functions as a security camera are pathetic and I hope D-Link does something about it. I certainly won’t be adding any more Omna to my Homekit set up until this is addressed

 

So I’ve been keeping on eye on the HomeKit field since Apple announced it. Seeing what devices and manufacturers were launching. One of the things I’ve been waiting for is home security/monitoring. Finally, the D-Link Omna is out.

D-Link Omna HomekitI immediately bought two. I still need an outdoor camera solution, sadly the one I have isn’t homekit friendly, nor is the app that I use to monitor it. However, the Omna is NOT an outdoor camera. You could put it in a window looking out, but I’ve never had good results with that since the moment the IR lights kick in, they reflect off the window back into the camera.

So, that said, I have now addressed my “Did I leave the garage open?” problem. Usually, it’s right after leaving and I just do a quick loop through our alley, but sometimes it hits me farther from home, or as happened most recently, “Did I leave that soldering iron on?”

The main need I had for in-house cameras wasn’t to watch the house as much as detect motion and capture it when not home. That’s why the Living Room Cam is at the far end of the house. I don’t need to see Nicole and I watching TV in full HD, but when not home, want to see if anyone is moving around who shouldn’t be. i.e. someone tall enough to be seen, and not my dogs. I think it’ll be a killer feature to set a rule like “When I’m not home, if the front door opens, start recording and alert me” Thanks to the Schlage smart lock which is also HomeKit capable, that’s possible (ish, depending on Apple’s automation piece).

Setup

Setup Is easy, HomeKit tech may have a semi-premium price tag, but set up alone makes up for it. From the Omna app, you add your camera(s). The app gets them on the network, adds them to your HomeKit “Home” in the room you want. D-Link Omna setup

Once that’s done, you really don’t use their app much. THere’s a few settings you set, but after that, short of checking for firmware updates, there’s no need for the app (Into the ‘Home’ folder you go)

The motion capture is pretty basic, which I hope is just a rev 1.0 thing. Once you add an SD card you’re able to configure recording thresholds, capture areas, etc. You can’t view the captured video in the Home app, so you need to keep the Omna app around for that. You also can’t control motion detection triggers in the Home app automation section.

Ideally I’d like to set up capture rules around capture when I’m not home, or certain times of day, etc. I don’ need my Home to turn on lights when there’s motion in the garage at noon, and it’s me, but at midnight that might not be a bad thing, whether I’m home or not. Like I said, hopefully this is just a rev 1.0 thing.

 

Usage

The cameras support two-way audio, though other than spooking Nicole I can’t imagine a use. I’m sure if I talked to the dogs, they’d lose their minds and destroy something looking for us. I’m sure it’s a handy feature, but not one I really care about.

D-Link Omna viewThe Wide angle lens is really as it gives you a more or less full view of the space. As I play with these cameras, I may experiment with putting them in the middle of our rather long townhouse floor, to see if I can still capture the entire space.

 

HomeKit

Overall so far I’m really happy, but for the most part, if I never have to look at them, that’s good, since that means someone or something set them off when I wasn’t around, LOL.

As more and more devices are released (This seems like a big year for HomeKit based on the last CES) the HomeKit ecosystem will get more and more awesome. I hope Apple keeps up with improving the base HomeKit app/API so users can get creative with the automation tools.