Dropbox and “No Post Sunday”

I know it’s shocking, but yes, I really did miss posting yesterday!  Fortunately, the Earth is still rotating and there has been no evidence of creatures from the abyss bringing Eternal Night to us.  It was a conspiracy of circumstances.  I had no posts already prepared that I could schedule to appear and I was actually able to go and visit my daughter and her kids.

It was a very enjoyable day out.  During a shopping expedition by my wife and daughter, I was left at something of a loose end, so I blessed the fact that I’d had the foresight to take my netbook with me.  I’ve had an idea kicking around in my skull for a little while, for a children’s story.  I decided to take this opportunity to work on that.  After all, being for kids, it wouldn’t exactly be massive!  I was getting on very nicely, too.  Right up to the point at which… the netbook’s battery died!  I think it’s safe to say that, if I was so inclined, I would have chosen this moment to curse most luridly.  Cursing not being something I ever do, I just sighed and closed the thing.  I haven’t yet dared to see whether I lost anything.

That got me to thinking – a dangerous exercise.  One thing that has plagued computer users since we progressed beyond the abacus is making sure that we don’t lose our precious work.  We are notorious for not backing up our files.  It’s understandable, to a degree, in that it can be a tedious process, and costly if you use an online service that charges according to the storage space you need.  But it’s beyond necessary.  It’s vital!  I count myself fortunate,and surprisingly prepared, because I use the excellent Dropbox service.  Not only do I enjoy some degree of security, in case smoke pours from my computer and the hard drive suddenly resembles a Daliesque perversion of itself, I can take advantage of a characteristic of Dropbox.  Not only are my files automatically backed up, I can access them from anywhere!   In fact, I can access them from any device with the Dropbox app installed on it, or through a web browser.  I can also elect to share with others, directly.  For example, I’m having two more novelettes made ready to be produced in paperback.  That means files flying back and forth.  At first, it was cumbersome – using email and a file sharing site.  When we discovered that we both used Dropbox, however, everything was streamlined beautifully!  One or other of us simply copies the file(s) to a special shared folder and its “job done”.  As the app starts when the computer is switched on, the files are immediately synced – even before everything’s finished loading up.

If you don’t use Dropbox, I strongly recommend that you give it serious thought!  Yes, there are other services, but none I’ve found that are so easy to use.  More, many others use it and it’s quite possible that you can make your life much simpler on file sharing.  The free version does have a space limit, but you can increase that by getting friends and family to use your referral link to sign up.

~ Steve

Thoughts on a Tuesday – New Paperback Launch

‘Likes’, ‘Follows’ and so forth

I’ll admit it.  I’ve participated in a few ‘Like for a Like’ and ‘Follow for a Follow’ schemes in recent times.  Now, the theory is that you’re supposed to click on ‘Like’ or ‘Follow’, or something very similar, for everybody you track a link to.  In all honesty, at first I adhered to that rule.  Lately, however, I’ve been very naughty!  I’m afraid that if I didn’t like what I found, I didn’t do what was expected of me.  What caused this revolution?  Well, quite simply, some of the participants were ringers!  The schemes were supposed to be for authors, writers, self-publishers, book reviewers and maybe book lovers.  Some of those who jumped on the ride, however, had nothing to do with any of the world of books!  They were promoting sites/blogs/pages that did anything but talk about books.  Then, there were some that did fill the bill but I had a crisis of conscience over and had to duck away from (and no, I’m not going to say what they concerned, other than for the ‘make me rich by buying my self-help-get-rich-quick book’ types).  I have no objection to the concept, but in truth I prefer the idea of having a similar scheme where you only ‘Like’/’Follow’ those you actually have an interest in hearing more from.  It’s time for a more discerning scheme for these things!  Yes, I know that I’ve gained followers, but it’s almost by accident as I’m sure the vast majority don’t really expect to maintain any active interest, and many cancel their ‘Like’/’Follow’ after a while.

Paperback Writer

Yes, the second paperback is out there – sort of!  Following the instructions given, by FeedARead, I ordered a ‘proof’ copy of my novelette in paperback.  Now, the instructions indicated that I had to approve said proof before it would go live on their store.  Performing what I like to call a ‘security check’ by Googling my name, to see if any of my ‘to-buy’ books were in places they didn’t belong, I encountered my new paperback being offered for sale by… FeedARead!  Now, in essence, I don’t have a problem with that.  I do, however, object to having to buy a copy of my own book – surely they could absorb the cost of a complementary copy – on the grounds that it wouldn’t be put up for sale until I had done so and approved it, only to discover that it was being advertised anyway!

Well, if it’s good enough for them (and no, I won’t be using them again!), then here we are:

Shade of Evil (Being Part 1 of G1: The Guardians) is available from FeedARead, ISBN 9781782993551, for £3.99 plus Post & Packing.  To quote the blurb:

A simple man bears a terrible burden, unknowing. Now, that burden is killing him, seeking freedom from his exhausted hulk. Freedom to satisfy its evil hunger.

“A darkness dwelt there, a vile miasma of misery that gnawed at the very soul of the man. It had been there for years, growing like some parasite, growing bloated with every bit of melancholy that was sucked from him. Worse, it was taking on a life of its own, a substance that should not exist. And the man was becoming something less, something hollow.”

A novelette.

A Matter of Spam

This blog is very well protected against Spammers by a system called Akismet.  The odd bit slips through, but as I have to approve comments from anybody who hasn’t been previously approved, they’re easy to mark as Spam and disposed of.  More rarely, a comment from somebody legitimate might end up in Spam when it doesn’t deserve to, but I’m scrupulous about checking before emptying the Spam folder, so they get found and approved that way.  The same isn’t true for all blogs!  I’ve noticed several blogs where Spam comments have gotten through, which means that the blog has become vulnerable to attack, and other readers may suffer if they follow links in those comments, or click on the commenter’s name.  More worryingly, this is happening on some sites that use alleged secure systems, like Captcha, which requires that you  decipher something before your comment will be accepted.  Obviously, Captcha isn’t working!  Why?  Because Spammers all know about it and it seems they are (probably) randomly attacking sites in person, so that they can get past Captcha!  Unless, of course, somebody’s created a ‘robot’ program which can solve the puzzles.  If you’re a blogger, I suggest you keep a close eye on all comments!  If you’re a blog reader – be wary of clicking on links in comments, especially if the language is poor and the comment seems ‘odd’.

As an aside, you can find out about any commenter quite easily.  First choice: Google them!  Chances are, you’ll find a string of entries where they’ve posted on various forums and blogs.  If you’re still unsure, maybe because Google has proven inconclusive, there’s a site called WhoIs.  That will look up information on anybody who is online, and it can even trace IP addresses.

Take care out there!

~ Steve