Posted in Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Technology, Writing

Confined

By Scott Bailey © 2015

 

Space. It stretched out before him – endless, dark, enticing. The stars were faint and blurry through the thick glass view port, moving in a slow arc across his vision.

He could feel the endless nothing all around, calling to his soul, a siren’s whisper.

Float with us. Float with us forever! Float and forget.

The dark song was as endless as dreams.

He shook his head, fighting off the draining sensation.

He needed to concentrate.

He turned away to look out the only other viewport.

This one was dominated by the dark shadow of the dead ship. It was only visible against the deeper blackness due to the fading embers of molten metal fragments of its destruction.

They too fade from sight to and die.

Like everyone inside.

He shivered.

Looking out that viewport was hurting his neck. He faced forward again. He was too cramped. He could only move his head left and right and his arms enough to use the control by his hands and the keyboards before him.

He was stuck.

Daydreams had led him here – he couldn’t let them end him here.

A beep from the computer brought his senses back to proper alertness.

It had started. The attacks were coming.

He had anticipated it, though not so quickly and not all at once.

Float….

Concentrate!

“Update”, he commanded.

The computer’s calm voice responded.

“Interceptors are on the way they will arrive in precisely 623 seconds.”

“They must be responding to the distress call from the prison,” he muttered.

“That would seem a high probability.”

Dammit! He hadn’t been able to cut that off in time.

The computer went on.

“We should send our own distress call, they will be equipped to rescue you.”

“Do not!” he commanded. “Keep radio silence!”

“Affirmative.”

They were not only equipped for rescue. They were heavily armed. Once they learned the truth – and very soon they would – weapons would their first response.

“And our firewall?” he queried.

“The outer defence has been breached but the systems have not yet been compromised.”

That wouldn’t last much longer. The authorities were suspicious already –  the presence of such a strong firewall did not to allay those suspicions – so they were hitting the firewall with the best they had.

“And my program?”

“Approximately 800 seconds to completion.”

Not enough time!

He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. There was too much at stake here to fail.

He needed more time.

“Instigate firewall program 42!”

The computer complied and ran the program for him.  That would keep the cyber attacks at bay for a little longer.

He shook his head. He had the nagging feeling that this was all just too fantastic!

Only a year ago the only thing he did on a computer was check social media and chat! Spaceships were a thing of science-fiction! Now here he was a master programmer and a fugitive from the authorities flying in space. It all seemed too unreal.

It was the stress of the situation he told himself and he could not afford to be distracted by it.

Besides he wasn’t actually flying a spaceship right now. He was drifting in what was little more than an escape pod.

But the ship he had escaped from was real. As were those bearing down on him. And these were not the only truths he had discovered lately.

He looked at the countdown on the program he was running.

“OK,” he told the computer, “prepare a distress call. But inject the virus I prepared.”

“That is against regulations,” the computer informed him. He barked an override code at it and it proceeded to prepare the distress call.

It was amazing what you could learn in prison. Hacking, override codes. The truth about the universe out there.

Putting him in prison had been their mistake.

Daydreams and curiosity had led him to that prison. he asked too many questions and that had got him into trouble at work and with the Government. That alone would probably not have condemned him but he had also an inventive streak. And a paranoid one.

When they hauled him for questioning he had snuck in a crude listening device.

It had not worked very well but he had caught snippets of conversation.

“He seems immune..”

“Is he any harm though?”

“ … control …    inherited or just a ….. “

“He is a dreamer, not a revolutionary.”

“There we go then. We make him a believer…”

Unfortunately, the listening device was discovered – and that sealed his fate. He was shipped off to a deep space prison ship.

A deep space prison ship! One day he was in a world where the space shuttle was the most sophisticated space vehicle man had created and smartphones where the best man seemed to be able to achieve – the next he was in a world of spaceships – and space police!

It was a culture shock, to say the least.

He was dumped into prison and forgotten.

And that was the strangest thing of all. In prison, he flourished.

On earth – in his old life he had been Mr Average Joe to a T. Prison should have broken him. Yet he found that he had more freedom stuck on this ship than ever before.

He learned the truth for one thing.

There existed on earth (and space) a super élite far above anything anyone even suspected existed. They had science and wealth beyond the imagination of most people.

The rests of the population were kept in drug-induced ignorance. Cattle whose sole purpose was to provide this élite with their lifestyle.

Knowledge seemed to flow freely in prison and he absorbed it all. He learnt to program and how to hack computers.

He had vowed to expose the truth and free the world.

So he had concocted his escape. It had cost him the lives of everyone on that ship – and probably his own life too but he didn’t care.

He was filled with fury. He wanted to free the enslaved population of the human race for sure. What he wanted more though was to see the smug bastards who ruled them get their just deserts.

“Distress call is ready to send.”

He nodded, he was about to tell the computer to send it when it preempted him.

“New contacts.”

“What?”

“There are two more ships, coming in from the direction of Saturn.”

“More interceptors?”

“No. They bear all the signs of space pirates?”

Space pirates? Pirates? How could pirates exist? That would imply ….

He shook his head. There were too many questions threatening to distract him. He had to concentrate.

“Program completion has been suspended.” the computer announced.

What!?

He flung his fingers at the keyboard and dove into code. They had not yet got full control but they managed to stop his program.

Which implied they knew or guessed what he was doing.

He glanced at the other screen. The pirates would get here quicker than the interceptors! And they would shoot first!

He didn’t hesitate now. He called up his virus and made a few changes, then he told the computer to prepare it again and send it.

Then he dove back in and started a counterattack against the hackers. He managed to regain control and get his program running again. He then spent the next few minutes  both fighting the hackers off and keeping his exit channels open.

While he did this he also watched as his virus took hold of the interceptors and turned them towards the pirates. They would be forced to fight each other for a bit.

The program was also done. The hackers came on in full force. He struggled to hold them back.

A fireball briefly bloomed in space. All the pirate ships and interceptors signals went dead. They had destroyed each other.

Almost there.

Now the hackers could see the program running even if they couldn’t stop it yet.

A signal flickered back to life on the screen

One interceptor had survived.

It was closing in, weapons charged.

Almost.

“Program completed!” the computer announced.

“Run it!” he shouted.

He watched the screen as the truth – all the truth – was sent out to every single person on earth.

The lies were exposed.

Come now, float with us…

No!

The interceptor would be in range soon.

He breathed easier.

He had done as much as he could for the world. Now he had to look to his own survival.

He was stranded in space, with limited resources and little time. Air and supplies running out and no hope of rescue.

After the years and years of confinement, he welcomed the challenge – relished it.

“Now this,” he said, with an almost feral grin, “is living!”

 

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

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Posted in General, Music, Technology

The Lost Art of Listening – to Albums

Pink Floyd had a good point when resisting the demands to release their albums digitally. They argued that their music was written to be listened to as a whole – that their songs melded into one another and were not distinct entities.

I am very guilty of that. I hop in the car, switch on my phone and stick it on shuffle* – I enjoy being surprised and not knowing what the next song will be. And as I have a wide and eclectic taste in music it can jump from one genre to the next with some startling contrasts.

However, I have become guilty of only listening to music in this way. I need to sit down, relax, and make the time to listen to a whole album in order the way it was meant to be.

Pink Floyd’s Animals is a good candidate to start with. So I am off to redress the balance.

* (when I am not listening to Audio Books these days).

In response to the daily prompt Pink

#DailyPrompt, #amwriting

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Posted in Creative Writing, Daily Prompt, Science Fiction, Short Stories, Technology, Writing

Confined

By Scott Bailey © 2015

 

Space. It stretched out before him – endless, dark, enticing. The stars were faint and blurry through the thick glass view port, moving in a slow arc across his vision.

He could feel the endless nothing all around, calling to his soul, a siren’s whisper.

Float with us. Float with us forever! Float and forget.

The dark song was as endless as dreams.

He shook his head, fighting off the draining sensation.

He needed to concentrate.

He turned away to look out the only other viewport.

This one was dominated by the dark shadow of the dead ship. It was only visible against the deeper blackness due to the fading embers of molten metal fragments of its destruction.

They too fade from sight to and die.

Like everyone inside.

He shivered.

Looking out that viewport was hurting his neck. He faced forward again. He was too cramped. He could only move his head left and right and his arms enough to use the control by his hands and the keyboards before him.

He was stuck.

Daydreams had led him here – he couldn’t let them end him here.

A beep from the computer brought his senses back to proper alertness.

It had started. The attacks were coming.

He had anticipated it, though not so quickly and not all at once.

Float….

Concentrate!

“Update”, he commanded.

The computer’s calm voice responded.

“Interceptors are on the way they will arrive in precisely 623 seconds.”

“They must be responding to the distress call from the prison,” he muttered.

“That would seem a high probability.”

Dammit! He hadn’t been able to cut that off in time.

The computer went on.

“We should send our own distress call, they will be equipped to rescue you.”

“Do not!” he commanded. “Keep radio silence!”

“Affirmative.”

They were not only equipped for rescue. They were heavily armed. Once they learned the truth – and very soon they would – weapons would their first response.

“And our firewall?” he queried.

“The outer defence has been breached but the systems have not yet been compromised.”

That wouldn’t last much longer. The authorities were suspicious already –  the presence of such a strong firewall did not to allay those suspicions – so they were hitting the firewall with the best they had.

“And my program?”

“Approximately 800 seconds to completion.”

Not enough time!

He swallowed hard and took a deep breath. There was too much at stake here to fail.

He needed more time.

“Instigate firewall program 42!”

The computer complied and ran the program for him.  That would keep the cyber attacks at bay for a little longer.

He shook his head. He had the nagging feeling that this was all just too fantastic!

Only a year ago the only thing he did on a computer was check social media and chat! Spaceships were a thing of science-fiction! Now here he was a master programmer and a fugitive from the authorities flying in space. It all seemed too unreal.

It was the stress of the situation he told himself and he could not afford to be distracted by it.

Besides he wasn’t actually flying a spaceship right now. He was drifting in what was little more than an escape pod.

But the ship he had escaped from was real. As were those bearing down on him. And these were not the only truths he had discovered lately.

He looked at the countdown on the program he was running.

“OK,” he told the computer, “prepare a distress call. But inject the virus I prepared.”

“That is against regulations,” the computer informed him. He barked an override code at it and it proceeded to prepare the distress call.

It was amazing what you could learn in prison. Hacking, override codes. The truth about the universe out there.

Putting him in prison had been their mistake.

Daydreams and curiosity had led him to that prison. he asked too many questions and that had got him into trouble at work and with the Government. That alone would probably not have condemned him but he had also an inventive streak. And a paranoid one.

When they hauled him for questioning he had snuck in a crude listening device.

It had not worked very well but he had caught snippets of conversation.

“He seems immune..”

“Is he any harm though?”

“ … control …    inherited or just a ….. “

“He is a dreamer, not a revolutionary.”

“There we go then. We make him a believer…”

Unfortunately, the listening device was discovered – and that sealed his fate. He was shipped off to a deep space prison ship.

A deep space prison ship! One day he was in a world where the space shuttle was the most sophisticated space vehicle man had created and smartphones where the best man seemed to be able to achieve – the next he was in a world of spaceships – and space police!

It was a culture shock, to say the least.

He was dumped into prison and forgotten.

And that was the strangest thing of all. In prison, he flourished.

On earth – in his old life he had been Mr Average Joe to a T. Prison should have broken him. Yet he found that he had more freedom stuck on this ship than ever before.

He learned the truth for one thing.

There existed on earth (and space) a super élite far above anything anyone even suspected existed. They had science and wealth beyond the imagination of most people.

The rests of the population were kept in drug-induced ignorance. Cattle whose sole purpose was to provide this élite with their lifestyle.

Knowledge seemed to flow freely in prison and he absorbed it all. He learnt to program and how to hack computers.

He had vowed to expose the truth and free the world.

So he had concocted his escape. It had cost him the lives of everyone on that ship – and probably his own life too but he didn’t care.

He was filled with fury. He wanted to free the enslaved population of the human race for sure. What he wanted more though was to see the smug bastards who ruled them get their just deserts.

“Distress call is ready to send.”

He nodded, he was about to tell the computer to send it when it preempted him.

“New contacts.”

“What?”

“There are two more ships, coming in from the direction of Saturn.”

“More interceptors?”

“No. They bear all the signs of space pirates?”

Space pirates? Pirates? How could pirates exist? That would imply ….

He shook his head. There were too many questions threatening to distract him. He had to concentrate.

“Program completion has been suspended.” the computer announced.

What!?

He flung his fingers at the keyboard and dove into code. They had not yet got full control but they managed to stop his program.

Which implied they knew or guessed what he was doing.

He glanced at the other screen. The pirates would get here quicker than the interceptors! And they would shoot first!

He didn’t hesitate now. He called up his virus and made a few changes, then he told the computer to prepare it again and send it.

Then he dove back in and started a counterattack against the hackers. He managed to regain control and get his program running again. He then spent the next few minutes  both fighting the hackers off and keeping his exit channels open.

While he did this he also watched as his virus took hold of the interceptors and turned them towards the pirates. They would be forced to fight each other for a bit.

The program was also done. The hackers came on in full force. He struggled to hold them back.

A fireball briefly bloomed in space. All the pirate ships and interceptors signals went dead. They had destroyed each other.

Almost there.

Now the hackers could see the program running even if they couldn’t stop it yet.

A signal flickered back to life on the screen

One interceptor had survived.

It was closing in, weapons charged.

Almost.

“Program completed!” the computer announced.

“Run it!” he shouted.

He watched the screen as the truth – all the truth – was sent out to every single person on earth.

The lies were exposed.

Come now, float with us…

No!

The interceptor would be in range soon.

He breathed easier.

He had done as much as he could for the world. Now he had to look to his own survival.

He was stranded in space, with limited resources and little time. Air and supplies running out and no hope of rescue.

After the years and years of confinement, he welcomed the challenge – relished it.

“Now this,” he said, with an almost feral grin, “is living!”

 

In response to the daily prompt Lifestyle

#DailyPrompt, #amwriting

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

Posted in Creative Writing, Fantasy Fiction, Fiction, Poetry, Science Fiction, Self Publishing, Short Stories, Technology, Writing

Stats are growing – a promising start

Well, this week I exceeded the views for every year since I have started blogging except last year – which was by far the best year. Now only 2016 to beat and at my current rate I will beat that in less than two months.

All this is gratifying but what it does not seem to translate to is more clicks and sales to my books. Admittedly that’s not the primary reason for this blog, I write because I enjoy doing it, but I thought there might be a few click-throughs as my audience grows.

Any fellow writers out there got any tips?

Posted in Creative Writing, Self Publishing, Technology, Writing

New Website

So I have been a little bit quieter than normal on here – scheduled posts aside. This is partly because I have been working on a new version of my website.

There were a number of reasons for this. Firstly, it needed a refresh. It was also getting quite hard to update – the pages being simple static pages. The final reason was that I was expanding my WordPress skills. The site is now run on a self-hosted WordPress platform. So it’s far easier to update now.

Take a mosey on over and see what you think.

Posted in Creative Writing, Fiction, Mankind Limited News, Review, Science Fiction, Self Publishing, Technology, Writing

Mankind Limited Another Review

Mankind_Limited_Cover_for_Kindle

“This book ⇑⇑⇑ should be a movie. Somewhere in Hollywood right now there are actors waiting for their agents to deliver this story in script format to them. The makings of all action-packed adventure films is here. I can see the film in my mind’s eye.
But this one is different.

It’s not fast-paced for the thrill of it alone. It needs to be to get the message across. Mankind could be on the threshold of just such a future. Time is racing.

This one could be us.

Maybe a few years down the line yet, maybe already almost there in some similar format. Change a few details. Replace one group for another. Look behind the motives in politics and corporations. Stretch the reality just a little. Ask ourselves questions looking through the light of a different lens.

It feels like us, it acts like us, it may very well come…”

#IARTG

Posted in Creative Writing, Fiction, Mankind Limited News, Review, Science Fiction, Self Publishing, Technology, Writing

Mankind Limited Another Review

Mankind_Limited_Cover_for_Kindle

“This book ⇑⇑⇑ should be a movie. Somewhere in Hollywood right now there are actors waiting for their agents to deliver this story in script format to them. The makings of all action-packed adventure films is here. I can see the film in my mind’s eye.
But this one is different.

It’s not fast-paced for the thrill of it alone. It needs to be to get the message across. Mankind could be on the threshold of just such a future. Time is racing.

This one could be us.

Maybe a few years down the line yet, maybe already almost there in some similar format. Change a few details. Replace one group for another. Look behind the motives in politics and corporations. Stretch the reality just a little. Ask ourselves questions looking through the light of a different lens.

It feels like us, it acts like us, it may very well come…”

#IARTG

Posted in Technology

Hiring again

If you live in the south-east of the UK and are a PHP developer this might be in interest

Job Description
 
An experienced and talented Web/Database Developer is required to work within a company in the logistics industry. They will become an essential member of a dedicated team and as such should have good interpersonal as well as technical skills.  
The company is a leading logistics equipment supplier that have developed a unique product aimed at a specific corner of the market. It is a small but expanding company.  
The correct candidate will quickly take on a role that will help to ensure the growth and continuing success of the company. It is an environment where each individual’s input has an immediate impact.
The role will encompass both front and back-end development as well as some systems administration.
 
Skills
 
Essential
 
·         PHP (OOP)
·         Laravel
·         AngularJs
·         JQuery
·         MySql
 
Desired
 
·         Java
·         C/C#
·         SEO Optimisation
·         Photoshop/GIMP
·         Linux Administration
Link to application here
Posted in Technology

Customer Service Administrator – Opportunity

Another Role has come up where I work – see below and apply here

We are looking for an experienced Customer Service Administrator to provide high levels of customer service, administration and undertake other tasks required to ensure the smooth running of the business.

Our company is a small but expanding business in the logistics industry, supplying the next generation of trailer management equipment. We are currently based in Folkestone but are looking to relocate to Ashford, Kent.

Your key responsibilities will include

– Liaising closely with clients via telephone and email, building strong rapports and customer satisfaction

– Keeping internal database systems accurate and updated

– Issuing invoices to clients and vendors, carrying out credit control to enable prompt payment

– Processing and monitoring sales orders ensuring delivery deadlines are met

– Maintaining product stock levels, performing quality checks and processing warranty returns

– Supporting the Service Engineer, scheduling and planning their work diary

– Analysing data and compiling accurate reports to senior management

The skills, knowledge and qualifications required to be successful in this role are

– Strong customer service and administration (preferably NVQ qualifications or related field)

– Highly organised, prioritise effectively and exceptional attention to detail

– Excellent interpersonal and communication skills

– Professional self-starter and ability to work unsupervised

– Great numeracy

– IT literate, proficiency in Microsoft Outlook, Excel & Word

Posted in Technology

Hiring again

If you live in the south-east of the UK and are a PHP developer this might be in interest

Job Description
 
An experienced and talented Web/Database Developer is required to work within a company in the logistics industry. They will become an essential member of a dedicated team and as such should have good interpersonal as well as technical skills.  
The company is a leading logistics equipment supplier that have developed a unique product aimed at a specific corner of the market. It is a small but expanding company.  
The correct candidate will quickly take on a role that will help to ensure the growth and continuing success of the company. It is an environment where each individual’s input has an immediate impact.
The role will encompass both front and back-end development as well as some systems administration.
 
Skills
 
Essential
 
·         PHP (OOP)
·         Laravel
·         AngularJs
·         JQuery
·         MySql
 
Desired
 
·         Java
·         C/C#
·         SEO Optimisation
·         Photoshop/GIMP
·         Linux Administration
Link to application here
Posted in Creative Writing, Fiction, Mankind Limited News, Science Fiction, Self Publishing, Technology, Writing

Self Publishing Ups and Downs

Well, it’s only been a week since I venture onto Smashwords so this is probably premature – but…

Emotionally it’s been up and down. I was elated that I got through to the premium catalogue on the first attempt – gives me confidence that I have the technical skills at least!

Seeing my book in the Nook store and on IBooks have me a real pleasure.

On the Smashwords dashboard, I see that 14 people have sampled the book already and over 100 pages read.

However, 0 sales.

That’s making me feel despondent. I thought that maybe I just wasn’t reaching anyone through Amazon Kindle. That my feeble marketing attempts just weren’t going anywhere.

Now? It seems that it’s getting noticed – but after reading some of it, they are not buying it to read the rest.

What do I have to do?

It’s hard to tell what’s going on though. Under Kindle, there were not stats on how many people sampled the book. So maybe I wasn’t getting noticed there.  And the stats at Smashwords don’t give me reasons and details. Maybe those 14 people were expecting a different kind of book? Maybe my description is misleading in some way that I haven’t spotted?

Or maybe they just didn’t like it. There’s no feedback so I can’t really tell.

So – I am feeling a bit defeated and tired. But it won’t stop me ultimately – I will get back to writing a bit more now instead of marketing. The writing is the pleasure anyway.

quotescover-PNG-26

 

Posted in Creative Writing, Family, General, Health, Journal, Poetry, Self Publishing, Short Stories, Technology, Work, Writing

Thoughts and updates

So his blog has been a bit quiet lately – mostly reblogs. I was ill for a while, then my kids were ill. Work has been stressful as usual and life has been in the way.

But I have managed to do some writing, just not for blogging purposes. I have edited my latest collection of short stories. I have half of one very short one left to do.

This is the first round of editing. Basically rewriting them – they are very old so I was improving them. I am pretty much seeing them as first drafts.

The second round of editing will be proofreading and looking for mistakes. Then they will be ready for publishing.

So I have not dedicated so much time to blogging. That may continue! I will try to do Ronovan’s Weekly Haiku Challenge and something else every now and then. Beyond that, I will be mainly trying to market the two books I have already published.

On a more positive note – I got a new laptop – a hybrid laptop/tablet. It’s only small and not powerful but does exactly what I need – makes it easier for me to write even when I can’t sit at my desk and do so. It also means an end to my non – windows household but hey ho.

Next, I’ll be getting a windows phone! Only joking! But a new phone is on the books. Just have to decide which one.

Talking of phones – I was thinking about the article I wrote a while ago about phone snooping. What brought this thought on was something my wife said.

For work, I quite often have to go to our manufacturing partner, to drop things off, pick things up, sort out problems with testing etc. The place is called Simtek but for some reason, my wife always calls it Semtex. So when she said to me this morning, are you going to Semtex this morning – I suddenly had visions of alarm bells going off in some CIA listening station!

Oh well – getting arrested by the CIA might be just the thing to boost my book sales!

 

Posted in Technology

Are Our Phones Snooping On Us?

This is the question posed in this recent article.

I am becoming increasingly convinced by this. Obviously having read the article I am now on the lookout. I have seen what appears to be supporting evidence.

My wife and I had a conversation about me needing a new shaver – mine has broken and it’s my birthday coming up. I have done no searching at all on shavers as what I actually want for my birthday is a cheap lightweight laptop. Despite this, I have now seen three adverts for shavers online.

Scary.

If you think about it the mobile phone has the potential to be the ultimate tool for “big brother”. It knows where you are, what you are doing, what your plans are, what your interests are and if they are listening to us then our most intimate conversations.

Talking of phones, mine is up for renewal. The market appears to have changed. I have always chosen the top of the range models as I use the features and for me, they are worth it.

Each time I have been showered with gifts so to speak. The last two times I got a free tablet, the time before that my current (defunct) laptop. This time – nothing – in fact I am being expected to shell out for the privilege.

Time for cutbacks I think. Might have to settle for something less than top of the range, this time, around, especially as I am now getting paid a lot less.

Ho hum.

Posted in Creative Writing, Fiction, Mankind Limited News, Poem a Day Challenge, Poetry, Review, Science Fiction, Self Publishing, Short Stories, Technology, Writing

New Author Website!

I have completely revamped and refreshed my author website!

pexels-photo-fireworks

My previous one was set up hastily and partly in order for me to learn the basic concepts of the yii2 framework.

The new one does not use a framework – yet. It is based on simple HTML pages using a free template. As it stands a framework is overkill, but if it grows anymore it will need one.

This means I have been able to concentrate more on the design – always my weak point. I am a lot happier with it this time. Let me know what you think and share the link around 🙂

www.scottandrewbailey.uk

 

Posted in General, Music, Technology

The Lost Art of Listening – to Albums

Pink Floyd had a good point when resisting the demands to release their albums digitally. They argued that their music was written to be listened to as a whole – that their songs melded into one another and were not distinct entities.

I am very guilty of that. I hop in the car, switch on my phone and stick it on shuffle* – I enjoy being surprised and not knowing what the next song will be. And as I have a wide and eclectic taste in music it can jump from one genre to the next with some startling contrasts.

However, I have become guilty of only listening to music in this way. I need to sit down, relax, and make the time to listen to a whole album in order the way it was meant to be.

Pink Floyd’s Animals is a good candidate to start with. So I am off to redress the balance.

* (when I am not listening to Audio Books these days).

Posted in Creative Writing, Fiction, General, Mankind Limited News, Science Fiction, Self Publishing, Technology, Writing

Dealings Revealed

So to follow-up from my previous post- Dodgy Dealings – this was the answer from CreateSpace

Greetings and thank you for contacting us with your inquiry.

Retailers, including Amazon, allow third-parties to sell products on their websites. If your book is available through the Amazon.com or Amazon Europe sales channels, then these third-party sellers may also list your book for sale on your Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.es and Amazon.it detail pages. CreateSpace is not directly affiliated with these sellers and cannot control the selling price and condition (new or used) of these listings.

Here are some examples of these types of listings:

Sellers can list your book for sale without physical inventory on-hand or list new copy as used. When the seller receives a customer order, they then place an order from Amazon.com, Amazon’s European websites or CreateSpace to fulfill this demand and drop-ship it to the customer. At that time, your title is manufactured; you earn a royalty, and the order is sent to the end customer.

For books enrolled in Expanded Distribution, third-party sellers can create listings on various retail sites both domestically and internationally. These sellers can source your title from the distributors we work with through Expanded Distribution, to fulfill customer orders. Once the title is manufactured, an Expanded Distribution royalty will be reported in your account within 8 weeks.

Sellers can list used copies of your title for sale. If a used copy is sold, you will not receive a royalty for this sale because you previously received the royalty when the title was manufactured and originally sold.

Copies that you purchase of your own title, also known as member orders, may end up being listed for sale on a retail site. Member orders are purchased at a discounted price and do not earn you a royalty. If you give these copies away or sell them to a wholesaler, it’s possible that they may become available for purchase on a retail site. Keep in mind that once your book is in distribution, it can change hands multiple times. If this happens, you will not receive a royalty for the sale because the title is re-sold using a book that you originally purchased at a discounted rate.

I hope this information proves to be helpful, if you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We wish you all the best with your book project!

Best regards,

So, I think that explains it well enough. I suspected as much, but it was nice for it to be confirmed.

Oh, and to follow on from Learning a New Language I am now a novice C# programmer!

Posted in General, Technology

Amazon Sneaky Tricks

OK, Rant Time!

Amazon has suddenly become very sneaky about signing you up for amazon prime.  When you order anything there are several screens to go through to get to the checkout now and on everyone the default choice is one that will sign you up for a free trial!

Now I now it’s a free trial and you can cancel it (I did right away!) but how easy is it to forget to cancel – or to miss the fact that you have signed up in the first place!

This stinks of the early days on the internet when you could find yourself signed up to mailing lists without explicitly giving permission. It erodes customer trust! Come on Amazon – don’t be sneaks!

Posted in Creative Writing, Fiction, Mankind Limited News, Poetry, Science Fiction, Self Publishing, Short Stories, Technology, Writing

Author Page Growing

After a concerted effort – my Facebook page has exceeded 1000 likes.

Now if I could just turn those likes into sales of book I would be a happier man.

Any hints or pointers welcome.

https://www.facebook.com/scottandrewbailey?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Posted in General, Technology, Television

Strange Computer Logic

Sometimes the algorithms computers use to serve us up stuff are just weird.

I usually watch Only Connect on BBC iplayer. The other day – when I had finished watching it had suggestions on what else I might like to watch.

Snog, Marry, Avoid!

What! How the hell did it think after watching one of the finest examples of intelligence and culture – the kind of program the BBC does best when it outs its mind to it – that I might want to watch an example of the worst kind of gutter televisual crap that has ever disgraced our screens.

I don’t even know how that programme got on the BBC – its worthy of the worst of the ITV channels. No wonder BBC Three is being dropped from the airwaves.

Tonight though – after watching the latest episode of Only Connect it suggested – University Challenge. That’s more like it.

Posted in Technology, Work

Maths, maths, maths!

Today I have wrestled with weighted linear regression, multiplying and inversing matrices and trying to convert an extremely complex excel spreadsheet full of formulae I had never seen before in my life into a PHP function!

So that was fun!

Still I am not as bad as this guy.

http://www.theladbible.com/articles/some-people-on-the-internet-are-really-struggling-with-quite-simple-maths

Posted in General, Technology, Work

The Triumph of the Subconscious

A while ago – and again I have lost any links or references to it – I saw a documentary on how the subconscious can take over and solve tricky problems for you. I think it was a BBC Horizon episode but could be wrong.

It described how many great thinkers often had similar habits – like going for a walk at midday, after which the ideas would come. For many years this was attributed to perhaps the health benefits of such activities, the increase in endorphins perhaps vitalizing the brain. Perhaps that is a part of it.

Recent research has shown though that certain parts of the brain that are normally dormant start to become active under these sorts of circumstances. When someone has been struggling with a problem or a puzzle and then their thoughts are diverted onto something else – something simpler and less taxing on the mind.

Its seem that while your conscious brain is trying to solve a problem your subconscious can’t or won’t go near it. Leave the problem alone and it gets it grubby hands on it. And unhindered by all the distractions thrown at the conscious mind does a better job if it.

Anyway – it seems like something I kind of knew at some level but had never vocalised or thought about in concrete terms. After watching the program though I began to see it happening more and more – or maybe I am now biased to see that!

Today was a prime example. All last week I have been struggling with a problem at work – I won’t bore you with details, it involved a very very complex SQL query that worked fine in one situation but not in another – with no logical answer. I had tried all kinds of solutions and approaches all week with no success. To be fair to myself there was an awful lot else going on as well so I was not 100% focused on it. But if I had been I don’t think it would have made a difference. I was kind of blocked from the answer.

So this weekend I forgot all about it and spend some quality time with the wife and kids. It was Rachel’s birthday and since I have spent so much extra time at work lately I was determined not to do any this weekend.

I went to bed Sunday night – not with dread but knowing that my task for Monday was to hunker and down and crack this particular nut. I woke up Monday morning and the answer – which should have been obvious – in my head. It just popped in there.

I rushed to work eager to try it out, now dreading the possibility that it might not work. It did! That is a good start to the week!

Posted in General, Science Fiction, Self Publishing, Technology, Writing

Editing Tool

Thought I would share this tip as it’s helping me out no end.

I have as you may or may not known already published my first novel Mankind Limited. This was my first foray into self publishing – while it has been well received I have not yet started to do any proper marketing yet – something I am pursuing now.

I have received some helpful feedback though and this includes a few people pointing out a number of errors and typos. Now I have read it over and over and I still missed these. The problem being that your mind sees what was intended rather that what is there.

For example. This is one I have since found.

“Flakes of paint fell on their on their shoulders.”

Now not only did I not see that but neither did two friends who read it through for me.

So now I am working through creating a second edition – fixing all these error and I have discovered the best way to find them.

Test to speech software. Having the text read out by the computer really shows up the errors like this.

My problem has been that I have quite an esoteric system. I work on Linux – Free and Open Source operating system  – specifically Ubuntu (well Kubuntu to be totally accurate). So the options are less – though when you find the answer its invariably free!

So in case there is anyone else out there struggling with this here is the answer courtesy of this site but added here to save you scrolling 🙂

It utilises SVOX and the popular (cross-platform and free) office suite LibreOffice

Combine SVOX tools (pico) with LibreOffice:

SVOX (pico) tools are easy to install and brings good quality voices in Ubuntu. Install it:

sudo apt-get install libttspico0 libttspico-utils libttspico-data

You can use LibreOffice in combination with SVOX (pico) tools by install the “Read Text” extension and you obtain a “GUI” for this excellent TTS software:

Set up Read Text Extension’s options with Tools – Add-ons – Read selection…. Use /usr/bin/python as the external program. Select a command line option that includes the token (PICO_READ_TEXT_PY), you may want to experiment some of them.

Now you only have to select some text in LO Writer, Calc, Impress or Draw and click on the icon added as a tool bar (a speech bubble in my case but I have heard this varies).

So there you have it – watch out now for the relaunch of Mankind Limited AND a new  and very different book coming soon!!

Posted in Technology, Work

We are hiring again – different role this time

Job description
Axscend Limited are looking for a dedicated Sales & Marketing Exec.

The role will be generating and closing new business as well as developing a sales pipeline for new products currently in development.

Axscend’s products and services help customers manage fleets of trailers, our hardware and data portal provide customers with visibility over a trailer’s……

Location

Brake Performance

Weight

Door Status

Temperature

Tyre Pressure

EBS faults

Lighting faults

…. … to name a few.

The role will be nationwide and we would invite applications from across the UK, particularly the midlands

A successful candidate should expect to earn in excess of £65K per year along with other benefits.

Desired Skills and Experience
Candidates must have…

a background selling into the Road Transport / Haulage / Logistics sector at either OEM (manufacturer) and/or Fleet levels. For example a background in trailer lighting, tyres, trailer rental or telematics would be ideal.

the ability to work alone, unsupervised and be able to to generate and close new business.

a Driving licence

good basic IT skills

a desire to succeed

Ideally the Candidate will have…

the ability to engage with large corporate clients as well as smaller companies.

an understanding of SEO

be able to write copy for trade press

an ability to liaise with graphic designers to produce adverts for trade press

be able to build a sales team

Posted in Film, General, Review, Science Fiction, Technology

Ageing Movies

So I stumbled upon Bladerunner on the tellybox last night. There’s an odd effect with films like this. It’s set in the future – from when it was made. 2019 to be specific. Now that future is practically here, we can see that the ‘predictions’ were well out.

However, the film still works, many such films still do. You suspend your disbelief and ignore the dates, just taking it as some unspecified time in the future.

Taken like that Bladerunner still works very well. There is very little to age it. It is still one of the greatest Sci-Fi films made and in my opinion Harrison Ford’s finest hour.

But – there was one thing that suddenly broke the suspension of disbelief for me. Three little letter – or rather three very large, neon lit letters.

TDK

For anyone like me whose teen years crossed the 80’s these three letters should be recognisable. They were all over those cassettes we used to tape the top 40 off the radio. All over the VHS tapes we used to record the late night films.

It’s almost adorable that the film makers thought they would still be around in the high-tech future – with flying cars!

In today’s film environment of more and more product placement I wonder how quickly today’s films will age? It’s already very noticeable with mobile phones. A film only has to be a few years old and the phones they are using look clunky and out dated.

I wonder if in 30 years time someone will be watching a film made today and wondering who the hell Apple were?

How times change.

Posted in General, Technology

Two Weeks Notice!

There is a big story all over the news about the impending cyber attack in two weeks time. Everyone panic! and update and virus check!

But what about XP users? Support was withdrawn for that sometime ago?

As I understand it there is a lifeline for them but it has to have them nervous right? What about next time?

So am I being to cynical when I look at the fact that Microsoft have tried with little success to get the many many XP users to upgrade to the travesty that is Windows 8 – and then I see something to scare the users into doing just that?

Perhaps. I will just smugly carry on with my Linux set up 🙂