Saturday, July 18, 2009


I'm letting this neglected blog die. I've moved into a bit of a new chapter of my life, and I don't really need to document the wackiness of a geek living in Wyoming.

A lot of the little things that would have gone on this blog ended up on twitter instead. I recommend following me there for continued updates on my life For family members, most of you are friends with me on facebook, and that will be the best place to keep up. I'll pretty much keep all baby related things there as it's a bit more private.

I have also started a new tumblr. That's where I'll put the occasional blog post on things like writing and technology. It's at That's also going to be my general dump of things I find interesting. When I find something to share on twitter, it'll go through tumblr to twitter. If I find something on Google reader, rather than click share, I'll throw it on tumblr. You can probably call that my general brain dump.

So Long.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Musings on Being an Author

There has been some good discussion recently on various topics relating to independent authors. The first, and probably biggest of these is the 1000 true fan model. While the article was written a year ago, it has been getting some attention lately. The basic concept is that for an independent artist, you don't need to get mainstream to make a living. You just need 1000 people willing to buy $100 worth of your stuff a year. Wil Wheaton discussed this recently as well. He's not there yet in either the number of people willing to spend that much, or amount of product output per year. But, it gives hope as a new author that I don't have to make the New York Times best selling list to make a living at it.

Last weeks This Week in Tech discussed this topic a bit as well. There was a bit of talk of selling yourself as a brand, and the need for a traditional publisher. According to John C Dvorak, one should be able to build themself up as a brand withing 18 months as long as their product isn't crap. I'm going to start really building the Steve Radabaugh brand when my book hits publication. I'll build a new website, and I'll nee to start blogging more frequently and I'll have to be a little more focused on what I post to twitter.

I think I'm doing something right by doing my book this year. Warren Ellis has declared 2009 to be Year of the POD. His forum, Whitechapel, has had some good discussion about POD sites and tools.

I think the real trick is going to be finding the right price point. Wil Wheaton's book is $13 for a print copy or $5 for a PDF copy. I honestly think $13 is too much. This could be why the PDF sales of it have done phenomenally better than print sales. With the way lulu does it's pricing, it's hard to get a book made much cheaper than that. Cory Doctrow's book Little Brother, has an MSRP of $17.95. But he's giving away digital copies of it for free. On top of that, the book is licensed as creative commons. Here's a post of his explaining why he does this.

I have a few months to decide exactly how I'm going to release this, so no decisions are going to be made today. I'm thinking I'll go live with a new site promoting my brand and all of my works around June 1st. Still have to finish editing the book of course.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Like the Oneida, but with more computers.

It's quarter to 8 on a Sunday morning. I spent most of Saturday laying around feeling sick and playing videogames. I'm feeling much better today. That was a really fast bug.

This morning as I sit here and surf, for some reason my thoughts keep drifting back to an idea I once had of a nerd city. I was originally inspired by Ave Maria, the town in Florida that was built specifically to attract Catholics to it. So, what would a planned nerd community look like? It would have to be a smaller town, maybe a couple thousand people at most. Seeing the problems that Thermopolis has getting people to move here, there are basically 2 things you need to get people to move to a town. A place for them to live, and a place for them to work.

To provide a place for all these nerds to live, you need housing. The best way to get that, is to have a developer on board. Someone with a construction team, who isn't too far away. Of course you can't just find a big plot of land somewhere and convince a developer that a bunch of people will move there if he builds houses. To convince the developer that this is a viable money making opportunity, there needs to be another reason for all the nerds to move there.

Which brings us to need number two: Work. The best way to get all of these nerds to move to our little project town, is to have someone wanting to pay all of these nerds a lot of money. If Google took my idea, and moved it's HQ out into the middle of nowhere, then paid a developer to build a town around it's new complex, we would have our nerd town. I don't know that we really want everyone working at Google though. It would be better if there were a couple smaller companies in town. That would give a bit more diversity to the job market in town. It would also help encourage new businesses to move there.

So, how are we going to get multiple businesses that have a serious need for nerd brain power to move to town. It would be important to get a few established companies there to get things rolling. These established companies would need to be the basis for the community. They would probably be the ones putting in the money to get things started. Once they are there, and there is a good population of nerds living in one place, then it would be an ideal place for startups to move to.

Ok, so let's say we've got three big companies looking at moving to our town. We find a location that's nice, but not heavily populated. We're probably looking at a smaller state. There is a lot of grant money to be had from some of these smaller states if you're building new jobs in those states. We're probably looking at the Dakotas, or Wyoming, or Montana. States that only get 3 electoral votes. States that have a lot of open land.

Once we have our location picked, we need to find a developer that is near by. Now, we don't really want to hire some guy from the nearest Metro area to come out and build our town. That's too much money leaving the town. It'd be better to get a developer to move to our town, and get skilled labor in the town. Whoever builds all these houses and commercial spaces is going to make some good money, and we don't want that money to leave town. This is also going to get skilled professionals to move to the town. They usually aren't nerds, but we need these people.

So now we've got jobs, we've got housing, and we've got plumbers, electricians, and carpenters. We'll start seeing some nerds move here to take those jobs. But, what can we do to really set this town apart as a nerd town? What can we have that will get all these nerds motivated to move here aside from jobs?

We need to put fiber going to each house as we build them.
We need to make sure there is good cell coverage. Preferrably from AT&T so all these nerds can have their iphones. At least having one competitor would be good as well.
A community gaming center would be a good thing to have. Some place that's available late in the night with room for both lan parties and table top gaming.
When questioned @jeruvin said a community think center would be a must. A place where you can grab a desk and just work on whatever. It would be free to go to and have free wifi.

What things would you like to see in a nerdy community? We're shooting for realistic goals this morning.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

My thoughts on the BB Storm

A few weeks ago I got a BlackBerry Storm. Several people have asked me to let them know what I think of it. So I'll do that here. I'm not writing this as a review. I'm not going to give it a score. I'm just going to tell you what I like and what I don't like.

As a point of reference: I also have an iPod Touch and an LG enV2. So I know what the most popular touch screen feels like, and I also know what it feels like to type on a really small keyboard. AT&T does not have service where I live, so an iPhone is not an option for me.

The way the Storm works for typing is the touch screen is one big button. You touch the key that you want which highlights that key, and then when you push in the screen it registers as hitting that key. I like the way this feels. When I go back to typing on my iPod it feels funny not having to push in the screen. I know some people think it's extra work, but I like having that tactile feedback. It's definitely less work than it is to type on the enV2, which makes my hands cramp up. The one thing the iPod/iPhone does better is the way that it highlights the key that you're pressing. The storm just makes that key glow. You can see it around your finger, but Apple's method shows you exactly what you're pressing. Once you get used to typing on it, that's not really an issue, as you should know what key you're on based on what key you're next to. That probably depends on how well you know the QWERTY keyboard layout.

In a vertical mode, the Storm uses the same keyboard design that it has on the Pearl. Basically it puts 2 letters on each key. Typing this way works pretty much the same as T9. Once I learned to just trust the auto corrector, I got faster at typing that way than on the Apple keyboard as the buttons are bigger and harder to miss. However, if I do hit the wrong key, I usually have to go back and fix my mistake as the spell checker often can't figure out what I was trying to say in that case.

The web browser isn't as nice as Safari. It displays most pages just fine, but it will not support anything that uses Javascript. Neither Safari nor the Blackberry browser support flash. It usually isn't an issue, but if you want to use for twitter, you won't be able to on the Blackberry. Also on the Storm, to zoom in, you just click and it zooms in an arbitrary amount. It usually does a good job of trying to zoom in on what you want to see. You don't have as much control as you do with Apple's method of zooming. Now that I think of it, I can't say there's been a time when I really wished for Apple's control of the zoom.

There's also the option of grabbing opera for the Storm. I have it on mine, and I will occasionally try to use it for pages that don't work well in the BB browser. It feels clumsy to me and I don't like to use it for normal web use. Maybe if they create a version of it specifically for the Storm it'll get better.

For email, I have my Storm set up to use the BlackBerry enterprise server for work email, and I also have Gmail installed on it. I really like the Gmail app. It's superior to Gmail on the iPod/iPhone. Especially since you can have it alert you when you have new email. I don't think the iPhone can do that (although I could be wrong). The interface for it is nice, although it takes a few clicks to get to an email that is in another label, but not in the inbox.

The default email client that I use for Exchange email is usable. It does name look ups off of the Exchange database well, which is excellent. Beyond that, it's just an email client. Nothing special about it, nothing really wrong with it.

As an actual phone, I'm not overly impressed with the Storm. I have to be careful when talking on it as my cheek will often acidentally turn on speakerphone. It does come with earbuds that have a mic built in. I don't carry these with me, so I haven't used them. I would think that it would be easier to talk on that way. I have not talked to anyone on an iPhone, so I can't really compare it to that. I'm going to continue to carry a regular cell phone of some kind to use for phone calls. Quick work related calls on the storm are fine, but I wouldn't want to talk to my mother for half an hour on it.

The biggest thing I would like changed on the storm is to make it faster to call someone stored in memory. Speed dial is in a sub menu. From the main menu, it takes 4 clicks to call someone who's number is in speed dial. The individual buttons for this should be bigger too, it's easy to click on the wrong person.

As for twitter, once you turn off compatibility mode, twitterberry is pretty nice. I've been using it and like it quite a bit. It takes a little bit to get used to the navigation of it, but once you do it works well. The one thing I don't like is in the timeline it cuts off longer tweets and makes you click on them to read the whole thing. I put in a request to have an option to let it show the entire tweet in the timeline. If they do this, then I will be a happy camper.

One thing that all Blackberrys do that I really like is they sense if they're in a holster or not. You can set them to vibrate if they're holstered, or ring if they are not. They use magnets to determine if they're holstered. This is a fantastic feature. The holster I had broke after I bumped into something, I need to get a better one. It was off brand so it's not anything against RIM. I really miss having it, and I need to get a new one.

That's basically everything I can think of to say about it. It's a fine device. There's things it does that I really like, and there are a few things that annoy me. I heard someone say once that RIM modified the stock Blackberry interface to work with the Storm, and Apple designed the iPhone's interface specifically for the iPhone. That's a good way to summarize the differences between the two devices.

I'm still carrying all three devices with me most everywhere I go. The iPod is mainly used for music, games, and the occasional web surfing. The Storm is used for web/email/twitter/camera/texting. The enV2 is used for phone calls.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

It's 2009! Time for resolutions.

Welcome to 2009. I still do not have a rocket pack, or a flying car, or sneakers that fit themselves. This isn't quite the future I was hoping for 24 years ago. With the beginning of the New Year it is customary for one to make some resolutions about how one would improve oneself during the coming year. Let's examine this a bit.

According to Merriam Webster, a resolution is something that has been resolved. Digging a bit deeper I found that to resolve means to decide firmly. So it's customary to decide firmly to do something in the new year. So, if I want to be better about writing, I should resolve to write more. Of course, if I leave it at that, like most New Years Resolutions, it won't happen.

For a resolution to really happen, you have to create goals to go with it. As we all know, a goal really should be S.M.A.R.T.


I know that I need SMART goals to get things done in my life. I accomplished NaNoWriMo because it was a SMART goal. Well, I wasn't sure it was realistic when I started, but it turned out to be. So, I need to create a SMART goal that will cause me to write more.

The one I came up with was "I will write at least 500 words a day."

Ok, is that specific? Yes, I do think it is.

Is it Measurable? It's pretty easy to count words and see if I've gotten to 500 or not, so yes, it's measurable.

Is it Attainable? I don't know? When can I say I've attained this goal. It's kind of a never ending thing isn't it. There's never a point where I can be proud and say, I've attained the goal. So, maybe I just need to amend it to be 500 words a day this year. Ok, now on Jan 1st 2010 I'll be able to say I've attained the goal.

Is it Realistic? I would say so, but I really should think it through. Is it reasonable on Wednesdays when I'm barely home? Well, I'm usually home from 4:30 till 6, so I could do it then. So, it would often be doable on Wednesdays. I also have to spend some time this spring editing my book. It's not realistic to me to write 500 words and edit on the same day. Sometimes it is, but not always. Let's say spending equivalent time editing counts towards to goal. Editing is an integral part of writing, and I think I need to accommodate it. So now I have what I think is a realistic goal.

Is it timely? Well, I gave myself a time frame when I made the goal attainable. So, yes it's timely.

So, this year I resolve to write more. I am setting a goal of writing 500 words or doing equivalent editing every day of 2009.

I'm also setting a secondary goal of getting my book in a publishable form my May 15th. That will give me a couple of weeks leeway so I can get it in to create space by the June 1st deadline to get a free copy of my book. January will probably be spent with more time editing than writing.

Friday, December 05, 2008


I didn't post in November as I was putting all of my writing efforts into the NaNoWriMo. I did successfully finish my book on time. The experience was good as I discovered that I do enjoy the writing process. I'm hoping that I created in myself the habit of writing, and I'll continue to write in my free time. I have a couple story ideas bouncing around in my head right now. I'll probably sit down and do one of them this weekend.

In January I'll go back to my NaNo book and edit it. Once I've gone through it again, I'll have the wife go through it, then some people at school. I'm probably going to put it on when it's ready for publication. The nice thing is that they are giving a free proof copy valid through June. Which gives me a deadline to get the thing edited and ready to go. If I like the proof copy, then I'll throw it on Amazon.

The reason I'm going the self publishing route is that this is going to be a niche interest book. I don't think the subject of Pirates and Ninjas is going to be one that any publisher would have any interest in. So, I know I'm basically throwing away the first print rights, but they're not worth much.

The other thing I plan on doing is putting a PDF version of the book online for free somewhere. The thing is going to be liscensed Creative Commons. I just need to do a bit more research with create space and the print rights associated with them. I want to make sure I retain full publishing rights to something that I publish through them.

But first, I have to get the darn thing edited.

Gamer Grub Post-Mortem

So, like 2 months later I decide to post and give an update one what it was like.

Overall, I'd have to say that Gamer Grub is good stuff. I personally wasn't a fan of the chocolate flavored one, but some of the kids in the computer club liked it. They all liked the product overall and said that they wanted to order it by the case. I don't know that I'll order it from the internet, but if I found it at my friendly local grocery store / convenience store, I would buy it. I don't know what kind of distribution model they're looking at, so I don't know that I'll be able to get it here in the middle of Wyoming. But stranger things have happened.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Gamer Grub

I talked about this a little bit on twitter, and said I would elaborate on the story here.

Gamer Grub first showed up on my radar last Friday when it was mention on Penny-Arcade. They did a comic about it which mirrored my sentiment. They wrote a bit more about it in their blog. I checked around on my own a bit, read the Tom's Hardware interview and looked at their website. I decided that action should be taken and sent a rather nasty email to Biosilo foods and urged people on twitter to do the same. I didn't expect any kind of response. I figured the emails would go into the same black hole of email that most big corps have.

I wrote:
as a gamer I am insulted by your "gamer grub". That is the worst piece of marketing I have ever seen, and it makes me never want to buy any of your products. I will also be telling everyone I know to steer clear of anything you create.

Next time you want to target a niche audience, do some research.
What I didn't realize is that Biosilo foods isn't a big corp. It's pretty much one guy. His name is Keith. Keith replied to my email.
Hi Steven;

Thank you for your comments. I can assure you no insult was intended. I just liked GG.

Actually I really do not have a marketing department; Biosilo Foods is a start up at the moment. I am not really a marketer since that stuff is a bit too cheesy for me.

Most of my gaming experience comes from LAN gaming while the boss was away at a corporate firm I worked at; and with my daughter who prefers Unreal with monster kills. I haven't upgraded to liquid cooling yet but I would really would like to.

If you would like I can send you some samples and you can taste GG and see what you think. If you have any ideas for improvement I am kind of at that phase where we can tweak stuff a bit if it works.

If you need to stay clear of what I do, that's cool. My last girl friend said the same thing. :)


Now, parts of that email do seem a bit contrived. Especially the random part of wanting to install water cooling. It's pretty obvious that Keith is not a "gamer". But, since he went through the effort to respond to what was basically a flame mail, I figured I should at least be civil with the guy. I emailed back and forth with him a little bit, and the short of it is that he's sending out some free samples. I plan on sharing them with some of the students at the high school (probably the computer club kids), and give him an honest response.

I really do feel that the name of the product is bad, and I told him so. If I can think of something better than "Strategy Chocolate" then I'll pass it on to him. Maybe, as Tycho said, the guy is a carpetbagger. But I appreciate the attempt of the small guy to make it big. He just needs to find someone who knows a thing or two about marketing to geeks.