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Special Discount at Dreamspinner Press

Posted: November 20th, 2011

Dreamspinner PressDreamspinner Press is running a special.

If you buy any of Wynn’s fictional titles during 2012, you can get a 15% discount. This applies to paperback and e-book novels, but you have to buy on the Dreamspinner website. At checkout, use 1500FB as a coupon code. Your special discount of 15% will be applied on the total cart.

Dreamspinner Press is the publisher of many of Wynn’s fiction titles, including the entire VAMP CAMP series. They specialize in gay romance. This is the deepest discount ever for Wynn Wagner’s VAMP CAMP series.

 
 

Laurels and Tardies

Posted: October 29th, 2011

This is kind of a big deal for me per­son­ally. This web­site. It is because the engine that does the squishy tech­ni­cal stuff is Word­Press, one of the amaz­ing soft­ware sys­tems that is avail­able on the inter­net. The con­tent is stored in a MySQL data­base. Here’s the amaz­ing part: Word­Press and MySQL are absolutely free. Word­Press is wran­gled by a bunch of scripts that will make the best com­puter pro­gram­mer go glassy eyed just before falling over in con­vul­sions. MySQ, but the scripts usu­ally get the job done. MySQL used to be some­thing of a joke around com­put­eroids, but the data­base devel­op­ers got them­selves a seri­ous case of whoop-ass which they pro­ceeded to pour all over Ora­cle and Sybase. The point is this: free soft­ware rocks. It is almost like they took a cue from… I don’t know… who? Fidonet? Opus?

It still gnaws at me. Because I spent years pro­gram­ming these sill silicon-based whooz­its, I have a deeply held belief that I could prob­a­bly do a bet­ter job. Belief? No: absolute knowl­edge that I could do a bet­ter job. It is the kind of cor­ro­sive knowl­edge that is bub­bles around every time I launch some­body else’s program.

That’s one side of it. The other side is that run­ning some­body else’s code is lazy. It is like the gar­den cen­ter at one local Home Depot. They actu­ally have a tree stak­ing kit. A what? No, really. It is a sharply pack­aged bag of wire and short wooden stakes, and there’s some kind of wrap to keep the wire away from the tree trunk. What’s more, they actu­ally printed instruc­tions for the kit. I’m sur­prised they didn’t include a ham­mer… unless the instruc­tions tell the pur­chaser to go to the tool sec­tion to buy the ham­mer of their choice. I mean, give me a plank and some wire. I’ll break off some wood strips to use as stakes, and I’ll have the tree aligned and fas­tened in less time than a Gen-X Green-jeans can read the damned instruc­tion booklet.

On the other hand, I’m retired from pro­gram­ming com­put­ers. I can rest on my … no, I don’t have any lau­rels. Where are my god­dam lau­rels? WAIT, do lau­rels have thorns? I’m not putting my tush on top of any thorns for any­body. I’m retired, for Pete’s sake.

 
 

Being nice [obsidian knife version]

Posted: October 29th, 2011

I try to be nice to people. It’s a goal. Sometimes it is a “stretch goal.” Being nice is an uphill battle today, and They are winning. Damn Them (and you know who you are… we all know who you are… we know where you sleep).

Being nice to people is harder now. One Republication presidential candidate announced that corporations are people. That means our surface area just got enormous on being nice to people. There are thousands of corporations, and we ought to be nice to all people.

The Republican presidential candidate that made the big announcement is also pro-life. I suppose that means that this guy is also against bankruptcy court and forced liquidation. You can’t kill people, sir. Every corporation is too big to fail or too people to fail… or something.

Things get out of hand in a hurry when candidates don’t think through their positions. I think the word is “pander,” but I’m not sure.

I had a run-in with one of these newly-declared people. Just the other day, I was saying how nice it was to be using software written by others, hosted on a server that I don’t have to manage personally. There was a time I considered that kind of thing being lazy.

The server is a self-styled Virtual Server, operated by the “person” named 1 & 1. It’s a big company / person with lots of virtual servers.

I need to be geeky for a second to describe what happened and why I may need counseling or a hug or something. Computers have a permission bit: read-only. When this property is set, the operating system denies every attempt to create or change a file. To get my new website rolling, I had to create a folder: uploads.

The webserver needed to be able to create new files there. HELLO: it’s for uploads, new files sent to the server.

Every time I turned off the read-only bit (enabling writing), something automatic came through and reset it. I’d turn the bloomin’ thing off, and the server would slap it back to the ON position. Damnedest thing I ever saw.

I went out to Google and Microsoft and every other place that I could think of. A couple of blog experts said I ought to try a few things. The trouble is that I had already tried them. Every solution (even the ones from real experts at Microsoft) was tried and found lacking. Nothing worked.

This wasn’t a configuration option that I set. It was a shiny new virtual server and a completely new website. I am quite capable of muddling up a configuration, but I was innocent in this case. It came pre-broken without any help from me.

I called in my husband, Rick. He said it was the damnedest thing he ever saw. We tried some more stuff. We scratched our heads. I went and got my obsidian knife and was ready to go find a live chicken.

Rick suggested we call the hosting company. We didn’t do anything to cause the read-only bit to be glued in the ON position. Microsoft didn’t either (why give the admin the option of changing the property if your code is just going to turn it back on, infuriating the system operators who can crash your own servers if they are angry enough).

It had to be 1 & 1. Rick called their technical support people. As soon as he satisfied the techie that he was the account holder, Rick handed me the phone.

I explained the situation. This is the kind of call that I never make. You can count all the times I’ve used technical support on the fingers of one hand, and you’ll have fingers left over. I just don’t call support because I can almost always figure things out. I get baffled sometimes, but I’m tenacious enough to learn what the problem is.

In this case, the problem was a 1 & 1 configuration issue. If it wasn’t me, and it wasn’t Microsoft… the list of other possibilities is short: 1 & 1.

The guy said that he didn’t know what was the problem.

Fair enough. Annoying but honest.

I asked if he could get a 1 & 1 technical support person to look into the defect.

“That is not a service we offer,” the 1 & 1 representative said.

The hell?

The company (person?) that is eager and willing to take a monthly treasure from my bank account refuses to support their own product.

This guy used perfect English on the phone. It wasn’t like the techie was in Asia or Eastern Europe. Understanding English didn’t seem to be the problem.

The person (corporation) simply doesn’t support their work, even when it is broken. Not even when it appears to be their problem.

I used the only two recourses they left in my arsenal:

  • I fired their asses and got a virtual server from a different corporation (person); and,
  • I write the piece you are reading.

Why do companies annoy writers anyway?

And I thought the matter was settled. I felt good about the move, especially considering the new hosting company is considerably cheaper and has fewer restraints. Oh, and the product actually works.

1 & 1 didn’t think the matter was settled. You’re not going to believe what they did.

I opened my inbox this morning, and there was e-mail from 1 & 1. It asked me to rate their service.

I complied without hesitation.

 
 

Debates are Gotcha Ops [Perry]

Posted: October 29th, 2011

Gov J Richard PerryI got a crick in my neck today, shaking my head at another one of Gov. Rick Perry’s announcements. He might skip some of the upcoming debates between Republican presidential candidates. He what?

These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates…. All they’re interested in is stirring it up between the candidates.
– Los Angeles Times

Well, yeah. Of course the country likes a good brouhaha between candidates. It gives us a way to see which ones have the wattage to handle, say, Iran and Red China.

Imagine J. Richard Perry in the White House, and the phone rings. It’s the North Koreans, and they want to have a few minutes with the prez. What’s Perry going to do? The communist Koreans are not our friends. They want to beat us up every chance they get. Should we put somebody so close to the nuclear launch codes who’s afraid of debating other members of his own political party?

Being president is a tough gig. Getting elected is almost as tough. IT’S CALLED THE VETTING PROCESS, GOVERNOR. You may have gotten a free ride in Texas over the past few years. That’s because you can’t go drop nuclear bombs on California, regardless of how appealing that might be to you. To be president, you have to have both courage and wisdom. Texas has proven over and over that those are qualities not required in being governor.

America likes to kick the tires on potential presidents. Governor, if you don’t want your shins bruised, don’t run for the Big One.

The sad part is that Gov. Rick Perry is the only governor Texas has right now. I wish he weren’t governor. I really really hope the GOP won’t be stupid enough to think Perry has the gonads to be president.

 
 

Laurels and Tardies

Posted: October 26th, 2011

Wynn WagnerThis is kind of a big deal for me personally. This website. It is because the engine that does the squishy technical stuff is WordPress, one of the amazing software systems that is available on the internet. The content is stored in a MySQL database. Here’s the amazing part: WordPress and MySQL are absolutely free. WordPress is wrangled by a bunch of scripts that will make the best computer programmer go glassy eyed just before falling over in convulsions. MySQ, but the scripts usually get the job done. MySQL used to be something of a joke around computeroids, but the database developers got themselves a serious case of whoop-ass which they proceeded to pour all over Oracle and Sybase. The point is this: free software rocks. It is almost like they took a cue from… I don’t know… who? Fidonet? Opus?

It still gnaws at me. Because I spent years programming these sill silicon-based whoozits, I have a deeply held belief that I could probably do a better job. Belief? No: absolute knowledge that I could do a better job. It is the kind of corrosive knowledge that is bubbles around every time I launch somebody else’s program.

That’s one side of it. The other side is that running somebody else’s code is lazy. It is like the garden center at one local Home Depot. They actually have a tree staking kit. A what? No, really. It is a sharply packaged bag of wire and short wooden stakes, and there’s some kind of wrap to keep the wire away from the tree trunk. What’s more, they actually printed instructions for the kit. I’m surprised they didn’t include a hammer… unless the instructions tell the purchaser to go to the tool section to buy the hammer of their choice. I mean, give me a plank and some wire. I’ll break off some wood strips to use as stakes, and I’ll have the tree aligned and fastened in less time than a Gen-X Green-jeans can read the damned instruction booklet.

On the other hand, I’m retired from programming computers. I can rest on my … no, I don’t have any laurels. Where are my goddam laurels? WAIT, do laurels have thorns? I’m not putting my tush on top of any thorns for anybody. I’m retired, for Pete’s sake.