Why I Bought an iPad

vinny's ipadAnyone who knows me, knows I am a huge fan of Android devices. My last five smartphones and two tablets were all running under Google’s green bot. My first tablet, however, was an iPad and while I liked it, I never felt like it was more than a device to play games and media on. One problem was it had to constantly be connected to a computer running iTunes to add anything to it. Call me lazy but I just don’t like plugging my stuff into computers. Fast forward to a weekend ago.

My current tablet, a Galaxy Note 2104 edition was beginning to show it’s age. I could not fit any more apps on it and it was needing daily charges. My wife and I stopped into a Best Buy to look at the new Samsung S3. I was anticipating the release of this latest slab and liked the look of it, the screen was gorgeous, and things responded with a zip my old tablet could not match. The only problem was the price. It was $600. My feeling is that a tablet should be under $500. Anything more than that and I can buy a laptop. I understand that premium tablets like the S3 carry a premium price but for me I am not comfortable paying $600 for a tablet. My wife then suggested I go look at the iPads, or as she put it, “the dark side.”

Turns out that I was able to get a brand new 2017 version iPad for $430. That’s $130 less than the S3 and even $30 less than Amazon was selling those iPads for. It has 128GB of storage which is twice what the S3 offers and is just a quick to bring up apps or load web sites. Best of all I can do everything I need to without plugging the iPad into iTunes. It even wirelessly transferred over stuff from my Galaxy Note. Naturally, I spent the first night with it loading all of Google’s apps, which work perfectly. Several games I had been playing on the Note came over as well and I could continue right where I was and with the new screen they look even better. I synced up all my cloud storage apps and loaded Microsoft Word so I’m able to continue on with my writing, which I do mostly on my tablet. While Android tablets tend to be looked on as cheaper than and almost iPads, something which I think is unfair, when Android tablets begin out pricing iPads with the same performance manufacturers have a problem. I still think the best tablet is the one that does everything you need at the price you are comfortable with. For me in this current generation that happened to be the iPad, now perhaps in 2 or 4 years down the road I will switch back to an Android powered slab.

Marvel’s Problem With Diversity

Marvel’s attempt to blame flagging sales of their comics on the move to diversify their characters met with some interesting responses across the Internet, but I think this one from Nerdist.com typifies it the best. I think Marvel finds itself in a very peculiar and unique position. The thing to remember about their comics is that they are what they were. By that I mean they were, for lack of better terms, the escapist pastime of many young white males, (and a few females). We cannot go back and time and change these characters. They are who they were 40, 50 years ago when they sprung forth from multi-colored panels. I grew up with a special connection to Marvel comics as my grandfather Vince Alascia was an artist at Marvel and worked on Captain America in the 40’s. As such I grew up with many of these characters and can honestly say I remember them as all white males. With one exception, The X-Men, who would become my favorite.

That is not to say that moving to a more diverse universe is a problem. It isn’t, as long as the stories are delivered in way that maintains the same quality of writing. A big component of that quality is a sense of authority. This is what the link above from Nerdist.com cites as Marvel’s real reason for flagging sales. I’m not as into Steve Rodgers as I am an intense super soldier with uncommon bravado and sense of right. As long as the writing conveys that I know I’m reading Captain America. However if instead I get a focus group designed cardboard cutout I’m not going to be happy, or reading for that matter. Yet you do not have to wade too deep into the Internet to find fans of the mindset that do not appreciate a female Iron Man or an African American Spiderman. The odd thing is if a superhero is an archetype as long as the writing is consistent and remains true to the character then gender, skin color, or country of origin are immaterial.

 

Where’d the Discourse Go

I’ve been doing some interesting reading this week that had me thinking. Music used to be a communal experience. Whether it was a guy with an acoustic guitar, or a boom box, music was a shared experience. Now it is pumped directly into listeners’ brain cavities through thin white wires that go into a pocket somewhere. Then there are the serious head hugging Princess Leia cans. You know you’re into your beats with a pair of those. People aren’t sharing their music any more, that got me thinking.

This post isn’t about music. Another story I read was about Facebook’s attempt to incorporate their messaging app’s bubble style into the comments part of posts. This is an attempt, on their part, to engage people to comment and reply more. This is really where I wanted to go and put two and two together. In the months leading up to the inauguration and even the election itself, Facebook posts filled with a back and forth that became heated at times and at other times managed to reach a general consensus. Recently I’ve noticed a definite lack of that. It is almost as if both sides have retreated to their corners, put their blinders on, and plugged their ears. They even have cute names for each other, fascists and snowflakes. There was a time when you could count on the common ground of facts to reign in the debate, but even that is no longer true. Our facts, like our music, are whatever we pump into our brain cavities. In the recent past we would stand in our corners and shout at each other. Now it appears the fog of war is so thick we don’t even see the opposite corner anymore. I am guilty of this too and it bothers me.

The scary part is, if debate is the foundation of an effective democracy, and we no longer have that, how much longer can we expect to have democracy.

It’s the Details That Will Wreck You

via GIPHY

I hate it when I’m enjoying a really good book only to have the whole thing marred by a really foolish mistake. Without going into the title of the book in question, the part I’m talking about is a rescue of the main characters who’ve been tied up in a building about to be demolished. The rescuer uses a piece of glass from one of the windows to cut the ropes. There is only one problem. When a building is going to be demolished all of the window glass is removed to prevent a wave of shattered glass tearing across the city. Now, I cannot fault the writer and editor, who may or may not know that fact, but I can wonder why he or she didn’t do some research on building demolition to make sure some curmudgeon like me doesn’t come up and say, “well you know…” So let this be a cautionary tail, even if your book isn’t about building demolition make sure you get the real life stuff accurate.

Scalpers Suck

Nintendo SwitchTypically when you mention scalpers images of $500 Guns and Roses tickets come to mind. As much as that pains me there is also a new type of scalper that really sets me off. Last week Nintendo released their 7th home console in the US, The Nintendo Switch. Almost immediately, and as little surprise to anyone who hoped to get one of their Classic NES consoles this Christmas, the pre-orders disappeared as soon as they posted. When release day came, lists of Switches for sale filled eBay and even Amazon.com with one minor difference. They all ran at least $70 more than the suggested retail price. To the bystander, it looked as though every one of those pre-ordered systems was now being cashed in for a quick 100 bucks. Unlike with concert tickets, it is all free and legal.

On the one hand it makes sense for sites like eBay to welcome these sales as they get a commission on each one. The harder question is why a site like Amazon would allow it. Well, that isn’t to hard to figure out either because they also get a cut of the sale. So it makes sense for them. Hell they probably made 8 or 10% on the original sale so if that person turns around and puts it up they stand to make another 15% on that sale as well. As an adult it’s easy for me to say no thank you and wait for the item to return to stock at its original price. An adult with a kid will have to figure out how much their incessant whining is worth compared to the hit on their wallet. I urge you, resist. As long as people are willing to pay inflated prices for the convenience of being the first to own this practice will only continue, and dare I say worsen.

The Day I Canceled My Sales Tax License

sales use taxThis week found me in the predicament of needing to renew my sales tax license with the state. Plus I was already spending 44 cents a month to mail in a form to one of the cities to report that I have nothing to report. So I’ve decided to cancel all my licenses. I really wasn’t selling many books anyway. In addition the prices for tables at events have increased to a point where I just never saw myself selling enough books to break even. The hard part is, for a self-published author, your best bet at selling your books is to get out there and make those one on one connections with readers. In the process of that I’ve learned I’m not a very good sales person, at least not concerning my own work.

I like to tell myself that I can now concentrate more on my writing and less on worrying about selling enough books to make up the cost of getting out there to sell my books. Still it feels a little like giving up. Such are the decisions we face and the second guessing that goes along with them.

Steps For Avoiding Overwriting

This was a great post from The Creative Pen on how to avoid overwriting. I know myself, I am guilty of this from time to time, and from time to time I like reading works whose writing is thick with description. Then again I am really turned off by works where I am just wading through piles and piles of prose, cough Cryptonomicon cough. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot. The good news is you aren’t going to get there overnight, but persistence with a good bit of editing will see you through. http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2017/02/18/avoid-overwriting/