Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • I’ve just added a book catalog page to my primary WordPress instance of Contra. There’s a link on the title bar at the top. If you’re using LiveJournal, here’s the direct catalog link. From my WordPress instance you can also go direct to an individual title within the catalog by clicking on one of the cover thumbnails in the right sidebar. It’s a little barebones for now, but it’ll do until I finish getting the Copperwood Press site rehabbed.
  • This sounds worse than it probably is: B&N has restricted sideloaded content to only 1 GB of the Nook Color’s internal memory. The NC has become very popular as a somewhat broader device than an ebook reader, and I’m sure B&N is worried that people will fill the little slab up with so much of their own stuff that there’s no room to buy more from B&N. The key is the MicroSD slot, which (for the time being) can hold up to 32GB. If sideloaded content stored on the MicroSD card is completely accessible to the Nook’s machinery, it’s really not a terrible problem. (I don’t have an NC so I don’t know for sure.)
  • B&N’s certainly been busy: There’s a new, inexpensive, smaller, lighter e-ink Nook in the pipe called Nook Simple Touch. 6-inch display and two months on a charge (sheesh!) will appeal hugely to commuters who just want to read books and not do seventeen things at once. $139; mid-June arrival.
  • Then again, if you want a cheap Nook ($99) and don’t mind the orginal model, go to eBay.
  • Here’s an expert’s braindump on ebook creation/formatting, which clearly highlights the appalling nature of ebook formats and ebook creation tools. Mobipocket in particular comes in for some (well-deserved) hard whacks with the baton. None of this crap should be necessary. An epub file is basically a collection of HTML documents with an external TOC, all wrapped up in a ZIP archive. Why is this so hard to do? (My thought: Immature rendering engines, like Web browsers in 1994. We are compensating for bad software.)
  • This is the high road toward SSTO, and I hope to hell they can pull it off. The trick isn’t so much getting to orbit as getting back intact. We’ll see.
  • From the Words-I-Didn’t-Know-Until-March-But-Forgot-Until-Yesterday Department: oneiric; meaning of or pertaining to dreams. Also the adjective in the next Ubuntu animal version code: Oneiric Ocelot, due this November. Not new news, but I forgot to mention it in March. Dreams, sure. But having read some of the fights that the discussion of Ubuntu Natty’s Unity desktop has triggered since then, I also picture an ocelot that lost one ear in a bar brawl.
  • Bichons are notoriously hard to housebreak. Carbreak too, evidently.
  • From the Painfully Obvious Research Department: A study (PDF) suggesting that when we see people breaking the rules, we assume that they’re powerful. Duh. (One wonders if a lifetime of watching powerful people be abject shitheads could have anything to do with it.)
  • And a much more interesting study on the role that some airborne bacteria play in acting as seeds for precipitation. Get a look at that hailstone! (Duck!)
  • Amen, brother. (Thanks to John Ridley for the link.)


  1. Rich Rostrom says:

    “when we see people breaking the rules, we assume that they’re powerful…”

    Ever read Fritz Leiber’s short novel You’re All Alone? The premise is that the world (including people) is animatronic machinery, all running in fixed paths. It is possible for a person to “awaken”, and not follow the preset routine. But the world won’t notice – people will have conversations with you and not notice you aren’t answering, and won’t react to what you do.

    There’s a small community of the “awakened” – and most of them, having the power to do whatever they want, are monstrously corrupt, indulging in sadism and worse. The protagonist sees one of them grab a pack of cigarettes from a lobby-store: “His snap reaction was that at last he’d seen a big-shot racketeer following his true impulses.”

    “Books – That is exactly how they work”

    Hmm. What about the works of Stephen King and other horror writers? Or of noir crime writers like Jim Thompson? There’s a lot of fiction which is grim and hopeless. How do those works fit in this view?

  2. Just saw a link to another eBook editor/creator app called “Sigil” – its web site is

    I haven’t seen you mention that one, so maybe there’s beginning to be further interest in creating something usable?

    1. I’ve had Sigil here for some time, and while it’s good, it’s not great. (Then again, the commercial package Jutoh turned out to be only about as good.)

      That said, I should write it up, as it’s gotten better in the last six months and is certainly good enough to do pure-text ebooks, if you don’t need to get too fancy with the text. And since the bottleneck on fancy formatting is the renderers in the ebook readers rather than the ebook editing tools, this isn’t a terrible shortcoming.

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