May
01
2014
0

Backpacking near Blood Mountain Cove

We went backpacking near blood mountain cove. 6.3 miles and 550 Meters elevation gain. (This meets one of the camping merit badge requirements.)

Trail map for the April 26/27 trip

Beware of the locals at the spring by the loop near Jarrard gap. There is something going on there, possibly involving the growth of herbaceous substances, and they are willing to fire warning shots. We missed the turn to the cove proper as it was plowed up for planting deer food and decided to head for nice areas near the gap. Given that we would have had to cross the trigger-happy private land to get back to the rest of the troop on Sunday morning this was probably a blessing.

Scouts on the trail

The woods were just leafing out, and we had nearly ideal weather. The wild flowers were coming out.  The scouts did extremely well, and worked together as a team. Since we hit the trail just before lunch, the distance was on the short side. We met the rest of the troop at Lake Winfield Scott in the morning. The hike was probably a bit hard for the youngest scouts (12 yro), but they made it and more importantly are willing to go again.

Trilliums

A trillium

Another kind of trillium

Written by Rob in: backpacking,outdoors,scouting,trail map |
Mar
26
2014
0

Applied statistics

In order to boost readership (royalties don’t mean anything if you don’t sell anything), i decided to try a free promotion for my books this week. The idea is to celebrate a new book by making them free for a few days so that people actually read them.

The results are interesting, because I can get quasi-realtime numbers from Amazon. In the USA anything with “vampire” in the title will sell well, followed by romance/historical, and then science fiction. Or at least that’s what happens with my books. In the UK, historical fiction outsells both science fiction and “vampire”.  In Canada historical fiction and “vampire” do about the same – though the numbers are too small for a more meaningful conclusion.

I’m actually quite pleased with the results, when I give the books away they do well and get to the front page in their categories. So I’m not an awful author, just an unknown one. Unknown is fixable, but if you’ve written as much as I have and are still awful, then you’re in trouble.

Anyway I usually publish drafts either at Authonomy or Create space. I’d love to hear about them.

 

Written by Rob in: Book Drafts |
Mar
23
2014
0

Information Security in 1803

I just finished writing one book in a series set in the Napoleonic wars. One of the interesting things I found in doing research for it hits that lovely overlap between my professional interests and my fictional interests.

Both the English and the French used a visual telegraph system. Since there were only visual signals both sides called it “the telegraph”, but it depended on being able to see the next station in line. The French used a relatively uninteresting two armed semaphore system, but someone in England understood binary numbers in 1802. The English system used 6 panels which meant there were 64 (2^6) different symbols. Since there are 36 – 38 different letters and symbols that you might want to send (a-z, 0-9, and possibly . ,) that left a large space for abbreviations (message number 40 – ship), and channel control messages (Ok to send, Got it, wait, etc).  Apparently messages could be sent across Britain in minutes rather than days, and the system was a critical, if largely forgotten, part of coastal defence.

The 1803 book “a picture of london for 1803″, available on google, states that the admiralty had two telegraph stations on the roof and for a tip you could go, have the system explained to you and watch the messages being sent and received. There are two conclusions that can be derived from this.

  1. The really did use the communications systems, but they didn’t have any concept of operational security. Anyone could come up and watch the process. Imagine just wandering into the Pentagon in the US, strolling down to the Naval operations systems center and watching the messages. Even worse, the chief coding officer would let you see how the messages are encoded.
  2. “for a tip”.  Anyone from the street could wander around the Admiralty, and there was a more or less standardized bribe level to get to see what you wanted to see. There could have been no operational security, or if there was it involved skipping around the Admiralty and going directly to an officer on active duty.

Many books set in this period talk about “orders leaking”. Given the state of security in London, it would have been exceptional if the orders stayed secret. The level of jobbery or venality must have been amazing.

 

Written by Rob in: engineering,security |
Mar
20
2014
0

Mis-aligned adds.

Just finished publishing another fiction book (remember my IP rights for writing fluff are protected at GSU,  my rights for writing software aren’t). It has a fair bit of action involving sailing ships and naval battle, among other things.  The add software must have  been reading it, because suddenly I started to receive adds for sailing school!

That’s half-clever, but really sad in the end.

Written by Rob in: Book Drafts,engineering,security |
Mar
10
2014
0

OpenGL, Nvidia, and Linux

Just solved a nasty headache with an Nvidia board. Cuda, openGL and various programs didn’t work together. All the drivers were current and correct.

The motherboard had an onboard Intel chip. Check the bios and make sure the correct graphics card in the correct mode is enabled. (there were two settings that used the Nvidia card only one was correc!)

Written by Rob in: Uncategorized |
Feb
27
2014
0

Yup it’s spam

As the screenshot shows it definitely is spam. Three or four hundred identical posts is not the work of the average human. That’s why I don’t have open comments. I love the name on one of the posts, “Louella Tunnell” for a service advertising a virtual private network or tunnel.Screenshot from 2014-02-27 17:04:32

Written by Rob in: engineering,security |
Feb
27
2014
0

Another prepublication draft

https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1143412

Not quite the latest version, but very nearly.

Written by Rob in: Uncategorized |
Feb
09
2014
0

Lessons for self-publishing.

I’ve learned a few things about self-publishing the hard way – so I’ll pass them on and hopefully save someone else a headache

  1. Use a search engine to check your title.  My book “new southern vampire” has nothing to do with the “southern vampire” series (only found out about it recently – which is not an excuse for a similar title). They are quite different, but it looks like a cheap attempt at a knock off. Wonder if it’s hard to change titles?
  2. Check to see what are similar books for choosing the book classification.
  3. Page numbers.  This may seem silly but page numbers aren’t generated by the create space book printing engine.  Either you put them there or there aren’t any.  While you’re at it, adjust their template to make the book look more professional. At a minimum play with the paragraph splitting controls to avoid big blank spaces. You should also probably use the text alignment settings to fill paragraphs so that there isn’t a ragged edge.
  4. Proof read. Proof read, Proof read.

Anyway hope this is helpful.

 

Jan
22
2014
0

Book on Programming

In a more serious vein, I’m slowly writing a book on how to program. I’ve noticed that too many of the students struggle with the process rather than the details. This is sort of a digressive way to say they can write a loop, but don’t know how do decide when to do it.

Programming for the Lazy

Written by Rob in: Book Drafts,engineering,pedagogy |
Jan
12
2014
0

draft for your perusal

another manuscript of a fiction book. Since GSU lets us keep the royalties from fiction (though not real products), I’ll post it here.

Written by Rob in: Book Drafts |

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