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Other posts by Chris Meadows

Gen Con, other businesses displeased with new Indiana religious freedom law
March 26, 2015 | 2:36 pm

protestAs I’ve said before, Gen Con’s reputation as the largest gaming convention in North America eclipses its status as one of the largest writing conventions in North America, offering guidance on all aspects of writing and publishing. On Monday, March 23, Gen Con’s CEO sent a letter (PDF) to Indiana’s Governor Mike Pence, warning that a controversial religious freedom bill he was about to sign into law would affect Gen Con’s decision whether to stay in Indianapolis past the expiration of its contract in 2020. This morning, Governor Pence signed that bill. I covered the particulars in a post...

Boxes of writing ideas: The Storymatic and Rory’s Story Cubes
March 14, 2015 | 11:53 am

IMG_20150314_103250On the Internet, it can be a thin line between reading and writing, especially if you take part in one of the many shared writing universes that float around. But sometimes people who want to write need sources of inspiration. That’s where writing workshopping tools come in. I already reviewed a book discussing how to use tarot cards for workshopping writing ideas, and that’s a fine thing as far as it goes. But tarot cards’ greatest strength—their rich depth of symbolism—can also be a weakness for writers new to tarot, since they might well spend more time puzzling over...

HP Stream 7: A mediocre tablet but a great micro-laptop
March 7, 2015 | 6:29 pm

IMG_20150305_180333372_HDRI’ve had this HP Stream 7 tablet for a couple of days, and my first impression is that it’s fairly mediocre from a tablet standpoint, but it seems like a terrific micro-laptop. With one major caveat I’m still inclined to look upon it as a great bargain at $79—especially since it included a one-year subscription to Microsoft Office 365 (a $69 value) and a $25 Windows Store gift card. It’s like they’re paying you to take the tablet off their hands. I have come across one showstopper bug that colors my whole experience: its Wi-Fi adapter seems notably finicky....

Microsoft offers $79 HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet
March 5, 2015 | 1:58 am

hpstream7If you’ve ever thought you might like to try a Windows tablet, but didn’t want to risk a significant cash outlay, Microsoft is currently offering a great deal on a name-brand tablet. Microsoft.com has the HP Stream 7 Windows 8.1 tablet priced at $79, including a one-year personal subscription to Office 365 (a $69 value) and a $25 Windows Store gift card. It’s like they’re paying you to take it off their hands! The tablet has a 1.33GHz Bay Trail quad-core Intel Atom chip, 1 gig of RAM, and 32 gigs onboard storage. Unlike the Windows RT Surface tablets,...

Grim and gritty Power Rangers fan film brings fanfic back into legal spotlight
February 25, 2015 | 7:27 am

power-rangers-video-124799A new legal battle over fanfic might be shaping up. In the last couple of days, music video director Joseph Kahn and producer Adi Shankar released a 15-minute short film reimagining Power Rangers as a grim and gritty dark future drama a la Pacific Rim. The film stars name actors, including James Van Der Beek, Katee Sackhoff, and Die Another Day’s Will Yun Lee. And it almost immediately ran into legal trouble. A “NSFW” version (violence, language, nudity) was up on Vimeo for a few hours before getting taken down by a DMCA infringement notice from Saban. A safe-for-work...

Wall Street Journal blasts Apple anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich for overcharging, malfeasance
February 18, 2015 | 7:13 am

Well, there goes the Wall Street Journal again. In a paywalled opinion piece (just Google “All Along the Apple Watchtower” to read it), the Journal once again takes aim at Apple anti-trust monitor Michael Bromwich. The editorial complains, among other things, of Bromwich’s $1,100 per hour fee being too high, that he’s ranging farther afield than his mandate should allow, that he’s in bed with the Justice Department, and, of course, that he’s a close personal friend of Judge Cote. It really is a piece of work. For example, giving Bromwich’s rates in isolation, and the $2.35...

Audible.com offers great audiobooks, lousy player applications
February 14, 2015 | 10:45 am

Audible has a great selection of audiobook downloads, and reasonable prices—especially if you buy during one of their frequent sales, using the discount offer for buying them together with certain Kindle e-books, or using one of their monthly credits. But since Audible’s books contain DRM, in some respect they are only as good as their player—which, sadly, is not all that great. I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks lately. It’s something I can do during the parts of my day job that don’t require a lot of brainpower, and it’s fun to hear a good book reading....

Interactive graphic novel Midnight Rises by John Scalzi interacts with new mobile shooter game
February 5, 2015 | 6:07 pm

midnightrisesInteractive book apps may not yet have set the world on fire, but there is at least one place for them—as an adjunct to video games. On January 28, 2015, Industrial Toys LLC released Midnight Rises, an interactive graphic novel application for iOS. The e-comic serves as a prelude to Midnight Star, a mobile shooter game which Industrial Toys LLC released for iOS today. (Both applications are expected to come to Android “sometime soon.”) Midnight Rises was written by John Scalzi, with art by Mike Choi and music by Serj Tankian. The first chapter is free; the next two are 99...

Minimum wage hike puts San Francisco bookstore Borderlands Books out of business
February 4, 2015 | 6:52 am

BorderlandsBooks1Is the real danger to bookstores minimum wage hikes? News broke the other day that a beloved San Francisco bookstore, Borderlands Books, will be closing because it will no longer be able to operate at a profit. It was barely hanging on, but the recent minimum wage hike to $15 an hour would drive it into the red. In an explanation on its web site, Borderlands writes: Many businesses can make adjustments to allow for increased wages.  The cafe side of Borderlands, for example, should have no difficulty at all.  Viability is simply a matter...

SFWA announces membership qualifications for self-published and small press writers
February 3, 2015 | 9:10 pm

The Science Fiction Writers of America, or SFWA, has finally come through with its long-promised support for self-published and small press authors. A SFWA press release declares that complete details will be posted to the SFWA’s membership requirements page by March 1, 2015. (I have been informed that SFWA’s members refer to it as SFWA, sometimes pronounced “siff-wah,” rather than the SFWA, so I shall do so within this article.) The press release states that the requirements for Active Membership are having earned at least $3,000 via novel (it’s unclear whether that’s from one or several such novels over...

Harper Lee to publish sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird after 55 years
February 3, 2015 | 7:53 pm

For fifty-five years, To Kill a Mockingbird has been the only novel that Harper Lee published. It was successful enough that she simply didn’t need to publish another one. That one book, published 55 years ago, has kept her comfortable for the rest of her life. But it turns out that To Kill a Mockingbird was actually the second novel that Harper Lee wrote—and now HarperCollins is going to publish the first one, Go Set a Watchman. It is scheduled for release July 2015. Lee explains that when she first wrote Go Set a Watchman, her editor was intrigued...

For your Hugo consideration: Designers & Dragons
January 31, 2015 | 7:06 pm

Just a quick reminder: nominations for this year’s Hugo Awards are upon us, and if you signed up for last year’s (to get the entire Wheel of Time series that was included in the Hugo voter packet, for example) you’re eligible to nominate now. Nominations are open through March 10, and you can update and change your ballot as often as you like. And I’d just like to stump for a book that I feel is extremely worthy of consideration: the four-volume history of the role-playing game industry, Designers & Dragons, which was published via Kickstarter last year. Given...