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Other posts by Chris Meadows

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...

Texas town turns abandoned Wal-Mart into public library
January 31, 2015 | 6:47 pm

walmart-1The fortunes of big-box stores rise and fall. Ever optimistic, retail store chains build stores anywhere they think might turn a profit, and then end up closing many of them when the economy goes south. It’s not uncommon to see the perfectly good buildings they leave behind repurposed for something else: churches, business schools, offices. But McAllen, Texas took a different tack with their abandoned Wal-Mart: they turned it into an immense single-floor public library and community center. Looking at all the pictures in the article, it seems like the kind of place I’d love to visit. Not only...

Ray Bradbury’s home demolished, but home office to be recreated in Indianapolis
January 16, 2015 | 12:52 pm

The late Ray Bradbury’s house of over fifty years is being torn down. It was purchased in June 2013 for $1.8 million, and the demolition permit was issued December 30th. Apparently the “starchitect” who bought the property wasn’t a fan. It’s a real pity that the house couldn’t have been turned into a museum instead. Bradbury was, after all, one of the giants of the genre. I imagine Bradbury would be dismayed but unsurprised by this turn of events. It seems that old culture being destroyed by an inferior modern substitute was a theme he liked to revisit—most...

Textbook publisher Follett threatens price-comparison browser plug-in
January 6, 2015 | 1:23 pm

A textbook price-comparison browser extension developed by textbook price finding site Texts.com has come under fire from textbook publisher Follett. This extension, “Occupy the Bookstore,” sits in a user’s browser and pops up less-expensive alternative purchasing sites when the user is visiting some online textbook store. Follett asked Texts.com to remove the extension because it draws sales away from stores Follet supplies. Texts.com has no intention of dropping the extension. They believe Follet does not have a case, because the price-comparison plug-in does not actually interact with the stores’ web sites; it interacts with data on the customer’s browser...

Successful TVTropes Kickstarter to fund site revamp enters final hours
December 30, 2014 | 10:50 am

imageI noticed this very late—there are only about five hours remaining on the Kickstarter—but I’ve learned that TVTropes is running a modest Kickstarter to get funding to revamp its site and become even better. The Kickstarter has surpassed its $50,000 goal, and is just a few hundred dollars away from making its $100,000 stretch goal as I write this. A lot of pixels have been spilled about how Wikipedia exemplifies the impact of the digital revolution upon old media, being a form of encyclopedia that could never have been made without computers and networking. But so, too, is TVTropes....