A few weeks ago I talked about the Hugo Voter Packet and how for a $60 supporting membership to Worldcon you could get copies of most of the Hugo Award-nominated works. Well, the packet was finally released today, so if you're already a member go download it now! If you're not a Worldcon member already, check out the cover art of the nominated works (it looks like pretty much everything except for the Dramatic Presentations are included in the packet) and consider joining so you can vote for the Hugo Awards by the July 31st deadline. My Hugo Award-nominated novella THE EMPEROR'S SOUL is in the packet alongside the other Best Novella nominees, and it's an honor to be in such a group.
This week's Writing Excuses podcast episode talks about short story writing with Mary Robinette Kowal. Mary has published more short stories than the rest of us combined, and she has a lot of good helpful things to say about the process.
Tonight I'm signing in San Jose and tomorrow I'll be in Albuquerque. Details on my events page. I've also left quite a few signed books at my previous tour stops, so give the following stores a call!( Read more...Collapse )
Where She Learned It
Dinosaurs vs. the Glass Ceiling
Building Shiningwoman Station
Court Dances of Prehistory
Everything Old Is Nouveau Again
Looking for Mimmoths
Not the Only Way of Time Travel
The Oldest Living Pixie Tells All
The Sauropod School of Psychology
Story Told in the Rain
Strong and Weak Forces
The Unfathomable Promptings of the Heart
Walking the Starry Shore
But oh! It was glorious
Mechanical Dragon Repair Shop
Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii-yeah! Yeah, baby, oh, yeah, oh yeah!
AND THEN I ATE CURRIED CAULIFLOWER FOR LUNCH!
I AM TAKING A WEEK OFF WRITING!
I AM TAKING A SHOWER!
I AM TAKING A WALK!
I AM VERY HAPPY!
And I had no idea how close I am to the climax. (No orgasm jokes please! Ok, you can.)
I also have a desire to attend the national Dignity convention, which is here in my town in a few months.
And I've got an idea. I'd like to do some special pendants using these beads (plus a few others for ornament here and there) to raise money for my membership.
Here's how it can work: email me at lionesselise [at] gmail [dot] com, and put Cross Pendant in the subject line, and we'll talk about what you might like in a pendant. (I have some astonishingly beautiful purple and lavender dyed sediment stone cross beads, some really wonderful rainbow picasso jasper cross beads, and a few other nifty items.) When it's done, I'll send you a photograph. If you don't like it, there's no obligation. (I'll just put it in my regular stock.) If you do like it, you give me what you choose, and I apply that to my convention membership.
Anybody interested? I think it would be a neat way to earn the money for this thing I want to do, and it might be meaningful to the wearers of the pendants as well.
Thanks for reading.
ConQuest beckons; KC's annual regional convention, one of the best. Should be a good time. Patrick Rothfuss is GOH, John Picacio will be there, along with Brad Denton, Caroline Spector, and all of my old KC friends and partners in crime. I'll be doing a reading, doing a panel, eating too much barbeque, drinking too much bheer.
And even before the con, we'll have the road trip. I will be hitting the road with my Aussie friends, and driving right through the heart of Tornado Alley, which should be an... ah... adventure. If you're in Oklahoma or Kansas and think you see me passing by, you may be right. The Big Well beckons... along with Dorothy's House, Pancake Boulevard, the Cosmodrome, and the Elevator of Terror (you can't make this stuff up).
- Current Location:Santa Fe... for now
- Current Mood: busy
“Cammy is the perfect woman,” says Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch. “Cammy has a value system that comes from the fifties. We were on an airplane, and a pilot – a lady pilot – introduced herself to me. When she went back into the cockpit, Cammy said, ‘I’d rather she be serving Cokes and peanuts, and let a man be the pilot.’
“She designed her life around, ‘How can I please a man?’ She went to massage school, cooking school – she bought a book on blowjobs. I wish more girls would do that. If more girls did what Cammy’s doing… my business would go down.”
And good Lord, I am filled to brimming with revulsion.
The thing is, I’m not revulsed by Cammy’s choice. If Cammy is content living subserviently, and that makes her happy, then I say “Go, Cammy.” (Even if I suspect Cammy is perpetuating an elaborate ruse to extract cash from gullible men’s pockets. They say the best salesman never appears to be a salesman. Cammy’s probably getting exactly what she wants, from men who probably deserve it.)
But I’d never want a woman whose whole job was dedicated to pleasing me. That has nothing to do with feminism; it has everything to do with the fact that ultimately, I think humans turn into monsters when they have all of their needs met without cost.
Maybe that’s because I worked in retail – where if you’re smart, the attitude has to be, “The customer is always right.” Because you don’t want the customer to feel dumb; nothing closes a customer’s wallet quicker than, “Gee, your concerns are stupid.” And they’ll tell people how they were insulted, spreading bad tales about you wherever they go.
So when they cram your mouth full of shit, you swallow it and smile.
Working retail, eventually you come to realize that “reasonable” is determined by past history. You think it’s reasonable that a cup of good coffee is $3.95 because you grew up in a Starbucks culture… but talk to a guy who grew up in the 1950s, when coffee was an inflation-adjusted dollar at best. You think it’s reasonable that drivers will give you the finger and honk at you in traffic, because you grew up in Manhattan. You think it’s reasonable that people smoke in restaurants, because you live in Europe.
The important point: that “reasonable” creeps up, depending on what people do.
As humans, we’re bounded by other people’s reactions. And if everyone acts like you’re completely normal and wonderful, you internalize that.. even if you’re completely awful. On some level, we all think, “Well, if we get out of hand, someone will tell me I’m too much trouble.”
Remove those blocks – and sure enough, you start becoming too much trouble.
Wanna know why celebrities implode? Because they’re swaddled in a culture that caters to their every whim because they’re a non-replaceable entity, and when normal people see them it’s usually in a gawking fawningness of “Oh my God, it’s you! I’m so pleased to meet you!” So their waiters go to extra miles that no normal person would get, and when they casually ask for a Diet Coke at precisely 45 degrees with a titanium straw in it, everyone just brings it to them. Nobody notes this is actually really a pain in the ass to do for them, or if they do, they agree that oh, you absolutely need a perfectly-chilled drink.
Eventually, you come to think that this is reality. That the 45-degree Diet Coke with the titanium straw is not just you, but universal and easy to do, it’s happened a thousand times before. And then a waiter forgets and you get the wrong drink – and for the celebrity, it’s like they got brought a cup of transparent coffee with broken glass at the bottom. It’s such a stupidly-done thing that it feels like an insult. How could they not know?
So: embarrassing shitfit in a public place. And to some extent, it’s not the celebrity’s fault – it’s the fault of all these people around them, nodding and agreeing and convincing them that yes, this is the way the world is. Sure, the celebrity went off the fucking rails, but all of their PR agents and fans and entourage quietly removed the rails months ago. In some ways, it’s astounding that they kept on the right path for as long as they did.
And you see that in retail, where people think, “Oh, I’m always right! So I’ll sit in the coffee shop and slop coffee all over this magazine I have no intention of paying for, then leave it sprawled on the counter in a pile of sugar and drool.” They think, “I’m always right, so when I bring back a tattered book with no receipt and want cash for it, the clerk who’s refusing me needs a good, solid yelling.” They think, “I’m always right, so why aren’t these clerks catering to my every whim?”
And yes: you get more money from these nitwits. But you do so by catering to their dysfunction. Which means you get richer off of exploiting people’s psychological weak points. (A point I make, in a somewhat more hammer-handed way, in my story Dead Merchandise.) You actually make them a little insane – and some of them a lot insane – to harvest their cash.
So for me, having someone eager to cater to my every need makes them, in a low-grade way, the enemy of my sanity. I want people who question, who remind me of the work this took, who tell me when I’m inconveniencing them. A woman like Cammy (or at least how Cammy presents herself) would undermine the integrity of the person I’m trying to be, give me an inflated sense of self-esteem I might not deserve, slowly push me towards the land o’crazy expectations.
She’s not the perfect woman, Denis. She’s a perfect servant, perhaps. But perfect servants come with hidden costs, and I for one would be very reticent to pay them.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/303879.h
When Elementary premiered, I really liked it, but worried it would get networked to death, or that they'd be "platonic" for Chris Carter values of platonic, or - worst - it would slowly forget the canon, and stray from the heart of 221b.
It didn't. I have an article at io9.com today, about how Elementary did what many great adaptations do - interrogate, not portray, the canon - and gave us one of the most interesting takes of the last twenty years. (Without a Clue was the last Holmes adaptation to deconstruct the mythos with the sort of ambition Elementary has.)
There have been so, so many Holmes adaptations. I've been a fan of several. But I think one of the key aspects in adapting Holmes for a long-form work is one that goes straight back to canon: Holmes was a layered character, but largely static. With the exception of an ever-growing list of things he knew, as Conan Doyle turned him slowly superhuman, Holmes existed in an episodic medium, and had a reset button so big it could literally bring him back from the dead. Any ambitious adaptation of his work will take the Holmes given to them, and let him grow. Elementary saw that, and Elementary did.
( Spoilers for the season finale.Collapse )
Long-time readers will know: May is the time my Seasonal Affective Disorder usually creeps in. For a few weeks out of the year I’ll become a sniffling pile of self-hatred, sometimes skidding as far as self-harm, weeping and curling into a ball. This misery lasts for about three to six weeks, during which in lesser moments all of my suicide attempts have arrived, and when I emerge it’s a slow crawl.
This is where the sadness usually starts to tickle. And… it hasn’t yet. Which concerns me.
The thing is, if there’s any year when I might not have my usual SAD, this would be it. I’ve had major surgery in January, which my body is still recuperating from in some minor ways. I’ve changed my diet and exercise habits. And I’m on new medications, specifically a heavy dosage of Vitamin D in order to get my cholesterol and body chemistry back to proper levels.
So is it going to arrive? Maybe. I felt very sad on Saturday but then I ate a sandwich and realized my blood sugar was low, and everything went better. I’m feeling a little low now, but is that SAD or just a reluctance to charge ahead with a tedious work day?
No clue. Until then, I’m sort of waiting for the axe to fall – maybe it’ll show up late. (It used to arrive in June.) I’m on alert, trying to be careful about how I react, so I don’t take anything too much to heart.
But once a year, I usually have to endure a time of knives and anguish. That may or may not show up this year. In some ways, waiting for it to hit is nearly as bad as the depression itself, being tensed for a blow that may never arrive. On the other hand, I’m relatively content, and finishing up my novel.
A strange place to be.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/303809.h
There is no doubt about it--this workshop changed my life. Without it, I might still be floundering with the things I was doing wrong, with my confidence. It flipped a switch in my head. It introduced me to people who became friends and mentors, as well as people who were moments-that-blew-through-my-life-and-le
I have been responsible for getting other writers to apply since the year before my own experience (long story short, I got someone to come with me to VP9 in 2006, my son fell, I had to reschedule to the following year.) I'm hoping to continue my pay-it-forward streak. If you have any inkling whatsoever--apply! If you get in--GO! Sell a kidney if you must for the funds. It will change your life.
The dates for VP16 are October 13-18, up in beautiful Martha's Vineyard. Submissions close June 15. And this year--if all holds well!--I am actually going to be there as slave staff. Yes, that is how loyal one becomes to the VP crew--you will be willing to do ANYTHING to go back. I know they only want me for my meatballs! But that's fine. I get to go. I get to bask in the memories, in the new memories being made. I get to absorb all the great stuff that gets sent out into the aether, and I get to see hopeful writers take that extraordinary step into their futures.
See you in October?
Before it can do that, though, the anthology has to be funded. You can find them over at Indiegogo -- note that this is a "flexible funding" campaign, which means all pledges will be honored, even if the project doesn't make its goal. You can also see updates over there, with shiny things like the cover art (which is really, really lovely). If you scroll down the project page, you can also find a list of the contributing authors -- the ones accepted so far, that is, as submissions are still open.
So click around, and if you like what you see, lend them (us) your support. You get good stories and a good cause out of it. :-)
This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/588952.h
Okay, Marissa Mayer: I just got a look at the new Flickr setup.
Endless scrolling? You messed up by inflicting that on me. I don't have access to THAT much bandwidth!
- Current Mood: annoyed
So, if you're interested in bisexual stories and fun events--and are in town--check it out!
The Nebula Awards weekend is over now. It was my first time as a nominee and my first time attending this strange little gathering--not quite conference, not quite not--and I think it went relatively well. I actually spent the majority of Saturday reading and wandering the city of San Jose, in between doing a panel on digital publishing & copyright with Ken Liu and Howard Hendrix and actually attending the awards banquet. Decent city though low on good eateries; I did find a good used bookstore to peruse!
Congrats to all the winners, but I gotta say--being a nominee is pretty great, too.
I was on for all of two minutes. We spoke very briefly about clever insults between politicians, and I pointed out that this case is different: it's someone insulting their own rank and file, not trying to either build a coalition by insulting some "outsider", nor is it performative like the barbs politicians trade as part of the election show. I was then asked to address what "swivel-eyed" might have meant.
Me: "It's an ableist slur, it's basically saying that have a mental and physical disability...like calling someone spastic"
Host: "Oh, spastic is an offensive term!"
Me: "Well, yes..."
Host: "Not appropriate for BBC radio"
Me: "I'm explaining that it's an insult"
Host: "We apologize to anyone who might be offended..."
And after that I was asked about America and mentioned that John Adams once called Thomas Paine's Common Sense "crapulous" and I was off the air two seconds later.
Kiss of the Butterfly by James Lyon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My rating on this one is actually the average of two ratings: one for writing style, one for concept / research / fresh ideas. Kiss of the Butterfly, so far as I know, is a first novel -- and from time to time, it read like one. In writing style, and even in some of the overall characterization & plotting, it seemed like an average thriller on the horrific side. Lyon definitely kept the pages turning - or, in my case, the screen-swipes & page-clicks going -- but the style was nothing out of the ordinary. Three stars.
Plus five stars for the most meticulously researched take on vampires I've read in a very long time. So meticulous, in fact, that it includes an entire Historical Note section at the end -- in which one can learn that almost every moldering tome, secret vampire-hunting society, & appalling slaughter mentioned in this book is actually real. Names, dates, & titles are provided for anyone interested in researching further.
Authentic Balkan vampire folklore, with a heavy side order of recent history & reasonably compelling characters, make this book a treat for vampire fans jaded by a few too many urban fantasies.
View all my reviews
I am so far behind that I don't even know where to begin. David has a job he likes better than the previous one. This means we can go out for dinner together again, which is lovely. (If we go out with other sweeties there's some outside contribution, but we share finances and I have not made money from writing in quite some time now, so just the two of us doing something requires greater consideration in difficult times.)
I have a Secret Project with someone who is not on LJ. I have never had one before! Perhaps it is not really so very Secret, but I am too entertained to actually ask my fellow conspirator whether it is or not.
I know people are still waiting for photographs of Saffron. There are some, but I'm having trouble getting them onto LJ. Soon, I hope. She has settled in pretty well. She seems an insouciant and self-sufficient cat, with a high distractability quotient. She does provide what Raphael calls "affection blitzes," where she will descend on you, purr madly for a very short time, and then go about her business, which mostly involves watching birds and squirrels from the windows, running about very fast, and sleeping. She has not yet decided to play with Cassie, but Cass is allowed to lollop along behind her when she races through the house, as long as a certain minimum distance is maintained.
I am still writing the Liavek novel. I have gotten to the point where I need to stop and consider the shape of things and move stuff around and look at the plot outline and think, "Uh-oh." I am postponing this until after Wiscon.
Hiking season started very late this year. But Raphael and I have been to Elm Creek Park Reserve and to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park for the ephemerals. Nerstrand was alive with red-headed and red-bellied woodpeckers, orioles, redstarts, robins, and chickadees. Eric and I have made three very different visits to Eloise Butler and one to Elm Creek. At Elm Creek, we heard spring peepers in the various small marshes we passed on the Meadowlark Trail, and also a gabble that sounded exactly like ducks. But there were no ducks. There were blue-winged teal and mallards on the creek, but no ducks in the marshes. Also, the gabble started when the peepers thought it was all right to sing and stopped when they thought it wasn't. We concluded that it must be a frog. When Raphael and I went to Elm Creek a week and a half later, I heard a similar gabble in the pond near the Nature Center, and actually saw a frog in the water. It swelled out its cheeks and gabbled. It grabbed another frog. "It's the mysterious duck-frog!" I cried to Raphael, who was peacefully photographing some lichen. "Oh, they're mating!" The frogs broke apart. "Well, maybe flirting." Raphael kindly took some photographs of the frog. We looked it up later, and it looked like a wood frog. Since the first hit Raphael got for "wood frog" said that its call sounded like the gabble of a duck, we felt we had managed the identification. Later on I found a good link to send Eric and discovered that the only way a male wood frog can tell if he has found a female who is ready to have her eggs fertilized is to grasp any handy wood frog. If the grasped frog is thin, it's either male or not full of eggs. If it's fat, then he's got the right idea. I expect the frog I saw had grasped a thin frog and let go at once.
Eric and I saw only the mallards and blue-winged teal; when Raphael and I went, there were trumpeter swans, hooded mergansers, and some kind of diving duck as well as the teal, mallards. And Canada geese, too. Both trips also yielded migratory green darners, always a satisfying sight.
I should do a reading post if I can find my notes. I am reading all your journals and wish you a good remainder of the spring.
( Perfectly clean, except in the explanatory footnotes.Collapse )
This entry was originally posted at http://fadeaccompli.dreamwidth.org/91860.h
As for the new shows that got put on the fall line-up right out of the gate, I totally nailed it.
8/7c Hart of Dixie
9 pm Beauty and the Beast
8 pm THE ORIGINALS
9 pm Supernatural
8 pm Arrow
9 pm THE TOMORROW PEOPLE
THURSDAY 8 pm The Vampire Diaries
9 pm REIGN
8 pm The Carrie Diaries
9 pm America’s Next Top Model
And here's some trailers...
The Tomorrow People looks interesting, actually. I'll give this a shot. Plus Mark Pellegrino is always fun to watch.
Reign looks rather pointless, so I'm sure it'll be a huge hit.
Here's a clip from The 100- this doesn't give me any sense at all of the flavor of the show.
A clip from Star-Crossed - so the aliens just have tattoo-looking patterns on their skin? They're so alien! ::sigh::
It gives you Google images of places and you have to guess where.
The link above (if it works) is to my best score so far.
Some of you may be familiar with Duke TIP. (Others of you may know the very similar CTY instead.) This is a program I participated in as a kid; when I was twelve, I went to Davidson for three weeks to read and talk about science fiction short stories. The next year it was marine biology in Galveston; then it was tropical ecology in Costa Rica; then geology and a bit of archaeology in New Mexico. TIP is probably the single coolest thing I got to do during my adolescence.
And now I'm going back, this time on the other side of things. I'm heading off to North Carolina in early June to teach a creative writing course, focused on SF/F/H. It will be ridiculously intense: class runs for two three-hour blocks every day, M-F, and another block on Saturday morning. That's thirty-three hours of instruction per week, for three weeks straight. It's "Clarion for twelve-year-olds."
I'm not only allowed, I'm expected to make this the most awesome and challenging three weeks those kids have ever seen. We're talking about seventh- and eighth-graders who have scored a 570 or better on the verbal portions of the SAT. Want to know what I'm giving them for a "how to write" textbook? Delany. I'll be lecturing a bit, but there will be much more in the way of discussion, and they'll be doing writing exercises until their brains fall out. My challenge will be to figure out how to pace things such that they get enough variety to keep the brain-falling-out stage from happening too soon.
I won't be blogging the process as I go, because I don't think that would be appropriate. But I'll probably have thoughts about it after the fact, and I'll certainly share my syllabus/readings/etc. In the meantime, if I'm less chatty online than usual during June, you'll know why.
It's because my brain will be on the floor, along with those of my students. :-)
This entry was also posted at http://swan-tower.dreamwidth.org/588755.h
- Current Mood: hopeful
- Current Music:The Chemical Worker's Song (Process Man) - Great Big Sea
I’m still waiting for someone — anyone — to present an argument against same-sex marriage that doesn’t boil down to, “My religion doesn’t approve” or “I think it’s icky.” Using the former as an excuse for discrimination is about as unAmerican as you can get, and the latter is just asinine.
While politicians and bigots continue to argue that “those people” don’t need “special rights or protections” under the law, here’s some of what’s been going on recently…
In Texas, a judge enforced a clause in Carolyn Compton’s divorce papers which states that, “someone who has a ‘dating or intimate relationship’ with the person or is not related ‘by blood or marriage’ is not allowed after 9 p.m. when the children are present.” Since Carolyn’s partner of three years is a woman and Texas has laws against same-sex marriage, the judge has essentially made it illegal for them to live together.
In New York, Elliot Morales shot Marc Carson, a gay man, in the face at point blank range, killing him. Elliot had followed Carson and his companion, and was heard yelling anti-gay slurs and asking, “You want to die tonight?”
In Chatham, Canada, an openly gay 13-year-old boy was attacked by four older teenagers, who called him “faggot” and “queer,” told him he was going to hell, and beat him. One of the boys pulled a knife and threatened to kill him.
Rep. Mark Pocan became the first member of Congress to obtain a congressional ID card identifying his same-sex partner as his spouse. However, his husband is still legally excluded from receiving health, pension, and other benefits.
In Washington state, lawmakers have proposed a bill that would provide an exception to anti-discrimination law and allow businesses to refuse service based on sexual orientation.
David and Jason married in New York in 2012, but Jason is a UK citizen. As a result, Jason is unable to stay in the country. In order to see his husband, Jason has to get a Tourist Visa, which allows them to be together for 90 days. Jason is now being warned that he’s used too many Tourist Visas, and has been advised to stay out of the U.S. for at least six months.
In New York, two gay men were pursued by a group that shouted anti-gay slurs and then beat them. Both victims were hospitalized. One required eye surgery.
So go ahead. Explain to me why we’re still denying people equal rights and protection under the law. Explain to me why any of this is okay. Explain how you sleep at night, knowing that these things are the direct result of our refusal to recognize “those people” as equal. Or even to recognize them as people.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
My other panels are Wondrous Strange (fairy tales--again, moderating) and The Truth About Rejection Letters (and again--moderating! That's what I get for saying I'll do it if no one else wants to.) I'm pretty stoked about my schedule, actually. It conflicts only barely, I have one panel a day, all in the afternoon. Hadley Rille Books is launching Mark's new book (that I edited!) and we're doing a TolkienQuest event at a local bookstore on Thursday evening. If you're interested in seeing my (Mark and Karin's) schedule, go to Heroines of Fantasy this week--it's all there.
I am so excited to see so many of my HRB friends. There are others outside of HRB that I'll get to see as well. Gonna be fun!
If you were to log into StarCityGames about two years back, you’d have logged in with your username. And once you’d chosen your username, you could never ever change it. If you had, in a fit of pique, chosen “SirPoopyhead” as your user name, that was what you’d have to use forever.
The reason you couldn’t change it was because of a silly choice that had been made back in the year 2000, when we’d first purchased our shopping cart software. The people who had designed that shopping cart decided to use the login name as the unique way of determining who you were – and when we’d created our own customized shopping cart, we hadn’t changed that. So for all intents and purposes, that arbitrary string of characters – “SirPoopyhead” – was the single factor that made you you.
Problem is, that’s actually terrible design.
See, on the back end of an application, we have literally hundreds of places where we store the answer to the question, “What customer did this?” What customer placed this order? What customer tried to log in at 4:56:15 am? What customer ordered a Premium subscription? What customer has $14.15 in store credit? And the answer to each of those questions, each answer stored in a separate location, was “SirPoopyhead.”
The problem is that if we changed that string of characters to, say, “SirGalahad,” then we’d have to manually change that string in every one of the hundreds of tables that referenced it. If we forgot to update just one table (or something went wrong in the middle of all these updates), then somewhere lurking in our database there would be a bunch of records that referenced the now-no-longer existing “SirPoopyhead,” which means that we’d have lost data. This could be very troubling if we were asking the question, “What customer had paid us money?” when we needed to give you a refund.
And with every new feature we added, this problem got worse. We added gift certificates, so here’s yet another place we need to store “SirPoopyhead.” We added wishlists, each of which was duly recorded under “SirPoopyhead.” Hundreds, thousands, of locations each keyed to this arbitrary string of letters.
Worse, turns out logins are a terrible idea. Customers forget their logins all the time, having made them up to check out. If their login was associated with an old email address, they might not even be able to get access to their old login without manual intervention. We literally had, in some cases, customers who’d created twelve separate accounts because they kept forgetting what their login was supposed to be.
No, what we needed was a nice clean email login like Facebook. Everybody remembers their emails. But people change their email addresses a lot – and as noted, having to constantly change “SirPoopyhead@hotmail.com” to something else had a nonzero risk of something going wrong.
What you need, as it turns out, is a unique ID to reference each customer that never changes! You! SirPoopyhead! You’re now customer #123456, and every question we’ll ever ask about you now returns the answer, “Customer #123456.” Then you can change your email, you can change your login, you can change anything you want – all we’ll be doing is looking up the information for Customer #123456.
Come this point in our shopping cart’s development, we had literally thousands of places in the code that used the login name instead of the customer ID to answer questions. And it wasn’t as simple as a “search-and-replace”; some of these were complex queries that we’d completely have to rewrite from scratch. And then, because we’re responsible website owners, we’d want to test all of these changes thoroughly to make sure nothing got broken.
Yet if we wanted to do this, we’d have to do it soon. Because we were hiring more and more programmers, and adding new features daily, each of which referenced “SirPoopyhead.” The longer we put this change off, the more places we’d have to change the code.
That’s what’s called technological debt. Thanks to a bad decision made literally twelve years ago, we had a ton of code that caused us to have to jump through a lot of hoops for what seemed like it should be a simple thing. And every month that went by without changing this sprawling, underlying code was another month’s worth of updates that would also, eventually, have to be changed.
What followed next was a tedious and gruellng five-week project where I looked through each of the hundreds of thousands of lines of code that touched literally every page on StarCityGames.com, changing instances of “login name” to “customer ID.” You cannot understand how magnificently boring this was. There are fun things a programmer can do, usually learning new techniques or doing something flashy – this was basically me, being a smart search-and-replace, doing something a computer wasn’t quite equipped to do.
When it was done, we ran some conversion scripts, and then rolled it out. Zingo! To you, the customer, the only change was that there was now a notification saying, “Please log in using your email.” But to the back end, there was literally a whole new day.
That’s why it’s sometimes hard to change software. How difficult could it be to change your user name? Well, as it turns out, thanks to factors that are hard to explain to your average customer, it can be incredibly hard – an unpleasant task requiring weeks to fix, one that adds almost no new features whatsoever, one that can introduce bugs into stable sections of code that haven’t had problems in years…. yet one that ultimately needs to get done in order to make way for bigger changes later on.
That’s why programming is weird.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/303537.h
I know I had a weekend around here, but it seems to have slipped away, while I was blinking…
We spent all day Saturday down at the Smithsonian, attending a seminar on “Neighborhood Walks Through London.” We’re going to London later this year, so the presentation was particularly welcome. The charming presenter did a great job of highlighting major and minor sites in her home town, relaying history, bits about art and architecture, and generally making me wish that my trip could last for about three months.
Yesterday, I continued the salute to Britain by indulging in afternoon tea with the incomparable Christi Barth. We had a lovely time at the Park Hyatt (although both of us stuck with rather traditional teas, rather than the $150/cup “there are only three bricks of this tea left in the world” or the nearly as expensive “this tea is harvested only on the third night after the full moon”). The Park Hyatt provides a buffet of savories and sweets, which allows customers to avoid their least favorites (egg salad, for me…) and to indulge in extras of their favorites (cheddar-scallion-bacon scones and goat-cheese-artichoke crostini for me). The savories were actually somewhat better than the sweets, which is not my usual experience at tea.
I ended up taking the Metro downtown both weekend days — rare, given the system’s spotty weekend coverage. Somewhat frustratingly, there was a scheduled break in the line between my station and downtown — they used shuttle buses to bridge the gap. I walked the difference both directions on Saturday, but I availed myself of the shuttles on Sunday. The buses are an annoyance, but they run *very* frequently, and the Metro staff are extremely friendly and helpful (and there are *thousands* of staff to guide people, or so it seems.)
Back home for the evening, we power-watched Masterpiece Theatre’s MR SELFRIDGE (although we still have the last double-episode to view) — a not-entirely-successful soapy biopic about that Chicago man who opened the Selfridge department store in London in the early 20th century. I’m not at all enamored of Jeremy Pivens’ acting choices, and I’m suspicious of a lot of the social rules depicted, but I *am* intrigued by the transition of retail that the show presents.
In between all that, I almost finished reading Lea Nolan’s CONJURE (a fun high-middle-grade, low-YA book, with pirates, curses, and Gullah magic).
And that’s the weekend that was. How about you?
Mirrored from Mindy Klasky, Author.
Once again Barack Hussein Obama shocks the conscience of the nation by doing something all the white presidents have done.
Tumblr is not going to be as much fun if everyone has to come into the Yahoo! office to do it.
I wish we had the kind of humane health care system where a man could quietly ask for the mental treatments he desperately needs instead of having to go on the air and announce that he wants to shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina.
Since the beginning of May I have:
Spent a weekend at the home of writer Nicole Kornher-Stace and her husband Dan at a gathering that was informally dubbed “CoalCon,” with the likes of Claire Suzanne Elizabeth Cooney, Francesca Forrest, Julia Rios, Caitlyn Paxson, Dominik Parisien, Paula Friedlander, Shveta Thakrar, Katie Redding and various lovely spouses and partners. We shared embarrassing early-years writing, had an evil laugh contest, ate at a wonderful Indian restaurant, and consumed much rum. (Or at least I did.) A special thanks to Autumn Canter for schlepping me partway to CoalCon and back. She’s a gracious hostess.
Managed to finally finish the first draft of a new short story during a write-in held at CoalCon.
Claire, Nicole and Dominik at CoalCon.
Learned while at CoalCon that the entire shipment of trade paperbacks for the Clockwork Phoenix 4 Kickstarter had arrived at our house in Roanoke.
Traveled to Philadelphia to give a talk to the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society that turned out to be about Clockwork Phoenix 4 and Kickstarter with a dash of my new novel The Black Fire Concerto thrown in for good measure. I think I ended up spending more time answering questions than I did actually making the presentation. My thanks to Lee and Diane Weinstein for inviting me up and taxiing me around.
Waiting in the wings at the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society meeting.
Started sending out the remaining Clockwork Phoenix 4 rewards, both in ebook and trade paperback form, to everyone I owe them to. I’m not done yet, and really won’t be done for months yet, but the overwhelming bulk of the shipping and e-mailing will be finished by the end of this week.
The unveiling of the special singular signed edition of CLOCKWORK PHOENIX 4 in the special padded case Anita made for it to travel in.
Booked our room and rental car for ReaderCon in July. Started to fill out the giant programming sign-up, haven’t quite finished.
Got a couple invitations to a couple cool projects. Can’t say more.
Read through two months of submissions for Mythic Delirium. What’s left is what I’m holding for further consideration in putting together Mythic Delirium 29, the second-to-last print issue. If you haven’t heard from me at this point you’re more than welcome to query.
Contemplated whether I need to launch a Kickstarter to get the new version of Mythic Delirium where I want it to be. I think I will have to (ulp.) At least it won’t need to be as epic as the Clockwork Phoenix one was.