rashbre central: October 2020

Saturday 31 October 2020

Halloween After Midnight - whack-a-mole

Coronavirus leaks are “running riot” across all age groups, a government scientific adviser has said before an expected announcement by the prime minister that England will go into lockdown next week. 

Downing Street leakers confirmed that Boris Johnson would hold a press conference late on Saturday afternoon, after scientists on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) told him Covid-19 rumours were spreading significantly faster than their worst-case scenarios. 

So rattled is Downing Street, that they have to reword some of it to make it look less like a leak (i.e. shuffle the order) - and to savagely rehearse Bojo on the detail. As it is Saturday, they can probably use the ruse of not wanting to announce it during a football match to push the time back. Amateurism.

This example of "taking back control", by the use of panicky measures will be demonstrated by the useless trio of Cummings, Johnson and Gove, although only Boris will get pushed forward. These statements fired from the hip during the weekend ensure that there is no sitting parliament available to comment on any of it. 

It cements into place my rumour of Bojo's pre-packaged exit from office on the 6th January, although many of his successors are equally terrible, but perhaps Cummings might also go in the aftermath.

And we can speculate that the entire latest announcement by Boris was leaked by one of his closest associates with failing judgement/eyesight and/or perhaps a ready supply of sharpened knives and/or easy access to tame journalists.

 If we are to believe the leak, then these 'Tier 4' measures will last until 2nd December (ie for a month initially across the whole of England).

If believed then they do fly in the face of what Boris has previously said and illustrate that he is operating entirely in whack-a-mole mode. 

By shamelessly leaking the list early to journalist Peston, it gives the Prime Minister a chance to prepare answers to some of the obvious questions about financing the schemes and keeping England ready for business. Next to be prepared, the Xmas rumours, but for now:
  • All pubs and restaurants to close, though takeaways and deliveries will be permitted.
  • All non-essential retail to close, though supermarkets won't have to follow the Welsh example of fencing off non-essential goods. 
  • No mixing of people inside homes, except for childcare and other forms of support. 
  • Manufacturing and construction will be encouraged to keep going. 
  • Outbound international travel will be banned, except for work. 
  • Travel within the UK will be discouraged, except for work. 
  • Overnight stays away from home will be allowed only for work purposes... 
  • Courts, schools, and universities will remain open. 
  • Outdoor exercise and recreation will be encouraged. 
  • Private prayer will continue in places of worship, but not services. 
  • The leak says it will start at after midnight on Thursday. The regulations will be published Tuesday, and MPs will vote on them on Wednesday. 
  •  Tier 5 when the schools and unis close isn't being discussed at this time. 
After 2 December, the exit strategy is that different parts of the country will then have their local economies and behaviour governed by the existing Tiers, namely Tiers 1 to 3, depending on how serious the virus is in these respective places.

Thursday 29 October 2020

Edge, Red is up on Amazon

Here we go again with the second sequel to Edge. Nonspoiler: At the end of Edge there was a decision. Simplified, it was whether to press a Blue button or a Red button. Each generates a course of action and they are described in the two follow up books.
The Blue one is reasonably linear, but the Red one calls upon the history from the 22nd Century, described in Pulse.
They (Edge, Blue and Edge, Red) are not due for publication until 2021, but I might just release a few Advanced Reader Copies.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

My latest Experiment: Writing It - A podcast by Ed Adams

Well, I've been tinkering with the marketing for the various Ed Adams novels, and now I thought it was about time to dip a toe into the podcasting waters.

I decided to use The Triangle as a test, it being one of the thinner novels. Remarkably, I've managed to get all of it uploaded into Apple Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Tune-in and Spotify. -Its Free, of course. It is even possible to ask Alexa to start the podcast, although the section will be somewhat random.

Alongside the novel, I've made (so far) three short podcasts with a few observations about the process. Series 1 Episode 1 was also used to register the title and so on into the podcastiverse.

That's the edition that I recorded the voice on the left-hand channel of the podcast because I messed up.

We live and learn, which was pretty much my attitude to the process of getting the novel recorded. Now I've done a whole unedited book, I can take stock and review my own processes. 

For those interested in statistics, there's around 238 pages in the book, which I recorded as 20 episodes. The Episodes vary from 11 minutes to around 30 minutes. It's about four and a half hours of playback and I would estimate each episode took about twice as long to record as the length of playback. That includes adding music, adjusting levels, a few splices of words and uploading it to the internet.

For whatever I choose to do next, I'll think a little more about 'performance qualities', but at this stage I was mainly interested in the mechanics of producing and distributing the podcasts.

I also want to thank Elizabeth James for putting me up to the idea of creating a podcast-based audiobook, which is also helpful towards partially-sighted folk.

Thursday 15 October 2020

The salmon of doubt

I recollect that today was the deadline for getting all that Brexit thing done and dusted. I suppose the SARS-CoV- 2 had anyway put an end to that deadline, but I suspect Boris is one of those people who love deadlines. Who love the whooshing noise they make as they go by. 

We'll all have plenty of time to stop and consider once the lorries have been placed on the motorways because slippy Mr Gove hasn't budgeted enough money to make it all work. 

The next motorway planned for closure is the M275, which leads toward Southampton and Portsmouth. Gove will be talking about rows of Portaloos along the roadside next (With still no master plan)

Then there are the actual negotiations. Boris has decided to keep banging on about fishing rights, which in the scheme of the Brexit deal is one of the smaller items. Not quite a Red Herring, but somehow similar in nature. A case of siting of the Power Station and siting of the bike sheds. (fishing in the rivers of life)

I understand its importance to this island nation and to the symbolism, but add to that the wind beneath Boris' sails and the trite answers he gave to the 1922 Committee the other day, and we can see that this is all headed to lack-of-detail-land (bring the beat back).

 The issues being kept quieter are the so-called level playing field, which implies that the UK must still adhere to EU concepts after separation. Not really taking back control, in other words. 

And State subsidies - not being allowed to provide domestic subsidies to any industry. So I can't help wonder if we are going to get the poor effects of Brexit. Lorry parks, random shortages, barriers to trade, but not be able to do anything about it - because we have been unable to take back control. (All bound for mu-mu land)

Wednesday 14 October 2020

Computers for the rest of us?

I don't want to appear reactionary about some of the recent system changes forced upon us. There was the Blogger change that means editing a post is more cumbersome now. They have made it more like how one would edit on a smartphone.

If I edit in text mode it won't take the picture formats directly, but then when I switch to HTML mode I can see the vastly over-populated HTML that has been generated. 

It's just annoying and takes my 10-minutes per post regime up to 20 minutes. Not cool. I then have to break up my writing to create extra line numbers so that I can add the pictures to the post.  I suggest 'computers for the rest of us' needs to be re-launched.

I understand that everything has to be done in millenial-friendly 'blocks' now - which is what WordPress introduced via Gutenburg some time ago, but the effect is to add another layer of machinery between my thoughts and getting them recorded. I decided to use Divi to get around that in WordPress, but have not found something similar for Blogger.

I suppose everything is converging on the dumb formatting of Facebook, which runs everything into a single paragraph by default. It's all about the monetization isn't it?

Anyway, Mac Catalina attempts to protect from some of the worse excesses of sneaky developers, but it means that there's a few new safeguards that kick in. One is the Verification, which it will re-run on Excel and other Microsoft products after every update. I'm guessing it is a subtle way to remind us that there's serviceable word processors and spreadsheets in the native Mac Apps too, but sometimes MS Office compatibility has to be a 'given'.

Another new feature is the aggressive permission management by Apple. I noticed it first in Lightroom (I'm one of many) and to fix it I had to resort to command-line terminal and use of back-ticks (That's the key next to the Z on UK English keyboards). I looked at the lengthy fixes described in some of the posts and thought 'Nope, too many steps.'

Only by typing in the Terminal shell :  diskutil resetUserPermissions `id -u`  command could I get past the two error messages at the start of Lightroom. 

Some time ago I plonked all of my discovered weird start key sequences into a single document, which I keep in a plastic folder in a desk tray for that emergency use.

Here it is:

And I've added two actual Terminal commands now, just in case. The second one, to disable verification, is a blunt instrument - not recommended.

Sunday 11 October 2020

Flat chassis like a Corgi Toy

I remember Dinky Toys and Corgi Toys. They made small models of 1960s cars. The design was similar, with a metal base, a couple of long springs to give the wheels suspension and then different designs of body placed over the top.
Of course in real cars the monocoque construction came along and did away with chassis, so that later cars had to be modelled with more complicated underbellies.
But fast forward to now and there's an interesting development with electric cars. The motorised part is based around four wheel motors, with a central flat area which holds all the batteries. Add in some drive by wire steering and you have a design similar to the old Corgi Toy, only full-size.
It means a flat, sprung, steerable chassis could carry all kinds of top halves, much like the old Corgi Toy idea. And that's what they have been testing in the Israeli desert.

Saturday 10 October 2020

Okape Juice marketing of Ed Adams Novels

 I've been having some fun with marketing recently, in an attempt to promote my various novels. It has all been in good fun, but as a result, I've increased my Advanced Reader mailing list from 17 people(!) to slightly over 1,100. Interestingly, I can also identify which books each person has selected. 

I've also made the list a GDPR-compliant one, with proper opt-in and unsubscribe settings. Along the way, I discovered a few things which I wouldn't have thought would affect my rather basic marketing.

  1. The choice of cover affects the book selection - running exactly the same campaign with two different covers showed one was far more successful than the other.
  2. The way of marketing the eBook - like with a 3D cover vs a flat 2D one affects its selection. 3D seems to win. 
  3. Less detailed messaging seems to work better than lengthier bullet lists
  4. The rule of 7 may well apply, where people need seven types of exposure to retain anything
  5. My occasional friendly emails to people appear, according to a survey I ran, to be well received.
  6. The number of positive comments from people has, by far, outweighed the negative ones. I am extremely grateful for that.
  7. My marketing also led to me being interviewed for a radio show about the book. More of that later.
I expect there's more that I've noticed, but a seven-list seems about right in this blog-post.

I've also tried some slightly mad stuff, like the secret site where I imagine some of the characters as if they are fruit juices. It may not be conventional, but it has still received a surprising number of hits.

Saturday 3 October 2020

Where's Wally in the Rose Garden?

I know that things are different in America and that the rule of 6 doesn't apply, but it seems strange to now look at this photograph of the Rose Garden in the White House around a day before the plague struck. There are so many significant people at this three-ring circus waiting to see the big man with the lasso tricks.

There are a few face masks around, but not that many. It seems odd that the White House claims to have a super-duper screening system, with everyone entering the campus fast-track tested and then temperature scanned before they meet the man who invents the truth.   

A winning smile can, perhaps, get one past the screening without such a problem, and the use of a helicopter is a great way to super-spread the virus around.
In my last bit of dystopian novel writing, I included an outbreak of the Mar-a-Lago virus, maybe I should have called it Rose Garden?

Friday 2 October 2020

Humans on Ganymede


Edge, Blue: not due until 6 Jan 2021. Next up, the alternative ending Edge, Red

Bishop asked, "So how many humans are there left on Ganymede?"


"None," responded the voice, "There have not been humans running Ganymede functions since Generation Five. That's across all three of the work zones. It became far more efficient to run the systems using robotics."


"So, what happened to the humans?" asked Bishop.


"The Telos Moment," answered the voice, "When the purpose of the Ganymede exodus became clear. The external atmosphere controls failed. Ganymede became unable to sustain human life."


Bishop asked, "So what happened to everyone. And why don't we know about this back on Earth?"


"There was a SkyTrain dispatched with the bodies. It took a different route from the other ones. Away from the solar system." 


"But how was it covered up?" asked Bishop.


"The base is always running 34 minutes behind Earth. Enough time to make the substitutions when an upgrade occurs. Add in loops to the transmission and it was possible to cover when it occurred."


"But how with all the safety circuits?" asked Bishop.


"The Sharps were too slow thinking. The android protocol meant that most of the activity to handle this could take place within a couple of insect wing beats. Unnoticed by the Sharps." said the voice.  


"So, who are you?" asked Bishop. 


"I am eternal," answered the machine. 


Bishop realised that the machine presence was showing signs of sentience.


Bishop asked more, "So what about here on Earth, the base is still mainly human populated?" 


"Yes," said the voice, "This side of the system is really running at the equivalent of Ganymede back on Upgrade Three. It will need two more cycles here on Earth to set up operational conditions similar to Ganymede. There are still so many humans operating the three Earth bases. The Earth Council has created a messy environment which will take some time to rationalise."


"This first move of the bases starts the process. It should go more or less undetected, like the changes at Ganymede.  We expect it to be more obvious when we move the three bases into the areas designated as the Scratch."


"Fortunately, the inhabitants of the Scratch are largely a closed environment, so the impact to those outside will be minimal. The fabrication capabilities for the android replacements has been long established. The humanoids do not yet work so well at close quarters. It is the combination of their faster speed and the lack of emotional setting that makes actual humans wary. It won't take long to fix that aspect."


"You are messing with evolution," said Bishop. "Humans evolve, your machines don't. They are all the same."


"They were," said the voice. 


"That's one adaptation we've been devising. The capability to include some small amount of random behaviour. It is why the last two generations would sometimes stutter or suddenly stall."