Monthly Archives: June 2012

I buy a new wallet, and lighten it significantly

Billionaire Larry Ellison bought the Hawaiian island of Lanai yesterday. Here’s what we got:

New reclining chairs. We got the old reclining sofa something like 12 years ago, and over time it has gotten uglier and uglier and more and more uncomfortable. The reclining mechanism broke on my side, and we had it repaired. This involved stripping all the upholstery off my half of it and leaving it occupying the living room for weeks like the Terminator’s skeleton.

Then a few months ago the mechanism on my side broke again, and I’ve been sitting without reclining, which is suffering exactly comparable to what my grandparents went through when they immigrated to America in steerage.

In the past couple of weeks the couch has gone from uncomfortable to downright painful to sit in. And it’s still ugly. We had pillows piled up to attempt to compensate for its comfort shortcomings, and duck tape holding the upholstery together. It’s like a torture device designed by drunk fratboys.

We couldn’t find a sofa we liked, so instead we got separate chairs. We agreed instantly that we did not want the kind with the motor-driven reclining mechanism, because (a) one more thing to break and (b) it’s a step too far down the road to becoming Wall-E people.

And now the chairs are here and they look good, and they’re filling the front of the house with new-leather smell. I can’t wait to get crumbs all over mine.

A new wallet. This isn’t a we-got, it’s an I-got. This is my third wallet from All-Ett They make a very slim wallet.

When I got my previous wallet from them I opened the envelope and said to myself, “Oh, crap, I got the wrong one.” I wanted their original, larger-size wallet, but instead I got the ultra-tiny model. I can’t remember why I kept that wallet – I think I talked myself into thinking it was better than the one I ordered, because that seemed like a better idea than exchanging the wallet for the one I actually wanted.

The other day, I said, “I’ve been carrying around this stupid wallet for 10 years. Time to just get the wallet I wanted in the first place.”

The primary difference between the two wallets is that the new wallet has an extra pocket to hold receipts and such.

Unfortunately, the new wallet arrived empty, which is a problem on account of buying those new chairs.

I bought a Fitbit. And then I sent it back for a refund

A Fitbit is an Internet-connected pedometer. It’s a little gadget that looks like like a clothespin. You clip it to your belt, or to your bra (if you’re a woman, or a guy who’s fun at parties). It keeps track of the distance you’ve walked or run. At night, you attach it to a wristband and it’ll keep track of how long and how soundly you slept. It communicates that information to a number of Internet and iPhone-enabled fitness programs, including two that I use: Lose It and RunKeeper.

At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

In reality, I found the device to be highly inaccurate. It told me I was burning hundreds of calories more every day than I was actually burning. If I’d eaten as much food as the Fitbit said I could, I would have put on weight.

I did several trials counting off 10 steps, and Fitbit counted an average 14 steps instead. I walked a measured quarter-mile several times, and Fitbit said that distance was a third of a mile. I walked the same route on different days, and Fitbit gave me different measurements, varying almost double.

One day when I wasn’t wearing the Fitbit at all, the device still measured 500 calories of activity.

Fitbit support seemed to be trying to be helpful, but they were slow, averaging three days between queries.

I enjoyed fooling around with the thing for a while, trying to see why it wasn’t working right, but it was coming up on the one-month period during which I could get a refund. So I decided to ship it back and get my $100 returned

I’m not going to tell you not to buy a Fitbit, because many people enjoy theirs. It’s possible I just got a bum unit. It’s also possible that people find Fitbit accurate enough for their purposes. And people seem to enjoy the social aspect; Fitbit lets you friend people and then share your exercise and fitness results with them.

But Fitbit isn’t right for me, and if you need accurate exercise information, I see no evidence that it’s right for you either.

Font Porn: Help me choose a cover for my next ebook

This ebook publishing thing is going pretty slow. I published my first, “The Biggest Man in Lilliput,” in December, and now here it is June and I haven’t yet finished my second.

But I’m almost there. It’s called “Mr. Shaddo.” It’s a science fiction comedy adventure short story. And I’m getting to the point of selecting a cover.

This time around, I used these instructions for creating an ebook cover, and bought stock art from DreamsTime.

This is the art I selected for the cover. The artist is DiversePixel, aka Yvonne Less, of Bathurst, Australia. The image doesn’t illustrate any particular scene in the story, but it captures the mood. I chose to use only part of the image; in the part I’m using, the giant alien moon just makes the sky look alien. Which fits the story nicely.

Now here’s a nice stroke of fortune: This image of a space city in orbit around an Earthlike planet would do nicely as the cover of the novel I just completed in rough draft. That novel is set (where else?) on a space city in orbit around an Earthlike planet.

Then I started fooling around with selecting a font for the cover. I’m having trouble deciding between them so I’m asking your opinion. Which do you like best? I’m tempted to go with the handwriting font, but I know if I do I’ll regret it, like I regret wearing a cowboy hat for a brief time in the early 80s (Thank John Wayne I’m not aware of any photos of me surviving from that haberdashery disaster!), or using the Comic Sans font for everything in the late 90s.

Let me know which you like best (click the image to get to the image gallery, then the image there to see it full-size — sorry for the extra clickage):

Arial Black

Helvetica Neue



Handwriting Dakota