Posted on January 1st, 2010 in braindump, making things

Hello, New Year. There’s so many lovely metaphors for you: you’re like the first page of a fresh empty notebook, the first brush-stroke on a newly-stretched canvas, an empty plot of land just tilled for a new crop, the first needle-loop of a new skein of yarn, and all the other sorts of things you can start with old tools and known skills and a bit of something new to use them on.

Which is the sane way of stating what the cynics in the room (which I’m only ever accused of being when people don’t like my jokes, haha) will have said at midnight:  It is, after all, just the day after last year.

Optimists and pessimists and soon-to-be pessimistic optimists are all flippity flopping about how 2010 will be better or worse or just the same as 2009.  Of course, from where I’m sitting, it’s already better: today’s weather is just a touch warmer than yesterday’s, a little bit of nagging elbow pain faded overnight with some ibuprofen (and that same pressure change that brought the weather, likely), and people have started saying “twenty” instead of “two thousand” – so that’s three points to 2010, just in my first ten hours of it.

But, yes, of course – there are bound to be colder days again, this elbow is a chronic condition, and some people will I’m sure, continue to say “two thousand” for as long as we’re in it.  You pessimists and already-broke-your-resolution-and-so-shortly-joining-them optimists can stop reading now, warm in the assurance that my 2010 may look better but it certainly can’t last.

Silly kids.

Everyone that’s still here, lemme start with the good news: 2010 is going to be better than 2009.  Honestly.  This is based not on some vague feeling or gambler’s fallacy, but on absolute fact: lately I’ve only been on about one thing – making things, and how, and just get ‘er done – and if you’re still here reading me, it’s because that’s what you want to do.  And if that’s what you’ve decided to do, then 2010 can’t help but be better than last year, when you didn’t.  Can (and will) things go wrong?  Yeah.  They can.  And will.  I’m not going to lie to you. And that possi-probability for disaster is the bad news, sure.  But that’s no worse than it’s ever been, so there’s really no need to dwell on that.  All you need remember is that this is the year you decided to Do More Stuff, and so loong as you don’t sabotage yourself, there’s no reason why you won’t.

Eventually.  But very probably this year.  Barring that self-sabotage thing.

Take a look at this pretty little site I found this morning: My Someday. It’s yet another to-do/goal/planning network amongst the gajillion others already online.  I’m not endorsing this particular site over any of the other apps/widgets/sites/etc that already do much the same thing, I just liked the timing of it (it is a rather New Year’s sort of site, innit?)… and it reminded me of something that’s a good thing to remember any time, but especially on January First, while we’re thinking about it.  A little copy paste from the site:

For each Someday, we’ll show you related step-by-step Plans for achievement. You can copy and customize a Plan or build your own.

[. . .]

Help others by posting a Plan with the steps you used to achieve your Someday.

There you go.  Don’t forget those bits, yeah?  I’m not saying sign up for yet another site (although if it floats your boat, then go right ahead. I can already see little mini-nets piggybacking on the service), what I’m saying is that achieving, making, doing anything does require some sort of plan.  And it needn’t actually be that detailed – god knows I make shit up all the time – but parceling your plan into easily managed (and swappable/changeable when necessary) modules never hurts.

And that second part is what I do here, sometimes, and what I always like seeing from other people: there is, again, no harm in lending a hand to other folks that want to make things, too.  There are very few actual trade secrets, in any trade. More often there are just folks that are terrified that if they tell someone how to install a word-processing program, those other folks will finish their books, first.  Which is a ridiculous and, worse, lonely way to work.  It’s worth noting that when you make friends by helping them learn how to do their things, you’re not usually making competitors – you’re making a network of folks that may very well be your first customers, sure, but will certainly be your first supporters.  And that second bit, support, is something you’re not going to succeed without, period.

Of course, don’t give yourself away completely – unless your goal is to become an advice columnist, you can’t spend all your time giving advice.  But there’s a lot to be said, as you all start your new years and your new projects (well, for some of you, that might come after your new hangover, sure, but you know what I mean), about how you’re going to exchange information in 2010.  If you’ve got things you’re going to need to learn how to do to get your thing done, chances are other folks do, too.  It won’t hurt for you to ask, and it won’t hurt for you to offer, either. 

That little segue done, let’s circle back to the start of this post: I can’t honestly say how the year’s going to play out all across the board, but I feel pretty good about mine, and I’ve got a hunch yours is going to turn out all right, too. 

So welcome along in 2010, thank you for reading, and let’s see how it goes, shall we?

Steven Wells (He Was The Greatest) via Kieron Gillen

Wednesday January, 06 2010 01:45 AM PST

Akira the Don has done a video. Yays!

Oh - and go see Solipistic Pop review over at Forbidden Planet.

Notebooknotes: Writing DO ANYTHING via Warren Ellis

Tuesday January, 05 2010 05:16 PM PST

DO ANYTHING was mostly written in a Moleskine reporter’s notepad with a propelling pencil. The page reproduced below — cranked up in GIMP to make it visible, if not legible — appears to date from late May 2009. It’s written in block caps because I needed to be able to copy-type from it, and as we know from earlier posts, my handwriting is shitty.

Pretty much every page of DO ANYTHING in this notebook looks like this:


If you’ve read DO ANYTHING, you know a lot of it is pretty densely layered with connections. The column was written in a very specific way to maximise the information. It always, always started out as longhand, early in the day. The longhand was always about the forward thrust of the column — the column meanders a lot, but it doesn’t wander, it’s constantly following a channel. As I go, I’m signposting things I need to check later, or need to remember to tie in.

Later, I sit down and copy-type the thing into Notepad, with a browser open, because I’m fact-checking as I go. The longhand draft is all mental, and that includes working in information from memory. Since I often can’t remember what I did yesterday, it needs to be checked.

I’d write the longhand version in intense two-hour stretches, and usually had way too much for a single column. After 003, in fact, I just kept writing without thinking about column breaks, and found those breaks later after the copy-typing.

Once I’d typed the column up, the real draft started. Because I’d then spend an hour plugging names from the column into Google, looking for more connections, as well as following my signposts, and layering that stuff into the piece. The Notepad draft after an hour or so on Google was the actual first draft, and that’s what’d get pasted into OpenOffice to get edited and cleaned up.

Really, an incredibly complicated and time-devouring process for a column no-one read. But it was fun, and it taught me things.

DO ANYTHING: Jack Kirby Ripped My Flesh via Warren Ellis

Tuesday January, 05 2010 02:37 PM PST

The serial version of the first DO ANYTHING book concluded today. It’ll be out in print in April, and it’ll look something like this:


Operation OverLOLd via Dan Curtis Johnson

Tuesday January, 05 2010 01:40 PM PST

What's that old truism? "They aren't making any more IP addresses"...? Well, this is it, soldiers. Word has come down from the Executives: it's time for the big push. We're crossing into MonolithiCorp's Class A address space tonight to take as many as five Class B ranges. SIGINT believes they are in the process of physically relocating their New England data center, so we will be attacking networks in the dot-150's while real-time IT support levels are reduced. As a diversionary assault, a wave of support tickets will be opened regarding dropped connections on their dial-in lines. There will additionally be DoS fire support during the actual landing itself.

The overall operational goal is to take the entire Class B 150 range, then press for armistice in the hopes of establishing new borders. The initial landing points will be the routers at dots 151, 155, and 159, referred to in your separate unit briefings by the operational labels Redmond, Cupertino, Mountain View. Secondary landings at dots 153 and 157 (codenamed Tokyo and Kyoto) will provide reinforcement and hopefully punch through to the interior network. Recent packet-sniffing indicates the enemy is largely defending with Linksys M70s but are likely to be upgrading to doubly-redundant Cisco 88s as part of this NOC move. If those unit replacements have already occurred in the existing NOC, the initial landings can certainly expect to encounter heavy filtering and substantial loss of signal.

Upon access, you are to secure and replace the router firmware and establish a secure VPN tunnel to the inner system. When the tunnel is in place, you are free to enter the main network to take and hold as many user accounts as possible and desired. Soldiers may take for themselves as much porn, music, video, and other recreational data as they wish from individual computers, but there is to be no identity theft or credit card fraud. You may loot these users, not rape them.

You'll find your separate unit briefings in email shortly. Good luck.

For consideration: We have seen the enemy and he is

In which the audio versions of Happiest Days and Just A Geek get a new home via Wil Wheaton

Tuesday January, 05 2010 01:37 PM PST

I've had such a great experience using Lulu to sell Sunken Treasure and Memories of the Future, Volume One, I have decided to start out 2010 by moving the audio versions of The Happiest Days of Our Lives and Just A Geek to Lulu.�It made a lot of sense to me to keep all of my self-published work together in one place, and hopefully this will make ordering even faster and easier than it already was.

Now, for the sake of completeness and making a post that's more than 70 words, here's a little bit about my audiobooks, which I yanked from the Audiobooks�tag on Wil Wheaton Books dot Com:

The Happiest Days of Our Lives

You can�buy the audio version of�The Happiest Days of Our Lives�right here, for just $19.72. "Why $19.72?" You ask? Because that's the year I was born, and since nobody else is the boss of me, I can do that sort of thing. "How long is it?" You say? "That's what she said!" I reply. Then I tell you that it's about three and a-half hours long, and we laugh and laugh before the episode ends with a hilarious freeze frame.

Like�the audio version of�Just A Geek, this is a super-annotated edition, filled with tons of what I call "audio footnotes" for lack of a less stupid-sounding term. I hope we've created something that's more like�sitting down in a room with me while I tell you stories, than it is a typical audiobook. I don't think a traditional publisher would let me get away with doing it this way, which is a big reason I do these things on my own. If you've ever heard meperform my work at a show, or�listened to any of my podcasts, you should have some idea of what you're getting into.

Just A Geek

I'm very proud of this, my first audio book. I've talked in the past about what a huge letdown my experience wih O'Reilly was on the print version of the book, and much of the joy I'd hoped to feel with its release has instead come from the recording of the audio version, which ended up being a performance, with asides, commentary, and reflections on the material that aren't in the print version of the book. I guess it's like I'm reading the book to you, and occasionally setting it down to give some meta-commentary on various passages.

So if you liked the print book,�my PAX keynote,�my performance of The Trade, or if you like my podcasts, I'm pretty sure you'll dig the audiobook.

For the Lulu release of Just A Geek: The Audiobook, I was able to include a PDF scan of the booklet I created for its previous release, which I think is pretty cool. (If you already own the audio version of JAG and would like a copy of the PDF booklet, just e-mail me and I'll get it to you as quickly as I can.)

My audiobooks are quite different from traditional audiobooks. Rather than create a dramatic interpretation of the literal text, which is what I do when I voice another author's book (Like Peter & Max: A Fables Novel, which I did for Bill Willingham), I am able to use my experience as an actor to bring the words and characters to life while adding my own commentary. The result is much closer to hearing or seeing me perform my material live than getting an audio version of the text.

For both of these books, I worked with my friend David Lawrence, who in addition to producing them, participated in some interesting conversations along the way. In fact, we added so much material through our conversations and my additional commentary, we only half-jokingly call them superannotated�versions of the books. It's the sort of thing that I doubt I'd be able to get away with if I wasn't doing this entirely on my own, and I'm really glad that we did the books this way, because I think it makes them special and unique. The feedback I've gotten from customers is overwhelmingly positive, and it appears that my goal of making the listener feel like we're sitting down together while I read to them has been successfully achieved.

Okay, before I sign off, I'm going to address a couple of FAQs that usually come up when my aubiobooks are mentioned:

Q: How about some stats, man?

A: Happiest Days is $19.72, about 3.5 hours long, and is about a 200MB download. Just A Geek is $20.00, about 9 hours long, and is about a 400MB download.

Q: Why is Just a Geek only 28 cents more if it's so much longer?

A:�That's what she said! Oh, um. Sorry. Because it's been available for so long, and the old pricing model we used when it was originally released needed to be updated. Look, I know that people can just steal it if they want to, so I figured it was better to make it more affordable for people who want to be honest.

Q: How about a discount if I get them together?

A: I wish I could do that, but I'd have to make a whole new project at Lulu, and I don't think there's enough market demand for that.

Q: Can I get this from Audible?

A: Not right now.

Q: Why not?

A: Two main reasons: Audible takes a huge�cut of the purchase price, and for an indie guy like me it's not worth it. Audible also requires DRM, which I'd like to avoid as long as possible. Now, to be super-clear: if Audible could somehow open up my work to tens of thousands of new customers, I think it would be a fair trade off. However, my experience in traditional publishing leads me to believe that that isn't going to happen. I think I can reach�

Q: So why not do it anyway? Why not sell them directly yourself and also use Audible?

A: Hurm. That's a good question, and I can't come up with a very good reason that's more comprehensive than, "because I don't want to deal with the hassle and potential rejection from Audible."�

Q: So you're going to eventually do that?

A: Well ... it seems silly not to, now, doesn't it? Tell you what: once I get everything I need to do under control and I'm not behind on a crapton of deadlines, I'll look into Audible, assuming that they'll even be interested in having me.

Q: So should I just wait, then?

A: Facepalm.

Q: Are you going to do audio versions of your other books?

A:�I've meant to do a Dancing Barefoot�for years, and just never got around to it. If enough people are interested, though, I will. I bet I could give Barefoot a really neat superannotated treatment, especially since I've leveled up so much since I wrote it.

Q: What about Memories of the Future?

A:�I really don't know. It takes a lot of time and energy to produce an audiobook, and I don't know if there are enough buyers to make it worth the time it would take to create a Memories audiobook all at once. I've thought about doing it episodically, so if only 20 people are interested, I've only wasted two hours instead of forty, but I'm not sure that would work. But there's always the Memories of the Futurecast, guys.

Q: Hey, is it weird to essentially have a conversation with yourself and present it as a FAQ?

A: Keep your questions on-topic, please.

Q: It's just that, I think it's kind of weird.

A: That isn't a question.

Q: Oh, so the voice in your head can say you're awesome and you'll let that slip by, but if I point out that it's a little weird, you're just going to blow me off?

A: Pretty much. Yes. Okay, um ... you in the back?

Q: Hey, I don't have a question, but I just wanted to say that you're awesome.

A: Why thank you. That's very kind of you.

Q: And tell us, once again, where we can get these fabulous audiobooks, please?

A: Great question. You can go to my storefront at Lulu to find just about everything I've recently published, or you can go directly to Just A Geek: The Audiobook or The Happiest Days of Our Lives: The Audiobook.

Annnd, scene. Thanks for reading and (hopefully) listening. Remember to tell all your friends, and be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

Well, it's an original response... I think. via Lee Barnett

Tuesday January, 05 2010 01:21 PM PST

This is from a blog at the Jewish Chronicle, the blog in question being that of Miriam Shaviv:
Where antisemitic comment is not free
By Miriam Shaviv
January 5, 2020

Damian Thompson, Blogs Editor of the Daily Telegraph, has come up with a revolutionary plan to combat antisemitic trolls on his site, which - as far as I can tell - is perfectly serious:
One answer would be to approve all posts before they appear ? but why should the rest of you have to put up with a delay just because a couple of nutters are so obsessed with Jews that they can?t join a supermarket checkout queue without scanning it for Zionist secret agents?

So here?s my plan.

For every anti-Semitic comment that appears on this blog, I will make a small donation to a Jewish charity.
Hope he's paid well...

But seriously, nice to see that at least one of our dailies actually cares enough to have a plan.
Well, it's... different.

Links for 2020-01-05 via Warren Ellis

Tuesday January, 05 2010 01:00 PM PST

  • Charitable Front: Some Bay Area organizations appear to be part of a secretive group
    "Mysterious organizations in the Bay Area profess to be advocating for liberal causes. In truth, they appear to be part of a secretive group with a bizarre radical past."
    (tags:cult pol )
  • Sikhs strive to keep language alive
    "The Sikh scriptures and the Punjabi language of many Sikhs were written in a script known as Gurmukhi. So to be fully initiated into the religion, you must know how to read it."
    (tags:cult culture language history social )
  • U.S. Evangelicals? Role Seen in Uganda Anti-Gay Push
    "…the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how ?the gay movement is an evil institution? whose goal is ?to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.? Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior…"
    (tags:cult crime )
  • Freescale promises bargain-price tablet this year
    "Freescale Semiconductor unveiled blueprints for a tablet computer to be priced at less than 200 dollars (US) when it debuts later this year."
    (tags:tech computing )

Launching The Burj via Warren Ellis

Tuesday January, 05 2010 12:48 PM PST

Curzon from Coming Anarchy took some photos of the opening of the Burj Khalifa, the new top medieval folly in Dubai. The thing about criminal lunatics who live like God’s just keeping their chairs warm is that, well, they do know how to put on a show:



More at the link.

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again? via Kelly Sue DeConnick

Tuesday January, 05 2010 12:14 PM PST

hastily photoshopped picture of KellySue & Fraction’s l’il Shell Head., originally uploaded by steverogers.

Only I didn’t. Instead I dreamt (dreamed?) that Fraction and I, Henry and our friend Eleanor were on a river cruise through some unnamed European city. We’d forgotten to reserve a cabin and weren’t sure where or how we were going to sleep when we were called to meet the boat’s Captain.

Because I was an Olympic silver-medalist in “Costumed 100 Meter Freestyle (Open Water),” they were providing us with a free room. Of course, if I would participate in an exhibition swim later in the day, they’d be appreciative.

Luckily, I’d packed my Iron Man costume.

Stuck In The Middle via Warren Ellis

Tuesday January, 05 2010 10:13 AM PST

Of a 300-word column on comics for SFX. 300 poxy words. This usually means I’m going to have to scrap it and start again. It’s not due to file until the 11th, but I want to get it out of the way today, because I need to be producing some comics pages by the end of the week. Of course, at the end of the week, I’m planning to be in London to consult with a few people on a few things, so…

Provided London hasn’t been cut off by snow, of course. Extreme weather warnings are popping up all over the country today, and both London and Southend are pegged for "heavy snow" tonight — about a foot of it, by all accounts. People in other parts of the world are laughing their arses off at the very idea of that being "heavy snow," I know. But you can confidently expect this shambles of a country to fall over and play dead after a foot of snow.

Today I had a very, very strange job offer.

This turned up in my inbox the other day, from artist Sam Haney.

(Larger version)


You too can send me dirty pictures at my "dump" email address, which I check every day or two, at warrenellis [at] gmail dot com.

On Whitechapel Today (5jan09) via Warren Ellis

Tuesday January, 05 2010 09:32 AM PST

At my internet cave today:

* The Katie West Residency

* The Brian Wood Residency

Both here until end of Friday. Go and meet them.

* REMAKE/REMODEL: Ace Of Space - return of the artists’ challenge thread.

* Free Paper Science newspaper from We Are Words + Pictures - oh yes. We do free stuff now.

* Comics on Sale This Week (Jan 6) - For people with a local comics store.

* SHUDDERTOWN; March 2010 from Image/Shadowline

* GHOST PROJEKT: Coming in March from Oni Press

Preview material for two new comics by creators who visit Whitechapel

* DJs lets post some mixes thread!

DO ANYTHING 026 via Warren Ellis

Tuesday January, 05 2010 07:00 AM PST

Concluding the first volume.

Radio Masts via Warren Ellis

Tuesday January, 05 2010 05:52 AM PST

Clayton "Siege" Cubitt’s notebook is probably a lot nicer to wake up to than mine, you know.


Good morning. This is warrenellisdotcom. I write things here.

Coilhouse: Elevating the Discourse Since 2007 via Meredith Yayanos

Tuesday January, 05 2010 05:15 AM PST

[via Jolie]

You’re welcome.

Post tags: Crackpot Visionary, Flora & Fauna, Geekdom, Madness, Silly-looking types, Why

Post-Industrial Broadcast via Warren Ellis

Monday January, 04 2010 06:25 PM PST

Broadcast and network culture. (And Atemporality, which, like the term "post-industrial," you’re likely to hear a lot about this year.)

In my part of the world, in the 1960s, you’d come home from work — as my mother did, as Niki’s mother did — and the first thing you’d do is put the radio on. You’ve already selected the broadcast channel you want. You’ve found out the frequency from friends, from a magazine, or just twisted around the dial ’til you hunted it out and left it there. Radio Caroline, or Radio Essex, broadcasting off the Maunsell Sea Fort called Knock John. These are pirate radio stations, outside the control or mandate of the BBC. And you’ve left the dial locked to that frequency because it’s the only way you can hear the music you like. It’s music the BBC doesn’t play, and the BBC’s pretty much the only game in town, if your town is ashen, brick-faced Sixties Britain. Broadcast technology has gotten to the point where nutters like Paddy Roy Bates can lash together a kit on a concrete plug sticking out of the Thames Estuary and blanket the area in modern music. It’s on the verge of a consumer-society democratisation.

My RSS feed reader is tuned to several broadcasters. I’ve found out the web addresses from friends, from magazines, from twisting around a search engine until I found what I was looking for. These broadcasters send music directly to my main daily listening device, which is a X61 Thinkpad (as opposed to an ITT transistor radio). And, even though I live in 2010 Britain and have a few more options than three or four BBC stations, it’s still often the only way I can hear the music I like.

(My daughter comes home and puts on YouTube, clicking around playlists. YouTube is in fact the radio for her and her friends, right now to the shitty sound quality.)

We’re in the depths of the consumer-society democratisation of the relevant technologies. It is really not hard to be a broadcaster now.

There’s obviously going to be a rush of tablet technologies this year. These are largely going to be about the broadcast of magazines. This is going to be kind of a new thing: over-the-air simultaneous delivery of post-print journalistic/design digital objects to handheld devices. Without immediate democratisation. This is a thing that large publishing corporations would presumably be intent on controlling access to. This will, equally obviously, not happen.

This is something I’m going to be kicking around for a while.