Defcon Leaning

Looks like I’ll be heading to the mother of all hacker conferences, Defcon 18 in sunny Las Vegas 2.5 weeks from now. I’ll be attending parties and tech sessions, trying to not get hacked, and, mainly, selling my famous geekoid hackerific novels from a table in the vendor area.

I’ve got two reasons for wanting to attend: (1) I’m writing another hackerific novel, Creation Science, and I want it to feature either some action at Defcon or at the least, some characters (white & black hat) who are Defcon types. So I’ll be doing passive research & keeping my eyes open. (2) I want to sell books and get some notice for my books. If ever there were a target market for them, I think Defcon must be it. Maybe with a little luck I’ll get some notice as the author of what may well be the ultimate hacker book.

Any of y’all as have been to Defcon or who plan to attend this one, I would appreciate your saying hello in the comments. Any advice on how I can meet my two objectives would be especially welcome. In particular, what’s the best way for me to get the word out to the Defcon crowd about my books before I get there?

Ass over teakettle and a farewell to free ebooks

About three weeks ago I had freak accident on my bicycle. My chain froze as I was pedalling up a hill. I went ass over teakettle and performed a lovely three-point faceplant in the weeds (2 hands + 1 face = 3 ), spraining eight fingers & two thumbs and bloodying up my left cheek, which led to two visits to the emergency room and one to my doctor who told me that much of the symptoms in my hand were coming from my neck, where CT scans revealed “moderate to severe arthritis.”

As I picked myself up off the ground, in shock at the gross betrayal of me by my insubordinate bicycle and angry at gravity, and with my hands hurting ferociously and tingling in equal measure, and later, after calling my daughter, who was off in our family’s only working car, to ask her to come drive me to the hospital, I realized that I was not Cory Doctorow. Even after my daughter had picked up my wife who took me to the emergency room at Martha’s Vineyard hospital & I had heavenly dilaudid pumping into my vein I still was not Cory.

I’m mostly all better now. I even rode my bike a lot yesterday, despite the heat, right down to the Tisbury Street Fair, where I served strawberry shortcake with the guys in the Firefighters Association. It’s been three weeks since my bike mishap & I’m still not Cory. Consequently, I’ve stopped giving my books away for free.
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Tweaking the Wetmachine Shop

With help of master wetmechanic Gary, I’ve moved to a “shopping cart” thingy for selling my books here on Wetmachine. In related news, about which I’ll be blogging soon, is that I’ve decided to stop giving away PDF versions of my books. I’m selling them for $3 apiece now.

The shopping cart seems to choke on (physical) mailing addresses outside the USA, I’m unhappy to report. We’re working on getting that fixed, but in the meantime if you live outside the USA and would like to purchase any of the physical things in the shop, use the “Contact Us” form and we’ll figure out a way to do business.

In the simpler world of the “old style” Wetmachine, there was a hand-coded HTML form you could print out to buy books by check-in-the mail, and a hand-coded page for using paypal. Downloads of electronic copies were free. That approach was, frankly, a lot easier for me to deal with than this new shopping cart has been. Getting the shopping cart up and running has been a bit of a pain in the ass, frankly — and it’s not even fully functional yet.

But the world is changing. I now have four books for sale (one of them a pre-order) in several different formats of ebook. The combinatorics were already starting to get unmanageable. I certainly hope to have more and more things for sale in various formats soon (a fifth book, a sixth book, sweatshirts! coffee mugs! personalized Cadillac SUVs!–which would quickly make the combinatorics even worse– so a move to some kind of shopping cart approach was inevitable.

I’m not happy with the appearance of the shop nor with my own dilly-dallying: this should have been done months ago, and it ain’t nobody’s fault but mine.

My books Acts of the Apostles, Cheap Complex Devices and The Pains are still under Creative Commons License and you can find them elsewhere on the net. But on Wetmachine itself I’m going back to give away only sample chapters.

I’ll be blogging about my reasons for this “close the barn door after the cows are out” action in an upcoming post.

Meanwhile if you experience any problems with the wetmachineshop, please use the Contact Us form to let me know.

Attention Kurzweil Singularity Overmind Nanomachine Google

Well, when the business pages of the The New York Times are full of stories about transhumanism and Ray Kurzweil’s visions of our futures inside the Singularity, that means, I suppose, either that the world is finally ready to embrace my novels (which are full of singularity (“overmind”) stuff, not to mention nanomachines, lampoons of transhumanism, and vaguely Kurweillish techno-utopian evil villains ) or that my time has come and gone without my even noticing it (I guess I shoulda had a television so I could watch “Fringe”, sigh). I suppose if I ever were to get this site fixed I could find out if people were still interested in buying books from me. Note to self: get off ass, dammit!

In other news (which I found via the Kurzweil AI net), the military is working on some “local overmind” (“augmented reality”) technology, not unlike that used by The Eternals in the great Jack Kirby comic books of the late 70’s — of which I have a nearly complete set someplace, in proper comic-book bags. Wonder if it’s worth anything?

1. “In addition, groups of Eternals, as few as three at a time, can initiate a transformation into a gestalt being called the Uni-Mind, a vastly powerful psionic entity that contains the totality of the powers and abilities of all the beings that comprise it.” — Wikipedia

Wetmachine and dog walk into a bar. . .

So this guy walks into a bar with his dog. Puts the dog up on a barstool. Barkeep sez, “get that dog outta here.”

Guy sez, “Hey, this dog can talk.”
— “Go on.”
— “No really, he can talk. If he talks will you buy us a beer?”
— “Sure, if your dog can talk I’ll buy yz a beer.”
Dog don’t say nothin’. Pants, looks around, licks his balls.
—  “Get out.”
Guy sez, “You gotta ask him something!”

Barkeep thinks for a second. “OK. Who is the greatest baseball player of all time?”
Dog don’t say nothin. Keeps on saying nothin.

Barkeep throws the guy & dog out on their asses into the gutter.
Dog looks at the guy.

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DNA Robots — another “Acts” technology sighting

According to this release from the BioDesign Institute at Arizona State University,

A team of scientists from Columbia University, Arizona State University, the University of Michigan, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have programmed an autonomous molecular “robot” made out of DNA to start, move, turn, and stop while following a DNA track.

The development could ultimately lead to molecular systems that might one day be used for medical therapeutic devices and molecular-scale reconfigurable robots—robots made of many simple units that can reposition or even rebuild themselves to accomplish different tasks.

Or for creating the Overmind and repairing and reanimating the thawing head of Fred Christ, the frozen god, according to diabolical villain Monty Meekman, the power behind the throne at Digital Microsystems, Inc., and chancellor of the University of New Kent, as chronicled in my famous novel Acts of the Apostles and famous novella The Pains.

Attention Cape-Cod area Red Sox radio fans/grammar police

I listen to a lot of Red Sox games on the radio. I like the game-calling by Joe Costiglione well enough. Joe is boring, but competent. His sidekick Dave O’Brien drives me a bit nuts, as he’s pompous &  tends to talk in broadcasterese more than English.  I can  abide the cliches even if I don’t like them, (“twin killing” for double play; “became strikeout victim” for “struck out”, etc) but the mangled grammar is really irksome. O’Brien’s inability to  master the conditional sentence, especially the “third conditional” is particularly annoying.  Instead of saying, for example, “if Ortiz had hit the ball he would not have struck out and the Red Sox might not have lost the game,” O’Brien ponderously intones “Ortiz hits that ball, he doesn’t strike out and the Sox are still playing.” With O’Brien at the mic, there’s only present tense. You might think that a professional broadcaster would have familiarity with the nuances of our language. Not O’Brien. He talks like somebody who never went to school. It irritates the hell out of me.

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Status report on Wetmachine crossover

Longtime readers of Wetmachine are aware that we’ve moved to a new blogging platform. This has been a pretty ambitious undertaking and we’ve hit a few snags. Among other things, it’s not possible, yet, to buy or read my books from the site, and our adverts are not working (not that you miss them, but we miss the little bit of revenue they bring). There are some aesthetic tweaks to the layout & rss feeds we’re working on, and a few other things.

Please bear with us. The migration is being handled by Wetmachine’s unsung & unpaid hero Gary Gray, and he’s got a lot on his plate (including small things like the proverbial day job). We’ll address the remaining issues as expeditiously as possible.

Meanwhile we certainly would appreciate any feedback on the new design, and bug reports are always welcome. You can leave them in the comments or use the “contact” form.

We’re Back

Hi Folks! The last few days have been busy around here, as we have moved to a new blog system. That involved a lot of data conversion, various kludges and hacks, late nights, caffeine consumption, and a bit of patchwork to get things up and running. It also required a last-minute emergency move to a new web hosting system, as our old web server wasn’t up to the task of running our new blog software.

There’s still more change to come, but the basic setup is complete, and most of the kinks ironed out.

After the jump. more details including a list of some new features.

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