Browsing Tag

things that suck

Ebooks and Ereaders

B&N and Kobo stomping on user ability to download books

I’ve been noticing lately that Kobo has been stomping on the ability to download certain books from user libraries–and at first I thought this was simply a passing glitch. But then I started noticing it happen on books where it was particularly puzzling, i.e., releases from Which are DRM-free and which should not have any restrictions whatsoever upon them.

I saw this happen when I tried to pre-order John Scalzi’s Lock In, and when I sent Kobo’s CS people cranky mail about this, they told me something that made no damn sense whatsoever: that because the book was in epub3 format, that meant I couldn’t download it. I’d also noticed it happen on a free book from Tor–Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Lady Astronaut of Mars”.

Reasons why this made no damn sense:

1) A book’s format does not dictate whether you can download it. All downloading is is copying data from point A to point B. If there’s something that’s getting in the way of the data moving, that’s DRM or some other form of restriction.

2) I was able to go over to my B&N account, go find Kowal’s novelette, and download the exact same thing in the exact same format with no problems whatsoever.

So I sent Kobo additional cranky mail about this, and was told that if I wanted the book in another format, then I should complain to the publisher. And that pissed me off because the CS person didn’t understand that I wasn’t complaining about the format–I was complaining about the inability to download the thing onto my computer so that I could keep a backup copy of it around. Which I should have been able to bloody well do as I wished, because it had no DRM on it.

Meanwhile, though, B&N has trumped Kobo completely on this, because according to this post on The Digital Reader, now B&N has removed download links for ALL books in user accounts. Apparently, they’re stopping support for sideloading, according to what the poster was told in tweets.

And this just makes me crankier. Dammit, B&N, I started buying ebooks from you because Amazon was pissing me off. And Kobo, I started buying books from YOU because B&N was pissing me off, and additionally, because I wanted to support moves to partner up with independent bookstores.

But if BOTH of you are going to start denying users ability to download their damn books, all this is going to do is drive me off to find out whether Google Play will let me do this. And it’ll make me way more interested in buying books directly from publishers and from authors as often as possible.

Dammit, all I want to do is buy books, keep master copies on my computer, and put them on devices to read when I want to. This should not be difficult.

And yet.

The Internet

This is not encouraging me to listen to U2

So there I was reading my feed of articles coming off the Mary Sue when I saw they’d put up this: “101 Things We Wish Apple Gave Us Instead of That U2 Album and How to Get Rid of It”.

And my immediate reaction was “wait, WHAT?” And I found another article on Ars Technica, here.

Because apparently not only did U2 hand their album out for free over iTunes as part of Apple’s big event this week, the album’s also now been added to everybody’s iTunes libraries.

And sorry, Apple, sorry, U2, but that’s just obnoxious. If the band wants to hand out their album for free, dandy, more power to them. Promote the hell out of it and tell everybody on iTunes ‘hey look! A free thing! Click here to get the free thing!’ And stand back and watch the downloads roll in, because sure, people like free things.

But you know what people don’t like? Editing their online data without their consent.

I just logged into my iTunes account and clicked on ‘Purchases’, and yep, there it is, right there at the top of my recent purchase list. Except I didn’t ask for the damn thing. I don’t want it. Even aside from the matter of how I’m not a fan of this particular band or of most rock in general–’cause as you all know, if your band doesn’t have a fiddle player and at least one bouzouki, I do not care–the thing that annoys me here is the editing of my account data. And giving me no way to delete it, either. It’s useless data to me. It’s taking up space in my purchase history, and okay yeah fine I can apparently ‘hide’ it, but my point is, you shouldn’t be messing with user data like that to begin with.

And okay yeah sure fine, the album does not appear to have actually shown up on my phone; I’ll need to check my computer to see if it showed up there. And I’m aware that there’s an easy answer here: “if you don’t want the album, Anna, don’t download it or listen to it”.

Thing is? If that album shows up on my computer without me having asked for it in the first place, that’s pretty much the equivalent of Apple not only standing on the street yelling FREE ALBUM GET YER FREE ALBUM HERE, but actually walking up to people and stuffing CDs into their pockets, no matter how you try to say “NO THANK YOU”.

It’s not a big problem in the grand scheme of things. It’s absolutely a petty first world problem.

But dammit, have some respect for the integrity of your user data, Apple. Don’t go stuffing things into our pockets that we didn’t actually ask you for. You wouldn’t do that if we walked into your Apple Stores in person, would you? (You’d BETTER not.) So don’t do it online either.

ETA: Okay, further investigation shows that this album does not appear to have actually invaded my iTunes library, no doubt because I do not actually have Automatic Downloads turned on. I am however hearing from friends that THEY have had it show up. userinfoscrunchions tells me it startled her quite a bit because she KNEW she hadn’t purchased any U2, and for a long bit there she was afraid she’d gotten hacked somehow until she saw the news going around about the promotion.

The takeaway here: I don’t care what you’re promoting. I don’t care if it’s the finest album in the history of music. Any promotion that alarms your users and makes them think their account security might have been compromised is seriously not cool.

About Me

So much for going to OryCon

Dara had another followup appointment about her eye surgery this afternoon–and was informed, much to our dismay, that she had further retinal tearing. There had been a ten percent chance that this would happen, and apparently, she’s just managed to roll REALLY badly on her Luck roll.

This means another round of eye surgery tomorrow. And no going down to OryCon this weekend. AUGH. We’ve cancelled our hotel reservations and gotten our Amtrak points back for the train, and additionally, OryCon’s concom said oh god yes of COURSE we can have a membership refund; they’ll deal with that after the con is over.

So. Dara’s next round of eye surgery is tomorrow at 4pm. Which means I get to spend tomorrow morning writing a proper synopsis of Vengeance of the Hunter to hand over to my editor, and then I will take Dara to her procedure. She’ll have a post-op followup on Saturday as well.

This may make Monday more challenging. We’d already realized that oh shit Dara’s not cleared to drive yet, and had gotten Paul’s agreement to drive us to and from my surgery. However, now that Dara’s going to have to have another procedure of her own, this may make it difficult for her to go with me to the hospital at all. Much will depend upon whether she is still under position restrictions by Monday, since the first round of this fun required her to spend the next day or so constantly looking at her feet and having to sleep face down as well. Which would be PROBLEMATIC, trying to stay overnight with me at Evergreen. But we’ll see what happens with that as of Saturday.

Tonight Paul made us a tasty dinner, and there’s been cider, and I’m also having a shot of cake vodka, given that tonight pretty much took a hard turn into the land of Fuck Everything. The forecast of instruments being picked up later tonight is also very, very high.

Please keep us in your thoughts, folks. And if anybody finds the son of a bitch who decided to bump up our medical misfortune this year, let me know, okay? I have a heat ray and an itchy trigger finger. >:|


A few things make a post

Let’s lead this post off with a couple of general reminders:

First off, the giveaway for Valor of the Healer is still in progress and running until Friday! As of this writing I have only six entrants, so your chances are really, really good at a shot at one of the two free copies I’ll be handing out. Nobody’s cleared the bar to get in on the draw for the audiobook yet, but there’s still time!

ALSO: I have a coupon for Faerie Blood live on Smashwords through Friday as well. Since Smashwords is the only place I can easily set up coupon codes, this doesn’t apply to any other place you can buy the book from, sorry! BUT, if you buy Faerie Blood directly from me any time this week I’ll apply the same 20% discount to the usual $2.99 price. I’ll also do so if you want one of my remaining print editions! So act fast!


Next item!

Seriously, how much of an asshole do you have to be to steal the violin from Olivier Demers?

Y’all know that name around here by now, folks. Violin player for Le Vent du Nord. I follow him on Facebook. This past weekend the Quebec trad music community had a music festival, Chant de Vielles, and to all reports it went swimmingly. Except for the part where somebody walked off with M. Demers’ violin.

Y’all may also remember that I’ve posted before about what it feels like to lose a beloved instrument. Dara can certainly tell you all about that. So believe me when I tell you that it’s a kick in the teeth. And that somebody has seen fit to steal the fiddle that makes beautiful noises like this and this and especially this… well. Treebeard’s quote from The Two Towers comes to mind: “There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of Men for this treachery.”

And I’m just sayin’, people, my spouse is a supervillain. I have heat ray access.


Speaking of Treebeard or at least of things Tolkienish, if you haven’t seen it yet, I did put up Chapter 13 of the Trilingual Hobbit Reread last night!

Also, I put up part 5 of the series of posts on self-publishing.


And that clown car of FAIL re: sexism in publishing (with or without SFWA being involved) has yielded up another clown. My last report of Foz Meadows’ relaying how Jo Fletcher Books had taken down Rod Rees’ post and the followup to same turned out to be premature, since the posts came back up.

Turns out the second one was all about the author’s freedom of speech. Which, um, nobody was actually calling into question.

This being yet another example of people failing to remember that freedom of speech does not equal freedom from people calling you out for being an idiot or an asshole. You’re free to spout off whatever nonsense you like, yes. But the rest of us are free to call it nonsense.

That said, the clown car is thankfully being paced by the Mach Five of WIN. Discussion is ongoing as well about the big, big issue of harassment at cons. My own Dara has chimed in on the matter over here, talking about her experiences with harassment and pointing off to a couple other excellent posts of testimony on the matter, including one from filker Brooke Abbey.

And in a case of someone knowing how to use his position of privilege for Good, John Scalzi has announced his new policy for deciding what conventions he’ll go to. Spoiler alert: he expects them to have clear harassment policies in place. Thank you, sir. This is an excellent move.


ETA: And OH YES I almost forgot. userinfospazzkat came up with an excellent term for the ongoing brouhaha in SF/F, and the Internet’s reaction to same: SFWAdenfreude. My immediate reaction: NEW HASHTAG! Use at will, folks!

ETA #2: THIS JUST IN: Mary Robinette Kowal, hallowed be her name, has had ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT. *wild applause* I feel a buy of all of her ebooks coming on RIGHT NOW. >:D

ETA #3: And because at this point you really do need a scorecard to keep track of all the clowns pouring out of the car, here, have a thoughtfully compiled timeline of all the events that have been going on so far this year.

The Internet

And now, this week in rape culture–and speaking out against it

A lot of you may have seen the explosions going around the Net about a Kickstarter that got funded in the last couple days, one based around a guide to getting women that is pretty much promotes trampling all over consent. That, yes, pretty much is a step-by-step manual for how to rape a woman. The guide’s described in quite a few places, but I’ll point you over to the article about it on The Mary Sue, which provides a few telling screenshots and gets into discussing what this means for Kickstarter’s overall policies for what projects it will and will not allow.

(For obvious reasons, before you click over, especially before you go looking for the actual project page, trigger warning for deeply sexist, rape-promoting douchebaggery. I’m not linking to the project.)

I’d just like to state categorically and for the record that if Kickstarter can’t commit to saying that yes, this project does in fact violate its guidelines, that it actively promotes harm to women, then the next crowdfund project I run–likely to be for Book 3 of The Free Court of Seattle, once I finish squaring away Rebels of Adalonia as well as all pending rewards due to the patiently waiting supporters of my first project–will be either on IndieGogo or Peerbackers.

Because this shit is NOT OKAY. I’m disgusted that Kickstarter let the project onto their site to begin with, and even more disgusted that apparently it found enough backers to make well over its target goal.

I don’t want to leave you with that rancid taste in your mouths, Internets, so here, have another link: Jim Hines laying out exactly what rape culture is in his own response to this mess. To which I’ll add: yes, exactly what he said.

ETA 6/21/2013: userinfoariaflame has just brought to my attention that Kickstarter has owned up to their being wrong, and have issued an excellent apology on the matter. Moreover, they are donating to RAINN. I would like to publicly thank Kickstarter for doing this, as this goes a long way to restoring my faith in them.

The Internet

Dammit, Google! I was using that!

For those of you who haven’t heard already, Google has announced that as part of a “spring cleaning”, they are shutting down Google Reader.

My previous solution was to use the RSS in Mail on OS X. But Apple yanked that out as of Mountain Lion (another instance of “Dammit, I was using that!”).

So now I’ve been doing a two-pronged solution of NetNewsWire parked as my local reader on my computer, which is where I keep up with authenticated feeds–and that synced in turn up to Google Reader, where I was keeping up with everything that wasn’t authenticated. That way I’ve been able to read things at work in between doing, well, work.

I tried feedHopper on my iPad, since it was the ONLY RSS app I was able to find that’d do authenticated feeds at all; all of the rest I looked at were strictly Google Reader clients. And I’ve also tried Flipboard, but honestly, the ‘magazine’ type layout doesn’t do anything for me. Yes, it’s pretty, but it’s not at all helpful in keeping track of what things I’ve read and what things I haven’t. Which is the whole point of me trying to aggregate all the things I want to follow in one or two places.

But now that Google Reader’s going away I’m going to have to rearrange things AGAIN!

What will have to happen now: find out whether NetNewsWire, my current frontrunner for RSS apps, will implement any kind of syncing solution between computer, devices, and web, maybe via iCloud. If they do that, I will happily throw them my money.

Alternately, if anybody out there wants to recommend me an app that will a) specifically handle authenticated feeds, and b) sync between computer, devices, and web, I’d LOVE to hear about it.

If you want to go hunting for a new RSS solution yourself, I’ll also point you at these links:

  • Feedly has a transition plan in play
  • ExtremeTech proposes 8 alternatives
  • Slashdot to the rescue!
  • Marketing Land proposes 12 alternatives (many of which are also in the ExtremeTech article, but)

ETA: Apparently there’s a petition to ask Google to keep Reader active. As of this ETA, it has nearly 75,000 signatures.


Eighty-nine kinds of BAD IDEA

Just about all of you who read me are very likely people who also read John Scalzi. If you are a Scalzi reader, you’ve probably already seen his post about Hydra, Random House’s new self-pub imprint.

If you haven’t, however, you should go over here and read it. Right now. Note also that he links off to Writer Beware’s post on the same topic.

Executive summary: if you’re an aspiring author, run far, FAR away from these deal terms or anything like them. Don’t let the allure of being published–and believe me, I get it, that’s a REALLY SHINY ALLURE–blind you to contract terms that would completely screw you out of getting any actual money. Go self-pub before you go Hydra. It’d be harder work for you but then you’d actually get to keep your money.

Spread the word. Boost the hell out of this signal.

ETA: Scalzi’s put up a followup post analyzing a contract from Alibi, the sister imprint of Hydra. (Hydra is the SF/F imprint in this clusterfuck, and Alibi is the crime/mystery imprint.) Go read his analysis of the contract terms if you haven’t already. And I reiterate: if you are ever faced with a contract of this nature, SET IT ON FIRE AND THEN RUN AWAY.

Obligatory disclaimer: yes, I’m aware that my current publisher is not an advance-paying publisher, which is the big opening beef Scalzi’s got against this contract. However, I also note that before I signed my contract with Carina, I read the hell out of that contract, and I landed an agent who also understood the contract and who negotiated with Carina on my behalf on the things that could be negotiated upon. And another agent also gave me feedback on what Carina’s contract terms were like, so I understood going in what I’d be doing.

So obviously, I do not have a problem with working with a non-advance-paying publisher. I do have a problem, though, with everything else Scalzi points out about that contract.