Monthly Archives: May 2004

Almost Free

The web is free, except for ads. Publishing on the web pays nothing, except for ads. Today I finalized arrangements with Gorilla Nation to begin placing ads on Locus Online. For the moment, just the usual banners at the top of the page, and for the moment, just generic ads, though targeted ‘brand’ campaign ads should be forthcoming. For the first set, see the June issue pages, posted today, beginning with the Profile page. Also available are tower [vertical] ads, wipeovers, interstitials, and so on, and though apparently they pay far more than the standard banner ad, for now I am declining them to see how the initial banner posts work out–if they really pay enough to be worth the effort to post them, and if the resistence from readers of the site is not too great. I find ads as annoying as the next guy, but at the same time I think, what’s good enough for (or tolerable by) the New York Times and The Onion should be good enough for Locus Online.

Meanwhile, I have no less than three special articles/reviews/features lined up for posting on the site, over the next week or so (by David H, Claude L, and Cynthia W), and I hope readers keep in mind that the ads are what’s paying for those contributions. Myself, I’m still working for free. Because… um, …

Cost Benefits

To respond to the commenters…

Yes, when you link to Amazon via Locus, I do get credit for all the purchases you make on that visit. I get a quarterly report listing in exhaustive detail everything purchased via the links (including videos, garden equipment, etc.; lots of stuff that isn’t linked directly). I do certainly appreciate those purchases. Much revenue? It amounts to $200-$400 per quarter, i.e. every three months. A nice check (or gift certificate, now) when it comes, enough to cover some of what I spend on books, but hardly rent money (or mortgage payment).

I find wipeovers annoying too, but I’m not going to rule anything out. What if 20th Century Fox offers big bucks to promote their latest flick? And big bucks for Locus Online would be a miniscule drop in their bucket. Let’s put it another way: increased ad revenue will finance additional content on Locus Online, mainly reviews and essays. What kind of ads are visitors willing to endure to pay for that content?

Meanwhile, after my irate post last month concerning viruses and worms, I was amused to see this piece today in Slate.


Thanks to anonymous Neil for pointing out the solution to my Paint Shop Pro quandary. It was an irritation that made me use the older version I have, PSP 4, half the time; not the first time I’ve abandoned an ‘upgrade’ for an earlier software version that’s easier to use.

I signed a contract today with Gorilla Nation to provide advertising to the website. I do have approval control over which advertisers, and what kinds of ads, they’ll supply. Wipeovers, anyone? (Or whatever they call those graphics that overlay a site’s homepage for a few seconds then disappear.) All ads are nuisances, perhaps, but there’s not much other source of revenue for a website such as this…


I’m trying now to post more frequently, even if only a line or three. This past week Colleen Lindsay at Del Rey was kind enough to send me copies of the first four Del Rey manga titles, and so I dutifully browsed through them and listed them in my [ideally weekly] New Books page. I confess though that, aside from the very occasional graphic novel by Art Spiegelman or Chris Ware, I have no familiarity with the form, much less the Japanese flavor called ‘manga’. And so I’ve commissioned Cynthia Ward, who knows about these things, to supply an article about manga for the clueless, like me. She assures me she’ll have it done in the next week or so.

Meanwhile, I spent about three hours yesterday resolving all the write-in votes in the Locus Poll in order to establish the final results in all categories. None of them was squeakingly close. I do still intend to analyze the results and post some insights into voting patterns, without of course actually revealing anything about the winners, and hope to do that over the next week or three, or five.


Thanks to those who offered comments even if there was nothing much to comment about. I’m not sure that comments are even appropriate for this ‘blog’–which is more of a journal, really, in that blogs are traditionally oriented around commentary about things posted elsewhere on the web, especially the latest political doings.

On the other hand, I can think of some things I wouldn’t mind getting feedback on–a list of pet software peeves springs to mind. Does anyone know–

1) Why does Blogger offer to ‘remember’ me, but doesn’t; I always have to type in my username and password anyway. (Yes, of course I have cookies enabled, etc.)

2) Is there any way, in Windows XP Wordpad, to change the default file type from .rtf? (To ‘all documents’ *.*) I use Wordpad to edit .html files, so every time I launch it I spend two mouse clicks to change the file type away from the default.

3) Similarly, I use Paint Shop Pro to edit graphics. In version 7, it assumes a default file type of .psp — for ‘Paint Shop Pro image’ — and I can’t figure out a way to change it (to, say, .jpg).

4) Here’s one I just encountered today. In MS Outlook, when you create a new mail message and start to type an email recipient in the ‘To’ box, a list of possible completions appears. But the list include previous mistyped addresses. How do I delete those erroneous options? They’re not in my address book; where are they?

The comment function here in Blogger seems pretty crude, and perhaps I should take the time to convert to Movable Type or some more functional service. Maybe someday.


So, *no one* has left a comment to my previous post (except for me, as a test), which just confirms my suspicion that only 3 people read this blog, and none of them has happened to check in since yesterday evening, or they ignored my invitation to comment. Or that the place to click to leave a comment wasn’t clear. Or something.

Meanwhile, an exciting new possible way to subscribe to Locus Magazine is being explored, at least by me, but it is up to the senior executive publishers and editors of the Locus Foundation, sitting in their spacious offices in the Locus Tower high above Oakland California, to approve this idea for further development, or not. You’ll know their answer depending on whether you hear anything more about this, or not.

And the Winners Are…

The deadline (whichever it was) has passed, the ballots are in, I’ve run my crack database and tabulated them. The Locus Poll winners are… But no, I can’t tell you until sometime in July, after the complete results are printed in the July issue of Locus Magazine and the issue has mailed. In any event, I’m only 99.5% sure about the winners. I’ve filtered the raw data from the emailed ballots for duplications–multiple ballots submitted by the same person (this usually happens when someone hits the ‘enter’ key prematurely), and votes by one person for the same item more than once in a category. Which the rules say you’re not supposed to do… it’s tempting to throw such ballots out entirely, but we give them the benefit of the doubt and simply delete the unauthorized multiple votes. It’s curious that such voters think we won’t notice, tsk tsk.

But I haven’t yet accounted for all the write-in votes, which don’t automatically tabulate using database queries since every write-in vote is in formatted slightly differently… “Sawyer, Humans”, “Humans by Rob Sawyer”, “Sawyer Humans (Tor)”, and so on. It’s extremely unlikely that write-in votes will change the *winner* in any category, but it is theoretically possible.

I’ll do that this weekend. And I’ll do some more analysis of voting patterns, as I started to back in February after the initial batch of ballots came in.

I’ve hand-edited the template for this blog to place the Comment link; my guess about why it didn’t work initially is that I’d removed the default “posted by” tag at the end of each post (which seems redundant), and so the automatic update of the template to place the comment tags didn’t know where to put them. Or something. Does anyone have a comment about that?

About Reviews

Well, so, comments are turned on, but they seem to only appear on the separate archived pages for each post, and not on the main page here. Clearly, I am doing something wrong, or else there’s some problem with–well, surely I’m doing something wrong.

About reviews– A couple bloggers recently have remarked about inappropriate review comments. Though I’m no doubt guilty in my past of a few stupid reviewer tricks myself, one of the basic tricks is to review a book not for what it is, but for how it isn’t what the reviewer thinks it should be. Steve Johnson’s blog has a good example, at, of a reviewer of Johnson’s book Mind Wide Open, who found the book’s ‘autobiographical ramblings’ by their very existence a flaw, without realizing, or attempting to understand, that they were deliberately part of the book’s design. This doesn’t relate directly to the other bloggers’ examples, but it is another trick in the stupid reviewers’ manual. (And the reviewer in question is Bryan Appleyard, which might not be a surprise to those familiar with him…)


The migration of to its shiny new dedicated server at CI Host — a Unix Dedicated Celeron Celeron 2.0GHz, 256MB RAM, 80 GB IDE, 100Mbps Ethernet, 8 IP addresses, 1000GB xfer, somewhere deep in the heart of Texas — seems to have gone smoothly, with the exception of some disruption with my FTP connectivity today. But the website has apparently been unaffected; no emails today about the site being down; only a slight noticeable glitch in the traffic numbers yesterday (when the migration took place) compared to the previous day vs previous weeks.

Blogger here has upgraded its functions, and in a moment I’ll get back to trying to turn on comments. I tried a moment ago and it didn’t work, sigh.

Thanks for Cheryl Morgan (via Kevin Standlee) for the email news alert this afternoon about the Arthur C. Clarke Award winner.

Some comments about reviews in a moment.


The solution to the website traffic issue is to go to a dedicated server at CI Host, for a mere $69/month–paid in advance for a year. Still, much better than the $200+/- per month charges I’ve been accruing lately.

Work in progress. Some of these are only partially complete. Format etc still subject to change. Eventually these pages will be some sort of ‘front end’ to the awards index.