Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Going Critical

Back in my days as a nuclear chemist/technologist we used a term, I am sure everyone has heard it, even if they don't understand it, for when the reactor was capable of generating a self-sustaining reaction. This term was called the state of criticality, or the action of taking the reactor critical. In most popular fiction, this is seen as a bad thing, with someone shouting "Oh no the reactor is going critical!!!"

Of course , real life is seldom if ever reflected in movies or fiction, otherwise these things would be called reality. Criticality is a required state for the nuclear reactor to reach a state of self-sustaining reaction. Essentially it means that the reactor core on average is producing more nuetrons, a little bit over 2 generally, per fission which allows for losses during the fission process (absorption of the nuetrons that doesn't produce fission, or leakage of the neutrons from the core.) A reactor can be sub-critical, where there simply aren't enough nuetrons to sustain a self-perpetuating reaction, critical, where the neutrons produced are just enough to make up for losses, and super critical where the reactor is producing more neutrons than needed to sustain a reaction. The term most of the writers are looking for when they want to portray a problem with a nuclear reaction should be "Oh no! The reator is super-critical!".

So what, you are probably saying, what does this bit of nuclear trivia have to do with regular life? Well, each reaction, if it is to be self sustaining, must reach a critical state. What this critical state for reactions of course varies for the type of reaction. For example, let's say someone sends out a spam email about rutabagas. Rutabagas are not very interesting vegatables, but, if you can get off enough emails to enough people who are interested in rutabagas the email will continue to circulate and take on a life of its own, essentially going critical in the espace.

This notion of critical mass for a successful email campaign of course also carries over to other forms of publicity and all PR shops hope for their campaigns to reach a critical mass of interest where they takes off on their own. Usually once a successful formula for reaching a critical mass in an ad campaign is found, with minor tweaks it can be applied to others. This also known as "going viral".

So, why have I been thinking about this? Well, of course there is my professional life where we hope each new RamSan SSD we launch will reach a critical mass in the storage world, where essentailly word of mouth does our work in selling it for us. Then there is my personal life.

If you have been following my recent posts you know I have been dabbling in self-publishing. Of course anyone who publishes anything wants it to reach a critical mass in its publishing domain, whether it is my technical, Oracle books, or my self-published fiction books, I want them to reach a level of popularity that generates its own publicity and of course, sales!

Well, enough lunch time musings. Be safe and enjoy life!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Puddings in the Proof

The final proofs for the three books came last week and after one false start (had to change fonts and tweak the format) I was able to approve the final versions. So now the books are available in paperback.

Just so everything is in one place here are the links for the various Kindle and Paperback versions:

Quest of the Rune Sword:
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0033WSZH2
Book: https://www.createspace.com/3424929

Ransom of the Phoenix:
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00347AIE4
Book: https://www.createspace.com/3425526

Seeds of Wonder:
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0033WSW7U
Book: https://www.createspace.com/3424266

This journey into self publishing has been enlightening. Some things you need to watch for:

1. Avoid self publishing offerings (SPO) (for the most part) that only have one or two expensive options where they want a load of money up front for formatting, editing and such.
2. Avoid SPO where they want some long period (for example, 7 years) where they own your content. It usually seems these correspond to ones that fall into item 1.
3. Do make sure your content is fully editted, proper spelling, grammer and usage. The first step is no red or green underlinings in WORD then read for word usage.
4. Watch were and where, lose and loose, threw and through, etc.
5. Quote properly
6. Don't publish anything you don't own or have permission on unless you know the fair usage laws and fall well within them.

I could go on, but I believe you get the gist of it.

The ones I have heard good things about are: Createspace, dtp.amazon.com, xlibris, iUniverse and LuLu. I am sure there are more quality ones but this will get you started!

Anyway, take a look at my offerings and enjoy!


Friday, January 15, 2010

More on Writing

Believe it or not after 20+ Oracle titles as author or co-author I was getting a little burned out as a technical writer. Of course that isn't counting the dozens of presentations, white papers and articles in addition to the books.

However, since I have been cutting back (yes I know, many have asked when the next Oracle book will be out) I am beginning to get the writing bug again. In addition, I have recently published another book with Texas Memory Systems about the use of SSD technology with Oracle, check it out on the TMS website: RamSan book.

Of course I also used to write fiction as well as technical and I have ground out a couple of short stories and polished off a couple of novels I had sitting around. While I was doing this I found my pile of rejection slips. When someone asks me how to be successful as a writer I tell them to collect enough rejection slips to use as wall paper for a regular size bathroom. Of course some would use them for a different type of bathroom paper.

As you can tell from my previous blog on the 13th, I have gotten tired of rejection and the add of insult to injury of having to wait (sometimes months) for the privilege of being rejected without the benefit of even having been read at times. I have had several times been rejected with letters that used the wrong title for the book, wrong author name and with the manuscript returned in the same box, same rubber band around it and in absolutely pristine condition. Now I didn't check for fingerprints but my guess was it sat in someones read pile for X days and they simply sent it back without a read. Until the invent of print on demand (POD) and ebooks this was the fate of most submissions to mortar and brick publishers.

So I decided to give self publishing a whorl. Looking over many POD publishers most seemed more designed for vanity (oh let me buy 10 copies for friends and relatives and I don't care if it is never marketed) than for actual get it out there publishing. Then I stumbled on CreateSpace and DTP from Amazon. I know you all know what Amazon is, well, they partnered with CreateSpace to provide POD publishing that is actually a real attempt at true publishing. Hence I decided to use both the POD and digital publishing services from Amazon.

Justr as with my foray into jewelry making where I had a bowl of sharks teeth on my desk so I decided to do something with them, I had a collection of short stories (several published in magazines and in two anthologies) and two novel length books just sitting on my hard drive so these have been sacrificed to the POD and ebook effort.

To date the three have made it online to Amazons Kindle store:

Ransom of the Phoenix an action adventure about theft of Nuclear fuel.

Seeds of Wonder a collection of short stories

Quest of the Rune Sword an epic fantasy

Anyway, I'll see how they do. The actual softcover books will be available (with any luck!) sometime next week.



Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Don't Pay the Ransom!

I looked at my blog and realized that I hadn't posted in quite a while. No, I haven't been kidnapped, so don't pay those ransom demands! I have been quite busy with work (and play) related travel and with doing load testing using the RamSan440 and Oracle (spoiler:the log jam is Oracle...).

Anyway, thought I had better post something! (Thanks for the nudge Nigel)

Believe it or not I do have time for other things (other than Oracle and scuba diving) I also do wire wrapped jewelry (radidjewelry.etsy.com), write fiction (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0033WSZH2,http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0033WSW7U) and do photography (http://s159.photobucket.com/home/mikerault) as well as play with my grandchildren (2 and counting).

However, I shall endeavor to do a better job keeping up this blog. Once I wrap up my load testing with Oracle I will see what tidbits I can write about.

So thanks loyal readers and whatever you do, don't pay the ransom...I escaped.