BookStore-BookBlogger Connection

•May 16, 2013 • 1 Comment

I just discovered BookStore-BookBlogger Connection. Very cool project. I’ll let them explain in their own words:

If you have a book blog, and one or a few of your reviews are specific to a title, contain “blurb-able” material (a sentence or two), and you would like to participate, go check out the I’m a Book Blogger tab up top.

If you are a book store owner, and would like to use READER reviews to promote the books in your shop, take a look at our ever growing list of books that we have blurbs for, and the information in the I’m a Book Store tab.

I’ll definitely be submitting some blurbs.

The Year’s Best Science Fiction and The Finite Canvas

•May 15, 2013 • 1 Comment

I was adding The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection to TagShadow and got sidetracked by one of the stories that’s available to read online.

The Finite Canvas by Brit Mandelo is an intense story that revolves around a conversation between two women. They tell each other stories and are drawn to each other by a need they share. It’s way more bloody and awesome than that sounds and I highly recommend it.


•May 12, 2013 • Leave a Comment


If you’d like to play along, link to a numeric title with the reference number for that tile at various websites.

Runner up at LA Hacks

•April 28, 2013 • 4 Comments

I’ve gotten less than 2 hours of sleep since 6:30am Saturday morning. I love programming, so spending 24 hours straight doing something I love was going to make for an interesting weekend. It came together better than I could have possibly imagined.

The Hackathon was called LA Hacks [1], was powered by AngelHack, was hosted by HR Cloud and took place at Cross Campus in Santa Monica. I was about as anxious as I’ve ever been as people mingled at the start of the event. I did meet a few attendees that I kept up with over the 24 hours and will keep in touch with after the even. Most importantly Richard, who initially suggested I attend, introduced me to his HR Cloud buddies and made an AWESOME teammate.

We took one of the sponsor talks to heart:

  • Use data that exists.
  • Don’t be married to your algorithm.
  • Schlep so the user doesn’t have to.

Possibly other things were said, but we took those to heart.

I went to the event with the ambition to pitch Replacing Goodreads as the inspiration for a project, but I chickened out when the mic was open for pitches. I was agonizing over not having a group and frankly near a panicky feedback loop when one of Richard’s friends suggested the idea that Richard and I teamed up on. Use skill data from linkedIn to create score jobs that show up in a search. It met the 3 points above to a tee. (1) it uses existing data. (2) we could implement a 100% working example with a trivial algorithm that we could improve on as we had time. (3) The entire point of the project was to make it the job search process just a tinier bit easier, which is a massive schlep for way too many people.

After brainstorming for a bit, we settled on building a purely client side JavaScript application using a small number of APIs. Richard and I broke the project in half. I worked on the LinkedIn API and Richard worked on the Careerbuilder API. We pulled the pieces together around dinner and then started ironing things out. Ironing led to improvements and we roped as many of our neighbors in as test cases. Everyone has a linkedIn account and everyone managed to break our app in ways that helped us make it pretty airtight.

I caught a couple hours of sleep. I loved the food, particularly the ice cream sandwich truck. I got a massage. I paced. We coded. As the sun came up, we had everything in place and continued to tweak the algorithm. We actually continued to adjust the algorithm until the time limit and only really discussed the presentation at the 11th (actually 23rd in this case) hour.

There was an interesting hiccup in the presentation … my skill set scored me VERY highly for a job as a nurse … I’m still looking forward to dissecting why that happened. It was a simple presentation and a simple app but watching people’s reactions it seemed like it resonated. Everyone has wrestled with the problem we were solving. I was impressed with ALL of the presentations in our initial judging and was truly surprised when we were chosen as one of the 6 groups that got to present to ALL the judges in front of everyone on the main stage.

I could barely hold the mic still during the presentation, but as I said, it’s a simple app and a simple presentation. I asked the audience if anyone had ever applied for a job. I asked who had a linkedIn account. As I discribed the APIs and how we implemented them the app cycled through job searches and my scores (including the infamous ‘nurse’ search). No questions from the judges and I figured that was the end of things for me.

It clicked with me later that the lack of questions more than anything indicated how clearly we’d explained our project. When the prizes were given out I didn’t expect any of the sponsor prizes as we didn’t use any of their tools. I REALLY didn’t expect to hear the name of our project mentioned at all.

Out of 41 teams we were announced as the runners up for the hackathon. I’m still floored. Amazing weekend. Amazing people. Amazing Opportunities.

  1. All the sponsors, hosts, etc were quite visible. The unsung heroes that put the even on were UCLA Sigma Eta Pi.

Replacing Goodreads

•April 26, 2013 • 7 Comments

Gavin over at Small Beer Press wrote a passionate post about Amazon buying Goodreads.  I just signed up for the Los Angeles AngelHack. Possibly I can get a new and exciting off the ground.  If you could have ANYTHING in an independent book tracking (and review and recommendation and …) tool, what would it be?  What would make you switch from Goodreads or Librarything?  What would make you use a new tool in addition to what you’re currently using to track your books? 

2012 Hugo and Campbell Awards Winners

•September 2, 2012 • 2 Comments

So, I was one of the 600+ ustream users who were watching the Hugo awards live. Shortly after Neil Gaiman got on stage to accept the award for Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form, ustream replaced the video with a message that Worldcon had been removed for Terms of Service Violation. Up until that point, I’d been enjoying awards on my TV via Apple TV AirPlay Mirroring. The general consensus is that it was the short for clips which caused the ToS take down…

The silver lining to this is that I got to enjoy the categories which I tend to pay less attention to. You can see the full list of winners and nominees on the locus website and plenty of other places.

So, a list:

  • I complained in multiple venues about ustream, but my favorite reaction was the prompt editing of the Ustream Wikipedia Page. Props to MarkVolundNYC. Anyone want to take bets on how long that edit remains?
  • Attached to the winners announcement over at is the complete breakdown of the voting. I found it interesting that 3 game of thrones episodes were nominated for short form, but marked as ineligible because of the long form nomination. I wonder if TV series which aren’t fully contained in one year are still eligible for long form and if so which year.
  • I updated the Hugo Winner TagShadow.
  • John Picacio‘s acceptance speech for Best Professional Artist included shout outs for Richard Powers and Jim Burke
  • Speaking of John Picacio, I went looking for other covers from 2011 and found Times Three an omnibus of Robert Silverberg novels about time travel, which thus became the 5000th work I’ve added to TagShadow.
  • I hope the video evidence of the awards survive as I quite enjoyed Scalzi’s opening remarks and seeing E. Lily Yu win the “not a hugo award.”
  • Gaiman, during his acceptance speech implied that he’s writing another Doctor Who script

I’ll leave you with the on clip of the nominee for Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form which was LEAST likely to have caused the Ustream ToS fiasco:

Review: Clean by Alex Hughes

•August 31, 2012 • 1 Comment

Roughly 60 years in the future the accelerating pace of technology runs into a brick wall. Somehow, our tech turns against us and when the dust settles we find ourselves in a future with telepaths and flying cars but no world wide web and no cell phones. It’s a future that could have been written during the heyday of cyberpunk except that they were imagining the very technology which is missing here.

Fast forward a decade or so and we catchup with our story. Alex Hughes writes a first person limited omniscient. It’s a neat trick to have a telepathic narrator and she pulls it off well. It’s also rather impressive that while telepathy is important to the main character, the plot and the entire world described in the novel, it’s the theme of addiction which drives the character development and relationships. The main character’s minute to minute struggle with his unhealthy cravings isn’t the easiest thing to read, but it grounds the narrative.

A telepath makes a great interrogator. And the police department have gotten their hands on one. He gets the toughest interrogations and he’s been doing that and little else for the past 6 years. When a series of murders seem to have a connection to telepathy the department assigns their favorite interrogator some field work. In the process his partner, her boss and we learn considerably more than expected about the full capabilities of a telepath.

I spent much of the book feeling like I’d identified first novel mistakes, yet a few pages later I’d think back and feel like the author really made the right choice. For instance, I struggled with how little most of the characters seemed to know about the main character even though he’d worked with them for 6 years. However, his struggles with addiction, his desire to literally keep people at a distance because of his ability and the general distrust of the same all add up to explain how isolated he is. This case changes much of that and it becomes a great way to pull the reader into the world as well.

The plot is rather straightforward. The world building is uneven but engaging. The writing is gritty and clever. The characters are well developed. All in all a great start to a new series. I find it interesting that this list over at has Clean lumped in with urban fantasy. Aside from the flying cars and the defunct ubiquitous computing infrastructure this could be a contemporary urban fantasy. There are hints that the world could feel considerably more like the near future post-apocalyptic science fiction it is. I particularly want to know more about the tech wars and I was left with the impression that there’s plenty of dormant technology which could offer considerable amounts of mayhem.


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