Sunday, January 20, 2019

Break the Backlog!

Here's a fun experiment for 2019. We all have backlogs of media, whether they be games, movies, or books. It's time to cut it down to size this year!

I've written about the slimming of my collection, of replacing my physical media to digital. Well, this is going to be an addition to that goal. At this point, I've sold the majority of the excess. What's left is the things I actually want to experience. Some of these have solid recommendations, great reviews, and media I've just wanted to get through.

I'll be leaving reviews of some of my to-be-read piles, movies I've never gotten to, and games never completed.

Where 2018 was a year of spartan living, 2019 is a year of actual living (still spartan-lite, as things are still in flux).

My first review goes up tomorrow, and will be for Lollipop Chainsaw released in 2012.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Review: Nook Glowlight Plus

Hello everyone, I'm going to be posting my video reviews and things like this on the blog from now on. I'll generally post the scripts, if they are available, on here so you can read if you're unable to watch. We'll be going through some older videos for the next couple of updates until we catch up with what I have prepared currently.


When it comes to being an author, you may think one of my favorite pastimes is reading, and you’d be right. And my favorite way to read is with ebooks. Now, we can have a long discussion about preferences, whether print is better than digital, or how a physical book never requires charging or loading. What I can say about ebooks is that we're spoiled for choice and price.

I have nearly 400 ebooks, and I probably paid full-price on 5 or 6 of them.

So, let me tell you about a dedicated e-reader worth your time, the Nook Glowlight Plus. A water-resistant e-reader from Barnes & Noble, and it’s the best value for your money, even compared to the Kindle.

So, e-reader comes baked-in with a few concerns. What is the point of an ereader when everyone has a phone or iPad? Tablets allow for users to watch video, respond to emails, surf the web, and every retailer has apps that allow for reading. And let’s be honest, it’s more convenient to carry around one device that does it all instead of several.

I’ve done reading on my phones and tablets, and it wasn’t until this year I bought my Nook. Reading with e-ink reduces eye strain, since the e-ink technology emulates paper. This means the display is perfect during the day, and the backlight on the device can be adjusted to your preference.

And as someone who works on a computer all day, giving my eyes a rest is a huge plus.

Another thing to note is that e-ink displays have plateaued the past several years. What this means is that the quality of the displays are virtually identical among the major brands. The 300 DPI screen on the Glowlight Plus is the same for the Kindle, and the same as Kobo's offerings.

The big feature that the Plus has is that it's waterproof, which is what newer Kindle Paperwhites (2018) and Kobo e-readers have. The Glowlight Plus has an IP67 certification, which means it can be submerged underwater for up to 30 minutes down to a meter. Remember, that's freshwater, not saltwater, which will chew and destroy your electronics unless washed afterwards.

Now the Glowlight Plus doesn't work well underwater, due to the water pressure messing with the capacitive screen, but it can be easily dried and will work fine. Just make sure the USB port is dry before plugging into a wall charger.

Battery life on the Nook Glowlight Plus is a change of pace compared to phones and tablets, because e-readers can survive weeks on a single charge. This is because the battery is not used unless the screen is changing, the Wi-Fi is on, or the backlight is on. If you know how to turn the backlight off or low, only turning on Wi-Fi when downloading or purchasing new books, the Nook will last much longer. That can be about a month or a bit longer, depending on how often it is used.

I personally get around three weeks before reaching 30%-40% battery life based on my reading habits.

So we talked about the inside, let's talk about the outside. The Nook Glowlight Plus has one of my favorite looks of an e-reader. Most e-readers come in fashionable black, and that's it. The Glowlight Plus has white bezels with the diamond patterned grip make it distinctive and practical at the same time. The aluminum back can look copper or gold depending on the light.

I bought a leather sleeve case instead of a traditional cover because I liked the way the Glowlight Plus looked naturally.

Let's get to some issues people have with e-readers before wrapping this review up.

E-ink is great, but it is slow. Any e-reader has a slow refresh rate. This technology is the same among literally every e-reader on the market, because it's all the same technology with the same, or similar, parts. No manufacturer truly has an edge.

The screen can flicker when refreshing full pages. This used to be truly terrible a few years back, but now I don't notice it. If you're used to your phone or an iPad, it may take some getting used to.

The Barnes & Noble Nook store is another issue with some people. It doesn't inspire a lot of trust compared to the Kindle Store. In my experience of using my Nook, I've not found a true discernible difference. Honest. Due to Kindle Unlimited's scamming issues (rampant miscategorization, thinly-veiled erotica pretending to be genre fiction) and Amazon's lack of cleaning up their store, I find places like Apple Books, Nook, Kobo, and even Google Play to have a better selection, simply because there is less junk clogging categories.

I find the books I want, most newsletters, like Bookbub, deliver the same deals to all retailers. In Barnes & Noble's favor, they carry about the same amount of categories as someone would find on the Kindle Store, which I can't say for all the other retailers.

There are some cool things that only a Nook can do. If you bring your Nook Glowlight to a physical Barnes & Noble store, connect to their Wi-Fi, and your Nook can read any ebook in their catalog for free for one hour. This is a nice way to simulate how someone can take a book off the shelf and sit in the cafe to read it. The great thing about this feature is your Nook has access to books that the physical stores don't/can't carry.

Let's talk about price, because this is the important point that will determine if someone picks up an e-reader or not. The new Glowlight 3's and Kindle Paperwhites begin at $120. The price of an e-reader is an up-front cost, which consumers tend to shy away from. Really, you're buying the hardware and saving on the free and discounted ebooks, which blow physical book prices out of the water.

Here's what I like to add about the Glowlight Plus. It's no longer new. Barnes & Noble updates their e-reader, so the Glowlight Plus can only be found refurbished or used, typically on eBay. This is where I bought my Nook Glowlight Plus, and it came in perfect condition for $70. Last I checked, the prices have gone down since, hovering around $50-$60 on average.

That means you can pick up the Glowlight Plus for less than the price of a base Kindle, which honestly everyone should avoid, as it's so bare-bones that if someone started with it, they'll probably dislike e-reading.

At $60, I believe that the Glowlight Plus is the best budget e-reader on the market right now. Great hardware, features, and updates have made it easier to sideload content if you pick up DRM-free or DRM-removed content elsewhere. This is the best hardware for the best price, or you're looking to give one as a gift, the Nook Glowlight Plus is a great starter and all-around e-reader.

Thank you for reading the review. This blog gets on due to your reading and sharing, so if you found this review useful, feel free to share with someone else who you think will find it useful too. You can help support content like this easily by checking out some of my books, subscribing to the newsletter, or following on social media that's most convenient for you.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Double Release and Holiday Deals!

Wildstar: Forever Wanderers Cover

Phantom Lights Cover

It's a wonderful time of the year, and in celebration, I have released two books and running a sale on all my books. All of them.

Big hit, friend price.

Both Phantom Lights, the last Wildstar novella, and Wildstar: Forever Wanderers have released! We have the conclusion and the full release. It's been a long road, but we finally reached it.

For this special launch, Wildstar: Forever Wanderers will be $2.99. If you buy all the Wildstar novellas separately, the total will be 11$. That is a savings of 73%! Collect the full Wildstar story during the special deal. The regular price will be $5.99.

Additionally, Fragile Nights will also be 50% off during this time, to $2.99. For $6, you can own all my books right then and there. Some websites will have the novellas at reduced prices, but due to how most retailers work, only the complete novels will have the discount applied universally.

Last note, Wildstar: Forever Wanderers is only available digitally for December. Since the holidays are ramping up, many of the printing services have deadlines, so the physical release will be in January.

Enjoy the description and pick up a copy:
Wildstar: Forever Wanderers
Alana and Karlyn Wildstar are sisters making their way back home, but home is long gone. They suffer from a curse that causes them to shift into new worlds. Each step they take is the hope that home is around the corner.

They find that every world needs work, so to pay for their travels, they accept work as bounty hunters. Whether it’s undead bears or rival hunters, the Wildstar sisters guarantee a job done in half the time as the competition.

The two of them aren’t used to familiar faces, and when patterns repeat in each new realm, the sisters know something is following them through their transitions.
[Collection of Led Astray, Knighthood, Dead Hunt, Rivalry, Frost, Phantom Lights]

Buy from:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Goodbye Google Plus

I've always liked Google+. A friend of mine managed to get into the launch "beta" and gave me a code to join. The UI was clean, the concept of Circles for different content meant multiple focused timelines, and most of all it was a pretty booming place to be.

A lot of people are going to put different reasons why Google+ failed. It is true Facebook took most of the best features, like Circles. It is true that Google launched with no real plan. And to a certain extent, it is true that Google+ was a solution in search of a problem.

Google did their best to try and jam Google+ in places to artificially make it indispensable. They implemented a "real name" policy that they later ignored. It was the "one sign-in" for all their services. To target the younger demographics, they made it a requirement to have a Google+ account for YouTube, which borked the comment system for a long time. The mission of Google+ changed here too. It was the place to post and then cross-post to other social media. Then Photos, the bright spot of the service (still is), was spun off to its own thing. Then YouTube integration was decoupled.

They also never dealt with spammers and bots. It's the worst. Even on official Google pages and posts. Look at when the post about feature additions, and you'll see spam for sex and free movies. At that point, you can't respect them for not cleaning up the trash that was right in front of them.

Here's a rant from Steve Yegge, former Google employee, about why Google can't understand what building a platform means.

All these points are correct. Google+ had issues that an institution like Google never knew how to correct, which meant the individuals could never actually fix anything. It wasn't until a year or so ago that Google opened the API for apps like Buffer and Hootsuite to cross-post on. Originally, Google allowed "pages", but by the time people built up a following, they didn't want to shift everyone over so they can make their life easier. By the time they fixed this, it was too little that was far too late.

But even in a rough form, it had good points. A nice look. Good search on posts and users. Communities. Collections. The perfect way to portray posts, or images, or just share links. And I mean this on desktop and on mobile.

Who can forget, no ads.

Still, the loss of Google+ is another sign we live in the monopoly of Facebook, which owns the most popular social media platforms. Facebook cleaved individuals and small businesses when they changed the algorithm to extort money from them. Facebook determines what you see from friends and family, instead of, you know, letting you decide what you want to see. I'm not going to mention the social experimenting they do on people, or the fact they were weaponized by foreign agents. This is not a healthy industry, and it's not getting any better.

I blogged about taking back digital real estate, and hopefully the demise of a platform held by one of the most powerful companies in the world is a wake up call. Facebook will use users. Twitter will ignore users. And everyone else is too small to do anything else.

Strangely enough, email is still around. WordPress now powers a third of all sites on the Internet. Newspapers are seeing an increase. Physical book sales are rebounding.

Last point, from the places I frequent, the demise of Google Plus has been little to nil. Some places don't even recognize Google+ anymore. Others gave a passing mention with a low comment/post count in tow. No one cares anymore.

But silver linings, because they always exist. Like the Google Photos example mentioned before, Google is good about taking what works and expanding on it. Google+ will be used for enterprise use. This seems to mean turning it into a Slack competitor, so something about the core architecture will remain.

My recommendation is the same from an earlier post, have all your social media lead back to the home you own (your domain). Personally, I use Buffer to post to my Facebook page, Twitter account, and Google+ account. This helps me especially with Twitter. I still receive notifications, but the day-to-day mess that is Twitter is draining on every level. Facebook barely lets me see what my friends are up to in a chronological, and let's face it, logical or intuitive level.

It's all a mess.

What I loved about Google+ was I could switch to friends, to art, to news, all on one account, with very little funny business. The times are over. The Internet is getting smaller, not bigger. I'll miss it. It has the features and control we all want from its competitors.

I can always be found here. Social media is for readers to reach out for me wherever is reasonable. If you want to talk about Tyyr, or what Alana and Karlyn are up to, or whatever other books release. These things are here for you. There's always an old-fashioned email listed as well.