Note to self: Keeping my new inkjet printer alive

Back in October, I company-ized myself into an LLC, and on the advice of my travel guru Gil Saunders, I got a credit card that will give me 30,000 airline mileage points if I spend $1,000 on it within the first 90 days. So then, hmmmmmmmmm, what can my business spend $1,000 on, to get me half a trip to Paris?

Well, shifting my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription to annual and putting it on the card took care of more than half the challenge. :/

And then I replaced my inkjet printer, which—like every other inkjet I’ve ever owned—had died of infrequent use.

As anyone who’s owned an inkjet knows, if you don’t use it often enough, the heads dry up. Then you end up having to run the head-cleaning utility all the time, which wastes a lot of ink, and you have to replace the ink cartridges all the time, which wastes a lot more. And since printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on the planet, wasting it is baaaaad. Besides which, eventually those underused nozzles get permanently gummed up, and the machine stops working altogether.
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Note to Self: Transcribing Podcasts

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately, and I wanted to try making transcripts of one series, because, well, podcasts are a terrible way to store any information that you actually want to retrieve. And then a friend on Twitter was lamenting about how the process of transcription sucks, and another Twitter friend pointed out glitchdigital/video-transcriber, and I decided to try it.
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Degristling the sausage: BBEdit 11 Edition

Women in uniforms standing at long tables, handling sausages.

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post called “Degristling the sausage” to explain my method of using BBEdit to get a list of which CSS classes are actually applied in a given EPUB file, out of the sometimes hundreds that are included in the stylesheet. Apparently I’m not the only person who needs to do this sort of thing, because that post has stayed in the top four pages on this site ever since, and clever people keep linking to it.

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Castoff Calculator

Wang 700 Advanced Programmable Calculator

Yesterday at work I was generating price breakdowns for a bunch of POD printing situations, doing it the old-fashioned way by dedicating a separate chunk of a spreadsheet to each variation, when it occurred to me that maybe it would be easier to set up a dynamic calculator for these scenarios in Python, which I’ve been studying on and off (mostly off) for a while now.

Then it occurred to me that I might not even have to leave the comfort of my spreadsheet, since most such applications include functions for calculating and doing other useful things. I rarely use anything more complex than =sum(), but I know the other stuff exists. Mostly I needed to be able to set up conditional behavior, so as long as there was an if/then function . . .
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It ain’t up goer science

view of the ground from a rocket high in the air

After two years as a full-time e-book developer, I’m back on the print wagon—or, at least, one foot is—working for CN Times Books as (executive?) managing editor of print and digital production. CN Times is a wholly owned subsidiary of Beijing MediaTime Book Co., and about half of its staff members are Chinese, with several being located in Beijing.

Among the position’s more entertaining challenges is occasionally being called upon to explain industry jargon from printers’ estimates or freelancers’ invoices to colleagues whose primary language is not English. Last week, it was “jacket mechanical.” Today, it was “stock imagery.” And then I found myself writing an omnibus invoice-troubleshooting sort of e-mail explaining the varied uses of “manuscript,” “copy,” “proof,” “copyediting,” and “proofreading.”
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Degristling the sausage

One of the things I do at my job is clean up and beautify e-books that have been produced by a “meatgrinder”—the sort of automated conversion process that an outsourcer uses. My company has worked with a couple of conversion companies, and there are definite differences in the quality and markup philosophy of the files they produce, but one problem that appears to be chronic is that the EPUBs come back with CSS files containing tons of unused style declarations.

I’m talking thousands of lines, when two to three hundred will usually do.

This makes the files extremely tedious to troubleshoot and rework, so one of the first things I usually do if I know I’m going to be spending a considerable chunk of my day living in a particular EPUB is to cut down that stylesheet to what’s actually being used.

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E-reading application showdown, part 1: Annotations


About two weeks ago, in a fit of pique, I posted some gripes about my current e-reading application of choice, which is Kobo for the iPhone/iPod Touch. I was pressed for time, so I didn’t provide any context, such as why Kobo’s is my favorite e-reading app, which apps I’ve chosen it over, and whether the things I find awesome and annoying about it are unique to Kobo or are universal across the e-reading–on–iOS world right now.

Here, finally, is the first in a series of posts providing that context. Specifically, I’ll be walking through five of the e-reading applications I’ve used on the iPod Touch, explaining what I see as the pros, cons, and OMFG-what-were-they-thinkings of each.

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Because I am mean and like to rain on parades…

A parade in the rain

All day I’ve been seeing tweets from @kobo and friends about their having the No. 1 e-reading app in the iTunes store—e.g.,

Breaking News: Kobo #1 Rated eReading App on iTunes App Store
Jason Gamblen | Kobo

I’m so happy for them.

No, really.

For several months now, Kobo’s iOS app has been, mainly because of the stats and the activity tracker, my e-reading application of choice. That said, it’s my app of choice in spite of several intense annoyances, so I’d like to take this opportunity to point out a couple of things that drive me up the fucking wall about it. From the support ticket I just submitted:

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What happens when an e-book gets corrected?

"No Parking" sign with the "n" inserted belatedly

So, here’s the partial answer to a question I’ve been wondering about:

Subject: Kindle Title [title] (ASIN:[ASIN]) has an available update

Greetings from

We’re writing about your past Kindle purchase of [title] by [author]. The version you received contained some errors that have been corrected.

An updated version of [title] (ASIN:[ASIN]) is now available. It’s important to note that when we send you the updated version, you will no longer be able to view any highlights, bookmarks, and notes made in your current version and your furthest reading location will be lost.

If you wish to receive the updated version, please reply to this email with the word “Yes” in the first line of your response. Within 2 hours of receiving the e-mail any device that has the title currently downloaded will be updated automatically if the wireless is on.

You can find more information about Kindle related topics at our Kindle support site below.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your business with Amazon.

Customer Service Department

It’s a book I’ve already read, so I went to to see if I had made any annotations. Turns out it’s one I’ve got multiple copies of (it was a freebie in all the major e-book stores for a while), so my markup’s on some other version. (If I’ve actually read an e-book, there is always markup; this is one of the biggest changes e-books have made to my reading habits.) I wrote back and said, “Yes.”

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