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Pimping the Podcast Answer Man

Pimping the Podcast Answer Man

I've considered putting together a podcast, and my first instinct was to run it the way I produced Tom King's CompuTalk back in the late 90s. Not bad, format-wise. But as things have changed quite a bit since those wee early hours of the Internet, I'm doing some research to find tips, tricks, and tools for pulling this together. Enter Cliff J. Ravenscraft, the "Podcast Answer Man.


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Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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I have become Revisionist, destroyer of continuity

Citadl Obelisk.jpg

For the past few weeks I've been editing the first two Citadel books, getting them ready for a second edition release. I'm exercising the author/publisher prerogative to change a few things as I go. That's going to irritate some purists, and I'm really, really sorry about that. But it's not like I'm changing the plot or anything, just a few tweaks to dialogue and exposition that really need to happen for things to make more sense. Relax about it.

I have an ulterior motive in this. I needed to refresh my memory, get my head back into the story, so I could write Book 3. I'm taking notes as I go during this edit, cramming Evernote with every relevant bit of info I might need later. I'm breaking down key character traits and plot points, and small details that might get overlooked if I'm not careful. I don't have a big enough following for my stuff to permeate Wikipedia yet, so I can't cheat.  Curse you all.

The edits—there's a part of me, the reader in me, that's screaming about that. I mean, sure, I say  relax about it, but the truth is some of those changes are significant. I'm tweaking little incongruous details that bugged me, and that had painted me into a corner. Subtle things, to be sure, but big enough in the grand play that if I left them as they were I'd have to write something really convoluted to make it all make sense. 

The reader in me hates it. The author in me knows it has to be done. Think of it like a kid going to dentist. Sure, the kid would rather be out playing with his favorite toys, but the dentist has to take care of that rotting tooth that could spoil all the fun. 

The good news in all this—Book 3 is on its way! It's been way too long, and I know that. And again, I'm really, really sorry about it. I had other books to write, and other stories to tell. But it's finally coming, and along with it, Books 1 & 2 will get a tiny tummy tuck to make them a little more fit.

If you've already read Citadel: First Colony and Citadel: Paths in Darkness, I probably owe you an apology, but what I'm going to give you is a huge debt of thanks. The feedback I got from many of you has helped me make some big decisions on the shape and direction of this story. So the edits I'm making are really for you. Thanks for pointing out the typos and flaws and plot holes and character goofs. In particular, my friend Athena pointed out a major  character goof in Book 2 that could have ruined everything. Thanks to her quick reading and ironclad memory, I was able to fix the goof before the book went to print, which is a really, really good argument for releasing to ebook first. 

This is a dicy game, self publishing. And I'm learning as I go. But you folks are making it all worthwhile, so thanks for that! And I'm going to do my best to make sure you have more books to read.  

Look for the second editions to release over the next month!


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
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support "the world of steam"

Anyone who knows me knows I love Steampunk. So it's no suprise that I would definitely want to see this guy come to life!

Kick in a few bucks and help bring a pretty amazing new series to life. 

Kickstarter is a way to put the power of creating stuff like this back into the hands of the creatives. No studios. No networks. No red tape to cut through. Pure creative energy on screen. That's a dream for a lot of creatives out there, and now there's a means to make that dream a reality. 


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Tip in any amount you like, safely and securely via PayPal (no PayPal account requred). And thank you in advance for your generosity!


____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

Get updates on new books, new posts, and new podcasts, plus be the first to hear about special offers and giveways. And pants jokes. Lots and lots of pants jokes.








Year of the Maker

Recently I went to a makerspace. Sometimes referred to as a "hackerspace," this is one of those uber-geek environments where a bunch of like-minded geniuses and tech heads come together to work on ... well ... everything. Everything and anything. Name a project, anything that takes ingenuity and innovation and a bit of sweat and blood, and you will probably find it in a makerspace.

The makerspace in question is TX/RX Labs, right here in Houston, Texas. Right in the heart of Houston, actually, residing in an empty garage space on the Eastern edge of downtown, close to Minute Maid Park. The members of TX/RX count among them NASA engineers, system administrators, artists, and general tinkerers and hobbyists. The group has tools and resources that include 3D printers, CNC routers, oscilloscopes, soldering stations, power tools, and scads of reclaimed and repurposed parts.

For an urban scavenger and dumpster diver such as me, the place is paradise.

I first decided to check it out several months ago, but for whatever reason I never got the opportunity (or never made the time). Instead, I kicked around trying to figure out a way to rent my own workshop, and maybe even start my own makerspace. It seemed to me that the $80-per-month membership fee was a little excessive. What, exactly, would I get for my eighty bucks?

Well, for starters, space. It should have occurred to me from the start that the "space" in maker/hackerspace actually means exactly what you would think. These places provide room to boom. They are a location for you to use for your creative hijinks.

But it's much more than that. A makerspace is also a chance for like minds to come together under the same freak flag, and deal in the only currency worth the same no matter where you are in the world — knowledge. Where else are you going to get a chance to learn programming and engineering skills from a NASA engineer? Where else will you meet actual, honest-to-God hackers who aren't trying to steal your identity? Where can you learn how to use a computer-controlled router? Community college?

Makerspaces are picking up a long-held tradition and carrying it forward. For as long as there have been hairless monkeys on this planet, there have been tribes of folks who have, as their primary purpose, the goal of working together to build something bigger, better, and badder. The Renaissance saw guys like Leonardo and Michelangelo creating studios full of disciples and students, and using them to help pursue art, science, and even a bit of mysticism.

Later, guys like Edison came along and built “laboratories” where their teams could have access to the best tools and materials, and a chance to invent widely and wildly. Edison’s lab was reputed to have stocked a sample of every known material of the time, which came in handy when he was trying to find the best way to create a light bulb filament or a conductor for his alkaline battery or a material for making phonographic cylinders.

In more modern terms, makerspaces harken back to those groups of garage hackers, who happily cobbled together the first personal computers out of bits of wood and solder. Our current technological age comes from them, building on the work of guys called “Cap’n Crunch,” or (maybe you’ve heard of them) Stephen Wozniak, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates.

I have always been fascinated by these guys. The idea of being able to take a bunch of spare parts and junk and turn them into something useful and innovative and new … that has always made my heart pound. It’s like being in love. It’s like having sex for the first time. Invention — pure invention — is better than booze or drugs for giving guys like me a rush.

TX/RX Labs had that feel of being at once a part of history and a lead into the future. When I first arrived, I was wary of what seemed to be a “bad neighborhood.” The streets are lit, but deep shadows are everywhere, and the building itself doesn’t exactly scream “safe and secure.” It’s industrial and run down. Graffiti and trash are everywhere.

When I first peeked into the garage bay door, peeled up to reveal a vintage pickup backed up to a concrete loading dock, I wasn’t even sure I was in the right place. I checked my phone, surfed to the website (www.txrxlabs.org), and made sure I had the address right. This was the place. I’m not sure what I had been expecting.

A guy was tinkering with something on a makeshift workbench at the top of the loading platform. I called out, “Hey, is this TX/RX?”

“Yeah,” he said, and then met me at the top of the stairs, shaking my hand, and taking me on a guided tour.

Now, as far as I can determine there is nothing illicit or illegal going on in this place. But because I’m doing a bit of unauthorized reporting on the goings-on, and because I’m not at all certain these guys want their names splayed all over the interwebz, I’m going to assign some pseudonyms for the folks I met. If anyone reading this was there the evening I dropped by, feel free to introduce yourself in the comments. I’ll give credit where credit is due, when credit isn’t doing a number on anyone.

That said, we’ll call our new friend “Jim.”

Jim was a slightly balding guy, probably in his mid-thirties. He was an amicable fella, perfectly willing to tote me around and introduce me to folks, and to show off the toys the group has collected. When I met him, he was retooling a security system rescued from a local fast food franchise that was on the remodel.

Jim is a kind of low-key guy. He didn’t get overly excited about anything, but I could tell he was proud of the place and what they were doing here. “It’s just a place for a bunch of people to come together and do something really cool,” he said. “Everyone has their little projects, and people help out when they’re needed.”

He showed me some of their equipment, which included a Mendel — a 3D printer that uses plastic filament to print an object one layer at a time. They also have a Makerbot, which does the same work, and a couple of CNC routers, which create computer-generated objects using wood. In effect, the group has its own micro-manufacturing setup, where they can design and build almost anything. Well … maybe “almost” is putting it a bit mildly.

I have read about and dreamed about and drooled about all of this technology for a couple of years now. But this was the first time I’d gotten a chance to see it live, and see it in action. And it did not disappoint. As I watched, one of the groups members fired up the Mendel and began printing parts for (amazingly) another Mendel. Eventually, the group will be able to assemble a second unit, built primarily from parts that the first unit has created.

This is the dream. If you’ve ever read Cory Doctorow’s “Makers,” you have a pretty good idea of what this place was like.

In fact, this was Geek Heaven. A Geek Mecca. This was the home I had been searching for my whole life. I have spent countless hours trolling flea markets and dumpsters and curbsides, rescuing odds and ends, cobbling together something useable and useful with what I find. I have built professional production studios from reclaimed technology. I have helped invent wonders and toys. But I’ve always more or less been on my own. I have a good friend who likes to do this sort of thing with me, but it’s always been just me and him. Now, though, I found the tip of a community iceberg. And I loved it.

True, I wasn’t there 20 full minutes before someone started waxing nostalgic about their first Dungeons & Dragons character. And there were jokes a-plenty about bygone technologies, BBC television shows, and comic books. It made the whole thing feel wonderfully comfortable and innocent. It put me at ease. Suddenly, I couldn’t care less about the ghetto-like exterior of the place. Inside I was as safe as houses.

And lest you think this is nothing but a bunch of geek masturbation and gluttonous consumption of technology, think again. These guys go beyond the stereotypes and actually contribute something to the world. One of their big, recent initiatives was a fundraiser for a Kenyan hospital.

I was more than just an observer that evening, of course. At various points, I actually lent a hand in a couple of projects. My initial fear that I would arrive to find that everyone knew far more than me about everything was quickly dissipated. I found that, yes, there were guys who were sharper when it came to programming and chemistry and other wonderful sciency stuff. But, somehow, I could hold my own. And when it came to thinking creatively and innovating something new from a bunch of old parts, I discovered that I was more than prepared. I’ve been doing this for some time, after all. I’m used to thinking in terms of “how can I build this when I all I have is that and that?” So it wasn’t long before I was rolling up my sleeves and helping to build server racks or assemble bits of various projects.

I was home.

This all works into my big master plan for 2011. See, I’m not big on “New Year’s Resolutions.” I think that resolving to do something is fine, but having an objective is better. I can resolve to lose weight, for example, but it’s better to have the objective of “develop a fit and healthy lifestyle.” The goal is there, but the path to reach it remains flexible and measureable.

So this year, my objective is to be a Maker. In fact, I’m dubbing 2011 “The Year of the Maker.” This year is all about building and creating and innovating. This year is about producing something new, something that makes the world a better place.

TX/RX Labs, unwittingly, will play a role in that. But it doesn’t end there. I have this plan to start my own group, with the purpose of creating for the sheer joy and thrill of creating. And I’ll document all of this here. Lucky you!

If you are interested in joining a makerspace (hackerspace), try typing “hackerspace” and the name of your city into Google. You’ll find something right away, I promise.

If you are interested in joining TX/RX Labs, I have it on good authority that they are more than happy to have new members. Visit them online at www.txrxlabs.org, and check them out on their Open House nights, Fridays after 7 p.m. Come ready to work. It’s more fun that way.


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

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I don't know why you say hello I say goodbye

I’m very well connected.

Which is to say, I don’t have Obama’s Blackberry number or anything, but there are approximately 300 different ways to contact me at any time of the day or night, regardless of where I may be in the Universe. My Nexus One alone grants me vast connectivity super powers undreamt of by mortal man.

Here’s the thing …

I hate talking on the phone. HATE. IT. This isn’t a new thing for me. Practically since birth I have absolutely dreaded making “official” phone calls, and I have avoided lengthy conversations with all but my closest friends and family members.

This started off as a practical aversion. When phones were tethered to the wall by short, spiraled, constantly-tangled cords, I hated being chained to one spot all the time. So in our house, we had one of those un-Godly long (spiraled, tangled) cords that let you get from the kitchen to the sofa, tripping up anyone who dared walked behind you.

When we graduated to a cordless phone, I marveled at the ability to move around the house, with only a sudden burst of static to let me know when I had reached my boundaries. And as cordless phones improved, I was happy to go for longer and longer jaunts. I dreamt of the day when I could have a phone that let me be anywhere, just so I wouldn’t have to stay locked in place.

And now that dream has become an uber reality! I can be anywhere in the world and be on the phone! My roaming range has extended to nearly every corner of the Earth! I have achieved phone synergy! And I hate it.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m a WRITER. I like to spew words onto a page and sit back as they do all the work of communicating for me. I can tappity-tappity on my keyboardy and then send my thoughts out into the universe, for all to absorb. If what I’m saying makes no sense, or if I read it and think, “I can say that better, and with fewer swear words directed at the Pope,” then I can change what I wrote before it does irreparable damage.

Not so with the phone! Every word out of my mouth is unfiltered and unedited. I’m constantly spewing bells I can’t unring.

Now that I can get voicemails instantly translated into e-mails and send 911 calls as text messages I really can’t see a need to use icky analog vocal comms anymore. I think I’ll boycott them, phase them out. From now on, it’s texting and e-mail and maybe that Facetime thing every now and then. It’s tweets and FB status updates (how come there’s no cutesy term for that?). LinkedIn, Google Buzz, blogging, YouTube, Vimeo, Skype … jeez, I hadn’t even realized how many ways I have to NOT talk to someone.

I’m leaving for Europe in six days. This is as good a time as any to experiment with ditching traditional phone service and sticking with all-digital, mostly text-based stuff. If I survive, I will write the entire harrowing tale. If not, I’ll tweet about it. #sendhelp


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____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

Get updates on new books, new posts, and new podcasts, plus be the first to hear about special offers and giveways. And pants jokes. Lots and lots of pants jokes.








A makerspace of my own

I'm thinking about renting a workshop.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm never satisfied with just one project. I love writing, and I do it as constantly as a fella can, but there are times when it just isn't enough to satisfy my creative urge. So I take on other little projects. I photograph, I design, I film, and I build.

The problem is, most of my projects require a space, and space is something I find myself lacking these days. I have a great office space, where I can write and tinker on small things, but nowhere to really cut loose with the power tools. I need a workshop.

At the moment, though, I don't have the first clue how to go about finding and renting a space. I know approximately what I can afford, but not whether that's a realistic rate for a bit of workspace. And I have no idea, at present, where to look to find something with the requirements I have.

So here's what I'm looking for:

- Open space for working on larger projects (maybe car-sized-ish)
- Power to run various power tools
- Space for tool and material storage
- Space for setting up lights and backdrops for video and photography
- A separate space (or an area I can section off) where I can set up couple of computers and other office-y equipment

I guess I'm asking for a lot, actually. Especially since I'm not willing to pay thousands of dollars a month for this space, and I may not even have any paying projects going on there.

Actually, that last bit is just dumb ... I know me. I will definitely try to make money on anything I do there. It's just my nature.

Anyway, I'm looking for a space. If anyone has any tips on finding one, lemme know.


Like what you're reading? Consider tipping the author!

Tip in any amount you like, safely and securely via PayPal (no PayPal account requred). And thank you in advance for your generosity!


____________________________________________________________
Kevin Tumlinson is the author of numerous novels, novellas, and non-fiction books, and the host of the Wordslinger Podcast. Try three of his best books for free when you download his starter library at kevintumlinson.com/starterlibrary.
____________________________________________________________

BECOME A SLINGER

Get updates on new books, new posts, and new podcasts, plus be the first to hear about special offers and giveways. And pants jokes. Lots and lots of pants jokes.