Wednesday, March 7

The new iPad

No, not the iPad 2, the NEW, new iPad.

I just finished reading a text stream of the opening presentation in San Fran. I have an iPad 2 and, while there are a lot of new and notable features in the iPad ... the new iPad ... I think that my dollars are going to remain in my bank account, awaiting the release of the iPhone 5 or perhaps a new iMac.

What's new about the new iPad?
The biggest change seems to be the to-die-for retina display, coming in at 2048 x 1536 pixels. I've only seen pictures of pictures -- I'm heading down to my local Apple store later today in the hope of getting my hands on one -- but they looked amazing. Combine that with a twice-as-fast processor and you've got one very nice tablet. has a table comparing the old iPad to the new one you should check out if you're interested in the details: The new iPad vs. iPad 2: what's changed?

I'm trying to get into the app store to download iPhoto. It would have been nice if Apple had given us a new port so that photos (video, etc.) taken on the iPad could be easily uploaded onto a computer, but, still, iPhoto looks like software worth having. And, hey, it's fun!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, March 4

Martin Picard: A genius at being remarkable

After I wrote my blog post, Seth Godin: The best thing since sliced bread, I talked to a fellow foodie about the importance of doing something remarkable.

Talk about synchronicity, just that morning he'd been reading a Globe & Mail article about Montreal chef Martin Picard's latest cookbook: Au Pied De Cochon Sugar Shack in which he has recipes for, among other things, squirrel sushi and beaver tail. Whatever you think about the cookbook, the chef has to be given credit for at least not letting anything going to waste. He stuffed the beaver with its own tail and organs and then cooked it with maple syrup and duck fat.

If that isn't a remarkable recipe then I don't know what is! Pretty much every recipe in the cookbook is ... well, insane remarkable.

But, you might wonder, what are his sales like? Here's what the Globe and Mail article had to say:
Yet this isn’t stunt cooking or a ironic postmodern art project. Mr. Picard and his collaborators printed 40,000 copies in advance of the volume’s release this week. If history is any guide, they will almost certainly need to do a second printing before long. The cookbook from Restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, Mr. Picard’s original place on Montreal’s Duluth Avenue East, has sold an estimated 50,000 copies since its publication in 2006. (Cabane à Sucre Au Pied de Cochon is available for $70 on the cabane à sucre’s website, as well as at better bookstores.)
Not bad. On top of all that, he is self-published and, as far as I can tell, only sells his book through his site and a few bookstores, Chapters among them.

- Squirrel sushi? 'That's a very, very good meat,' says Montreal chef Picard
- Au Pied de Cochon Sugar Shack on sale at Chapters.

Saturday, March 3

Kristen Lamb has a vlog!

Yes, this is the Kristen Lamb with the marvelous blog. She's always saying to try new things so here she is, trying vlogging.

Here's her first Vlog-cast. :-)

Is your writing any good?

The short answer: If you're worried about it, then if it isn't 'good' right now, if you keep working at it, it will be. One day. At least, that's what Eugine Cross says, but I think he's onto something.

Eugine Cross writes:
I took an Intro to Creative Writing course and was introduced to the work of Louise Erdrich and Yusef Komunyakaa, Lewis "Buddy" Nordan and Raymond Carver. I fell in love and I fell hard. I left inspired and signed up for as many more writing and literature courses as I could cram into my schedule. I started writing and workshopping with my peers and when I did, I reached another important discovery. I was no good. My work was crummy. It was nowhere near as moving or beautiful or polished as the published work we were reading which was understandable, but it also felt weak in comparison to my peers' work. And comparing was what I did. Constantly. I was convinced that each class I enrolled in held only two or three "real" writers and that I was never among them. I perpetually worried about whether or not my stories lived up to those of my classmates when what I should have been worrying about was whether or not they lived up to themselves. What they were capable of becoming. I was consumed with doubt. Was it possible that I had found my calling only to discover that I really sucked at it? Could the world be that cruel? I was certain it could. But somehow, whether from sheer stubbornness or a refusal to accept what I believed to be the truth, I stuck with it. It was not until years later that I would understand that doubt is oftentimes a good signifier of talent, that it actually is talent. As the amazing Richard Bausch puts it, doubt is an indicator that you have an ear for the way the work should sound and that you realize it's not yet there.
Read the rest here: A Powerful Sort of Doubt
Eugine Cross has a short story collection, Fires of Our Choosing.

Friday, March 2

Seth Godin: The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

I love reading Seth Godin's blog and watching his videos but there's one video I keep coming back to, his TED talk: Sliced Bread and Other Marketing Delights.

Here are a couple of highlights:

Ideas that spread, win
Take this idea/phrase: The best thing since sliced bread. When the technology to slice bread was developed in the early 1900s no one cared about it. For 15 years no one cared about it, not until Wonderbread came along. They spread the idea.

Don't market to the masses, market to a few people who are completely obsessed with something
Another thing Seth says -- one that seemed counter-intuitive to me at first -- is don't market to the masses, market to a niche, to folks who are completely obsessed with something.

- Lionel Poilane. He sold bread to people who not only cared about eating great tasting bread, he sold bread to people who cared immensely how it was made.

- Aeron Chairs When Herman Miller designed a chair for himself, he wanted something comfortable and inviting to look at. Most of us want that as well, but at about $900 per chair it's a niche market. (Can you imagine Kevin's reaction (Kevin of Dragon Den fame) to this idea? I can just see him asking: Who's going to buy an office chair for $900 when I can pick one up at IKEA for $100?). Some people really want a comfortable chair that is great to look at. That's Herman Miller's niche.

Tiffany & Co. Everyone knows this company name, but it sells things that only a few folks can afford and that absolutely no one needs. Yet, in 2012, when many companies are closing their doors, Tiffany's is showing record profits.

Don't be very good, no one will notice
This is outrageously counter-intuitive, at least for me. So I started hunting for examples. I didn't have to look far. Here's what I thought of:

Good for Rebecca Black, but her success does illustrate a point. Something doesn't have to be very good in order to succeed.

As always, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, February 28

Church of Trees, Belgium

I just signed up for Pintrest and came across this amazing picture:

My guess is that it was touched up with Photoshop, but still. Completely incredible.

Update: The original picture was taken down, this one is from here: Church of Trees.

Thursday, January 12

Seth's Big Ideas

I love Seth Godin's blogs. I may not always agree with him, but I usually come away with at least one tantalizing idea.

Here are Seth's big ideas:

* The launchtime for books is measured in years, this is often longer than the selflife of the ideas it contains. *

* Most book publishers do not effectively promote most of the books they publish. *

* That said, it's not easy selling books. It's difficult to get folks to read ANYTHING because reading takes time and, usually, it costs money. *

* Being a publisher is like being a venture capitalist. *

Publishers INVEST in writers; they give them an advance, spend time creating and selling the book and give printers money to produce the book. After doing all this, of course the publisher wants a large return on her investment.

Do you, as a writer, need the advance to live on? If so, then it makes sense for you to go the traditional route. If you don't, though, and if you're primarily interested in spreading your ideas, then self-publishing is something to look into.

The above is a paraphrase of some of the points in Seth Godin's article, Advice For Authors. So, what, according to Seth, is a poor author to do?
Build an asset. Large numbers of influential people who read your blog or read your emails or watch your TV show or love your restaurant or or or...

Then, put your idea into a format where it will spread fast. That could be an ebook (a free one) or a pamphlet (a cheap one--the Joy of Jello sold millions and millions of copies at a dollar or less).

Then, if your idea catches on, you can sell the souvenir edition. The book. The thing people keep on their shelf or lend out or get from the library. Books are wonderful (I own too many!) but they're not necessarily the best vessel for spreading your idea.

And the punchline, of course, is that if you do all these things, you won't need a publisher. And that's exactly when a publisher will want you! That's the sort of author publishers do the best with.
Isn't that always the way? The minute, the very second, you don't need something it will flutter into your hand.

Now if only I could think of an idea ...


(By the way Seth's article, Advice to Authors, was the first in a two part series. The second part, an article ALSO entitled Advice to Authors, can be found here.)

Saturday, January 7

Evernote: the everything app

Passive Guy writes:
Passive Guy likes Evernote because it helps him never to forget anything.

If you’re not familiar, Evernote is like a giant bucket into which you can pour anything from almost any device and find it when you need it.
. . . .
For writing purposes, Evernote can easily become your writing notebook. You might start a notebook for a new book with tags like Character Sketches, Settings, Jane, Bob, etc. If you see a photo of someone on the web who would make a great Jane character, you can clip it, drop it into Evernote and pull it up to help when you write Jane’s description. If you’re stuck in traffic, you can dictate notes into a smartphone and send those directly to your notebook in Evernote.
- Evernote: The Application That Becomes an Obsession
Honestly, I hadn't seen the need to use something like Evernote but after reading PG's article, I'm reconsidering. One thing that I wasn't clear on was the difference between Dropbox and Evernote, so I did a quick Google search. Apparently, and contrary to what I had thought, the two apps do not seem to be in direct competition.
These two great applications seem to have a lot in common. They both save information in the cloud and synchronize the information for you seamlessly on all your computers and mobile devices.

They serve very different purposes though.

Evernote is perfect if you want to easily capture ideas and things you see while you are online or out and about and access them from any computer. It is different from Dropbox in that it is a much more a note-taking application. It is also for syncing docs, notes/txt and webclippings, and photos of things. The OCR (optical character recognition) of Evernote makes finding the information back very easy. Even text found in photos will be recognized and thus found!

Dropbox is superior for syncing files, backups and storage. It creates a local folder on your harddisk of your PC or laptop, and synchronizes it with the online folders of Dropbox. This makes it easy to access by your mobile devices. Dropbox acts as if it is part of your computer, while Evernote really acts as program. This gives Evernote the advantage for finding stuff, categorizing them with tags and notebooks.
- Dropbox vs Evernote
Although I'm not going to quote from it, another interesting article is: Evernote and Dropbox: Why I Use (and Love) Both. Great reading for anyone interested in the topic.

Friday, January 6

Let your readers subscribe to your blog!

Jane Friedman has a great post on how you can set up email subscriptions to your blog and why you would want to. If you have a blog and haven't done this already, it's worth a read!

Jane Friedman: Why you should add an e-mail subscription service to your blog

Thursday, January 5

My Dad

A few minutes ago I wrote my first email telling my friends and family that my father passed away last night. It was the strangest experience, to write of him, to THINK of him, in the past tense. His life is now final and complete.

I don't mean to be maudlin, but I am filled with a strong sense of appreciation and thankfulness for all the support I've received over the past months, much of it from folks who I don't know well. Doctors, nurses, home support workers, my fellow bloggers and writers, and of course my friends. 'Thank you' seems anemic, but it is heartfelt.

As my life (hopefully!) settles down into more predictable patterns, I look forward to blogging on a more regular basis and re-joining this wonderful community.