Announcement: I’ve published a book of my writings!

Friends, I’m honored to share that I am now a published author with my book available at the link below! This book comprises the first 12 years of my publications showcasing highlights of my Archive, as well as select previously unpublished works.

There were several breakthroughs which helped me accelerate the timeline of the project. First, I amassed 339 of my articles from 12 years of publishing online in just 5.5 hours. Second, I taught myself RegEx to batch process all formatting to clean up the raw text. Third, I discovered a free extension to format 1,388 images in under 2 minutes. Then I developed a process which permitted me to burn through 1,400 pages of material in just 2 hours.

Unfortunately, the remaining work seemed insurmountable. Due to a glitch in the conversion, I had to go sentence by sentence through the remaining 2,000 pages of text to correct all the missing paragraph breaks and all 1,388 mis-positioned images. I feared I might have to quit my job and devote my full attention to the project to complete it in any reasonable span of time, but I worked hard through May and into June and by June 15th I’d completed the reformatting of all 289 finally-selected articles. I tidied up the book and carefully analyzed the subsequent text and images so as not to create more problems in the process. There were a few minor anomalies I was unable to remove without compromising the remaining text, but nothing which impairs readability so I was able to move forward.

Thereafter I proactively researched and drafted a design brief to commission the cover artwork and to register the ISBN. The brief included a short author bio, a back-cover blurb, a summary of my business brand, my target audience, values to communicate in the cover design, stylistic preferences, output specs, and example images of books by competing authors in my field. This was a serious endeavor and I worked to ensure that every aspect of the project was handled as professionally as possible.

I did discover, due to the substantial page length of my manuscript, that it exceeds the maximum length for a printable paperback or hardcover by Amazon’s terms of service, so unfortunately this will be exclusively issued in the ebook format. But as I’ve incorporated hundreds of links to web content on sites like YouTube, perhaps it will function best as a digital edition. The only other way to get a printed version would be to issue the book in a series of volumes, but I’m not ready for that presently. At least as an ebook it made the design process markedly simpler to implement.

I encountered one last critical hurdle when I attempted to upload my finalized PDF using the PDF Upload button on Amazon’s Kindle Store. Tragically, the button returned a red “X” with no error message when I tried to upload my book. I contacted their support team and they explained that they only support simple PDFs without images or significant length.

They suggested I try their native ebook conversion utility, but it is only available for Windows and Mac users, and I use Linux. They offered to convert it for me manually on their end, and I similarly tried converting it locally using the popular Calibre application. Sadly, the .epub and .mobi outputs of the book compromised all formatting and it looked awful.

Undeterred and determined to succeed, I researched alternatives and successfully published through Google Books who support PDF with no conversion necessary. The book is live at last!

Publishing this book is a dream come true for me! This is particularly gratifying as my writings will remain long after I’ve left this earth for the whole world to enjoy and to continue inspiring rewarding listenership for years to come. 

Check out The Ghost of Madame Curie: Writings from Innerspace Labs at the link below!

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/James_Piazza_The_Ghost_of_Madame_Curie?id=8_J3EAAAQBAJ

Making the Move to the Mobile Web

Today I’ve started a new project.  After working for an app development company for 8 months, hearing every day that the app market has hit critical mass, and that mobile web access has overtaken desktops as the primary means of accessing the internet, it seemed in my best interest to invest in a tablet to keep abreast of the mobile “craze.”

I’ve never paid much attention to the Play Store other than my daily use of Sindre Mehus’ wonderful Subsonic media server app.  Projects like music research, databasing, and library management just don’t lend themselves to a mobile environment, much less to an app.

But I took on the project and invested in a Nexus 7 2nd gen (2013) which appeared to have universal acclaim as the best 7″ tablet on the market at present.

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With its quad-core Snapdragon processor and the highest resolution of any available tablet (WUXGA 1920×1200) coupled with its affordable price tag, the choice was simple.  A certified refurbished model from a licensed distributor was $160.  A package of Tech Armor screen shields and a Moko faux leather case/stand with a compact Bluetooth keyboard was only $39 more, so the entire package was $200, tax and shipping-free.

But the question remained – would this mobile device be of any use to a user like myself?

I spent the first evening customizing the tablet.  I compiled a beautiful high res album of photographs from the most renowned libraries in the world and installed Wallpaper Changer to cycle through a gallery of bibliophilia and really show off the resolution of the Nexus 7.

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Next I ported my browser add-ons and settings to sync from my desktop to my mobile environment, which was surprisingly easier than I anticipated.

Then I arrived at perhaps my most empowering conclusion.  To really get the most out of the mobile interface, I needed all of my library resources to be instantly accessible.  As I had a fondness for the desktop interface of most of these services, I learned how to save deep-web links to my home screen instead of using apps.

Below is a snapshot of my fourth home screen where I’ve created shortcuts to everything from my most-traveled music subreddits to my audio reference texts which I’ve converted from PDF to reflowable ePubs and synced to my Google Books account.

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I was excited to explore my record catalog which I had recently ported from a static database to the cloud on Discogs.com.  The interface is clean and customizable in the tablet browser environment.  Here is the Art Rock folder of my top 300 LPs in cover-view.

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And the same folder in detail view.

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And finally, the summary view from the home folder.

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The site functions very well with a touch-based tablet interface, and my Subsonic media server was equally easy to use.  In addition to the high resolution display, the Nexus 7 is fitted with stereo speakers which perform well in the mobile setting.  Better still, I travel with my Sennheiser monitors wherever I go, so I am ready for anything (although I might consider a portable DAC further down the line).

Here is the Subsonic interface, viewing one artist’s folder on the Nexus 7.

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And a view of a primary discographic chronology folder.

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Or if you prefer to navigate by playlist…

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So it would appear that the Nexus 7 is up to the challenge of the majority of my computing tasks.  The one remaining challenge would be to draft an entire blog entry on the tablet.

Which I’ve just done.

This increased mobility will let me seize the opportunity to work on my research and blogging wherever I go.  I’m looking forward to the productivity.

I’ll leave you with an interesting thought piece.

(Begin at 6m 45s if the video fails to jump to that time.)

This is Zimerman’s Paradox. “Music is not sound.”

In this BBC interview segment, Krystian Zimerman condemns digital recording for its perfection, and claims that it strips away the emotion and character of a composition.

What do you think?