Saturday, December 15, 2012

Some poor fools think I'm an authority on startups

Photo (Photo credit: Jay Garmon)
Here's me getting profiled by Insider Louisville, which characterizes me as...
"[A]bout as close as Louisville has to a start-up nomad. That specie of homo technicus so common in San Francisco and Silicon Valley is vital to creating, then sustaining, any city’s entrepreneurial culture. The swashbuckler who jumps from big corporation to start-up, start-up to big corporation. At the Louisville level, it’s extremely rare because there aren’t that many viable startup-to-corporate-to-startup opportunities."
It goes on from there. I'll be over here wondering who the heck they're actually talking about, 'cause surely that can't be me.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Twitter's 43 favorite links from Nov. 2012

Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos (Photo credit: Dunechaser)
Below are the 43 links I shared on Twitter in Nov. 2012 that subsequently earned at least 100 clicks.
  1. "Why do so many founders build things no one wants? Because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas." (1373)
  2. Mapping Racist Tweets in Response to President Obama's Re-election (1319)
  3. 25 Entrepreneurs Tell What They Wish They’d Known before Founding Their First Startup (1071)
  4. Open Source Entrepreneurship (729)
  5. Some thoughts and musings about making things for the web - The Oatmeal (703)
  6. Defining engagement by clicks, likes & shares works for Google’s search engine, not for a social network (549)
  7. 5 APIs that will transform the Web in 2013 (442)
  8. Don't Fall For Fake Facebook Privacy Notice (434)
  9. It's an amazing time for things that aren't quite traditional laptops (424)
  10. Follow the goal creep by David of 37signals (365)
  11. The startup founder's lie about "comfort zones" (335)
  12. Why Google Went Offline Today and a Bit about How the Internet Works (312)
  13. What the Research on Habit Formation Reveals about our Willpower and Overall Well-Being (304)
  14. The truth about the "friend zone" (295)
  15. Why you should take your 20′s seriously (291)
  16. Want to create a new habit? Get ready to break it. (288)
  17. The perfect email (273)
  18. 50 Startup Lessons Learned in 12 months (258)
  19. Why Coke Cost A Nickel For 70 Years (256)
  20. Q: "How much does an app cost?" A: "About as much as a car." (255)
  21. 512 Paths to the White House - Winning Scenarios for Both Candidates (246)
  22. I Am A Terrible Programmer (243)
  23. Why art is hard (236)
  24. Startups: How you can do it alone (220)
  25. No Studying After 5pm: Using Parkinson's Law to Kick Procrastination's Ass (218)
  26. A billion dollar software tech company is founded every 3 months in the U.S. (215)
  27. This is why I’m not backing you on Kickstarter (215)
  28. Sorry, No Calls (200)
  29. Who Is The Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It's Barack Obama? (193)
  30. Entrepreneur’s Don’t Think Enough. Here’s What You Can Do About It (193)
  31. Apollo Flight Controller 101: Every console explained (192)
  32. Google Launches Ingress, a Worldwide Mobile Alternate Reality Game (158)
  33. Einstein's list of demands for staying with his wife (158)
  34. "It’s better to have a few fantastic things designed for you than to have many untrustworthy things poorly designed" (153)
  35. 2512 (149)
  36. It's fine to get an MBA but don't be an MBA (142)
  37. Triumph of the Nerds: Nate Silver Wins in 50 States (137)
  38. "How I went from $100-an-hour programming to $X0,000-a-week consulting." (136)
  39. Programming is a Pop Culture (133)
  40. Jeff Bezos attended 60 investor meetings to raise $1m from 22 people, just to get Amazon started (133)
  41. Higher education is now being disrupted; our MP3 is the massive open online course (or MOOC)and our Napster is Udacity (121)
  42. If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month (119)
  43. Why it is Awesome to be a Girl in Tech (117)
Stats gathered via Buffer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Holiday gift ideas: The hard sci-fi starter kit

Hard science fiction is often code for "sci fi that requires the reader to do math" -- it's a label that turns off not just non-sci-fi fans, but even devout but nontechnical science fiction fanatics. Are there hard sci-fi books that not only overcome this label, but might imbue a nascent love of the subgenre?

The SF Signal Irregulars say yes (in podcast form).

Patrick Hester, Jeff Patterson, Paul Weimer and (sadly) me build a reading list to tempt even the staunchest hard sci-fi doubter. And, yes, Ringworld makes multiple appearances.

[BONUS: We stop mid-podcast to disabuse Patrick of the notion that The 13th Warrior is a good movie. I may have instigated this intervention. I also haven't been invited back to the podcast since. Coincidence? I think not.]

If you're looking for the nerdiest of all possible holiday gifts, this podcast is an ultra-geeky idea factory. Take a listen.

As always, my rap sheet of past SF Signal podcast transgressions is available here.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The 33 best stories, pictures and ideas of Sept. 2012

Kickstarter (Photo credit: Scott Beale)
Below are the 33 links I shared on Twitter in Sept. 2012 that subsequently earned at least 100 clicks.
  1. Black Swan Farming (890) 
  2. Things I’ve quit doing at my desk (692) 
  3. "The truth is that if your company sells hardware today, your business model is essentially over." (560) 
  4. The 2 Biggest Mistakes I Made When Learning to Code (491) 
  5. "A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup." (490) 
  6. 29 Things I, as a designer, wish more tech startups knew (453) 
  7. Cosmo, the Hacker 'God' Who Fell to Earth (424) 
  8. "PayPal have all the power of a bank and yet none of the responsibility." (412) 
  9. Everything's broken and nobody's upset (376) 
  10. xkcd's Click-and-Drag megacomic in a zoomable map interface (330) 
  11. Web Design is 95% Typography (326) 
  12. The only 2 ways to build a $100 million business (316) 
  13. The Ultimate Guide to Writing Better Than You Normally Do. (309) 
  14. "Statistically, one third of all [PINs] can be guessed by trying just 61 distinct combinations!" (281) 
  15. Be nice to those that serve you (238) 
  16. Why Women Should Stop Trying to Be Perfect (224) 
  17. Stanford announces 16 free online courses for fall quarter (218) 
  18. The care and feeding of software engineers (or, why engineers are grumpy) (215) 
  19. What’s The Most Difficult CEO Skill? Managing Your Own Psychology (187) 
  20. The Difference Between Apple & Amazon In One Chart (187) 
  21. Let Shit Happen (159) 
  22. Neil Gaiman's 8 Rules of Writing (158) 
  23. Meeting A Troll... (How the Anonymous Web Enables and Disguises Sociopathy) (154) 
  24. Corruption in Wikiland? Paid PR scandal erupts at Wikipedia (153) 
  25. Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama (146) 
  26. Solving Gen Y's Passion Problem (141) 
  27. Dear Programmer, I have an idea (135) 
  28. Marissa Mayer Tells Yahoo Employees Products Must Ship In 6 Months, Or Don't Bother (123) 
  29. "NoPassword means you don't need a password or a complicated OAuth scheme. Just email." (122) 
  30. Infographic - How big is our own solar system? (119) 
  31. Working From Home? You're a Better Worker (117) 
  32. Kickstarter Is Not a Store (111) 
  33. Amanda Palmer's Million-Dollar Music Project and Kickstarter's Accountability Problem (103)
Stats gathered via Buffer.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The 36 best stories, pictures and opinions of August 2012

Every link I shared in August 2012 that earned at least 50 clicks on Twitter:

  1. Wikipedia Redefined (1001)
  2. An independent rating system for online Terms of Service (545)
  3. Your startup is not a startup, it’s just a website. (536) 
  4. Public humiliation done right. (479)
  5. The best place on the web to learn anything, free. (410) 
  6. Why passwords have never been weaker—and crackers have never been stronger (356)
  7. Advice I Wish I Could Have Given Myself 5 Years Ago (324)
  8. Stop Using The Cup of Coffee vs. $0.99 App Analogy (255)
  9. Friend just posted a pic of Atlanta Marriott mega-lobby, AKA Dragon*Con ground zero. I remember that feeling (247)
  10. Programmer Time Translation Cheatsheet -or- Why Programmers Are Bad at Estimating Times (241)
  11. A rookie goes to Dragon*Con: Here's what he learned (240) 
  12. The best interface is no interface (218)
  13. How The Poor, The Middle Class And The Rich Spend Their Money (157)
  14. You can't make this stuff up… (153) 
  15. "Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies" - Fox News (142)
  16. Productivity vs. Guilt and Self-Loathing (142)
  17. Fear of Money (138)
  18. The Wrong Side Absolutely Must Not Win (136)
  19. The Cheapest Generation: Why Millennials aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy (131)
  20. Why Explore Space? A 1970 Letter to a Nun in Africa (129)
  21. When Freemium Fails (129)
  22. 13 ways of looking at Medium, the new blogging/sharing/discovery platform from @ev and Obvious (114)
  23. An Unexpected Ass Kicking (105)
  24. If Content Is King, Multiscreen Is The Queen, Says New Google Study (90)
  25. 25 Ways To Survive As A Creative Person (89)
  26. 30 Indispensable Writing Tips From Famous Authors (87)
  27. Move your feet (86)
  28. The poison pill hidden in Twitter's social graph (85)
  29. Why You Can’t Be Anything You Want to Be (81)
  30. Wolfram|Alpha's Personal Analytics for Facebook (80)
  31. Peter Thiel's College Dropouts: One-Year Checkup (73)
  32. ‘The riskiest thing you can do now is be safe’ – The Top 10 TED talks for startups (66)
  33. The top ten differences between white terrorists and others (61)
  34. What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About 'Having It All' (58)
  35. The coming civil war over general purpose computing (57)
  36. How to Be a Better Procrastinator (55)

Stats compiled with Buffer.
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Monday, August 27, 2012

Dragon*Con 2011: A n00b's Tale, Part VI

"TUESDAY" production sign
[Note: I finish this series almost a year after I first ventured to Dragon*Con. It was one of the great fan experiences of my life but, as I hope this final entry conveys, D*C isn't about the events or the celebrities or even the scale, it's about small moments between people who truly understand what fandom is, and fandom means.]


The day after Dragon*Con 2011 finally ended, it finally ended. For the first time in a week I woke up with no where in particular to be. This is when "the end of Dragon*Con" started to feel real. There was no panel to attend, no line to queue up for, no crowd to beat. It was just time to go.

As usual, I arose before my roommates, showered, and left the room so as not to disturb them. When I walked to the elevator, there was no one waiting, which was a first. The elevator arrived in less than a minute, and I took it all the way to the ground floor with no stops. I didn't meet anyone along the way. The few early risers or all-nighters still in the lobby weren't in costume -- another first since Wednesday afternoon -- and I could walk freely through the skybridge to the Peachtree Center food court, where I snagged a pastry and some OJ. There were some D*C folk about, but the area had reverted to a center for business pros, not megafans. Our grip on the city was giving way, and normal life was once again taking hold.

I eventually made it back to the room, again without any serious crowd impediment, to where my friends were waiting to see out the end of this tale. It was time to pack.

Monday, August 06, 2012

The 25 best links from July 2012

John Cleese
Every link I shared in July 2012 that earned at least 50 clicks on Twitter:
  1. Amazon same-day delivery: How the e-commerce giant will destroy local retail. (712) 
  2. I Won't Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here's Why. (521) 
  3. The Death Of SEO: The Rise of Social, PR, And Real Content (421) 
  4. 'Poorcraft' Is Everything Your Parents Never Taught You About Frugal Living (in Comic Book Form) (314) 
  5. View from the ISS at Night (254) 
  6. "When you sell a company, you can get new shoes, a new car, a new house or a new life." (226)  
  7. How well does Khan Academy teach? (180) 
  8. Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to brain as vitamin D is to body (179) 
  9. The Six Supervillains of Nerd Culture (177) 
  10. How to hack the beliefs that are holding you back (166) 
  11. What I Learned From Increasing My Prices (160) 
  12. Why Do Startups Do This? (158) 
  13. Open Letter from a Millennial: Quit Telling Us We’re Not Special (157) 
  14. Why does the IT industry continue to listen to Gartner? (149) 
  15. Final thoughts on Windows 8: A design disaster (104) 
  16. Why Showing Your Face at Work Matters (98) 
  17. The Value of Time (97) 
  18. Backupify Raises $9M Series C Round: What It Means For Our Customers (94) 
  19. The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale? (88) 
  20. 15-Year-Old Maker Astronomically Improves Pancreatic Cancer Test (74) 
  21. A Hole in Mars (59) 
  22. A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It (57) 
  23. The 10 superheroes most in need of a movie reboot (56) 
  24. Destined To Fail (52) 
  25. John Cleese on creativity [VIDEO] (50)
Stats compiled with Buffer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Penn State should get something worse than the NCAA death penalty

STATE COLLEGE, PA - NOVEMBER 12:  A former Pen...
The Penn State child sex abuse scandal has sparked a number of reactions, but among the more insular has been sports pundits debating whether the school's football program should get the rarely used NCAA "death penalty" -- code for "stop playing football for a full season." The last school to receive the death penalty, former national football power Southern Methodist, received the punishment 25 years ago and is only now climbing out of the pits of mediocrity. It's the harshest punishment the NCAA can muster, and many see it as the only appropriate remedy for this most despicable of crimes.

Penn State shouldn't get the death penalty.

Not because the NCAA doesn't have the authority to impose the death penalty; the NCAA can and does have a duty to safeguard the integrity of the game and the safety of its student-athletes. And not because the death penalty is too harsh a sentence; nothing is too harsh for a school that felt its own reputation was more important that keeping a child-rapist away from young boys.

Penn State deserves worse than the death penalty. It shouldn't be given the easy out of shutting down football for year. Penn State should be forced to play football and lose.

The NCAA should ban Penn State from providing any football scholarships for the next four years. Moreover, any Penn State football player currently on the roster should have the option to transfer, immediately and without penalty or forced non-participation, to any school in the NCAA. This would include any school in the Big Ten or on Penn State's schedule. For the next four years, Penn State football should also be banned from hosting any recruiting visits or football-related camps or workshops for anyone not on the Penn State roster. Penn State coaches should be banned from taking any off-campus recruiting for the next four years, including visiting any off-campus workouts, camps, combines or high school football games.

Logistically, the NCAA death penalty is a nightmare. Opposing teams now have holes in their schedules, through no fault of their own. TV broadcasters now have less inventory, which impacts revenue for other schools beyond Penn State. The groundskeepers and hotdog vendors and parking attendants that make money on Penn State football -- to say nothing of the football revenue that funds Penn State's non-revenue sports (and athletic scholarships) -- don't deserve to have their livelihoods stripped.

But Penn State football, and Penn State's athletics, and Penn State itself deserve to lose. Their crime was to believe that the glory of their football program was more important than everything else -- including the physical and emotional sanctity of innocent children. As such, they should be allowed to keep their football team, but forced to lose their glory. Repeatedly. On television. For years.

For the next four years, Penn State football will field a team entirely composed of walk-on, non-scholarship players who self-recruited to the program. If you believe in Penn State, you can play for them. But nobody is going to ask, and no one is going to compensate you for it. If you believe in Penn State, you can coach for them, but you know you're going to coach a losing team, and that your lifeblood recruiting contacts are going to atrophy and die.

Above all, Penn State is obligated to field a team under these restrictions. It cannot self-impose the death penalty simply to avoid the expense and humiliation of putting forth a team that will almost certainly lose every game it plays for the foreseeable future. The humiliation is the point.

Penn State will field a team of believers, who put Penn State above all else. And they will lose. Because they deserve to. Football isn't more important than innocent children. Every rout of Penn State will be a national reminder of that fact.

They've earned it.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The top stories of June 2012 (according to my Twitter friends)

Dunce cap in the Victorian schoolroom at the M...
Below are the 18 links I shared in June 2012 that got at least 50 clicks on Twitter.
  2. "Focus is scary. It means not hedging your bets. It means going all-in. If you’re not scared, you’re not focused." (222)
  3. Marketing made of WIN (216)
  4. Facebook Just Changed Your Email Without Asking—Here's How to Fix It (201)
  5. Video: Why Your Burger Doesn't Look Like the One in the Ad (177)
  6. Revisiting why incompetents think they’re awesome (172)
  7. What People Really Do When They're 'Working From Home' (151)
  8. How I manage 40 people remotely (127)
  9. FACEBOOK KNOWS: Who wants to get fired, who's hungover, who's on drugs, who has a new phone number (98)
  10. For my part, I stand with the Oreos (86)
  11. Irony (81)
  12. Why Your Next iPhone Should Be Prepaid (80) 
  13. The Facebook/Google war won't be the News Feed vs. Google+ but Facebook Camera vs. Project Glass (78)
  14. I'm offended at the Internet's general lack of Back To The Future expertise. This never should have got past edit phase (78)
  15. Teaching the Security Mindset (64)
  16. the recruiter honeypot (64)
  17. How to Talk to Human Beings (62)
  18. The best graphical representation of sports stats you'll see today (55)
I use BufferApp to track these stats. You can follow me on Twitter at @jaygarmon.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dragon*Con 2011: A n00b's Tale, Part V

English: Wil Wheaton at the 2011 Phoenix Comic...
[Note: Sorry for the delay in writing up the last day of the Con. The Dragon*Con smartphone app is still on my Droid homescreen, a reminder of the inexpressibly wonderful time I had. I kept telling myself I'd erase it once I was done with this post series, so I think that played some small part in my procrastination -- I didn't want to let the memento go.]


My last day of Dragon*Con 2011 started with what had become a routine. Bubba Chuck had warned me that by the end of D*C I'd have become a "pro," someone whose job it was to Do Geek full-time everyday. He was so very right.

I quietly grabbed my shower without waking my roommates, mingled with the early risers/late closers in the Marriott elevators, strolled quietly across the skybridge to the Peachtree Center food court to grab a Dairy Queen sausage biscuit, then scampered back through a trio of hotels and a drizzle-specked Atlanta concrete until I reached the lobby of the Sheraton. There I joined a line that was already wound through the entire upper lobby level of the hotel and, minutes after I arrived, filled the complete lobby and burst out onto the sidewalk.

Wil Wheaton was coming to Dragon*Con -- for the first and perhaps only time.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Female superheroes who deserve their own movies (according to professional authors and fans)

House of M #1 featuring the Scarlet Witch. Var...
Here's the sound of Marvel Comics head honcho Joe Quesada pulling the pin on a nerd-rage grenade and tossing it in our direction:
- In a chat [with Ain't It Cool News], Joe told me that he’d love to make a tentpole movie with a female lead, but that he really doesn’t think there is an actress right now who could carry it, or a character that would work either. I’m thinking I might agree with him on this one actually.
Okay, Joe, so you can't think of a single female character or actress worthy of a tentpole superhero movie? Here's the SF Signal Irregulars' collective response:
"Challenge: Accepted."
Stina LeichtJeff PattersonGail CarrigerPaul WeimerPatrick Hester and I discuss not only which female characters and leads could carry a tentpole superhero movie, but also why poor ol' Joe can't seem to see the potential here. Get the full rundown in the Hugo-Nominated SF Signal Podcast Episode 131.

This is usually the part where I decry my own meager contributions to the topic and, compared to published authors like Ms. Carriger and Ms. Leicht, that remains the case. But when it comes to the underuse of superheroines in film, Joe Quesada is so wrong even I can make a few cogent points before succumbing to audible idiocy. Listen for yourself.

And, yes, the list goes well beyond Wonder Woman, She-Hulk, Marvel or DC.

As always, my litany of previous SF Signal podcast sins are confessed here.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

The 2012 summer movies worth seeing (as decided by professional geeks)

The Amazing Spider-man movie still
Everybody says that critics are out of touch with mainstream audiences, which is why the Rotten Tomatoes Fresh-o-meter never matches Box Office Mojo's top earners. But you know who is really different from the median movie consumer? Hard core geeks like novelist A. Lee Martinez, Lisa Paitz Spindler, Paul Weimer, Regan Wolfram, Patrick Hester and, well, me.

Look no further than our SF Signal podcast roundup of 2012 summer movies for proof.

Our audio-only Council of Geek Elders is way more contentious and snarky than the last 2012 geek movie catalog I rammed down your throat -- especially when it comes to The Amazing Spider-Man, BattleshipThe Dark Knight Rises and G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Give a listen for the nerd-rage showdown.

Per usual, the running tally of my SF Signal Podcast screw-ups is available here.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Why can't Hollywood make Mars work?

Cover of "Red Planet [Region 2]"
Cover of Red Planet [Region 2]
Anyone else realize the last broadly successful science fiction movie set on Mars was 1990's Total Recall -- the movie that Colin Farrell is helping remake sans the Martian elements? Tinseltown seems to keep fumbling any version of the Red Planet that sees the big screen -- and I include Red Planet in that eulogy.

So, is Mars cursed in Hollywood?

That's question I try to answer in SF Signal Podcast Episode 117.

Fortunately, Fred Kiesche, Jeff Patterson, Scott Cupp, Paul Weimer and Patrick Hester are there to drown out my cynical meanderings about the cinematic value of the fourth rock from our sun. Give a listen, if only for Golden Age Flash Gordon references and the gratuitous namecheck of the Viking landers.

Per usual, the backlog of my established SF Signal Podcast errors is available here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

So I'm kinda, sorta (not really) nominated for a Hugo Award

70th World Science Fiction Convention
70th World Science Fiction Convention (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For those of you who don't know, a Hugo Award is arguably the ultimate accolade in the realm of science fiction and fantasy. It's the Oscar of the nerd media set. And, in a very indirect way, I've been nominated for one.

More directly, the blog SF Signal (for which I once contributed before reclaiming my Geekend gig) and the SF Signal Podcast (on which I continue to appear three to four times per year) have been nominated as Best Fanzine and Best Fancast, respectively. The complete 2012 Hugo nominations list is available here. If any of you are heading to Worldcon 2012 (AKA Chicon 7) this year, and you're so motivated to vote, the SF Signal Irregulars would be grateful for a ballot checkmark or two in our favor.

Now, I cannot stress enough how little I had to do with either of these nominations. I haven't thrown in a SF Signal post in well over a year, as my precious and rare writing bandwidth now goes almost exclusively to paying gigs, the Louisville Digital Association (who suffers with me as its President) and ConGlomeration (which suffers with me as its webmaster). Despite persistent and generous invitations to the SF Signal Podcast, I only show up every month or so due to similar time constraints (though I'll be recording with them tomorrow night, I believe). Heck, despite a 2011 Tangent List entry, I haven't written any fiction in over a year, which the 2005 version of myself would find unforgivable and mind-boggling.

The Hugo credit belongs to everyone who contributes (more regularly than me) to both SF Signal properties, but most especially to John DeNardo, the head man at the SF Signal Blog, and Patrick Hester, the audio mogul who produces and hosts the SF Signal Podcast. Frankly, I'm far more pleased and excited about these nominations than I ever was of the Tangent mention because, first, it's a Hugo, and second because it shines a much overdue spotlight on good people doing good work for no reason other than a love of seeing it done.

That I am connected by the slimmest and most undeserved thread to these glories is irrelevant. John D., Patrick and every other SF Signal Irregular have earned this moment of praise. If you haven't heard of them, seek out their work. If you know them, thank them for their contributions to the sci-fi and fantasy community. We're all the better for it.

Now, let's bring home that rocket.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

Remember that time I cowrote a script with David Goyer?

Screenplay (Photo credit: Matt-Richards)
Seriously, in 1998 I cowrote a movie script with David Goyer (and seven other people). Back in the day, TNT had a pretty fun website called, whence I drew inspiration for my movie rating system. In late summer of '98, Goyer participated in a sort of exquisite corpse crowdsourced screenwriting contest at Roughcut, and I was one of the lucky few to earn a spot in the script rotation.

After my recent trip to Boskone to see -- among others -- Bruce Schneier and talk about data that survives the death of people and websites, I was reminded that probably has some saves of Roughcut from 14 years ago.

Guess what I found?

The script is rather painfully '90s, but I still find it a lark to read, even after all these years. My contribution is part seven.

Ironically, I almost didn't know I'd won a spot in the contest, as my selection was announced as I went off to my senior year of college, and a snafu with my school's IT department had me locked off the web for about two weeks. Once I got back online, I had a string of desperate emails from the contest producer asking where to send my prize money.

I still have the $100 money order, uncashed, as a keepsake. It was the first occasion where I was "paid" for my creative writing, and the first inkling I had that I wasn't just better than most of the kids at my school in the fiction skills, I might actually have a shot at making a living stringing words together.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The best geek TV and movies of 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Image via Wikipedia
The SF Signal Podcast (Episode 103): Panel Round up of Our Favorite SF&F Movies and TV Shows of 2011 includes:
Included in the discussion: Cowboys and Aliens, Captain America, Thor, X-Men First Class, The Adjustment Bureau, Battle L.A., The Rite, Black Death, Super 8, Falling Skies, Eureka, Alphas, Fringe, Grimm, Chuck, Warehouse 13, SGU, Once Upon a Time, The Big Bang Theory, Midnight in Paris, Source Code, Attack the Block, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Sherlock, Community, Warhammer 40K Movie, Bridesmaids, Battleship Yamato, Black Mirror, Dinosaur Revolution, Planet Dinosaur, Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Young Justice, Iron Man: Anime, Batman: Brave and the Bold, Doctor Who, Adventures of Sarah Jane, Game Of Thrones and Walking Dead.

If that seems rather a lot (or far too little), it is, and you can berate us (me) for it by voicemail at 720-277-9082 via email at

If you like this episode, you'll love the commensurate one about Our Favorite SF&F Books of 2011, mostly because I'm not in that one.

As always my record of past SF Signal podcast audiocrimes is available here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

What famous scientist mistakenly thought he had discovered plutonium -- a decade before it was actually discovered?

TechTalk radio ep. 251 includes a host of Thanksgiving-esque tech tidbits and, sadly, a trivia question that perhaps on I find interesting: What famous scientist mistakenly thought he had discovered plutonium -- a decade before it was actually discovered?

If you're the kind of geek that gets off on the historical minutia surrounding elemental physics -- and you know who you are -- you'll also likely enjoy pointing out all the errors I make in my weekly radio factoid from last fall.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dragon*Con 2011: A n00b's Tale, Part IV

Saul Tigh (Michael Hogan) and William Adama (E...
Image via Wikipedia
[When last we left our plucky D*C n00b, he was recovering from an unexpected Jedi-themed dance party. The infodump expands to the penultimate day of the con.]


Again, my day began around 8:30 am as I snuck away from my hibernating roommates to scrounge breakfast at Peachtree Center. I think I stupidly drew from the Dairy Queen well, which is always a mistake. Nonetheless, I hit the panel scene about 9:30 and called an audible, electing to abandon my plans for the Skeptic Track's "Secular Plan to Take Over America" - I didn't want to brave the zealot crowd - so I snuck into the line for the other zealot crowd magnet, the Star Wars track. Specifically, the "Truth and Mythology of Star Wars" headlined by Timothy Zahn and Gary Kurtz.

Takeaway: I now know where the Star Wars franchise went wrong.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Tangent's Online's best of 2011 sci-fi short fiction list includes...wait...ME?

Science fiction 2Image by Glamhag via FlickrI have exactly one paid fiction publication to my credit. Ever. And someone thinks it (just barely) qualifies as some of the best sci-fi short fiction of 2011. Thankfully that someone has some street cred, because it's the gang from Tangent, which just happens to specialize in reviewing and critiquing sci-fi short fiction.

My short story "Perfection" from the April issue of Redstone Science Fiction is considered one of the 50 or so best sci-fi short stories of the year. And this isn't some random blogger list. This is the group of people who critique sci-fi shorts as their raison d'etre. My name sneaks in besides the likes of Rudy Rucker, Nalo Hopkinson, Rachel Swirsky, Ian MacLeod, Greg Bear, Laura Ann Gilman, Bud Sparhawk, Nancy Kress, Jackie Kessler and Jay Lake.

Yes, I am making inappropriate squee noises right now, of the Japanese schoolgirl variety. No, I am not ashamed.

I owe some thanks. First, to Mike Ray, the EIC at Redstone who took a chance on a nobody and gave me my first sale. Second, to my fellow SF Signal irregular Matt Sanborn Smith, who was kind enough to tweet me about the Tangent selection. I'm a lucky guy.

Also, I guess I'm obligated to get to writing some short fiction in 2012. I have a meager reputation to maintain.