An Author’s Interaction with Fans at the Holidays

The holidays are here again and Christmas cards are being traded.  Among the cards that have arrived this year was on from the best selling author, Joseph Finder.  As in years past, Joe sends out cards to those who subscribe to his newsletter.  I think this is an example of an author going above and beyond to make a special connection with his reading audience.  Certainly any author worth his salt has a mailing list that can be used to alert fans to the release of a new book or the schedule of an upcoming book signing.  But how many authors take the time (or go to the expense) of sending out holiday cards?  Talk about going the extra mile!

A special note in this years card described how Joe had the good fortune of taking part in Operation Thriller, now in its third year.  Operation Thriller III was a USO tour of the Middle East with best selling authors including Kathleen Antrim, Michael Connelly, Brad Meltzer, Andy Harp, and Joseph Finder.  Read more about the tour here.
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ThillerCast Episode #61: The Challenges of Writing a Series

The latest episode of ThillerCast (Episode #61) features a discussion centering on the challenges of writing an ongoing series of novels.  For all of the fun the books might be for the reader, that running story arc presents some significant challenges for the author.  Particularly when the writer is working on other content between books.  David and Alan discuss how difficult it can be to pick up a previous project and continue a year later.  Aspiring writers in particular will want to consider their comments and suggested workarounds.

The episode also features  an interview with Chuck Wendig, novelist, screenwriter, and game designer.  Chuck had written books such as Blackbirds, Hunter: The Vigil, Double Dead, and Mockingbird.

Subscribe to ThrillerCast via iTunes, or download episode #61 directly.

Apple’s Fusion Drive, Can You Roll Your Own?

Apple’s new Fusion Drive technology sounds interesting.  If you go strictly by the name and the brief description of the technology, you might be under the impression that Apple is using those old hybrid drives that never really took off.  The ones that were a conventional spinning disc with a SSD portion built into the same drive mechanism.  It was supposed to enhance the performance of the HDD but not require the price tag of the SSD.  Nice theory, but the drives never took off.  But, good news!  Apple’s Fusion Drive is something entirely different.

Apple’s Fusion Drive is a hardware/software solution that takes 2 disparate drive mechanisms inside the Mac and merges them together at an OS level.  The SSD is used for the OS, applications, and the most frequently used data.  Data that is not speed sensitive or frequently accessed is stored on the HDD.  But the creative bit that Apple has here, the “secret sause,” is that the operating system moves this data between the drives automatically.  No user intervention required.  In fact, even though there are two separate drives in the Mac, the user only sees one logical partition.
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Resurrect, by Kane Gilmour

resurect_kgIn the 1850s, a powerful Chinese warlord proclaims himself the Son of God, brother of Jesus Christ, and raises an army with the strength to take over half of China.  More than fifteen hundred years later, his descendant and legions of fanatic followers set a plan it motion that could effect the entire world.  The key to stopping a potential holly war may be hidden in the lost final discovery of an infamous Swedish explorer from 1952.  But when a team of three archaeologists unearth something that threatens the plans of the extremist religious cult, no one is safe.

When members of the cult try to kill the archeology team, they come to the attention of Jason Quinn and his alpine research team from ARGO: Alpine Research and Geographic Observation.  ARGO, created by Teddy Roosevelt in 1902, was founded to deal with all manner of studies pertaining to alpine climates, volcanology, and glaciology.  The attempt on the archaeological team threatens disaster for Quinn’s expedition and provides him an increased personal stake in stopping the Chinese madman and his terror troop.
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Click and Drag: One of the Coolest Web Comics Ever!

I’m not entirely sure what to call this, but lets go with “web comic.”  I know this site, xkcd.com has a devoted following, but today was the first that it came to my attention.  I heard it mentioned on an episode of Tech News Today.  This comic lets you click and drag, essentially panning around on a tremendously large image.  The image seems to go on forever.  It is simple black and white imagery and pure brilliance.  It is virtually endless fun to look at.  Hats off the artist.  This is genius.

Here’s a sample of the artwork.  But you need to hit this link to see the full wonder that is titled simply, Click and Drag.

Indisputable Proof by Gary Williams and Vicky Knerly

indisuptable-proof-iconEvery once in a while a reader is lucky enough to find a book that grabs them out of nowhere.  It maybe subject matter that is not normally in the readers wheelhouse or it might be a writer that one has simply never heard of.  Taking a chance on a book, you give it a go and when finished, there is no way to imagine you were unfamiliar with the author or ever had any reservations concerning the subject matter.  For a reader to find a book that strikes an almost magical cord by bringing together plot and character elements that make for a riveting read is the most rewarding of experiences.  Each of these was the case when I read Indisputable Proof by Gary Williams and Vicky Knerly.

Indisputable Proof starts with the theft of the Sudarium of Oviedo, the cloth that covered the face of Jesus while upon the cross.  The Sudarium’s theft is initially hidden from the public by the Church and the Spanish Government at the advisement of the CIA.  But time is running out.  The Feast of the Cross is only days away, a time honored tradition when the Sudarium is displayed to the pias masses.  Now CIA agent Samuel Tolen, Spanish Inspector Pascal Diaz, and British archaeologist Dr. Jade Mollur are in a race against time to locate and return the Sudarium to the church before the start of the Feast of the Cross.  Should they fail, a religious extremist group has vowed revenge against the CIA and the United States as a whole.

What results is a fast paced, beautifully crafted thrill-ride for the reader.  The details of the story and the evolving plot are crafted with precision.  The characters and credible and believable adding to the suspense as the reader becomes more invested in the key players over time.  And through all of this, the creative twists that take place throughout make the book incredibly difficult to put down.
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MonoPrice.com Thunderbolt to DVI Adapter Better Than Apple’s

I’ve got a 15″ Unibody MacBook Pro with Thunderbolt support and a Dell 2405FPW 24″ LCD display.  The display worked perfectly with my previous generation 15″ MacBook Pro, but when I upgraded to my current model, the first release to offer Thunderbolt (Early 2011 release), I quickly became frustrated by my laptops inability to put the 24″ Dell display to sleep.  When the energy saver settings shutdown the laptops internal display, the external display is supposed to go into sleep mode.  My Dell display stays powered up and displays an ever present “No Signal Present” message.  No power savings there.  No help in extending the life of the display— likely shortening it!

I even went so far as to contact Apple tech support about the issue, something I loathe to do.  Apple support did what seemed to be due diligence and kicked the issue up the support chain for a while but in the end concluded that it was some sort of timing issue with the video signal that was unique to my Dell display.  Apple support suggested that I contact Dell support with the issue.  Perhaps see if there was new firmware for my display.  There was none.
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The Roswell Conspiracy, by Boyd Morrison

roswell-conspiracy-100Boyd Morrison’s latest book, The Roswell Conspiracy was easily one of my most anticipated books of the year.  Release number three in the Tyler Locke series, this may be the best book yet.  The story opens with Dr. Tyler Locke and Grant Westfield visiting New Zealand’s Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds to put a new top secret hybrid test car through a series of cold weather tests.  But while in New Zealand, Dr. Locke takes a side trip to visit a seventy-five year old woman claiming to have a piece of wreckage from infamous Roswell crash.  Tyler’s firm, Gordian Engineering is the foremost airline crash investigation specialist in the United States.  This makes Tyler the most logical consultant to help identify the wreckage the old woman has held in secret since 1947.

Right out of the gate, the book launches into a rocket propelled thrill-ride as Tyler struggles to uncover the secrets of the Roswell crash.  But even the mysteries of crashed alien spacecraft are not enough for a storyteller like Mr. Morrison.  Complications quickly arise as secrets long buried by the Russians start coming to light and drawing attention to a rouge SVR agent who attempts to steal the Roswell artifacts.  This draws a tangled web of international intrigue that grows to involve the FBI as well as the NSA, international drug-runners and arms dealers.
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Which is Faster, Parallels Desktop 8 or VMware Fusion 5?

parallels_logoWith very recent updates from both VMWare and Parallels, the virtualization arms race is once again heating up on the Macintosh.  VMWare recently released VMWare Fusion 5 while Parallels just trotted out the release of Parallels Desktop 8.  Both products are fully Mountain Lion compatible (Mac OS X 10.8.x), and both support that latest from Microsoft: the still iffy Windows 8.

The support for Mountain Lion is a big deal with this update.  Both products had issues with OS X 10.8 in their prior release though each had offered patches to resolve some of the problems.  But the latest versions of both products now support Notification Center, so alert message from the VM will be tucked away in the corner of the Mac’s screen for easy reference.  Both packages offer support for Launchpad making it possible to have Windows based apps interspersed with Mac applications in the Mac Launchpad.  And both make it possible to dictate text into Windows based applications using Mountain Lion’s built-in voice dictation functionality.
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