J L Brackett aka Sm1ley

Jun 062011
 

Am I moved yet?  Well, it looks like the answer is an un-equivocal yes… and no.  Okay, so maybe it’s pretty equivocal, but cut me some slack.  I’m learning this stuff as I go along. :)

In my last post, I mentioned that I had gotten some messages indicating that GoDaddy.com was working on transferring my little blog here, and that they were having some problems that they needed me to rectify.  That was Friday.

Well, it just so happens that my youngest daughter was graduating high school the next day, and her graduating class was so large (nearly 700 students) that there were evidently no facilities in the area large enough to host the graduation ceremony.  So we had to travel over an hour to Texas A&M University.  The ceremony lasted a few hours, and then the drive back, followed by the after-graduation festivities all combined to pretty much eat up all day Saturday.

Sunday was the first chance I had to get back to the transfer, and when I investigated, I found that there were several problems, not just one.  Of course, all of them were the result of my own ignorance.  Having never transferred a website, I am (or was) pretty unfamiliar with the process.  I am quickly learning, though, out of sheer necessity.  I already mentioned the timing problems I ran into (attempting to change hosts on a domain that was only thirty days old).  Well, on June 3rd the automated process started again.

And it stopped again.

As I said in Friday’s posting, I had purchased the privacy option with my WordPress account, and so GoDaddy was unable to send me the requisite authorization email that would allow them to initiate the process.  As the initiator of the request though, they were able to email me to let me know that they were unable to email me.  :)  Yes, I know.  It’s a security device to keep me from hijacking someone else’s site, but I still had a good chuckle at the irony of the situation. Dear Mr. Brackett – We are emailing you to let you know that we were unable to email you….

This time it turns out that I while I was now confirmed as the administrator of the site, it seemed I also had it locked to prevent transfer.  Once again, I checked through the settings on my WordPress site, found the lock setting, and unlocked my site so it could be transferred.

Success!!!!  Well, sort of….

I had already received instructions on how to monitor the transfer process from my new GoDaddy dashboard, and was excited to find that step two of the clearly marked four-step process was now completed.  The flow chart showed that step three consisted of them requesting formal authorization from me allowing them to complete the transfer of the domain.  The “recommended action” listed was for me to “authorize transfer”.

I sat back and waited for the email.

By now I knew that some of these steps could take up to a few hours, so I wasn’t too concerned when I didn’t received any email for the first hour.  After three hours, I checked the GoDaddy dashboard again to see if I had missed something.

Nope.  The same status showed, with the same recommended action. I refreshed my email account.

Nothing.

So I went into my WordPress dashboard and spent the next half hour examining the various domain settings.  Finally I noticed a link to “Status”.  Clicking that link showed that there was a “Pending transfer”, with an option to “authorize” or “decline”.  I authorized, and almost immediately received three emails.  One was from Automattic (WordPress’s domain host) telling me how sad they were to see me leave them.  The second was from SecurServer.net (evidently some watchdog entity for the internet?) indicating that I had transferred my domain away from Automattic to “another registrar”.  And the third was from GoDaddy, congratulating me on the transfer of my domain to them.

Eureka! Success.

Only not quite…   You see, despite all the hoops I jumped through yesterday, my blog still appears to be here on the WordPress site.  While I appear to have successfully transferred my domain from WordPress to GoDaddy, it seems that simply typing “jlbrackett.com” into my browser still takes me back to WordPress.com and the resulting blog site still has the WordPress.com dashboard, and I am typing this entry on the WordPress.com interface. To me, that seems to indicate a DNS issue and I’m hoping that changing the DNS forwarding will fix that little issue.  I think I know how to do that, but want to re-read the emails to make sure that this is what the problem is this time.  I want to make sure I don’t break anything by jumping to a wrong conclusion.

Hopefully I’ll get this resolved in the next day or two.   :)

Jun 032011
 

Things are finally starting to move.  I got into work this morning and was greeted by a couple of emails indicating that my domain is in the process of being transferred.  More accurately, they indicated that they were unable to transfer my domain due to my having purchased WordPress.com’s privacy option.  The logical result of this is that DBP was unable to confirm the administrative email address to authorize the transfer.  (What do you know, the privacy option works!  :) )  This was easily remedied, however, and I was able to quickly reinitiate the transfer request.

Now I’m staring at my screen, waiting on the email notification with my transaction ID and security code that will allow me to finalize the domain transfer and then (hopefully) import the content from my existing WordPress.com blog, to my new WordPress based web site.  I suppose this means that this site may go offline for a while during the transfer process, but hopefully the process will be quick and relatively painless.

In the meantime, I received word that episode one of my podcast version of Half Past Midnight has passed Podiobooks.com’s tech spec review.  Yep, after a couple of rookie screwups on my part, I finally got it right!  :lol:  They sent me an acceptance email and some in-depth instructions on the rest of the process, and now the real work begins. If my calculations are correct, I think I’ll have nineteen or twenty episodes. With a weekly production schedule, that means I should have approximately five months of episodes.  And if I want them out before the end of the year, I have to get at least five of them completed by the end of June, since Podiobooks.com won’t even put you on the schedule for publication until you get at least the first five episodes uploaded.

On top of that, my editor (it still sounds cool to be able to say that) called two days ago, and asked if I objected to being moved up on the schedule.  I was curious as to why anyone would object to this, and she explained that some people have budgeted the cost into a strict timeframe.  That makes sense.  For me though, I had budgeted the money in and set it aside almost immediately, so this was simply a great opportunity for me.  She invoiced me, I paid.  Viola!  So she began working on the print version of the novel yesterday.

That, of course, means I will also need to be available to work with her as much as possible throughout the course of this wild ride.  Add to that the fact that my better half and I are going to be working on getting my youngest ready for and settled into her upcoming life at college, and my “real” job, and I think I’m going to be pretty freaking busy for the next several months.

So here’s me – learning about busy,scary, exciting times.

Hope I survive it.

May 262011
 

I’ve been dealing with a bit of anxiety lately.  Not like it’s bad or crippling, but it’s there.  And when I sat down to figure out why I’m “off”, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s just because I’m juggling several bowling pins (because this analogy just gets too suggestive if I talk about juggling balls), and I don’t know if I’m going to catch them, or if they’re going to come tumbling down around me.  There’s the usual LIFE stuff; daughter about to graduate, college for her, son lost his job, walking the tightrope with him between taking care of him and getting him on his own feet, work projects with completely unreasonable deadlines, wife sick, bills… all the day-to-day stuff that tries to grind us all down.  Like I said – LIFE.

But working on my second life, my WRITING, is also getting complicated.  I’ve already posted about the many aspects of my plans for a writing career, and I’ve been working at putting them in place, juggling the various pins of WRITING along with those of LIFE, and I’ve constantly tried to prioritize them.  I’ve had to make choices at times as to which ones to keep in the air, and which ones to let drop.

But lately, something’s been different, and I haven’t been able to put my finger on it until just last night.

Some of those pins now seem to be in other people’s hands (see? suggestive!), and I’m having to adapt to the conflicting ideas that, while for the moment I might have a lighter load, I need to be ready at a moment’s notice to catch those bowling pins and move them back into the juggling pattern.

And the anticipation is freaking me out.

For example, this blog – on or shortly after June first, because of my ignorance of how websites work, I will likely lose this blog.  You see, I thought I was doing the right thing, and bought my own domain for this blog.  That’s a good thing, right?  A month later, I made the decision that my writing career would require a full web site.  So I tried to plan ahead and transfer it to a web hosting company, only to find that I couldn’t do so until the existing domain had been in existence for at least sixty days.  Evidently the forwarding is pretty much an automated process, and I’ve been informed that once it occurs, my domain will be a pristine (read that as “empty”) fully functional website.

I have one more idea on how I might salvage this, but it’s going to cost me another $120 (assuming it works) and who knows how many hours of working with techs on the WordPress side, and on the GoDaddy side.  I’ll try to tackle that project this weekend.  But in the meantime, I can’t do anything but sit on my hands.

Another example – my story in the anthology.  It’s great news that I sold a piece, don’t get me wrong.  I’m going to be in a book!  I’m absolutely elated over that.  :)    But it’s not quite real to me until I sign that contract and find out all the details.  What’s the up front payment?  What’s the percentage of those “semi-annual royalties” they spoke of?  When is the book slated to come out in print?  How much will it cost?  Where can I point people when they ask where they can buy it?  It’s not so much that I’m really worried about these things as much as the simple fact that I don’t know.

My Podcast – I already made two stupid mistakes with my submission on that, and I haven’t heard back from them since my third attempt.  Does that mean the third one passed muster and they’re going into the more in-depth review process now, or does it mean that they got tired of trying to baby me through the process and I’m now just waiting for the process to start over again next Sunday?

All of these pins are currently in other people’s’ hands.  I can’t do a thing about them right now, and I can accept that (mostly).  I like to think I’m pretty good about accepting “the things I cannot change”.  But this feels different.  While I know they are things I can’t change right now, I also know that they are things I will have to address in the future; possibly the very near future.  It’s that anticipation that has me on pins and needles.

LIFE, I can deal with.  WRITING, I can deal with.  Even LIFE plus WRITING, I can deal with (though that starts getting tricky).  But LIFE plus WRITING plus ANTICIPATION has me wanting to curl up in the corner at times.

I know this is the path I’ve chosen, but like the subject line says – anticipation is a bitch!

May 222011
 

Had a few “oops” moments recently, with regards to my writing.  In an attempt to move further along the path of writing-as-a-business, I seem to have taken a couple of missteps.

The first misstep began earlier this week when I was contacted by customer service/tech support from GoDaddy.com, the hosting site I signed up with for my new website.  As I mentioned in an earlier posting, I ran into an issue initially when I tried to transfer my blog to GoDaddy.  I found out then that you can’t transfer a domain until it is at least sixty days old.  Well, when GoDaddy’s tech support called me, they were apparently unaware that I had run into that particular problem, and wanted to know if I was having any problems with their service.  When I explained the issue, the kind lady informed me that, while I might not be able to transfer the blog, I could go ahead and forward it by changing the name servers on the WordPress side, and point the blog at GoDaddy’s site.  She gave me the names of the proper servers, making it seem like an easy thing to do.

Well last night, I did just that.  She was right.  It was easy.  I changed the name servers, saved the settings, and patted myself on the back for a job well done.

And this morning I found that my blog was AWOL.  ACK!!!  Luckily, I remembered what changes I had made, and was able to undo the damage, which is the only reason I’m able to post this entry at all.

The other misstep was with my podcast.  When I initially began recording for the podcast version of the novel, I ran into a problem with the quality of my source files.  Without mincing words, they sounded like crap.

After a few days of searching through the various settings on all the programs I was using to compile and edit the sound files, I finally discovered that the problem wasn’t in any of them.  The problem was that I had my mic set to a 64 kbps bit rate, which was well below Podiobooks.com’s 128 kbps requirement.  As I commented at that point, garbage in-garbage out.

Well, I decided that it made more sense to set everything at a higher quality than was required, and then drop down after all the editing, splicing, and sound production was done.  It seemed logical to me that this should give me the best possible sound for my podcasts. It was too late to get best quality for episode one, since the source files were still the original ones recorded at 64 bit, but the software conversion brought them up to where they were technically within specs, even though the quality was still not great.  Quality should go up for future episodes, but as posted before, episode one is my learning curve.

Unfortunately, when I submitted to Podiobooks.com, I submitted the original, high-level version of the file.  I forgot to send the version where I had dropped the encoding values back down.

CRAP!

And Podiobooks.com uses those values the same way a publishing house uses submission guidelines to weed out idiots who can’t follow directions.  Actually, I think that analogy is VERY accurate.  And since I had managed to not follow directions, I was deservedly tossed into the “idiot” pile.  I received an email, informing me that I had not encoded the file properly, and was therefore being rejected for the time being.  They were professional in what they said, but I still felt like an idiot.

Realizing what the problem was, I reformatted, re-uploaded, and re-submitted the file.  This time, I had concentrated so  much on making sure I sent them the file with the proper encoding values, that I completely missed that I’d messed up on the naming convention, leaving spaces in the filename.

Once again, I was politely informed that I was in the idiot pile.  (sigh)  No, they didn’t say that, but I know they have to be thinking that.  Hell, I would have.

So I renamed the file and once again uploaded it to SendSpace.com.  When the upload completed, I then downloaded it and imported it into iTunes, using iTunes to check the encoding values and to make sure that I had uploaded the correct file (by now, I’m getting so many different versions of this thing that I can’t see straight), and that it was named properly.  After confirming, I sent one more email to Podiobooks.com, once again apologizing, and listing all the values in the body of the email.

That was an hour ago, and so far, I haven’t gotten another “Dear Idiot” email.  I think at this point that if I do, I’ll just go hide my head in shame, change my name, and pretend that the guy who made all those mistakes was someone else.

May 212011
 

There has been a big discussion among some people with whom I have worked regarding an impromptu gathering of “alumni” for a cruise.  Now, it just so happens that my wife and I were considering going on a cruise for our last anniversary, and decided that the timing just wasn’t right.  So when all this noise started about some of the old gang from work getting together for one, we jumped in with them.  We are now booked for a five-day Caribbean cruise for next February 13th through the 18th.  I hope the cruiser can survive the bunch of us.  :)

And if that wasn’t reason enough to label this day as a “good day”, I got word that my submission, (name edited for now), has been accepted into an anthology!  WOOT!!

I’ve been asked not to talk about it yet, so this post is edited to remove the earlier reference to exactly which anthology, but it’s still a WOOT moment!  :)

I honestly had my doubts that it would pass muster, since I don’t usually do short stories, but I got the coveted email a few hours ago asking if the story was still available, and if I was still interested in being included in the anthology.  I think it may have taken  me all of two minutes to reply.  :lol:

I still don’t have all the particulars, but I know it’s a paying market, with a token payment up front and semi-annual royalties following.  I guess this is the proof that I’ll need to show the tax man that my expenditures on my writing are part of a “serious” business endeavor.

I don’t know that this is supposed to be common knowledge at this point, so I’m making sure my Twitter publication button is shut off for this post.  But since very few of you know where this site is, I figure it’s safe to mention it here.

Here’s hoping the anthology does well!