Waging Commerce Rather Than War

I finally got the alternate history/science fiction novella done. A first reader, a second reader, and a third reader all looked at it before I put it up. We manage to do these things at Erie Looking Productions, ya know.

It can be procured in EPUB format without Digital Rights Management restrictions via Leanpub here. It can be procured via Amazon for reading on a Kindle without Digital Rights Management restrictions by visiting here. Those wishing to buy a simple paper copy can visit Amazon here.

Yes, there are plans to put an audiobook version on Audible Creator Exchange eventually. There are some blockers preventing that for the moment. All in due time, I suppose?

I presume I will have more to say as March begins.

Quick Hit

Well, some copies of the novella have sold in the Kindle version but none via Leanpub in EPUB format. Nobody has ventured to try to buy the print version yet. There aren’t any refund requests nor nasty feedback so I think it is okay so far perhaps. I may need to look at trying Smashwords for distribution too.

It is a valid question to ask why Amazon first. For various promo listings and the like my work had to be available there or they wouldn’t consider it. In the Free/Libre Open Source Software world this is the mass market versus freedom-loving problem. I’m trying to appeal to the mass market first before becoming as selective as Spinal Tap. The freedom-loving market is nice but it is not profitable.

There is more work yet to be done.

Following The Planning P

I should have been watching the Windows Subsystem for Linux virtual conference today. For about five minutes I managed to do so. Unfortunately my local broadband provider does not maintain the infrastructure local to me very well. Reconnecting was not doable and I gave up for the day. Looking at results from Speedtest.net over two weeks shows a steady decline in average speed in both directions for me. I’ll be looking for recordings of today’s events and will try to sit in on tomorrow’s proceedings.

Why bring that up? The big reason is to mention the need for backup plans and continuity plans. With COVID-19 concerns in play within the continental United States, the Windows Subsystem for Linux conference had to switch from being an in-person event to a virtual event. After my broadband decided to die on me I decided to follow up on guidance from the state’s election authorities to get early voting out of the way as reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer. My account on Instapaper has been full of closure listings in the local area such as Kent State University stopping classes on all campuses including the local commuter campus in Ashtabula. Many people and institutions are having to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

For the individual developer, though, there should be some consideration about COVID-19. Is your code maintained in a way that nobody else could access it if you were incapacitated? Do you have a “trusted person” who has delegated access if you become incapacitated so automated systems can continue to function? Is your code clean and commented sufficiently so that somebody could take over maintaining it if, heaven forfend, you are out of commission for an extended period of time?

These are all good business practices. The COVID-19 situation merely brings them into sharp focus as being essential business practices. If you haven’t implemented them already there is no time like the present.

This is not to be focused on doom and gloom. Going it alone in any enterprise is fraught with peril. I may have written a novella recently myself that wound up on Amazon for purchase but there were still other sets of hands that participated in the final production process. There is plenty of “business continuity planning” advice out there that scales from a tiny solo coder business to a large business empire. Whether you look at Australian advice, British advice, Canadian advice, New Zealander advice, or American advice you should get started.

This too shall pass. I have reaction plans to prepare for a couple situations that some folks don’t want yet but will likely want from me with very little notice. My planning for the next few days is going to involve fussing over OBS Studio and what I can do with it in my impaired connectivity situation. We’re all going to have some adventures in store from this, I think, as we mostly follow the planning P.

A Mission Concludes For Now

As from 2100Z the domestic mission work providing religious services at a local nursing home is suspended for an indefinite period. This is due to COVID-19 concerns and orders by the Governor of Ohio restricting visitor access to nursing homes. The fluid state of the situation does not present any notion of when this situation will change.

This essentially updates from the newsletter post earlier today where I said I had to start working on contingency plans. A whole range of contingencies no longer need to be planned for. Unfortunately this leaves harder stuff to still be handled expeditiously before the local government makes more changes.

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
When Events Overtake Planning

The COVID-19 whirlwind continues in Ohio. The Governor of Ohio, Mike DeWine, ordered today a closure of K-12 schools for three weeks as well as banning public gatherings of 100 or more people. During those three weeks schools will be making calamity preparations to continue teaching via remote learning methods if necessary. The ban on public gatherings of 100 or more people in Ohio has no expiration date attached to it although, as a practical matter, it technically expires when Governor DeWine leaves office if not revoked sooner. He’s in the second year of a four year term so an unmodified order could theoretically run until January 13, 2023.

Right now I am hurrying along trying to gather test participants to see what I can do with video conferencing in Microsoft Teams. I have a few people and will need a few more. Courtesy UCLA’s Eugene Volokh, it appears that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is suspending in-person church services across the entirety of the planet. They’re digging in for the long haul. The neighboring Roman Catholic diocese of Erie has granted dispensation relative to the obligation to attend Sunday mass for their faithful but the local diocesan for the Ashtabula area has not. The Roman Catholic diocese of Cleveland, also nearby Ashtabula, granted a smaller dispenation. Nobody specifically has asked for a plan at my church yet but normally I get asked at the very last minute so I need to be prepared.

Apparently there are a lot of articles already written on this topic and there is already a shoe-string operations HOWTO seemingly. Strangely enough turnkey solutions exist as well. These are things that normally would never even be considered as being appropriate in the life of the church I normally attend. Having to react to changing circumstances and politicians making things up as they go along means I am having to strike a happy medium as I go especially as I have no budget of any sort.

Development efforts continue. I’m going to have to pull what documentation I can on OBS Studio and study it quickly. Eventually I have to document my efforts for reproducibility.

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
The Storytime Emergency Service

Details will be posted later today about the “Storytime Emergency Service” which will be launched later this week in response to all the closures caused by COVID-19.

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
Things Change Rapidly

There is supposed to be a primary election today. Due to some bizarre legal wrangling including an order declaring a public health emergency at each individual polling place in the state the election is now canceled. Purportedly voting by mail will continue although there is no legal basis for this whatsoever. These tactics by leadership of the state government are vaguely similar to those used in the Civil Rights Era to deprive people of the ability to vote which is probably why I feel so upset and uneasy at this hour.

Stuart Langridge has a piece up about online ordering. I am glad he has that option available. On Monday I visited the Dollar General store in the county seat to purchase razors. They had plenty of razors and indeed had them on discount. No toilet paper could be found there, though. The COVID-19 situation is getting ridiculous in terms of the panic exhibited by the general public. Right now mail delivery is getting sketchy and the frequency of seeing FedEx and UPS making deliveries is decreasing. UberEats doesn’t really do anything around here and I haven’t seen pizza delivery people out in my neighborhood.

There is a long road along and it does not look pretty. There was supposed to be an additional post about the “Storytime Emergency Service” work-in-progress but due to rapidly changing circumstances I am having to re-work that already. Much like one of the co-owners of the Winking Lizard chain of restaurants and taverns I am getting concerned that the Governor of Ohio is disregarding too readily the collateral economic damage he is causing.

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License: This work by Stephen Michael Kellat is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/.
Systems Failure At Main Mission

I am still alive. In a prior post I had mentioned that things had been changing rather rapidly. With a daily press conference by the Governor of Ohio there has been one new decree after another relative to the COVID-19 situation.

A “stay at home” order takes effect at 0359 hours Coordinated Universal Time on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. This is not quite a “lockdown” but pretty much has me stuck. The State of Ohio has resources posted as to economic help in this situation but they’re also dealing with many multiple systems crashes as they try to react and some of their solutions are extremely bureaucratic.

Although I wanted to get started with doing daily livestream on Twitch there have been some logistical delays. I am also having to scrape together what equipment I do have at home to set up make-shift production capacity since our proper production facility is now inaccessible for the immediate future. There is an Amazon wish list of replacement items to try to fill in gaps if anybody feels generous though I am not sure when/if those would show up in the current circumstances. That’s also why I’m having to encourage folks to either buy the Kindle version or buy the EPUB version of the novella since the print version is possibly not going to be available any time soon.

I have further testing of packages to do to see what I can make break. OBS Studio certainly does make the fan on my laptop go into high speed action. Life here at Main Mission is getting stranger by the day. With debating ensuing about the economic carnage leading to possible economic disaster, I can only note that I at least got this up shortly before we entered lockdown.

The stay-at-home order gets reassessed on April 6th. It technically has no expiration date to it currently so it can last legally until the current governor leaves office in 2023. I do hope we make progress in getting this mess resolved sooner rather than later.

This Is Not Pern

When my laptop started failing at a task earlier today I frankly was in a panic. I was burning an optical disc of source documents to take to city hall to attempt to drop off for the finance department. Their JavaScript-laden PDF file that they call their calculating income tax form crashed on me a few times. I decided I would let them have a try. The burn worked right on the second try but it was still very disconcerting.

To briefly reference the world of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels, I am in a situation where the tech I have on-hand is all I’ve got. If it breaks I may be unable to fix it or replace it at this point. Amazon is presently prioritizing medical supplies and household staples in their deliveries. Adafruit Industries in order to stay open has shifted over to making parts for medical devices to the exclusion of their previous lines of business for now. Apple retail is closed for the time being although they are shipping online orders. Micro Center is locked down with very restricted hours and I have a very narrow window each week day to put in an order for parts since the lockdown order means I cannot go visit them in-person. BestBuy.com is available for orders but usually has a far more limited selection of parts than you would sometimes expect. Any orders made are not expected to arrive on a timely basis.

I’ve been taking stock of what equipment I do have on-hand to ensure I have continuity. If the laptop bites the bullet I’ll be falling back to using my iPad mini 4 with a Bluetooth keyboard and mostly using an SSH client on it to log in to a couple headless units. There is a Raspberry Pi 3B+ that is running Ubuntu MATE 18.04.x that I do not have the kit to convert to being a mobile unit or a laptop-type unit. There is a BBC Micro board that hasn’t been deployed yet for any purpose. There is an RTL SDR dongle that needs proper utilization that I haven’t figured out what to do with yet.

I haven’t accomplished much this week during the lockdown other than getting a lot of cleaning done. Frankly anxiety has had me shut down. I’ve been trying to do other things but have not been succeeding. Bashing out this blog post has been rough as it is.

I really need to read the book on C programming. I really need to gear up to start streaming on Twitch by Sunday morning. Right now I am not improvising, not adapting, and not overcoming. I need to fix that.

Thread is falling and I don’t want to be a catcher for it…