Misc


The problem with the Internet is that any idiot can set themselves up as a bookseller. They just create accounts for eBay Amazon etc and punt them out. Service and customer care can take a massive dip online, although there are exceptions. I’ve been caught a couple of times with Bob Shaw novels; SFBC editions instead of Gollancz editions, ex-library copies which I only find out are ex-library when they arrive.

And it’s happened again. A Bob Shaw hardback at a cheap price which turns out not to be the Gollancz edition as advertised. I now have two copies of that book, both useless to me, seeing as it would cost as much as I spent on it to send it back.

Is it too much to ask book dealers to be accurate in their descriptions? Apparently it is. They punt it out and hope for a sale, ignoring the service to customers.

I suppose it’s a case of that old saying, if it looks too good to be true it probably is. I’ll make it a policy to always enquire before purchase from now on.

(This is the first blog post to be posted to all four of my blogs.)

I have a WordPress blog which I’ve hardly ever used. I signed up for it so I could post comments on other blogs. That has become redundant as I used Blogger and Google reader more and more, and I haven’t touched the WordPress blog since around January this year (2009). Today I remembered it and added it to Windows Live Writer, so I can post to four blogs at the click of a mouse instead of three.

Interzone 225 arrived today, which is  a bit of a surprise seeing as I tend to not receive as many as I do get. I also donated some money to Wheatus and as it was over $25 I got a limited edition signed DVD (limited to 500 copies) and other goodies from them. It was pretty cool stuff, their new music is pretty good and I would encourage anyone to go over to their site and check them out. They are most famous for the hit Teenage Dirtbag. You can download their songs for free if you feel so inclined but even a token donation would be a good exchange for the songs. The really good thing about it all was that everything came from the hands of the band themselves. No middlemen at all.

An E. Hoffman Price novel arrived also today. I’ve never read any of his fiction and always wanted to get my hands on his stuff to check it out. I first read his writings in Skull Face Omnibus by Robert E Howard, where he gave his memories of meeting Howard. His personality came across well in that short piece and I was always on the look out for his books but very little seemed to come up at reasonable prices. So I’ve got another novel to put on the tower of Babel of books that I have to read.

I’m going to have to ease off on the use of the credit card for a little while. It hasn’t been much over the past few months but recent activity on eBay has been pretty constant. It’s not the purchases from eBay I mind; they are small and you don’t really think about them, it’s the postage. The more or less standard charge of around £3 does bump the purchases up quite a bit. And then they all gang up and make a big dent in the credit card. And it creates a big pile of reading for me. I’ve got a couple of Doc Savage novels to start, one Philip José farmer novel, a facsimile of 1930s pulp magazine Strange Tales plus other bits and bobs.

Actually the facsimile made me go hunting for the real thing and I’m sorely tempted to purchase a couple of real pulp magazines. There are a few dealers out there selling original editions. Sorely tempted but wrist slapped until after Christmas at least. And I’ve got to continue the hunt to complete my Bob Shaw hardback collection.

Plus I get my car insurance renewed this month. I’ve already phoned around for the best deals and decided who I will go with this year and the payment will come off before the next statement. It’s actually cheaper than last year but as it’s a relatively small figure I don’t pay it by instalments but one lump sum. I save (around twenty quid) on interest payments paying in a one off rather than monthly instalments throughout the year by doing that but it is a fair whack to pay in a one off.

Since I updated my edition of Norton Ghost (I have version 14 and the update for it was fifty megabytes; more than some full programs) it has been very slow when it backs up my laptop to the external USB drive. It is set to create one base back up once a month and make incremental backups in between.

Since I upgraded it has taken at least two hours for every back up irrespective if it was a base backup or incremental. I have checked the settings and it is definitely set to do the base and incremental updates. The problem is that it’s set to kick off at 10 pm, which means a midnight finish. Not the best things for Sunday night. I may have to adjust the settings – get it starting during the day for one – and see if I can adjust it so that the increments go back to taking the five or ten minutes they took before I updated the program.

With music and software. I came across Artisteer and was very impressed with it, so much so that I forked out my hard (ish) earned cash for the cheapest edition; $49, just over £30. It’s a great little program that creates WordPress themes at the push of a button. The pro edition had features that I didn’t need or want, in particular additional export formats. But what turns out to be in the pro edition which isn’t in the standard edition are dialogs for adjusting the templates. A bit mean of them I think. It’s like getting a version of Word that doesn’t have a page set up or print preview.

I bought Kerrang! for the first time in many many years. I used to get it quite regularly when I was younger. Always like the noisy stuff. The magazine was disposable; I only have one copy of it, and that one I kept because there was a review of a Gamma concert I was at.

What made me purchase this issue was that there was a promo to get a 4 track download by Biffy Clyro. I like them a fair bit and have bought their music in the form of downloads from 7 digital and other sites. With the Kerrang! tracks you gave them an email address and typed in a number from a card and got the free tracks. Well, I say tracks but it was one track only: the back of the card – only visible after I bought the magazine and removed the card from the plastic wrapper – informed me there was a limited amount of downloads. The four tracks available to the first 2,000 only. Two tracks for the next thousand and one track to the final 2,500. I was among the last 2,500 but felt cheated so I didn’t bother downloading.

Biffy Download

Biffy Download

Kerrang should have made it more clear the downloads were limited but no, they splashed ‘FREE Biffy Clyro 4-Track download’ on their front cover. It looks like it’ll be years and years before I buy that magazine again.

All over the place. I’ve had a look at the Robert Howard books and I don’t see at least four of them. Sword Woman; there was an American import of the Spicy stories that appeared in the thirties which I can’t remember the title of; I came across the Second Book of Robert E Howard but noticed there was no sign of the Book of Robert E Howard; and similar applies for the Dark Man, I have volume two but can’t find volume one. That was the one I preferred, although my edition had a rigorous spine and therefore it made the pages vulnerable to splitting from the spine – and I remember that some had.

The web sites are back up and I’m told that there shouldn’t be any more problems but I’m not holding my breath. I contacted both my web host and ISP in connection with this problem, and my web host have told me that they have fixed ‘unusual errors in both dns zones for’ my domains. This problem has been appearing off and on since at least July 2008 which is the first time I reported it to them according to the ticketing system in their support centre, but I’m sure it happened prior to that; I just didn’t report it.

With the postal strikes in full swing I’m concerned about some items I’m waiting on. The Bob Shaw book from America hasn’t arrived yet, no doubt it is in limbo at the moment. I also have a signed Theodore Sturgeon book winging its way from America too and that will get caught up in the postal dispute. Plus I have a record (a real honest to God vinyl record) bought on Ebay which has been posted but no doubt is lying in a depot somewhere. I’m still going on Ebay but I don’t think I’ll bid for anything until the postal strike is sorted.

I was thinking of bidding for some Conan novels on ebay. So I went to my books and had a ruffle through them to see if it was worthwhile my bidding for them. It turns out not as I have some of them, and would only be getting a couple of books (which I’ve read anyway as I had them originally and sold them off) and would end up getting some duplicates, which I don’t need.

I regret getting rid of books – I bought Ian Rankin’s first novel when it came out and it’s apparently very rare nowadays, but I didn’t like it even though it was a fair read; it was some meandering nonsense about the growing pains of some boys from the fictional town of Carsden, which would have been based on the real town of Cardenden – but there you go. (I suppose it goes to show that Ian Rankin is a good writer as I can remember some things clearly about it, most notably – for some odd reason – their lying on their backs in a park discussing masturbation.)

On going through my books I noted a few things. One, I miss second hand bookshops. There aren’t any near me. A lot of the books I was picking through were bought from second hand shops. I got a lot of Star Trek novelizations and novels from second hand bookshops; a few from library sales too seeing as some had plastic covers. Robert Heinlein, Clifford Simak, odd SF collections, all these and more were acquired. There are charity shops but they aren’t the same.

Two, I’m down on Robert Howard books. I have about thirty including the Conan ones and there should be more than that. On the plus side I have more Philip Jose Farmer books than I thought I did; around twentyish including a couple I’m sure I haven’t read. I also took a note of the Doc Savage books I have in case I bid for more on ebay; again I don’t want doubles. I have around twenty. For some strange reason only one double novel. I did buy a fair few – or thought I did – but didn’t realise I got rid of all except one (The Fortress of Solitude/Czar of Fear), plus I only have one Omnibus edition. I remember getting a few of those too. Again twentyish Doc Savage novels, including two or three that were written in the nineties, although I don’t have the one written by Philip Jose Farmer, Escape From Loki. I also saw one Spider novel, two Shadow novels, the first of the Doom trilogy in paperback. I came across my old manual typewriter too but couldn’t get it open. A lot of TV stuff: the aforementioned Star Trek, Highlander novelizations, Babylon 5, X-Files, Red Dwarf. I really need to sit and rummage through them some more.

Three, the diversity that used to be in book shops is something which was taken for granted and seems to have diminished. i don’t think we have greater choice nowadays, just greater volume. I have lots of odds and ends that I picked up new in shops that would never see the light of shelf space nowadays. There was the equivalent for second hand books too: odds and ends that never appeared anywhere else except second hand book shops. I know the internet can bring you anything but there are times you want to handle the goods and inspect them before handing over money. And I suppose there are just times when you want to browse. Some of the stuff I had never heard of before and probably wouldn’t have bought if I hadn’t held it in my hands and browsed through it first, giving it a chance to pique my interest and make me chose to buy it.

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