The Trouble With Kindle Scout Times 2

Kindle Scout is now closed to new submissions

There, that’s the problem right there. I’m sure many of us have received the notification by now…. Kindle Scout is coming to an end.

I received the email about it April 2 some time in the afternoon…. a few hours earlier and I might’ve thought it was a poorly-timed April Fool’s prank, and one in poor taste at that. But in truth, there is no time zone that the email could’ve been sent from to justify the timing of the email. Nowhere on this planet could it have been sent on April Fool’s and receive an April 2 afternoon datestamp anywhere in the Western Hemisphere. And as it is now April 3…. well, even if it was an April Fool’s prank, that time is now over and it would be long overdue to edit the page.

I still hold out hope that this is a poorly done prank, but if it is real–and I must assume it is real until changes to the site confirm otherwise–then I will admit there is one small personal benefit, at least to me as a reader…..
I have a major backlog of Kindle Scout samples that I still need to sort through and nominate. I used to be better at that; I used to have only a few days here and there where I forgot to log in in time to nominate whichever saved books were due to expire. But somehow, over the last month or two, I ended up…. not reading the samples. Not saving things to my list of books to nominate. Oh, I bookmarked them in the browser, so I still know which samples I’m interested in reading. And every time I decide I like a sample and add it to my saved list, I remove it from the browser’s bookmarks to easily keep track of which one’s I’ve read. But time got away from me, and somehow I soon went from a day’s worth of samples to read, to a couple of days, to a week, and finally a full month’s worth of samples.
Therefore, if Kindle Scout is truly ending soon–if they are truly no longer accepting submissions as of today–then the benefit to me as a reader is simply this: While I still have my backlog to go through, there will be nothing more to add to that backlog.
(Apr 6 Update: Well, eventually. “No longer accepting submissions” doesn’t mean they don’t have submissions they’re still processing, as evidenced by the fact that, three days later, I’m still seeing samples that were posted today. End Update)
Maybe once I’m done with these samples, I’ll have a little more time to tackle my other backlogs, like books in need of reviewing.

But that is a benefit that exists only for the reader. For the authors, all I can say is…. good luck. I wish you the best in this and any other campaigns you use to find readers for your work.

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Migrating Certain Posts

I have discovered something.

This website has a lot of variety of content, and Pioneers of the Shattered Waters, the site focusing on my own writing (my own not-blogging-writing, that is) has very little content of any kind.

Well, actually, I’ve known that for some time now. No, I’ve recently come to a decision about this problem. And that decision is thus:
I am mass-exporting posts from this site to that one. Specifically, I am exporting the posts in which I track my NaNoWriMo progress. Due to the way WordPress handles such things, this actually means this entire site will be exported over and I will have to go through and remove anything after the fact that I don’t want copied… as well as removing those posts from this site as I go.
Yay for using multiple web browsers on a single computer, because I think that’s the only way I’m going to accomplish that without going mad.

What will be a problem, unfortunately, is links…. exporting the content en masse also means retaining the links exactly as they are provided in the original content, and some of those links, naturally, will no longer be valid.

If only WordPress.com had a link checker for the purpose…. the one offered by W3C is no good, because that picks up absolutely everything, and I don’t have the pay-for account necessary to install any plugins.

Anyhow, once the export/import is done and the NaNo posts are removed from this, the main site, there should still be a lot of content here….
But that content will be relegated to media and product reviews, the occasional embedded video (disclaimer: need more subscribers and watch time on YouTube!), and of course affiliate links to relevant product pages on Amazon.
And, naturally, assorted “the trouble with” posts and random content will find its way here as well.

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Captain Cold Cosplay–Product Review

Or maybe I just needed a new winter coat. 😉

Anyway, this here is the (hang on, checking my order history) Swiss Tech Women’s Parka Jacket With Faux Fur-Trim Hood.

I originally found it, or one very much like it, on clearance at my place of employment. And because it was on clearance, naturally finding my size was…. difficult.
Continue reading

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The Trouble with YouTube’s Algorithms

Otherwise known as, a human would know better. Or, artificial intelligence is not that intelligent.

In which I step up my plans to begin embedding (relevant) videos within my website in an effort to fight against the numbers game….

To make a long story short, yes I would like to monetize my channel, which now requires 1000 subscribers total and 4000 hours watch time annually. (Not “or” as I’d previously thought when I’d received the email. And.)
But more than that, I want access to the tools that are exclusive to partners… namely the ability to link to an external site from within the video itself. In this day of YouTube apps and embedded videos–not to mention character limits–putting the link in the description just isn’t enough any more, and wouldn’t it make sense to, say, include a link to one of my book reviews on a relevant BookTubing video?
My immediate goal, however, is simply to get a custom web address…. which still requires 100 subscribers.

Incidentally, I have the same goal for my travel/motorcycle channel, “Tamie’s Travels” should anyone care to take a look.


Continue reading

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Video Game Wishlist

Just a random list of games and gaming accessories I’d like to have… most (if not all) of which are on the list precisely because they don’t exist.

Lego Dimensions for the Nintendo Switch

Yes, I’ve read the articles saying LD is done with and there won’t be any more packs. That doesn’t make this any less of a “I want this”…. in fact, it qualifies it as having the top spot on this list.

Mostly I want a Switch version is because I have neither the money nor the space to have a ton of consoles. Now that I have a Switch (bought in part due to the ability to set an actual time limit in parental controls), I would like to get rid of my Wii, but as I am not the “brand new console, brand new library of games” type of player, that requires that the games I’d really like to keep receive Switch ports.

Or alternatively….

Lego Dimensions for Steam/PC

Legends of Tomorrow/Flash/etc team (or level!) packs for Lego Dimensions

Specifically I need a playable Captain Cold. Or Citizen Cold will do, I suppose. Though the ability to play many different characters from the team would be very nice.

Dinotopia pack for Lego Dimensions

😀 Mistaken identity, anyone? Jack Harkness of the Doctor Who pack might not have been a playable character, but Ollie still gets a “he looks familiar” dig in if you pair up the Arrow character piece with the Doctor. But what if the relevant characters were to meet in-game?

And while we’re at it….

Prison Break pack for Lego Dimensions

Same reason…. although a level pack would definitely be of interest here.

Wii Fit/Fit U/Sports Resort or some variation for the Nintendo Switch

There’s my “I don’t want tons of consoles” argument again.

But it has to maintain all of the activities from all of the previous versions of the games–or as many as the hardware allows. There’s no reason the Joy-Cons can’t serve in place of the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, and a smartphone app could serve in place of the Fit Meter if a Switch-specific tracker wasn’t developed. The Balance Board would probably be the hardest to duplicate.

I’ve also read articles claiming that fitness games are a “shrinking market” and that fitness games for the console are no longer popular because there are so many apps available for smart phones.

But there are a few problems with those arguments:

  1. If a “shrinking market” is the reason for not having fitness games on consoles, then why are there so many smartphone apps in the first place? A shrinking market should be affecting the profit potential for those, too.
  2. A smartphone app requires the gamer to actually have a smartphone.
  3. And if “I can get it on a smartphone” is a reason to not make certain games available on consoles, then why the hell does anybody bother making consoles?
  4. There are a few things a console version of a fitness game can do that a smartphone can’t do:
    1. A smartphone comes in all variety of sizes typically bought for use as a phone–and more to the point, for use with all the other features that set it apart from a basic phone. This means the phone I have, while being comfortable enough to hold for a brief phone call, is much too big and bulky to use as anything but a step counter that I shove into my pocket for fitness purposes. No dance moves, no tracking to make sure if you’re stepping to the left or swinging your arm to the right, none of it. Just. Counting. Steps.
    2. A smartphone does not, typically, have the wrist strap to prevent you from accidentally dropping or throwing it, should you decide to play those games that do require swinging your phone around (Just Dance Now comes to mind).
    3. Unless you’re buying a budget model (which might not even have the hardware to support the games you want), a smartphone is WAAAAAY more expensive to replace than a dedicated and much-more-comfortable-to-hold controller. Come to think of it, even many of the budget models tend to run higher than a set of Switch Joy-Cons.

Okami for the Switch

Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Wind Waker, and Skyward Sword for the Switch

Gold Zelda-themed Joy-Cons and Switch racing wheel

A “Just Dance”-esque game that allows you to purchase and download individual tracks.

None of this “buy this edition if you want these songs” nonsense; I want a version that’s just like buying mp3s on Amazon, mmkay?

More to the point, I want to be able to create a playlist of songs to dance to that doesn’t require swapping discs/cartridges/apps whenever I want to change to a song that maybe doesn’t exist on the version I’ve already got loaded. I’d like the ability to swap out genres on the fly, too.

And since there is still the fixation with the smartphone apps….

A “Just Dance”-esque game that uses my wearables rather than my phone to track my movement.

Heck, I’d even buy a set that’s made specifically for that game if I can wear it on both wrists and ankles! Better that than getting a score based on the movement of one single hand.

And finally, back on the Switch:

To make the Parental Controls time limit profile-specific.

I mean, I could disable the time limit when I want to play on my system, instead of trying to share time with my nephew (or rather, instead of adding to the limit if I didn’t disable it for me)… but why should I need to?

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Quit Shaking the Box!

*sigh*

November’s barely started, and Christmas shopping this year is already off to a lousy start.

See, some of my shopping is done online, for a variety of reasons. Case in point, an eBay purchase of some very hard-to-find, older-than-me, and very breakable objects.

They were mint when they arrived–I spent a long time finding ones that were before making the purchase–but….
A certain snoop decided the best way to find out what was inside the box was to shake it.

And they are mint no longer.
Three out of four of the pieces have very obvious chips in them, despite the packing job.
(Seriously, they stood up to traveling several states in the mail but they’re damaged because some asshole deliberately shakes the box? Unreal.)

Never mind that the box in question is in my room.
Never mind that I was in my room at the time and he could’ve just asked me.
Never mind that Christmas is coming and it’s none of his damn business what I just bought.
Nope, he shook the box as a joke. Apparently breaking the stuff I paid for is “funny.”

Ironically, I bought one of the items–they came as a set–precisely to replace one that I’d accidentally broken earlier. Thus the necessity of finding mint condition.
Unfortunately that is one of the ones that was chipped during the shaking…..

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The Trouble with Convenience Meals

No, not their “nutritional value,” although there’s certainly that.

No, the trouble here is that for being “convenience meals,” they’re not always all that convenient. A sandwich here and there, maybe, but if I try to buy a TV dinner to eat on my lunch break, I am almost guaranteed to find something in it that I simply won’t eat.

Veggies

Veggies are probably the biggest “I don’t want this” problem of TV dinners. Corn I’ll eat, though after it’s been in the microwave it really needs something added to make it palatable. This even with dinners known for overloading absolutely everything with salt.

But as for the other types of veggies in your typical TV dinner? Honestly, I’d rather just eat a salad.

Potatoes

“Roasted” potatoes I can manage, especially as the meals that contain these usually have some kind of sauce to go with them. (Usually the “steamers” variety in which everything is mixed together.)

Mashed potatoes… eh, I like them, but just like with the corn, microwaved mashed potatoes need something extra. A few meals include gravy for the potatoes, but as these heat everything up together, the entree ends up soaking up most of it. And for those that don’t include gravy…. those potatoes are really dry once all the cooking is done.

Here’s a hint: when I buy the Hungry Man meals with the honey bourbon dipping sauce, I’m not using it as dipping sauce. Onto the potatoes it goes!

Entree

Most of the entrees I’ve gotten are fairly decent–they are the reason for selecting a particular meal, after all! But sometimes even these leave something to be desired.

Have you ever noticed how, when you microwave a meal, anything you want to be dry comes out soggy and everything you want moist comes out dry?
Maybe that’s just me, but that’s my experience with some of these entrees. Venting doesn’t seem to matter, it happens no matter what. Case in point, the Hungry Man meal with three pieces of bone-in chicken.

Now, one of those pieces is white meat, which tends to be a bit drier than dark meat anyway. But we’re still heading back into the “I need to add something” territory, and the whole point of buying a TV dinner is so that I don’t need to pack something extra for my lunch break.

Dessert

Yup, gonna pick on Hungry Man again. 😉 (I do like their meals, they just happen to be so…. convenient to use as an example of the problems I’m describing.)

Many convenience meals aren’t going to come with desserts. That’s okay.
Some, like certain of Hungry Man’s product line, do come with them. That’s also fine.

But what they have for dessert is the problem.

See, that meal with the three pieces of chicken comes with a brownie. Another of HM’s meals, the “Selects” variety with ham and a piece of boneless chicken, comes with some apple/cranberry concoction.

I want the ham and chicken meal (that’d go right back to my comment about the dipping sauce and the mashed potatoes), but I’d rather have the brownie.
Not because of a sweet tooth for chocolate, though I do have that.
Not because I don’t like apples–I’m not terribly keen on cranberries, and I’m not so sure about a frozen-then-cooked dessert involving apples, but I do quite like apples themselves.

But as of a few years ago, I’m also allergic to apples.
Oddly enough I can have certain things made with apples. I can still enjoy apple cider and quite a number of foods that have apple juice or dried apples as an ingredient (those jiffy mix “blueberry” muffins that don’t actually use blueberries come to mind). That’d be Oral Allergy Syndrome for ya.
But I’m fairly limited on what new things I’m willing to try that involve the fruit, and this particular dessert does not appeal to me enough to add it to that list.

Summary

To make a long story short, convenience meals certainly are convenient if I’m looking for a quick meal that doesn’t require much in the way of preparation.
But for that convenience, I must sacrifice the ability to pick and choose which foodstuffs I actually want to eat, which means some of the food ends up going to waste.

So my readers…. what convenience meals do you prefer? What foods would you like to eliminate from these meals, and what would you like to swap in if you could?

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If I Could Sell One Thing…. Razer Accessories

Otherwise known as, if someone would actually buy one thing.

Oh, lordy, I hate when someone places a bid on eBay and then just drops off the face of the earth. 😦

Anyway, the “one thing” this time around….

A Razer accessory bundle. We have the Blackwidow Chroma keyboard, the Stargazer webcam, and the Deathadder mouse.

Got a couple of reasons this time around for wanting to sell stuff.
One reason, the main reason, is the ever-present “I’m condensing my physical property” argument. That’s a pretty sizable keyboard there, and trying to work everything from a student desk just doesn’t work out as well as I’d like.
The other reason is the convenience of USB ports. See, the keyboard requires two USB ports (one, I would imagine, to power its light show). The mouse also requires a port (obviously). And the webcam…? Not only does it require a USB port of its own, it specifically requires a USB 3.0 port. Naturally, the only 3.0 ports on my machine (or on any machine I’ve seen thus far) are on the back, where the less-convenient location makes them the most convenient for such devices as the keyboard and mouse, things which I don’t expect to have to unplug ever. Also naturally, there are only two ports on the back to share among three devices.

Now, I could always get a USB hub, but…. student desk, remember? A hub won’t solve the other space restrictions.
Not to mention, the keyboard does have one small problem. Namely, there is a USB port on the side, I assume to mitigate the fact that the keyboard requires two ports on its own…. but this port will no longer read the mouse! So not only do I have three devices to share two ports, I have four USB cords to share two ports. And again, student desk….

So I decided to try selling the three items as a bundle, and switching back to playing with my (less expensive) Logitech webcam and using the keyboard and mouse that shipped with the computer.

The Razer Accessory Bundle is listed (and relisted and relisted yet again) on eBay with some of my other offerings.
Many of my other sales can be found on Amazon.
This page will be deleted when the Razer bundle actually sells.

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Self Care Chronicles: A Cluttered Mind

I started doing these back when they were on Wentworth Miller’s Facebook page (currently unpublished 😥 ), but I kinda…. stopped.
Ugh. I really ought to start doing them again, at least once in a while.

Any idears on good page titles if I remember to do more of these? Especially if I don’t do postings on anything resembling a regular schedule?
I mean, I could just call all of them “Self Care Chronicles” and let WordPress number the URL accordingly, but that still looks a bit wonky from the human-readable side of the equation. At least it does to me.
Or I could include hints as to that posting’s self-care option in the title like I did with this one…. Hmm…..
Or, well…. any other suggestions?

Anyway, today’s “self care” idea.

Clean my room.
Again.
And again.

(Seriously, why does it never want to stay clean? ^^’ At least for a week, anyway….
I know part of the reason; every time I get rid of something via eBay or Amazon sales, or thrift store donations, or–gods forbid–throwing stuff in the trash, I seem to easily find something else to take up the available space. Not to mention the infrequency of getting rid of stuff via eBay and Amazon….
But one would think I could at least keep things like receipts and invoices better organized. I have a filing cabinet for that stuff for crying out loud!)

*ahem*

So my readers, what are some of your preferred self-care options?

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The Trouble with Amazon Associates

And probably the trouble with most affiliate systems.

Disclaimer: Amazon links include Amazon associate codes. (Oh, the irony. 😉 )

Amazon Affiliates/Associates, like most (legitimate) affiliate programs, is one that can make a content creator a decent amount of money if done right and be a free lesson if done wrong.
I stress free simply because it does not cost the content creator anything to use. At least Amazon’s doesn’t. Even if done so horribly wrong that you find yourself banned (fingers crossed that that never happens), all you’ve lost is time–time which, if you are like me, you would have spent working on your website even without the affiliate options–and only one option out of the many that exist at earning income from that time. You would not have invested any money into the system, and thus never risk losing any.

But!

Like most, if not all, affiliate systems, it has a few problems associated with it that make it a little more difficult to use properly, especially for hobbyist content creators that don’t keep their websites updated nearly as often as they ought.
(Guilty as charged!)

Point the first: Buying through your own link.

As in, you can’t.
Oh, technically you can–the mechanics of the site allow it, just like you can buy through any link you come across on Google.
The rules do not. Nor do they allow you to “permit, encourage, etc” friends and family members from buying through your links.

Not really a big deal in my mind. A minor annoyance, nothing more.
If you’re using a card that earns you rewards on purchases, you’ll still have a way to earn rewards without looking for a way around this rule.

  • The Amazon Chase credit card earns 3% on eligible purchases made through Amazon.com–5% if you’re a Prime member.
  • Not a fan of credit cards? PayPal Debit earns you 1% cash back on any purchase processed as credit and is a way to use your PayPal balance on Amazon.
    (2018 Update: Not anymore. It’s a business debit card, so now you need to have a Business Account to qualify to use it.)

So you do not need to attempt to buy through your own link in order to guarantee rewards, not badly enough to risk getting banned.
It’s just…. annoying that you can’t. The purchase is being made anyway, so why should the source of the purchase matter? I don’t know; I don’t make the rules, I just follow them.

Moving on….

Point the second: Keeping Content Up to Date

Okay, this one’s a problem with me, not with the system.

I’ve been a member of Amazon Associates since (checks site history) 2014, and at the time of this posting, I’ve written a grand total of 2 book reviews for my site..
Not to mention how old some of my most recent posts even are.
Point is, you can have the links all you want, but they won’t do you any good if you don’t keep your content visible to someone likely to click on them can actually find them.

Point the third: Properly Formatted Links

Amazon’s policy makes mention of a lack of earnings from improperly formatted links.
What does this even mean?

From WordPress’s standpoint, the only formatting of concern is that they have to be text-only links–affiliate links on images are considered advertisements, while links on text (if that text is part of an actual article) are simply considered a normal part of the content.

But how do I be sure my Amazon links are formatted correctly from Amazon’s standpoint?
Well, obviously I can do so by generating the link from within Amazon’s own system. This would be the easiest way to ensure that the link fulfills whatever requirements they have. But it has its own problems.

  • Amazon Smile
    It is permissible to use Amazon Smile and Amazon Associates for the same purchase, but the auto-generated link does not have the Smile code added.
    The content creator would have to add it themselves, which doesn’t work on shortlinks, or leave it up to the prospective customer to sign in to Smile once the link takes them to Amazon.
  • Long Links
    The auto-generated link contains an awful lot of code for what seems like a simple product page, and only a very small portion of that link is relevant to the Associate account.
    I prefer shortlinks–not to hide the destination, which is against the rules, but simply to keep the link appear relatively clean–but creating my own by simply adding my associate tag to the product page does not work; I assume all of that excess code is to identify the source of the link. And again, using Amazon’s own system to generate shortlinks leaves out the Amazon Smile option.
  • Inconvenient if you have multiple accounts
    Note I am not talking about having multiple Associate accounts, which is against the rules.
    No, I mean simply that my customer account and my associate account had been set up with different logins. Why? I don’t remember; something to do with one email address being associated with “business” stuff (buying and selling) and the other with “artistic” stuff (the book reviews).
    The easiest way for me to pick an item to review for the associate link is to go through my order history, which requires logging in to my customer account, but then I’d need to log in to my associate account to be sure the associate link is properly formatted. I’ll have to remember to merge the two accounts to fix this.

I recently looked at a Chrome extension that automatically adds the associate tag to any Amazon web page, but unless some customer uses my tag on their browser, I have no easy way to find out if the links really work.

Point the fourth: Mobile Apps

If someone is browsing my site on their phone/tablet/what-have-you and clicks on a link, but their device is set to open Amazon links in the Amazon app instead of the web browser, does Amazon still track that purchase with the Associate link?

Does anybody know?

Note I have this same concern about Amazon Smile links.
I’d be using the apps a lot more, especially when I finish off an ebook on my lunch break and need to start a new one, if I could be sure my chosen charity was credited for the purchase, but instead my purchases must wait until I get home. All I really use the shopping app for is to add things to my wishlist, which brings me to….

Point the fifth: Bookmarks and Wishlists

I’ve been using browser bookmarks and Amazon’s wishlist function since before I joined Amazon Associates, and I highly doubt I’ll stop any time soon.
I don’t do many impulse buys on Amazon–I see an item I like, I add it to my list, and I wait until I have more things to qualify for free shipping, or any other reason that involves putting off the purchase.
And I assume a goodly portion of my prospective readers do the same.
Bookmarks, provided they originally came from an affiliate link, would still allow the content creator to make money on the purchase. Wishlists would not.

Perhaps Amazon could implement a feature that allows wishlists to log associate tags for the purpose? Something account-specific, though, not cookies that only last for x number of days or until you clear your browser’s history.

Not All Bad

This is not to say that Amazon Associates is a bad thing. It can be, as previously mentioned, a decent source of income if the content creator uses it efficiently. Keep an eye out, if you so desire, to see my more positive thoughts about the system.

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