Kindle your relationship with reading

That sounded a little like an advert for Kindle – and it sort of is.

Ebooks – electronic books – are extremely popular for a variety of reasons. One of the main reasons is also the same reason that makes having a MP3 in your pocket a lot more popular than cramming a few dozen CDs in there: mobility.

Ebooks, for those living under a hardcover rock, are essentially special digital files of a book (novel, non-fiction, whatever), that can be opened and read by certain devices and/or programs. Not all ebooks have to be in those special digital file formats, but all special digital file formats need a dedicated program that can open it.

Here are some of the most common formats for ebooks:

PDF:

The first format that would have come to your mind would be PDFs. They’re great when you’ve typed up your 30-page long manuscript, all in 12pt Garamond, and all you have to do on your Microsoft Word is hit “Export” and the computer does it all for you. Then, you can send it off to anyone with the proclivity to read it, and you know that it won’t mess up, because almost all devices can recognize PDFs. PDF is even better if you have images, because we’ve all had to deal with images going on a walkabout whenever you try to move some text around it.

Then you hit a snag: Ralph wants to read your 30-page on his 5-inch phone, except because the PDF was made with 12pt Garamond, it’s too wide for his screen! He has to zoom in, and keep swiping and moving the PDF around, and he keeps losing his place.

No PDF

Alright, Ralph, calm down. There is actually a way for him to read your manuscript on his little screen, without any compromise on anyone’s behalf.

Ebook formats are formats that allow the text to be resized, and free flowing. Imagine your text to be a box of nails: PDF sees those nails hammered into a piece of wood, and you just can’t move them around. Ebook formats, on the other hand, is more like having those nails on a sheet of metal, and the user is a magnet. They can freely move the nails around so there’s more or less of them clumped together. This is what they call ‘free-flowing’ text.

Alright, that was a terrible analogy, but you get my drift.

There are two major ebook formats, firstly, we’ll look at EPUB.

EPUB:

Epub is the industry standard for ebook formats. That means, most publishers or software developers would work with Epub in mind. Epub is most commonly used on Apple devices, like your iPad or iPhone. It is also used on many other, third-party apps for tablets and such.

Here, let Wikipedia explain it better.

MOBI:

Great! You’re super excited about being able to read A Song of Ice and Fire without building up biceps. You go to your nearest electronic store, and you tell them you want to buy an ebook reader. The gal points at the nearest Kindle, and that’s what you go home with. You’ve already got a few DRM-free ebook files from a Humble Bundle that you paid for, and since epub is the way to go, you try to load them up into your Kindle.

Except…it won’t work!

Amazon’s Kindle is probably the most ubiquitous and well known e-reader (electronic reader) around. And they do not read epub files.

Apart from their proprietary, DRM protected AZW files (for the ebooks you buy off of their Amazon store), Kindles accept only PDF, and mobi.

Fun fact: Mobi might not even stick around for Amazon…who could be moving onto something else that’s not epub.

Let’s make an ebook!

So, you’re looking at your 30-pager, and Ralph is ralphing on about his 5-inch deficiency. You know that as an author, you need to please your readers, so you’re going to make your manuscript into an ebook. Here are some ideas:

Bookbaby has a great series of articles that explain some preliminary steps you need to take before publishing.

The first step is to know what you are publishing. If it’s text-only, then epub (or mobi, if you are wanting Kindle readers to access your product too) is the way to go. Otherwise, if there is a large quantity of images, such as photo-books or instructional booklets, then PDF may be the easiest course of action.

After that, it is a matter of deciding which platform you will publish in. Remember that epub is the industry standard, and will work on iPads, as well as other e-ink readers such as KOBO, NOOK, etc; mobi is the only one which Kindles will accept (apart from their proprietary AZW format).

There are electronic publishers for your ebook, which also help you format your work. Jutoh; Lulu; and Smashwords all offer publishing in epub. Mobipocket, the people who made the mobi format, obviously allow you to publish in mobi.

What to take away:

Ebooks are much more sophisticated than reading as a PDF; a well formatted ebook an be read easily on any device, using any sized font.

There are many different kinds of file formats for ebooks, depending on the device you’re using to read. Generally, epub is the way to go, being the industry standard. However, the format decision need to ultimately be made with the knowledge of intended audience and platform in mind.

There are several online electronic publishers who can help you create an ebook and distribute it.

Finally, Ralph needs to find himself a better reading device.

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Lately I’ve Been

[Counting Stars – OneRepublic]

It’s April, I’m 6 weeks into the graduate course that I told myself should change how I approach my career, and this is it!

INTRODUCING….

ALEX DOES A THING

One thing that I was always told to do when starting out: write what you know. What do I know? I know blogging. I’ve been blogging for years, and I’ve gone from good, to frequent, to intermittent to bad, and back around again. If I know anything, it’s to write in a way that gets other people to enjoy it, so boom, that’s one thing.

And the other is the topic – what are you gonna write about? Again, sticking to my knowledge guns, I’m going to write about stuff I an interested in – namely, something that I would do. Don’t worry, I won’t bog myself down in my comfort zone – the new site is as much about me getting in touch with what I know, as well as moving outwards to bigger things.

So, yeah, do me a huge favor, and if you’re already following this blog, follow the other one too! If you get in early, you’ll be witness to my slowly getting better at it – or crash and burn. Hey, a new project is a new project, and it could go either way. But with a bit of audience support, some social clicking, maybe I can appear on the front page of something one day soon.

Alex.

When I Look Into Your Eyes, You’re Not Even There

[Just A Feeling – Maroon 5]

Having a glance over my most popular searches and blog views, it turns out that the post I made years back about Jack’s tutoring in Springvale still seems to get the most traffic. I went to his classes in Yr 12, and I remember in the first year of Uni I was actually emailing people his contact number, but then I changed my phone and lost his number, so I mostly ignored the messages asking me for his number after that.

Is that all I will be remembered for, after all the people who knew me properly are gone? Will the only thing linked to my name (of sorts) end up being my post about how a smart middle-aged man who taught me Maths made a kinda-pretty-sexist joke?

When I told my parents I wanted to be a writer, they said, “Are you going to write the next Harry Potter?”  No, this isn’t a post about the pressures my parents put on me (that’s for another, longer night), but more about why I don’t try! Why not try to write the next Harry Potter? It may sound really idealistic, but if I just went ahead and not did it, I would miss out on the chance that I may actually be able to do it! There are thousands of writers who write constantly (and incredibly well), only to fall flat and end up at a job that they never wanted, and I could well be one of them, but who is to say I’m also not one of the writers who get published and noticed?

And, if all else fails, I should probably write a fan-fiction of a hugely popular series, change things around, then BOOM a movie will be made within the year!

I just want myself to matter, to make some sort of remark in this world. Yes, in a hundred years, everyone who ever knew me would be dead, so who the hell cares? And even if I do go down in history the way household names such as Shakespeare, Einstein, or even Rowling did, the world is just a temporary tangible mound of atoms, and it’s still not going to matter once those atoms disperse. But still, it feels good to matter. It feels good now, whenever I watch or read something that a friend wrote, and it mentions my name or something I did, because it means that my actions had some impact on someone else, and that they were thinking of me at a point in time. So it would feel even better if something I did is attributed to an entire field of conversation, such as that I changed the way someone or someones think about an issue, or that I was the inspiration for future sources of inspirations. Then, it would feel infinitely better (even if I’m dead), when a hundred years from now, students complain about having to study me at school.

For now, I think I’ll strive for being an inspiration and turning point in someone’s life. I think if I can influence just one person, my time wouldn’t have been wasted.

Tomorrow I should be going out to eat a chicken wing buffet, so at least I can have something to talk about. I PROMISE I won’t write about myself tomorrow, at least.

Alex.

The Life and Laughs: Revenge of the Laugh

Oh, subscribers, are you still there? Are you surprised to see me again?

As of this moment, I have finished all the assessment tasks for my university degree. There is the small matter of handing it in and, oh, passing, but I have confidence that I will receive a high enough score to get me the certificate.

So, where I left you last.

I was about to start my two-week internship, which turned out really interesting. I found out lots about myself in those two weeks – how quickly I can really write, how to self-edit, how to take criticism (although, the sub-editor who sat me down and went through my work was very nice about correcting my mistakes, much nicer than my actual class teacher), how to make phone-interviews.

I also learned how much I hate journalism. Well, not all aspects of journalism – but I wasn’t a fan of slow moving, methodical get-the-interview-and-write-it journalism. I’m not knocking it, I just guess it wasn’t for me!

I also did some tough interviews for a writing class, since the assessments needed us to go interview complete strangers. I interviewed two research professors, and a few of my friends. For one article, I chose to interview April and Bianca about their personal lives. They were toughies, I had to fight to keep tears back with Bianca.

Overall, I did pretty well in Semester 1. Of course, I knew Semester 2 was going to be a bitch and half. But before that…

I went on the SAMA camp. SAMA is the Monash Anime club, which Mela is a part of. It was in the middle of July, so it was cold and wet – and the place we went to seemed to be creating mud out of every crevice. As the club is a nerdy one, most nights were spent playing Mahjong, watching anime or horror movies. The last night, however, saw everyone wanting to get rid of all the alcohol that was brought. Much drunkeness and throwing-upness occurred. Cindy drank til she was a bit beyond tipsy (we thought she was outright drunk, but a few weeks later we saw a video of her being actually drunk and talking in an infectious British accent). And my girl? Well, she went much beyond drunk – bashed through hilarious drunk by hugging everyone and telling them she loves them, and then crashed into bad drunk and threw up what smelled like pure alcohol. The next day, suffice to say, she suffered.

There was also the SAMA Social Night, which happened in August. I was forced to go, and went through a horrible process of trying to find clothing for the formal event. In the end, I put together some dodgy looking pieces, fixed with the bowtie that Amelia gave me for my birthday (oh, did I mention? I turned 21! I got loads of presents, but Amelia’s was the best: the bowtie, a great scarf, and a crap-load of Nerds lollies). I ended up winning best-dressed male. Clare, who went, could not stop smiling at me when I was up on stage. If I could have melted with embarrassment, I would have.

Semester 2 was tougher. I had 3 subjects again, but all requiring research, and none were creative. One was a whipping 8000 word mini-thesis. Amusingly, the other two subjects overlapped each other almost completely in content, simply from different ends. And so the first six weeks saw me learn a whole load of new information, and the last six saw me revise it in the other class.

Annie and I worked very hard, for once…and the last time. We holed ourselves up in the library every day we were in (which was, granted, around twice a week), for a whole month, and worked our asses off while we were at home. We did up to 20,000 words of research for a 2,500 essay, and sure we laughed about it later, but at that time, it was horrible. I once wrote so hard that my arms cramped, something I haven’t really encountered since VCE exams.

I also got a new laptop! A Samsung Series 9, which is as light as an eyelash and about as thick. It’s a beautiful machine, and I want so much to keep it beautiful I haven’t taken off the plastic cover on the front and on the wrist-rest.

Amelia bought me tickets for and attended with me Maroon 5. It was a shocking concert – although there wasn’t a mosh, and we sat further back than we thought we would, they made up for it with their relentless energy. I did not stop dancing the whole time they were on stage, and neither did they! Jen and I shouted ourselves hoarse (we both wanted to go, and dragged our other halves with us).

Amelia turned 20, and I took her to the Conservatory at Crown. It was a bad start, because I got lost and was late to the restaurant, but Amelia ate a massive fill from the buffet, and I gorged myself on the chocolate fountain. The food was very good (considering how much it costs), but the thing that got me the most was the service. First-class waiters and waitresses were patient as hell, despite covering about two dozen people each.

We also celebrated our 1 year anniversary (yes, it HAS been that long!) but, unfortunately, on the day I had classes I had to attend. We delegated the celebrating to her birthday, since they’re both very close to each other. Amelia also held another birthday dinner at Paesano’s at Knox O-Zone, and so many people showed up that we had to get two massive tables and squeeze together.

Meg, Amelia’s dog, has gotten extremely cute – and much bigger! Although she is still quite small, she no longer fits just on one arm, and I need to carry her with both. She’s not gotten much smarter, but she’s very loyal, and the other week when I visited her after a long break, she was so excited, she peed! I love Meg very much, and I can’t stop talking about her when I’m with other people. I think it annoys them but if they were loved by Meg, they’d do the same.

And now, I’ve finished all the assessments for my university schooling. I’m not going back to class next year, nor have I a job lined up. I was hoping to take a year off and see what my options are. Perhaps I can pay Amelia more attention too, as I have neglected her a lot this past few months.

I’m about to go to China for a two week holiday, by myself. I’m utterly terrified, because I’m about as good a flyer as a rock, and I’ve never had to go by myself before. But, hey, I’m 21 now, I should learn how to hack it.

It also means that, despite this lengthy and vigorous attempt to revive this blog, I will not be blogging for the next 2-3 weeks, because WordPress is blocked in China. But I will strive to come back.

So, Revenge of the Laugh! The Life Returns. Etc.

Alex.

/edit: Also, Brendan happened. He had to carry my drunk girlfriend since I couldn’t, and she kept on thinking she was flying, causing him to nearly drop her a lot. (This was at SAMA camp by the way.) Also a bunch of other stuff including him took place, like um. I don’t know. Also he got a new girlfriend.

Tracing letters along my back

Today Annie and I went to the uni library again to do research for our final essay. We thought it would be straightforward like it was for Asian PR, which we did a week prior.

It wasn’t.

We didn’t realize it when picking the topic, but the ambiguity of our research question drove us to near madness. We shuffled through the pages of our books hoping that something would jump out at us, or the jumble of quotes that we were slowly compiling would fall into some sort of essay structure.

Thank my stars Mela came just in time. She sat with me and calmed me down when I had my – and I never have these – attack of pure hopelessness. And it was a good thing she was there to do so, because otherwise I think I would have taken it out on Annie to the point where we would have had a massive fight.

While I was buried in my book and trying to make sense of the confusing language, Mela was watching a movie – tactfully turned away from me – and tracing abstract shapes and letters on my back. I don’t know if in her past this had worked, but I sure never told her that this was something my grandma used to do to lull me to sleep when I was very young. It calmed me down a lot and made me feel a bit better about my situation.

Sure, if I think about how much time I have left compared to the workload, I get scared again. But I’ve seen my ability to write even the most confusing and unresearched essay in a short period of time before. I’ve done the maths – I know that I just need to pass these essays to pass those classes, and even though that’s not the kind of mark that would make my parents happy, these are difficult and dry classes, and I doubt anyone would be having a good time in them.

I took a long hot shower when I got home. My skin reacted slightly to Mela’s sunscreen, so I let it soak a bit in the warm water. It feels better now, but it’s still a bit flaky.

I am going to go take some more notes before going to bed for a good solid sleep before doing as much as I can tomorrow.

And I love Mela, so very much. Not just because she came into the city today just to sit with Annie and me while we freaked out. Not just because she let me squeeze her hand whenever I felt overwhelmed. Not just because, even though she felt a bit ill, she still agreed to stay out a bit late. Mostly because she did these things willingly even when I didn’t realize the inconvenience it placed onto her, and never voiced my guilt when I did realize. Mostly because she looked into my eyes when I was going to just give up on the essay, and told me that I’ll be fine.

Alex.

I am selfish, I am wrong

[Vindicated – Dashboard Confessional]

So, 4 posts in a day to catch up, and a promise to be made:

August 18, 2008, I started this blog in earnest. I wrote in it nearly everyday. I wrote about every thought, every occurrence, every scrap of memory that I wanted to share and to document.

Over the years, especially the past one, I have started to “mature”.

“I’m too good and mature now to write about mundane everyday things,” I blogged. “I only want to write about the significant.”

August 18, 2011, three years later, and I will try to recapture that ambition I had in Yr 11, when I was inspired to write earnestly from one of Dani’s very old posts. I remember, still, that it was about a car accident she was in when she was much younger.

I will try to write here everyday, even if it’s really boring and short. I will still do it. For me, and for the 13 subscribers who were fooled into making me feel better.

That’s a promise.

Alex

Oh crappity crap crap

2 blog posts this month, what a disgrace!

I suppose  I can do a meta-thing and have a look at why I haven’t been blogging.

It hasn’t been because I haven’t been online. I’m sure if you check out my Tumblr (link at the side), you’ll see I’ve been spending copious amounts of time tanning by my laptop light.

And it hasn’t been because I haven’t done shit all in the past month but tanning by my laptop light because a lot did happen, but I think…

For some reason I don’t deem my life interesting enough to document anymore. I mean, looking back, I used to write about getting coffee after school. But now I don’t even mention that I had an assessment performance for which I didn’t do so well.

Alright so here it is.

On Wednesday past, I had an assessment performance for Script for Performance. I dragged loads of uni friends along so basically on entire wall of the joint was occupied by my Asian friends – not many Asians doing that subject, as you can imagine.

My script, I admit, was shoddy, but I relied on my ability to project my voice to carry me through. I got laughs where I wanted laughs, but my tutor, the sneaky man, saw past my gimmicks and told me I needed to polish up my style and structure.

So I went home and reworked the entire script, starting from the style, going along the structure, the delivery, and even the overall tone.

Perhaps he’ll be proud of me.

Other events that happened was my oral presentation for Hollywood and Entertainment, where I had to give a presentation on the comic book aesthetic in film in regards to Scott Pilgrim. I used my Tumblr as a way to present my work which went better than normal.

I don’t think the essay that I wrote for it was very decent, though.

Apart from uni, I suppose I’m correct in saying not much has been exciting in ways of social life. Everyone’s bunkering down for end of Semester assessments and exams, and being 2nd years, people are actually caring (I am too, just not as obviously. I have a reputation of bad-assery to uphold). I’ve made more and more friends at work which is always a bonus…until they realize how strange I am and shifts become awkward.

Looking forward to the winter holidays, not only because I have my 20th birthday coming up (well this is just terrifying), but because I can sleep in and watch loads of TV basking in the glory of my laptop light.

Alex.

P.S. Next month marks the coming of winter, and so song name titles will make its appearance again.

P.P.S. I will try to find another 30 day writing challenge or whatnot to up my count and continue my writing.

P.P.P.S. After the assessment date of the script, I’ll post it up here for y’all to enjoy.