Not Dead Yet

December 11, 2014

bring out your dead

Greetings PoB followers:

Just a quick hello to let you know that yes, it has been awhile since I published anything here, however, I am still very much alive.  If you want a PoB fix follow me on Twitter @prattleonboyo or on the PoB Facebook Page.  Best bet is Twitter if you don’t want to miss anything since Facebook seems to only post about 10% of what I actually post.


Temp Worker Nation USA

August 12, 2013

According to the BLS, the total number of temp workers surged by 7.5% in the past year to 2,279,800 in May.  That’s the highest it has been since it reached 2,767,300 in October 2006.  And if you have been looking for a full-time, permanent job lately, you know exactly what the situation is like  despite the smokescreen of sunshine and roses as portrayed by the mainstream media.

Getting on board with the official meme that temp work = wonderfully liberating, amazingly awesome, and, gives you lots and lots of time for stopping by the corner corporately owned coffee monopoly (because as we know, paying $6 bucks for a thimble full of burnt joe is what all Americans should aspire to) , various and sunder across the web have chimed in with opinions that weren’t just rendered while wearing rose-colored glasses, but those shades were absolutely embedded to the writer’s eyeballs permanently with a blow-torch.

Futurist Speaker blogger, Thomas Frey, writing about The Great Freelancer Movement is chock full of figures to make you all warm and fuzzy, not to mention, hot for, the world of temporary work, particularly as it concerns the Millennial Generation, or Gen Y, those who were born between 1980 – 2000.

Frey is positively brimming with the gospel according to the corporatocracy, and, hits us with eight (8) pie-in-the-sky bullet points of temporary serf goodliness.  Get a load of this load.

Frey writes:

The freelancer benefit package No, being a freelancer doesn’t come with health insuranc,vacation time, or a 401k plan. But what it does offer is far greater.
 
You’re in control so you get to decide who you want as a client, when you’re available for work, and most often, how much you’ll get paid. Yes sometimes you’ll get fired from a project, but you can also fire your client.
 
Freelancing done right will give you a far higher salary,a far more influential circle of friends, and an ability to make a difference.

Wow,  Frey makes it sound as if being a temp does everything except solve world hunger.  Rest assured, however, after reading his assessments, temp work  will eventually yield  exactly that result, as well, I just know it.

Hey, maybe if we work at it hard enough, we can also ride a flying white unicorn while sprinkling magic pixie dust to save the planet from the oil companies and create wage equality for all while we’re at it.

Well, first things first -working as a temp, specifically, one who freelances electronically using portals such as oDesk, will in fact, put you on equal footing with the rest of the undeveloped world, that is for sure.  Yours truly has been workin’ the ol’ freelancer gig long enough to know what is and is not kosher on that count.

Not to pick on oDesk (it just happens to be the one freelancing site that I am most familiar with at the present time) but taking a long look around its neck of the ethernet will typically yield a gig as follows:

oDesk1

Click to enlarge

The employer wants you, the freelancer, to put in 35 hours of the week preferably for  less than $1.50/hr  Sweet!  That oughta get you that brand new , 27- inch widescreen flat-panel IPS LED HD monitor in no time, sparky!

You mean I, too, can experience the thrill of working for Third World wages in a digital sweat shop of my own choosing?

Yes, you can, little American worker! Thanks to the miracle of the global labor pool, you can be just as poverty stricken as Apu over in Bangladesh who earns $0.10 per day!  Except in Bangladesh, Apu can still afford food and lodging.  You, on the other hand, will have to move in with your parents or into your car or whatever makeshift shelter your freelancing salary will afford you.  Perhaps a cardboard box under the bridge just outside town?

It’s a glorious worker’s paradise, dont’cha know? Hey, and don’t forget, if you’re not satisfied with the luxurious salary of less than a buck fifty per hour, remember that you can always fire your client!

Doesn’t that sound awesome?

You know it, baby!  Temp work is soooooooo incredibly liberating, character building and altruistic, that the only generations being exhorted and encouraged to take advantage of it are those born after Boomers like Frey have already golden parachuted out of the workforce and have otherwise stockpiled their six digit pensions and 401(k) retirements and are now telling you that you don’t need to have any of the benefits and security his generation had.  Don’t you just love how that works?


Amazon’s Kindle Worlds: Instant Thoughts

June 20, 2013

Prattle On, Boyo:

I agree 100% with Scalzi’s initial thoughts, and, as “preliminary” as they may be, from the POV of a writer, this is a raw deal. Avoid it like the plague.

Further, I do think that gullible writers will jump on the bandwagon thinking this is a great way to get noticed. See also HuffPo bloggers who contributed to the site only to make Arianna Huffington an even bigger millionaire since she then sold the site to AO hell.

Compensation to bloggers = Zero.

Huffington’s cut: $315 million.

Writers who are willing to work for free are no better than indentured servants.

See also Unpaid Blogging:  Digital Servitude

Originally posted on Whatever:

The Twitters are abuzz today about Amazon’s new “Kindle Worlds” program, in which people are allowed to write and then sell through Amazon their fan fiction for certain properties owned by Alloy Entertainment, including Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, with more licenses expected soon. I’ve had a quick look at the program on Amazon’s site, and I have a couple of immediate thoughts on it. Be aware that these thoughts are very preliminary, i.e., I reserve the right to have possibly contradictory thoughts about the program later, when I think (and read) about it more. Also note that these are my personal thoughts and do not reflect the positions or policies of SFWA, of which I am (still but not for much longer) president.

1. The main knock on fan fiction from the rights-holders point of view — i.e., people are using their characters and situations in…

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Opinion | Face It; We Don’t Teach Out of Convenience!

June 18, 2013

Written by Guest Blogger Rachel Davis

rosanne rosanna danna

It’s summer break and coupled with the fact that I have been on medical leave for 3 additional weeks, I have been cruising the web, and reading too many Facebook posts.  The trend right now seems to be teachers bashing teaching.  The I Quit letter that recently made the rounds and today a 12 minute video of an elementary school teacher complaining about her job is what has put me to mind to speak from the other end of the spectrum.

I will start my 13th year of teaching, 12 of which were at a Title One magnet high school in North Carolina. Let me preface this by saying that I have thought about leaving teaching many times, but not because of the government cutbacks or their impositions on evaluation and curriculum; that’s another entry for another time. The point I want to make is that I don’t see everything about teaching as some dream job with easy hours and all sunshine and butterflies.

Teaching is not easy and if for a minute you think you are going to walk into a utopian ideal of what a classroom should be, then you’re in for a rotten reality check. But it can be as long as you are ready to hear “no” and enjoy hitting brick walls, but always rising to the challenge of getting what you want, or at least a compromise of what you would like.   Teaching can be rewarding, can be entertaining and can be very enjoyable.  I would teach for free if what I actually got to do was teach.  But I don’t get to just teach, I have to do all the other crap that goes along with it, so I take the meager salary that goes along with “teaching”.

Teaching is for the crafty folks out there (and I don’t mean paste and crayons crafty).  It’s about using your brain to make things work to the best of your ability, and remembering every day that you are not doing this for the money, but for altruistic purpose of helping others.  The End.

It’s crap when people say things like “the government dictates how I teach” or “what I teach”.  In the aforementioned 12 minute video, she claims that government doesn’t allow her to hatch chicks in her class because they have taken the money away for that.

Really?  You think that is a line in the state budget?

Bill 800.12: Cut funding for eggs that hatch chickens in the 1st grade classrooms.

Um, no.  It’s about the way your school is being run and the local importance of things like that.  Maybe it is more important to the school to have calculators than it is have chicks hatching in the classroom.

So, what do you do about it?  Make a 12 minute video crying about your job, bashing teaching?

How about getting off your ass and making a change within your school? Or leave your school and find one that is more to your liking.  There is probably a charter school out there who will let you hatch chicks in your classroom.  Ohhhh?! Did I say the C word? Yup!

After 12 years, I have left public schools for a charter school.  We’ll see how it goes.  I am optimistic. Hired by folks who have put their trust in me to teach what I know.  Folks who hired other folks who will do their job on a regular basis.  I didn’t like the way my school was run and it was time for a change.  And I found a place with the same basic teaching philosophy as myself.  That’s why we need charter schools.  It’s called competition.  Now get off of your ass, quit your whining, and make a change if you don’t like what you’re doing or where you’re doing it!


Review | Sony PRS-600 Touch eBook Reader

June 17, 2013

So after much thought, deliberation and research, I finally decided to seriously consider purchasing an electronic book reader.  I wanted to buy it used because I’m on a budget, but that doesn’t factor into my review here.  Instead, I will focus on the practicalities, in addition to the FAB (features – advantages – benefits).

I must admit that I didn’t want to like it.  In fact, when electronic book readers became ubiquitous not so long ago, I was still staunchly against them.  This was mostly due to the high profile debacles involved with the Kindle -stories of consumers’ entire book collections being deleted remotely because Amazon was too intimidated by the legacy publishing and/or established writer’s cartels to stand up for its customers only helped to fuel my anti-electronic book reader vitriol.   Why would I possibly want to spend money on an appliance that was only going to screw me over and otherwise aid & abet the corporatocracy ‘s continued assault on Fair Use rights?

I was determined, nonetheless, to avoid any electronic reader containing  a proprietary format (such as Kindle’s .mobi and Nook’s .epub). Proprietary formats serve to prevent customers from transferring content from reader to reader in much the same manner the entertainment companies seek to prevent the end user from transferring digital content from DVD to computer hard drive.  The better to SCREW you so that you will have to separately purchase the same content in a different format to accommodate the use of different players.  (This is what the Kafkaesque digital rights management is all about.)

Another factor that pushed me into wanting an electronic book reader is that I am going to self-publish Book #1 in a seven book series in the supernatural/gothic/horror genre very shortly and exclusively in electronic format.  As a writer, it doesn’t sit very well with me to publish my work in manner that I can’t even see the finished product for myself.

And so with this criteria in mind, I found (ta da!) the Sony PRS-600 Touch.

PRS-600

The Good

File Formats

 Sony is not wedded to any particular file format;  That is to say that while it does support proprietary DRM-infested formats such as  .epub & .mobi, the consumer is not forced to purchase content exclusively in one format or another.  Additionally, the Sony will also support .pdf, .doc, .jpg & .txt.  While this is all very nice, the catch is that you must choose a single format because the Sony will not read multiple formats at the same time.  For example, you won’t be able to read files in .pdf, .mobi, .epub & .txt file formats concurrently.  So choose wisely should you decide to purchase this particular reader.

This limitation hasn’t been a problem for me, however, as the content I want to read is exclusively in non-DRM portable document format. (.pdf)   (Note here that when I say non-DRM, I am referring to a plain vanilla .pdf file, not a .pdf that has been digitally signed with Adobe’s version of digital rights garbage.)

Ability to Annotate

I am a big fan of the highlighting, note taking and dictionary features, but then again, I’m a writer.  I like to take notes.  And while the built-in dictionary will be helpful to the average person, I find that both my vocabulary, as well as that of the books I read (mostly late 19th Century writers such as Blackwood, Bierce, James, Lovecraft, & Machen)  is much larger than what the New American Oxford Dictionary has in its memory bank.

Expandable Memory

The PRS-600 has an SD slot to expand its memory.  And with memory being relatively inexpensive these days, the sky is the limit.

The Bad

Sony’s File Management Software

Upon having charged up the reader, the first time you plug it into your computer, it will immediately prompt you to install Sony’s file management software.  I suppose this is helpful provided that the end user is unfamiliar with any other options, but Sony’s software should be avoided if you can help it.  Although I have not personally experienced any particular problems, I have read numerous reviews written by other end users whose main complaint is with the software because it apparently does not facilitate the transfer of purchased content from vendor to reader very smoothly.  (This hasn’t been an issue for me because it has never been my intention to purchase electronic books.) Additionally, if you want to avoid using Sony’s software then consider using Calibre, instead.

The Ugly

Calibration

With the ability to annotate, you must calibrate the reader so that it recognizes the stylus.  This is easier said than done.  The process of calibrating the unit was very problematic.  It took me over an hour and made me want to throw it out the window.  Calibration should not be this difficult given that Apple also uses the exact same technology with its products and calibration is not like pulling teeth the way it is for the Sony.

Arbitrary Lock Ups

Since I don’t know the history of this particular unit, I don’t know why this model Sony inexplicably freezes.  Perhaps the previous owner pounded the shit out of it and drop kicked it on a regular basis?  I tend to think not since the casing isn’t scratched up or marred in any way.

Sony blames unit freezing on a corrupted file, but that’s a load of ca-ca in my opinion.  It’s too easy to blame a file for a malfunction, particularly since my files are all in non-DRM .pdf format.   In fact, it’s a lot like complaining to Caltrans about pot holes and being told that the ginormous holes in the road is due to the weather.  Pffffffffft!  Maybe that excuse flies on the east coast where it snows, sleets and the weather otherwise pulverizes the roads, but over here on the other side of the country, where the sun shines approximately 300 days of the year, not so much!

But then again, this is a used product and the locking up issue may or may not be attributable to previous use and abuse.   The main thing I absolutely adore about an electronic book reader is that I can store hundreds of books on it and have them at my fingertips on a slim unit instead of hauling around dead tree books in my bag.  (All that extra weight adds up when you’re a bus & bikin’ kind of person.)  And also, real estate for extras such as books  is at a minimum given my current living situation.  For a bookworm like me, the ability to have instant access to the content that I don’t want to have to read on the computer is priceless.

In reading reviews written elsewhere, a lot of end users bellyached about the absence of sharp fonts and a glare problem on this model, but I haven’t been troubled by either as the glare issue is solved with a simple re-angling of the unit into another position.  As to the fonts, this model lets you select the size of the font from five different sizes plus a zoom feature.  So if you’re blind as a bat, then you’ll be glad to know that not only can you select XXL sized font, but you can also zoom in.

In the final analysis, I’m fairly happy with this reader.   But fret not dead tree lovers, electronic book readers won’t replace printed books 100%, but it sure does wonders for portability and convenience of reading material.

Free Electronic Book Archives

Internet Archive

Project Gutenberg

©2013 Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo™. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Peyton Farquhar and Prattle On, Boyo with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


What is Happenning in Istanbul?

June 4, 2013

Prattle On, Boyo:

People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State. They demand to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in. What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes and thousands of others have been wounded and brutalized by police.

Originally posted on İnsanlik Hali:

To my friends who live outside of Turkey:

I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because at the time of my writing most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.

Last week of May 2013 a group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and yoga students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least…

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Call For Book Reviewers

April 22, 2013

Owl Babies

Greetings Friends & Associates:

Regarding my novella (or short story, I have not yet decided) I have a proposal for you. I will send you a chapter of the story provided that you do a write up on Goodreads, Shelfari, or wherever it is that you post your book reviews.

Please note: You don’t have to be a professional book reviewer or even have your blog. Just pls have the ability to string together grammatically correct sentences. Additionally, preference will be given to those with established Goodreads accounts who have reviewed a goodly amount of books over there.

If interested, contact me for further discussion using the following social media:

POB website

Twitter

 

 

 


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