Thursday, January 18, 2018

What the %^&$#!! is wrong with Yahoo?

Yahoo services have been getting worse and worse. What is the worst? It's so hard to choose.
  • In email, spam delivery (to my spam folder, which is a small mitigation) has risen to >100/day. This makes checking for the occasional misdirected real email all but impossible. Why can't Yahoo throw out the OBVIOUS spam (like, ya know, anything sent a dozen times per day!) as it did before Verizon took over? As Gmail does?
  • In email, if I empty my spam or trash folder, Yahoo uses the screen space to start streaming a video ad.
  • Clicking a link in a Yahoo news summary or search page often sends me to a new page with only the opening snippet of the desired story -- and lots of ads. I then have to click another link to get the full story -- and more ads. 
  • Stoopid, unsolicited opinions pop up over many news stories selected from Yahoo summary and search pages as I (try to) read. If I want to see comments, I'll scroll to comments.
  • Calendar reminders that are supposed to send emails as events approach. Some events do. Some don't. All are set up exactly the same. 
  • And if I want to scan the Calendar page to spot any events that didn't send notifications? It often take two or three tries to get the Calendar page to open!
  • And then there is the absurdly slow load time of Yahoo pages. Are the servers hosted on someone's retired 486 box?
Doubtless, I've overlooked for the moment more quality Yahoo "features." 

Is Yahoo TRYING to drive away their remaining users? Years of filed emails and bunches of past customizations make it inconvenient to go cold turkey ... but I use Yahoo less and less often.

Crappy service like this is the way companies die.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I'm ENERGIZED! (Now you can be, too)

I'm delighted to report that my 2012 technothriller Energized is back in print and electrons. (Alone among my older titles, Energized was briefly unavailable in these formats.) It was and is available as an audio book.

Latest cover
Or perhaps I should call this my prescient 2012 technothriller. In the headlines: private space companies, renewable energy, the imminence of asteroid mining -- and, sadly, also nuclear proliferation, chaos across the Middle East, homegrown terrorism, and meddling by an assertive Russia. Energized incorporates all these elements.

Much of the action is set dramatically in Earth orbit: Aboard a zero-gee orbiting hotel/playground for the super-rich. On (and within) a threatening asteroid diverted to become Earth's newest moon. On a two-mile-square orbiting power station, beaming solar energy 24/7 to Earth.

(Have I recently mentioned my seven years as a NASA contractor?) 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

That's life?

For a change of pace here at SF and Nonsense, where physics, astronomy, and IT tend to dominate regular looks at the frontiers of science and tech, this post will consider biology.

We'll begin by "Introducing 'dark DNA' – the phenomenon that could change how we think about evolution." By analogy to dark matter, dark DNA denotes genes that conventional understanding insists must be present in a species's genome -- but aren't. Wild, wacky stuff.
And sticking for the moment at the cellular level, consider "Super-strong cell-size origami robots are coming: US physicists unveil game-changing biomorph nanobots."

These real-world nanobots are made in part from graphene: an allotrope of carbon atoms arranged into sheets one atom thick. Among possible applications of these nanobots is precisely delivering tiny doses of drugs. In my 2009 novel Small Miracles, the medical nanobots are made from single-wall carbon nanotubes: another allotrope of carbon, that is essentially a bit of graphene sealed into a roll. I love when life imitates art. Especially my art.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Starting off 2018 with the write stuff ...

Writing updates to begin the new year:

On the final day of 2017, I was happy to see "The Torchman's Tale," my debut short-story appearance in Galaxy's Edge, had received a three-star recommendation in the Tangent Online 2017 Recommended Reading List.

And I'm delighted to report that my secret-history novella "Harry and the Lewises" has been accepted by Analog. If the story title rings a bell, that's not by accident. But neither, I predict, is the significance what you think ...

Almost before you know it ...
Finally, I have a good-news/bad-news update regarding my forthcoming "science behind the fiction" book: Trope-ing the Light Fantastic ("From mighty oak trees, little acorns grow").

The good news? There's going to be, in addition to the initially planned ebook and trade-paperback editions, a hardback edition. Also: advance reading copies are in the hands of many review outlets. The less good news is a schedule shift. The original forecast was for late January publication -- but stuff happens. It now looks like hardback and ebook editions will be released in late March, with trade paperback to follow in late May.

All in all, there are far worse ways to begin another trip around the Sun :-)