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Archive for October, 2010

Cancer is limited…

I actually modified this to fit my own personal take. In its original form, it was a little too spiritual for my tastes.  Yeah, I’m still firmly agnostic, but I hope to explore a budding new “belief” through my writing… Someday. Anyway:

Cancer is limited…

It cannot cripple love,
cannot shatter hope,
cannot corrode faith.

It cannot destroy confidence.
cannot kill friendship,
cannot shut out memories,
silence courage,
invade the soul,
quench the spirit.

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Getting Eden out to every place possible was one of my goals… for better or worse. Here’s some updates on some additional markets where you can find Eden. I still suggest the iBooks version – it’s the bomb.

Barnes & Noble

Diesel

Kobo (Borders)

Sony eReader

Links on the right.

The Barnes & Noble endeavor has been crazy… I think they are a late-comer to the whole self-publishing world, as they are quite disorganized. I’m not sure what the nook version looks like, and their support doesn’t answer questions (it’s been over a month now).  I will fix it if it’s fucked, but for now: buy at your own risk!

It’s also showing up in weird places like TextBooksRUs, but I won’t use any real-estate on perma-links to these smaller outlets.

Enjoy!

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A week in the life…

Of an enterprise consultant!

*singing* It’s all about me – it’s all about me!

*wolves howling, babies crying, the apocalypse*

Alright, let’s take another break from Eden posts. 

I have been an IT consultant for almost 11 years now. Maybe someday I’ll write a boring book about consulting (that will sell better than any fiction I attempt), but for now I’m content to share thru the Blog. Nothing stops the Blog!

I know there’s a burning question in your throat, yearning for relief: what’s it like to be an enterprise consultant? Is it really like that George Clooney movie? Surprisingly, it is… Let’s take a look!

(note: I wrote most of this earlier in the year when I was traveling to a different client each week. For the past 3 months, however, I’ve been on a larger/static project. Anyway…)

Sunday

Typically a family day. We might take a little trip, watch some football or whatever. If I’ve been traveling for many weeks in a row, it’s also usually a laundry day. So, Sundays like that are usually “stay at home”. Sunday night, I pack!

Monday-Thursday

Monday mornings usually involve waking up at the ass-crack of dawn to catch a plane. Bleary-eyed, I drive to Bradley Airport and park my car. Monday morning security is always packed, so that takes a little extra time. I sometimes hop into the “family” line because all the savvy business travelers avoid it like a show on the CW (okay, that was unprovoked… I’ve heard good things about Supernatural). What those ‘savvy’ businesspeople don’t realize is that the line moves fast when nobody’s in it! (not too many families travel on monday mornings)

After a flight, I arrive in my destination and head straight for the rental counter where my reservation awaits. Hop in the car, attach Garmin, and I’m off! I usually reach the client site in the late morning for a quick meet & greet. Getting through their security usually takes the longest. At that initial meeting, we discuss (again) goals & expectations and we each tell the other party what we need.

Of course, something typically goes sideways on this first day… the latest example was my suitcase disintegrating on me right after I took it off the baggage carousel in SEATAC airport. For this particular trip, I was traveling with an extra laptop – so, I was a mess heading to the rental car counter.

If the project is more technical in nature, I’m typically hooked-up with a resource and we get to work. Sometimes, I’m given the access I need to be left alone to do the job, but that is the exception. Usually, I’m only there to guide the onsite technical resource and answer questions. In many technical engagements I also provide training in the form of “workshops”. For these, I prepare material and then we all get together to review that material and build compliance content for them right then and there. They learn & build simultaneously.

For a more non-technical project, I’m simply consulting on best practices revolving around security & compliance for whatever IT controls they have in place (or want to put in place). In this capacity, I’m more of a “guide” than anything else. True, we’re using software to achieve our goals of automation, but sometimes clients need some help with overall direction.

At the end of the first day, I find my hotel (thanks to Garmin again) and I call the family on Skype from my hotel room once I get settled. After that, I usually send out a daily update email to the client and my people with my company. I also might answer some emails from other clients. Once all that is finished, it has been a long day – time for some sleep!

Tuesday-Thursday are usually a tad more calm. I wake up and usually eat breakfast in the hotel. If the hotel has a fridge, I’ll go out and buy plastic spoons/bowls and some cereal. The days are filled with meetings to discuss the project and sessions to complete that work. Lunch is usually spent with the client or other colleagues from the software company I’m partnered with. Everyone usually goes home at 5pm (in whatever timezone I happen to be in) and so do I. Most nights, I like to talk to my family on Skype and retain my humanity by writing, playing games or just relaxing. After an update email to the client (and maybe some more email responses to other clients), I usually like to lay the work down. I didn’t beat the snot outta cancer to work all night, every night.

On Tuesdays, however, I need to prep for the next week’s trip as well – secure flight, hotel, car. This also involves some form of coordination with the next client.

Since meals are expensed, I usually find a place to eat… and I usually order dessert. Feck, it’s all catching up to me now. I’ll probably have to fit the gym into my nighttime schedule very soon. Damn my weakness for brownies!

Friday

Fridays are usually half work days / half travel days (like monday). I’ll get in early (if possible) and work until about lunch time. After that, it’s a reverse of monday: drive the rental back to the airport, go through security, hop a plane home.

Saturday

Friends and family, usually. I like to wake up with the kids, eat breakfast with them and play some games. I spend as much time as possible with the family on the weekends, and I actually think I appreciate that time more than ever. Before I took this job, I was *always* home and I think I took a few things for granted. Not anymore! Family is first and I make the most time for them whenever I can.

At the time of this writing, I think we have a handle on the travel. West coast is rough, but hopefully those days are numbered. The owner of my company promised he’d keep me in the Northeast as much as possible, and he admitted it might take some time to “get there”. Well, it’s slowly coming to fruition as I have recently had clients in: Buffalo, Philly, Rhode Island and Stamford (CT). I’d always prefer to drive than fly, so I hope this trend continues.

Another trend I’m seeing is more companies saving on travel expenses. That means more and more days working from home. It’s nice to be home, but with no clear end to the workday – sometimes I work too much. However, it’s nice to put the kids on the bus and be there for them when the bus returns most days. That’s a great perk.

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What I’m playing (10/10)

Time for another edition!

I don’t do this because I think anyone cares, I do it because maybe someone will find a hidden gem here… Or something.  Anyway:

RuneWars

Runewars is certainly one of the best “big box” board games I have ever played. Battlestar Galactica remains the most exciting, and Settlers of Catan certainly fills a niche, but for fantasy warfare Runewars takes the cake.

The game is “goal-based”, which is great from the start. Older games (like Risk) are “elimination-based”, in that you are kicked from the game when you are defeated. So, if a game takes 2 hours to play and you lose after 30 minutes, you gotta go watch a movie while waiting for everyone else to finish. Goal-based games keep all players in the game until the very end. Instead of wiping the map of them, you must reach the goal(s) before them. That is much better design. 

(it’s technically possible to oust another player before the goal is realized in Runewars, but it is *highly* unlikely)

The game pieces and map are beautiful. The core systems are simple and fun. And the time to complete (once you’ve played once or twice) is 1.5-3 hours. That’s pretty good for these “big box” games. (“big box” games come in a big box… here ends my explanation of that term)

My only gripe is that I co-developed many of the systems used in Runewars many years ago with a good friend of mine. Now, we see those systems done (better) in a very successful commercial game. Fuck salt!

(yeah, I know that’s the second time I’ve used that… it just never gets old for me)

Dominions 3

I’ve played a TON of 4x (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate) games over my career as a computer gamer. I go as far back as Lords of Conquest on the Commodore 64. (I actually was playing this game a few months ago with a good friend – some 24 year old games are still awesome!)

Shrapnel games knows their 4x, but I was skeptical at first. How could a “modern” game have such terrible graphics? How come I hadn’t heard of it?

Well, damn! This game has more depth than anything else I’ve ever played in the 4x space. It’s a fantasy-themed 4x game, and you decide everything from tax rate to individual unit battle formation (and orders). So, not only are you conquering provinces and recruiting units, but you are setting the individual strategy for those units and their commanders. Lots of variables for success (and failure).

Right now,  I’m playing this game via PBEM (play by e-mail) with a bunch of friends (the game supports up to 21 human players). It’s better than Civ4 pitboss, hands down. Sure, there’s more to manage, but I find there’s more impact I can have on the outcome of the game by putting thought into it… And there’s no double-turns.

If you’re looking for a DEEP fantasy wargame to sink your teeth into and get lost for a few months – this is your game. Single-player is only so-so, it’s far better with a group.

Goalline Blitz

Yep, I’m still playing with my dots in this online sports management sim. Feel free to laugh all you want at me, I love my dots:

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EDEN Post-launch, 2 week report

Someday I’ll post about non-Eden stuff again… promise!

Anyway, it’s been ~2 weeks after my haphazard release of Eden across many different formats. Yeah, I believe you learn by actually jumping-in and doing stuff… And I’ve done a ton of stuff over the past 2-3 weeks.

“Why are you always preparing? Just go!” – Dark Helmet, Spaceballs

 I’ve made some mistakes, but that’s part of the process. I’ve also scored some key “wins”, the biggest of which is the kick-your-teeth-in awesome iBooks version (which my #2 man made possible).

I had an interview with the Southington Observer on Monday, though I’m not sure when that’ll appear.

This weekend, I’m working with a staff writer from the American Cancer Society – they want to profile me as an inspirational success story. After becoming active in the “Head & Neck” survivor community, one thing has become clear: there aren’t too many people who have survived as long as I have after such a bleak diagnosis. I’ll be sure to link that once it’s active.

Eden is under review on several blogs at the moment – hopefully I hear when the actual review is posted so I can cry, laugh and cry some more. I’ve yet to hear a “stranger’s” opinion… should be interesting. 

Guess who’s gonna be on the front page of the CT (Southington-Cheshire-Meriden) Record Journal “Features” section this Sunday?

… if it isn’t me then this would be a pretty shitty announcement.

Of course it’s me! Well, me and my fabulous editor. Our sparkling faces will grace the front page of the “Features” section. The photographer met us at the Miceli Productions studio yesterday and he attempted to get a believable smile outta me. Yeah, like all others before him, he failed. The headshot of me in Eden was actually taken at the Tacoma zoo – I was on top of a camel. I guess camels make me smile…

As far as sales, I’ll probably post more info about that after the launch party. So far, iBooks has been the best… Eden has averaged about 1 sale per day over the past 2 weeks there.

What’s next?

Eden continues to be made available on more storefronts. I’ll try to keep those organized and post links as they are solid. It’s actually on the Nook now, but that whole process is new for B&N. I might need to make an update in the next few days to ensure it’s formatted perfectly, etc. 

What’s that I hear? Graphic Novel? Audio Book? Sequel? Fuckin’ believe it… more news to come!

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The announcement was updated here.

I’ll have both the paperback and hardcover on hand – the hardcover is quite nice.

I’ve discounted the Hardcover (new Lulu feature), so the price is more palatable. There’s also a Lulu coupon code you can use at checkout this weekend only for 15% off! (well, 14.92% off in “honor” of Columbus). If you cannot make the launch party, and you want the hardcover, the coupon code is: EXPLORE305.

One more note about the hardcover: I ordered 25 (the first 25) for the launch party. I’m going to number them 1-25 (my wife gets #1). Hell, maybe someday I’ll be famous (likely for something other than my fiction, like maybe public indecency) and you can say you have a “Plourde Original”! Or something…

I’m back from the west coast, so maybe I’ll fit some bloggin’ in next week.

Enjoy!

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Yup, this is the big one! 🙂

Check out the “Eden” links on the right to find it on Amazon.com. Both the Kindle version and Paperback are up there, linked and all. The “Look Inside” feature has been approved, as has my author bio… these will appear on there in due time. The wheels at Amazon turn at their own speed.

If you cannot make the launch party, Amazon is yer best bet to get a dead tree copy. If you have Amazon Prime, no shipping charges!

So, get out there, buy a copy, and leave me sparkling 5-star reviews — you know you want to!

The video trailer link has been updated too, to reflect these new outlets.

In other news, the Kobo, Sony, Nook and Diesel versions of Eden will be available in those respective eStores very soon. Stay tuned for updates.

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