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Self-Publishing for Fun
It used to be tough to get published. Then along came print-on-demand services. Self-appointed authors started coming out of the woodwork. I happen to think that's a great thing. Anyone can write anything -- and get it published. That opens up the possibilities of what you can read about.
The next generation of self-publishing is now moms printing hardcover books with pictures of their babies and bloggers printing copies of their posts.
Two such companies I've found (and used) recently are Blurb and Tabblo. Blurb software will automatically take all your content from your blog and format it into a book. You can also create your own books and photo books from scratch using their easy-to-use templates. Tabblo is a photo storage service that combines the storage capabilities with great print options, including hardcover books.
I was shocked at the quality of these books. They are amazingly professional. Neither Blurb nor Tabblo are as affordable as Lulu, but they are much easier to use. Blurb (and Lulu) will let you sell your book on their website at whatever price you choose. You keep the profit. Best of all -- creating these books is fun!
I ran into a cool website today. It's called Couchsurfing.com. I can say that I've had great experiences with "strangers" coming to stay at my house for a few days. And I've had the fortune of other folks letting me crash on their couch for a while in other parts of the world.
The picture you see here is "The Florentine" who is from Italy and has an availble couch if you're interested!
I think I'm going to join this website. I like the idea of meeting new people, showing them the beautiful place that I live, and saving up the good karma I'll need when I'm ready to do some more traveling!
I'm excited to say that I got a new laptop yesterday. It's an Apple MacBook. It's sleek, small and white. For some reason the white ones were $150 cheaper than the black ones, so I opted for saving cash. And at no sacrifice. It's adorable.
I was really struggling, trying to figure out if I should buy a mac or a pc. I've been using a mac for the last several years and I love them. But at the same time, I was really faced with some software limitations. For one, I've just not been happy with my choices of email products. And I really like Outlook, but Outlook isn't mac-compatible.
But now that these new Intel macs can run both operating systems, I figured it would be safe to go ahead. Ideally, I'd have loved a tiny Sony Vaio, but they are too expensive. And now that I've been using this computer for 24 hours, I'm already feeling like I made a wise decision. I'm really loving it.
I remember my first couple of flights. Rules and security were lax – if not non-existent. Even on my last flight before 9/11 (on 9/10), everyone was up-and-about in first class and having a good time. Much has changed, of course since then and I just hate the crap I have to go through at the airport. The worst of it being that I have to arrive so darn early just to ensure I’ll get through the mile-long security lines.
Now as of this morning, at least in England, passengers are not able to take on any hand luggage. Not even a purse or a book! And especially not a soda. Just as the attempted shoe bombing a few years ago ensured that we all take our shoes off going through security, the planned attack in London (or so we’re told) that was broken up this morning will likely effect greatly what passengers will be able to take on board the planes. Already in the US passengers are banned from bringing hair gel, beverages and lotions.
If only I were rich and could afford my own plane! Alas, now I’ll just have to decide how much I really need to take that flight before I put myself through all this. Sadly, I think this is still the beginning of the changes we’ll see in the next few years.
I've already seen these crazy machines being used in some airports. As you can see from the photo, these machines actually see everything. Supposedly, the machines were inspired by bats and are able to detect non-metals (and anything else) a person might be carrying on their body or underneath their clothes. Good thing I'm not shy!
I worked with some great designers from Amsterdam, Stef & Paul of Pure Pixel Designs. I love the new design and would enjoy hearing from you what you think of it. There are still a couple of bugs to work out, but it's up and running now! I hope to have a contest posted soon for free round-trip airfare within the continental United States soon. Check back!
Wow. I never cease to be amazed with all the great stuff that comes out for websites and blogs. Now I can easily leave audio on my blog -- and even better -- receive audio messages from YOU! Hear my 14-second welcome message below (click on the pink button) and leave me your own message by clicking here! I am loving making new friends from all over the world, so don't be shy -- leave me a message!
Internet Phone Service
Looks like the government-run telephone monopoly, ICE, is feeling the squeeze from people moving toward VOIP (voice over internet protocol) technology. Instead of paying 25 to 50 cents a minute to call the US and Canada using a land line phone, more and more people are moving to online services such as Skype to make their phone calls.
Here in Costa Rica using, using any other phone service -- including an internet service -- is actually illegal. But it sure is hard for them to enforce it. So you know the old saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!"
This year, according to the Tico Times, ICE will be offering international calls through the internet at a cost of 10 times lower than their land line charges. Supposedly, the calls will be less expensive than the 2 cents a minute that Skype charges. The catch is you'll have to purchase a monthly package. Time will tell whether it is a good deal or not.
I found a website today, Gobierno Digital (Digital Government) that is a portal to more than 300 online services from more than 60 government and local institutions. The one downside is it’s only in Spanish. (But hello. It is a country whose language is Spanish. What did you expect?)
The amount of information and services on this site can be overwhelming. Among the many are:
And the list goes on. Having this kind of a central portal for services and information is a huge start for the country. I really hope that we’ll see more online services coming in the near future. But in the meantime, you’ll be amazed at how much data is on this site and how well organized it is.
My mom always told me that "nothing in life is free." But it's not 100% true. For instance, I just downloaded a free book from Lulu.com. It's a digital photography project that was put together by Escondido Charter High School. Some of the pictures are pretty nice, like this one by Ryan Miller (page 25) of a lake.
There are also books for cheap, not free, such as "The Little Book of Man" by R.A.M., which is a collection of personal quotes, poems and essays on the subject of tolerance and acceptance of self, and human nature. It's available for download (here) for just $2.00.
Lulu is a print-on-demand self-publisher. What that means is that you can publish your own book, CD, photos, software, video and calendars for FREE with this company. And they will print and distribute your sales as they come in. You also get a free website to showcase your items.
Sound too good to be true? I decided to try them out this past December and published a book based upon a school project called "History of Loving." I called my book "Seasons of Love." It's a collection of letters written by me to the people in my life with whom I've had a loving relationship. There are also letters in the book from some of those people to me about their experience in loving me.
It's a 40-page, full-color, soft-cover book that cost me under $11 to print for each copy and nothing in publishing costs. You can download a copy for free here. Lulu lets you create a project and does not care if even one copy is sold!
Why I'm telling you this is two-fold. There are many people who provide their work for free if you download it. And there are some pretty cool things there! Secondly, you may have thought about writing a book before. Well, with this system there is nothing to stop you! You own the full rights to your project and can change companies at any time.
If you have time, I'd suggest you check them out here. You'll be glad you did!
I just found these great "stickers" you can use to leave comments for people on their profiles (like Friendster, Tribe, MySpace). When you go to their website, they give you the code you need to cut and paste. Very easy -- and fun!
Their website is www.toxxic.net. Click on the word "Glitter Graphics."