Novacon report

It's been several years since I last attended a convention, but nothing has really been stopping me apart from work. Now that problem has gone away (no job, short life expectancy, still have some savings to use before I die) so I treated myself to another convention. I wasn't expecting much - I'd never heard of the GoH for instance - and tried becoming a dealer for the first time. Great move really - I'm a bit too shy to approach people but when you're a dealer people start talking to YOU!

Firstly, I must say the customer service was some of the best I've ever encountered - I discharged myself from hospital on Thursday to make sure I could attend, against all medical advice. I promptly collapsed within 10 feet of the door and was given a glass of water and a strong coffee to revive me. The staff even moved my 10 boxes of books to the dealer's room for me, which was very welcome given my recent hernia problems. I did have to go to Nottingham Hospital A&E department on the last day but service was so good I didn't ask for a refund on the night I spent in hospital rather than the hotel.

Apologies to Jo Walton - I don't think I even saw her, I only went to one programme item (SFF QI - great item, and I think I helped the audience win) but thoroughly enjoyed my time in the dealers room, catching up with people I haven't seen for years. I even managed to sell Filk books back to the dealer that sold them to me in the first place, at a slight profit! Only sold one cassette though, and that was back to the person that did the type-setting for the covers. Recycling the hard way I guess.

Anyway, I had a lovely time and would recommend it again. Apparently it's in the same place next year, ("Park Inn Hotel, Nottingham"). About the same date. Look for the guy that wears an ISFDB T-Shirt and feel free to buy me a pint of cider. I'll even give you my booklet about using ISFDB - I might even have written the 'EDITING ISFDB' by then.
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    happy happy

ISFDB for Dummies

OK, it's not actually called that - due to potential legal problems - it's titled "Using the ISFDB (Internet Speculative Fiction DataBase)". It is a beginner's guide to allow people to get the most out of the online database without logging in. Now it's out in the wild and you can download version 0.04 from Smashwords - - in various formats. I've only double-checked the online HTML version and the Kindle version and obviously need to do some more work on the screenshots, but would like to know if there are problems with any of the other formats. I'd offer a reward like a Free copy or a percentage of the royalties for your help, but it's priced at £0.00 - you might have to make do with a credit in version 0.04.

P.S. It's not going to be published everywhere just yet, it needs a Cover Image for certain stores. Does anyone want to volunteer to provide one? 1400 pixels wide by about 1.4 to 1.6 times that high, including title and author in big enough letters to show on a thumbnail version. Credit would be given, of course.

Nurse! He's out of bed again!

After one of the worst Christmas and New Year periods of my life, I'm feeling wonderful. Note - FEELING wonderful: medically I'm still a wreck. Basically I've had almost all my medication changed after my New Year hospital stay and mentally feel a lot better. Even things like arriving home today to find the electricity cut off for want of 9 pence hasn't depressed me. Discovering I can't fit the batteries in my new magnifier without the help of a magnifier hasn't fazed me. Buying a load of charity books that it turns out I already have hasn't upset me. Listening to the radio where a friend reports on the mass eviction of 30+ households hasn't made me feel worse - the more often I hear her repeat her woes the more often I hear people offering sympathy and support. It's a good day, and hopefully one of many to come.

The downside is that in reality my body isn't in a good state. I've got 3 blood tests and an Ultrasound scan to discuss with my GP soon, and I already know there are abnormalities in at least two of those.

But I'm happy, and should stay that way for a while. I'll be hibernating for a while and working on ISFDB again - one more patch and Ahasuerus will have implemented everything I coded last year. Now is a good time to talk to me about what's good or bad about ISFDB. I may even restart the beginners guide to using the ISFDB that I started last year before I discovered that we don't actually accept .DOC or .RTF files! Another user thinks he can fix that, and even if he doesn't I'm feeling enthusiastic enough to print it privately and give it away at a convention. Watch out for a hyperactive unhealthy nerd at Eastercon - I think I can make that at least.
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    hyper hyper

Good news for some Irish SF authors

The ISFDB Author directory now doesn't restrict entries to authors whose surname starts with two letters between A and Z - an apostrophe as the second letter is now allowed. I know this still isn't perfect (sorry Peadar!) but it's rescued over 400 authors. Hopefully the software improvements will start flowing a bit more easily now.
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I'm driving to Newcastle (English one) on Saturday to let a friend visit her cousin who's in hospital and has just come out of a 5-week coma. As I've never met him before it seems inappropriate for me to visit him as well, so I'm thinking of spending the afternoon indulging in second-hand bookshop visiting. Does anyone have any recommendations? The bigger the SF section, the better.

Also, as it's probably going to be over a four-hour drive each way, I'd rather stay over on Saturday night. Can anyone recommend a good B&B there?

Next language please!

Well, it turned out that I only needed to fill in a few dozen more magazines to bring Urania up to date. (The main series - there are several spin-offs that I could go on to, if I want to continue with Italian.) But some of the more recent titles took me into Italian translations of Chinese and Japanese originals, so I've branched out a little bit. And when I went back to moderating other people's submissions I found a pile of Hungarian translations of Italian titles that nobody else wanted to moderate! I'm not sure they're being entered in the most efficient way, but some people prefer to do things their own way rather than learn the shortest: I got told off for helping enter lots of French J'ai Lu titles without sufficient knowledge of French capitalisation rules.

Any requests for a particular language we're still weak on? Western Alphabet preferred, without too many accents. And if somebody can point me to nicely structured source data, e.g. grids of Title/Author/Date/Publisher/ISBN/Page Count/Price/Artist I can try some mass submissions again.
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    energetic energetic

Progress update

I haven't updated this in ages, have I? That's mostly because I've been working on Italian magazines - Urania in particular. (Another editor is entering Galassia.) I'm going to take a break after entering the fiction contents for over a thousand issues. I know there's still rework to do - we haven't identified Capitalisation rules for Italian works, so most contents are in what Microsoft determine is "Title Case" - and page counts and numbering are incomplete. And I may have mistyped some stuff. I now know a lot more Italian than before I started (which was next-to-none) but in some ways I think we at ISFDB may have the edge over the original sources now, as they only show Italian and original titles and we may have Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Polish and Russian too. (Yes, we have editors working in all those languages now.)

If anybody finds this useful, please let me know.
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I seem to have some competition

Chris Jensen is hot on my heels in the "Top Contributors" list:
1 Mhhutchins 173357
2 BLongley 124049
3 Chris J 124047
As he's in New Zealand and I'm in England, we seem to leapfrog each other each day. It's a nice incentive to add new stuff rather than wait for it to be submitted.
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    amused amused

Livros do Brasil, Argonauta Series, #562, done

Next time please remind me that, when I attempt to kick-start a new language on ISFDB, a short series is better than one with several hundred titles. I've learned a lot of Portuguese. And have some ideas on how it could have been a lot easier. Why did I do hundreds of "Add New Novel/Collection/Anthology" followed by hundreds of "Make This Title a Variant Title or Pseudonymous Work" when I have the ability to code a new "Add Translated Publication" option that does both steps in one go?

OK, there's a six-month backlog on code changes so maybe it wouldn't have got the data in any sooner, but I could do it faster in future. I'm going to treat myself to a pint or several and consider my next task. Welsh, maybe?
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    drained drained

Turning Portuguese...

...or Brazilian, maybe. I've been working on the "Livros do Brasil" "Argonauta" series. It makes a nice change, but apparently I'm annoying fellow moderators that want sources. Or that I should do them in smaller runs - apparently 500 titles at once is a bit much.

Does anyone know a bilingual Portuguese/English Bibliographer that would help us?
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    amused amused