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A Guide to Being an Author

Self-publishing authors are all the rage these days. With the advent of technology like ebooks, and platforms such as Kickstarter and Go Fund Me to help defray (if not outright cover) the costs of physical publishing, people today are able to bring their ideas to fruition easier than ever. No more vetting by monolithic publishing companies, or meddlesome editors interfering with your effort to bring to light your thoughts on the next earth-shattering idea. You, too, can be the next Malcom Gladwell, Amy Tan, or David Sedaris.

The only question, really, is what to write about to drive an audience to your Next Great American Novel? If you’ve perused lately, you’ll see that the adage “There’s no accounting for taste” is alive & kicking. But what can you write about that both hasn’t been covered, and will prove to be popular? One way to solve such a dilemma is to engage in an exercise where you come up with a list of book topics that almost certainly won’t generate any interest from the public, then write something that is the opposite of that. What follows is a list of titles I have handily compiled, to help you know what books NOT to write. All you have to do is figure out the book that is not one of these, and then write it, and publish it. Profits soon to follow. You’re welcome.

  1. The Technology of Babies
  2. A Sojourn with Monkeys: My Visit to the Topeka Zoo
  3. The Paradox of Black Light Candles: Understanding the World through the Prism of Impossible Dreaming
  4. Making Friends at the Mall
  5. A History of Church Picnic Menus
  6. Aloha Olaf: A Guide to Cabana Wear for Norwegian Beaches
  7. Learn Anything in About 20 Minutes: A Specific Guide to Being Terrible at Everything
  8. The Trouble with Overweight Giraffes
  9. A Restaurateur’s Guide to Dining at 3:15 p.m.
  10. The Curious Case of Diaper Disposal Systems around the World
  11. The Hamburger that Talked (About Politics in New Guinea)
  12. Mistakes Were Made: Why Pinatas Don’t belong at Funerals
  13. The Price of Misjudgment, or How I Spent 40 Years without Beets
  14. Why I Named My Cat Franklin Pierce
  15. Silent but Deadly: How Shrimp Flatulence Threatens the World’s Oceans
  16. A Pawn in the Game of Scrabble: Introducing Disruptive Innovation to Your Family Game Night
  17. The Day I Loaded a Dishwater on an Airplane: A Critique of Contemporary Law Enforcement Training at Airports
  18. The Armadillo Who Thought He Was a Bicycle
  19. Shrugging Your Shoulders at the World: A Self-Help Guide for Kindergartners
  20. Measuring Boiling Noodles in a Pot, and Other Bad Ideas

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

“Hi, honey, how was the bar?”

Oh, it was OK. I ran into Larry.

“How’s Larry doing?”

Well, unfortunately, he and Susan recently divorced.

“Oh, that’s too bad. I’m really sorry to hear it. Money troubles?”

No, she wanted him to learn the names of the fish.

Hands and a Foot

My wife and I marked our 10-year wedding anniversary this week, so I wanted to put up this post. It’s about a new toenail fungal medicine called Jublia. More specifically, it’s about this commercial for Jublia:

Jublia Commercial

If you didn’t click the link, the commercial shows an animated foot playing tennis against the words “Toenail Fungus” in block letters. Let’s review all of the problems I have with this commercial:

  • First, why does the foot have hands? “To grip the racket, you big dummy!” is what you’re probably thinking. But its Toenail Fungus opponent doesn’t have hands. Why does only the foot have hands? If Toenail Fungus doesn’t need hands to play tennis, what special qualities does the foot lack that require it to have two floating, disembodied hands? And why are the hands wearing purple rubber gloves? Is that allowed in tennis? Maybe only on the pro-am circuit?
  • Second, what sort of game is this they’re playing? At no point does the foot ever follow the rules of tennis. It starts by serving the ball not at the opposite side of the court, but rather directly at its opponent. It hits Toenail Fungus square in the gut! This is followed by a volley in which the foot repeatedly hammers the ball against the opponent. Were this tactic to be used on an actual tennis court, it would not result in a victory. Why not show the foot beating Toenail Fungus per the game of tennis?
  • Next, the foot is giddy and smiling throughout the commercial. (The big toe has a face.) Does it not know that it has no idea how to play tennis? Or is it taking some kind of sadistic pleasure in purposefully breaking the rules, just to physically damage its opponent? Does this indicate that you should also take a Xanax with Jublia?
  • Additionally to the point of the foot’s humanistic depiction, why is it wearing a visor? Did the ad agency think we wouldn’t take the foot seriously as a tennis player if it merely had the face, hands and racket involved?
  • The stadium is shown as being packed with lively fans. I’m going to assume the people there had no idea about the match they were about to see. I mean, if someone told those folks, “Hey, let’s go watch a tennis match!” and then they asked who was playing, and were told, “Just a disembodied foot versus some toenail fungus,” and they still showed up in droves? I am really not OK with that kind of world. On the other hand, if they didn’t know who was playing ahead of time, but still stayed to watch a foot versus a fungus, I’m probably even less comfortable with that.
  • Finally, considering that the foot is depicted as being infected with toenail fungus itself in the commercial, why not show it being gradually cured over the course of the ad? The foot looks just as bad at the end as it does at the beginning!

Anyway, I wanted to make sure everyone was aware of these seeming discrepancies and confusing plot points in this commercial. After all, if you can’t trust a drug maker to make an accurate cartoon about an anthropomorphic foot playing tennis, how is it supposed to cure whatever it is that ails you? Also, Happy Anniversary, honey!

Capturing an iPad app via Adobe Captivate

I’m hoping this blog post finds an audience to help me solve a problem I’m facing in capturing an iPad app with Adobe Captivate. Here’s some background on the project, since you might be wondering why I’m trying to create eLearning for an app because aren’t all apps supposed to be intuitive and easy to use?

The app works in conjunction with a desktop/laptop application. The desktop application pushes data to the iPad app, basically. Therefore, the eLearning needs to not only show how to use the app, but also how to use the desktop application to push data to it.

The chief problem I’m having is capturing the actions in the iPad via Captivate. I’m using Captivate 8 on a Mac laptop, and I have an AirPlay application installed to mirror the iPad to the Mac screen. When I go to record in Captivate, it seems I have two options:

  1. Set it to record in video mode, which allows for all of the beautiful animation of the app to be recorded. Unfortunately, I can add only highlight boxes to this; I can’t include a mouse cursor or other objects or interactions to this. I can pan & zoom, but that’s it, right?
  2. Set it to record a software simulation, and manually click on the capture area on the laptop to mimic what is happening on the iPad. This allows for highlight boxes, etc., but leaves out some of the animation within the app.

Is there another option I’m missing? Any help is appreciated.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 8

This week, in light of last week’s debacle, I’m going to try something different. I’ll list the games, what I think the spread should be, and what the actual spread is.

Game My Line Actual Line Comment Pick Best Bet?
Minnesota at Tampa Bay Tampa Bay -3 Tampa Bay -2.5 It’s telling that Vegas doesn’t trust the home team with a full field goal here. Minnesota
Detroit at Atlanta Detroit -1 Detroit -3.5 While Atlanta is technically the home team, this game is being played in London. I think Atlanta will struggle to move the ball against the Lions defense. These are two teams moving in different directions. Detroit
Buffalo at NY Jets Buffalo -1 NY Jets -3 I know Buffalo is without Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller. I know the Jets have played a tough schedule and have a defense that can hang with teams. But I know Geno Smith is not a good QB, and I think the Bills defense is plenty good enough to stop him. Buffalo
Chicago at New England New England -3 New England -6 Yikes. The Bears certainly haven’t looked great this year, but are they this bad? After all, they’re 3-1 on the road! I could see the Patriots winning by a touchdown, but I can also see Belichick doing just enough to get his team the win as they face an even bigger test next week against Denver. Chicago
Seattle at Carolina Seattle -3 Seattle -5.5 Seems like Vegas doesn’t want to let go of the story about the Seahawks being the defending Super Bowl champions. There’s little to recommend the Panthers here, and Seattle’s defense should be able to limit the Panthers. Seattle
Miami at Jacksonville Miami -6 Miami -6 Well, here’s one game I called correctly. Miami is just too hot right now. This might be the gift of the week. Miami Yes
Baltimore at Cincinnati Cincinnati -1 Baltimore -2 The Bengals certainly miss AJ Green, but more than the absence of their top player has to account for how wrong things have gone for them since their bye week. Baltimore, meanwhile, has looked mostly dominant this year. This is a revenge game for the Ravens, who lost to Cinci in week 1. Hard not to like a home dog, but the Ravens are the better team right now. Baltimore Yes
Houston at Tennessee Tennessee -1.5 Houston -3 Ryan Fitzpatrick is not an elite NFL QB. But neither is anyone the Titans are going to put on the field. Houston
St. Louis at Kansas City Kansas City -3.5 Kansas City -7 Another intrastate rivalry game for this week. The Chiefs are the better team, but St. Louis can compete St. Louis
Philadelphia at Arizona Arizona -3 Arizona -1.5 I think Philly will struggle to score against a defense as good as Arizona’s. Arizona
Indianapolis at Pittsburgh Indianapolis -5.5 Indianapolis -3.5 I’m not going to be fooled by Pittsburgh’s win over a beat-up Texans team on Monday night. Indianapolis Yes
Oakland at Cleveland Cleveland -3.5 Cleveland -7 I mean…what? The Browns by more than three again? Oakland is not a good team, but I don’t see them rolling over. I think Cleveland is one of those teams that plays up or down to their opponent. Oakland
Green Bay at New Orleans Green Bay -3.5 New Orleans -2.5 In the same way Vegas seems to not want to give up on the story of the dominant Seahawks, they also appear to be struggling with coming to grips over how bad Drew Brees and the Saints are this year. Green Bay
Washington at Dallas Dallas -6.5 Dallas -10 Wow. Wow. Yes, Washington is awful. And who knows if the QB who starts for them will finish the game as well. Dallas

NFL Lines 2014, Week 7 Recap

So, it occurred to me after I posted the Week 8 Thursday Night Game pick (thanks, Chargers!) that I never posted my week 7 recap. I went a miserable 5-9, bringing my overall record to 52-51-2. My best bets (why did I include the Browns in there!?!?) went 1-2, bringing that record to 6-4-2.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 8 Thursday Night

San Diego +9 at Denver

There’s always a danger in going against Peyton Manning, at home, in a night game. Witness last week’s unpacking of San Francisco. There’s also a chance Phillip Rivers reverts to Philip Rivers. But this line started at Denver -7.5, which I thought was fair, and moved 1.5 points. Here’s hoping we have the second close Thursday night game of the year.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 7

Thursday Night Recap

Of course they Jets covered, of course they did.

Sunday’s Games

Interesting note for this week’s games: only three home dogs are listed. Would you rather put your money on Jacksonville, St. Louis or Oakland covering?

Atlanta +6.5 at Baltimore

The Ravens are the better team, no doubt, but Atlanta should be able to keep it closer than this.

Minnesota +6 at Buffalo

It’s hard to imagine the Bills giving more than a field goal to anyone this season. The under (43) might be the most attractive aspect of this game.

Cincinnati at Indianapolis -3

The Bengals have looked terrible since returning from their bye week, and now it looks like they will be without WR AJ Green. That’s not the formula you want to bring against the red-hot Colts on the road.

Tennessee + 5 at Washington

This is a bit of a puzzling line. Yes, you have the Titans (a terrible team) on the road, and without their starting RB (Shonn Greene). But Washington is also an awful team, and QB Kirk Cousins can’t seem to keep from self-destructing.

Miami at Chicago -3

I think there’s a danger in the Bears looking past the Dolphins, even though Miami has played teams tough this year. But Miami just shouldn’t be able to match up with all of the offensive weapons the Bears have.

Cleveland -4 at Jacksonville

Just as there should be no excuse for the Bears losing at home to Miami, Cleveland has to be able to win this game at Jacksonville. And if they want to be seen as a team that will compete to win the AFC North, they have to make it a convincing win, and not like the come-from-behind, last-second victory against the Titans.

Seattle -6.5 at St. Louis.

The Seahawks have hardly looked like Super Bowl champions the last few weeks, but was Percy Harvin’s presence and problems in the locker room really all that was holding them back? The Rams aren’t nearly the offensive threat the Cowboys posed last week for Seattle, and this game is an opportunity for them to right the ship and keep pace with a resurgent San Francisco squad.

Carolina +6 at Green Bay

Carolina is still dealing with a number of injuries, but the Packers just can’t seem to put together a great game. The Panthers always seem to keep it close.

New Orleans at Detroit -1.5

Here’s another confusing line. Yes, Megatron probably won’t play for the Lions, but their defense (No. 1 in the league against the pass) should be able to contain the struggling Saints, who have their own star player problems in Jimmy Graham.

Kansas City at San Diego -3

I don’t think I like the idea of taking Andy Reid on the road.

NY Giants at Dallas -4

Will Dallas be in for a letdown after last week’s huge win over Seattle? Will the Giants return to the form we saw from them in the three games prior to last week’s beatdown at the hands of the Eagles? Without Rashad Jennings and Victor Cruz, I don’t see the Giants getting it done.

Arizona -3 at Oakland

Arizona’s secondary can’t cover anyone, but they get to play against David Carr this week. I think the Cardinals will continue to play well with Carson Palmer back.

San Francisco +6.5 at Denver

The 49ers could win this game; six and half points just seems like too many.

Houston +3 at Pittsburgh

Houston has 12 players listed as Probable on this week’s injury report, but I still like their chances against a foundering Steelers team.

Best Bets

This week, I like Cleveland, Indianapolis, and San Diego.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 7 Thursday Night

NY Jets at New England -9.5

I hate giving this many points, but New England has been on a roll, the Thursday night games have been blowouts so why not go with the favorite, and the team that’s played better on Thursdays has been the one that’s better prepared. I trust Belichick to have the Pats more ready than Rex Ryan and the Jets. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Geno Smith get pulled at halftime if he doesn’t move the Jets in the first half.

NFL Lines 2014, Week 6 Recap

I had an identical overall record to last week: 8-6-1, but my best bets were a bust, going 0-2-1. In hindsight, the Ravens were a much more obvious best bet to include. Also, I was 0-1 in picking home dogs both this week and last, and did best in choosing road favorites (2-0 last week, 4-1-1 this week). Overall, my record is 47-42-2, while my best bets are 5-2-2.

The Bengals have looked bad two weeks in a row now; did something happen on their bye week to throw them off? The Browns, meanwhile are rolling, and have an easy slate of games upcoming.