How to Use Amazon’s Createspace

If you’ve written a book in, say, Microsoft Word and have proofread it, properly formatted it, and have a title page, copyright page, introduction, table of contents and distinct chapters, you are essentially ready to roll for Createspace.

Although a variety of trim sizes (i.e., book sizes) are available, I recommend selecting the 6” x 9” setting, B & W. Why this trim size?, you may ask. Choosing a 6” x 9” trim size will ensure that your book is fit for most distribution channels. Your title will be exposed to more potential customers hence increasing your chance of being discovered and read.

Once your book is in its most perfect form possible and you have zero spelling and grammar errors, go to the Createspace website and, if you haven’t already done so, open an account. Select the “add new title” option. You don’t need to worry about buying an ISBN; Createspace will automatically assign one for you if that’s what you choose.

The secret is, once logged on and moving through the process, to find the link that leads to Createspace’s interior templates. Download the 6” x 9” template to your computer. Copy and paste your ready book into the template. Visually check that the pages are numbered sequentially; that your chapters are correctly numbered; that your headers alternate between your name and book’s title appropriately; and that you are completely satisfied with how the book appears. The template will ensure that your book’s margins, fonts, pagination and other settings satisfy Createspace requirements. If you’re careful, patient and thorough, this will save you time later. Export the file as a PDF and upload to Createspace.

After you’ve inputed the book’s title, have selected an ISBN, category, and successfully uploaded the book’s interior to Createspace, you’re now ready to create the cover.

In the same way that Createspace offers the right template for your book’s interior, Createspace has a cover creator. The creator comes with a variety of styles to choose from as well as images. If you choose an image from Createspace, make sure to read the fine print about what doing so entails. Alternatively, you can upload one of your own images. The steps you’ll need to complete while using the cover creator are: Theme, Title, Subtitle (if applicable), Author, Front Cover Image (yours or one offered by Createspace), Author Photo (optional), Publisher Logo (optional), Back Cover Text and Background Color. Createspace will take care of the bar code for you.

I enjoyed uploading my own image and experimenting with different styles and colors offered by the cover creator.

After completing the above, Createspace will suggest that you use its interior reviewer. I highly recommend that you do so. If you haven’t embedded your text, do not worry. Createspace will do it for you.

Createspace offers a range of distribution channels. The more channels you select, the more exposure your title will receive. I personally selected the minimum price threshold for my book (generated by Createspace) since this guarantees the lowest possible price for my readers.

Once you’ve finished, you’ll be prompted to submit your file for review. You’ll receive an e-mail within 24 hours with further instructions. In my case, I was congratulated, told that my file was printable, and asked to do a final review which I did.

What is the Cloud?

In case you didn’t know, Forbes is running a series on cloud computing.  In one of the articles, Apple founder Steve “the Woz” Wozniak partly defines cloud computing like this:  “The cloud’s a vague term even to me.  It can mean different things to different people.

“You don’t know where it is.  Cloud computing is a specific hardware organization where resources can be assigned remotely and switched around easily and used more effectively.  It saves a lot of physical labor, moving things around and lets people change their minds easily….” 1

Let’s get specific

In this article, I’d like to demystify the Cloud and let you see what’s inside this “vaporous mist.”

It’s like Legos

If you’ve ever played with Legos, you know that you build structures by “clicking” elements together.  You also know that you can dismantle structures by “un-clicking” elements.  In the case of cloud computing, it has to do with being able to separate operating systems and applications from physical pieces of hardware like servers in order to easily move the former around.

The reason for keeping hardware and software separate (via virtualization software, a component of cloud computing) is to be able to easily move operating systems and applications in the case of hardware failures. 2  Doing so enables systems to continue running and users to continue working, as if a crash hadn’t happened.

No longer dumb, but thin

In the old days, one mainframe used to be connected to several dumb terminals.  The mainframe allocated a certain amount of computing power to each dumb terminal and users were happy as long as things worked.  If the mainframe crashed, though, everything stopped.  If a company had, for example, an internal e-mail service, a mainframe failure represented a stoppage of the e-mail service. 3

Today, in cloud computing, instead of individual mainframes and dumb terminals, we have Terminal Services Servers (TSSs) and thin clients (hardware or software).  Virtual computing, which is a component of cloud computing, allows for the easy migration of operating systems and applications to different pieces of hardware. 4

Web applications

In cloud computing, using web applications means that you are using applications that reside on servers that don’t belong to you, that are outside of your computing environment.  If you open a web application,  it means that although a window will appear via your browser displaying the application you’re familiar with on a screen that resembles your desktop environment, the application, in fact, resides on a server external to your environment.  You did not purchase the application and you don’t have to worry about repairing or replacing it if it fails; you’re simply using the application as if it were located on your laptop.  This means that should your laptop crash, none of your work will be lost.  You can just get up, move to a different laptop or computer, log in and continue where you left off. 5

Clustering, replication and load balancing

In the Cloud, you can (using virtualization software) group multiple servers with identical databases together in clusters.  Data replication means that when Internet traffic increases to a server in a particular cluster, so much so that it risks breaking down said physical server, instead of crashing (with user services being interrupted), traffic will be redirected (i.e., the load will be balanced) to another server in the cluster.

If this, second, server comes close to being overloaded, traffic will be redirected to a third server in the cluster.  This process is repeated allowing users to continue working seamlessly without interruption of services due to hardware crashes.

It’s not what you think or where you think

One of the key concepts to grasp regarding the Cloud is that what you’re using doesn’t reside where you think it does; nor is it what it looks like.  This is because although what appears on your screen may look like your desktop, it isn’t your desktop; and the application that seems to be so close actually belongs to someone else and resides thousands of miles away!  You never purchased the application nor did you install it on your machine. 6  This means that instead of taking twenty-four hours to recover from a hardware crash, it can take only one hour.  This represents a great saving of time and effort.

Easy migration

In virtualization (client installed or using Hypervisor along with ESXI) the operating system “sits above the hardware” and, “using copy and paste,” you can move it to a new piece of hardware when needed.

(End of Part I)

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Untitled, by Luba Rascheff

References

1 Orosco, Cesar. “Steve Wozniak: Apple, Cloud, Flash, Luck And Open Doors.” Forbes. Published on April 15, 2013. Accessed on August 21, 2013.  http://www.forbes.com/sites/netapp/2013/04/15/steve-wozniak-interview/

2 elithecomputerguy. “Everyman IT, Introduction to Cloud Computing.”  Everyman IT. Published on December 17, 2010 on Youtube.  Accessed on August 21, 2013.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYzJl0Zrc4M

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

WHAT IS THE CLOUD? PART I Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff

ITECS: The Next-Generation Internet

The only constant is change.

Someone said that there can’t be a Web 2.0 because there was never a Web 1.0.  In like fashion, do you remember when George W. Bush said “Internets” and everyone laughed?  It turns out, however, that he was right:  there are, indeed, Internets (i.e., plural as in more than one). 1

My personal dissatisfaction with the term Internet

I think that the term “Internet” is a very poor way to describe the service that we use when we go online and what we actually do when we’re in virtual space.  That’s because when we go online, we:  upload, download, chat, read, write, talk, watch movies, listen to songs and learn.  In fact, we perform what can be called the essence of communication.

The next-generation Internet

If the only constant is change then it stands to reason that the Internet, like everything else, is also subject to evolution.  If it is subject to evolution then we needn’t split hairs about what we call it.  It’s no longer a matter of appellation, but of functionality.  It’s not what we call the thing (or, service), but what the thing (or, service) does for us that counts.

There’s much in a name

Having said that, names are, nevertheless, important.  Imagine for a moment that the Internet were called ITECS.  ITECS stands for Interactive Total Expression Communication Sphere.  Interactive because the Internet implies movement and interactivity; Total because of the all-encompassing scope of material available online; Expression because, in toto, everything on the Internet is an expression of some kind; Communication because what we express is non-static and, via interactivity, reaches intended recipients; and Sphere because I think this sounds so much better than Internet or, Information Super Highway which implies a linear trajectory as opposed to something more holistic like ITECS.

ITECS

Today, we have Internet1 (See, footnote 1):  a hodge-podge of information that is slow to access and may or may not be accurate.  (See, Static and Closed versus Interactive and Open Internet Web pages, lubarascheff.com) with a division of functions (See, Get to the Point: Effective Communication in the Digital Age, lubarascheff.com).

But what will next-generation ITECS be like?

Falling into the realm of speculation

Let’s do a free fall into the realm of speculation.  Let’s imagine a bit and make some smart guesses.  Unlike Internet1 (and more like Internet2), ITECS will be fast; much faster than what we’re using today (whether Internet1 or Internet2).  It will be entirely wireless and perhaps somehow connected to our bodies (See, Do As the Toltecs, lubarascheff.com, where I discuss screen incorporation) and resolution will be higher than anything extant.  ITECS will be transparent.  The case can be argued that in a speedy and transparent ITECS, users will be able to almost instantly do the following:  obtain information they seek; express themselves; and share information they deem valuable with a close group of friends or the world.  With speed, ease of access and a more evolved mindset that will necessarily accompany a more evolved ITECS, there will be less of a perceived need to dissimulate and/or deliberately upload incorrect information onto ITECS.  (See, “Internet inaccuracies” in Static and Closed versus Interactive and Open Internet Web pages, lubarascheff.com).  Users themselves will, together, act as a kind of counterbalancing “correction mechanism” if this happens.

In the same way that when we think it, our brains send signals to our fingers and toes that cause them to move, ITECS will enable us to, when we wish, holistically “merge” with its worldwide community of online users.  It will be an open, transparent, fast, ultra-high resolution, self-regulating sphere of total, interactive, information exchange.  ITECS will meet the needs of all users without being detrimental to people or the planet.

Evolution and credibility

Why should we wait for information?  If Internet2 “moves data 100 to 1,000 times faster than the old-fashioned Internet [i.e., Internet1],” 2, ITECS will move data at nearly the speed of thought.  I say nearly because, even though hyperly minimzed, as futurist Dr. Kaku posits (See, The Zero-Sum Game, lubarascheff.com), technical components (i.e., microchips) will still exist.  ITECS will, therefore, be almost instant.  Frustration gone.  Almost instant access to what you need most at the moment you need it.  Doesn’t this sound great?

When will this happen?

ITECS (or, something similar only called by a different name) will arrive sooner than we think.  This is because it will come into existence based on needs defined by our evolving communication requirements.  Our collective, evolving needs will compel innovators to create ITECS.

Image

Orb: Recursive

Author: “Exper” Giovanni Rubaltelli, Abstract Design, (c) 2007 G.R. “Exper”–exper.3drecursion.com

References

1 Russo, Alexander. Slate. Internet2: It’s better, it’s faster. You can’t use it. Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2005.  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/webhead/2005/06/internet2.html. And, Urban Dictionary, Definition of “Internets.”  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=internets&r=related.

2 Russo, Alexander. Slate. Internet2: It’s better, it’s faster. You can’t use it. Posted on Tuesday, June 7, 2005.  Accessed on Saturday, August 10, 2013.  http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/webhead/2005/06/internet2.html.

ITECS: THE NEXT-GENERATION INTERNET Copyright © 2013 Luba Rascheff

Permanently Offline

If the title of my article compelled you to read more, it’s probably because its antithesis holds true.1

We are so connected–on every level–that disconnecting both appeals to us yet seems entirely unattainable if not for allowable periods of time (e.g., sleeping).  “Instead of using media simply to receive information and/or entertainment only at certain points of time and for a specific amount of time, many … have developed the habit of being online almost permanently.”2  (my emphasis)

A person may, for example, discretely read the news on their mobile phone while in the company of others saying “Uh, huh” at strategic moments of a conversation they are only in part following.  This person is, in effect, “escaping” from reality by entering the online, virtual world.  If, however, we define reality as the “ultimate online experience” (this idea is similar to what is presented in the movie the Matrix) then, by getting on the Internet, we are going online to go “offline.”

Whether we’re in a train, bus and “even when driving our [own] car,” we don’t stop communicating.3  We may choose not to communicate with the person seated next to us; we may, instead, be communicating with someone on the other side of the globe.

Vorderer and Kohring ask why we are spending so much time online, to the point that it’s almost permanent.4  According to these authors, we do this in order to feel included5 and, I might add, not to miss out on something.  Stopping our permanent access to information and news would make us feel excluded and fear ostracism.6

With the heightened acceleration of modern life, we are also more and more online because “this sort of behavior is suitable to meet the communication requirements of our time.”7

Is it?

As I read the above, I thought, Who defines the communication requirements of our time?  Are they necessarily defined by and attached to the myriad digital devices we use on a daily basis, or is there an alternative?

Although reading the news on one’s smartphone while seated at a cafe (in the company of others or not) poses no immediate threat other than possibly offending someone by not devoting one hundred percent of your attention to them, thousands have literally met death or incurred injury by inattention while trying to negotiate driving or walking while engrossed in their cell phones.8

Where are we placing our attention?

In many ways, where we choose to focus our attention (and what percentage of said attention) appears to dictate where we are.   How much of us is at the cafe, listening to a conversation?  What part of us is learning about the latest natural disaster or reading our e-mails?

There doesn’t seem to be a clear cut answer to these questions.  Vorderer and Kohring say that even after rewarding periods of time offline, “eventually all go online again.”9

If we define going online as getting on the Internet, then perhaps, like any other favorite product we use, moderation is best.

Photographie personnelle, prise par Douz (Tunisie), Auteur: Asram

Photographie personnelle, prise par Douz (Tunisie), Auteur: Asram

 

References

1 Vorderer, Peter and Kohring, Matthias.  Permanently Online:  A Challenge for Media and Communication Research. International Journal of Communication.  Accessed on 30 July 2013.  <http://ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/1963/848&gt>

2 Ibid., 189.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid., 191.

5 Ibid., 192.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid..

8 “According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, 2,600 people died in 2004 and 330,000 more were injured while using cell phones just before an accident.” DoItYourselfStaff. Driving Safety Tips-Statistics on Deaths By Cell Phones. Accessed on 31 July 2013.  <http://www.doityourself.com/stry/driving-safety-tips-statistics-on-deaths-by-cell-phones#.UfpUx21uqSo>

9 Opcit., 190.

Interactive, Touch Reading

One of the great advantages to publishing digital media, in this case books, is the reading experience.  Unlike traditional, print books, readers are presented with a dynamic platform that can be controlled.

A “click” can take us, for example, from chapter one to forty-seven in an instant whereas in traditional books, we’d have to turn many pages to get there and would need a bookmark to remember where we were.

In electronic publications, readers are given a kind of control they previously did not have.  They are able to interact with the e-publication in a non-static manner.  In a way, the book almost becomes “alive” in their hands.  No longer a series of pages that one must manually turn in order to advance in the story, the book is transformed into one “fluid image of words” whose appearance can instantly change.

The screen

Unlike a print book that we hold in our hands and whose pages we must turn to delve deeper into the story, the e-book is presented on a screen.  It could be found on any one of a series of mobile or stationary devices (e.g., Amazon’s Kindle), yet will needs be a screen.  This means that whereas in print media we come into direct contact with the book in our hands, in the digital version, we are separated by a screen.  The screen, in a way, is therefore both the facilitator of our reading experience as well as its moderator.  It is the medium through or by which we reach our chosen medium (i.e., e-book).

That which prevents us from “touching,” so to speak, the object of our curiosity in the same breath enables us to see it in an unconventional and enhanced manner.  A combination of the screen and touch pad or mouse allows us to read the end of the story before we’ve read the beginning.  Alternatively, we can also instantly hop to the middle and go back to the beginning or end.  The point is that we no longer have to wait to get the information we want.  We can have it effortlessly now.  Past, present and future are seemingly melded into one.

In California, a group of school children were taken to see some older model telephones on display.  One of them finally said, “Oh, I get it!  You have to stick your finger in the hole and turn.”  He was, of course, referring to the plastic, rotating dial on the front of rotary-dial telephones that needed to be turned in order to compose a number.

Although we may read this and chuckle, most of us would never dream of giving up our touch pads or buttons (stationary or mobile), not to speak of our Skype connection.

A certain order

There is a certain order in the evolution of things including things technological.  There is a certain adaptation, too, a certain willingness to evolve along with it that is required on our part.  If we want the effortless ease of the seamless and interactive reading experience, we must adapt to the new model.

400px-Rotarydial

By Dhscommtech at English Wikipedia

Do as the Toltecs

The Toltecs say that we should never assume anything.  This is possibly the most precious advice ever.

When we communicate with people, it’s very tempting to fall into old paradigms and fixed ways of seeing the world.  This is what assumption is.

It’s easier for us to reference an event into a frame we’re familiar with rather than allowing for the possibility of something completely unexpected.

Expect the unexpected

With ever-increasing advances in technology (See, “The Zero-Sum Game” by Luba Rascheff), the external means that we use to express ourselves will become more and more adapted to the electro-chemical bundles that represent our bodies.  For example, cutting edge research involves understanding how fat is the quickest way to move data.  Fat, who would have thought?  Don’t assume anything, say the Toltecs.

If, as Michio Kaku says, in the future, we will be able to obtain information at the blink of an eye (or, by blinking our eye since the ubiquitous screen will now be attached to a contact lens) (See, “The Zero-Sum Game”), this necessarily implies that there will be a more intimate connection between our bodies (mind = body + thought) and the artificial elements (machine = chip + circuits) that facilitate the information exchange process.

Tell me what you know

In the future, our ability to instantaneously obtain any information we need will reduce our tendency to make assumptions.

It will break down our old frameworks of thinking and introduce new ones.

Future thought

The electro-chemical bundles in which we move around–our bodies–will become instruments with which we communicate holistically with our environment.  This approach will be radically different from traditional methods of communication.  It will be streamlined, instantaneous, coordinated and highly efficient.

To get to this point, though, we must start assuming less and engaging more with our quickly changing environment.  We must do as the Toltecs.

DO AS THE TOLTECS Copyright © 2013  Luba Rascheff

Toltec-style Vessel

Toltec-style Vessel (Photo credit: Madman2001)