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Some of what I've been doing all day...

The ads on this article page are not targeted yet, so please don't be alarmed at their unrelated content. It hasn't been up long enough yet for the spiders to figure out what's on the page, but here's an article I wrote and posted today on my latest site that I joined, HubPage -- this is a Hub:

Why start with a big set of colored pencils?

It's one of my favorite topics, the hub has two articles, a main one and a neat little sidebar article relating to it. I went ahead and laid it out more like a magazine article and had fun with it, put an image with it, and will be doing many more of these on colored pencil realism. I've got another one written but unedited.

I still need to do tonight's Daily Doodle and post something on eBay, and I'm not sure I'll get one of my swap cards done tonight too. But happily I do have seven more Photo ACEOs to list.

Good News, Annoying News, Bad news and more under the cut.



What I have been doing all day is replanning my online business -- which was planned to start in July with my buying an SBI site. But HubPage is an adshare host that gives a big percentage, also does some of the work for you, and I'm going to be using it to host some of my online articles and writings too. Including fiction perhaps. Why not? I've got stories to sell, why not make some of them free to readers and put them somewhere they'll do me some good? One thing I meant to do with my SBI site, which will get created but just not in July, is to choose one of my existing short novels and serialize it on the site.

I have so many trunk novels I can't possibly submit them all. Many are darn good and don't even need that much editing. So I'm triaging what goes where and in the past few weeks have been gaining an ever deeper respect for how online business works. I've been studying SBI and I've been looking at the results just from eHow.

Gee, all the stuff I wrote from November is still out there quietly, merrily earning anytime someone wants to get cat urine off their couch or draw a nose that doesn't look like a potato. So this will be more of the same, a bit like my eHows -- but more open in format. I can post related material like book or product reviews that isn't in the How To format, but is still the same thing -- information articles, free to readers, relating to the main topic, and happily all gathered together somewhere on a Grand Index of all my online writing.

Which I had better create somewhere by the end of the month at least in a temporary way because eBay is tightening its rules for links. Now you can't link to any page that sells anything off eBay even on your Me page. Ack. That means I can't link to my DeviantART page any more because technically, from that page you can go buy prints of my art, or prints of anyone's art, DeviantART sells prints. LiveJournal should still be okay because I have a paid account with no ads on it. My "Index of Online Articles" page can't have ads, but I don't know yet if just the fact that it leads to a service provided not from eBay is enough to knock it off my Me page. I hope not. I need to find out just how I can get my links together with some portal page that I can link to on my eBay About Me page so that my eBay circles do connect with my other circles.

They're really cracking down on links within listings, any image linked from a host not eBay has to be 88 x 33 pixels and no larger. I suspect this is because Auctiva and some other listing software has runarounds for using extra pictures without paying eBay to use extra pictures at 15 cents each. You host them at Photobucket or whatever and then put the link in the auction.

I think that's only when the images are in listings though, not images in comments threads intended to link to items in auctions. If it does that, there will be a massive disruption of sales because most of the time you don't get an image in the comments thread without using a photo host. Anyway, I'll have to change my About Me page and profile page and that -- but I'm not doing it till the end of the month when the new rule goes in.

So what I'm doing now, and what a lot of my Summer Fun Run wordcount will consist of, is back to the online nonfiction articles. eHows, HubPage hubs, and maybe some Squidoo lenses. I need to diversify. I'm also thinking of getting a Cafepress store sometime.

My plans changed drastically because of the bad news.

The Bad News.

This set off my change in plans. Two days ago I was casually letting Sascha come in to watch a nature DVD with me, as I do several times a week... and instead of just booting up the dialog window of "do you want to play this DVD on RealPlayer or one of these other programs" it just whirred, bleeped, tried with a desperate wheezy whining sound to bring up the DVD... it struggled like it was trying to find its strength and never caught. I put the DVD again, opened Realplayer manually and tried to Play CD. Nothing. I did troubleshooting trying to listen to the sounds the machine made for about half an hour with ten second interruptions from Sascha's stream of consciousness as she changed her mind about which video she wanted to watch or just insistently asked over and over for the one she wanted.

Four year olds don't have much patience for machines that don't work.

Finally after trying three or four DVDs, one of them caught. We watched some dinosaurs, not the one that was Sascha's first pick so she was grumpy about it.

Then yesterday the same thing happened.

Yeah. Kitten listened to it too as we shushed Sascha to hear it. Yep. The motor is dying on the DVD/CDRW in my laptop.

That means it needs to be fixed. Ow. In some way I need to be able to play DVDs or CDs and record CDs. Urk. Awk. Eep.

The Good News

The cheapest solution is to buy a USB cradle for about $30 and cannibalize the CDRW from another computer. Okay, that may work. It's possible the one from my old Dell is just fine. I didn't really have problems with that so much as the whole machine overheating.

It might even be able to be easily removed and put into the cradle that swaps out the CD drive or the floppy drive, because my old Dell had the option of both and I got it with the option. Possibly that option may save my plans for SBI.

Either the one from the Dell and the cradle from the Dell are compatible and I don't need to buy anything, and all I suffer from this is some inconvenience for a couple of months using a USB peripheral that means I have to unplug it or the printer or the mouse, or it would only be $30 to get a cradle and try that solution. Which means I might be able to get caught up through eBay sales and at least get my equipment to running tolerable again.

Or, I go ahead and use next month's check to get my computer fixed and instead of doing something Big with it, go for Electronics. Get the webcam that I meant to get in order to do How to Draw videos which would let me actually start making the How To Draw videos -- entirely possible the video-making could work best outside in the yard on a sunny day with pretty trees and plants as a backdrop. I'll have to wander through the house and yard for good sites for shooting the video. This does not mean you get to see Episode One: Robert Pretends He's Bob Ross right away.

I'd need to script the video, work out the project for Episode One, then find my location and shoot the video, then settle down in front of the machine and edit the video till it is clean and beautiful. Including finding good mellow low-key intro music for it from one of those "music you can use without copyright for your video."

Or, record Kitten on the harp or tinwhistle doing something Traditional that's not under copyright so that I get Irish Folk Music for my background music to the art videos. Oooh that would seriously rock, because she is very good as a musician and I could record that at home, it'd be more original good copyrighted goodies out of our household. Her Performance would be copyright to her and credited on the credits, naturally. I'll have to ask if she's willing to tootle around a bit.

Or I could perform the one dang tune that I wrote on the tinwhistle and use that as a theme song, it'd be something practical to do with the composition and then I would not have to bug Kitten for her time. When she is still currently far and away the best-paid writer of our household.

Which has all gone over to writing. HeraldoftheAbyss hasn't given up doing AesirTile and mosaic tile. What he's done is expanded to writing about mosaic tile as well and doing his own SBI site on mosaic tile and various historical styles of it and historical recreation example pieces and stuff. I'm evolving into the household's eBay expert by hanging out there and selling and buying a lot, right now I have the most feedback of the house and am actually up in the happy range of Over 100 Feedback where my auctions do not get buried on the fiftieth page even at the moment they're ending. So I may start doing the family's yard sales as well as my art while I'm ebaying, and will need to start exploring other eBay Groups to cover the other types of stuff I list so that it all gets posted somewhere besides LJ.

We are starting to go through and connect our sites and links and happy online writing schemes left and right, and they shocked me today when they pointed out that my DeviantART google rating was so sky-high that I am the person in the household who is likely to have the most results fastest off all this online writing jazz. Wow. Makes me feel special in the good way, not just in the special-bus way. My dA blogs and tutorials and art and art supply reviews and goodies have pumped a lot of money into DeviantART over the past few years.

In total, over there I have had 26,000 plus page views. Yeah. Page views. Okay, it was years to build up to that, it's not one of those insane sites where you get that much in a week, but still, it was pretty awesome to see that happen. Wow wow wow. Well, let's see what happens to art tutorials and art gabble and art supply reviews on HubPage where it only costs me time and articles to see what happens.

If I can't get the temporary solution to work, then I will still complete the Master Sets of Colored Pencils thing with the August order, and order the Design Bruynzeel in July so that it really is completion and I have the full range of the currently available artist grade brands to review, analyze, compare and do brand-specific demo art in colored pencil realism with. Readers will be able to know exactly what they're getting before they invest in their anchor set.

Then do SBI in September, but buy the webcam along with the computer fix and the Design Bruynzeel, maybe pick up those videos I wanted for Sascha. But that depends on how July goes in general and most of all on how much it would cost to repair my laptop.

After doing my first SBI and my Master Sets and that webcam, I'm going to start putting away some savings. This is a warning. I put laptops through a lot of wear and tear, and I bought this one in April 2007. I use it day and night. I beat on the keys hard with a fast pace and a heavy hand. I've killed laptops with overwork before... so maybe I should start saving up while it's still good and try to have enough on hand to buy a second machine before the first is gone. It would be nice to have more than one working, so that if I needed to send one out for a repair like that, I would not be offline till they're done.

I might be offline while the repair's being done. I want to try to get at least a quote on the problem before taking it to a repair shop. While it would certainly be more convenient for me if it could be actually fixed, the worn-out parts replaced (probably the engine for the CDRW) and sent home to function as normal, it's more likely I'll have to make space for an extra peripheral on a cord and hot swap it with my printer or scanner and buy a USB hub because this laptop only has two USB ports.

Of course Tiger Direct has a short time limited quantities sale on the next step up, the current Acer Aspire, with 2gb memory and all the features of this one, right now, when I do not happen to have $499 to throw at it. Heh, that'd solve the problem all right. Just use the new one for the video thing and keep this one for staying sane if anything goes wrong, semiretire it before it's dead. But I can't afford that so it's only a pipe dream.

But one that has become my next major goal after the Master Sets -- get ahead so that I have a Replacement Fund on hand whenever anything goes wrong with my main machine. Sure, I'll wait long enough for it to be delivered instead of wasting money at a physical store for it. But I want to know that if it happens I'm not going to be out of it that long.
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!

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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance
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