After the publication of my book last week I've had a number of questions about how I went about getting it published. I'm using a print on demand service - therefore the book is only printed when ordered and no stock is held. This is great for smaller projects such as my Travel Photography book however the print cost per copy is higher as you cannot benefit from economies of scale. There are two major players in the print on demand market, Lulu and Blurb.
Lulu offers a number of print on demand products including books, calendars, photo books and cook books. What Lulu provided over Blurb was a free ISBN number meaning that people could buy your book through shops such as Waterstones, WH Smiths and Amazon.
My problems with Lulu started when trying to upload my book. I had designed it using Apple's Pages application however Lulu did not support PDF's created this way (as far as I'm aware Lulu won't accept any PDF's created through Quartz based applications - even if the PDF is created through Adobe's Acrobat distiller, it is something to do with the way fonts are embedded into the PDF). I ended up uploading a 1.8 gig postscript file rather than a 300mb PDF to be able to print through Lulu.
When the proof arrived the print quality was poor, some parts were my fault for not adding images at a high enough resolution however ultimately it looked like it had been printed through an ink jet printer on the draft settings. Lulu do have another service just for photo book printing however this was a lot more expensive.
I was originally recommended Blurb over Lulu because of the print quality issues however the extra options (such as an ISBN number) provided by Lulu were enough to convince me to try them first. Blurb have created their own book creation software called Book Smart however there was no easy way to import between Apple's Pages and Book Smart so I ended up recreating the book using this software. This was good in many ways as it solved many of the resolution/DPI issues I had with Lulu. Book Smart also handles all of the conversion/uploading when it comes to publishing the book.
Blurb like Lulu allows you to set your own price for selling a book however they offer no free ISBN number and no way to sell your book as an eBook. Annoyingly there is no way to print from Book Smart without Blurbs 'this is a proof copy' message all over the PDF. Therefore for the eBook version I sell on ImAFish I've had to go back to my original copy created in Apple's Pages.
Prices between Lulu and Blurb are very similar, my book costs almost the same between Lulu and Blurb (though the Blurb book is a couple of cm smaller). Both allow for sales in UK Pounds, Euros and US Dollars and ship worldwide.
If you are creating a text heavy book such as a novel then Lulu's extra features such as an ISBN number are a clear winner. If you are creating a portfolio or photography book then Blurb's superior print quality is much better however if you are like me stuck in the middle between creating a photo heavy based book targeted at a wide audience then its a simple decision between quality and audience - I chose quality.
A break down of my exam results for anyone who understands.
In a nutshell I did well :D
215IS Professional Skills and Group Project
Coursework (Cw) 91
Module Mark (Mm) 91
Grade (Gd) Pass
217IS Database System Concepts
Coursework (Cw) 70.30
Exam (Ex) 66
Module Mark (Mm) 68.15
Grade (Gd) Pass
225CS User Interface Design
Coursework (Cw) 67
Module Mark (Mm) 67
Grade (Gd) Pass
232IS Multimedia Systems
Coursework (Cw) 73
Exam (Ex) 72
Module Mark (Mm) 72.50
Grade (Gd) Pass
241CS Computability Resit?
Coursework (Cw) 71.70
Exam (Ex) 51
Module Mark (Mm) 61.35
Grade (Gd) Pass
245CS Computer Communications
Coursework (Cw) 65
Exam (Ex) 59
Module Mark (Mm) 62
Grade (Gd) Pass
262CS Commercial Programming
Coursework (Cw) 79
Module Mark (Mm) 79
Grade (Gd) Pass
268IS Information Systems Engineering
Coursework (Cw) 55
Exam (Ex) 45
Module Mark (Mm) 48
Grade (Gd) Pass
January has been quite a slow month it seems, not a lot has happened and I'm just looking forward to going home in reading week (mid Feb) now. Second year of uni seems so different to the first, in a way its almost boring. I'm not sure why my motivation isn't as strong this year it just isn't.
I'm looking forward to next year, getting a house in particular should be good. Advice to anyone who thinks its a good idea to stay in halls in your second year then don't. You realise how much more work you have and how much money you don't have so you just end up by being woken up by drunk people in the early hours of the morning and watching countless hours of TV shows.
I'm looking forward to my holiday in the summer with Laura to Spain, it should be good. As for the rest of the summer its too far ahead but I do intend to go away again at least once. Can anyone say group holiday? It may be hard to organise but could be good fun, even if it was just to butlins.
On the Switchweb front things are going well, we have recently expanded some more so should be able to take many more orders!
My last article on ImAFish covered legit music download sites in the UK. This week Apple's iTunes store launched so I decided to take a look. The program is basically a download extension to Quicktime with a couple of nice ways to order and store your music.
Tracks come more pricey than their American equivalents - they get songs for $99 (55p) while we have to pay 79p however this is better than OD2's and Napster's 99p price tag.
I thought iTunes had some nice content but was still lacking much of the stuff I was interested in. However there is a radio section which does include a link to digitally imported radio.
Hopefully I will do a follow up article in the coming weeks as its quite a popular subject.
I carried on working on the Switchweb site today and gave the shopping cart a big well needed overhaul. Hopefully I will get the rest of the site done over the next week or so and add some of the features I have planned, thats as long as I don't forget them!
I'm home from university now which is a bit of a shocker as I didn't quite realize how much stuff I have. Most still lies on my bedroom floor waiting for a home over the summer.
Just if your interested this column entry comes from my new PC in my room - yes I'm currently sitting in bed updating my column - how sad!
I keep reading how writing web-logs such as this have changed peoples lives, while I'm uncertain as to whether my "blog" is life changing for anyone else or myself it hopefully will be something to look back on in years to come!
Until next time the comfort of my bed is calling for sleep - night.
My exams have now finished as of yesterday! Which means my first year of University is now over. Went out last night for one last big piss up before going home this saturday.
Was a good night, lots of dancing, meeting new people and drinking. It seems a bit sad leaving everyone at uni for the summer but looking forward to next year living with Ben, Luke, Chris, Wayne and 1 random person!
Going to spend the rest of today and tomorrow packing all my stuff (to which there is a lot)!
Hopefully next week I will get some time to work on the switchweb site. After reading [url]http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/3793825.stm[/url] today it looks like we are in a good market and hopefully a new design and a bit more marketing will increase our profitability even more.
I have been using SuSE Linux 9.1 over the past couple of weeks, most of it seems good though I'm having problems with media players atm. Will be sticking with Winblows for a bit longer. I tried out the MS Longhorn beta last week which is still pretty poor.
Anyway until next time - Laterz
Im now nearing the end of my first year and university and with less than 1 week to go and only 1 exam left I have started looking back at the past 9 months.
I have been trying to think what I have gained or lost? I have met a lot of cool people and have lots of good friends however I have drifted away from certain people back home and lost my girl friend. I keep thinking that we might still be together if I had stayed at home instead of going to uni but I would have missed out on so much.
Then there is the more phyical stuff, I now have a second PC, 2 printers (which im very proud of ;)) and the foundings of what could be a quite sucessful hosting company.
So do the gains out weigh the loses? Well in some aspects yes but in others unfortunatly its hard to replace with whatever you may have gained.
Either way life goes on for the summer then another year at uni! Should keep things interesting.
Its my first proper column update in about 6 months and a lot of changed since then! I'm now at uni in Coventry studying computer science. I live (next door to Benjie) about 5mins walk from the closest edge of the uni which luckily is situated in the middle of Coventry. Sainsbury's is about 10mins walk and Greggs (where I work) about 15.
The course has got off to a slow but good start. Computer Science is modular so my time is split up between 6 different modules, ranging from web design to programming to maths to e-commerce to psychology (it seems, its really information systems development). The best atm is either e-commerce or new tech and HCI (Webdesign) it varies from week to week.
The halls are nice, were built within the last 5 years and are grouped into blocks of 6, there are 3 English people (including Benjie) a Chinese girl an Italian man and an French lad. We all get on well and the range of foods we have cooking in our kitchen is great. A big bonus is the free broadband net connection we have, we haven't quite worked it out but Benjie has his suspicions its a duel T1 connection, as we can get good download speeds and its shared between a couple of hundred people. Its pretty stable most of the time but there are the occassional downtimes.
Filesharing it blocked however that doesn't stop us from getting the recent TV eps, music and films. Most importantly however I can still maintain the ImAFish site and stream DI.fm at nice speeds. The area we are in is a bit dodgy, we see hookers outside our windows occassionally and we have heard bad story's about what goes on in the "ghetto" (thats hillfields btw). The rest of coventry isn't bad, with being right in the city centre most things are within a walking distance, including a big computer shop (eclipse), a multiplex cinema, all the shops we could need and most importantly all the pubs and clubs.
Night life is good here, monday nights we are normally in the SU (student union) as all drinks are
As many of you will know March 13th was my 18th birthday! I can finally drink legally and don't have to worry about not getting served or getting into clubs and bars.
The day started well with my family sticking balloons all around the house and getting some great presents! March 13th this year was not only my birthday but also the day that we get our exam results back from any exams we had done just after Christmas.
The first result I got was from a business retake and I got an A! Which was a great improvement from my low C before. However the rest of my results weren't too good. Computing being the worst where I didn't even get a grade. This then leads me onto how bad my college is for computing, the average grade for the year on module 4 was a E. Some lucky people managed to get A's and B's but the majority of people got U's(ungradeable).
However the college is still sure that its our fault that we don't put enough effort in and it doesn't seem to want to make any changes for our year even though most people will probably fail. But it doesn't stop here! For the last 2 years the college has owned licenses for Microsoft visual studio which is what a lot of us are using for our coursework. However the college only installed visual studio at Christmas (after many people had started their coursework) and because we had been taught VBA in word in a text book with pascal examples in many people did not have a clue about programming.
Visual studio is still not on many of the computers in the class room and is not installed on any of the public computers meaning that we either have to work on our projects in lesson time or buy a copy of visual studio. The problem here is that college still uses VB6 which is not compatible with VB.net which is Microsoft's latest version of their product.
In the colleges defense the year below mine now learns pascal in there first year and will be using Delphi next year which makes a lot more sense but doesn't help my failing year at all.
Anyway back to my birthday! In the evening we had booked for a meal at Jenkos which is a Mongolian restaurant where you can eat as much as you want for a set price. We had a very good meal here and I would recommend it to anyone. A couple of my friends got me a talking timmy from south park and he rools! After the meal we went across the road to Bar Med, where I happily got asked for ID :D.
We had a couple of drinks there then moved onto Flares ( a nightclub which plays 70s music). This wasn't my idea but as it was next to Bar Med it was the least effort (and free to get in before 10). Flares was ok but nothing special, once they started to play "I've got a brand new combine harvester" I knew it was time to leave and probably never return. There is only so much "crap" music I can take and that pretty much drew the line!
Overall it was a good night out and even though the music in Flares may have been lame the atmosphere was slightly better and along with not being sober the night was quite good. Tonight (the day after my birthday) I'm going for a meal with my parents and tomorrow hopefully we will go to a slightly more modern club.
I have taken lots of photos and they will be soon posted on my little site.
I'm back from holiday and its time for another update to my world known column. After spending a week in Tunisia I'm glad to be back home, I had a good time though the Tunisians do get annoying. For those of you that don't know about Tunisia it is a country on North Africa that is in a pre broadband era at the moment though they do have Internet access.
I spent a week in a 4star hotel in the city of Sousse. The food was very nice and the hotel was very good too and most of the 'locals' were nice however it was annoying having to tip them for everything you do especially when they hover around and ask for money.
I got the distinct impression they were trying to get as much money out of us as possible, though this is most peoples goal the Tunisians didn't seem to do this with any respect or hide the fact that they wanted to rip us off.
Another thing I found really annoying is all the hassle they gave you especially when walking round the town, though we are told that they do this to everyone and it was part of the culture it seemed they only ever approached westerners perhaps cause we may have had more money. Though I tried my hardest to look German in the hope they may not pester me I could not make myself look moody enough.
As for the site I want to thank everyone for filling in the questionnaires (I now have almost 30) and I want to thank Steph for writing the articles while I was away and thanks to the columnists who updated their columns while I was away.