Ugly Pics of AF3e auction signatures

The auction of Absolute FreeBSD 3rd edition signed by the FreeBSD devs attending MeetBSD is underway.

Gathering the signatures is also underway.

Here are some cruddy pictures taken with my cellphone while sitting in the devsummit audience.

A similar auction for my last OpenBSD book raised $1145. Consider this a challenge to the FreeBSD community.

The overwhelming theme of the commentary seems to be “apologies,” which is slightly worrisome but the cluster admins say “everything is fine” so I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.

Absolute FreeBSD now shipping!

Amazon can deliver and NSP has copies, so I think I can say: Absolute FreeBSD is now shipping!

Here’s the Obligatory Gratuitous New Book Selfie.

af3e selfie

Grab an ebook/print bundle direct from No Starch Press. NSP coupon code ILUVMICHAEL gives you 30% off any NSP purchase and puts a few extra bucks in my pocket, so that’s cool. And there’s Amazon. There’s always Amazon, the company we all love to loathe.

Or check the book page for links to other stores.

Developer-signed “Relayd & Httpd Mastery” hardcover

This post is for bids on the brand new first-ever hardcover edition of Relayd & Httpd Mastery that I’m going to have signed by every developer I can catch at MeetBSD. Proceeds go to the OpenBSD Foundation.

Rules are on the announcement page, but in short: the auction ends on 20 October 2018, at the close of MeetBSD. Each bid must be at least $5 more than the prior bid. I’ll hand over or mail the copy upon getting a copy of the receipt for the OpenBSD Foundation.

The auction takes place entirely on this page. Folks at MeetBSD get no special advantage.

FreeBSD & OpenBSD fundraisers

TLDR: FreeBSD auction here, OpenBSD auction here. Bids on this page will be ignored.

The brand-new third edition of Absolute FreeBSD is in one of my greasy mitts right now. As is customary, I’m using this to persuade other people to give money to the FreeBSD Foundation.

In unrelated news, I’ve just come up with a hardcover version of Relayd and Httpd Mastery. I have the test proof of that book in my other greasy mitt. I might as well use this to persuade other people to give money to the OpenBSD Foundation.

In my third greasy mitt, I’ll be speaking on Why BSD Saturday morning at MeetBSD.

As I’m going to a con anyway…

I’m taking an AF3e and this R&HM proof to MeetBSD. There I’ll get as many FreeBSD and OpenBSD devs as possible to sign them. There’s a FreeBSD devsummit the day before the con, so I should be able to get a bunch there. I don’t know how many OpenBSD folks will be there, but I’ll grab any of them I can capture with my fourth greasy mitt. (I’m told at least a couple will be, and I’m really looking forward to them asking questions of our esteemed Intel hosts.) I’ll probably get the MeetBSD con chair to sign, because why not?

I’m proactively auctioning off both of these for donations to the respective Foundations.

The auctions will run in different posts, here on this web site, from now until the evening of 20 October 2018. That’s the last night of MeetBSD. Yes, I’m hoping to run up the price.

Some comments and rules.

  • Is this a cynical scheme to raise money for further development of assorted BSD-related projects?


  • Do the Foundations know you’re doing this?

    No. Why would they? This is between you, me, and the random committers I get to sign the books.

  • Why do this here, instead of an auction site like eBay?

    Partly because authors normally do this sort of thing on their web pages. Partly because it simplifies the running of the auction. And partly because it means I have no financial connection to the results. Touching donated money causes me weird non-financial risks, thanks to the unholy trifecta of how federal and state law interacts with my family situation. (No, I won’t explain that. It’s personal. Deal.)

  • Why not have each Foundation run this, then?

    They’re busy doing real Foundation work.

  • Why not just give money yourself?

    While I make more than the US national average, almost anyone who reads these books makes tens of thousands of dollars more than I do. Past auctions have shown that y’all can pay far more than I, when motivated by some silly prank inspired to do so.

  • When does the auction end?

    6 PM PST Saturday, 20 October 2018. Or sometime shortly after that.

  • That’s a stupid time. Where’s my countdown timer?

    It’s convenient for me. It also will discourage last-minute sniping.

    If last minute bids are coming in fast and furious, I’ll let it run until bidding stops for five minutes or so. Fight it out fair and square.

  • When does the auction start?

    When I hit “publish” on this blog post.

  • How do I bid?

    Comment here with your bid amount. Each bid must be a minimum of $5 more than the previous bid.

  • How do I track competing bids?

    Check the “Subscribe to Comments” box when you bid.

  • Where will the winner be announced?

    On a separate blog post a day or two after the con. I’m traveling the 21st, so I’m not sure how this will work out. You can read the comments and see the winner, though.

  • How do I claim my prize?

    You have three days to make your donation. Send me your PayPal receipt.

    If the donation is sufficiently large, I might ask you to give the Foundation permission to tell me that you actually donated the money.

  • What if the winner doesn’t pay?

    The prize falls to the #2 bidder, who I will contact.

    I won’t blog that the #1 person sucks, but I will say that they didn’t donate and thus the award falls through to #2. You’re perfectly capable of determining a person’s suckage level on your own.

  • What exactly will the winner get?

    A copy of the book you bid on, defaced by developers, leading community members, and myself.

  • Where are the detailed rules?
    In my head.

    Looks, this is supposed to be fun. You know how an auction works. We’re all in the BSD community. But if someone plays silly buggers, I am the final arbiter of how an auction works. I don’t make money no matter how this turns out.

  • Committer-signed “Absolute FreeBSD 3rd Ed” auction

    This post is for bids on the brand new third edition of “Absolute FreeBSD” that I’m going to have signed by every developer I can catch at MeetBSD. Proceeds go to the FreeBSD Foundation.

    Rules are on the announcement page, but in short: the auction ends on 20 October 2018, at the close of MeetBSD. Each bid must be at least $5 more than the prior bid. I’ll hand over or mail the copy upon getting a copy of the receipt for the FreeBSD Foundation.

    The auction takes place entirely on this page. Folks at MeetBSD get no special advantage.

    AF3e ship date and next FreeBSD talk

    The print version of Absolute FreeBSD, 3rd Edition leaves the printer on 4 October 2018. They will absolutely be on hand for MeetBSD.

    Thanks go to Bill Pollock, shot-caller at No Starch Press, for making this happen. Paper shortages drove the printer to slip the ship date to mid-month, which would have made getting the books to MeetBSD impossible. Once he knew of the problem, he was able to properly aim the butt-walloping department and get the books done in time. Bill was also prepared to run a few copies as print-on-demand so I could meet my obligations, which is more than many publishers would be willing to do, but POD of big books is nowhere near as nice as real printing. Besides, my most eager readers, the ones likely to show up at MeetBSD, are the ones who most deserve a properly printed book.

    Plus, if I’m gonna get on a blasted airplane because my new book is out, I at least want the book to be there when it arrives.

    This doesn’t mean Amazon will ship your print book on 4 October. The books need to traverse the physical distance between the printer and the warehouses. But from here on out, it’s all routine.

    In related news, I’ll be talking FreeBSD at on 9 October. With any luck I’ll have print books there too.

    Happy #CIDRDay!

    On 24 September 1993, the IETF published RFC 1519, designating Classless Interdomain Routing (CIDR) and variable length subnet masks as the standard. That particular document is obsoleted by later RFCs, but it’s still a milestone.

    Before then, IP addresses were allocated by “classes.” Class A, B, and C addresses were the norm. I’m not going to explain classful addressing, because it’s long obsolete and, on the current Internet, stupid.

    What I am going to do is go on a mini-tirade about classful addressing. Because there’s a lot of people out there still teaching classful addressing to newcomers. And then these poor newcomers hit the field, and people like me have to spend our time unteaching them what they so painfully learned.

    I fully understand it takes a few years to disseminate knowledge. But textbooks are still being published that claim classful routing is the standard. This is an appalling disservice to the profession.

    Yes, CIDR looks hard. But if a new network admin can’t handle CIDR and VLSM, they shouldn’t be administering networks. That’s perhaps the easiest math they’ll need to handle in their career. And the Internet is full of cheat sheets for people who don’t want to bother to do the math.

    On this, the 25th anniversary of Classless Inter-Domain Routing, I hereby declare 24 September 1993 CIDRDay, dedicated to stamping out classful addressing. A whole variety of celebrations are appropriate.

    First, of course: cider! Cider is obligatory on CIDRDay.

    Second, whenever someone who should know better says “Class C,” “Class B,” or “Class A” address? Explain to them the error of their ways, with the minimum amount of force needed to make sure that they never say it again.

    If you know someone who’s still teaching that garbage? Yell at them until they promise to stop. If yelling doesn’t work, escalate.

    Because frankly, I’m tired of reeducating innocent newcomers who should have been better served by their instructors.

    talking on CreateSpace-KDP print Migration, 24 September 2018

    The subject pretty much says it all, but:

    On 24 September, at 7 PM, I’ll be talking about migrating books from CreateSpace to KDP Print, including procedural, technical, and business aspects thereof, at the Grey Wolfe Scriptorium. “Talk” is a strong word here; we’ll have a couple remarks and then a back and forth discussion.

    It’s a public event.

    I won’t say I know everything there is on this topic, but I’ve been following it closely. The hard parts of my migration are done, and I should be ninety percent finished by then. We all know that’ll leave me with only ninety percent of the work left to do.

    Pricing Shifts between CreateSpace, IngramSpark, and KDP Print

    The massive KDP Print Migration is underway, and I noticed pricing differences straight off. While they initially infuriated me, once I gathered all the data I became much more mellow.

    I put my short stories (8,000-12,000 words) in print, primarily so that comparative pricing makes the ebook looks cheap. Maybe folks won’t pay $0.99 for a short story in ebook on its own, but they will pay $2.99 for that same ebook if there’s a print version for $5.99. I don’t expect anyone to buy my shorts in print; that’s not what they exist for. I consider those folks who do buy them hard-core fans, though, and I try to make them as nice as possible.

    How do I price these? Well, if someone buys one of these stories I want to make at least a dollar. (Yes, that’s difficult for ebooks–Amazon, for example, gives a 35% royalty on prices under $2.99 and 70% at $2.99 or more. Figuring all books are priced at $X.99, I can make roughly $0.35, $0.70, or $2.)

    Print books are a little easier, though. I feed PDFs into the system, let it compute print costs, and twiddle the retail price until I make just over $1.

    With the CreateSpace shutdown, though, I’m really noticing pricing differences. Let’s look at the first short I converted.

    Spilled MirovarThe first Prohibition Orcs story was priced at $5.99 in print via CreateSpace, for 100 5×8 pages of orcish bootlegging. That gave me a profit of $1.44; perfectly reasonable.

    I fed that into IngramSpark, and was rewarded with a net of $0.61.

    Whoah. Cue boiling blood.

    Before I go all stabby, though, let’s gather all the information. For an apples-to-apples comparison, I’m setting the CreateSpace price of Spilled Mirovar to $6.99, same as KDP Print and IngramSpark. We really need to make two comparisons. CreateSpace’s Expanded Distribution (CSED) is analogous to IngramSpark, and CreateSpace’s Amazon service is migrating to KDP Print.

     CreateSpace Expanded DistributionIngramSparkCreateSpace to AmazonKDP Print
    US ($6.99 retail)$0.64$1.12$2.04$2.04
    UK (£5.99 retail)n/a£0.96£1.97£1.89
    EU (€5.99 retail)n/a€0.6€1.89€1.69

    First off, it’s clear that IngramSpark smokes CSED–especially when you consider that CSED pays everything in US dollars.

    It’s also clear that KDP Print’s European net is lower than CreateSpace’s.

    This exposes a weakness in my “make at least a buck on a story” strategy. It sounds reasonable, but I never made a buck on CSED of short stories. I ignored CSED on these titles, because nobody was going to buy a stupid story about orcs bootlegging in 1927 Detroit. (I’m grateful to the people who proved me wrong.)

    Once I impose that requirement on CSED/IngramSpark, everything gets more expensive. So while it initially looks damning, there’s no cause for outrage. Annoyance at losing margin on EU sales, yes.

    The question is, what do I do with this information?

    The obvious thing to do would be to price print books differently by channel, but online price-matching is rampant. The cheapest price I set in a currency is the real price I’ll be paid for. I’m not willing to give my work away.

    My decision is, I’m not going to migrate most of the short stories to IngramSpark. My best-selling shorts will go on IngramSpark, but that’s it.

    I’m still going to migrate everything to my ISBNs, because I want that control. Pricing will change, new channels will open, and with my own ISBNs on everything I will have the flexibility to take advantage of it. There’s a big comfortable difference between “finish this before an unknown deadline a few weeks from now, or else!” and “try to polish this off before 2019.”

    What about larger books? Let’s check out my nerd cozy mystery git commit murder. While I should revisit the pricing in light of exchange rate changes, the comparison should still make sense.

     CreateSpace Expanded DistributionIngramSparkCreateSpace to AmazonKDP Print
    US ($14.99 retail)$2.00$3.16$5.00$5.01
    UK (£11.99 retail)n/a£2.48£3.87£3.88
    EU (€12.99 retail)n/a€2.38€4.65€4.06

    The difference between CSED and IngramSpark really shines on larger books. I make a penny more in the UK, and less in the EU? Uh, okay, fine, I guess.

    Before someone asks why I make more on novels than short stories, it’s because 1) they took longer to write, and 2) bookstores make their money based on the sale price. A bookstore won’t handle a book unless they can make a few bucks off it. A book like git commit murder or FreeBSD Mastery: Specialty Filesystems has a narrow audience, and cutting the price to $0.99 is not going to improve my sales.

    IngramSpark is definitely improving my sales. I’m selling print books through third parties in Asia and Australia, which I never really managed before. I’m being paid more for sales that would have gone through CSED. Additional IngramSpark sales have already paid back what I spent for a thousand ISBNs. I have only a small subset of my titles fully through their system so far, so I’m hopeful that’ll increase when the rest grind through.

    The truly annoying thing about all this: CreateSpace and IngramSpark both use the same printing machinery, at the same companies. The different prices are entirely business decisions. I’m not declaring that my lower net on CSED books was absolutely Amazon’s attempt to discourage availability of my print books outside their ecosystem, but my lower net on CSED books was almost certainly Amazon’s attempt to discourage availability of my print books outside their ecosystem.

    On the plus side of this migration: the Prohibition Orcs books have spiffy redesigned covers. I am well pleased. And the first one is only $0.99 in ebook.

    CreateSpace Shutdown Plan

    Beware: book industry neepery.

    Yesterday, Amazon announced that they’re merging Createspace into their KDP Print program. A reading of the article makes it clear that the services aren’t merging, though. Createspace is shutting down and all accounts are migrating into KDP.

    This presents problems for me. KDP does not offer the same services as Createspace. The ones that present problems for me include:

    • Payment will be delayed an extra 30 days: annoying, but I’ll deal.
    • Small books will increase in price in Europe: I’ll have to pass this on to you. Sorry, folks.
    • Title Information: They’ll screw up my metadata, in new and exciting ways.
    • Orders: I will no longer use Createspace for books not available on Amazon–fine, whatever.
    • Expanded Distribution: I’ve heard from more than one source that KDP Expanded Distribution does not work outside of the US. This is a critical deal-breaker for me. I have non-Amazon readers around the world.

        Fortunately, this merger isn’t a surprise. The Digital Reader has been warning us about this for months, so I’ve had this percolating in the back of my brain. This is why I bought a block of ISBNs at the end of 2017.

        Here’s the plan for all Tilted Windmill Press books.

        1. Join ALLI. For $99/year, I get unlimited free IngramSpark access.
        2. Reissue everything using my own ISBNs. (Remember, you can get 1000 ISBNs for the price of 50, so think long term. Also, ISBN pricing is a ripoff.) Start with the best-selling titles, and go down the list.
        3. Distribute all print books through IngramSpark. Everything issued in 2018 is already available on IS, so this isn’t a big deal.
        4. Also distribute all print books directly through KDP Print. I don’t want to migrate, because they’ll mess up my nonfiction metadata. (Amazon’s offerings are clearly geared towards fiction. Nonfiction is wedged in.)

        As a test, I already followed this process for FreeBSD Mastery: ZFS and FreeBSD Mastery: Advanced ZFS.

        The problem books will be Sudo Mastery and DNSSEC Mastery. I’ve already talked about issues with these books, but to make a tediously long story short, availability of the print editions outside the US will be limited until I get the second editions out. That’ll start as soon as I finish the jails book. If you want the current edition in print, order now.

        The thing to worry about here is scope creep.

        I really need to revisit the covers on some older titles, like the Montague Portal and Prohibition Orcs books. Title text design standards have changed since 2010. The books that I’ve already designed alternate covers for will get them as part of this upload. Others will have to wait.

        And if I’m changing the covers, shouldn’t I also change them for ebooks?

        Yep. But that requires re-uploading books to every site. That’s a mindless job, and can be done in the evenings. It should also be combined with an audit of which books are on which sites, because I’m certain I missed some retailers for some books. (Fifty-odd titles. Several ebook retail distributors, which have changed over time. Yeah, there’s gonna be holes.)

        So, this means a giant spreadsheet. With a list of titles and checkboxes and distributors. Oh joy oh rapture.

        The really annoying thing here is that I’ve started making real progress on the jails book and on the next Beaks novel. Once I have momentum, I need to keep it going. So I have to really focus my time for the next few weeks to get this done.

        Because I only have a few weeks. What’s the drop-dead date? That’s a great question, but Amazon learned how to communicate with small authors from The Prisoner. “That would be telling.”

        Had I started with my own ISBNs, this would have been much simpler. I had no way of knowing in 2012 that this ridiculous business model would actually work, though. I would strongly encourage any self-publisher to own and control their own ISBNs, even if you have to buy them in blocks of 10 or 100.

        Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a load of work to do…