December 03, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (4/18)

I've posted chapter 18 (book 4) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

We first meet Teisetsu and Gen'ei when they cross paths with Hakugyuu in chapter 12 of book 3 and then again in chapter 7 of book 4.

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November 30, 2022

Silver Spoon

Since her adventures in Coin, Donna Howard has become an established investigator of relics and antiques, with the help of deceased historical people only she can see. This time around, her investigation takes her to Salem, Massachusetts, where she delves into the town's haunted history and the modern world of antique hunting.

Her research into the provenance of a silver spoon leads Donna to a stash of unexpectedly valuable junk in an old man's basement, an old man whose death Donna begins to suspect was less than "accidental." Along with opportunistic antiquers, she must also contend with a possible murder, a possible possession, and a possible boyfriend.

Because nothing can make the dead past and the living present more precarious than the unpredictable complexities of human relationships.

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Donna Howard Mysteries

Coin
Silver Spoon
Apron
Clasp

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November 26, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (4/17)

I've posted chapter 17 (book 4) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

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November 23, 2022

Coin

It's 1995 and Donna Howard is living an ordinary life in Portland, Maine. She works as a hairdresser, has a boring boyfriend, two opinionated brothers, and two exhaustively energetic parents. As far as she's concerned, she's an ordinary person and proud of it.

Except she can see the past. Walk down any street in the old part of the city and four centuries of its inhabitants walk right along with her. She can observe them, hear them, smell them. And she'd rather not. She'd prefer to leave the past in the past.

Until a customer "accidentally" leaves an ancient Roman coin at the hair salon. A coin worth an awful lot of money. Then the woman appraising the coin for the Portland Museum of Art "accidentally" ends up dead. And now the past won't leave her alone.

Not even the man who's visage was molded into the metal 2000 years ago, a man who wreaked mayhem then and may have witnessed murder now. Quite unwittingly, Donna uncovers family secrets, confronts historical controversies, and closes in on a very contemporary crime.

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Kindle
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Donna Howard Mysteries

Coin
Silver Spoon
Apron
Clasp

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November 19, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (4/16)

I've posted chapter 16 (book 4) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

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November 16, 2022

The Real Darcy

Besides the badness of the writing, Kate argues that the biggest problem with Pride and Prejudice fan fiction (commercially published or otherwise) is that it inevitably makes Darcy out to be the stereotypical alpha male of Regency romances.

Austen simply wasn't capable of being that simple and obvious, and nothing in the text justifies it. As Kate explains:

I go along with Phyllis Ferguson Bottomer's argument in So Odd a Mixture that Darcy is borderline autistic. Her delineation of Darcy's character is one of the most accurate and delightful on record. She recognizes what few interpretations do, namely that Darcy is accused of pride in Hertfordshire for reasons that have nothing to do with familial or class pride.

Most tributes to Pride and Prejudice fail to acknowledge that all of Darcy's problems in Hertfordshire stem from his behavior, not from his beliefs about himself. He is perceived as proud because he won't dance or talk, not because he boasts about his position or even because he gives anyone the "cut direct." He doesn't even cut poor Mr. Collins.

To correct this problem, she penned A Man of Few Words, an addendum to Pride and Prejudice that relates Darcy's perspective on the important events in the novel.

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(See here for the perfect Japanese Darcy.)

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November 12, 2022

Netflix with ads (first impressions)

Marketers refer to the nonlinear (video on demand) streaming business as "connected TV" or CTV. Ads for CTV are packaged in "pods," meaning "multiple ads sequenced together and played back-to-back within a single ad break."

Tubi has the lightest ad load of the ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD) services. Another reason to like Tubi.

Ads [on Tubi] take up 4–6 minutes per hour of viewing, occurring every 12–15 minutes at 3–5 ads per pod, giving advertisers increased brand recognition and recall in an environment where the viewer is most receptive.

My experience with Tubi is that every program starts with a single "bumper" ad and then between 2–4 and 3–6 ads per pod.

For the time being, Netflix has delivered a lighter ad load than Tubi with its new ASVOD (ad-supported subscription video-on-demand) service. Though as Jay Peters points out, the ad placement is all over the place. Netflix with ads is a beta product still in the shakeout stage.

The transitions between the content and the ad pod can be so abrupt as to be jarring. Simply getting the timing right, along with a fade out and fade in, would make a big difference.

Netflix should consider the National Geographic approach. I grew up with the magazine, which only placed ads before and after the editorial content. (Even for a middle-class kid, those ads, aimed at an audience with deep pockets, could be as exotic as the articles themselves.)

Another pending problem is that not all content will be available on the ASVOD tier. In most cases, this simply means that the licensing agreements have to be renegotiated in order to divvy up the ad revenue.

"Netflix continues to haggle with several major studios for the right to run ads against their content in the new service" so this list is in flux. Unavailable content is displayed with a little padlock icon beneath the title.

I resubscribed to Netflix in large part to catch up on Komi Can't Communicate, Ghost in the Shell: SAC 2045, Ultraman, and I'm Old Enough! (which I first saw on TV Japan many years ago), all of which are available.

The current Apple TV app doesn't support ad insertion at all (they're working on it), one consequence of Netflix wanting to get a jump on the Disney+ ASVOD launch in December. But no problem, I'm a Roku guy.

Then there's the question of whether to use the ASVOD tier at all. When Netflix launched the service, it also increased the video resolution of its Basic tier to 720p. Frankly, it's probably worth the three bucks to get rid of ads altogether.

On the other hand, Netflix was a pioneer in the streaming business, and together with Microsoft (engineering the underlying technology), I'm sure they will be innovating in the ad space as well. So I'm going to stick with the ASVOD tier a while longer to see how it develops.

Related posts

Tubi (update 4)
Netflix with ads
I'm Old Enough (Netflix)

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November 09, 2022

Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah

To save a young woman from a band of marauding students, Lord Simon bespelled her into the walls of his house, powerful magic he later discovers he cannot undo.

Determined to free her from this prison of wood and stone, Lord Simon consorts with grave robbers and physicians, politicians and priests, twisting the arms of the powerful and the profane in every profession. As his reputation and his house crumble around him, his obsession to save a woman long thought dead threatens to drive him mad.

The third installment in the Roesia series, Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah encompasses the events in Richard: The Ethics of Affection and Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation.

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The Roesia Series

Tales of the Quest
Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah
Richard: The Ethics of Affection
Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation

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November 05, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (4/15)

I've posted chapter 15 (book 4) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

Chapter 16 should be ready in two weeks.

Note the point at which Yuushou stops using the honorific suffix sama when referring to Asen. This is known as yobisute (呼び捨て). As in this case, it can convey a lack of respect, or conversely, in a romance, yobisute signals that a relationship has moved out of the friend zone.

A tekkou (手甲) is a glove that covers the back of the hand and wrist.

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November 02, 2022

The Phantom Doctor

The evil mastermind known as the Fiend with Twenty Faces is fed up with Kogoro Akechi and those meddling kids from the Boy Detectives Club. Determined to exact his revenge, the Fiend embarks on a crime spree, stealing top secret documents and a priceless work of art, while kidnapping and tormenting anyone who stands in his way.

The ingenuity of this archvillain knows no bounds. Living up to his nickname, the Fiend dons one disguise after the other. He soon has the police chasing their tails, and even shows up to investigate his own crime! Obsessed with his vendetta, he pursues his quarry through haunted houses and limestone caverns inhabited by giant bats.

The Fiend won't be satisfied until he finally confronts Detective Akechi and the members of the Boy Detectives Club in a life-or-death struggle deep underground in the dark.

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The Boy Detectives Club

The Phantom Doctor
The Bronze Devil
The Space Alien


Please visit the website for more details and to read the novel online.

The Phantom Doctor was edited by Katherine Woodbury. Check out her interviews with me here, here, and here about the translation process.

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October 29, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (4/14)

I've posted chapter 14 (book 4) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

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October 26, 2022

Richard: The Ethics of Affection

Richard St. Clair struggles daily to suppress less-than-appropriate feelings for his new assistant. He's an engaged man, after all, and a recently appointed civil servant. He's sure he's got the situation under control. Until an unknown adversary slips him a love potion that unleashes his true affections.

Now with the help of his once-enchanted sister, his policeman brother-in-law, and the woman he really loves, Richard must scour Kingston for his foe and find a way to ethically express the desires of his heart.

Book two in the Roesia series, Richard continues the story of the St. Clair family that begins with Aubrey. Roesia is a Victorian world where magic is real and spells and potions are the focus of academic study. While sharing characters and events, the books can be read as standalone stories.

Paperback
Kindle
Smashwords
Apple Books
Google Play
Nook
Kobo

The Roesia Series

Tales of the Quest
Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah
Richard: The Ethics of Affection
Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation

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October 22, 2022

Hills of Silver Ruins (4/13)

I've posted chapter 13 (book 4) of Hills of Silver Ruins, a Pitch Black Moon.

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October 19, 2022

Netflix with ads

Netflix has announced that its new ad-supported tier will launch on November 3, 2022.

The new service promises an "average of 4 to 5 minutes of ads per hour" at up to 720p (also for the Basic plan). This is a significant improvement over the 480p resolution that came with the Basic plan when I first joined.

It'll be interesting to see how well the new service compares to Tubi. Right now, Tubi has the best ad engine in the business. The viewing experience compares well with OTA channels like ION and MeTV. Likewise, Tubi streams at up to 720p.

Tubi's one big failing is discovery. While it does divide titles into genre categories like "Anime" and "Foreign Language TV," aside from a general keyword search, it lacks specialized filter functions like language and can't sort alphabetically.

Tubi has an impressive amount of Japanese language content in the Foreign Language categories, but it's not easy to track down. Unlike K-drama, there isn't a J-drama collection. Try keyword searches for "Japan" and "Japanese" instead.

Of course, Tubi is free while the "Basic with Ads" plan will cost $6.99/month (I do expect fewer ads per hour). I dropped Netflix last March when it raised the price of its Standard plan to $15.49. This price point is far more tolerable.

Netflix is rolling out the service worldwide. Variety lists the prices for the major international markets at the bottom of this article.

Related posts

Tubi (update 4)
Navigating Netflix
No Netflix for now
Netflix with ads (first impressions)

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