Saturday, 24 December 2016

Ingress: Locking Down Your Player Profile

Take a look at your scanner. Down the bottom, in the right-hand corner, is a button marked COMMS. Open it up. Now, see how the agent names are kind of in bold with a line under them? Press on one. Keep pressing until two options appear on your screen: View Player Profile, or Send Message. Touch View Player Profile. Now, you can see that player’s badges, their mission badges, and their stats. Wait! Can’t see their stats? They must have their profile locked down.

Why would they do  that?

Well, I keep mine locked down, too, and I have done since choosing the portal I was hoping to get to black guardian with, but there are a number of reasons.

  1. To Keep it Private. Some players like to work quietly towards their goals. They don’t like the stress of comparisons and competition, or they’re just very private people. Locking down their profiles means only the basics of their progress can be tracked, and not every little detail. I’ve kept mine locked down, because I like it quiet.
  2. To Protect their Guardian: It has been noticed that, when certain members of the opposing team can see the days for a player’s guardian continuing to climb, then that guardian is often lost before it reaches black. This could be just coincidence, but it has also been noted that player’s whose guardian progress isn’t public tend to keep their guardians longer. That, too, could be coincidence. I decided not to take any chances with my last one, but I also chose a better located portal for the attempt, and I lucked out when some friendly player from my team decided to upgrade its resonaters and add more defences – for which I am very grateful. So, I can’t be sure a private profile is what helped to get it through – although I can be sure bigger resonators and more defences did.

Look at these two profiles. One is locked, and one is not. (I have blacked out the players' names and badges, and the AP and other data is now out of date, but this is what you'll see.)

See the difference?

Right, no progression data under the medals of the locked profile. Now, if you touch one of the achievement medals, another difference appears:

See it, again?

Correct - no progress indicated under the medal of the locked profile. This is how to keep your progress private.

HOW do you lock your profile?

Well, you go into your OPS tab (which is in the top right-hand corner of the main scanner screen), then you scroll all the way across to the end until you see the DEVICE tab. Tap on that, and then scroll down until you see the Agent Profile section, and then touch the little square so that a small, blue tick appears next to “Make agent stats private”.

Do I have to lock my agent profile?

No, you do not. You might like to play out in the open, and that’s fine, too.

Whichever way you choose to play, have fun. It’s time to move.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Writing Life: Sales Expectations

If you decide to go independent, don’t expect to get rich overnight. It takes on average 5-10 years to make a living and that is if you do everything right. Again, there is a lot of advice out there, but it boils down to this: Produce a professional, well-written, enjoyable, well-presented product.

And therein lies the rub. You can control three of those four elements. You can produce a professional product; you can control the quality of writing within your ability, and your editor’s ability; and you can present it well. What you can’t control is if a reader finds it enjoyable, or not.

Also, beyond your control, is if a reader picks up your book in the first place.

Depressing, right?

Those are just the facts you have to live with. You can do your best, but you cannot guarantee sales, or enjoyment, because you are not your readers. All you can do is tell a story you enjoy, and tell it well. The chances are good that someone else will enjoy it, too.

There are also genre, and story-type factors that affect sales. In general:

  • Short fiction does not sell as well as long fiction. My sales figures reflect this, except in the case of one particularly quirky short story that I can’t explain.
  • Poetry does not sell as well as short fiction. My sales figures reflect this, too.
  • Collections and Anthologies sell better than individual shorts, but not as well as long fiction.
  • Novels sell better than short fiction, collections and poetry. Sales figures say yes to this, too.
  • The romance genre sells better than the science fiction or fantasy genres… or so it is said. Sales figures also give this the nod—I sell fantasy and romance, and will soon add science fiction to that.
  • Regular releases build your readership more than putting your finished work out in bursts. I recently conducted an experiment on this by releasing a short story a fortnight. Why a short story? Because that was the only way to get a fortnightly schedule up and running quickly, and build in time to finish longer work to add into the schedule later. As that longer work is completed, I expect my schedule to look a lot more balanced between short and long fiction, collections and novels, and between genres and my various pen names. The main point here is: regular releases, for some reason, result in sales across the spectrum of your work regardless of similarities or differences in genre or length… or so say my sales figures.

So, in a nut-shell. You need to write and publish regularly in order for readers to notice your work. You need to produce the best quality story you can. Beyond that, your readers will choose what they want to read, and what they enjoy. Don’t expect to make a fortune overnight.


Writing Life: Creating a Cover with GIMP (Part 4 - Exporting Your Cover)

Step 4: Export the Cover as a .jpg File

The final step is to save your cover as a file you can upload to sites such as Smashwords, Amazon, Draft2Digital or Kobo.

To do this, you need to click on the ‘File’ tab at the top of the page, then select ‘Save’.
This will allow you to save your image as an .xcf file. It is useful to have this saved so you can easily make adjustments to your base cover.

Once you have saved your .xcf file, you need to click on ‘File’ again. This time, you need to select the eleventh option down, the ‘Export’ option. This will cause a pop-up window to appear. GIMP will default to two things. Whatever title you gave your .xcf file, will become the title of this document AND it will have a .png extension.

As most sites require .jpg files. you will need to go in and change this. It’s as simple as placing the cursor in the ‘Name:’ box and making the adjustment manually, as you would for any other file name change. When you are happy with where you are saving the file, and what as, click on the ‘Export’ button at the bottom of the page. This will cause a second pop-up to appear.

I do not make any adjustments in this window, although it is possible to do so. To have your image export as a .jpg file, just click on the ‘Export’ button here.

After that, you can go to where you saved it, and open up the image. Doing so will show any errors – and there may be some you have not noticed.

You need to go back into GIMP and move the layers until they are properly aligned. That way your cover will have a more professional finish.