Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Project Unveiled

As I've mentioned before, I have been working on a side project.  Last year, I realized that my kids have gotten old enough to free up a little space in my weeks. I decided that I needed to invest some time in building up my "career capital." It took a little bit of soul searching to figure out what, exactly, I should do- there were so many options! In the end, though, I decided that I wanted to refresh some of my technical skills. I will eventually refresh my programming skills, but I wanted something a little smaller for this project, since it is the first one I've tackled in quite awhile.

So I decided to refresh my web skills. The last time I created a web site from scratch was in the late 90s. CSS didn't exist. Content management systems didn't exist. I'd flirted with learning Drupal the last time I was laid off, but I got a job, and I didn't really have a compelling use case to explore with it... so that effort fizzled out. I decided that I should try again.

Around the same time, I started to get frustrated with how hard it was to find short eBooks to read,  particularly if I wanted to go outside of what Amazon's algorithms picked. I think short eBooks have the potential to provide a way for a wider range of people to share their ideas and get paid for it... but only if there is a better way for people like me to find their work.

From these two things, Tungsten Hippo was born. You can read more about my motivations for creating a site dedicated to short eBooks in my first post there. I have no idea whether Tungsten Hippo will gain any attention or actually help make it easier for authors of short eBooks to get the word out about what they have written. However, it will have been worth the time I put into it even if it falls flat on its face,since I have now set up a Drupal-backed website and learned enough CSS to change details of the layout.

There is a blog component to Tungsten Hippo, but Wandering Scientist isn't going anywhere. My plan is to write a post related to short eBooks once per week, and post it on Tungsten Hippo. I will reference that post here, too. I'll also post a new entry about a short eBook most Wednesdays and a new quote from a short eBook most Fridays. You'll have to follow Tungsten Hippo to get notified of those, though. I'll still write about other topics here, at Wandering Scientist.

The links to eBooks over at Tungsten Hippo are affiliate links. I'll keep any money they generate, with the hope of making the site pay for itself (I've had to pay to set up hosting and the like). I've set up a separate account for those, so the affiliate links here at Wandering Scientist will still fund diapers (I just bought another box today).

I've set up Twitter and Pinterest accounts for Tungsten Hippo: you can follow me at @TungstenHippo on Twitter and Tungsten Hippo on Pinterest. I may set up a Facebook page, too- I'm on the fence about that.

So go on over and take a look at Tungsten Hippo. Come back here and tell me what you think, if you'd like, and definitely share the link with anyone you think might find it useful.

22 comments:

  1. Congrats on getting the site up and running! I've never really read many short stories, but it might be something to get into when baby #2 gets here :)

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    1. Thanks! I wasn't really into short books before I had kids, either. I definitely recommend them as a way to feed your brain even when you're in the sleep-deprivation stage of parenthood.

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  2. Woot! Well done, Cloud! Congratulations.

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  3. Very cool! Shorts like this are perfect for waiting for a child to fall asleep.

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    1. Yes! That is one of the times I read shorts- while sitting next to Petunia's bed, waiting for her to fall asleep.

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  4. Anonymous6:29 PM

    Congrats on going live - it's a big step! I look forward to checking out some of the short reads the next time bedtimes go haywire. I was also inspired by your post about having project of your own and have been tinkering around as well...it'll probably just be a blog until my front end skills get better, but thought you might like to know the trickle down effects of a post :)

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    1. That's great! Come leave a link to your blog when you get it set up. And actually, blogging can be a nice gradual intro to web site design if you're inclined that way- you can customize the template of your blog, for instance.

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  5. Congratulations Cloud! Looks great!

    I'm reading Birth Day and "the end of food" thanks to your book list, so am looking forward to checking out your other recommendations.

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  6. Finally got the chance to read through the site. Congrats Cloud--it looks great! And yay, you included steampunk fantasy and sci-fi as categories! My husband actually bought me "Wool" a while back and I haven't read it; with your endorsement, I may finally get around to it. . . By the way, can I ask how you came up with the name, "Tungsten Hippo?"

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  7. Alexicographer6:38 PM

    Nice site; I love that "Quirky Stories Involving Animals" is a category. I haven't ventured into short e-book reading, but maybe I'll check some out. Congratulations on taking this on (and more to the point, finishing it!).

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  8. Thanks for all the nice comments, everyone. The story of how the site got its name may get written one of these days... but I warn you, it isn't as interesting as you think it will be! A large part of it is "it is really hard to come up with a name that someone else hasn't already registered."

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  9. Lovely! Congratulations. I will pass this on to my librarian readers advisory colleagues, since it's very much up our alley (although sadly, many ebooks aren't available for libraries to purchase due to publisher restrictions). My book might be of interest (I think I've mentioned it to you before, but I still live in the land of the sleep-deprived, so I'm a little confuzzled on a lot of things).

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    1. Yes! You book meets the length criteria (and looks interesting), so I'll add it to my list.

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  10. Jennifer7:50 PM

    This is great! I tend to prefer long, sprawling novels, but I read Midnight's Tale after you blogged about here and really liked it, so I may need to keep an eye on this.
    And like Anonymous above, I am inspired to figure out what a good side project of my own would be. I'm not really a writer, but there are several data analysis and presentation tools I really ought to be exploring.

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  11. Congratulations and good luck!! Love the name, too.

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  12. Very exciting! (and thanks for mentioning my books there, too!) I think I need a project of my own as well, but it needs to be completely non word based as I'm kind of drowning in word count requirements right now. Quilting?

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    1. Maybe needlecraft? I find that a project that can squeeze around the edges has the best chances to get done, so at least for me, if I need to pull out a lot of gear to do it... it won't happen.

      BTW, the third "What the Most Successful People...." eBook is in the backlog, and will go up at some point in the future.

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    2. Counted cross stitch is great for small time blocks, especially if you get a little project. You can stuff it in your bag and do it while you're waiting at the doctor, etc. The only issue is that the commercially available kits at craft stores are usually ugly or lame. There's a company called Subversive Cross Stitch that makes some hilarious patterns, though many are not kid-friendly :)

      Same with crochet, or maybe knitting if you use smaller needles. I had a few classmates in grad school who would knit during meetings and seminars. Once you get good you can knit without looking down all the time.

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    3. zenmoo7:20 PM

      I agree on the counted cross-stitch as a good, portable project. It is also really absorbing - I haven't done much since I was at university when I did cross-stitch for stress management (I found it really hard to be stressed about math class when counting blocks and following a pattern because I had to concentrate or I'd screw up.) My brother and I made a bunch of Christmas ornaments one year too.

      Now, my portable project of choice is crochet. I taught myself using hooks, wool and books inherited from my grandmother (the advantage of being the person to clear out her house was I gave myself first dibs on anything I wanted!) It's better than cross stitch for getting into a rhythm and I like to do a lot of little projects like hairbands, flowers etc. The blog thegreendragonfly.wordpress.com has some fun ideas.

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  13. The milliner7:43 PM

    Haven't been around in a while & on a whim decided to check in here to see what was going on. Congratulations on the new site & project! Love the name. (And I totally get the 'the URL was available thing!).

    I've been doing some soul searching of my own over the past few months and ultimately decided that it was time to try my hand at self-employment again. Kudos for the site. I am in the stages now of building my site (using a Wordpress template). It's been a while since I've done that, and holy cow, it's trying my nerves (I'm not a tech person, but a design person, so knowing how I want it to look, but not being able to achieve it is extremely frustrating!) Looking forward to following your new adventures!

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    1. It is great to hear from you! I recommend a great book for learning CSS a few posts forward- it is called Head First CSS and HTML. Check it out, I think you'll like it. I've read A LOT of technical books in my time, and this was the best I've ever come across for getting me to really learn the topic. I plan to look for a book in the Head First series before I try to learn any new tech from now on.

      Good luck on the site!

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