Yeah, I know. I rarely post. Even so, this post is a little different. This is a chronicle of my dealings with CyberLink tech support, after I discovered that Blu-Ray discs no longer played on my system. I’m not talking about NEW titles, but the same titles that USED to work on the same hardware with the same software a year or two ago. So, I appealed to CyberLink tech support, which gets my vote for worst-designed tech support system EVER. You’ll see why in a moment.

First off, the background. I bought a Blu-Ray drive for a PC in April 2010 for a quad-core system that was built in 2009 to be ultra-quiet and support HDMI off the motherboard. It’s solid and silent. I researched the software, PowerDVD 8 BD Edition, that came bundled with the Blu-Ray drive (i.e. OEM version of the software); it supports software decoding for Blu-Ray, which was needed since I don’t have a separate video card with hardware Blu-Ray decoding (they have noisy fans). I got the drive, installed PowerDVD and 2 updates, got my first Blu-Ray (I think it was Harry Potter 6) and it worked perfectly. Got a few more Blu-Rays, and they all worked fine.

Then Amazon Prime Instant Video came along, and I stopped watching DVDs and Blu-Rays for quite a long time.

During the Black Friday sales this year, there were several Blu-Rays that I’d wanted to analyze (it’s a writer thing, don’t worry about it) hadn’t shown up yet on APIV, and were insanely cheap, so I ordered them. Popped one of them in and … up popped a message saying that PowerDVD had to be upgraded. Huh? Okay, so maybe there’s new tech in the current Blu-Ray. That happens, and it’s been a couple years. So I pulled out my trusty HP6 and tried it. No dice; same message. I tried some other titles I already owned and knew for sure I’d watched using the same hardware and software. Still got the same “you must upgrade” message. Why?  I tried various free solutions (including my trusty VLC), but none of them worked, either. At this point, I checked CyberLink’s downloads and found that not only did I have the latest update for PowerDVD 8, it was now EOL (End Of Life). While now completely surprised (it HAD been a few years), I WAS surprised that it had stopped working when the hardware and software hadn’t changed. So I checked the Amazon 1-star reviews and found quite a few similar stories, centered around the AACS licensing going out of date. One of the reviews had a 2-week-old response from CyberLink saying they offered a free upgrade to PowerDVD 10, which was not yet EOL and would solve the AACS licensing, which evidently changed between the versions.

This is when I decided to open a support ticket, late at night on Christmas Day:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001323317 ———-
Date:  2013/12/25 21:32
Subject: Blu-Ray no longer plays
I haven’t played Blu-Ray discs in a while, but I recently bought new Blu-Rays and found they wouldn’t play! I tried some old discs that USED to play, and they don’t work either. I get an error popup reading:
“You must update CyberLink PowerDVD to continue the playback of this content.”
Looking on your support site, I see that v8 is now EOL, but a company response on Amazon claims I can get a free upgrade to v10: http://www.amazon.com/Cyberlink-DVD-0D00-IWU0-00-PowerDVD-Ultra-Download/product-reviews/B00CBISACE/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2EN620S3M66MC
However, I can’t find anywhere on your site to get this upgrade.
So, how can I get my Blu-Ray discs to play again?
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001323317 ———-
Date: 2013/12/25 23:36
Dear Dan,
Thank you for contacting CyberLink Technical Support. I understand that you are unable to play the Blu-ray disks in PowerDVD 8 OEM oftware.
In regards to your concern, we may need to forward your concern to our product team. In order to escalate your concern, we may need some information from you. Please provide me the following information for further analysis:
1)  Sr_No of the software. SR should be like “SR_No=XXXXXX_XX”. Please follow the link given below to know how to find the serial number:
http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/support/cs/faq-content.do?id=2615
2) DxDiag.txt log file. Please follow the link below to get the steps to generate the log file:
http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/support/cs/faq-content.do?id=6310
3) Please send me the snapshot of the error screen (if any) with full desktop. I will look at the screen capture, analyze and send you a solution or provide more information.
To take screenshot, please follow the steps given below :
a. Press the Print Screen key on your keyboard when the error appears on your screen. b. Click on Start -> Programs-> Accessories-> Paint. c. Paste the screen capture there by pressing Ctrl+V d. Save the file with the extension name .jpg and  then send to CyberLink Support for analysis. 4) Blu-Ray titles (with region code) that you are trying to play.
5) BD/3D Advisor. Please follow the link below to download the advisor:
http://www.cyberlink.com/prog/bd-support/diagnosis.do
Once the Advisor finishes the system diagnosis, Click on the Save button. Save the file and send that to us for analysis.
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Ticket ID CS001323317 ———-

So far, so good. I got a quick response, and on Christmas Day yet. This was encouraging. The only hitch was when I clicked on the link for “further queries”, which brought me right back to the same place I’d gone for my initial support ticket. These was no way to CONTINUE a conversation thread. They were asking me to create a whole new support ticket in order to provide the information they requested! From a customer support perspective, that’s just plain stupid. There’s no guarantee the support rep who handles #2 will be the same rep, or even READ #1. Nevertheless, I sent back the info they had requested, via a new support ticket:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001323438 ———-
Date:  2013/12/26 08:26
Subject:  Blu-ray Discs won’t play
Following up Ticket CS001323317:
Summary: Blu-ray discs that used
to play with my PowerDVD 8 BD OEM (bundled with Lite-On) and no longer
play; new Blu-ray discs won’t play.
Attached are the requested files and information.
PowerDVD 8 Version 8.0.3228g.50
SN: DVDXXXXXX-XX
I tried 4 Region 1 discs yesterday and today, and all of them brought up the popup error in the attached screenshot:
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal (2010)
Oblivion (2013)
Pacific Rim (2013)
———- End of Ticket ID CS001323438 ———-

At this point, obviously, in order to provide them the information they’d requested, I’d downloaded the BD & 3D Advisor and run it, and it passed. It DID note that I would not be able to use some extended Blu-Ray features, because I didn’t have hardware decoding for Blu-Ray, but it still passed. While I waited … and waited … for a response, I investigated the current version 13, as it was on sale, only to find the trial didn’t support software Blu-Ray decoding, only the paid version. After waiting two days, I’d had enough and just bought the current version, downloaded and installed it and … it STILL didn’t work! There was still a setting in the options for software decoding, so I set it and tried again. Still no dice (different error, though). With two versions that didn’t work, I had no choice but to open another support ticket, which regrettably had a very similar ID number (differing only by the second-to-last digit) . Fortunately, I already knew what they were going to request, so I provided that information up front:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001324398 ———-
Date:  2013/12/28 12:40
Subject:  BD Advisor passes; PowerDVD 13 Ultra won’t play Blu-Ray
After running BD Advisor (which passed for Blu-Ray playback), I purchased PowerDVD 13 Ultra and installed it (SN DVDXXXXXX-XX), but it will not play Blu-Ray discs. It pops up a message saying my video card is incompatible (despite passing BD Advisor). Since I don’t have hardware decoding, I changed the “Player Settings” for “Video, Audio, Subtitles” to “Use software decoding”, but Blu-Ray discs still won’t play.
Attached is a screenshot, DxDiag results for both 32-bit and 64-bit, and the BD Advisor output.
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001324398 ———-
Date:  2013/12/28 22:51
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
In regards to your concern, I would like to inform you that the issue under the case ID CS001323438 has already been escalated to our R&D Team and they are still working on it. I will definitely get back to you with the updated information once I get any update from them.
I apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Ticket ID CS001324398 ———-

At least I got a quick response that time. However, this was a NEW support ticket for a NEW product, so why the response for the ORIGINAL support ticket for the OLD product? Were they going to ignore the new ticket? This is exactly the kind of confusion that happens when you have single-question-response system in place, with no way to contextualize separate threads. I decided to attempt to clarify the situation in the only way available, yet ANOTHER support ticket:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001324779 ———-
Date:  2013/12/29 15:46
Subject: CS001324398 is NOT the same issue as CS001323438!
Please do NOT close CS001324398! If you re-read the question, you’ll see that it’s for the CURRENT version of PowerDVD, which I purchased because there was no response for 2 days on CS001323438 (for the EOL’d
version 8). I just want a version that works, please!
———- End of Ticket ID CS001324779 ———-

A day later, I got an identical response on both the outstanding tickets:
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001324779 ———-
Date: 2013/12/30 02:26
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding your concern, I would like to inform you that the PowerDVD 8 is no longer offered a patch to support the latest BD titles.
According to the purchase record, I found that you have bought PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 is able to play the latest BD titles.
However, in CSID CS001324398, PowerDVD 13 pops up error when playing BD. After checking the Dxdiag, the your GPU does not meet the minimum system requirements. Please ensure that the platform is capable of playing Blu-ray discs.
Check our system requirements below:
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Response to Ticket ID CS001324779 ———-
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001323438 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 03:02
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding your concern, I would like to inform you that the PowerDVD 8 is no longer offered a patch to support the latest BD titles.
According to the purchase record, I found that you have bought PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 is able to play the latest BD titles.
However, in CSID CS001324398, PowerDVD 13 pops up error when playing BD. After checking the Dxdiag, the your GPU does not meet the minimum system requirements. Please ensure that the platform is capable of playing Blu-ray discs.
Check our system requirements below:
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Response to Ticket ID CS001323438 ———-

At this point, Saba was getting on my nerves. It’s like Saba decided buying the current version solved everything, despite the fact that IT DIDN’T WORK! Clearly time for another support ticket:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001324925 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 03:06
Subject:  Follow-up to CS001323317, CS001323438, CS001324398, CS001324779
Re: CS001323317 & CS001323438
The system worked perfectly fine in 2010/2011 with the same hardware it has now. What happened to make it fail in 2013? I could understand not being able to play 2013 BR discs, but it doesn’t play 2010 BR discs which played just fine in 2010/2011! Was there an AACS  licensing EOL or something? If so, do you or do you not offer a free upgrade to v10, as indicated by the CyberLink response on the Amazon page link I provided? If so, how can I get it? I would be happy to uninstall v13, reinstall v8 and upgrade to v10 if it has any hope of working.
Re: CS001324398 & CS001324779
According to BD Advisor (I attached the output to CS001324398), my system DOES meet requirements for Blu-Ray software encoding playback. Are you saying that software encoding is NOT supported by v13? If so, the problem remains; if not, why does BD Advisor pass and, once again, is there ANY software encoding version that will work with my current hardware (which worked with v8 in 2010/2011)?
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001324925 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 03:27
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding your concern, I would like to inform you that the PowerDVD 8 is no longer offered a patch to support the latest BD titles.
According to the purchase record, I found that you have bought PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 is able to play the latest BD titles.
However, in CSID CS001324398, PowerDVD 13 pops up error when playing BD. After checking the Dxdiag, the your GPU does not meet the minimum system requirements. Please ensure that the platform is capable of playing Blu-ray discs.
Check our system requirements below:
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Ticket ID CS001324925 ———-

I cannot even BEGIN to express the level of FAIL in this response, especially considering that I opened the new ticket merely FOUR MINUTES after Saba’s previous response, and Saba cookie-cutter-responded only 21 minutes later! I opened yet another ticket in an attempt to make it crystal clear what I wanted them to answer:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001325061 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 08:59
Subject:  Upgrade to PowerDVD 10
I used to be able to play Blu-Ray discs in PowerDVD 8 OEM (SN DVDXXXXXX-XX), shipped with a Lite-On iHOS104 drive in April 2010. Those same Blu-Ray discs that used to work no longer play in 2013. I tried upgrading to PowerDVD 13 Ultra, but that does not play the discs, either, and your representative, Saba, states in a separate incident report that my hardware does not meet specs for v13, despite passing BD Advisor tests. Clearly, the hardware was in spec for v8, since it worked in 2010/2011 and the hardware hasn’t changed since then.
In a response to a 1-star review of your product on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Cyberlink-DVD-0D00-IWU0-00-PowerDVD-Ultra-Download/product-reviews/B00CBISACE/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2EN620S3M66MC titled “$80.00 Per Year to use Cyberlink PowerDVD – Guaranteed”, on December 18, 2013), a CyberLink company representative, David, stated:
“If you are referring to Blu-ray support for PowerDVD version 9 and below, we did stop providing free updates to this software. However, we do provide verified users who have PowerDVD 7, 8, and 9 a free upgrade to version 10, which still receives free updates for the latest Blu-ray movies.”
As a verified user of v8, I would like to get this free upgrade to v10, but I cannot find anywhere on your website about how to do it. How can I get this v10 upgrade?
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001325061 ———-
Date:  2013/12/30 23:36
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding your concern, I would like to inform you that the PowerDVD 8 is no longer offered a patch to support the latest BD titles.
According to the purchase record, I found that you have bought PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 is able to play the latest BD titles.
However, in CSID CS001324398, PowerDVD 13 pops up error when playing BD. After checking the Dxdiag, the your GPU does not meet the minimum system requirements. Please ensure that the platform is capable of playing Blu-ray discs.
Check our system requirements below:
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
Use the below mentioned link to get back for further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink products.
Thank You and Best Regards
Saba
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Ticket ID CS001325061 ———-

Oh. My. God. Saba was beginning to remind me of a demon I wrote once that worked at the customs office for Hell (“Devil in the Details” in the DAW All Hell Breaking Loose anthology, http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0756402891/). I fired off my last, frustrated, support ticket:
———- Start of Ticket ID CS001325951———-
Date:  2014/01/01 12:48
Subject:  Re: CS001325061
PLEASE CAN SOMEBODY OTHER THAN SABA ANSWER THIS??? SABA DOES NOT READ MY QUESTIONS AND KEEPS REPEATING WHAT I ALREADY KNOW! I expect to return PowerDVD 13, since it does not work, so that is NOT an answer! v13 DOESN’T WORK!
I will repeat my original questions:
I used to be able to play Blu-Ray discs in PowerDVD 8 OEM (SN DVDXXXXXX-XX), shipped with a Lite-On iHOS104 drive in April 2010. Those same Blu-Ray discs that used to work no longer play in 2013. I tried upgrading to PowerDVD 13 Ultra, but that does not play the discs, either, and your representative, Saba, states in a separate incident report that my hardware does not meet specs for v13, despite passing BD Advisor tests.
Clearly, the hardware was in spec for v8, since it worked in 2010/2011 and the hardware hasn’t changed since then.
In a response to a 1-star review of your product on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Cyberlink-DVD-0D00-IWU0-00-PowerDVD-Ultra-Download/product-reviews/B00CBISACE/ref=cm_cr_dp_synop?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=0&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending#R2EN620S3M66MC titled “$80.00 Per Year to use Cyberlink PowerDVD – Guaranteed”, on December 18, 2013), a CyberLink company representative, David, stated:
“If you are referring to Blu-ray support for PowerDVD version 9 and below, we did stop providing free updates to this software. However, we do provide verified users who have PowerDVD 7, 8, and 9 a free upgrade to version 10, which still receives free updates for the latest Blu-ray movies.”
As a verified user of v8, I would like to get this free upgrade to v10, but I cannot find anywhere on your website about how to do it. How can I get this v10 upgrade?
———- End of Ticket ID CS001325951 ———-

I waited a couple days, heard nothing back, and took matters into my own hands again. I re-installed PowerDVD 8 BD OEM and PowerDVD 13 Ultra alongside each other, popped in one our old, REALLY LOUD video cards and found that 1) PowerDVD 13 worked just fine; and 2) PowerDVD 8 BD OEM still didn’t work, even with a hardware decoder. In other words, PowerDVD 8 was a lost cause, undoubtedly due to expired AACS licensing, and despite the positive results of BD Advisor and options that indicate otherwise, PowerDVD 13 was a lost cause without a hardware Blu-Ray decoder. My only hope was PowerDVD 10, and I had no way to test it beforehand.

So I waited longer. In the end, it took nearly FIVE DAYS to get a response to this ticket! To their credit, it was NOT Saba responding:
———- Response to Ticket ID CS001325951 ———-
Date: 2014/01/06 03:34
Dear Daniel,
Thank you for writing back.
Regarding to your concern, I have re-escalated to our RD team for further review, and they have provided below comments.
1. We are sorry to inform you that free upgrade to verion 10 is avaialbe for retail versions, and not applies to OEM versions.
2. However, in order to playback BD discs, we still suggest you may try on higher-end platform with latest graphics card and driver to playback BD discs. Your graphics card driver is in 2009 and the card is not supported in PowerDVD 13. PowerDVD 13 has different system requirement for graphcis card as graphics card manufacturer also keep updating the driver and technology.
http://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/spec_en_US.html
3. We offer 30-day refund policy if doesn’t meet your expectation.
Please feel free to contact us back for any further clarification or for any assistance related to CyberLink Products. Use the below mentioned link to get back to us for your further queries:
https://membership.cyberlink.com/support/service/technical-support.do
Thanks and Regards,
Sorokhaibam
CyberLink Technical Support
———- End of Response to Ticket ID CS001325951 ———-

So there you have it. End of story. For CyberLink PowerDVD, software Blu-Ray decoding is supported ONLY with current generation Intel motherboard graphics processors. That’s it. Even if you buy a new version now, if the AACS licensing changes, they’ll leave you out in the cold without a backward glance. “Upgrade or you’re screwed” seems to be their motto. Lovely.

Anybody out there have some real, viable alternatives?

It’s the Zombie Apocalypse!

Posted: November 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

Since the election, it seems as though a lot of people have suddenly gone off the reservation on Facebook, Twitter and blogs. And some of you are asking yourselves, “Why? What happened?” Well, today’s your lucky day; one of those now-free souls is going to lay it out for you.

We have had ENOUGH of your crap!

For decades now, all you zombies have been berating us in public because we didn’t publicly evangelize the party line. For decades now, all you zombies have been telling us how we should think if we want to be part of the club. If you want to be an actor, toe the line or you’re blacklisted. If you want to be a writer, toe the line or you’re blacklisted. If you want to be promoted at work, toe the line or you’re blacklisted. For decades now, all you zombies have been parroting the party line without any thought whatsoever, proclaiming that you’re smart and anyone who disagrees with you is obviously wrong without even listening to counter-arguments, while simultaneously claiming that you’re “open-minded.” For decades now, all you zombies have been shouting, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us,” with complete disregard to the fact that this country is a melting pot of backgrounds and ideas, which simply cannot be reduced to a black-and-white line of right vs. wrong.

We have had ENOUGH of your crap!

For two major elections now, all you zombies have been posting endless tweets and Facebook screeds about how “democracy prevailed” in the face of “obvious vote fraud” by your opponents, while totally disregarding the staggeringly large number of actual reports of vote fraud that, if the votes were actually counted properly, would erase those victories, because there hasn’t been a single case of vote fraud that would benefit your opponents. For two major elections now, all you zombies have been projecting every single illegal and immoral sin you yourselves commit onto your opponents, even when they don’t make any sense. For two major elections now, all you zombies have been crying “racist” at anyone who simply disagrees with your point of view, even when it has absolutely nothing to do with race. For two major elections now, all you zombies have been creating websites to “educate” us on how great the economy is, despite what we can see with our own eyes and feel in our own wallets, spouting “facts” like the cooked unemployment figures, which you gleefully compare favorably to the pre-2009 figures, which were calculated so differently that there is no meaningful comparison! (In fact, if you calculate the current unemployment figures using the old methods – which is a meaningful comparison – the current unemployment rate is more like 15%, a figure that’s far more in accord with empirical evidence.)

We have had ENOUGH of your crap!

We’re not stupid. Some of us are highly educated; some of us aren’t, but that doesn’t mean we’re stupid (some of us even have certified high IQs). Some of us are doctors and lawyers and engineers and scientists and plumbers and electricians and steelworkers. Some of us are lowly cogs in a corporate machine and some of us are executives. Some of us are “liberal”, some of us are “conservative”, some of us are “libertarian” and some of us are “none of the above” or even unclassified. Some of us are evangelical, some of us are atheists. The point is, we come from every walk of life, circumstance and belief, yet all you zombies loudly decry us as a single stereotype.

We have had ENOUGH of your crap!

All you zombies have pushed us too far this time. Metaphorically, you’ve have been forcing your way into our homes and raping our children with your Marxist twaddle, and we’ve been putting up with it because we’re basically nice people who didn’t want to rock the boat for fear that we’d collapse in the water. But you just took an axe to the bottom of the boat in what we can only assume is a vain attempt to make the boat bigger, and now we know there’s nothing we can do to keep the boat from sinking any more. So, what do we have to lose? THAT’S why we went off the reservation all at the same time, the day after the elections.

We have had ENOUGH of your crap!

All you zombies act like spoiled children.

Everybody is spending money without worrying about the budget; I want to spend money, too! Buy me some stuff!”
Everybody is getting abortions; I want one, too! Buy me an abortion!”
Everybody gets free health care; I want it, too! Buy me free health care!”

But who’s paying for all the bread and circuses? Some of you zombies are already retired, so you’re not paying (“Hey, I’m getting mine already, what do I care if you do?”); some of you zombies are already on government assistance, so you’re not paying (“Hey, I’m getting mine now, what do I care so long as I keep getting it?”); some of you zombies are already wealthy enough that you don’t care if you’re paying (“Hey, I already got mine, why should you get any?”) . Some of you zombies have forgotten how even a small decrease in your net income back when you were amassing your wealth might have destroyed everything you worked for, but hey, that’s not your problem, right?

We have had ENOUGH of your crap!

We were exposed to the same Marxist indoctrination that all you zombies were. But we thought about it, realized the ideas were simply bad and eventually we grew up. (It’s funny how one never hears, “I was raised conservative, but then I grew up” from someone who isn’t verifiably lying!) History has proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that implementing Marxist philosophy always ends badly for the general populace. With the internet and modern methods of communication, there is a huge body of evidence easily obtainable that will show this. It is positively dumbfounding to us why all you zombies would vote for Marxism!

We have had ENOUGH of your crap!

We have tried to treat all you zombies like adults. Really, we have. But if you continue to act like spoiled children, we’re going to treat you like spoiled children. Instead of wasting time replying to your troll party-parrot responses with facts and logic, I propose we just answer with “#zombie” and leave it at that.

None of you zombies is worth our time or consideration any more. Run along now, the adults are talking, and we have a LOT of work to do the keep this boat from sinking.

Political Ignoramus

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I’ve had several spirited arguments on Facebook over the years, because, although I’m a very patient person, I have my limits when it comes to disrespecting logic. You see, I earned a degree in Pure Mathematics, so I’ve actually been trained in logic, and – unfortunately – none of my opponents in those arguments were being the least bit logical. At some point, my tolerance for ignoring logic is overrun, and I just have to say something. When that has happened, and I spoke out against the logic criminal, invariably the villain devolved into a political stance. Having stated several times on Facebook that I don’t want to engage in political discussions there (despite my opponents’ failure to understand the difference between politics and logic), I usually end up leaving at that point, because – like religion – you can’t really argue with logic against blind faith.

I realized this morning that I’ve never really explained why I try not to get into politics on Facebook (except for debating the logic of a political counterpoint). The answer is simple: I simply don’t know enough about other political systems to be able to make a cogent argument for or against them – and clearly, based on their lack of logical consistency in their arguments, none of my opponents did, either.

Here’s the crux of the matter: if you’re extolling the virtues of a political system that you’ve never experienced, you’re ignorant, plain and simple. You have no way of knowing how that system really works. I’ve never experienced a political system other than the system forged by our forefathers here in the U.S.A. over 230 years ago – so I don’t argue for or against those other systems with other ignoramuses like me. I do reserve the right to argue for our Usaian system, though, since I’ve personally experienced its successes and failures, and I believe there are more successes than failures.

It’s no different than arguing about culture. Unless you’re experienced firsthand another culture, you really know nothing about it. Visiting a foreign country doesn’t cut it, by the way – seeing an antiseptic, tourist-friendly view of a culture is not the same as experiencing the culture. For instance, my wife is a native Portuguese. When we visit, we stay with native Portuguese (her parents and family), shop where the locals shop (such as the open market, where you can buy everything from bootleg CDs to large spools of fabric to live – yes, live! – chickens and ducklings) and get “special” treatment at one of the tourist attraction palaces because a relative decades ago used to clean the palace when it was still in use. I have experienced firsthand some of the Portuguese culture. (If you’re wondering, for what it’s worth, it’s much closer to a few streaks of British culture overlaying a substratum of what is portrayed through our entertainment venues as Hispanic culture – note that I do not claim to know anything about real Hispanic culture, only what I’ve seen presented as Hispanic culture here – than to Usaian culture. It’s no surprise to me that Portuguese are now considered “Latino” culture.) My wife also experienced real Portuguese culture, although for much longer than I did (22 years, to be exact), and you would be amazed at the number of ignoramuses that insist on telling her how she’s wrong about how her own culture works.

Worse, they tend to argue using the concept of a “European culture” – which just doesn’t exist. Portugal and Spain, for instance, are similar cultures, but different enough at the height of their powers to have decided to split up the rest of world between them in order to resolve those differences. However, Sarah – who worked for a summer as a hotel maid in Germany – insists that German culture is vastly different than either Portugal or Spain. (Two world wars in the 20th century support this view.) All of them are European countries, but that doesn’t mean they have the same “European culture” – that’s as ludicrous as saying there’s an “African culture” – which implies that just because they’re on the same continent, Egyptian culture, an advanced society that has existed for more millennia than we can comprehend, is identical to tribal Zulu culture is identical to English-influenced South African culture. Only an ignoramus could agree with that statement.

Notice that I did not say those other political systems needed to be experienced firsthand (although that helps tremendously, and I can attest to that), but I will say that if you’re basing your opinions on anything beyond a firsthand account, you’re still a political ignoramus. Yes, that includes what you read in school; that’s probably 30th-hand accounts and subject to change, depending on the whim of the textbook editors (and has changed, drastically, even in the last 30 years, based on my kids’ textbooks). For instance, before repeating empty slogans you’ve heard about how great Communism was in the U.S.S.R., perhaps speaking to one of the millions who “escaped” (their words) to seek refuge in other countries will give you a new perspective beyond the party line and help you clarify your thinking. Before shouting to the rooftops about the virtues of China, learn what happens to Chinese citizens who speak out against their government and think about what would happen to you if the U.S.A. had the same policies. Before shilling sheep-like for some beloved politician, substitute for that person a politician you absolutely disagree with and see if you sound crazy – that’s what you sound like to your political opponents.

There are a number of fine internet journalists and commentators working today that have done their research and managed to break away from previous ignorance. They’ve looked at both sides of the equation and made their decisions. (Sometimes they reach conclusions I agree with; sometimes they don’t – but I respect their rights to informed opinions.) Those people do have a right to speak about politics; the rest of us ignoramuses should just shut up until we learn better.

First Sale … NOT!

Posted: April 2, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Yes, my post yesterday was an April Fool.

Satire. Fun and games. Not real.

The contract points I quoted were so blindingly ridiculous that any self-respecting writer worth his salt would burn the contract before signing it. As Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith are fond of pointing out, “In publishing, money flows to the writer!”

Writing is a business, not a hobby. Remember that.

Oh, and if you’re an aspiring writer, read Kris’ and Dean’s blogs on writing. They will help you make sense of it all. Really. Promise.

Dan Hoyt
April 2, 2011

First Sale!

Posted: April 1, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I’m happy to report that I’ve sold my first novel to one of the big NYC publishers!  (I can’t say which house just yet, and I apologize in advance for waiting this late in the day, but they told me I had to wait until close of business before making an announcement.)

With the popularity of ebooks, there are some changes in publishing these days (which I’ll get into in a moment), but I couldn’t more thrilled that my YA vampire novel, Twit-light, will be seeing the light of day soon (or is that the dark of night?).  It’s based on my short story, “The Rose,” published in Dreams of Decadence a few years back, with Edward, the vampire youth, and his teenaged love interest, Rose Isabel.  A timeless story of love, heartache and betrayal spanning several generations, it will undoubtedly become the gold standard for its field in short order!  So, without further ado, on to the specifics.

Over the past few years, I’ve talked to a lot of writers breaking in, so it was no surprise that the house expected me to do the marketing and publicity.  Times are tough, and along with the standard advance getting halved from just a few years ago, authors are being asked to contribute more to ensure their success.  I’m happy to help (heck, I would have done it anyway), but I admit I was a tad surprised to see it actually spelled out in the contract:

  1. Author agrees to contribute the entire amount of the advance (specified in paragraph 3) to Publisher for the purposes of marketing and publicity.  Publisher agrees to set up an escrow account for this purpose in Author’s name.  Author is encouraged (and may be required upon publication, subject to paragraph 36) to contribute additional funds.

That’s cool.  The more skin in the game, the more likely the success!  It’s great to see my publisher taking this kind of interest in my career.

I’ve heard that cover consultation is a big thing, and I’m happy to report that I got something even better:  I have complete control of the cover!  The publisher has given me a whole week to put together my vision of the cover using whatever sources I’d like to obtain for the purpose, and that’s the cover that will go to press.  Awesome!  Talk about creative control!  I couldn’t be more thrilled.

Speaking of creative control, I’ve heard so many copyediting horror stories (it’s so common that the copyediting term “STET” has become mainstream), that it’s a relief to know I won’t even have to deal with silly copyeditors:

  1. Author agrees that if the services of a professional Copyeditor are required, Author will procure said services.  Publisher agrees to provide a list of suitable candidates.  Publisher also agrees to respect the Author’s creative right to opt out of Copyediting services.

Also, since Borders refuses to pay the publishers and Barnes & Noble is getting their pants sued off by Microsoft, there’s no need for bookstores any more, so my book will be available exclusively on Amazon.  The publisher will be leveraging Amazon’s famed warehousing and distribution network to ensure that my book stays in print for as long as possible.  And all of this comes free from Amazon, which means they’ve got skin in the game, too.  How cool is that?

Of course, it turns out that I’ll pretty much have a steady supply of my books, so I’m not too worried about going out of print:

  1. Author agrees to maintain a reserve of the Book at all times while considered in print by the Publisher, in order to address shortfalls experienced by Amazon.  This supply cannot exceed 85% of the outstanding copies, but must not fall below 50%.  Publisher agrees to make  reasonable effort to ensure copies of the Book are made available to the Author at a 20% retail
    discount for this purpose.  If at any time or for any reason the Author’s reserve
    falls below the contracted amount, Author agrees to provide Print-On-Demand (POD) copies to make up the shortfall within 7 days. 

The only thing I didn’t get any real say in was the price.  The house was quite firm on that, and the prices they set were a little higher than I thought they’d be, but I felt that $19.95 for the paperpack and $29.95 for the ebook was fair with today’s inflated prices, so I didn’t push the issue.  (Besides, that just means higher royalties for me!)

I left out some of the more boring parts of the contract, but that’s the gist of it.  I just sent in the copyright application, so I expect my novel will availabe around Memorial Day weekend.  From my back-of-the-envelope figuring, I figure I’ll need to scrape up about $20K to keep up my end of the contract (it’s all deductible, so that’s cool), and I’ve decided to launch an intensive 3-month publicity tour this summer while the kids are on vacation.  I’ll be flying into all the major cities in the continental US (unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to Alaska and Hawaii because of the high cost of airline tickets there!) — pretty much a different city every day — and stopping in at each of the airport bookstores and newstands to sign copies of my book (which I’ll have available for sale from my reserve, of course). I’m sure to be a bestseller in no time!

See you at the airport!

Dan Hoyt
April 1, 2011

RIP Big Brother

Posted: November 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Today, I was reminded that this is the 10th anniversary of the death of my older brother, David.  I knew it was this month, but I actively try not to remember the specific day, frankly.  After all these years, his death still hurts.  However, since I was reminded (passively, via my sister’s Facebook status, so I don’t blame her for disturbing my dissociation attempt), I felt it was appropriate to say a little something on this occasion.

My brother wasn’t a saint.  Some people found him too rough around the edges for their tastes.  Some found him likeable.  Some confused him with another David Hoyt in the same graduating class of the same high school (Stow, OH, 1977 — for the record, my brother was the trombonist, who was fond of black leather and motorcycles, not the football player).  Few found him cuddly and teddy-bear-y, although my sister and I saw that side of him more than a few times. 

Growing up, we battled constantly.  And I don’t mean just arguing, but knock-down-drag-out fighting, usually resulting in me getting injured, since David outweighed me by a good hundred pounds.  People wondered why I rarely got into trouble at school, why I did everything I could to avoid fights, when I seemed to enjoy a good argument (okay, so I was a bit of a jerk in high school) — it was because I had enough fighting at home.  When I left my parents’ house, there were a lot of bad feelings both ways, and I resolved to leave for good.  (I kept that promise to myself; I’ve never returned, even when it would have helped, financially.)  For a long time, I didn’t speak to anyone in my family.

Somewhere along the line, I figured out that family meant something, no matter how fractured the relationship.  (This is why so many people from broken homes end up in therapy — because those relationships did mean something to them, at an instinctive level if nothing else.)  Sometime after that epiphany, about the time of my father’s heart bypass, I started reaching out to David, started doing what I could to repair what was obviously a broken relationship.  I flew to Ohio to look after my dad the weekend after his surgery, and David picked me up at the airport.  He took me to a biker bar for a steak dinner and we talked about Dad and why I wasn’t on speaking terms with anyone any more.  I realized that my father’s health was more important than our petty disagreements, and that day I made the first steps toward building a working sibling relationship with David.

David didn’t take a step toward me that day, but we did get closer later.  His progress was slow, but it was progress.  I resolved to be patient, letting him take the time he needed to come to the same realization I had about the importance, the influence, of family.  The mark he’d made on me, and I’d made on him, that helped make us the people we were.  It was a slow process, but I knew it was worth it.  That he was worth it.

David had already starting turning his own life around, steering away from drugs, alcohol and violence, and, with the help of a woman he loved, turning toward a responsible, grounded life, centered around family.  (She had two teen/preteen children, and he talked to me about how terrifying it was to gain an "instant family," even though the kids would never really think of him as a father.)  I know David loved her, because he died protecting her, his passenger, when the motorcycle he was piloting had a blowout and they went down on the expressway.  She survived the accident, but David lapsed into a coma that ultimately proved fatal.

We were still in the middle of our journey when the accident occurred.  David never recovered from the coma; I never got the chance to tell him that I was proud of him for trying to rehabilitate his life.  Never got the chance to tell him how much our newly-repairing relationship meant to me.  Never got the chance to apologize for pushing him away so many years before.

I was surprised how much his death affected me.  We were still only cordial, not really friends, per se.  I didn’t have a lot of happy memories to reflect on.  Look, he’d always said he didn’t expect to live to 40, so I’d been expecting it for years at that point.  Why should his death matter to me any more than that of a distant cousin?  But it still shook me, hard.  On a purely self-centered level, it felt like a part of my life had been ripped away — the parts we shared, specifically.  I felt as though without his affirmation, my memories were just lies, and they’d fade away over time, eventually robbing David of his own legacy — the memory of his very existence.  I came to understand that this was just a natural reaction to the death of a close relative, and I moved on.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve never forgotten my brother.  I think of him frequently, of what his life meant to me, and I try to apply those lessons to my own relationships (especially with my wife and kids).  I remember and honor his memory every week.  I hope that there’s some form of afterlife, and that he’s found his version of peace in it.

David Hoyt, big brother, on this the 10th anniversary of your death, Rest in Peace.  You deserve it.

Astronomy SF Anthology Now Online!

Posted: February 18, 2009 in Uncategorized
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Mike Brotherton‘s eagerly-awaited anthology of astronomy-related SF is now available!  I’m very happy to have a story in this antho, which you can read for free, along with all the others.

Funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, this is an excellent example of the kinds of things I’d like to see our government spending money on in the sciences, so be sure to let everyone know about the antho.

P.S. Read what John Scalzi had to say about the antho in HIS blog.