Thursday, 13 October 2011

By on October 13th, 2011 in Barbara, writing

09:43 – Barbara continues to do very well. She’s using my four-footed cane now, other than when I use it while walking Colin or while she’s taking a shower, when she uses the walker frame. She came back to bed around 0600 this morning. I guess sleeping on the sofa is getting old. The only reason that concerns me is that we have a 25+ kilo puppy that loves to jump on people.

Brian Jepson, my editor at O’Reilly, emailed me to ask if I had an image suitable for dummying up a cover. I told him I didn’t have anything suitable, and suggested they might use a stock photo until I have time to shoot a real cover image. That needs to be portrait orientation, with a white background and items placed to take text placement into account. I’m not sure what I’ll include in that image to suggest “biology”. A microscope, certainly. Maybe a test tube rack with some test tubes stoppered with cotton balls, perhaps a couple 50 mL centrifuge tubes hand labeled and with some leaves and chlorophyll extract in them. Some dropper bottles of stains and other reagents. Perhaps a box of microscope slides and a couple of Petri dishes. I’ll work it out, I guess. If I’m going to go to the trouble of setting this up, I’m not going to do it to shoot a dummy image. I’ll shoot real cover image candidates, which means devoting some time to it.

12:46 – Here’s what I just sent Brian as a first sample. I shot it handheld and without paying any attention to lighting or color balance, but I wanted to give him and the cover designer some idea of the “stuff” we could include in the actual cover image. Obviously, there’s way too much stuff, and I paid zero attention to composition for leaving areas clear for text. But at least this gives us a starting point to get a real cover image put together.

21 Comments and discussion on "Thursday, 13 October 2011"

  1. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Here’s something interesting. Last night, I stumbled across someone commenting about Richard Stallman’s published remarks about Steve Job’s passing. I wanted to read them in full. Apparently, Stallman’s site was down, as clicking on the link to it, repeatedly produced a timeout.

    So, I’ll just go to Google and get it from the cache. No matter how I searched for it–there was no cache of Stallman’s site or the quote. Googling for some of the exact wording quoted in other places produced no Google hit from Stallman’s site (at least in the first 100 results).

    To make it even stranger, Stallman’s site was back up this morning, and searches in Google now produce both cached material from the site, and the exact quote.

  2. Chad says:

    Put an amoeba on the cover. O’Reilly is famous for having animals on the cover of their books, so why not a single celled organism on the cover of the Biology book?

  3. SteveF says:

    Biology book covers should show a bunch of plants and critters. Microscopes and test tubes just mean generic science books.

    How about a circle of images, from an amoeba to a slug to a fish to a reptile to a human. The other side of the circle would have various plants, culminating in a tree. The middle of the image can have the lab equipment. Obviously that’s not something to shoot in your lab, but the internet or O’Reilly should be able to provide images licensed for this use. (Or you could use some l33t MSPaint skilz to draw up photo-realistic images. Oh, wait, you don’t use Windows. Never mind.)

  4. SteveF says:

    Put an amoeba on the cover.

    Great minds think alike. Except, I’m a knucklehead. Chad, perhaps you should be worried…

  5. ech says:

    Concur with the amoeba idea. Also, a generic microscope view (circular of course) of something impressive looking like a stained white blood cell or the good old standby of a plant cell lattice.

  6. pcb_duffer says:

    I like the ‘circle of life forms’ from SteveF, but I’d start with a double helix.

  7. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    We just finished the dummy cover. It may change, perhaps radically, but it’s good enough for now for marketing literature, pre-selling into distributors and bookstores, and so on. I’ll ask my editor if he minds me posting the dummy cover here.

  8. CowboySlim says:

    I would suggest asking for that shot of Michael Jackson’s bedside stand with a dozen bottles of propofol.
    I mean, something real rather than staged.

  9. Chuck Waggoner says:

    It has got to say sex. What is more connected to biology than sex?

    Btw, for the layman, very good 3-part series on BBC Discovery regarding latest views on natural selection. Starts with “discovery_20110912-2000a.mp3” at

  10. OFD says:

    I’m with Chad and SteveF on the book cover having some kind of animal and plant life on it.

    But then, I cannot help but admire the elegance and wit of Slim’s idea and I think we should roll with that. In the midst of life, we are in death, and all that, you see.

  11. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Cannot get away from those M$ virus vulnerabilities anywhere.

  12. Miles_Teg says:

    Chuck, I remember you saying a few weeks back that a USB key drive you’d bought was really annoying you. Could I have the brand name and model please so I know what to avoid?

    If anyone has recommendations for key drives I’d like to know please. Mainly I’d be using them for highly portable backups of my systems.

  13. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Yeah, it was a SanDisk Cruzer. I gave it away to a friend with a desktop, where the USB ports are out-of-sight. What annoyed me was the needlessly pulsating overly bright glowing light that was SO distracting, as the laptop I use it on, orients the thing so it is directly in my line of vision. Very, very distracting. That and the fact that it also had autorun files on it that took off and started network activity the instant I plugged it in. I am liking SanDisk less and less as time goes on — what with.the Sansa MP3 player buttons popping off regularly now.

    I went back to Fry’s and bought another 2 x 8gb drives that they are selling for US$16 while their stocks last. But 16gb would never function as backup for me, as my current data storage with all pictures, video, and music on it, is currently at 423gb.

  14. Chuck Waggoner says:

    With Tiny House having a tiny yard (“garden” to those of you speaking the Queen’s English–over here, “garden” is the actual space where flowers and/or vegetables grow; “yard” is where the grass grows), I bought all electric equipment to mow, weed whack, and trim the bushes. Now, knowing full-well how to handle the electric cords to do all of this, I still managed to graze the electric cord by backing the mower over the cord (violating rule #1: never back up with an electric mower) and just yesterday managed to cut the cord altogether in two by not keeping the cord slung over my shoulder while trimming the bushes (violating rule #2: keep the cord from the equipment slung over the shoulder at all times while operating said equipment).

    Although I could probably repair the cord, I just went out and bought another one for $23. Guess that kills off any energy savings I might have achieved by not buying gasoline-powered equipment.

  15. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Oh, those Fry’s key drives are Kingston. I have never had any trouble with either Kingston or Crucial memory. Never had any trouble with the actual memory in SanDisk products; it is just that the quality of the stuff they stuff them inside stinks.

  16. Miles_Teg says:

    Thanks, I usually buy Corsair nowadays but have used a number of name brands in the past with good results.

    I usually just back up my C (SSD) drive to the D drive, and the C and D drives to an external La Cie USB2 drive, but I’d really like something I can walk away with around my kneck rather than have to carry and treat gently – as a backup. A couple of mornings ago I woke to find that my main PC had reset overnight and was saying it couldn’t find a boot drive. I powered down/up and all was good. But I really want a drive I can easily take with me. I’m thinking of a couple of these:

  17. Miles_Teg says:


    I *really* wish it was possible to edit posts…

  18. Don Armstrong says:

    Too late, I guess, but I would have liked slime moulds to be the biology cover girls. Maybe show leaves as well, green and autumn red and gold. Maybe an earthworm and a snail.

  19. Miles_Teg says:

    I think microscope shots of various bacteria should be prominent on the cover. Perhaps some Gram Positive and Negative stained ones.

  20. brad says:

    “slime moulds to be the biology cover girls”

    Cover girls – there’s the answer. I don’t think I’d prefer slime-mould girls, though – unless that’s the name of a new girlie band?

  21. Don Armstrong says:

    Mould – it’s skin-tight and shaped.
    Slime – it’s a lubricant.

    I shouldn’t have to explain these things, you know.

Comments are closed.