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Archive for October, 2007

Every month or so, I get a request from a magazine asking if I want to write about GNU/Linux or free software. One or two are legitimate professonal offers that I am glad to consider, if only for variation and to length the list of markets to which I can sell – or, to be more exact, to which I might some day sell, since I don’t have many open slots on my monthly schedule. However, more often, the magazine either doesn’t pay or else pays a token like $30 per page, and I have to decline, despite their offers of additional payment in copies or free advertising, neither of which I have much use for. The exchange never fails to leave me feeling guilty, defensive, and unsatisfied.

Admittedly, many magazines and publishers prey on wannabe writers’ desire to be published. However, I’m sure that many are doing their best, paying what they can and hoping that they might one day generate enough income to pay their contributors better. In fact, I am sure that most of them are sincere; they’re generally too excited about what they are doing to be deliberate exploiters.

This sort of low-paying work might have acceptable in the days when I was writing articles in my spare time and trying to build a reputation. I could have helped the editors, and they could have helped me. But how can I explain to these well-meaning people that I’m not just dabbling in writing these days? That in the time I wrote them a 1500 word article, I could have made ten or fifteen times as much writing for my regular markets? That I literally cannot afford to contribute to their magazine or web site?

I can’t explain, of course. Not without being completely undiplomatic and crass. So, I usually hedge until my correspondents’ persistence forces me to be blunter, or they come up with another argument.

Usually, the next argument is the idea – either openly stated or hinted – that, since all of us are interested in free software, then I am somehow obligated to give my labor for free.

Consciously or otherwise, this argument conflates the meanings of free software. Free software, as everyone constantly points out, isn’t free because it doesn’t cost. It’s free in a political or philosophical sense – and, on that score, I have a good conscience. It seems perfectly reasonable to me that, in return for the money I need to live, the markets where I publish should have exclusive rights to my articles for thirty days. After that, I am perfectly happy to have the articles reprinted or translated under a Creative Commons Attribution – No Derivatives license, In fact, I almost never refuse such requests.

Besides, are the people who trying to guilt-trip me donating their labor for free? In many cases, I doubt it.

Anyway, I maintain that, in keeping people informed about free software, I am already contributing to the greater cause. I happen to be one of those lucky enough or persistent enough to be able to earn my living through doing so, but I don’t see why the one should invalidate the other.

True, I do make some gratis contributions to free software in my own time – but that’s beside the point. What matters is that I don’t feel the need to prove my credentials, particularly to strangers I don’t know. So, at this point, they usually break off the correspondence, often with parting comments about my selfishness or lack of generosity.

And of course I do feel hard-hearted at times. But, when it comes to the way I make my livelihood, I have to ration my time. Otherwise, I could easily lose a large chunk of my income for the month. So, I break off, too, muttering my excuses after an exchange that has satisfied nobody.

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I’m not a vengeful person. Even for the people who have wronged me the worst (and believe me, I have reason for grudges, although you’ll excuse me if I don’t go into details), I wish nothing more than a life far, far away from mine. However, I admit that a snigger of glee escapes me whenever I observe that, in my interactions with them, I resemble the title character of Somerset Maugham’s short story “The Verger.”

In the story, the title character loses his comfortable job in an Anglican church because he can’t read or write. Frantic at first, he becomes a successful businessman simply because he has to survive. Discovering his illiteracy, his bank manager says, “‘And do you mean to say that you’ve built up this important business and amassed a fortune of thirty thousand pounds without being able to read or write? Good God, man, what would you be now if you had been able to?'”

To which the title character replies with a little smile, “I can tell you that . . . I’d be verger of St. Peter’s, Neville Square.”

I think I know the feel of that smile. It’s the satisfied, slightly vicious one of the survivor who has earned the best revenge of all – that of living well.

These days, I don’t think much about the people who turned on me. Still, every now and then, I see their names around town, and once a year or so I do a quick Google search to confirm my suspicions that they are still doing the same dull things they did ten years ago. One has hit the glass ceiling for senior managers who don’t bring any capital or outstanding expertise to the business, and seems likely to stay scrunched up against it for the next thirty years. Another has achieved some success in trying to be a big frog in the small pond she kicked me from, but is enmired in much the same routine as ten years ago. I consider her constant pursuit of meaningless titles and signs of respect as a sign of just how desperate her inner life must be.

In that same time, I’ve been instrumental in two startups. I’ve flown across North America on other people’s money so they could make use of my expertise. I’ve hobnobbed with famous people in free and open source software, and gained my own small but solid reputation across the world as a journalist. I’m not only doing a job that I love, but I’m getting paid more than I was ten years ago, too.

In short, I’ve reached the stage where I’m living the life I’ve always wanted. All I need is for someone to exclaim that, if I’ve reached this level of life-satisfaction after the setbacks I’ve faced since ten years ago, where would I be if I hadn’t been naive enough to trust in the decency of the wrong people.

“Well, I can tell you that,” I’ll say with a smile. “I’d be verger of St. Peter’s, Neville Square.”

Or very nearly, apart from the names and a few other alterations.

What’s even better, I know that these people are aware of my success. From time to time, they’ve encountered people who know about my life. And I strongly suspect that one or two have logged on to my website or blog occasionally (apparently, they’ve never heard of webstats or the interesting deductions you can make from them). When these things happen, I can only hope they feel an acid bitterness in their stomach and go about in a bad mood for the next couple of hours.

I sometimes wish that I could see their discontent with themselves, but, I don’t need to. From what I once knew about them, I’m quite sure how they feel. And, at the odd times when I think about what happened – well, I give a thin smile and I think about Maugham’s story for a second before passing on to more important, more current things.

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Learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then–to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the thing for you.”
–T. H. White, “The Sword in the Stone.”

After Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the book that most affected me as a child was T. H. White’s The Once and Future King. The book is best-known through the and for the Camelot! musical and later movie of the same name in which Robert Goulet and Richard Harris played the title roles, and perhaps through the Disney animation of The Sword in the Stone, the first part of the book. However, in each of these cases, that’s like knowing a sunny day through a tanning clinic. What White accomplished was not just an entertainment – although it’s all of that – but, rather, the main retelling of the Arthurian legend for the twentieth century.

White was rather unfortunate in his personal life. He seems to have been throughly dominated by his mother in his early life, and an accusation – apparently of homosexuality and possibly true – made him unable to continue working as a public school teacher. He turned to his love of naturalism and medievalism for solace as well as a living, but remained largely solitary and introspective.

Every great re-telling of the Arthurian legend reshapes the story for its times, and White is no exception. In White’s version, Arthur is a well-meaning and earnest man who has the luck or misfortune to be afflicted by a visionary tutor. For Merlin, Arthur is a tool to attempt nothing less than a major change in human psychology, away from the “Might is Right” philosophy that seems to rule international politics to a more moral, humanistic way of life. The Round Table and the Grail Quest are both efforts to steer life in this direction. At the end of the book, Arthur is even experimenting with the rule of law, although he finds it suddenly used against him.

The tragedy is that human nature seems to pre-doom this endeavor from the start. But the problem is not just the natural selfishness of people, but the fact that they are not.

The romance between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere that dooms Arthur’s efforts is not simply a matter of selfishness or uncontrollable passion. After all, White says, if Lancelot had been a normal person, he simply would have eloped with Guinevere, and nothing else would have happened. Instead, the tragedy happens because Lancelot is genuinely torn between his love for Guinevere and his whole-hearted support of Arthur’s ideals. Similarly, Guinevere is a young woman married to an older husband whose ideals she can’t really share, and lacking any outlet for her energies. As for Arthur, he is warned from the start about the love affair, but turns a blind eye to it out of guilt and out of his own sense of fairness.

For White, the other element that dooms Camelot are the five sons of Queen Morgause of Orkney, including Mordred, whose father is Arthur. White devotes a rather chilling, if somewhat racist section to the sons in early childhood, showing them totally obsessed with gaining their aloof mother’s approval. Of the five, only Gareth has the imaginative sympathy to support Arthur’s ideals wholeheartedly. Gaheris is slow, Agravaine and Mordred downright vicious. Gawaine, the head of the clan, is at least good-natured, but even he has trouble thinking beyond the tribalism on which he grew up.

In short, what White manages to do is create a psychologically convincing portrait of the main people in the Arthurian cycle, making them credible to twentieth-century readers, and winning through to a pathos in several scenes as effective as anything else you can name in English literature.

But, although that alone would be enough to make The Once and Future King an extraordinary book, it contains far more. The first part, which depicts Arthur’s childhood, is broadly comical as Arthur – or Wart, as his foster family calls him – is transformed into a variety of animals to broaden his mind, a conceit that gives White a chance to put his naturalist’s rambles to good use. At the same time, Wart receives the usual education of a country squire, learning to joust and work with hawks. In fact, the whole book is crammed with medieval lore that gives the book a ring of authenticity.

Tragically, as adult affairs absorb his mind, Arthur quickly forgets his idyllic childhood, retaining only the ideas that Merlin has given him. After he establishes his rule, the whole concept of rooting out the idea that Might is Right slowly goes wrong in a series of descents that last over several decades. At the end of the book, in a scene whose imaginative power is only faintly captured in the movie, Arthur sits awake in his tent, waiting for the battle with Mordred that he knows will end in his death. Abruptly, he remembers his childhood, and wonders if his life effort was futile. The anarchistic geese, who see no borders in their flights, have the right attitude he concludes, but he despairs of humanity ever following their example. In the end, he finds a small consolation in sending a young page – evidently Thomas Malory, who will grow up write La Morte D’Arthur — out of the battle zone, so that somebody can remember the example of Camelot for future generations, then prepares to go out and die.

Having read the Arthurian legend for years, I was ripe for White’s version when I discovered it in Grade Six. I not only devoured the book, but lived and breathed it for months in my mind, even going so far as to ask a local artist down the lane to bring the description of the mews on Sir Ector’s estate to life (she refused, polite and more than a little puzzled).

Unlike Arthur, I’ve never forgot the story of his early years, or his effort to realize Merlin’s vision. Looking back, I conclude that the book seems to have played a large role in establishing my social and political leanings, and every few years I like to return to it. Each time, I find new pieces to appreciate, and I’m reminded yet again that the literary canon is not the only source of artistic excellence.

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Recovering from a leg injury and facing a delayed article and a heavy autumn rain, I was delighted to find Benjamin Szumskyj’s Fritz Leiber: Critical Essays in the mail box today. I still have to read the contents in detail, but my first romp through the context was a combination of pride in my contribution, nostalgia, and the feeling that whatever critical heritage I had generated had passed into safe hands.

For those who don’t know, Fritz Leiber is one of my favorite science fiction writers, and, when I say that my short book Witches of the Mind remains the definitive study of his works, I am only stating the truth (although I have to confess that the field of Leiber studies is not very large).

Fritz Leiber: Critical Essays is the first major scholarly work since mine, and I caught a few glimpses of its creation, so naturally I would feel a certain grandfatherly interest in it under any circumstances. But the collection also marks my first academic paper in over a decade, an effort that I was only persuaded to by Szumskyj’s unrelenting badgering and against my natural sense of caution (there were men with dark glasses, I swear. And tire irons).

(And grocery store coupons!).

So I was seriously torn between anticipation and apprehension when I opened this afternoon’s parcel. I wanted to say honestly that it was first-rate effort, but I was nervous that I would have to lie – and, even worse, that I had contributed nonsense.

With the typical vanity of a writer, my first act was to turn to my own essay, “The Allure of the Eccentric in the Poetry and Prose of Fritz Leiber.” Were there any typos? Had I said anything stupid? I’d hardly dared to look at the article since I submitted it, and perhaps some unintentional double entendre had slipped past Ben’s watchful editorial eye.

Mercifully, I saw nothing at first pass that made me wince. Once or twice, I thought I even sounded sensible – but that could be the Ibuprofen talking.

My next step was to see the references to me in the index. The point was not so much vanity as to catch up with what Leiber scholars were saying. Had my ideas from all those years ago been superseded? Another new paradigm (or trio of nickels) generated?
“No” was the answer to both questions. But several writers had expanded into areas where I had lacked the space to explore and others had struck out in interesting new directions. The community of Leiber scholars might be small, but it was evidently thriving.

Remembering Justin Leiber’s earlier rambling and charmingly digressive articles on his father, one of the first pieces I read in full was his contribution. Not only was it everything his earlier articles had been, but it got me thinking about the couple of times that I had met him – once at a World Fantasy Convention in Seattle, and again in San Francisco shortly before his father’s death. These were in many ways a golden era in my life, in which I had the privilege of knowing Fritz and his second wife Margo Skinner, I was a semi-regular at Diana Paxson and Paul Edwin Zimmer’s Greyhaven, and my own study was receiving attention and award nominations.

With two years, I had turned my back on that world and, become a technical writer and started sliding into the worst circumstances so far of my life. At the time, I thought my chief concern was the need to earn a better living, but today I wonder whether experiencing Fritz’s last days hadn’t influenced my choice not so subtlely.
And what, I wonder, might have happened if I had stayed in academia? Would I have slipped on to the tenure track, or at least found a permanent lectureship? Or would I still be grubbing for contracts and growing increasingly embittered with each semester?

And would I have done any more work on Leiber? There was a time when I was the one thinking about doing essay collections on Leiber.

But that all seems a long time ago, and, although Szumskyj, Australian that he is, keeps hinting at dire uses of Vegemite if I don’t contribute to his studies of other authors, I only have one academic project that I’d like to finish in the remaining half of my life.

Besides, I’m not altogether sure that I could hold my own. The essays in Fritz Leiber: Critical Essays seem awfully literate and penetrating to me. So, although I’m still a relatively young man (a phrase that, as I write, I eerily remember reading Leiber using of himself at about the same age), I think that, for the most part, I will take the grandfather option, expressing pleasure in the fact that I made a small contribution to scholarship, and others still find it interesting enough to improve on it.

All joking aside, thanks for an excellent collection, Ben – you’ve done Fritz proud.

Now, put away the Gnutella and the fire ants, and I promise to do anything you say.

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In the summer between grades five and six, I discovered the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. The encounter inspired a love of fantasy and science fiction that endures to this day.

I was always precocious reader. By the end of Grade 1, I was devouring the Hardy Boy books. by Grade 2, I had discovered Alexander Dumas and historical fiction, and I first read Moby Dick in Grade 3. This precociousness alarmed my mother, who had at least one conference with my teacher, and eventually decided that, if I came across anything remotely racy, I would probably just skip over it. It also meant that I was so busy reading works like Mutiny on the Bounty that I missed a number of children’s classics until in the early years of high school, including Harriet the Spy, The Wind in the Willows, and, of course, Tolkien’s The Hobbit.

I was a first generation book addict, with nothing except the occasional suggestion from the school librarian to indicate that I was missing a wealth of treasures. I wouldn’t even have known The Wizard of Oz except for the movie and the fact that I played the Cowardly Lion in the class play (a most moving performance, I thought, in which I had a mane that made me look like a dandelion, and developed the business of wiping my eyes with the tip of my tail when I pretended to cry),

I do remember hearing my brother talk about his teacher reading The Hobbit to his class. And in grade five, I saw a black and white sketch in a school book club catalog showing Frodo and Sam on Mount Doom, and was intrigued. What were the Hobbits mentioned in the caption? They didn’t seem much different than humans to me. But, at the same time, stripped to a couple of sentences, the plot seemed ludicrous.

That summer, I came across a paperback three volume set of The Lord of the Rings with the abstract cover full of banners and snake-like heads. But the price was high for my allowance, and I put it aside. That was at The Bookstall, where I lived during many long summer afternoons of my childhood.

The owner seemed to appreciate my enthusiasm, and tolerated my horde of unbought treasures. Yet, every once and a while, his patience thinned, and I had to make at least an effort to buy what I had reserved. Cunningly, I said that I would take the first volume, figuring to satisfy the owner’s strange insistence on making sales without too much financial damage to myself.

As I rode home on my bicycle, I stopped every few blocks to read a page or two. By the time I got home, I was thoroughly hooked, and descended to the downstairs basement that I was using that summer to read stretched out on my bed.

That was on Friday afternoon. I must have had dinner and other meals on Saturday, but what I mostly remember is constantly shifting position on the bed, physically restless yet so unable to put the book down that I might been a fool of a Took snared by Sauron’s glance in the Palantir.

The experience remains vivid now, and is the main source of my contempt for those who dismiss Tolkien as an archaic or mediocre writer. Those terms might apply to all but the best of his poetry, but, for me, Tolkien remains the universal standard for atmosphere and building tension. Opening with the forced cheeriness of a children’s tale, Tolkien slowly drops those tones, until suddenly, without realizing quite how you got there, you are in a middle of an altogether more dangerous story, and are afraid to go to the washroom without turning on the lights in the hopes of warding off the Black Riders. And that night, I heard a cat’s yowl a few yards over that left me lying awake, half-expecting to hear the sound of horses’ hooves coming down the street. The Black Riders might be looking for hobbits, I was thinking, but they would probably be just as happy with children.

Twenty-six hours after I bought the first volume, I had finished it, and was ready for more. I spent a sleepless night in anticipation, and cycled down to The Bookstall only to find that it was closed on Sundays. I’m not sure how I lasted the day, let alone the night, with my tormented thoughts that somehow the other volumes might have been sold in my absence, but on Monday morning I was on the doorstep at opening time. This time, I bought both the remaining volumes, having learned my lesson. Two days later, I had finished both, and was seriously debating starting again – something I have almost never done at any age.

For the rest of the summer, I was wild about Tolkien. I read his other works, including The Hobbit, but most of them were like methadone to a serious addict – satisfying, but missing something. I drew my own maps of the areas beyond the edges of Tolkien’s maps, and searched the story and the appendices for hooks to hang a story on. I fantasized about one day backpacking to Oxford and meeting Tolkien in his study. But none of it was enough. In desperation, I started branching out into other fantasy and science fiction writers like Fritz Leiber and Robert Heinlein, and so a lifelong taste was born.

My appreciation of literature has broadened since then to include the classics, foreign literature, graphic novels and selected mysteries. Yet for all the discoveries that have delighted me, none quite compared to those four days in which I read Tolkien for the first time.

When, shortly after, I began to have my first crushes on the girls in my class, the feeling wasn’t strange at all. I’d already experienced that intensity of emotions in the pages of three paperback books.

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After I finished my bachelor’s degree, I spent several years as a part time clerk in a mall bookstore. I had been reduced to a state where I was fit for little else: Not only had I gone straight through from high school with the exception of one or two summers off, but I had taken a double major and married in the same period. I needed time to coast while I considered the next step, and to earn enough money to pay my share of the expenses in the mean time.

In my naivety, I thought an enthusiasm for books was a natural qualification for such a job. Add a good memory for books and titles glimpsed, and I seemed a natural. Probably the fact that the job was minimum wage should have tipped me off to reality, but I was as green with inexperience as a new branch in spring.

Looking back, I have to say that disillusion took a surprisingly long time to set in. Yet, gradually, and with growing horror, I realized that other employees were far more interested in their shreds of status than books, and that my affinity for books was dismissed at the same time that I fielded all sorts of questions from them. I was unworldly, they decided, and they were right, although not in the way they thought.

All the other employees and managers, I realized, considered books commodities, not as exciting diversions and intellectual stimulation. Their lack of university degrees might have tipped me off, I suppose, but show me the twentysomething man who doesn’t believe he knows how the world works.

But I endured as I recuperated, experiencing the change in my life as Sunday store openings became the norm, and the embarrassment of having the older sister of a school acquaintance arrive as manager. She never said anything, but I grew increasingly afraid that she would mention my lowly status, and whispers would start to circulate that I was a failure.

However, despite this background of discontent, what I mainly recall were the surreal moments of comedy that went with the job. Some of these were corporate, such as the constantly shipping of reduced items back and forth for sales until long after any profit could be recouped from them.

One book I remembered was entitled Les Femmes aux Cigarettes, a reprint of a French photo study from the 1920s by a photographer who found the then-novelty of women smoking irresistible; it started at forty-eight dollars soon after I took the job, and had been reduced to twenty-five cent by the time I left.

I remember, too, the buzz of cleaning and drill that surrounded the visit of the owner – an event that lasted perhaps two minutes as he strode to the back of the store, shook the district manager’s hand, and went out to lunch with him.

Then there was the time I considered applying for a full-time position. The manager took me aside and talked to me solemnly of the duties and responsibilities of working full-time – as though I hadn’t been doing everything the full-timers were doing anyway. Asked point blank if she was implying that I wasn’t responsible, she back-pedaled furiously, but, with such events in my past, no wonder my view of the corporate world is ironic and bemused at best.

But what I remember most vividly are the customers. Many would enter the store in early afternoon, wanting the book they had seen on Oprah that morning, and could not understand that I had been at the store since 9AM, let alone that I’m not an Oprah sort of person. My favorite in this category is the woman who came up to me and said, “I can’t remember the name or the title of the book, and it’s hard to explain what it’s about, but it was on some television show this morning, and had a green cover.” What I wanted to do was direct her to the green book section, but, wisely, I refrained.

Another time, one of the many mothers who used the children’s section as a cheaper version of mall daycare berated us because her son had wandered. We should have kept an eye on him, she kept saying.

Then there was the time I chased a young shoplifter out the door, through the mall, and halfway across the parking lot. I didn’t catch him – which was probably good, since I might have got into trouble with the law – and, to tell the truth, I didn’t much care if I did. For me, the incident was an unexpected moment of excitement in an otherwise monotonous day. But from the terrorized look on the shoplifter’s face as he looked over his shoulder, I doubt he felt the same way – although perhaps he went on to tell his own boasting version of the story.

And who can forget the hordes who arrived in the last few hours of Christmas Eve, overheated in their winter coats, furious about everything that had sold out, and about as full of Christmas cheer as a tax collector? One Christmas, I had just slumped against the door lock when a young male executive came bounding at the door.

“I have to get a gift for my wife,” he kept saying. “I have to!” His tie was askew, and he was more than a little drunk, and all I wanted was to go home and start my own Christmas. Safe on the other side of the glass, I muttered, “Keep this up, and you won’t have to worry about buying for your wife much longer,” and let a staffer take pity on him.

I think that these random encounters helped shaped the basis of my worldview: Things don’t make sense, I decided, and I would only get a headache if I insisted in looking for the logic.

But I had outgrown the job by the end of my first shift. I enjoy people, but not constantly, and I’m not a naturally servile or patient person. After two and a half years, I was looking for a way out. I started applying for any job remotely suitable, then hit on grad school. That fall, I applied for both the Communications and English Department at Simon Fraser University. The Communications Department would only take grad students in September, and I wasn’t waiting another eight months, so I became an English master’s candidate, sinking gratefully into the familiar world where ideas mattered and books were viewed as precious.

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Today, I received the following e-mail. At the sender’s request, I have removed any personal details:

I was wondering if you had any advice for me about how to perform some marketing/pr for my Linux [project]. I’ve started doing interviews with developers and I have created a community news site.

But is there anyway I could possibly get [my project] mentioned in a
magazine like Linux Journal? Is there any free advertising I could take advantage of on certain web sites? I thought you may have some ideas for me because you have experience with this kind of thing. Any help you
could provide me would be appreciated.

I generally receive about 3-4 requests of this sort a year, so I decided to post my reply here, so I can refer others to it:

You’re not likely to find free advertising on sites that will do you any good, so your best bet is to try to get on the various sites as a contributor. Linux.com only takes original material for its main features, but it does have the NewsVac items, the three or four line link summaries on the right of the page that are very popular. And, of course, sites like Slashdot, Digg, and Linux Today are all about links to already published material.

If you have a solid piece of news — which for a piece of free software usually means new releases and unique features — at Linux.com you can pitch a story and write it yourself. However, you’ll be asked to include a disclaimer
that explains your connection with your subject matter, and the article will be rejected if you are being a fanboy. That means you can’t review your own distro, but you might be able to do a tutorial on a distribution’s packaging system, for instance.

Alternatively, you can send news releases in the hopes of convincing either an editor or a writer to cover your news. However, don’t be pushy. Submitting a news release once is enough, and popping back several times to ask if it was received or whether anyone is interested will probably only guarantee that you’ll annoy people so that they won’t cover your news no matter how big it is.

The ideal is to build up an ongoing relation with a few writers, in which you give them stories to write about — we’re always looking — and they give you the coverage you want when you have news that readers might want to hear.

Of course, you open yourself up to negative comments if the software deserves them, but that’s the chance you have to take. However, for the most part, both commercial companies and large community projects find the
risk well worth taking. It’s not as though any of the regular writers deliberately sit down to review with a determination to be negative (although, conversely, they don’t set out to praise, either: We’re not just fans, either).

This process doesn’t happen overnight, so be patient. But, in the long run, you should get some of the publicity you seek.

I don’t know whether this information is useful to others. To me, it seems that I’m saying the obvious, but part of that reaction is undoubtedly due to the fact that I deal with these things daily. Perhaps to others, these thoughts aren’t obvious, so I’m hoping that someone will find them useful

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