Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Finally, Amazon Improves Book Descriptions



AMAZON improves book descriptions. Who would have thought they will ever get around to do something for their suppliers (aka authors)? Here is the ‘breaking news’…

Bring your book descriptions to the next level:  Amazon's new text editor provides options for formatting your book description and previewing it before publishing.

You can now bold, italicize, underline, create numbered and bulleted lists, and add heading styles to make your book description even more compelling for readers.  The new editor can be found on the book details page in your title setup.

A+ Content lets you add images, text, and tables to your detail page to help you to drive conversions. Readers have all they need in one place to make a buying decision. Increase sales. Improve performance of ads, deals, and promotions with more visually engaging detail pages.

Build a customer base. Encourage repeat purchases by sharing more about you and your books.

Upgrade your detail pages with a new book description or A+ Content!  Yes, authors have to sit down and rewrite their book descriptions for all their books on Amazon. 

It's about time that Amazon got their act together and offers a professional code! What they offered in the last decades was sub-standard from the '80s or even older.


Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Hedy Lamarr - so Much More Than a Beautiful Actress


Do you use GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi? Its basic technology was invented by a woman who died 22 years ago:  Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-American actress and inventor who pioneered the technology that would one day form the basis for today’s WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth communication systems.  As a natural beauty seen widely on the big screen in films like Samson and Delilah and White Cargo, society has long ignored her inventive genius.  

Lamarr was originally Hedwig Eva Kiesler, born in Vienna, Austria on November 9th, 1914 into a well-to-do Jewish family.  An only child, Lamarr received a great deal of attention from her father, a bank director and curious man, who inspired her to look at the world with open eyes.  He would often take her for long walks where he would discuss the inner workings of different machines, like the printing press or streetcars.  These conversations guided Lamarr’s thinking and at only 5 years of age, she could be found taking apart and reassembling her music box to understand how the machine operated.  Meanwhile, Lamarr’s mother was a concert pianist and introduced her to the arts, placing her in both ballet and piano lessons from a young age. 

Learn about her inventions, for example, new wings for Howard Hughes' airplane.  
Lamarr was indeed a genius as the gears in her inventive mind continued to turn. She once said, “Improving things comes naturally to me.”

Lamarr once insisted, “Any girl can be glamorous; all you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”  That she herself was anything but stupid was unequivocally proved during World War II when, in collaboration with the avant-garde composer George Antheil, she invented an electronic device that minimized the jamming of radio signals.  Though it was never used in wartime, this device is a component of present-day satellite and cellular phone technology.

Read the whole story here:

or here:




Sunday, January 9, 2022

A Newcomer's Baja California Sur Impressions

Sand, Sand, and more Sand
In Austria, or in Canada, I am always afraid to get stuck in the snow in Winter, having to call a truck to pull me out.  Here in Mexico, I am worried to be stuck in the sand when driving in the countryside.  But not only there, sometimes my tires don't find a hold on some parking spots away from the main roads.  One day I even heard the sand scratching at the underside of my car and feared every moment to be stranded far away from any civilization.  But thank goodness this hair-raising experience ended well.  A truck or a 4-wheel vehicle is your best bet here or an ATV.

In Baja California Sur, sand reigns from the waves of the Sea of Cortez up the hill to the mountain cliffs.  Next time, I will purchase a pair of cowboy boots. They seem to be the best outfit for sandy soils.  Texas or Mexican cowboys know why they wear them!

Cows and Goats
The melodic ringing of cowbells is something I grew up with - but hearing them in the Southern part of Baja California was surprising.  It felt like home in the European Alpes.  The ranches in the Baja are often so large that farmers cannot afford to fence the animals in and maintain the fences.  So cows and goats are often not confined to the ranches that are tucked into the hills but sometimes even are grazing in towns.  And crossing country roads without regard to the traffic around them! 

This is where it becomes dangerous. In Europe when a driver is flashing its light to the upcoming traffic, they warn you about speeding radar installations, but here in the Baja, they warn you of cows on or next to the road that could cross any moment.  Flashing the headlights might have saved already a lot of serious accidents.  There are lots of warning signs for cows on the road and drivers should take them seriously and adjust the speeds accordingly. 

I was surprised to see Mexican males often wearing the same outfit as I knew it from Western movies.  But it makes sense!  The cowboy hat shields from the sun, and the boots are the best footwear in this sandy environment. 

My friend Marcela calls those who speed in 30km-zones or generally are speeding and passing without regard to the oncoming traffic or guys who are kind of reckless also cowboys.  One needs to monitor carefully other drivers, as they may act erratically and some even drive without lights at night...  Better not to have an accident here.  Also because there are lots of exclusions in the Mexican car insurances. 


Flora & Fauna
Arriving in the Baja California Sur (for the first time) in November, I was amazed by the number of yellow-blooming Palo de Arco, that bordered the country roads.  Such a fantastic, cheery shrub!  I collected lots of seeds, planting them all the way around the fence of the Tango Azul Resort.  Palo de Arco has been a staple in Mexican folk-medicine for centuries and adopted for landscaping throughout Mexico, as well.  It thrives even in the hottest, sunniest locations in this arid climate.  Artisans in the Baja build wonderful fences and even walls from the sticks of Palo de Arco.

However, besides these attractive shrubs, I found dozens and dozens of other interesting plants, from low-growing sedums to majestic Neem or Palo Verde trees.  About 6,000 plants can be found in the Baja. Hundreds of them are endemic, growing only in this part of the world. 

Water & Hot Spring
In rural areas of the Baja, municipal water and sewer services are not so common as we know them from city life.  Most houses have water tanks on the roof that are filled by water tank trucks.  Taking a shower, flushing the toilet, or watering the plants is fine with this water.  However, for drinking and cooking, using bottled water is the safest way.

Amazing that despite the arid climate and the lack of rain, there are quite a few springs - actually hot springs - just a ten-minute drive from La Ventana. Digging into the sand causes warm or even hot water that stems from former volcano activity.  Visiters built round pools in the past, using rocks, so "bath tubes" are ready to use them for free. 

Other hot springs, for example around Santiago (a 90-minute drive from La Ventana), lay on private ranch ground.   The owners charge between 150 and 300 Mexican pesos entrance fees - which is certainly not much, as they provide picnic areas, washrooms, and parking spaces, etc. 


El Norte & Endless Beaches
La Ventana is ranked in the 
Top10 places in the world for kiteboarding and is famous for strong, consistent wind from November to April.  But not only kite-boarders are happy here, but surfers, stand-up paddlers, kayakers, and swimmers are also frequenting the beaches in town.  Just two miles out the sand is even more appealing, and guests have the next 10 - 15 kilometers for themselves.  A long walk, a mountain bike ride, or an ATV trip will bring you to unspoiled beaches - where the desert meets the sea.

Inexpensive Services
Marcela, the co-owner of the Tango Azul Resort, introduced me to Isabel, a laundry lady, and to her son, who offers detailing.  After I received an offer from a detailing company in Ottawa three months earlier of 115 Canadian dollars, I could not believe what I was charged here for the same work: 100 Mexican pesos!  I certainly gave him a tip.  It looks now like brand new, as it would just come out of the shop.  I am so happy about my clean and shiny car.

The same surprise came up when I had to visit a dentist in La Paz.  One of the hotel guests told me about the "Dentista", a wonderful caring, and gentle lady.  She did such a great job that I let her do more dental work.  All she charged me, was only a third of what I would have paid in Canada, let alone the US.