Content here is by Michael Still mikal@stillhq.com. All opinions are my own.
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Wed, 29 Dec 2010



The Fifth Element




    ISBN: 0006483461
    Voyager (1997), Edition: Film Tie-in Ed, Paperback, 272 pages
    LibraryThing
    I liked the movie, and the book was cheap, so how bad could it be I thought to myself. The answer is terrible. Its in a big font with large margins, and still only a little over 200 pages long (in other words really short), however its not very well written either, which means that's merciful. The book is full of discussion of how under dressed the young women that is the Fifth Element is. The. Whole. Time. Not the worst book I've ever read, but certainly not one I will read again. Oh and what's with lines like "the search engines cranked and groaned"? Groan. Oh and what's with lines like "the search engines cranked and groaned"? Groan.

    Tags for this post: book terry_bisson aliens movie


posted at: 18:26 | path: /book/Terry_Bisson | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 27 Dec 2010



Hell's Faire




    ISBN: 0743488423
    Baen (2004), Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
    LibraryThing
    The final book in the Earth based Posleen war series. This should really have been part of the previous book (When the Devil Dances), but that would have made it a 1,100 page book. I've seen some complaints that these two books needed editing, but I feel that's not totally fair. They didn't feel padded, and I'm not sure what' you'd leave out of them. Sure, there are characters who are introduced in reasonable detail in order to then die, but isn't war like that? I like that you couldn't really guarantee that all the good guys would survive for once.

    The remainder of the books in this universe are share cropped. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

    Tags for this post: book john_ringo aliens combat combat_suit personal_ai rejuv legacy_of_the_aldenata georgia


posted at: 00:25 | path: /book/John_Ringo | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 25 Dec 2010



When the Devil Dances




    ISBN: 0743436024
    Baen (2003), Edition: First Thus, Mass Market Paperback, 704 pages
    LibraryThing
    The humans are still getting their arse kicked, and it seems like the Posleen might be learning something approximating reasonable tactics. If this book was just that, then it would be a disappointing addition to the series (A Hymn Before Battle and Gust Front come before this book). However, there is also some interesting science fiction happening here. It seems there is some sort of conspiracy to control the humans, and there is certainly some dodgy human experimentation going on. Overall, a good book apart from the cliff hanger at the end -- I would be annoyed if I couldn't just pick up the next book straight away.

    Tags for this post: book john_ringo aliens combat combat_suit personal_ai rejuv legacy_of_the_aldenata georgia


posted at: 19:04 | path: /book/John_Ringo | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 22 Dec 2010



Duckling!

    We had a birth at the house yesterday, it is really interesting how excited people got about it. It will be attending its first video conferenced meeting today.

                                           

    See more thumbnails

    Tags for this post: events pictures 20101222-duckling photo

posted at: 15:54 | path: /events/pictures/20101222-duckling | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 22 December 2010

posted at: 03:05 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Agent to the Stars




    ISBN: 0765357003
    LibraryThing
    There is something a little bit annoying about Scalzi. Take this book for example -- it is his practise book that he wrote to see if he even could write a coherent book. He didn't even intend to ever publish it. Yet it is really really good. Oh, its not his best book, but it better than many other books I've read. Its funny, interesting, entertaining, and yet thoughtful as well. I loved it.

    Tags for this post: book john_scalzi first_contact aliens hollywood holocaust


posted at: 00:37 | path: /book/John_Scalzi | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 20 Dec 2010



Gust Front




    ISBN: 0743435257
    Baen (2002), Edition: 1st Print/Original Cover Art, Mass Market Paperback, 736 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is the sequel to A Hymn Before Battle, and its a better book to be honest. That's fair enough given Hymn was Ringo's first book. This book spends less time on the politics of incompetent officers (although there is a bit of that), and introduces a little bit more of the political intrigue running in the Federation. The combat sequences are pretty well done too. Overall its good to see Ringo developing as an author and I enjoyed this book.

    Tags for this post: book john_ringo aliens combat combat_suit personal_ai rejuv legacy_of_the_aldenata virginia bad_commanders


posted at: 14:17 | path: /book/John_Ringo | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 16 Dec 2010



Polar City Blues




    ISBN: 0553285041
    Spectra (1990), Mass Market Paperback
    LibraryThing
    My first Katharine Kerr science fiction novel. There is a lot happening in this book: an inversion between the expected racism in our society; multiple alien species; political intrigue; murder; disease; and a first contact with a new alien species. The book could have included fewer plot elements and still have been excellent. Regardless, this book is quite good, and very unexpected from what I consider to be a fantasy author.

    Tags for this post: book katharine_kerr crime colonization aliens rejuv detective fantasy


posted at: 19:10 | path: /book/Katharine_Kerr | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 12 Dec 2010



Asterix The Gaul




    ISBN: 9780752866055
    LibraryThing
    This is the first book in the Asterix comic series which I loved as a child. I've decided I'm going to re-read them over the next little while, assuming I like the first few. This book introduces the characters, and covers the attempted infiltration of the village by a Roman spy. He learns the secret of the Gaul's strength, and tells the Romans. The Romans then of course have to capture the druid and torture him into tell them the secret. People get thumped quite a lot, an excellent read.

    Tags for this post: book rene_goscinny graphic_novel asterix gaul ancient_rome


posted at: 22:49 | path: /book/Rene_Goscinny | permanent link to this entry


The Dolphins of Pern




    ISBN: 0345368959
    Del Rey (1995), Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is quite a different book from most of the recent Pern books because of its leisurely pace. Its a nice read, although it feels like not much actually happens in the book. Unfortunately the plot is pretty much a cliche at this point -- child has special affinity for animal X, parents don't understand, child pursues said affinity anyways, falls out with parents, ultimately proves that animal X is actually super awesome and important for Pern, group hugs. So, this book is an ok read, but lazily plotted and nothing much happens.

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey genetic_engineering dolphin disability pern


posted at: 21:53 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 09 Dec 2010



Blathering for Friday, 10 December 2010

posted at: 08:19 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 08 Dec 2010



Buying Time

posted at: 03:19 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 05 Dec 2010



A Hymn Before Battle




    ISBN: 0671318411
    Baen (2001), Edition: 1st THUS, Mass Market Paperback, 480 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is an interesting book in that it lays down a reasonably believable scenario and then doesn't really resolve it. Its obviously setting up for a series, and while the local micro plot is resolved, there is clearly a larger story arc that wants telling here. The book isn't happy or uplifting, it is downright depressing in places. Regardless, I still finding myself hanging out for the next one in the series.

    Tags for this post: book john_ringo aliens combat combat_suit personal_ai rejuv first_contact legacy_of_the_aldenata bad_commanders


posted at: 23:12 | path: /book/John_Ringo | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 04 Dec 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 05 December 2010

posted at: 10:28 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 01 Dec 2010



Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom




    ISBN: 076530953x
    LibraryThing
    I sympathize with the other LibraryThing reviewer who had trouble finding characters to like in this novel. This book isn't very long, but took me ages to read because the main character is so whiney. The whole story seems to revolve around how he's never happy, and that didn't work for me. I think the underlying ideas are interesting, but I just hated Julius so much that I didn't enjoy the book.

    There is an interesting reference to Snow Crash on page 97 though.

    Tags for this post: book cory_doctorow human_backup engineered_human disney meritocracy cranial_computer post_scarcity nebula snow_crash


posted at: 21:36 | path: /book/Cory_Doctorow | permanent link to this entry


Why Can't Elephants Jump?




    ISBN: 9781846683985
    LibraryThing
    This is another fun book from New Scientist's Last Word column and I enjoyed it. A good read, and I actually learnt some stuff (some of it possibly true) along the way.

    Tags for this post: book new_scientist trivia non_fiction


posted at: 15:57 | path: /book/New_Scientist | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 30 Nov 2010



Books read in November 2010

posted at: 18:53 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 28 Nov 2010



Multiple file support with scp

    Paramiko doesn't provide a scp implementation, so I've been using my own for a while. http://blogs.sun.com/janp/entry/how_the_scp_protocol_works provides good documentation about the scp protocol, but it missed out on one detail I needed -- how to send more than one file in a given session. In the end I implemented a simple scp logger to see what the protocol was doing during the copying of files. My logger said this:

      >>> New command invocation: /usr/bin/scp -d -t /tmp
      O: \0
      I: C0644 21 a\n
      O: \0
      I: file a file a file a\n\0
      O: \0
      I: C0644 21 b\n
      O: \0
      I: file b file b file b\n\0
      O: \0
      >>>stdin closed
      >>> stdout closed
      >>> stderr closed
      


    It turns out its important to wait for those zeros by the way. So, here's my implementation of the protocol to send more than one file. Turning this into paramiko code is left as an exercise for the reader.

      #!/usr/bin/python
      
      import fcntl
      import os
      import select
      import string
      import subprocess
      import sys
      import traceback
      
      
      def printable(s):
        out = ''
      
        for c in s:
          if c == '\n':
            out += '\\n'
          elif c in string.printable:
            out += c
          else:
            out += '\\%d' % ord(c)
      
        return out
      
      
      try:
        dialog = ['C0644 21 c\n',
                  'file c file c file c\n\0',
                  'C0644 21 d\n',
                  'file d file d file d\n\0']
      
        proc = subprocess.Popen(['scp', '-v', '-d', '-t', '/tmp'],
                                stdin=subprocess.PIPE,
                                stdout=subprocess.PIPE,
                                stderr=subprocess.PIPE)
      
        r = [proc.stdout, proc.stderr]
        w = []
        e = [proc.stdout, proc.stderr]
      
        fl = fcntl.fcntl(proc.stdout, fcntl.F_GETFL)
        fcntl.fcntl(proc.stdout, fcntl.F_SETFL, fl | os.O_NONBLOCK)
        fl = fcntl.fcntl(proc.stderr, fcntl.F_GETFL)
        fcntl.fcntl(proc.stderr, fcntl.F_SETFL, fl | os.O_NONBLOCK)
      
        stdin_closed = False
        while proc.returncode is None:
          (readable, _, errorable) = select.select(r, w, e)
      
          for flo in readable:
            if flo == proc.stdout:
              d = os.read(proc.stdout.fileno(), 1024)
              if len(d) > 0:
                sys.stdout.write('O: %s\n' % printable(d))
      
                if len(dialog) > 0:
                  sys.stdout.write('I: %s\n' % printable(dialog[0]))
                  os.write(proc.stdin.fileno(), dialog[0])
                  dialog = dialog[1:]
      
                if len(dialog) == 0 and not stdin_closed:
                  sys.stdout.write('>>> stdin closed\n')
                  proc.stdin.close()
                  stdin_closed = True
      
              else:
                sys.stdout.write('>>> stdout closed\n')
                r.remove(proc.stdout)
                e.remove(proc.stdout)
      
            elif flo == proc.stderr:
              d = os.read(proc.stderr.fileno(), 1024)
              if len(d) > 0:
                sys.stdout.write('E: %s\n' % printable(d))
              else:
                sys.stdout.write('>>> stderr closed\n')
                r.remove(proc.stderr)
                e.remove(proc.stderr)
      
            else:
              sys.stdout.write('>>> Unknown readable: %s: %s\n'
                               %(repr(flo), flo.read()))
      
          for flo in errorable:
            sys.stdout.write('>>> Error on %s\n' % repr(flo))
            r.remove(flo)
            e.remove(flo)
      
          proc.poll()
      
        print '#: %s' % proc.returncode
      
      except:
        exc = sys.exc_info()
        for tb in traceback.format_exception(exc[0], exc[1], exc[2]):
          print tb
          del tb
      


    Tags for this post: python paramiko scp protocol

posted at: 02:40 | path: /python/paramiko | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 25 Nov 2010



Broken Angels




    ISBN: 9780575081253
    LibraryThing
    This book is very different from Altered Carbon, as noted by many other online reviews. I found it very slow going, for a few reasons: it is quite long; it is very different from Altered Carbon in a way that almost feel like a bait and switch (Altered Carbon is a film noir detective novel, this is a hard core combat book with an alien influence); and Morgan has an annoying habit of providing emphasis with. periods. in the middle. of sentences which makes his work sometimes hard to parse. Overall and ok book and I like the alien stuff, but not what I was expecting and not as good as Altered Carbon.

    Tags for this post: book richard_morgan human_backup engineered_human aliens alien_artifact crime colonization combat takeshi_kovaks


posted at: 20:06 | path: /book/Richard_Morgan | permanent link to this entry


The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat

posted at: 00:48 | path: /book/Harry_Harrison | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 24 Nov 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 24 November 2010

posted at: 04:58 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 21 Nov 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 21 November 2010

posted at: 04:54 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 18 Nov 2010



Zoe's Tale

posted at: 17:48 | path: /book/John_Scalzi | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Friday, 19 November 2010

posted at: 09:34 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 17 Nov 2010



The Sagan Diary




    ISBN: 9781596061033
    LibraryThing
    I think I'd be a little bit peeved if I'd paid the recommended retail for this book, because its a 100 page book (in an unusually large font), and they want $45 for it. Sure its a limited edition, but that's a lot of money for what is basically a short story. I paid $18, and I still think that's a lot of money for this much book. This book is a series of reflections on the life of Jane Sagan. These are beautiful, but if you're expecting a book in the same vein as the rest of the Old Man's War books you'll be disappointed.

    Tags for this post: book john_scalzi old_mans_war engineered_human age love


posted at: 00:46 | path: /book/John_Scalzi | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 16 Nov 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 17 November 2010

posted at: 14:50 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 15 Nov 2010



Snow Crash




    ISBN: 0140232923
    Penguin Books Ltd (1994), Paperback, 448 pages
    LibraryThing
    I'd read this book before, but a long time ago and I decided it was time for a re-read. Its a good book, although the exposition about Sumerian history feels like a first attempt at the style of exposition used in later books like Quicksilver and I think its not as well done here. The story is pretty good sci-fi, even if the plot feels a little dated today. Overall a good book, but not Stephenson's best.

    Tags for this post: book neal_stephenson crime virtual_reality hacking mafia religion sumeria snow_crash npr_top_100_sf


posted at: 19:35 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 10 Nov 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 11 November 2010

posted at: 15:02 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 10 November 2010

posted at: 04:06 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 09 Nov 2010



Ender's Game

posted at: 02:24 | path: /book/Orson_Scott_Card | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 08 Nov 2010



The Last Colony

posted at: 00:51 | path: /book/John_Scalzi | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 05 Nov 2010



Blathering for Friday, 05 November 2010

posted at: 02:07 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 03 Nov 2010



Registered

    I'm registered for LCA 2011! I wasn't expecting to be able to come due to a clash with a work event, but then they moved that event. So, I'm pretty happy about that. Have you registered yet? Early bird closes soon...

    Tags for this post: conference lca2011

posted at: 16:33 | path: /conference/lca2011 | permanent link to this entry


The Ghost Brigades

posted at: 03:19 | path: /book/John_Scalzi | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 01 Nov 2010



Old Man's War

posted at: 17:05 | path: /book/John_Scalzi | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 31 Oct 2010



Breakfast of Champions




    ISBN: 9780385334204
    LibraryThing
    This is a pretty odd book. It was given to me as a gift, and its a meandering tale about a failed science fiction writer. The author even appears as a character. The style is interesting, as the text stops for frequent illustrations, which is something I haven't seen before. However, the story doesn't really do it for me.

    Tags for this post: book kurt_vonnegut west_virginia pollution environment mental_health


posted at: 18:42 | path: /book/Kurt_Vonnegut | permanent link to this entry


Books read in October 2010

posted at: 05:26 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 30 Oct 2010



Zodiac




    ISBN: 0099415526
    Arrow Books Ltd (2001), Paperback, 320 pages
    LibraryThing
    This isn't Neal's best work, and I found the second half a little hard to read -- I think because it meandered, with several theories for who was responsible being interchanged. They were all reasonable theories, but the jump between each of them was jarring and could have been better done. The version of the book I was reading also had heaps of typographical errors -- single character substitutions and stuff like that -- which meant you needed to re-read sentences to make them make sense, which was pretty annoying. Overall not the worst book I've ever read, but certainly the worst Stephenson I've read.

    Tags for this post: book neal_stephenson boston crime environment pollution


posted at: 21:24 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 28 Oct 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 28 October 2010

posted at: 05:49 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 27 Oct 2010



Reading recommendations anyone?

posted at: 20:38 | path: /book | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 25 Oct 2010



Blathering for Monday, 25 October 2010

    22:42: Mikal shared: Fab@Home:Choose Your Fabber - Fab @ Home
      I keep forgetting the name of this project. My understanding is that the tolerances are finer for this than the maker bot and reprap. Its expensive though.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 05:25 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 24 Oct 2010



The System of the World




    ISBN: 0060750863
    Harper Perennial (2005), Paperback, 928 pages
    LibraryThing
    The final book of the Baroque Cycle, and it feels like a real achievement to have gone through them all. They have their slow spots, but also excellent action and characters I love. Best of all, this book focuses on the latter two, with only one section of long theoretical dialog (about the nature of God in this case), which was so common in the other books and somethings so hard to follow. This story line was well worth the 2,500 or so pages it took, and the last book was a pleasure to read. It feels like there should be more books in this universe, but I'm not aware of any -- perhaps later?

    Tags for this post: book neal_stephenson baroque_cycle natural_philosophy crime counterfeiting london prometheus award


posted at: 03:00 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Sunday, 24 October 2010

posted at: 02:40 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 21 Oct 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 21 October 2010

posted at: 04:57 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 20 Oct 2010



The Hemingway Hoax




    ISBN: 0380708000
    Avon Books (Mm) (1991), Edition: First Thus, Paperback, 160 pages
    LibraryThing
    A Hemingway scholar sets out to forge a lost Hemingway manuscript, with unexpected consequences. This is quite a different premise from other Joe Haldeman books I've read. In fact the feel of the initial part of the book is quite different, but this very quickly turns into a Haldeman story that people who have enjoyed his others will like. Its a bit more explicit about sex and wounds from combat than Haldeman normally is, but that is all there to further the plot in this case. This was a quick engaging read which I really enjoyed.

    Tags for this post: book joe_haldeman time_travel hemingway boston key_west combat


posted at: 14:41 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 20 October 2010

posted at: 05:42 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 18 Oct 2010



Mars: A Survival Guide




    ISBN: 9780733324895
    Pymble, N.S.W. : ABC Books, 2010.
    LibraryThing
    This book, written in the style of a travel guide, was an impulse purchase the other day as a brand new book. That's rare because I don't tend to buy new, and certainly not in Australia (everything is so expensive!). However, this book isn't available on Amazon because its from the ABC, and looked good, so I bit the bullet. The book's first half is interesting and very readable. After that it tends to die down into an exhaustive treatment of issues you'd need to consider if moving to Mars, and feels like a list of lists. It picks up again towards the end. I know its hard to be interesting in non-fiction reference books, but I feel this book lost its way at the midpoint and could have tried harder to be interesting. However, it was still ok overall and I might be being overly harsh as I don't read much non-fiction.

    Tags for this post: book guy_murphy mars colonization non_fiction space_travel radiation


posted at: 15:02 | path: /book/Guy_Murphy | permanent link to this entry


Rosella

    I was out the back reading at lunch time, and got these nice shots of this lovely rosella.

                   

    Tags for this post: blog pictures 20101018-rosella photo

posted at: 01:24 | path: /diary/pictures/20101018-rosella | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 16 Oct 2010



Blathering for Saturday, 16 October 2010

posted at: 05:11 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Camouflage




    ISBN: 0441012523
    Ace (2005), Paperback, 304 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is a book about two shape changing beings living through their centuries on Earth. It mostly follows on of them, but the other is important to the plot as well. Once again its an enjoyable read like many of Haldeman's other books. Similarly to other books it also explores what it is like to be isolated from the rest of society, with most of the book being written from the perspective of one of the shape changers. I really liked this book.

    Tags for this post: book joe_haldeman space_travel aliens shape_changers exploration isolation drugs


posted at: 02:38 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 14 Oct 2010



The Accidental Time Machine




    ISBN: 978044101667
    LibraryThing
    Joe Haldeman does good work, and in general I have really liked his books. They're easy to read, fun, and interesting. Better than that, they're all quite different in the topics they cover, so he's not in a rut. The only exceptions have been There Is No Darkness, which wasn't very good and Forever Free, which I thought was lazily plotted. This book is no exception to the rule, and I really enjoyed it. One theme to Joe's work that I am noticing is that the "sex scenes" are always anti-climatic, which is interesting to note.

    I'd like to have heard more about the One Year War, but there is scope for that to be another separate book. I don't think this book suffers from the lack of coverage, and its mostly tangentially interesting because I'd like to see how a society transforms itself in that way.

    Tags for this post: book joe_haldeman time_travel space_travel religion drugs research nebula award


posted at: 21:58 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 13 Oct 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 13 October 2010

posted at: 05:29 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 12 Oct 2010



Destinies Volume 1 Number 1




    ISBN: 0441142818
    Ace Books (1978), Edition: 1, Mass Market Paperback, 308 pages
    LibraryThing
    • Stand Pat, Ruby Stone (Roger Zelany): a story of alien marriage. Interesting.
    • Old Woman By The Road (Gregory Benford): not my favorite author (given he wrote the worst book in Asimov's Foundation universe, which is a bit of an achievement given some of the others. This story isn't terrible, it just doesn't go anywhere. There is a single small plot element, which has been repeated in many other books (for example The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, which predates this story by 12 years).
    • New Beginnings (Jerry Pournelle): a non-fiction column about design choices baked into our existing infrastructure which make it hard for it to be efficient, the failure to save for baby boomer retirement, and our need to be concerned about growing oil use and failure to find alternative energy sources like solar. The scary bit? This article from 1978 reads like it could have been written yesterday.
    • Transition team (Charles Sheffield): are we suited to life on a space station? A good short story.
    • Antimony (Spider Robinson): a pretty good cryonics story. Its a pity 1990 didn't give me a personal flyer like he promised.
    • Very Proper Charlies (Dean Ing): a novelette about terrorism, specifically how terrorists really need media coverage to progress their agendas. A little dated, but still a good read.
    • Party Line (Clifford D. Simak): a longish story, this one didn't really do much for me until about half way in. It got better though. What would aliens want from us if they met us?
    • Assimilating Our Culture, That's What They're Doing (Larry Niven): short, and good.
    • Science Fiction and Science, Part One (Poul Anderson): a bit dull to be honest.


    Overall, this was an ok anthology, although not the best I've read. It also wasn't themed, which I think is a weakness as an anthology. On the other hand, I would have been happy if I'd paid $1.95 USD for this as a magazine, especially given it only cost me $2 in the second hand store. The many, irrelevant, line drawings of naked women are a bit odd though. I guess that's the 70s for you.

    Tags for this post: book anthology aliens revolt environment space_station space_travel cryonics terrorism roger_zelany gregory_benford jerry_pournell charles_sheffield spider_robinson dean_ing clifford_d_simak larry_niven poul_anderson


posted at: 02:50 | path: /book/Anthology | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 11 Oct 2010



Blathering for Monday, 11 October 2010

posted at: 05:05 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 10 Oct 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 10 October 2010

posted at: 04:10 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 07 Oct 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 07 October 2010

posted at: 05:37 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 06 Oct 2010



Consider Phlebas

posted at: 23:49 | path: /book/Iain_M_Banks | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 04 Oct 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 05 October 2010

posted at: 15:11 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 03 Oct 2010



I Know You Got Soul




    ISBN: 9781856130974
    LibraryThing
    This is a collection of relatively short Clarkson articles about machines he thinks are inspiring. I don't agree with all his choices, and many of the articles are clearly biased against America. For example, he insists that everyone on an aircraft carrier is stupid. Why? Because they didn't let him film a fighter with one engine on fire. However, the book is funny, and good light reading. I read most of it on a bus for example. If you're into Clarkson, then its worth reading.

    Tags for this post: book jeremy_clarkson inspiration machines top_gear motoring non_fiction


posted at: 19:41 | path: /book/Jeremy_Clarkson | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 01 Oct 2010



Books read in September 2010

posted at: 00:40 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 29 Sep 2010



Currency




    ISBN: 0060750863
    Harper Perennial (2005), Paperback, 928 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is the second last book in the Baroque Cycle and its good to see so many diverse plot elements being wrapped up. It does feel like Neal is going to have to work pretty hard to get them all wrapped up in just one more book -- especially at the pace that these books move at. This book focuses on Daniel's adventures in London, although the usual suspects are of course present. An enjoyable read.

    Tags for this post: book neal_stephenson baroque_cycle natural_philosophy longitude london crime counterfeiting


posted at: 17:56 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 24 Sep 2010



Blathering for Saturday, 25 September 2010

posted at: 17:38 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 23 Sep 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 23 September 2010

posted at: 06:17 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 22 Sep 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 22 September 2010

posted at: 04:48 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 21 Sep 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 21 September 2010

posted at: 06:33 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 19 Sep 2010



Blathering for Monday, 20 September 2010

posted at: 13:23 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 18 Sep 2010



Blathering for Saturday, 18 September 2010

posted at: 06:24 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


The World According to Jeremy Clarkson




    ISBN: 9781856132626
    LibraryThing
    Like On Cars, this book is a collection of Clarkson's newspaper articles. These articles are relatively recent though (post 2001), and cover a much smaller span. This book focuses on things other than cars, and Clarkson's opinions range from sensible and thoughtful to outright weird. I read this book during a series of take offs and landings of flights when they wouldn't let me use my e-book reader, and that worked well. I wouldn't want to sit down to read this entire book front to back.

    Tags for this post: book jeremy_clarkson top_gear non_fiction


posted at: 00:08 | path: /book/Jeremy_Clarkson | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 16 Sep 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 16 September 2010

posted at: 04:26 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 15 Sep 2010



The Diamond Age




    ISBN: 0553573314
    Spectra (1996), Paperback, 512 pages
    LibraryThing
    I loved this book. I think its going on my list of all time favorites. The first half of the book is better than the second, but I think that might be because young Nell resonated much more strongly with me than older Nell. I read this book because it came up at a scientific conference where I went to a presentation about 3D fabrication, and its now entirely clear why the presenter thought this was relevant, given 3D nanotech fabrication plays a strong part in this book. Excellent read.

    Tags for this post: book neal_stephenson nanotech 3d_fabrication china culture crime confucius childhood prometheus hugo nebula award post_scarcity personal_ai npr_top_100_sf


posted at: 06:16 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Books read in August 2010

posted at: 06:14 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 15 September 2010

posted at: 05:06 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 10 Sep 2010



Blathering for Saturday, 11 September 2010

posted at: 22:17 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 08 Sep 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 09 September 2010

posted at: 18:42 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 07 Sep 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 08 September 2010

posted at: 23:41 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 07 September 2010

posted at: 00:10 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 06 Sep 2010



Blathering for Monday, 06 September 2010

posted at: 00:11 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 04 Sep 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 05 September 2010

posted at: 23:29 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 31 Aug 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 01 September 2010

posted at: 23:16 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Old Twentieth




    ISBN: 0441013430
    Ace (2006), Edition: First Thus, Mass Market Paperback, 285 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is actually a relatively simple story, but padded out with a series of historical interludes. These are presented as when the main character is exploring a VR world, but most of them don't directly further the plot. However, they also don't make the story drag along, and are some of the most entertaining parts of the story. Relatively light reading, like The Coming and Marsbound. I enjoyed it.

    Tags for this post: book joe_haldeman combat colonization vr nanotech disease


posted at: 03:50 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 30 Aug 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 31 August 2010

posted at: 22:58 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 28 Aug 2010



Their Finest Hour

posted at: 21:22 | path: /book/Keith_Laumer | permanent link to this entry


Solomon's Gold

posted at: 11:14 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 27 Aug 2010



San Diego

posted at: 09:04 | path: /events/pictures/20100826-san | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 23 Aug 2010



Blathering for Monday, 23 August 2010

posted at: 04:08 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 21 Aug 2010



Asimov's Aurora




    ISBN: 0743444604
    I Books (2002), Paperback, 464 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is the third and final book in the iBook Asimov Robots spinoff series. The first two were Asimov's Mirage and Asimov's Chimera. Like the second one, this is better than the first and has a nice flow to the plot line. The story also is easier to believe than those used in previous spinoffs such as the Robot City and Robots and Aliens series. Weirdly, this is the first of the books in those spinoff series to really use sex as a plot element. The other books haven't been celibate, but they also haven't been as in your face as this one. That was probably the weakest part of the book, because those parts felt clumsy and extraneous.

    Tags for this post: book mark_w_tiedemann isaac_asimov robot robot_city robots_and_aliens caliban crime cybernetics politics disease


posted at: 15:56 | path: /book/Mark_W_Tiedemann | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Saturday, 21 August 2010

posted at: 05:59 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 16 Aug 2010



Mona Lisa Overdrive

posted at: 02:24 | path: /book/William_Gibson | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 12 Aug 2010



Blathering for Friday, 13 August 2010

posted at: 15:01 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Thursday, 12 August 2010

posted at: 05:32 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 10 Aug 2010



Longitude




    ISBN: 1857025717
    Fourth Estate (1998), Edition: OVERWEIGHT, Paperback, 189 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is the story of John Harrison, the inventor of modern accurate clocks. Its an interesting read, and very engaging for a non-fiction book. I think this is helped by the conversational style of the book, and the fact that its not terribly long. A good read.

    Tags for this post: book dava_sobel non_fiction longitude natural_philosophy london


posted at: 13:47 | path: /book/Dava_Sobel | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 09 Aug 2010



Space Soldiers




    ISBN: 0441008240
    Ace (2001), Edition: First Edition, Paperback, 288 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is a collection of short stories about soldiers in space. Its not the strongest such collection I have read -- Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow, Body Armor 2002 and Dogs of War are all better.

    • The Gardens of Saturn (Paul J McAuley): veterans with jacked up nervous systems encounter genetically engineered people in deep space.
    • Soldiers Home (William Barton): veterans and other castoffs from conflict struggle to find meaning in continued existence.
    • Legacies (Tom Purdom): a not particularly interesting story about the psychological impact of losing a parent to war. Oh, except we don't really talk about the impact. We talk about the bureaucracy around getting permission to treat. Dull.
    • Moon Duel (Fritz Leiber): an interesting concept (interstellar criminals abandoned on the moon). A bit dated, but ok apart from that.
    • Saviour (Robert Reed): another good concept, but I don't think this story is particularly well written.
    • Galactic North (Alastair Reynolds): a relativistic chase across deep space with a confusing terraforming gone wrong subplot.
    • Masque of the Red Shift (Fred Saberhagen): this is the second Berserker story I've read (the other is "What Do You Want Me To Do To Prove Im Human Stop" from Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow. It was ok, although I suspect I was meant to know more about the universe than I actually do.
    • Time Piece (Joe Haldeman): read before in Dogs of War, and I didn't like it back then.
    • On The Orion Line (Stephen Baxter): I think this is the best story of the bunch. Its about expansionist humanity and their battle with aliens who can tweak the laws of physics.


    Tags for this post: book anthology combat paul_j_mcauley william_barton tom_purdom fritz_leiber robert_reed alastair_reynolds fred_saberhagen joe_haldeman stephen_baxter


posted at: 19:07 | path: /book/Anthology | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 10 August 2010

posted at: 17:21 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 09 August 2010

posted at: 06:42 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 07 Aug 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 08 August 2010

posted at: 08:14 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 06 Aug 2010



The Coming




    ISBN: 0441008763
    Ace (2001), Edition: First Thus, Paperback, 288 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book wasn't as good as I hoped it would be -- some of Joe's other work has been excellent (The Forever War, Forever Peace and Marsbound being examples). However, some of his other books are very weak, such as Forever Free and There Is No Darkness. This book is an interesting experiment in story telling style, where many different very short chapters are told by different characters. Each chapter follows on directly from the previous one. However, this style makes the story confusing to read until you can remember the names of all the characters. Worse than that though, the idea behind the story isn't terribly strong, and the resolution is weak as well.

    Overall and ok read, but not Joe's best work and not a book I would recommend.

    Tags for this post: book joe_haldeman alien space_travel florida first_contact


posted at: 23:45 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 03 Aug 2010



Some Girls: My Life in a Harem




    ISBN: 0452296315
    Plume (2010), Edition: 1, Paperback, 352 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is the memoir of a Jewish girl from New York who ends up working in the Harem of a Prince of Brunei. Its not so much a story about Harem life, although that's mentioned in places. Its more about Jillian's psychological journey, her troubled childhood, and working out who she is in the world. Worryingly, that final issue isn't really resolved in the book, which is frustrating. The book is surprisingly readable, and you genuinely start to care about Jillian along the way, even if a few of her decisions seem pretty suboptimal to me. A good read.

    Tags for this post: book jillian_lauren non_fiction prostitution harem brunei biography


posted at: 16:16 | path: /book/Jillian_Lauren | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 01 Aug 2010



The Confusion




    ISBN: 0060733357
    Harper Perennial (2005), Paperback, 848 pages
    LibraryThing
    The Confusion is a merging of Bonanza and The Juncto, which I think is more than the mere sum of the two parts. The weaving of the stories together makes for a very readable volume, with slow patches in each individual story line being covered nicely with a switch to the other. Additionally there are a few several year gaps in the stories which would be much more jarring if there wasn't something from the other story line in between. Overall, I think I prefer to read these two books in this con-fused manner, instead of separately.

    Tags for this post: book neal_stephenson baroque_cycle the_confuson natural_philosophy piracy london france europe asia south_america india


posted at: 20:57 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


The Juncto

posted at: 20:57 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Bonanza

posted at: 20:56 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Books read in July 2010

posted at: 20:46 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 31 Jul 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 01 August 2010

posted at: 10:10 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Saturday, 31 July 2010

posted at: 06:56 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 29 Jul 2010



Blathering for Friday, 30 July 2010

posted at: 23:18 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Thursday, 29 July 2010

    01:24: Mikal shared: A Mad Engineer at SciFoo
      I'm helping out at SciFoo this weekend. Exciting!

    01:26: Mikal shared: Amazon rolls out smaller, lighter, WiFi-only Kindle for $139
      I love what's happening in the ebook market. These things get more tempting every day. I have a Sony PRS 505, which makes it hard to justify another ebook reader. Must be strong...

    01:30: Mikal shared: Chevy Volt: No $5K rebate, carpool-lane access for CA buyers
      There is an interesting general point buried in this article. Catalytic converters need to be hot to operate effectively. A hybrid kicks the engine in and out, which means the catalytic converter can cool down unless counter measures are implemented. This increases the amount of time the catalytic converter isn't operating, and therefore the amount of pollution produced by the engine when its on.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 06:46 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 27 Jul 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 27 July 2010

posted at: 03:37 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 26 Jul 2010



Blathering for Monday, 26 July 2010

posted at: 00:54 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 23 Jul 2010



Blathering for Friday, 23 July 2010

posted at: 04:30 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 22 Jul 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 22 July 2010

posted at: 04:49 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 19 Jul 2010



Count Zero

posted at: 04:59 | path: /book/William_Gibson | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 16 Jul 2010



Blathering for Friday, 16 July 2010

posted at: 04:53 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Odalisque

posted at: 04:41 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 11 Jul 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 11 July 2010

posted at: 06:03 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 10 Jul 2010



There Is No Darkness

posted at: 22:08 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Asimov's Chimera

posted at: 01:48 | path: /book/Mark_W_Tiedemann | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 09 Jul 2010



The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall




    ISBN: 0345368991
    Del Rey (1994), Mass Market Paperback, 336 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is an anthology of Pern stories. It doesn't really stand on its own though, you're much better off having read the other Pern books first. The stories are:

    • The Survey: P.E.R.N.: this story feels quite lazy. There are new characters, but they aren't well introduced. They find the planet later called Pern, and explore it, but the story is entirely descriptive with no real plot to speak of. A story that's only interesting if you're obsessed with all things Pern. Its especially important that you've read Dragonsdawn before this story.
    • The Dolphin's Bell: this story recycles characters introduced in Dragonsdawn to tell another side of the evacuation from Landing story. Its an ok story, but its not ground breaking.
    • The Fort of Red Hanrahan: covers the settlement of the second Hold on Pern. This story feels more like a real story, even if it is a bit shallow. Better than the previous two stories.
    • The Second Weyr: this is more of a traditional dragon rider story, and quite good. It doesn't feel as much like an afterthought as the other stories, and was a good read. The title is a bit of a fib, as this story explains the existence of the next three weyrs.
    • Rescue Run: this was a good story too, covering why the settlers were never rescued.


    Overall, I'd say this collecting was ok, but nothing particularly special.

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey anthology genetic_engineering dragon biohazard colonization pern pern_landing


posted at: 00:48 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 07 Jul 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 08 July 2010

posted at: 11:57 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 06 Jul 2010



Marsbound

posted at: 04:16 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Thermostat (or, its happening again)

    This is just a quick post at the moment because the project isn't done and I am distracted by other things... The thermostat for the central heater in my house became unreliable a week or two ago. My wife rang around and a new one from the manufacturer of the heater was going to be $450 AUD. So, it seemed obvious to make my own. I've just installed the 1.0 of it, with the board layout and manufacture being done by Doug once again.



    Other people seem to lack a PCB manufacturing back neighbour. I highly recommend you acquire one if possible.

    Tags for this post: arduino arduino temperature 1-wire homeautomation thermostat

posted at: 00:28 | path: /arduino | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 05 Jul 2010



Blathering for Monday, 05 July 2010

posted at: 05:46 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Gate of Ivrel




    ISBN: 0886773210
    DAW (1976), Paperback, 1 pages
    LibraryThing
    I read this book on the recommendation of my father. Its Cherryh's first book, and I think you can see that from the awkward phrasing in places. Its an ok read, but not the best of her books that I've read. I found the grammar hard enough to parse that the book was harder work than it should have been.

    Tags for this post: book c_j_cherryh morgaine sword_and_sourcery wormhole fantasy combat


posted at: 03:13 | path: /book/C_J_Cherryh | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 03 Jul 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 04 July 2010

posted at: 15:56 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Saturday, 03 July 2010

posted at: 06:55 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 01 Jul 2010



Cyteen: The Vindication




    ISBN: 0445204303
    Grand Central Publishing (1989), Mass Market Paperback, 320 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is the final book in the Cyteen trilogy (proceeded by Cyteen: The Betrayal and Cyteen: The Rebirth). This book is good in that it avoids much of the politics that mired the first book. Additionally, its nice to see Ari2 and Justin resolve some of their differences, even if its from a position of mutual distrust. The series doesn't really resolve the problem of Ari's research, but I assume that theme is covered more in later books.

    Tags for this post: book c_j_cherryh slavery genetic_engineering colonization union_alliance hugo award


posted at: 20:59 | path: /book/C_J_Cherryh | permanent link to this entry


Books read in June 2010

posted at: 20:57 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 30 Jun 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 30 June 2010

posted at: 05:29 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 28 Jun 2010



pyconau 2010 twitter summary

posted at: 21:20 | path: /python | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 26 Jun 2010



King of the Vagabonds




    ISBN: 0060593083
    Harper Perennial (2004), Paperback, 960 pages
    LibraryThing
    I thought I was reading this book slowly, until I remembered that I am reading the large page three books all in one volume version. If I had bought this book as a single paperback in a standard paper size it would have been 400 pages. This book is better than Quicksilver, with a more engaging story line and less time spent on verbose descriptions of life 300 years ago. I'm sure those descriptions will be vital later in the series, but when you're reading them they are still a chore. This book is a page turner, even if the plot is a little hard to believe in places. I enjoyed it a lot.

    Tags for this post: book neal_stephenson baroque_cycle london amsterdam europe


posted at: 15:30 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Saturday, 26 June 2010

posted at: 06:59 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 25 Jun 2010



Blathering for Friday, 25 June 2010

    06:20: Mikal shared: YouTube - David Mitchell Rants about Personal Debts
      I do not have OCD. I've checked three or four hundred times, and I definitely don't. I stop myself catching it by washing my hands an even number of times, but I am aware that I am in an at-risk group.

      Another great video from Mr Mitchell.

    06:24: Mikal shared: YouTube - David Mitchell rants about Hauliers
      We invaded Iraq -- how much more of a commitment to controlling the price of oil do they expect us to demonstrate?



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 06:57 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 22 Jun 2010



The Exterminator's Want Ad

posted at: 23:22 | path: /book/Bruce_Sterling | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 23 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Cyteen: The Rebirth




    ISBN: 0445204540
    Grand Central Publishing (1989), Mass Market Paperback, 256 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book is a follow up to Cyteen: The Betrayal, and was originally published in the same volume as it. The book would make little sense without having read Cyteen: The Betrayal first. Apart from that its a good book, and much more readable than the first. I think that's mostly because all the important scene setting is done and we can finally get on with things. That was my impression with the first book too -- the second half was better than the first.

    Tags for this post: book c_j_cherryh slavery genetic_engineering colonization union_alliance hugo award


posted at: 04:33 | path: /book/C_J_Cherryh | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 21 Jun 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 22 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 20 Jun 2010



Quicksilver




    ISBN: 0060593083
    Harper Perennial (2004), Paperback, 960 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book is well written, and a delight to read. I love meeting the forefathers of characters from Cryptonomicon, and this book is an excellent piece of historical fiction. It does however drag on a little in the middle when Daniel is tied up in London intrigue. I think this section would have worked a bit better with some action, but that is obviously just my personal preference. Overall, a good book.

    Tags for this post: book neal_stephenson baroque_cycle natural_philosophy london boston


posted at: 15:54 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 15 Jun 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 16 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 14 Jun 2010



All The Weyrs of Pern




    ISBN: 0345368932
    Del Rey (1992), Mass Market Paperback, 448 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is the science fiction that I thought the Pern stories should have been all along. Its fair enough that there is a build up to this point, although it took a long time and involved a lot more light weight fiction than I would have liked. This was a good book, and I enjoyed it.

    Tags for this post: book anne_mccaffrey engineering dragon biohazard pern pern_landing ai hugo award


posted at: 20:53 | path: /book/Anne_McCaffrey | permanent link to this entry


Books read in May 2010

posted at: 20:29 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Tuesday, 15 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 13 Jun 2010



Blathering for Monday, 14 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 09 Jun 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 10 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 08 Jun 2010



Early performance numbers for a solar install in Tuggeranong

    We had our solar system finally powered up for the first time on Friday last week. I've finally got my act together and implemented an interim monitoring solution, which means I now know how the panels and inverter are performing. Some folk expressed interest in the performance of such a system in Canberra, so I thought I'd put some of my early data online. Note that this is the wrong time of year to be generating, and the panels are not placed for optimal sun during winter (after lunch the panels are shaded by the peak of the roof). However, given the rated performance of the system is 190 * 12 = 2,280 Watts, I can't complain about what I have seen so far:



    Tags for this post: solar

posted at: 19:42 | path: /solar | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 07 Jun 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 08 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 06 Jun 2010



Blathering for Monday, 07 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 03 Jun 2010



Blathering for Friday, 04 June 2010

posted at: 07:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 31 May 2010



Neuromancer




    ISBN: 0586066454
    Voyager (1986), Paperback, 320 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book is a classic, and I first read it a long time ago. Its pretty clear in retrospect why it kicked off the cyberpunk movement, and I'm glad that the future it proposed hasn't come to pass (yet). Despite being written in the 1980s the book isn't dated, although it does make more sense if you've spent some time in Japan.

    Tags for this post: book william_gibson hacking robot ai crime sprawl hugo nebula award virtual_reality npr_top_100_sf


posted at: 02:26 | path: /book/William_Gibson | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 30 May 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 30 May 2010

posted at: 06:59 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 27 May 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 27 May 2010

    07:29: Mikal shared: Ideas in 'Job Creation' America Speaking Out
      "Fix the national debt by building an army of robot prostituts. Yes, it will require a substantial investment to get the project off the ground, but that money will be made back 1,000 times if the robots are realistic enough."

      Ideas for the Republicans that can Save America.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 06:38 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 24 May 2010



Cyteen: The Betrayal




    ISBN: 0445204524
    Warner Books (1989), Paperback, 368 pages
    LibraryThing
    I read this book at the recommendation of my father. Its an interesting concept -- artificially produced humans have been created to fill gaps in a society far out on the edges of occupied space. However, how are these artificial humans different from "real" humans? How are they different from slaves given they are programmed to perform certain duties with joy and without question?

    However, despite the interesting concept, the first two thirds of the book are very slow, and took me ages to read. The last third was much better and I think I'll read the sequels because of that. If the book had stopped after the boring bit, there would be no way I'd read the next book. I think part of the problem is that this book was originally in one volume, instead of the three volume set I own.

    Tags for this post: book c_j_cherryh slavery genetic_engineering colonization union_alliance hugo award


posted at: 14:48 | path: /book/C_J_Cherryh | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 23 May 2010



Blathering for Monday, 24 May 2010

posted at: 16:11 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 21 May 2010



Blathering for Friday, 21 May 2010

posted at: 06:22 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 19 May 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 19 May 2010

posted at: 04:39 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 17 May 2010



Blathering for Monday, 17 May 2010

posted at: 06:50 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 12 May 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 12 May 2010

    22:42: Mikal shared: Confident dumb people
      Putting a name to the effect doesn't make it any less annoying to be around.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 06:43 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 05 May 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 06 May 2010

posted at: 12:21 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 03 May 2010



Blathering for Monday, 03 May 2010

posted at: 04:56 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress




    ISBN: 0425016013
    LibraryThing
    This isn't Heinlein's best work. The faux Russian grammar of the narrator is pretty annoying, and the story shallow. Its an ok read as entertainment, but I think it could do with more plot and fewer long rants about the dangers of big government. I'd like to know more about the cyborgs which seem to pilot everything important as well.

    Tags for this post: book robert_a_heinlein colonization revolt politics cybernetics space_travel npr_top_100_sf


posted at: 03:15 | path: /book/Robert_A_Heinlein | permanent link to this entry


Books read in April 2010

posted at: 03:04 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 02 May 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 02 May 2010

    09:44: Mikal shared: Why Engineers Hop Jobs
      This guy is totally right. I've worked for some places where it was unheard of to ask for a chair which cost more than $20 second hand, but it was totally cool for the VP of nothing detectable to go to the US business class six times a year. TOWER software, I'm looking at you.

    09:49: Mikal shared: Goldmans Market Value Plunges $21 Billion - NYTimes.com
      The market is self correcting, in that maximizing short term profits in a manner which tarnishes your reputation ultimately gets corrected. Society should be self correcting too -- I'd like to see some of the Goldman people do jail time.

    22:40: Mikal shared: Home is where the tax is, on every square inch of land
      Jessica has forgotten that people live in those negatively geared investment properties. What happens to the people who can't afford to buy when the rental market contracts even further as rental properties are sold because the land lord can't afford them without negative gearing. Sure -- there's a short term drop in house sales prices, but that's a one off and then the renters are even worse off than before.

    23:53: Mikal shared: YouTube - OK Go - This Too Shall Pass - Rube Goldberg Machine version - Official
      I must be the last person on the internet to watch this video.

    23:57: Mikal shared: YouTube - OK Go - This Too Shall Pass
      Gillie suits are cool.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 06:57 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 30 Apr 2010



Blathering for Saturday, 01 May 2010

posted at: 14:49 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Friday, 30 April 2010

    01:14: Mikal shared: Daily Kos: State of the Nation
      You're a leader, isn't it your role to lead? Republications perpetuate the myth that Obama isn't a US citizen by passing a law in Arizona requiring future candidates to prove they are before running.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 04:55 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 27 Apr 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 28 April 2010

posted at: 12:22 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 26 Apr 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 27 April 2010

posted at: 17:17 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 24 Apr 2010



Adding Open Flash Charts to my home monitoring

    As mentioned previously, I've built a home temperature monitoring system on top of the beer fridge controller that Doug and I built over Christmas. I later added a hygrometer and whole of house power measurement using a Current Cost. There is also a simple server which provides a UI for the system, which previously used PNG graphs generated from Google's Chart Server API.

    I was checking out Jon's car hacking the other day, and was impressed by his flash graphs. However, as best as I could tell he's using a commercial flash charting tool, whereas I wanted something open source. I dug around and found Open Flash Charts which was exactly what I wanted.

    Why flash charts by the way? I wanted a richer presentation than I could get with PNG, and I am unaware of a way of doing interactive graphs with HTML5 apart from writing massive amounts of javascript. I look forward to someone educating me about an alternative, but until then I will view flash graphing as a punishment for all those overly smug iPad users out there.

    So, first off here is an example of a flash chart. This one is power usage at my house from Friday, compared with Wednesday:



    Open Flash Charts is actually really simple to use. First off there is some javascript to load the flash component:

      <script type="text/javascript" src="http://www.stillhq.com/local/swfobject.js"></script>
      <script type="text/javascript">>
      swfobject.embedSWF(
        "http://www.stillhq.com/local/open-flash-chart.swf", "2010_04_23_2010_04_21_Watts", "600", "400",
        "9.0.0", "expressInstall.swf",
        {"data-file":"http://www.stillhq.com/json/2010.04.23;2010.04.21/Watts"}
      );
      </script>
      


    This javascript relies on a couple of resources being available on your server, which I've put into a directory called local. You find these files in the Open Flash Chart .zip file, although you could just snarf them from my server if you want.

    Then all you need to do on the HTML side is include a div with the right id where you want the graph to go. For this post, that looks like this:

      <div id="2010_04_23_2010_04_21_Watts"></div>
      


    Then you just need to write the JSON which represents the graphs content. That's well documented on the Open Flash Charts site, but you can find the JSON for my graph at http://www.stillhq.com/json/2010.04.23;2010.04.21/Watts if you want to see it.

    Tags for this post: blog power electricity efficiency environment arduino temperature beer homeautomation flash

posted at: 16:13 | path: /diary | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Sunday, 25 April 2010

posted at: 09:48 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 22 Apr 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 22 April 2010

posted at: 05:29 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 20 Apr 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 20 April 2010

    22:54: Mikal shared: Legal, Eh?
      The law applies to journalists, even if what they write is news worthy. I think someone at Gizmodo should do some jail time for theft.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 05:54 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 18 Apr 2010



Blathering for Monday, 19 April 2010

posted at: 18:31 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Sunday, 18 April 2010

    23:21: Mikal shared: Experts sort 5m child porn images - Local News - News - General - The Canberra Times
      This is an interesting computational problem. First I guess you put all of the images in one place and generate a hash of each. The hash could then be used to de-duplicate the collection (I assume that he had backups spread across these drives). Once that's done you could do the Oliver rating... I wonder how many humans have to rate the image, or if they just use the judgement of a single person?



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 06:21 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 17 Apr 2010



Blathering for Saturday, 17 April 2010

posted at: 05:28 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 15 Apr 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 15 April 2010

posted at: 06:36 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 14 Apr 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 14 April 2010

posted at: 04:19 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 13 Apr 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 13 April 2010

    22:51: Mikal shared: ongoing by Tim Bray Life at Google
      A fair description of life in Mountain View, except I wish he'd say "Google" a little less. Those apartments are strictly "ok" -- they're nothing special. I seem to consistently get the room without the Ensuite. I think I must have angered the apartment gods at some point.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 05:51 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 11 Apr 2010



Blathering for Monday, 12 April 2010

posted at: 14:08 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 10 Apr 2010



A Separate War & Other Stories




    ISBN: 9780441015177
    LibraryThing
    This is a short story collection. I like anthologies, and this one was pretty good. The stories are:

    • A Separate War: the end of The Forever War told from the perspective of Marygay.
    • Diminished Chord: love and music on an old harp like instrument.
    • Giza: genetic engineering to enable space mining.
    • Foreclosure: let's get rid of those nasty squatters.
    • Four short novels: eventually it came to pass that no one ever had to die...
    • For White Hill: artists as collateral damage in an interstellar war
    • Finding My Shadow: biological warfare in Boston.
    • Civil Disobedience: global warming in a post Bush world.
    • Memento Mori: a very short story about modern medicine.
    • Faces: life as a draftee on a planet with a noxious atmosphere.
    • Heartwired: viagra for the soul.
    • Brochure: a badly polluted Earth reopens as a Disney resort.
    • Out of Phase: a shape shifting alien learns about power on Earth, to the detriment of the Earthlings.
    • Power Complex: the same shape shifting alien learns about real power.
    • Fantasy for Six Electrodes and One Adrenaline Drip: a script involving love (or at least sex) and murder in a world with immersion entertainment.


    Tags for this post: book joe_haldeman forever_war combat group_mind anthology time_dilation aliens


posted at: 21:25 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Books read in March 2010

posted at: 21:23 | path: /book/read | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 08 Apr 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 08 April 2010

posted at: 03:28 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 06 Apr 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 06 April 2010

posted at: 06:02 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 03 Apr 2010



Blathering for Saturday, 03 April 2010

posted at: 03:00 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 31 Mar 2010



Blathering for Wednesday, 31 March 2010

posted at: 04:20 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 30 Mar 2010



Forever Free




    ISBN: 0441007872
    Ace (2000), Paperback, 288 pages
    LibraryThing
    This book isn't as good as The Forever War and Forever Peace, which makes it a pretty big disappointment. The book revolves around disaffected characters from The Forever War living on the planet reserved for them by Man. Almost all of the book is William Mandella complaining about how hard it is to live on an arctic world, with some minor plot development along the way. The book often ruins surprises by Mandella mentioning them before they happen. The ending of the story is particularly disappointing, and I am left wondering why Omnis were introduced at all.

    Tags for this post: book joe_haldeman forever_war group_mind humans_as_experiment time_dilation aliens


posted at: 23:22 | path: /book/Joe_Haldeman | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 29 Mar 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 30 March 2010

    00:28: Mikal shared: Laminex
      The laminex website has to be one of the best examples of a Flash site that I have seen recently. Try the "Colour Inspriation > Colour Tones > Blues" menu selection...

    00:41: Mikal shared: Government goes to war with Google over net censorship
      Conroy is starting to sound just plain desperate. If you can't defend your own policy, apparently you should just randomly attack others. It would perhaps go better if you knew some basic facts first though. Oh, and if the minister doesn't know about diplomatic exchanges, does that just make incompetent?



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 11:25 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 29 March 2010

posted at: 01:17 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Altered Carbon




    ISBN: 057507390X
    Gollancz (2002), Paperback, 544 pages
    LibraryThing
    This is a great book... Its a hardboiled detective novel, but with a science fiction twist. The universe its set in is also pretty interesting, and I'm sure the follow up books are good too. The human backup element reminds me of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, but in a way that's different enough that they're not the same story. I really enjoyed this book.

    Tags for this post: book richard_morgan human_backup detective engineered_human takeshi_kovaks


posted at: 00:34 | path: /book/Richard_Morgan | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 28 Mar 2010



Blathering for Sunday, 28 March 2010

posted at: 04:49 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Wed, 24 Mar 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 25 March 2010

posted at: 07:11 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Wednesday, 24 March 2010

posted at: 04:13 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Tue, 23 Mar 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 23 March 2010

    22:52: Mikal shared: Safeway bags a spot in health care history?
      I've often thought that its odd that smokers get more time off work than other workers, especially for a behaviour that reduces their productivity. Then again, I don't know how I feel about bonuses for being healthy. I guess someone is paying for the health care, so its fair from that perspective at least. On the other hand, if you're unhealthy then taking a pay cut is probably not the most helpful thing. Sometimes people are unhealthy for reasons other than choice.

    22:55: Mikal shared: For sale in Utah: "die-hard survivalist bunker"
      I would like this bunker for Christmas. Kthxbye.

    22:57: Mikal shared: Target Ignores Its Own Ban, Lets Petitioners Annoy Shoppers
      Collectors were common outside the entrance to both the Mountain View Walmart and Target. It certainly turns me off from shopping at those fine institutions. I'd like to see more enforcement for the "no hawkers" rules.



    Tags for this post: blather

posted at: 04:49 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 21 Mar 2010



Blathering for Monday, 22 March 2010

posted at: 15:49 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sat, 20 Mar 2010



Cryptonomicon

posted at: 22:50 | path: /book/Neal_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Cryptonomicon




    ISBN: 0099410672
    Arrow Books Ltd (2000), Paperback, 918 pages
    LibraryThing
    I read this book on an international trip, and it was a good choice for that. Its long (around 900 pages), but very readable. This is the second time I've read the book, and this time its amazing how well the description of Silicon Valley startups matches my experiences there. I love this book.

    Tags for this post: book neil_stephenson baroque_cycle ww2 combat cryptography business silicon_valley hugo award


posted at: 22:50 | path: /book/Neil_Stephenson | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Saturday, 20 March 2010

posted at: 03:06 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Fri, 19 Mar 2010



Blathering for Friday, 19 March 2010

posted at: 02:52 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Thu, 18 Mar 2010



Blathering for Thursday, 18 March 2010

posted at: 05:58 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Mon, 15 Mar 2010



Blathering for Tuesday, 16 March 2010

posted at: 22:27 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Blathering for Monday, 15 March 2010

posted at: 05:37 | path: /blather | permanent link to this entry


Sun, 14 Mar 2010



Bad science: Ben Goldacre vs Rentokil, a twitter timeline