With my birthday coming soon, I realized something:
I'm twenty. (Give or take birthday rounding error.) This is the most free time I will EVER have.
And it's not nearly
enough as much as I'd like.
With my birthday coming soon, I realized something:
I'm twenty. (Give or take birthday rounding error.) This is the most free time I will EVER have.
And it's not nearly
enough as much as I'd like.
There's some new words making their way into my vocabulary. I figured it'd make sense to write down what they are, both to help puzzle out what I mean by them and so the rest of you can
know have any idea what I mean by them.
I've heard about John Steinbeck for a while, but I've never read any of his stuff. A writer friend recommended him recently, so I finally picked up Of Mice and Men to give it a read.
Steinbeck. ZOMG Steinbeck. Where to start...
There are good books, and there are bad books. And then there are books that make you want to throw them across the room. This... is one of the later kind.
Plot-wise, Rise of the Elgen is ... okay, I guess. It's the second book in the Michael Vey series, and I've read the first one. I'm basing mostly on that, because I didn't finish this one.
Why? Because I've seen trollfics that were better-proofread.
There are lots of books out there. Big books, little books; fantasy books, science fiction books; optimistic books, dystopian books. Legend doesn't do a whole lot to add to the collective definition of 'book'. It's just a book. But it's a pretty decent book.
I love my books (well, reading materiel anything, but that's not the point just here), and I'll pick up anything that sounds interesting enough. Sometimes, that can get me into trouble. It's happened before, and there's flat-out nothing preventing it from happening again. This time, it was a book called Hero.
I picked up this book, The Wizard Heir, at the local library recently. It's got a nifty coverimage of a fancy magic staff, and a fascinating description that really made me want to read it.
It turned out that I'd read another book by the author in the same 'verse. I didn't notice this at first, I picked it up from the author description in the back some time after first picking it up. This was okay, I only very vaguely recalled the other book, and Wizard Heir recapped more than well enough to stand on its' own.
I rather kinda liked this book. The plot works quite well, it occasionally taking a while to get around notwithstanding, and she's got an interesting magic system going. The world is quite believable, and no, not because she uses real-world locations; it has to do with how it's written. I'd say she's put a good amount of thought into how this verse works.
Final verdict: I liked it. Go ahead, give it a read. I'll encourage you to check out The Warrior Heir too, but you don't really need to have read it to get this.
Today was rather a day for firsts. Lemme just list some here:
My first Black Friday anything.
My first time touching a Bra (I'm a guy). Ladies' underwear weirds me out. Speaking of, I suspect that the objectification of women has managed to extend to marketing/packaging for women's products. This calls for investigation. Somehow.
night time working retail (just bagging, thank god).
I'm going on twenty-six consecutive hours awake, and I'm pretty sure this is the longest I've ever been up. I probably sound really stupid.
For my own reference, I figured that I'd better gave some sort of scale written out somewhere. When I sat down to write one, I realized that there's really two different factors I'm trying to convey here.
One is my enjoyment of the book. I can make a scale for that pretty easily. It won't go into the nuances of enjoyment -- Of Mice and Men is really good, but it's a long, slow, savory enjoyment, for example -- but that's what the review is for. The other is more of a technical analysis, rather like a traditional grade. I'm not sure what I expect of this, or why I think such a thing is a good idea.
So anyways, from now on I'm gonna be using a much simpler scale:
Alright, alright, I give.
No-one looks at my blog and I'd get more seen posting to facebook. Everyone that I know I'd care about is on facebook anyways. I get it.
I'll be posting to facebook again.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea, facebook is two things:
It can be hard to tell whether spoilers make something more enjoyable, or less. Item I read recently would have been utterly ruined if I had spoilers beforehand. On the other hand, something I'm watching just now is extra-hilarious because I happen to know a detail that doesn't get properly revealed until later.
So it turns out I don't necessarily like doing reviews. Oh, they're great when I can do some sort of snarking or something, but that's about it. Or something.
Anyways, the point is that I'm doing a review because I'm doing a review and for no other reason.
This book Insignia has a very cool premise and setting, don't get me wrong. This kid who's made himself pretty much a professional video-gamer/con-man by necessity gets recruited into the government's remote-warfare program. All the kids in the program have computers in their heads that they use to interface with the bots/drones/whatever. Catch is, these computers can also exert some major control/influence over their minds.
The main character Tom isn't that good of a programmer. Most kids in the program aren't, frankly. Some pretty silly situations result from this, especially when the resident superprogrammer/superhacker goes on a rampage.
Some pretty disturbing situations result from this, as well. A bigwig at one of the superinternational megaconglomeratecorps tricks Tom something bad, and manages to heavily rewrite his brain. Luckily, the superprogrammer is one of his friends and installs a firewall package that cleans him right up. Their revenge on the guy is pretty intense.
However, Tom's one of -- as far as we know -- only two people in the world with a weird, impossible ability to work with any networked devices, not just ones designed to work with their brain comupters. The other person's on the other side. An Tom has to fight her.
Rating: 6.5 out of ten. It's kindof a fun read, but I dunno. I'm kind eh.
I've been reading this collection of short stories called, simply, Stories, and edited by Neal Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. I try to make it a point to write a review, or whatever these things are, for everything -- or every hardcopy, anyways -- I read, but this presents a new and therefore interesting problem: How do you review an anthology?
Well, here's a li'l not-so-secret for you: I don't write these 'reviews' for you. I write them entirely for me. I read so much stuff, you see, that if I don't keep track of them somehow I will forget them. Which is, at least in part, why my reviews lean heavily towards plot summary. ( I'm sure there's a fair amount of "I'm not a good reviewer" in there too.)
So what happens in Stories? Well: Santa Clause is killed, and alternately revealed to be an alien. A character steps out of his story and becomes real. An author adds two paragraphs immediately after what could have been a "Lady and the Tiger" ending, and leaves us with no fewer questions, but a good deal more closure. Exacting, cold, and calculating retribution is taken for an unspeakable crime. A lunatic is put on trial, as is a sane man. Various forms of ghosts drop by. An impossible flying machine actually flys, and presumably gets picked up by aliens. A man climbs millions of stairs. Another man kills himself. Some rich nutcase gets it in his head that it'd be a good idea to literally give someone the things in the song "Twelve Days of Christmas". Through it all, they manage to stretch your imagination, give your brain a real workout. This is good.
The one I'm the most unsure about in the collection is one called, almost ironically, "Stories". It's got a unique flow, with a good number of commas. It's a little hard to follow at first, but it wraps itself up well near the end. The beginning doesn't make any more sense, but the context pulls it together and throws any need for the beginning to make sense out the window. There's less too it, in a poorly defined way -- I think 'having a moral' may have to do with it -- than with the others, even though it's longer than many of them.
Rating: an easy Seven or Eight for the collection. Not worth trying to rate the individual stories.
I finished Scott Westerfeld's 'Leviathan' Trilogy recently. It was pretty good.
The trilogy is set in an alternate history where World Ware One split actually rather neatly along the lines between the 'Clankers', who use technology we'd recognize as rather steampunk -- and quite advanced for the time, frankly -- and the 'Darwinists', who make use of Charles Darwin's discovery of DNA to mold living creatures into forms they can use. It's a handy technique used to cleanly delineate the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys'. However, the story follows two kids from opposite sides of the war -- an Austrian prince named Alek, and a British airman named Deryn Sharp.
But this is (supposed to be) a conglomerate mini-review.
I can't speak properly to Leviathan, as it's been a fair while since I've read it. The cliff notes is that Alek's parents were killed, so he goes on the run and ends up in the Swiss Alps. Deryn (who's disguised herself as a boy so she could join the Air Force) and her ship end up there too, too badly damaged to escape on their own. They join forces, something that's presented as fairly odd in this book.
Behemoth takes us to Istanbul, which is rather blended compared to Europe. Though rather Clanker under German influence, their designs are heavily animal-inspired, and there's some minor indication that they use animals too. Alek and Deyrn assist a local revolution in order to prevent the war from ending unfavorably. There's lightning cannons and creative improvised weaponry, and apparently Deyrn's been in love with Alek and I missed it. Good book.
Goliath is probably the weakest of the bunch. It ties together a decent number of threads from the other books, and its tour of the Americas shows us that Clanker and Darwinist can get along. But its major plot, while well-written, seems rather cheesy, almost to the point of Deus Ex Machina (well, sortof -- God is the Machine, in the sense that the Machine doctor Tesla calls Goliath is supposedly going to end the war; but God has the machine, as Tesla has something of a god complex), compared to the other books. Still decent, just not as good. I wasn't fond of the way the core conflict was wrapped up.
Pass on Leviathan
Eight of Ten for Behemoth
Five of Ten for Goliath
Seven of Ten overall.
Today at Price Chopper, we were standing in the 'dietics' section, and I happend to glance over and see the Jimmies gorrila. It was very wierd.
Elsewhere in the store, I came across the toys section. I'm standing there, "okay, big deal and all", and then I notice they've got one of the new MLP 'small' brushables. First one I've ever seen in the wild. So I'm standing there looking at Applejack, but I'm trying to be kinda casual about it, not obvious that I'm looking at it, and I realize that they FORGOT her HAT.
This is not a small issue. Applejack not having her hat is like going out in Antartica without your parka. It doesn't happen. Ever. C'mon, Hasbro.
...I still feel wierd talking about that just, y'know, out like that. In public to random people and all. Oh well.
Went down to the Library book sale today -- well, the actual sale isn't until this weekend, I was helping to set up. But that's not the point!; the point is that I scored a pocket-dictionary. Yes, an actual hardcopy pocket dictionary, and yes, it actually fits in my pocket.
That wasn't the only cool thing I spotted there, either. They also had some antique computer-programing books, including for the Commodore 64 and even the 1980s-famous VAX. I might even pick that last one up just as a curio.
I think I can come up with a hundred words a day, so I'm going to try and post daily from here on out. Call me on it if I screw up :)
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go backdate a post...
Back to the Future is a very good movie.
Dvorak is a lovely keboard layout, and a vast improvement over Qwerty.
Dasher is great fun, admittedly probably a lot better than Qwerty, and certainly much better than not being able to use a computer at all. However, I'm not to certain about Dasher in and of itself.
I will of course grant that it's both the best alphabetic interface I've ever seen (okay, it's the only real alphabetic interface I've seen), and vastly better than anything I think Icould have come up with.
In related news, except for the latter addition of some newline characters (to make my markdown work right), this post was writen entirely in Dasher, despite haveing to go back and fix some parts. Explaines the non-sequitor of an opening surprisingly well, doesn't it?
Oh, right. Dasher is a lovely little program that provides a number of alternatives to a traditional keboard. The most ~~notable~~ obvious is the one where you dynamically zoom in on the letters you want, eventually building up words and paragraphs until you have however, long a string of text you decide you want. It's not replacing my trusty Dvorak anytime soon, but it seems like a great alternative for people for whom typeing is not an option.
I've noticed that I use the computer in pretty much exclusively two modes.
The first is "Internet Mode". This is when I have a browser up and am clicking (and, normally, reading) lots of stuff (Think facebook, reddit, fan-fiction, deviantArt...).
The other mode is "Typewriter Mode". This is when I'm at the computer and I pull up emacs (whether through a terminal emulator and some stack of ssh/tmux/emacsclient, a tty and such a stack, or a GUI emacsclient window) and write things down. This blog post, fanfiction, the occasional to-do list, whatever. In a bizarre way, I think I like Typewriter Mode more.
I really ought to go to bed now, though. I need to be up and coherent early tomorrow.
It came to my attention the other day that medium awareness is not limited to metafiction and the like. One chapter of Moby Dick starts out with "Some chapters back, ...". I'm not sure what to make of this.
I realized today that I'm kinda going about rateings all wrong. Yes, I do/will try to maintain a certain level of objectivity to them, but since these reviews are fundamentaly for me, I'm going to increase the weighting of my enjoyment factor.
(Don't get the wrong idea -- there's not a formula or a grade-sheet I'm useing. But how much I liked the book will impact my rateing more.)
I'm gonna go tweak the rateings in my orriginal review post to reflect this change, but that should be the only change. I'll bet that if you even see this, it'll be long after the change and you won't even notice.
Cinder is an interesting little mash-up. The title character is a cyborg, and I picked it up because she goes to the ball. Parallels, anyone? Took me fairly by surprise however, it's rather deeper than I expected to go. Being more involved this way means it does have the potential to go a lot further than I expected, though.
Cinder is of course a sci-fi novel. In this future, the world has picked itself up into a fairly small number of large nations following I think it was world war four. Robots and magnetic hover-cars are the norm, and humanity is dealing with a massively infectious and always-fatal virus. Meanwhile, the queen of the Lunars, an offshoot of humanity who live on the moon and have psychic powers, wants to take over, and to that end has been trying to get the emperor of China to marry her for something like decades. How long is never said exactly, but it's been a while. Cinder, who as a side effect of being a cyborg is the best mechanical engineer in the city, gets thrown into all of this when the prince brings her a robot to fix and ends up falling for her.
Maybe I'm just good, but I was able to predict chapter thirty-seven's big twist way back in chapter four. A couple of twists I wasn't expecting, such as Cinder being immune to virus and her doctor being a Lunar. I think it works out okay though, since this turns out to be the first book in a series. The others I expect to veer off in their own direction relative to what I was expecting from this one. I don't normally like reading the first book in a series before the rest of it is out, but this one works pretty darn well as a stand-alone. I'll keep an eye out for the rest (according to the coresponding front panel, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter).
Rateing: Seven and a half out of ten.
Ready_Player_One is a sci-fi/video-game novel set in the not-to-distant future. The real world has been thoroughly trashed by humanity's continued expansion, and so most people spend all their time logged into a virtual 'world' called OASIS. Then the guy who created OASIS dies, and basicly leaves control of OASIS, as well as his vast personal fortune, to whoever can solve a sequence of puzzles he created (and based off of the eighties of his childhood) as an "Easter Egg".
The book follows one of the fanboys/'professional' egghunters named Parzival. (Well, he has a real-world name, too. It's Wade. But it doesn't really come up.) Years after the first announcement of the contest, Parzival stumbles on the first part of the easter egg, and accidentally tips off everyone else looking for it, including a major megacorporation conglomerate that wants to take control of the OASIS and basicly lock it up forever. Now Parzival and a couple of other 'gunters' are in a race to solve the entire puzzle chain before them.
I greatly enjoyed the book. It knows its popculture, and weaves it together expertly. I found the review-o-blurb inside the front flap kind of disappointing, though. Combined with the cover, it gave me the impression that a fair amount of the book took place in the real world, like James Bond, Bourne, or Spy Kids. But practically the whole thing, including most of the real action, is in OASIS. It does make a few stops out into reality though, and those are good.
[SPOILERS AHEAD] My biggest gripe with the book is actually with the handling of Aech. Aech is Parzival's best friend, at least at the start of the book. In the last fourth or so of the book, they meet up in the real world for the first time, and it turns out that instead of being a guy like her avatar, Aech is actually a girl.
Now, Parzival has fallen for another of their little save-the-world treasurehunting group, Art3mis. This makes her the designated love-interest. Which is fine, don't get me wrong; but at the reveal I was hoping that Aech could challenge that, and by extension the entire Trope. Instead, she's a lesbian. It's handled fairly well I thought, considering it's mostly irelevant and how close it is to the end of the book; but the missed opertunity bugs me, perhaps more than it should. [END SPOILERS]
RATING: A high eight out of ten, would read again.
The other day, I came across a post on "Penguin" Pete's blog where he outline a bunch of stuff on what blogging is and what it is not. He was reacting to someone complaining about wanting something like a blog, but not a blog.
The point is, blogging is blogging, you shouldn't be blogging if you don't like it, and a blog should have a point, or at least a theme. This made me realize that I haven't really established a theme for mine.
So why am I blogging? I have to admit, I wasn't entirely certain myself. At its core, this is pretty personal. I'm blogging because I feel like it, because I need a place to put my stuff where I can always get at it, and because there's things I want to keep track of. There's going to be a fair amount of reviews on here, even if they're too sparse to be of use to anyone else -- Those are here for me, to help me remember what-all I've read. There's also going to be a fair amou nt of tech stuff / how-tos on here, includeing Linux ones. ( *Le Gasp* Another Linux blog? No, another blog with Linux as a topic.) If these are helpful to you, so much the better, but again they're mainly here for my sake. So... Yeah. Whatever.
Two cool and important things I learned the other day:
First, I learned how to use byobu/screen, most importantly to let a process such as irssi run on a tty and in a GUIterm.
Second, I learned that GUI programs WILL FAIL if you don't own some X for them to run on. Thus, it is impossible to start a GUI program, log out of your GUI session, log back in to your GUI session, and have your program still running -- even if you use something like screen.
Also, you can
alias aptget="sudo apt-get". On Ubuntu-likes at least, this saves you about six keystrokes every time you want to install/remove something. You could
alias aptget="sudo apt-get install", of course, but then you can't use it to remove stuff.
Whelp. This was going to come up sooner or later. I was going to post it eventually. Now works, I guess.
For compleatly incidental reasons, I came accross this blog post I'm christian, unless you're gay. Made me think a bit. Reminded me of this I had posted as a facebook note some time ago. So, here it is.
So a little piece of stupidity I'm saving for later:
Is Mickey Mouse a dog or a cat?
So, crazy idea for an audio project. Probably best described by attempting to give examples, even though there's nothing to it yet.
Featuring the voices of:
Featuring audio clips from:
Inspired in large part by this video:
More to come. Now I just need %$@! posted.
Today is/has been a day for awesome. I got involved in something with the potential to be big, but first, I'm gonna harp on the Culture of Integrity graduation event.
Mad greets to my bros David and Bryan, and my Hannahs Ruth and Ruttles. They graduated from our youth group's "Culture of Integrity" program tonight. They had to do a lot of hard but awesome stuff to pull this off, and they earned it. It really made me realize that badassery is actually made up of lots of small, almost-normal-but-not-quite things.
And, they got awesome swords to sweeten the deal! W00t w00t!
So, my big thing: Fellow in a subreddit I hang out in started talking about a charity notion he had. One of the things he wanted/needed
was is website design. I offer to take a whack at it, despite never having done such a thing before.
He decided to take me up on it.
So now, I am slightly-more-than-three-quarters-seriously committed to looking around and trying my hand at creating a website. I actually think this is a good thing. It gives me something productive to work on, and I could really use the 'get out', even if it's a purely virtual get out.
The charity idea is approximately half-baked, but other than that this is going to be, as I said, AWESOME.