Reviews and Links for November 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

5/5

Intelligent and humorous if highly contrived thriller set loosely around an MMORPG. Loved it.

 

Embassytown by China Miéville

4/5

Highly original tale of colonists cohabiting with some very unusual aliens with a very unusual language. It reads like J.G. Ballard and Nicholson Baker decided to collaborate on some SciFi.

 

The Affair (Jack Reacher, #16) by Lee Child

3/5

Not bad, returns to when Reacher was in uniform and tells the story of how he left the Army (the answer may surprise you). As with the last few in the series it all comes a little too easily and you wish there was at least one worthy opponent. I'm hooked though so as long as Child keeps writing them I'll keep reading.

 

Professional Android 2 Application Development by Reto Meier

3/5

Solid foundation and covers the platform you need to target to reach the majority of Android devices.

 

Links

RE: Feel free to use the code, no attribution required.  http://t.co/IJTcOz3p

BBC News - 7 questions on computer programmes http://t.co/XKylU7WT (more of a history / pop culture quiz)

Scooby-Doo and Secular Humanism: http://t.co/4h8M8kkK

4 of 5 stars to Embassytown by China Miéville http://t.co/kPwIrmDF

ITHCWY: Occupy Intellectual Ventures: Send them a troll. Now. http://t.co/VorWmZpz

Wow, My Flout score is -7 on @floutdotme! Get yours at http://t.co/1Sl8ei72

troll the troll! send a troll doll to intellectual ventures. http://t.co/S09ML14T via @nathtone

Walking through doorways causes forgetting, new research shows: http://t.co/JBbJXAaD

+1: Why Software Projects are Terrible and How Not To Fix Them: http://t.co/kE7WWix5

Hilarious, I had to Google how to power off Windows 8. Didn't figure it our until the third link: http://t.co/X1wrkh7R #fail

Building a Useful Task Board: http://t.co/icc8y4cU - only this should be a large monitor and an #API

#API Design Webinar http://t.co/rbDwus37 from @theamiableapi - some very valuable nuggets

Wow. Going to have to get this as a poster just to fully grok it: http://t.co/Z6iie3K5

ITHCWY: PolyLineM support in Catfood.Shapefile: I’ve just updated Catfood.Shapefile, my ESRI Shapefile parser for… http://t.co/ll50wcEi

Cal band at justanswer http://t.co/QOLcbe7e (missed this while at lunch)

Citogenesis: http://t.co/EH5K2xLg

Extensive document dump on Microsoft's shallow anti-Android bullying: http://t.co/tdEhMNLh #patents from @groklaw

Toast sandwich is UK's 'cheapest meal' http://t.co/0LG9zNOl (can't possibly be true - not factoring in cost of electricity!)

Analysis: The Darwin Economy: http://t.co/pSDkxupL

So True: What Your Favorite Map Projection Says About You: http://t.co/dW8pl2uK

Bootstrapped Company Behind iDrive, iBackup Is Fed Up With Patent Trolls: http://t.co/DP6KFLxH

The Real Cost of Patent Trolls: http://t.co/1Cu4C6cV via @bfeld

Flying rhinoceros: http://t.co/MIhWtT3L

Cool: 1% Of Nothing Launches To Get Startups Donating Equity: http://t.co/ZNy7HcZl

3 of 5 stars to Professional Android 2 Application De... by Reto Meier http://t.co/UqCtaJ3Z

'Have the people who designed this protocol really never made the twenty mile drive to San Francisco?' - http://t.co/wWk77ZpQ

Explaining 'Jobs' to Rudy Giuliani: http://t.co/ek78XEe9

ITHCWY: Catfood: Klout and Follower: Klout is building PageRank for people. You get a score between 0-100 based on… http://t.co/rGyYkY9q

Catfood Follower 1.40: http://t.co/79xDac4F via @CatfoodSoftware

Old friends... No CDTV though! At #CHM http://t.co/WGw6VOOL

How much did I used to want one of these! http://t.co/lHhnY0AG

At #CHM for Norvig v Horvitz. Will punch anyone who mentions Searle's Room. http://t.co/wPRO8tYa

Don't do it, like defining π as 4: BBC News - Changes to the world's time scale debated http://t.co/hFkrZi4g

RESTful API Design, Second Edition http://t.co/uZthmj9c #API from @landlessness

Rudy wishes I hadn't just shown him: "Saber-toothed squirrel" from the dinosaur days - Boing Boing http://t.co/Wf7Y0ttH

Marked as to-read: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries http://t.co/MC9M0Iti

Ex-Google Reader Product Manager Posts Scathing Review Of Reader Redesign | TechCrunch http://t.co/DscEAHTw

Google indexing via POST: http://t.co/oM2JmHqI (P.S. may not grok your robots.txt, suggests bending over)

Writing helpful API documentation « The Amiable API http://t.co/rx9QdKyk #API

Oakland PD confused: An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland From the Oakland Police Officers Association http://t.co/W5LIBY7D (me too)!

Study: why parents help their underage kids pretend to be 13 in order to use Internet sites - Boing Boing http://t.co/aoUSw5wu

Reviews and links for October 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

4/5

It's a homage to the 80s and early computer games set in the ultimate MMORPG of the future. What's not to love?

 

Links

- The Important Field from xkcd.com (Snort).

- Girls equal in throne succession from BBC News - Home (Not really the main inequality of a monarchy...).

- Delta-P from xkcd.com (:)).

- On Tea from Boing Boing (Damned right).

- New Data API Around NASA Data Sets from API Evangelist - Blog (NASA data #API :) #todo @myEN).

- (title unknown) from riot right clit click (The only #SF residents who follow the MUNI front door only rule).

- Royal succession changes proposed from BBC News - Home (Simon Cowell to have final say).

- Ben & Jerry's taste for protest from BBC News - Home (Brave Brand Stand).

- Subscription Service For Kids Activities Kiwi Crate Raises $2 Million from TechCrunch (If they're still going in a couple of years...).

- Eternal Flame from xkcd.com (Nice Jobs tribute from XKCD).

Reviews and links for September 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Neutrino by Frank Close

3/5

Narrow topic, but an interesting book, especially the frustratingly long effort to reconcile observed electron neutrinos from the Sun with reality. Has a rather repetitive recap at the end that ends up recapping some of the recap which rather bogged things down. I definitely know more about neutrinos than I did before though.

 

Reviews and links for August 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

RESTful .NET by Jon Flanders

4/5

Great coverage of exposing and consuming a RESTful service using WCF. Note that you'll need the services of a good WCF book, this builds on existing WCF expertise and doesn't try that hard to bring you up to speed. Which isn't a bad thing, it keeps the book relatively short and focused. I'll be referring back to this one often.

 

Rule 34 by Charles Stross

4/5

Stross flips out concepts in a sentence that many SciFi authors would build an entire book around. It's a near-future police procedural set in Edinburgh. Twisted, tongue-in-cheek, profane and most excellent. The only miss is the assumption that people will use Wave in the near-future, let alone now. It's the first book of his that I've read... will be seeking out more soon.

 

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick

4/5

Epic. A must read for cybernauts who may have forgotten their roots. Good for anyone else interested in what information actually is, and how pervasive information theory has become.

 

Links

- Password Strength from xkcd.com (Read this now, then change your passwords!).

- Baby sex blood tests 'accurate' from BBC News - Home (Bad news for girls...).

- Are your genes somebody else's property? from All Salon (More patent stupidity, this time genes (@myEV)).

- IE users have lower IQ says study from BBC News - Home (Highest IQ? Telnet to port 80 directly).

Reviews and links for July 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

4/5

Jon Ronson just has an incredible knack of getting crazy people to talk to him. In The Psychopath Test he mixes with Scientologists, CEOs, psychopaths and psychopath hunters. The book is both funny and very disturbing. There's the theory that a significant proportion of CEOs and politicians are successful because they are psychopaths. There's the somewhat arbitrary checklist that is used to diagnose a psychopath and the impossible situation of trying to prove that you're sane once you've been committed. And there's the profit seeking alliance between drug companies and psychologists that Ronson claims has led to over *three million* children being diagnosed as bipolar in the US when quite possibly none of them are.

 

One Day by David Nicholls

3/5

A sharply observed romance spanning the 80s, 90s and 00s. Initial lust turns to friendship, hatred, some more friendship and finally love. Decent enough read.

 

Links

- Why do so many people online hate "The Smurfs"? from All Salon (Because so many people IRL do).

- Spotify sued over music streaming from BBC News - Home (Trolls with a feeble looking patent. Sigh.).

- Judge blocks circumcision ban bid from BBC News - Home (Then under what theory is female circumcision banned?).

- Is monogamy essential to democracy? from All Salon (No, you're thinking of mahogany).

- We could have had the Moon, instead we get Afghanistan from jwz (Actually nearly three moons...).

- Medical Examiner: Bullet That Killed Kenneth Harding Not From Police from KQED News Fix (Will the protesters turn out for some community service this weekend then?).

- Standards from xkcd.com (Guilty).

- Government 'to back badger cull' from BBC News - Home ('badger' is a British euphemism for 'tabloid journalist').

- The Brain on Trial from jwz (Not guilty by reason of finely tuned initial conditions).

- Unusual toilets from Boing Boing (They missed the pop up toilets from Reading.).

Reviews and links for June 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

5/5

A new must have parenting book. The giant pangolins of Madagascar are inspired, move over Eric Carle. The only problem with the book is that as soon as Kate can read I'm going to have to permanently worry about where this is hidden...

 

Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie, #4) by Kate Atkinson

4/5

Better than When Will There Be Good News although no less depressing. Jackson Brodie (curiously now on Twitter as @JacksonBrodie) is back at the center of the action, investigating the origins of a woman in New Zealand who was adopted under mysterious circumstances. Needless to say it wasn't a harmless mix up. Typically discursive and character rich. Humorous with a black, black heart.

 

Links

- Robot Armpit Prototype from jwz (At last!).

- Scottish domain name bid launched from BBC News - Home (.scot is silly though, should nab .off which could power the economy post independence...).

- Parents 'influence teen drinking' from BBC News - Home (Funny how that works both ways ;)).

- Heat and light from BBC News - Home (Will a drop in solar activity counter global warming? Apparently not enough).

- High court spurns atheist's 'under God' challenge from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Pretty feeble arguments for why the phrase isn't discriminatory...).

- Sarah Palin on Paul Revere from Boing Boing (Got to love the Paul Revere head slap).

Reviews and links for May 2011

Updated on Sunday, April 4, 2021

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

3/5

The first couple of chapters are hilarious and then it's a solid, sprawling family drama with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. I just couldn't click with any of the characters and ultimately didn't care how things turned out for any of them.

 

Links

- S.F. bus driver marks 40 years behind the wheel from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (A career spanning nearly three blocks of Mission ;)).

- Obama, in Europe, signs Patriot Act extension from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Need to stage an addiction to emergency powers intervention...).

- Sarkozy questions 'neutral' net from BBC News - Home (Right, because someone might see a photo of someone in a burqa).

- Many baby items found to contain toxic chemicals from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Goes up to 100% once baby has actually used them.).

- Preview Coming Bay Bridge Road Change With New App from KQED News Fix (Android users smart enough to drive without an app preview...).

- In 3D - ants as you have never seen them before from BBC News - Home (Um, no. Unless you're a cyclops this is exactly how you see ants.).

- Magna Carta: Live! from KQED News Fix (Should really go and see this...).

- Police called as dog bites voters from BBC News - Home (It's a case of 'first past the pug').

- Photo: Obama and National Security team during Osama kill operation from Boing Boing (That looks like one lame situation room.).

Reviews and links for April 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

Zero Day by Mark Russinovich

2/5

Promising start, Mark 'system internals' Russinovich certainly knows his stuff and the initial computer forensics are bang on. Sadly it descends into a pedestrian chase thriller and the malware takes a back seat to cookie cutter Arab terrorists.

 

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

5/5

An education on many different species of parallel universes: in space, in time, in dimensions, in simulations and more. Interesting detours into the current state of cosmology and quantum theory and much discussion on the nature of science when exploring realms that may forever be closed to observation (although it's surprising how many of the parallel universes may leave some detectable footprint in ours, or be conclusively ruled out by future experiments). Fascinating and very well written.

 

Links

- SF Chronicle video prompts White House threat from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Petty. What did you just say about having more important things to do? #Obama).

- Mayor Ed Lee Opposed to Shark Fin Ban from KQED News Fix (Boo temporary Mayor!).

- Reserve marine life 'flourishing' from BBC News - Home (Are scallops in some sense not wildlife?).

- Homes' solar panels often boost values from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Yippee! That was my theory when we did it...).

- Bernalwood’s Wild Kingdom, or How To Deal Unwanted Guests from Bernalwood (It's like Cloverfield in a garage!).

Reviews and links for March 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids by Tom Hodgkinson

3/5

It could have been a great one page idle book - leave the kids alone more. But I guess that wouldn't fly with the publisher so it's more of a manifesto for a more traditional childhood - four hour school day, build things from wood, raise and eat your own pigs. Possibly idyllic but far from idle. Also, Hodgkinson denounces computers yet the book wants you to visit its blog. Entertaining and occasionally inspirational nonetheless.

 

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle

2/5

Derivative, and requires batteries which is the last thing you need with a book. I think Carle phoned this one in. Actually, it's like when thriller writers get too famous and farm the hard work out. It reads like an "Eric Carle's" or "Eric Carle with Grant Blackwood" kind of book. Introduces a small range of insects but manages to use "whirred" twice. Has Mosquitoes out at night rather than being a dawn/dusk phenomenon. The only saving grace is the unexpected twist with the Luna Moth.

 

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

4/5

It's a geeky, Hispanic coming of age / family history epic. To read it you need some Spanish, some knowledge of the Dominican Republic (rather distractingly sketched in via footnotes - I wish Díaz had included an appendix instead) and to have read a lot of SciFi.

 

Links

- EU envoy defends Bahrain police from BBC News - Home (How do we fire Robert Cooper? Seriously, how is a sniper and 'accident'?).

- Obama's war tent from BBC News - Home (Surely he's just doing that to screw with Gaddafi?).

- Radiation Chart from xkcd (Radiation perspective...).

- Are cloth seats a public health hazard? Possibly. from Boing Boing (Of course. And which Muppet decided to carpet BART?).

- Chrysler Tells It How It Is from Failblog After Dark (It looks real - someone got fired for tweeting this).

- VIDEO: Murakami's book on silver screen from BBC News - Home (I hope they didn't screw it up...).

- Facebook adds suicide help system from BBC News - Home (Also needed, a 'net' underneath the wall.).

- What should you do if a cash machine overpays? from BBC News - Home (Really BBC, you needed to crowd source this one?).

- Herpetology from xkcd.com ('herpetology is a silly field').

- Dear Oprah: Some thoughts on your credibility. from Boing Boing (In her defense, she has a lot more hours to fill these days...).

Reviews and links for February 2011

Updated on Monday, February 15, 2021

Agents of Treachery: Never Before Published Spy Fiction from Today's Most Exciting Writers by Otto Penzler

3/5

A good mix of spy stories set everywhere from WWII to Somali pirates.

 

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

3/5

Five short stories, all lightly interconnected and all about music and some sort of personal transition. Engaging characters, sharp prose and a very funny turkey scene.

 

Terminal World (Gollancz S.F.) by Alastair Reynolds

2/5

Promising start, but then sags badly and ends inconclusively. Which makes me concerned that there might be a sequel or even a trilogy in the works. It's the first Reynolds book that I haven't liked - more blimp opera than space opera with a passive, repetitive protagonist.

 

The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

4/5

An interesting mediation on belief, that boils down to how normal it seems for a minister to not believe in God, and then how extraordinary for the same minister to believe to have met The Devil.

 

Links

- What happens when you stick your head in a particle accelerator from Boing Boing (I used to have nightmares about this while commuting on 280).

- Rolls-Royce to show electric car from BBC News - Home (It can travel a foot between recharges...).

- England reading test to include non-words from BBC News - Home (This really seems very silly).

- What do you put in nine bins? from BBC News - Home (One of them is just for cats.).

- Fan held over 'air crash mockery' from BBC News - Home (Bad taste, but should you really be arrested for causing 'alarm or distress'?).

- Keen On… MIT Professor Says Robotic Moment Has Arrived, And We Are Toast (TCTV) from TechCrunch (Bollocks. Or rather, replace robot with dog or cat and get the same result.).

- Tarmac lorry sheds its load on M3 from BBC News - Home (Sounds like one hell of a speed bump.).

- Playmobil Stop Motion Joy Division from Boing Boing (I'm hoping this is a whole YouTube genre...).

- After Failing To Get Hacked Last Year, Google Paying For Chrome To Be In Pwn2Own 2011 from TechCrunch (If you're still not using Chrome this should provide some inspiration to make the switch. There's really nothing better, other than telneting to port 80.).