I Thought He Came With You is Robert Ellison’s blog about software, marketing, politics, photography and time lapse.

Book reviews for February 2019

Updated on Saturday, March 2, 2019
IQ84 by Mike Dickenson

IQ84 by Mike Dickenson

3/5

Fairly droll but did not make me snort once.

 

Shadow Captain (Revenger, #2) by Alastair Reynolds

Shadow Captain (Revenger, #2) by Alastair Reynolds

5/5

Excellent sequel to 2016's Revenger. If you tried to sell this series to me - runaway sisters become fearsome space pirates while trying to figure out various mysteries about the rise and fall of a far future civilization and some truly funky currency - I'd put them someone pretty far down my to do list. But in Alastair Reynolds' hands it's a space opera masterpiece. Can't wait for the next installment.

 

Book reviews for November 2016

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

5/5

Far future space pirates. Awesome.

 

Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra

Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra

3/5

The overall message is good - focus on making your users actually awesome rather than you looking awesome with some concrete strategies to find out what that is and how to get there. A central theme is removing barriers to effective usage. The product here is a book. It was hell to read on my phone. Now if the graphics were large and central to the message and couldn't be done other than in some weird non-standard way I might forgive this. But all I needed to on every page was zoom in to get rid of the needless massive borders. That's all it took. Hundreds of times. So I'd recommend this if you still like paper books or are some sort of tablet toting throwback but on phone? No.

 

Book reviews for July 2013

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Doctor Who: Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds

Doctor Who: Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds

5/5

I don't normally do SciFi series books... but this is Alastair Reynolds doing Doctor Who. Jon Pertwee era with UNIT and The Master. If the BBC had a 300 million Pound budget for a Doctor Who story line in the 70's this is what they would have made.

 

Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing by Po Bronson

Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing by Po Bronson

4/5

I always enjoy Po Bronson and he's typically on form here with fascinating research and anecdotes around the topic of competition. There is a lot of new evidence on how hormones work that I'd never seen before and an interesting theory that competitive sports are a precursor to democracy. Much of this book is about how competition brings out creativity and drive. I wonder it it's missing a trick here and that the real factor is operating under constraint with competition being just one of many possible forms of constraint. In addition to the studies showing that art was better when a competition was involved I'd like to see how this worked out when one set of artists was limited to using just brown and silver... I'd bet the results would look pretty similar.

 

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4) by Dan Brown

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4) by Dan Brown

2/5

By the numbers. OK, but not great.

 

Book reviews for May 2013

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Troika by Alastair Reynolds

Troika by Alastair Reynolds

4/5

Stonking little novella.

 

Book reviews for May 2013

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017
Troika by Alastair Reynolds

Troika by Alastair Reynolds

4/5

Stonking little novella.

 

Reviews and links for February 2011

Updated on Friday, February 24, 2017

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.).