Book log September 2016

May. 22nd, 2017 08:12 pm
julesjones: (Default)
[personal profile] julesjones
I'm busy tidying up the notebooks I use to write on the bus, and came across my book log notes for the books I read in September last year. As it happens, two of these are in the sale at Amazon UK and Kobo at the moment. :-)

Agatha Christie -- Murder on the Orient Express

There isn't really a lot I can say that hasn't already been said by hundreds of reviewers on LibraryThing. It's a classic bottle mystery--a murder and a group of people in an isolated venue, in this case the Orient Express trains stranded in a snowdrift. It's great fun watching Poirot piece together all the red herrings to find that some are clues after all.


Amazon UK
Amazon US

Agatha Christie -- The Murder on the Links

Poirot novel set in France, with Poirot butting heads with the local police investigator. Poirot is asked to come urgently by a man in fear of his life. The widow's story does not quite hang together, and yet she is genuinely shocked and distraught by her husband's death. Red herrings abound, and as usual Hastings repeatedly gets hold of the wrong end of the stick--or in this case, the length of lead piping. Enjoyable Poirot fare, although nothing outstanding.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Lindsey Davis -- The Silver Pigs

First of the Falco books, a mystery series set in Ancient Rome during the reign of Vesparius. Marcus Didius Falco is a PI. That's public informer, a role remarkably similar to that of the private investigator in the modern era. And as with the classic gumshoe mystery, Falco has an office/flats at the top of a seedy low rent tenement building.

The novel is as historically accurate as Davis could make it, but human nature hasn't changed much over the last 2000 years. Falco rescues a damsel in distress, and finds himself sucked into a case involving theft and corruption in the silver mines of a backwards colony at the fringe of the Empire.

Excellent mystery, with an appealing lead character and careful world building. I loved this, and will be reading more of the series.

Amazon UK
Amazon US

Moving on down

May. 22nd, 2017 09:47 am
filkerdave: (learning)
[personal profile] filkerdave

Over the weekend our desks at work were moved from the 15th floor to the 7th floor. This is part of a long term plan to consolidate most of our space on the 7th and 8th floor of the building, so we weren't specifically chosen for this as such.

There are good things and bad things about my new space. The bad is that it's even smaller than my old cube up on 15, and that wasn't too spacious to begin with. The good is that I actually have access to natural daylight! Because of the orientation of the desk, my chair isn't facing a window but it's out there at about 7:00 over my shoulder! Natural daylight! I haven't had access to natural daylight at my desk in several years!

And now begins a few hours of unpacking my crates and making sure that I have some place to put everything.

Across the Road

May. 22nd, 2017 07:13 am
threeringedmoon: (CheesyWebcamPix)
[personal profile] threeringedmoon

Although we see them fairly frequently in another part of our valley, it is rare to see elk across the road from our house.

Mirrored from Five Acres with a View.

Dept. of Weekend's End

May. 21st, 2017 08:59 pm
kaffyr: (Clara didn't ask for this)
[personal profile] kaffyr
Things I Did This Weekend

Saving bandwidth, because that's how I usually roll. )

My vacation begins Friday. I can hardly wait. 

katsu: (Default)
[personal profile] katsu

I liked Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 better than the first GotG movie, which I already liked a heck of a lot. It’s fun, it’s weird, it’s unabashedly space opera. It’s also got a lot of payoff for some emotional stuff that got set up in the first movie, particularly the relationship with Peter Quill and Yondu. And while in GotG 1, I never really felt like we got a firm grounding on why the team of misfits came together, this at least showed us why the stay together.

Spoilers within, so read cautiously.

Read the rest of this entry »

Originally published at Alex Acks: Sound and Nerdery. You can comment here or there.

(no subject)

May. 21st, 2017 09:49 am
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
[personal profile] mycroftca
At the request of our friend Katie, who visited this weekend, I'm going to discuss the podcasts that I've been following for the last few years. She is curious about what I've been hearing and why I like them.

For starters, long before I owned a smart phone I followed the Reduced Shakespeare Company Podcast; I had first seen them at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California many years ago, and when I found out about the weekly release I would listen to it each Monday. The topics are for the most part theater-related, though not always. There's over 500 recordings, approximately fifteen minutes each.

What finally brought me to using the smart phone was a two-fold issue. First, Alton Brown started a podcast, which later became rather intermittent; secondly, KPCC which is my local NPR station began having what seemed to me to be constant money requests which led to me rarely hearing the news but instead nothing but begging on the radio, so I started hunting for other podcasts to listen to. Brown's work was called The Alton Browncast. It deals to a great degree with cooking, touching on other topics in a lesser fashion. He seems to go back to it when his schedule opens up a bit.

When I started looking for podcasts to try, nearly everyone had nothing but good things to say about The History of Rome podcast, and so I gave it a try. I've long since finished the whole run from the mythology of the city's start until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 400s. The quality is excellent, the podcaster is engaging and it's well worth giving it a listen. He's since started the Revolutions podcast in which he deals in detail with a variety of revolutions which so far include the American, the French, the Haitian, the South American, the French in the 1830s, and the Belgian. Excellent work, once again.

From there I added the Global News Podcast by the BBC, updated thirteen times each week, it addresses the news of the day.

Next one is The History of Byzantium; its originator wanted to pick up where The History of Rome left off but dealing with the remaining Eastern Empire and he's doing a good job of it.

The British History Podcast goes into a lot of detail; there's been nearly 250 items and he's still in the Dark Ages.

Then there's The History of WWII Podcast. I'm not fond of the caster's voice, but he gives good quality reports. He's a bit shy of 200 casts but the US still isn't in the war. Not too much longer, though.

Then I picked up Mission Long: A Roddenberry Star Trek Podcast which has two guys discussing each episode or movie of Star Trek and seeing if they hold up to time. They are in the 230s of podcasts and are closing in on the end of ST:TNG. They include some special podcasts where they interview a variety of individuals who were important to the show. I've tried a number of Star Trek podcasts over time, and I like this one best.

The China History Podcast is done by a guy who works with companies who work in China; he's learned the language and clearly he's fascinated by the country. He's shy of 200 episodes but he deals in pretty good detail with the subject at hand.

Then there's The History of English Podcast which helps explain how English got the way it is. He's barely into Middle English in over 90 episodes.

History of Japan is next. Shy of 200 episodes, he clearly explains a lot about Japanese history and culture.

My wife hates the voice of the reader of History of the Crusades, but she does a good job of explaining the events and background. She's finished the Crusades in the Holy Land as well as the Albigensian Crusade and is now working on the Baltic.

History of Pirates Podcast is rather intermittent and he jumps around. Some fun, not as deep as I might like.

The Born Yesterday Podcast appears to be defunct though it's still available without trouble from iTunes and it deals with a pretty wide variety of interesting topics, such as the Secret History of Monopoly (as in the game).

WARTIME: A History Series is done by an author, mostly to stimulate sales of his writings, but he has interesting things to say about empires and he covers areas that my own learning didn't cover well. Although not recently updated, I know that the cast isn't dead.

Aussie Waves Podcast started talking about the various waves of immigration into Australia, but it's turned into a cast about various topics in Australian history and the caster is pretty good.

The History of England's reader has a puckish sense of humor and he keeps the discussion light and accessible. He's up to Henry VIII in 214 episodes so far.

The Podcast History Of Our World tried to start in the very beginning of our planet and carry forward from there but there's been no additional podcasts for over six months; he left off at the Kingdom of Rome, which predated the Republic.

Gamers Behaving Badly appears to be dead; it was a fairly funny work which followed a D&D game.

The Podcast of Doom is a strange piece of work in which the caster deals with disaster analysis; the history of an event, what went wrong and what's been done since to try to deal with it. A very good podcast; he posts occasionally.

A Brief History of Food seems gone as well, short pieces of background for various recipes.

The Hidden History of Los Angeles posts occasionally but when they do it's very good. Intimate little details about LA, its history, and its neighborhoods.

Damn Interesting is. They don't post all that often but when they do it's good.

Imaginary Worlds goes into some detail about exactly that. For example, the most recent post talks in some detail about Twin Peaks from the point of view of the folks who lived in the town used in the original show, as well as the history of some folks in a town called Twin Peaks and its parallels to the show. As a first-class geek I find this podcast delightful.

Then there's another moribund podcast, In the Company of Nerds, which spun off the TV show King of the Nerds. They would have two folks interviewing a third; it was pretty solid, but when the TV series was cut, the podcast fell apart.

Talking History: The Italian Unification worked it way practically up to the point of the final events and then stopped cold. Apparently the casters were swamped by life. It may come back. Their style was mildly off-putting but the information was fresh and interesting.

You Must Remember This is one of the best podcasts I listen to. The caster is taking several weeks hiatus at this time, but will be back. The podcast deals with the history of the first century of Hollywood and she doesn't hold back on the details. Terrific work, that's all I can say.

Our Fake History is also very good, though not quite as good as the previously described podcast. The topic is what is and isn't true in history and the caster deals with telling what we know and what we don't. Very good.

Killing Time is a military history podcast, but it's been three months since the last post so it may be gone. Still, the thirteen casts posted are pretty good.

The Dork Forest is pretty variable in quality. The interviewer is a stand-up comic and she spends a fair amount of time pushing her wares, then she takes about an hour to talk to various people about their various hobbies in various levels of dorkiness. I find myself cutting out casts that deal with hobbies in which I have no interest, seems to be like two out of three that I dump. However, when the topic interests me, she's not bad as an interviewer. YMMV.

Valiant: Stories of Heroes is pretty limited; there's only a couple of "heroes" discussed. They weren't bad but there isn't much here. Last posting was a year ago, I think it's dead.

99% Invisible is another wonderful podcast which in this case deals with design and what goes into it. There's way over 200 casts and they do a great job of explaining what goes into design. Marvelous stuff!

The Context was also a very good piece of work, giving all the background that you never get from news sources because it takes too long to explain it all. There's eight of them, last posted March of 2016, and worth hearing. I keep hoping for more.

Great Battles of History is another short-lived podcast that appears to be gone. However, the handful or so of podcasts talk about little-known battles and did a fairly good job of discussing them.

The History of Exploration is a pretty new podcast and it's going into the folks who have explored the world around them, what they did and how they passed it on. Heavily detailed.

The Secret Cabinet is done by a translator who gets these from the original German and then posts oddities. Strange history.

The Brazil Culture and History Podcast presents Brazil, a topic that most US classrooms never address. There's a dozen posts, but it's been a year plus since the last post. I really thought that I'd learned some things from them, so I hope it will return.

Revisionist History is another one that I await patiently, though it may be gone. It looks at various topics in history in a different way and I find it very thought-provoking. Bravo!

People's Democratic Republic of Podcast is a spin-off from a podcast called The Eastern Border which I liked but it runs very, very long and I didn't like it enough to invest that may hours in it. The latter podcast teaches about Russian and Soviet history as well as Eastern Europe especially in the effects that Russia had on the other countries of the region. The former podcast is supposed to look at an individual democratic nation and see how they work. Thus far they've discussed Israel and Canada and that is all. I await further developments.

The Land of Desire: French History and Culture is a fairly lighthearted podcast which has dabbled in French topics. I think the caster has been taking the pieces and giving them the proper amount of time and I think I've learned things from it. This is an active podcast at present.

A History of Oil seems moribund; it goes into the politics and business history of oil's discovery and use. I found some of the casts thoughtful and useful in understanding what is going on now.

The Sorting Podcast is a light romp done by a friend in which he sorts characters from one genre into Hogwarts Houses in discussion with another person. Fun; it's nice to revisit some characters from literature and motion pictures and work out where they would fit.

The History of Organized Crime...not bad enough to dump, not good enough to recommend.

Remarkable Lives, Tragic Deaths is active and they bring in voice actors to stand in for the famous folks that they are discussing. Solid work, worthy of listening.

Cocktail History Podcast hasn't had anything posted for four months; they deal with the background of various drinks. I like it, but it may be gone.

Africa: A History is pretty straightforward, but it's been offline for six months. Only a few casts posted.

Gastropod is very good, and remains active. They go into the science of food in some detail. Excellent stuff.

Slate Presents Lexicon Valley, I'm way behind on them but they go into the background of words and grammar. I like it; they are still active but I'm still more than fifty casts behind the present.

Wait, wait...Don't Tell Me isn't so much a podcast as it is the radio show being re-released. This is an NPR gameshow that I used to hear when I drove to work on weekends.

The Sporkful advertises itself as a podcast not for foodies but for eaters. Well, I think it's fair to say I'm a foodie, but I still like this podcast. Still active.

80 Days: An Exploration Podcast has three Irish fellows Skypeing from three places on Earth discussing a country, city, island or whatever that people might now know much about and going into their history and what have you. Each post thus far is over an hour, but some of these places deserve a closer look. I like 'em.

Shots of History is for those who imbibe. I'm still behind, but they've spent several very short podcasts on absinthe.

Decode the News is very new and very, very good, breaking down the news to see what they are and aren't doing and what journalism has become. Recommended.

I am presently listening to the first podcast of The Dangerous History Podcast and I don't know if I would suggest following it. I need more exposure first.

I have downloaded podcasts from each of the following but have yet to listen to any of them and can't recommend or reject them: Ben Franklin's World: A Podcast About Early American History; Libertarian's On Fire; The Whiskey Rebellion; The Feast; The Complete Guide to Everything; Judge John Hodgman; History of Southeast Asia.

I have listened to many more podcasts; some have clearly died and I dropped them from my list even though they were fine, while others I tried for one or three or twenty episodes and finally gave them up.

I am open to trying others as time permits; I still keep up with active casts. Please feel free to suggest others to me and why you think they're good.

There you go, Katie!

(no subject)

May. 21st, 2017 09:45 am
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
[personal profile] mycroftca
What was interesting about this week?

We watched XXX: The Return of Xander Cage. Not nearly as good as any of the previous movies of this series, but my wife liked it more than I did.

Bits and pieces got done in and around the house. We had a house guest in this weekend, so there was work done on prepping the room for her.

After the demise of Sven, the red cat, who lost a fight in the worst possible way, my beloved was unhappy, but she's brightened up after adopting a new kitten who we call Earl Grey. He's definitely a boy so no gender errors in naming (I'm looking at YOU, Loralie...).

In reflection of the latter event, the Archers came over once their daughter saw photos of the kitten on FB. We split a couple of bottles of wine amongst the adults while Shelby communed with Earl. Lovely time.

Dungeonmaster today; see you there!

(no subject)

May. 21st, 2017 07:15 am
mycroftca: me on horse (Default)
[personal profile] mycroftca
From a reading standpoint this wasn't one of my better weeks. I kept pretty busy at work and at home and I just didn't finish all that much.

That being said, I did finish reading Osprey Warrior #63: French Revolutionary Infantryman 1791 – 1802. The book is basically about the French innovation of mass conscriptions which allowed them to protect the Revolution. Moderately interesting.

The other book that I finished was Osprey Warrior #65: US Army Ranger 1983 – 2002: Sua Sponte – Of their Own Accord, the details about the training and use of the Rangers in that period. Fairly good.

I also dumped several books that I wasn't enjoying, but I'm no longer discussing those...

replacement for Multifox

May. 20th, 2017 04:40 pm
julesjones: (Default)
[personal profile] julesjones
I used to use Multifox, a useful little add-on for Firefox that allowed you to use multiple identity profiles in Firefox. This meant I could allocate tabs to different identities so I didn't have to log out of one and back in again for another on various sites - for example, having a set of tabs open for my wallet identity while also working on my pen names' Twitter accounts. Multifox was pulled by Mozilla from the available add-ons a few months ago (the writer surmised because it wasn't compatible with some new protocols). This made me sad, but a spot of googling last week turned up the information that Mozilla have been working on similar functionality in the form of Containers.

Containers is a new tool still under development, and as such not yet available in the standard release of Firefox. However, you can sign up to FireFox Test Pilot, and install various "under development" things to play with, including Containers. From the Test Pilot description:

Containers let you create profiles in Firefox for all of your online lives. Custom labels and color-coded tabs help keep different activities — like online shopping, travel planning, or checking work email — separate. Because Containers store cookies separately, you can log into the same site with a different account in each Container, and online trackers can’t connect your browsing in one container to another. So you can keep your shopping self separate from your social self from your work self, without worrying about being followed around the Web.

The Test Pilot things are added onto a standard debugged release of Firefox, but for those who really like living dangerously a version of Containers is also available in Firefox Nightly.

I've only been playing with it for a few days and haven't really explored everything I can do with it, but I like it so far. There are several other Test Pilot experiments on the go at the moment - I've also installed Snooze Tabs, although I haven't really done anything with it yet. I think it's one some of my friends would find useful.

Return of the Amazon/Kobo offers post

May. 20th, 2017 08:30 am
julesjones: (Default)
[personal profile] julesjones
Haven't posted one of these in a while, because I haven't posted much at all. But the latest Amazon UK "buy our ebooks" is a "start a series from 99p" promotion, and I spotted a couple of books that might be of interest. Some are also price-matched on Kobo UK, and possibly other online retailers. Do check the price before you click the buy button, because it can change.

The full promo page is at Items particularly likely to be of  interest to you lot:

"The Silver Pigs", the first in the Falco series from Lindsey Davis about a private eye in Imperial Rome. I tried this on the recommendation of other sf fans and loved it - it's a good chance to try the series to see if you like it. £1.99 at Kobo and Amazon

"The Ides of April", first book in the Falco: The New Generation series. Just added that one to my own collection. :-) 99p at Kobo and Amazon

Agatha Christie's "The Murder at the Vicarage", the first of the Miss Marple novels. £1.49 at Kobo and Amazon. I'm in the middle of re-reading this right now, because it was there on my Kobo when I wanted some cheerful murder.

"The Long Earth" by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter - £1.99 at Kobo and Amazon.

"The Atrocity Archives: Book 1 in The Laundry Files" by Charles Stross. If you're an sf&f fan and haven't read this - buy this book. And not just because Charlie's a mate of mine from sf writing circles. It's the start of a series in which the eldritch horrors of Lovecraft are all too real, and one of the UK three letter agencies is devoted to putting off the forthcoming invasion for as long as possible. Charlie lovingly pastiches various spy, mystery and thriller series along the way. (There was much squeeing amongst the crit group for a later novel when we realised that we were reading a chapter starring avatars of Modesty Blaise and Willie Garvin.) £1.49 at Kobo and Amazon.

"The Vesuvius Club" by Mark Gatiss. Yes, *that* Mark Gatiss, written before he became much more famous for his scripts than his novels. Edwardian derring-do, with more than a little tongue in cheek, in multiple senses. 99p at Amazon only.

That's just a sampling - I could quite easily buy another dozen interesting-looking books off that list were I not horribly aware that there are four dozen still queued up on my Kobo...

Model-Making: Warhammer 40K Predator

May. 19th, 2017 10:38 pm
major_clanger: Clangers (Royal Mail stamp) (Default)
[personal profile] major_clanger
Recently my brother R gave me a bunch of model kits to practice on. He's into Games Workshop's Warhammer 40,000 gaming system (universally known as '40K') which if you're not familiar with it can be summed up by its tagline IN THE GRIM DARKNESS OF THE FUTURE THERE IS ONLY WAR. From their fearsome redoubt outside Nottingham - you get a good view of it on the train - GW flog a vast ecosystem of miniatures, models, rulebooks and accessories, all defended by intellectual property lawyers only marginally less terrifying than 40K's legendary Space Marines (very definitely TM).

One of the kits was a Predator tank. I should note that armoured fighting vehicle design in 40K is low on pragmatic realism and rather higher on GUNS and RIVETS and MORE GUNS, preferably painted in rather spectacular livery. R actually has a relatively subdued scheme for his models of black with yellow highlights so I've gone with that, but I decided that this would be a chance to practice weathering techniques (i.e. making your model look dirty - see this post) so this would definitely be a tank that had quite literally been in the wars.

Read more... )

Hummer in the Snow

May. 19th, 2017 08:04 am
threeringedmoon: (CheesyWebcamPix)
[personal profile] threeringedmoon

During the spring snowstorms yesterday, the hummingbirds seemed particularly appreciative of our feeders.

Mirrored from Five Acres with a View.

In Memoriam

May. 18th, 2017 01:01 pm
onyxlynx: Some trees and a fountain at a cemetery (A Fine and Private Place)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
  • Chris Cornell, musician (Soundgarden)
  • Powers Boothe, actor
  • Lloyd Cotsen, collector and business executive (for Neutrogena, the stuff I've been using since 1975 and at one point owned three shares of their stock)

may snowstorm

May. 18th, 2017 11:36 am
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
This is my pumpkin patch today:Read more... )
I have to drive up into the foothills to feed the horses now. My old man is in California, learning to surf. Wish me luck!

wednesday reading

May. 17th, 2017 11:30 pm
boxofdelights: (Default)
[personal profile] boxofdelights
• What are you reading?

Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson, for economics in SF panel. I've written to my other panelist a couple times, but he doesn't answer. I hope we manage to pull this off.

• What did you recently finish reading?

Shadowshaper, by Daniel Jose Older. Vivid depiction of New York City, of music, dancing, painting, and the ways people talk. Interesting magic. The plot has the flaws of its genre: you are in mortal danger, your city is in danger, you have powers you don't understand that could protect yourself and your world, other people know things you don't and no one will explain anything! Fortunately, a song you have always known holds the key to the secret, and you manage to figure it out just in time.

• What do you think you’ll read next?

The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan, for library book group. I did decide to skip the book group for Laura Pritchett's The Blue Hour.

Dept. of Music and Joy

May. 17th, 2017 08:46 pm
kaffyr: (Sen Waits)
[personal profile] kaffyr
 July in May

The last couple of days in Chicago have been in the mid-80sF, although tomorrow is supposed to be only in the 70s.  I didn't mind it; I was able to drive to an assignment, and to a doctor's appointment, with the windows down today. (Yesterday was warm enough that I had to put the car's AC on - and I have to get the AC refrigerant topped off, probably when I'm on vacation week after next, because it wasn't very cool.)

I spent four hours yesterday being trained on the new editorial program the Trib is using. Our trainer said we'll have to get trained on yet another system later this summer; apparently they had to go to this interim system first, but it's a lot of training for very little return. 

The newspaper company I used to work for, the Chicago Sun-Times, is about to be swallowed up by the newspaper company it sold my chain to back in 2014. I have very conflicted feelings about that, none of them good, but they're complex enough that I'm not going to go into them now. Maybe later. 

Another thing I may want to go into at another time: how impressed I've been with the second season of Attack on Titan. 

But for now, have this Bob Mould song. It's gorgeous. 

Ham radio news!

May. 16th, 2017 08:20 am
filkerdave: (invention)
[personal profile] filkerdave

Back when I first got back into radio, one of the first things I did was apply for and get my original callsign as a vanity call. I liked it. It was easy to send in Morse code (which is becoming my primary operating mode).

When callsigns in the US are issued, they're in a 2x3 format -- 2 letters, a number, 3 letters. There are some limitations as to what those letters and numbers can be because certain prefixes are assigned to different countries. When you get a higher class of license, you can choose a shorter call. The most common here in the US are 1x3 and 2x2 calls. There's a limited number of callsigns available for the highest class of license that are 1x2 and 2x1 format. For 1x2, the first letter must be K, N, or W. For the 2x1 callsigns, A is also an option as the first letter. These callsigns come available rarely since there are so few of them. All amateurs who apply on the day they're available are put into a pool and one is chosen at random.

And one year to the day after I passed my Amateur Extra test, I received a license grant for a 1x2 callsign!

I'm a little sad to let KA2ESK go. It was the callsign I was issued when I was first licensed and I was happy to get it back and it's served me well. But I'm really very happy to get K2FI as my new callsign. Not only is it shorter, it's GREAT for sending in Morse code, which is becoming my primary operating mode.

See you on the air!

TB in AL

May. 15th, 2017 10:04 pm
onyxlynx: The words "Onyx" and "Lynx" with x superimposed (Default)
[personal profile] onyxlynx
Alabama, particularly in the "Black Belt," is having a tuberculosis epidemic. And getting health care there is...challenging.


mishalak: A fantasy version of myself drawn by Sue Mason (Default)

January 2016

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