Free Baen ebooks

Share

Bradley noted in the comments for my On Balisik Station post that Baen has been making free ebooks of a bunch of their stuff available. Specifically, http://baencd.thefifthimperium.com/ seems to be the place to go.

It seems legitimate to me too. Awesome.

I still like dead tree, but this seems like a good excuse to give ebooks a try, especially for those books which are now quite hard to find, but that I want to read before I read the ones you can still get.

Share

On Basilisk Station

Share

I bought this book because it was cheap a while ago, and only just got around to reading it. Its a pretty standard science fiction story of one naval officer’s plight — incompetent seniors; inadequate equipment; and evil neighbors. The story revolves around a young naval officer named Honor Harrington, who the Internet tells me has her career based around that of Admiral Nelson. This book was an interesting enough story, and doesn’t collapse under the weight of cliche like some others do. It was entertaining and I will probably read the rest of the series.

[isbn: 1416509372]

Share

Roomba Battery Repack 1

Share

I bought two different versions of the Roomba battery repack kits from ebay and the first one arrived today. This is the nicer of the two versions, because it includes pre-soldered tabs on the battery wires. It cost me an extra dollar, and was about $26 including shipping. To be honest, if I’d found this one first I probably wouldn’t have bought the one without the tabs.

Here is the contents of the kit:

Note that there are no instructions in the kit.

The first step is to open up the battery case. The screws are pretty obvious, although the triangular screw driver than the kit ships with sure made this easier. Then you need to crack open the case, which for some reason is glued shut. That took a bit of patience, a jewelers screw driver, and in the end a hammer. I started out not wanting to bash the case too much, but it was glued pretty solidly. In the end it opened up just fine though:

Now you just need to put the new pack in, making sure to get the tabs in the right places. Screw the lid shut, and go for it. My roomba is charging at the moment, and I’ll let you know how it goes once that’s done.

(You might recall this means that I now have two fully functional roombas. I’m thinking of building the serial control cable, hooking up arduinos, and having some sort of swarming vacuum system. Its a pity I don’t know anything about swarming algorithms…)

Share

Thinking about IDL style descriptions of document formats

Share

I’ve been background processing about IDL style definitions of document formats for the last few days. Specifically, I’m interested in ways of expressing the structure of a document outside of code, and then having code generated to process the specified document. Sort of like lex and yacc, but more flexible and not language specific. This would mean that when you wanted to process a document in your chosen language, you wouldn’t have to deal with things like SWIG — you’d just generate the native code and go for it.

Obviously these ideas aren’t new. DCE RPC’s IDL language is like this, as is Google’s protobuffers. However, I want something more generic. Has anyone seen something like this?

Share

Without Warning

Share

LibraryThing, of which I am a member runs a program where members are shipped early copies of books for free, with the preference for them writing a review when they’re done reading the book. The books are shipped by the publisher directly to the reviewers. This isn’t that uncommon in the publishing industry — both of my books have experienced a similar process, although less formal. A pre-release version of this book was provided by this mechanism. The pre-release had some quite annoying typographical and grammar errors. I assume they are corrected in the final published version.

I am a little conflicted about this story. On the one hand, the author comes from my home town, as do about 0% of popular authors. You can see he’s Australian in the text — several of the main characters are Australian, Greg Norman gets a cameo, and Tasmania is a hiding place of preference for refugees. On the other hand, I found this book a slow read. The story is good, and the ideas very interesting. The story is good too, with most chapters ending with a hook to keep you going. On the other hand, I just couldn’t get into the story for some reason… It just seems like the situation keeps getting worse for the characters, and there is no hope for improvement. Perhaps that’s the problem — it turns out we’re screwed if the US disappears, and you could probably say that in a one page essay.

I really liked the ending of this book though, even though a lot of things which made me sad happened along the way. Like I said, I’m conflicted. In the end I guess it comes down to this — the book is well written, with a Clancy-like style without being a complete ripoff, and made me think about things I wouldn’t have otherwise thought about. The story is sad though.

[isbn: 0345502892]

Share

New Roomba batteries

Share

For some reason I am the Roomba battery kiss of death. I’ve been through two batteries in about three years. Last time I just bought a new Roomba on special instead of replacing the battery. Its hard to justify three Roombas in the house though, so this time I’m trying something different — I’ve bought replacement cells for the batteries from ebay, and will install them in the yellow shell myself. This sounds like its pretty easy to do, and there are several supplies who sell these cells.

I’ll let you know how I go.

Share

The Complete Hammer’s Slammers Volume 3

Share

This book consists of three paperbacks combined into one volume, and follows in from Volume 1 and Volume 2. I’ll cover each story separately:

  • The sharp end: this story is a little different from the other Hammer’s Slammers stuff. To be honest, its a bit less grim. Normally the stories are about how war is in the end just a bunch of guys trying to not die (for the grunts at least), whereas this story is a little bit more hopeful than that. Then again, there is still plenty of the negative side of war in this story.
  • Paying the piper: I’ve seen other people complain that this book is disjointed, which is a fair comment. Concepts are reintroduced several times, even though they’ve already been covered. I wonder if this was originally a set of short stories in a series? Its a good read however.
  • The darkness: a much shorter story, which is a lot more like the ones in Volume 1 and Volume 2.

[isbn: 9781892389800]

Share