A Time of Omens

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This is the sixth book in the not-very-finished Deverry celtic fantasy series. This one is pretty good, especially because it has several subplots, which makes it feel more like a few shorter books in one volume. That means you don’t lose your place in a 400 page story line as you go along. I’m a fan of the intermingled plot lines style (Tom Clancy does it quite well too), and it works well in this book. This book follows a subset of the usual characters, although some of the older ones have moved on, so to speak.

[isbn: 0553290118;0586211969]

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Taking over a launch pad project

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A while ago Thomas Mashos registered a launch pad project for MythNetTV (here for those that care). Launch pad annoys me quite a bit, although thats probably because I’m failing to understand how to use it in some way. So, perhaps people have guidance for me. Some questions:

  • How do I take over ownership of the project?
  • How do I mark bugs as resolved / fixed / finalized? They just seem to hang around in “fix committed”.
  • How do I delete a blueprint that someone submitted that isn’t going to get implemented?
  • Given I wrote all the code, and fixed all the bugs, how come someone who writes a two paragraph blueprint that is never going to get implemented gets more Karma than me? Not that I think the Karma system really matters, but it does seem ridiculous.
  • How do I tell launchpad the code is stored in an external SVN repository?

Here’s hoping someone can make launch pad less annoying for me.

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Galactic Dreams

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This is a relatively short collection of Harry Harrison short stories. They are:

  • I always do what Teddy says: what happens when we abdicate teaching our youngsters moral values to machine, and then don’t test that the machine is working correctly? A short story about unit testing?
  • Space rats of the CCC: this story is just silly. Its a little bit like Bill the Galactic Hero in style, but also a little bit annoying. It didn’t really work for me.
  • Down to earth: I’m sure I’ve read this basic plot line about a billion times, for example Hawk Among the Sparrows being just one example. This one didn’t even have a good twist at the end.
  • A criminal act: Harrison feels strongly about population grow (see also Make Room, Make Room!). Its pretty obvious in this story, although its not as preachy as Make Room, Make Room.
  • Famous first words: I actually really liked this one.
  • The Pad – a story of the day after the day after tomorrow: seducing women is hard work for billionaires, apparently.
  • If: a pretty standard “don’t alter the time lines” tale, with a small if predictable twist.
  • Mute Milton: what important discoveries have been lost through the ages through racism or accident?
  • Simulated trainer: this is an interesting story — I quite like the concept, and the execution is more believable than most Harrison stories.
  • At last, the true story of Frankenstein: this is a good story too, with a nice twist at the end.
  • The robot who wanted to know: a pretty classic robot story, which could just as easily fit in an Asimov collection as a Harrison collection. I’m quite partial to robot stories, and I enjoyed it.
  • Bill the Galactic Hero’s happy holiday: I’ve previous complained about the overall style of the Bill the Galactic Hero series. I think it works better as a short story than a novel, because the level of annoyance it develops in the reader is smaller. This was actually better than the novel length Bill stories that I’ve read so far.

Overall, a solid collection, but not startlingly good.

[isbn: 0812550587]

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Deathworld Three

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I thought this one didn’t sound as good as the others, but I was wrong. Its quite different from the other two in its setting, but its still the same romping Harrison style that I like. A little bit unlikely, quite sweeping in scope, and interesting. I liked it.

[isbn: 0722144180;B000OFKKP6]

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Dragonquest

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This is the sequel to Dragonflight. To be honest, I think Dragonflight is a better book, although this one is by no means bad. I suspect part of my problem with this book is that I found Kylara insanely annoying (which I was meant to). Every time her character popped up it made the book hard to read until she went away again. This is a good interesting book, and I’m looking forward to the later books in the series when you find out more about the settlement of Pern.

[isbn: 0345284259]
[award: nominee hugo 1972]

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Early Father’s day

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The kids aren’t going to be in the same country as me for US father’s day (I get two this year!), so they gave me my present early. I now have a complete set of UK police riot armor — the helmet, shield, and leg protectors. This has already come in handy whilst parenting hyperactive children. I wonder if its legal for me to own such things in Australia?

Digging a bit further, it appears:

  • Possessing soft body armor (for example ballistic Kevlar) is illegal in the ACT except for those employed by licensed security organizations — PROHIBITED WEAPONS REGULATION 1997, section 12.
  • In fact, the Commonwealth customs regulations mostly seem concerned with the possession or import of armor intended to stop bullets — CUSTOMS (PROHIBITED IMPORTS) AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2005 (NO. 4) (SLI NO 249 OF 2005)

    I can’t see any mention of riot armor (which wouldn’t stop a bullet) though, nor a reference to militaria, apart from militaria fairs needing a permit. I wonder if anyone else has thoughts on this?

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  • CCD Barcode Scanner

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    I just picked up a CCD barcode scanner cheaply on eBay. The plan is to use it to bulk enter a bunch of books into my book database. Many US books don’t have bookland barcodes, but instead have something which looks like this:

    So, the barcode has no problems with the big barcode on the left, however it doesn’t recognize the little barcode on the right. So, does anyone know what format that little barcode is in? What mode do I need to put my barcode scanner into to get both barcodes read, either at the same time or individually?

    Update: once again the Intern has earn his Intern-chow (or whatever it is he eats when he’s allowed out of his cage). The deal was I needed to scan the magic “make all possible barcode types work kthxbye” barcode in the book of exactly 1 billion configuration barcodes. It all works well now. I wont mention the Intern’s name, because I want to hire him and need more security through obscurity in my life.

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    LinkedIn and Facebook

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    I just went through and dealt with my huge (some from 2006!) backlog of LinkedIn and Facebook invites. I’m terrible with names, so if I mis-rejected someone I apologize. I’m also trying to keep FB and LinkedIn separate — LinkedIn is for people I know professionally, and Facebook is for people I don’t mind telling about my hat collection.

    I am sure you found this post enthralling. That is all.

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    Dragonflight

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    This is the first book in the Dragons of Pern series, which I read a small part of as a child. Given that they’re still being written, its not surprising that I’m pretty out of date on this series. This book is excellent for a few reasons — the idea is unique and well implemented; its an amazing mix of fantasy with science fiction style justifications for the way things are; and its well written. The underlying premise is that a planet named Pern as a nearly neighbor on an eccentric orbit. When that neighbor comes near to Pern, spores from the other planet try to land on Pern. These spores breed by eating organic life, so they need to be neutralized or life on Pern will cease. There are however a few patches I had to re-read to make full sense of. I really liked this book.

    [isbn: 0345335465]
    [award: winner nebula 1968; nominee nebula 1967]

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    Deathworld Two

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    This book is possibly better than Deathworld One, although I find Mikah’s character intensely annoying. That’s probably ok though, because he’s meant to be annoying. Oh $DEITY is he successful. This was another good fun light read, the kind of Harrison I enjoy.

    [isbn: 0722144849;B000OFKKP6]

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