Incorrect channel numbers in MythTV

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We’ve had a HDHomeRun for a while now, and I’m very happy with it. One wart however was that Catherine was complaining that tuning for Go! didn’t work (an extra Win TV channel we get in this area). It was odd — it appeared in the channel guide, but recordings would end up recording ABC1 instead, and we couldn’t tune to the channel in the live TV interface either.

I fired up the channel editor in mythtv-setup, and the problem was actually pretty easy to solve… The channel scan had assigned channel number 2 to Go!, which is the same channel number as ABC1. It had also gotten the channel number for Win TV wrong, but we hadn’t noticed that because that wasn’t overlapping with another channel. The channel numbers seem arbitrary, given the database is also storing frequency and demultiplexing information, so the fix was as simple as just giving the various WIN channels the correct numbers (or I suspect any number that was unique) in mythtv-setup.

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Bolo Brigade

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There seems to be a formula for bolo books — an obsolete bolo or two, and alien invader, a solitary bolo commander, and preferably a management chain which either doesn’t trust bolos, the officer, or preferably both. Its even better if the chain of command is also grossly incompetent. This book has all of those, and I am left feeling that it didn’t really add much to the overall bolo universe. Other books have explored some new aspect of the bolo psyche, or expanded on the history of the concordiat universe in some way, whereas this book didn’t feel like it did any of that.

However, this was an entertaining book, and is reasonably well written. It just wasn’t as ambitious as I’d hoped it would be.

[isbn: 067187781x]

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The Stars Must Wait

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This book is a novelization of “Night of the Trolls”, which I have already read as part of The Compleat Bolo and Battlefields Beyond Tomorrow. I’m pretty fond of the short story, and this book version didn’t start out strongly — there is a prelude to explain some background, and then the book launches into what feels like the exact text of the short story. You can tell it hasn’t been edited much, because there are minor continuity errors between this first chapter and the prelude. There are other continuity errors as well — the blurb on the back says that the main character goes into stasis in 2002, but his wife dies in 1992 which is meant to be after the main character goes into stasis, and the map that he uses once out of stasis is copyright 2011 (even though the main character claims to have bought it just before going into stasis). Note that these dates are different to those used in the short story. These errors are distracting although the underlying story is still a good one.

However, the good bits of the story are all contained in the short story. This feels like a poorly edited and heavily padded version of that short story, and I think we would have been better off without it. There is in fact a whole heap of seemingly pointless dialogue in the center of the book, where I think what we’re meant to be learning is that post-apocalyptic life isn’t much fun. I think we could have worked that out, and perhaps saved 50 or so pages. Worst of all, Laumer has changed the ending to a much less satisfying one.

I recommend just sticking with the short story.

[isbn: 0671698591]

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Days of Blood and Fire

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This is book seven of the extended Deverry series (preceeded by Daggerspell, Darkspell, Dawnspell, The Dragon Revenant, A Time of Exile, and A Time of Omens). The blurb on the back cover of this book implies that it should be safe for a new reader to enter the series here, and I can understand why publishers would want to do such a thing for such a long series. By contrast, Asimov’s Extended Foundation Series has many entry points, with most stories being free standing. I think Kerr did a reasonable job of introducing the characters without being overly annoying about it. I’ve seen reviews from others that say that there is a lot of annoying ground to recover, such as the Etheric travel sequences. I disagree however — these are just as long winded as in other books in the series, and we’re talking about a couple of paragraphs, not hundreds of pages.

The only part of this book which didn’t sit well with me was Rori picking up a girlfriend with basically now warning. Perhaps I’m dense, but I didn’t see it coming at all, and thought it was rather abrupt. I’m also not sure it did much to further the overall story. On the other had, Jadho is an interesting character, and I’d like to see him explored more.

This book ends mid plot line, so I guess they’re expecting me to read the next book soon. That would have been a lot more annoying if I was reading this book fresh off the presses and had to wait for Kerr to write the next one before I could read it.

[isbn: 0553290126]

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Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store

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Boing Boing put me onto this online short story. Its really very good, and it distracted me from the book I am meant to be reading by not only being clever, but also by using jargon in a manner that not only furthered the story, but (and here’s the rare bit) didn’t make me immediately cringe. The story is also chock full of quotable quotes, of which I will supply you with one:

I can’t stop squirming. If fidgets were Wikipedia edits, I would have completely revamped the entry on guilt by now, and translated it into six new languages.

An excellent short story of our modern times.

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Isaac Asimov’s Robot City: Robots and Aliens: Maverick

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Bruce did an ok job with this book, although I think overall he was suffering from not having a lot to work with. The book is quite readable, which isn’t true of some of the others, and has some nice details such as an attempt to sound technically feasible by the liberal sprinkling of unix jargon through the book. I’m not sure if the unix jargon is successful however. Its interesting that this is also the first of these books to not have an introduction from Asimov himself.

[isbn: 0441731317]

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Dragondrums

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This is the third book in the Harper Hall trilogy (after Dragonsong and Dragonsinger). I didn’t enjoy it as much as the other two. This book focuses on Piemur instead of Mellony, and the first half is about his pubescent turmoil, which is probably why I didn’t enjoy this book as much. I had similar objections to The White Dragon, which is a very similar book to this one. However, the second half of the book is pretty good, and overall I thought it was a useful contribution to the overall story line of the series.

[isbn: 0553258559]

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Dragonsinger

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This book is interesting because its 200 or so pages only cover a seven day period. Its a coming of age story that continues directly on from Dragonsong, and overlaps somewhat with The White Dragon (if only peripherally). This book has parallels with Pawn of Prophecy in my mind, mostly because they’re both about young children being taken under someone’s wing and given the time they need to develop their talents.

I liked this book, which gives me hope for the rest of the series.

[isbn: 0553258540]

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Dragonsong

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Dragonsong sits between Dragonquest and The White Dragon, although there is some overlap with The White Dragon and it doesn’t matter what order you read those two in.

Some friends and I were joking the other day that all McCaffrey books seem to involve a pained teenager coming to age. That’s true with this book, although the story isn’t as drawn out as The White Dragon, and I didn’t find it quite as annoying to read. I think that’s because McCaffrey didn’t dwell on how terrible it was to be a teenager as much in this one.

I really enjoyed this one, and thought it was better than The White Dragon, and on par with Dragonflight, although I do feel that The White Dragon opens up more interesting possibilities for the universe than this book did.

[isbn: 0553258524]

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