Movies watched so far on my new Samsung 40D8000 TV:
The Dark Knight
Close Encounters of the Third Kind 30th aniversary Blue Ray
The Fellowship of the Ring (Extended Edition from the new 15-disk Blue Ray set)
Tron: Legacy (3D)
Also watched some episodes of Game of Thrones
First time I saw Inception btw, and it was a bit of a letdown to be honest.
I felt they could have done a lot more with the concept. the coolest stuff they did with only in that little introductory session with the girl, but they actually didn’t use any of that in the actual mission. They could have done far more with warped physics, esher-type perspective mindfucks and more psychological traps. Instead we got a Call-of-Duty-esque snow-commando scene that could have come out of any random James Bond movie. Could have been so much better.
Sanctum was pretty damn good for a low-budget movie (ok so James Cameron produced). Excellent use of 3D effects in a very confined space. A bit melodramatic and predictable, but entertaining.
Tron 3D was cool as usual, but the use of 3D, or should I say lack thereof, was as striking and as disappointing as when I saw it in the cinema. I still cant believe what kind of missed opportunities there where there. The most obvious is when we get the birds-eye views of the structures on the grid, like the light-bike arena. Just no 3D effect at all. The best we got was a kind of foreground-background divide but not much else.
Its proving to be a challenge to set contrast and brightness correctly on the TV. Some of the more advanced calibration guides out there are so complex I hardly know where to start.
Today I received the first book of the collection I recently subscribed to: Easton Press’ “The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written”
The first book is “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.
It wasn’t until only recently that I started to appreciated both an aesthetic as well as an intellectual gap in my life. My mother owned a huge collection of leather-bound classic literature from the UK publisher Heron, who has since gone out of business. I never appreciated these book while growing up, preferring them instead as a convenient means of hiding candy wrappers behind to avoid being found out I was helping myself to more than allowed.
Through the writing of Christopher Hitchens, who I was clued onto by way of the “New Atheist” wave of books and who frequently likes to quote the classics, I started to realize that I had missed out on a rather important part education. It was in his autobiography, where he frequently relates how his love of literature was fostered by his educators at Eaton, that I started to realize that a knowledge of the classics, who through their influence have left an indelible stamp on our culture, should be part and parcel of the repertoire of the educated mind. I resolved myself to address this problem, in style of course.
Those of you who have followed my Flickr photo stream know quite well that I have always liked to photograph the books I own. I was quite proud to have such a great collection of Microsoft Press books on my shelf. Even though I probably never got round to reading more than half of their content, a truth that is slightly embarrassing to me. The monetary expense of keeping this habit was really of little concern. It was the look and impression it gave that really did it for me.
So when I started to look into options concerning my future collection of classic literature, going the way of eBooks was almost immediately off the table. It would simply defeat the point. I wanted a collection similar to what my mother had. Something that you would only ever had to buy once, an investment, and could be proud to display and eventually pass on. I had already indulged in this line of thought when I purchased my Tolkien books.
As it turns out, very few publishers do collections like the kind Heron did. The ornate and luxury leather bindings, the India paper, etc. In the UK, several companies dealt in second-hand Heron collections, and then there where certain titles from Oxford University Press, and then there is of course the famous Folio Society. But I quite stumbled upon forum threads that described subscriptions one could apply to, and receive a new book every month, randomly, from a number of pre-selected sets. That idea instantly exited me. Anticipation every month, not knowing what you will get, and setting yourself in a forced one-month timetable to get the book read before the next one arrived. It was perfect.
A number of publisher do subscriptions like this, but only the US-based Easton press did a collection of high-quality leather-bound books, that could also be purchased in this subscription model. I could find no other publisher that did this. Granted, I would have preferred a UK publisher, more from a cost perspective than anything else. But so few seem to be in the business of ornately bound classic literature.
So today I received Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. This is the first of the collection, the specially priced introductory volume, after which the first few books are known. The next book will be Treasure Island, but after about the third book, it becomes random.
I am very pleased. The quality is as advertised. Its so well and firmly found, that I will almost be afraid reading it. This is not the sort of book to casually read, certainly not in bed. The act of reading properly, especially something of this caliber, should be something one invests real time in, applies ones self fully to. I intend to. This collection will not lie un-read on my shelf. In fact I will refuse to retire the book there until it has in fact been read.
Finally, I will share with you the introductory letter I received with the book.
Dear Valued Customer:
I am proud to present you with a work of genius. This single immortal edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is just the beginning of an exquisite library that will benefit your family for generations.
Before you join Huck and Jim on their journey down the Mississippi, I would like to welcome you to The 100 Greatest Books Ever Written and point out some of the deluxe features of the beautiful volume you hold in your hands.
Your edition of Huckleberry Finn features superb materials and craftsmanship. The premium-quality, genuine leather is dyed with a lustrous brown finish, then carefully drawn over raised spine hubs in the finest tradition of bookbinding.
The elegant spine design is stamped in precious 22kt gold. The cover features a deeply impressed, beautiful illustration. Gilded page edges, polished mirror-smooth, add a distinctive touch, and they protect your investment from humidity and dust.
It’s safe to judge this book by its cover because the luxury and quality continue inside…
Inside the covers are shimmering moire endleaves, dyed a deep gold. Endleaves of this quality are prized by lovers of fine books — not only for their elegant appearance and feel, but for the strength and stability they add to the binding. For your convenience, a beautiful and practical satin-ribbon page marker is dyed to match.
Distinguished artist Thomas Hart Benton made eighty-seven illustrations for this edition of Huckleberry Finn, heightening the enjoyment of reading this all-time classic. For each of them he made an entire drawing in brown wash, and then covered it with a black outline. In Thomas Hart Benton’s NOTE BY THE ILLUSTRATOR included in this edition he writes, "This whole project has been a big, slambang emotional indulgence for me." Opposite the title page is a powerful frontispiece portrait of Mark Twain, painted in watercolors by Hodges Soileau.
To add depth and insight to your reading, a revealing introduction was written especially for this edition by renowned scholar-historian, Pulitzer-Prize winner and all around professional writer Bernard DeVoto. In it he states, "No American book has more America in it, or more delight. Like all great works of art it is unique." As the editor he also made sure that this would be the most accurate text of the novel ever published.
As you turn to the first sentence, you will note the strong, clean, open typeface. The paper was specially milled for this edition, using acid-neutral stock of archival quality, a key element for permanence and durability. And each page has been securely sewn in place for added strength, not glued like ordinary hardcover editions.
The finished result: A luxurious edition fit for Mark Twain’s masterpiece.
From its charming beginning to its heartwarming conclusion, Huckleberry Finn takes you on an unforgettable coming-of-age journey that is at once comedic and deeply profound. Ernest Hemingway said, "All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn."
We at Easton Press hope and believe you will enjoy the finest edition of Huckleberry Finn ever published. Your next volume, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island, is carefully being completed and will be shipped to you shortly.
For Easton Press,
The next few weeks I will be in study mode.
Next week a 5 day classroom course for VMware vSphere 4.1: Install, Configure & Manage
The week after that its 3 days VMware vSphere 4: Manage for Performance
Then some exam training and on the 25th the VCP4 exam. I am exited and nervous, as I have not studies for an exam or cert for a long time. But I am also confident as I understand a lot of the material already.
In preparation for this I have been gathering some white papers, been reading up on some things and have also been looking for a good book also. I was in the tram today paging through the Kindle app for the Android, and it struck me that the Amazon sphere would be the right place to consume this kind of stuff. I have the Kindle app on my Ipad, my Phone and on 2 PC’s (I don’t yet own an actual Kindle) and the fact that I can pick up wherever I left off, wherever I am and when I have some time spare, appealed to me.
It’s a relief that I can actually find a good use for all these kindle outputs because I was stuck in the dilemma between the physical and the virtual. I will soon be receiving my first leather bound book from Easton Press, but for a while I felt torn between the superior convenience of ebooks, and the wish to have a proper physical book collection. But I realize now I can split the difference; educational books work a lot better as ebooks. So I can find good an honest use for both the old and new at the same time. This is greatly fulfilling to me somehow. I now even have a reason to get a Kindle.. perhaps.
Still in the tram I bought Scott Lowe’s Mastering VSphere 4, Kindle edition, and directed Amazon to send it to all my devices. By the time I got home, it was already downloaded onto my Ipad.
I used to collect a large amount of the MSPress books, but was saddened when I realized that most of them would become obsolete. Getting the ebook versions of these kinds of books might not necessarily be that much cheaper (mastering VSphere 4 set me back $41), but at least its not a waste of paper!
For a long time I justified buying these books by saying that I would rather read from my hand that from the screen, and this is actually true. But The Ipad and Kindle are convenient enough (and even my Android phone is, to be honest), that I cant justify wasting the trees on this kind of book anymore.
I was also thrilled to discover that some of the old Battletech novels are being re-released as Kindle versions. It was impossible to get your hands on, for example, the Blood of Kerensky trilogy in paperback form, it has been out of print for so long. I read most of the novels until Darkage started, but I never got my hands on some of the oldest titles. I hope they bring them all back! What a rich universe to re-discover!
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I found it initially hard to get into this book. The opening chapters felt a little too much like a direct rip from the last few chapters of Orwell’s 1985, and are not the most pleasant things to read. In a way of course, this is a good thing. The treatment of Marcus and the behavior of both his school and DHS genuinely angered me, and set me up emotionally to want to see Marcus succeed in his revenge.
And after Marcus actually starts to get into his plan, sets up xnet, things start to gather pace, and from that moment om the book was impossible to put down.
The book goes into quite a bit of technical exposition explaining various concepts to the reader in almost a “fourth-wall” break with the reader. I understand why these need to be in there, and they where not too in-depth to confuse, but they do take you out of the action sometimes, and interrupt the flow here and there.
I felt a little here and there that Cory (the Author) would think of a cool plot device to use, but then realize that he had not built up the foundational backstory to support that plot point. he would then insert it right there and then, as a flashback or as a bit of outside exposition. The best example of this is the sudden retelling of the history of the vampire LARPing, and the bizarre inclusion of Charles, to set him up as some kind of comic-relief villain. I felt this didn’t work well at all, and while I our initial introduction to Charles sets up the character in a interesting way, he feels a little bit too stereotypical. Almost like a character from Happy Potter.
In fact I feel that way about a lot of the characters. Marcus’ father, his school authority figures, the sub-teacher, Charles, and the entire DHS cast seem a little too one-dimensional to be totally believable. The Marsha character especially so, who, again, seems to have been included only to enable the escape arc. Only Marcus and Ange come across as plausible people, while other potentially very interesting characters like Van, Daryll, Zeb and Marcus’ mother remain chronically underexposed. A lot more could have been done there, I was especially disappointed with how little attention to Van was given, especially in the prologue.
As for the storyline itself, the lockdown that DHS (why always only DHS) manages to impose on the City seem rather extreme and unbelievable in places. Almost a little too simplistic and certainly too fast considering the timeline. (A space of a year). The story almost makes you think that people critical of the governments invasion of the private sphere, and the excessive security measures no longer exist. The ACLU for example, doesn’t make an appearance till the very end of the book, and while other protests are mentioned in passing, it is hard to believe that all these rapid and extreme changes could be implemented in such a short space of time without a massive social upheaval. Also the effects of the terrorist attack itself seem to take a serious backseat. of course the book is not about the terrorist attack itself, but one need only look at the immediate social after-effects of 9/11 to get an impression of the societal trauma that takes place after such an event. A felt this was somewhat missing from the story, and going into that a bit more, might have gone a bit towards making, for example, Marcus’ father a somewhat more believable character.
The tie-in to the 1960’s counter-culture and civil-rights movement,was obvious and necessary to give us context. And maybe I have the wrong impression of the US population, especially the Californian baby-boomer generation, but would this not be the exactly worst kind of population group to impose such as harsh lock-down on? You would think that of all states, and of all counties, it would be exactly this one who would still have the principles of 1968 firmly locked in memory. What I am saying is, I find it difficult to believe that the inhabitants of San Francisco would take all this lying down, as the book suggest. It would surely not only be the rebellious teenagers on the xnet who where organizing revolt in such a case.
But on the whole, the story itself appealed very much to me. As a sysadmin all the concept where familiar to me, and it was great to see some of the fundamental ideals and ideas of the “darknet” being given a good run through. After Marcus breaks the story to the press, you know exactly how it will all end, but that doesn’t make it any less rewarding to see him vindicated.
What appeals to be most about this book is that I was emotionally very engaged with it. I directly shared Marcus’ anger and despair at was going on, the same way I get angry when I read about copyright legislation, and what the TSA forces on people at US airports. Many of the sentiments expressed in the book are also my own, including my disdain for the attitude that many people have of just sticking their head in the sand over these issues, and the authority figures who revel in the power these laws and rules give them. All of this is unsurprising considering the author, who I admire and follow even outside his novel-writing.
Despite some of its flaws, this is going on the list as one of my favorite books.
<.. Moved .. >
Moved to a slightly more private blog.
Only a certain list of friends on Facebook/Google Buzz have access and will see a link to it appear.
No, I have not played C&C4 yet, though I will soon.
And no, this is not a post analysing in detail the gameplay, estetics, production quality, storyline, etc of the various C&C incarnations and how they have gone to shit since EA toolk over Westwood and then abolished it.
Instead, I am going to simply demonstrate something that very nearly and very completely encapsulates the difference between C&C during Westwood en C&C during EA.
The Installation of the game.
See here first of all, the DOS installer for C&C1
Then see here the DOS installer for Red Alert 1
Now lets look at what we get with C&C3 installer:
Its not even in English, i dont even get to choose the language.
EA, FUCK. YOU.
Below is my response to the last episode of the metatalks podcast, hosted by my friends Alachia en Jeppy.
You should listed to the episode first if you want to understand the context of my comment below.
Listened to the episode this afternoon while cleaning. Funnily enough just this morning I read this: http://techcrunch.com/2010/03/28/reputation-is-dead-its-time-to-overlook-our-indiscretions/ which deals rather nicely with exactly the same topic.
What Alachia didn’t mention in podcast but knows is that I in fact maintain 3 blogs now that deal with the different aspects of me. The last one being very important that it not intermingle with my other identity, whereas the first 2 I have no issue with them kinda cross-connecting in some ways. So my first 2 blogs, the tech blog (thefluffyadmin.net), and the me/geek blog (jemimus.net), are designed with the potential audience in mind, so that “audience”, doesn’t have to be bored to tears with the other part. Its a basic secmentation of my 2 major interest spheres.
The third blog is rather more secret and disconnected in every way I can think of, and also is built around a completely fictional identity. And that blog is not really for an audience (though in the beginning I thought it could be), but more as a sounding board for my own thoughts on that particular side of me. Its far more personal than my “me/geek” blog at jemimus.net could ever be. Which I feel is a little unfortunate, because there is a middle ground that I would like to cover between those 2 blogs that I can’t currently.
For example, my parents will read jemimus.net because its connected to Twitter, and Twitter appears in their MSN. But I don’t really want to go into my darker emotional states on there, because of those 2 people, along with some others like potential collegues. While I am sure most of my other friends really wouldn’t mind at all if I shared some more of the emotional stuff there. Feeling the need to express myself there in that way, I have even considered disconnecting my parents MSN from my Twitter feed, or otherwise not connecting my blog posts to Twitter. Sure its still all public, and they can just google my site if they wanted to, but I know most of them wouldn’t, its just on the margins of their internet periphery.
Maybe a 4th blog is in order? lol. I go back to what Alachia and I discussed on Wowcast once, where I mentioned that what you really want is 1 single identity platform, so you can far more closely control who gets to see what exactly. Some posts visible only to annonymous, others other visible to “Friends list 1”, where that list would consist of verifiable identities coming from either a locally registered account, or remote identity silo’s like Facebook, Google and Twitter. This can be done right now, but I have yet to see the right implementation of this in, say, a WordPress plugin.