Reading Wednesday

2017-09-20 22:35
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
[personal profile] rmc28
What I've read: short fiction
Actually read this week:Some of the backlog (all DSF):

What I've read: long fiction

Banishment by M.C. Beaton, which is the first of six apparently-fluffy Regency romances about six beautiful sisters and a malevolent stately home, recommended as a Yuletide fandom (thanks [personal profile] ceb for the pointer!)  This one was indeed the promised fast, lighthearted read, in which the family lose their beautiful stately home and much of their wealth, and (some of them) begin to learn Important Lessons About Not Being Awful To Other People.  And the first of the beautiful daughters finds true love, etc.  The remaining five in the series are now on their way so I can find out just how malevolent the house gets ...

Bike light design

2017-09-20 20:12
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
For a while I had the impression my back bike light remembered whether it was on or not when you removed and replaced the battery. And I wondered how that worked. A push-button that moved a physical toggle between three positions seemed implausible. But so did some tiny bit of persistent memory. My best guess is that there was a capacitor which held charge for a short time.

Now, I think I was completely wrong. I think that when you put the battery in, it *always* comes on. I just assumed that it would usually be off and didn't actually check that was true. So I got the impression it was lit *sometimes* on battery-connect, and connected that to the state it had before the battery was removed.

Wow, it's really easy to manufacture evidence for something even when you think you're avoiding that.

Presumably the "power on lit" is so that loose connections don't turn it off. OTOH, that would mean if it has a loose connection when it's being carried about, it might come on and drain the battery. Or maybe no-one thought about it and this just happened to be the case. Or maybe there's a regulation? I don't know.

Book stoats

2017-09-20 18:37
hilarita: trefoil carving (Default)
[personal profile] hilarita
Apparently, when on holiday with less internet, I read books.

Raven Stratagem, Yoon Ha Lee (2017)
The second in the series. Once again, really, really horrific things are happening (mostly off-screen). Our main character from the first novel isn't our POV - we see them through others' eyes. It does quite a good job of misdirecting us, doing some very interesting plotting and politics and stuff. I don't think it's quite as good as its predecessor, but it's a pretty damn good book

All Systems Red, Martha Wells (2017. Novella)
Our protagonist is called "Murderbot"! It's great. Main story of conspiracies, survival, with a side order of AIs, augmented humans and personhood. Murderbot is a fantastic character to get to know.

The Last Good Man, Linda Nagata (2017)
Near-future thriller, looking at the way robots and drones are taking over military operations. Also, usual military morality stuff (when is shooting the shit out of things and/or people justified? what should you do when your people are captured by The Enemy (TM)). It's a pretty good example of the genre, if you like that kind of thing (which I do).

The Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden (2017)
Set in South Africa. Proper SFF (with robots, AIs, and demigods coming to fuck your shit up). Comes with a mild caution that I can't comment on how sensitively the relevant cultural stuff with the demigods was handled - the (non-South African) author mentions sensitivity readers, so I'm going to guess it's not terrible :) . I found it very striking, quite gory, and I do look forward to seeing other stuff by them, though possibly not just before bedtime.

Undertow, Elizabeth Bear (2017)
I think this was probably the best of the things I read while away (the charms of the Murderbot not aside). It contains aliens, big business, exploitation, probability, and some fantastic world-building. Complex, full of compelling detail, and I don't want to spoil the plot, because bits of it are really interesting.

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter, Theodora Goss (2017)
This is quite a good novel of the "let's stick Sherlock Holmes into anything set in the late 19th century" genre. It also draws on the early SF novels of that century, with the first character we meet being Dr Jekyll's daughter. It's generally fun, aware of its genre, but - pedants beware - there are 21st-century colloquialisms in the asides in the writing and Americanisms in the speech of 19th century Londoners. Including Sherlock Holmes. This means I can't wholeheartedly recommend it, because it's just Wrong.

I'm also very nearly through a re-read of Ann Leckie's Ancillary series (what would Fleet Captain Breq do?), and am looking forward to Leckie's new novel later this year.

Books

2017-09-20 16:16
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
[personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait
I read a book today which I really liked, but I can't find online. It's called The Princess And The Broken Heart revised by Smaul the Troll. It's almost a Sleeping Beauty retelling and almost a Snow White retelling. I love that genre and this one has another trait that I love - it doesn't assume anyone is irredeemable. Consider this statement about the evil stepmother queen 'Now, Leonora was not born cruel, and she had never been mean, but she had taken up a terrible way of thinking that consumed her like a fire'. The copy I picked up feels like it has a bit missing, because it talks about puzzles that the reader solved, and there weren't any that I noticed, but apart from that, it's a lovely story about love and change.

But autumn is upon us and I am feeling better enough that I've caught up to my Goodreads challenge of the year (which is just the same as last year rounded up, and I was a couple of books behind, having got loads ahead in the spring).

I also noticed that two years ago, I read a lot of dross that I picked up in the library, and last year I read mostly recommendations and it went a lot better, and this year I've read almost entirely recommendations and presents, and have enjoyed a lot more. I think I've been too busy reading random stuff that wasn't very enjoyable to listen to you lot.

So, here's my question - what's a book that 'everyone's read' that you would recommend? Imagine I've been living under a rock for the last ten years.

My contribution is 'The Bray House' by Eilís Ní Dhuibhne . It's Irish post apocalyptic fiction, and it's super popular in Ireland, the sort of book you find in guesthouses &c throughout the land. It's also brilliant.

US politics

2017-09-20 09:33
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
[personal profile] cesy
Hope not Hate is coming to the US, to counter the rise of international hate groups. American friends, you can sign up here.

What phone?

2017-09-20 01:44
xela: Photo of me (Default)
[personal profile] xela

Short Form

Six months ago, I was all set to replace my iPhone with a OnePlus 3T as soon as my iPhone's deterioration demanded. Then they announced the OnePlus 5. And I started seeing the first negative reviews of a new OnePlus phone I'd ever read. But they were still shipping the 3T, so I wasn't worried.

But now my iPhone's deterioration really is starting to demand that I replace it. And I appear to have been deceived about the OnePlus 3T still being available.

So I have a couple of questions for folks with Android clue.


Long Form

As I mentioned last week, my iPhone is on it's last legs and I've decided to switch to Android. I also decided, early in my current ride on the carrier-subsidized-phone-with-two-year-contract funhouse-ride, that the next time I bought a phone I was going to actually buy a phone. I've long thought that would be preferable in principle, and about when I was gritting my teeth and signing the contract my current iPhone came with, I started hearing buzz about OnePlus.

My memory (not confirmed by reading the Wikipedia article, FWIW) is that part of that buzz was about their US business plan being to sell directly to the consumer, forcing US carriers to get serious about supporting BYOD customers. Misunderstanding or not, it predisposed me to pay attention to OnePlus and to reviews of their phones, while none of the other Android phone manufacturers have garnered much attention from me.

And those reviews — as I remember them, at least — were consistently impressive. When my iPhone started giving me trouble earlier this year, the OnePlus 3T had just come out a few months earlier. And people were falling all over themselves to talk about how good it was. So it went to the top of my list of phones to look at when I could no longer nurse my iPhone along. An otherwise empty list.

Then in July they released the OnePlus 5. And the reviews were not entirely stellar. Certainly not the hosannas the 3T had garnered on its release. But I wasn't too concerned: given things like the Midnight Black Limited Edition page, with its conspicuous "Buy Now" button in the center of the page, it seemed clear that OnePlus was planning to continue shipping the 3T alongside the 5 at least into autumn.

I don't generally go for the leading edge unless I see a potential upside that well over-balances the potential downside. And for smartphones, I haven't seen that in 15 years — not since the Sony-Ericsson P800 was leading-edge. To my way of thinking, the OnePlus 3T is just about exactly in the trailing-edge sweet spot. And that limited edition Midnight Black: the cherry on top! So for the past six or eight weeks I thought I had a solid plan for when it came time to punt my iPhone.

But now that day's arrived. And it turns out that actually clicking that "Buy Now" button takes me to a page that — disappointment #1 — lists only the other two other colors. And — disappointment #2 — says, next to each,

Out of stock

And going back to that Limited Edition page and looking more closely, I find near the bottom:

Sold out
This limited edition release is no longer available in your region.
Disappointment #3.


Questions

  • Am I grossly over-reacting to the bad press the OnePlus 5 has gotten? (I'm certainly over-reacting. The emphasis here is on grossly.) Should I just buy a OnePlus 5 and stop gnashing my teeth?
  • Are there other Android phones readily available new, unlocked, and with full warranties, that are comparable to recent OnePlus models? Comparably priced? If so, which? Would you recommend any of them?
  • While no longer available directly from OnePlus, the 3T is still available from third parties. Some ostensibly new-in-box. None, that I've found, with any sort of warranty. At prices not much different, and sometimes more, than OnePlus' retail prices when they were available. Run screaming? Approach with caution? Does anyone know of a reliable vendor, perhaps in the tradition of small Japanese companies that help Americans get Japan-only products without having to personally fly to Japan?

Thank you!

Lunches

2017-09-19 23:02
ghoti_mhic_uait: (Default)
[personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait
On Wednesdays we are out all day, so I make packed lunches. Except tomorrow, because this evening I put a bunch of stuff on the table (including a roast chicken and a bowl of boiled eggs) and the children made their own.

Judith has chicken, carrot sticks, dried mango, rice cakes, crisps, mini cinnamon rolls and jelly. Andreas has eggs, carrot sticks, dried mango, bread (plain), fruit winder, crisps and jelly. It'll do. (I've got sushi rice, eggs, chicken, mixed chopped veg and hummous, some mixed dried fruit and jelly.) We'll all drink water.


In other news we watched Toast, the autobiography of Nigel Slater, yesterday. It actually just covers the first half of the book, his childhood, and I was touched by how sympathetically it portrayed even the people he didn't really like, I'd recommend it whether or not you read the book.
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
[personal profile] brainwane
I posted on my other blog about supporting a new New York City Council bill that would require city agencies to publish source code used to make decisions.

On MetaFilter, I posted about a transparency case pending before a California appeals court; the EFF and ACLU have submitted amicus curiae briefs saying (to simplify) that the right to due process includes the right to inspect source code used to convict you. Evidently the creator of the closed-source DNA testing software doesn't think so. As is often the case on MetaFilter, there are very lucid explanations in the comments regarding complicated technical issues.

And I really like the photo I used to illustrate the potential for algorithmic bias.
ann_leckie: (AJ)
[personal profile] ann_leckie

So, here I am in St Louis and if you saw yesterday’s blog post you might have noticed there are no St Louis dates on the tour.

BUT.

Thanks to Left Bank Books, there’ll be an event in the Central West End called BookFest St. Louis. There will be lots of writers there, and the vast majority of panels and whatnot are free! (I think there are, like, two exceptions.)

There’s going to be a Science Fiction panel at 5pm on Saturday, September 23, with Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz, Mark Tiedemann….and me!

If you are in St Louis this weekend, come to BookFest! Left Bank Books is a lovely store with a very nice SF section and worth visiting on its own, but just look at all the folks who are going to be here! Do come to the CWE this weekend if you can!

Mirrored from Ann Leckie.

reddragdiva: (party)
[personal profile] reddragdiva

My Bitcoin pundit career is going great guns! I got to go on BBC Newsnight and call cryptocurrency garbage. Don't ever buy into cryptos, btw, they're a car crash. Trust me, I'm an expert.

Soooo I just got a note inviting me to speak at a seminar, about why blokechain is pants, to a small number of people who have money. I'm gonna charge for my time of course, but I can sell books there. Which means physical paperbacks I bring in a box.

Now, one of the great things about this self-publishing racket in TYOOL 2017 is 0 capital expenditure. Has anyone here done this, or anything like it? Was it worth it? Did you end up with a box of books under your bed forever?

The books are $3.03 each to print, but all author copies come from America (because Createspace is dumb), at some ruinous shipping rate to the UK. Assuming Kindle and CreateSpace pay promptly I'll have a pile of money on September 30, but I sorta don't right now.

Does anyone have suggestions as to how to approach this? Doing a talk with a box of nonfiction books - good idea, bad idea, no idea?

(I'll no doubt do a pile of flyers for people who haven't got cash on them right there. Who carries cash in the UK these days? Less people than you might think.)

Departure

2017-09-18 22:38
liv: ribbon diagram of a p53 monomer (p53)
[personal profile] liv
I've never left a job before. I spent my 20s as a contract researcher, and when my project came to an end, I just... didn't work in that lab any more. So I didn't know how to give notice, how to do the tax paperwork, it was all completely new to me. Also, the people I've been working closely with for the past eight years were all actually sad to see me go and wanted to mark the rite of passage. That was new to me too, in a mostly touching but slightly bittersweet way.

last days )

I started my new job the following Monday. I need to work out how much I should talk about that in detail here; for one thing it's looking to involve somewhat more blogging and social media presence as my professional persona than the old job did. Also I am still adjusting to living in Cambridge full time, which is probably another post, and I'm up to my eyes preparing for the High Holy Days beginning on Wednesday, so I am going to stick with posting about leaving rather than about arriving for now.