liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
Author: Daniel Abraham

Details: (c) 2008 Daniel Abraham; Pub Hachette Digital 2008; ISBN 978-0-7481-2077-2

Verdict: An autumn war is just heartbreaking.

Reasons for reading it: It's the third in the Long Price quartet, and I enjoyed the first two though I wasn't absolutely wild about them. [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel said that the series gets better as it goes along, and I certainly did care enough to want to know how the story continues.

How it came into my hands: The internet, I think probably in the person of [livejournal.com profile] papersky, informed me that, in typical publisher stupidity, there is never going to be a paperback edition of the last two books in the series to match the first two that [livejournal.com profile] rysmiel gave to me. I'm blatantly not going to buy or read a double volume in hardback, so I thought this was a good candidate for my first ebook purchase. Although I have some reservations about Abrahams so far, I like his books well enough to want to give him money.

reading on an e-reader )

detailed review )

aAW succeeds in being moving and sad rather than just depressing, though the subject matter is extremely dire. All in all it's a really accomplished book. The weight of the earlier two volumes is definitely needed to give this sequel its power, and though it's a much better book, it wasn't exactly a chore to read the first two either.

New toy

Sep. 7th, 2010 01:28 pm
liv: cup of tea with text from HHGttG (teeeeea)
I've been going back and forth about whether I want an e-reader or not. This week I finally caved. gadgetry babble, with bonus rants about DRM )

The big reason I bought an ebook is to change my book buying habits a bit. I have enough income now that I ought to be reading the 50 books I most want to read in a year, not the 50 books I happen to find cheap or free. My plan is to create a proper, organized to-read list, and systematically acquire books from it to put on my new shiny reader. And carry it with me everywhere, and get it out to read for 5 minutes at the bus-stop or when the person I'm with gets up to go to the loo, like I used to do with paperbacks before I got my smart phone. But I'm having problems with carrying out this good resolution, so could use some pointers.

My Cool-ER supports pdf, HTML, plain text and rtf, and epub for DRM books via Adobe's Digital Editions thingy. But I don't quite know how to find ebooks in those formats. Lots of online shops seem to sell ebooks only to the US (would anyone be willing to "lend" me their US posting address so that I can buy the books? They are actually purely digital and don't need a shipping address at all, and I promise not to do anything to besmirch your good name.) Most websites I've looked at don't even say what formats they do supply, which is really unhelpful. Interead (the company who make the Cool-ER) does have a bookstore, but it's one of those stupid things with mostly self-published stuff, as they have some stupid idea that teh ebil publishing industry is all about turning away perfectly good authors and everybody should have the right to publish their works without having to get past any gatekeepers *eyeroll*. This attitude doesn't usually produce things I actually want to read! And a lot of sites seem to have gone down the Amazon route of only selling things specifically for their pet device. Even without that, I have this awful feeling that I'm going to have to put a different program on my computer for every different company I want to give money to, which I'll do, but I won't feel happy about it!

So, for those of you who read ebooks, can you point me to the sites you use to buy them? If you have any advice about *cough* format shifting (note: it's absolutely my intention to pay publishers the full market price for everything I want to read, even if I end up using grey channels to convert the texts to a format that my device can read and I can back up) I'd be glad to hear it. I'm happy to know about legitimate sources of free ebooks (which is to say, not those that offer bundles of thousands of pirated titles, or those that charge exorbitant prices for poorly OCR'd versions of stuff that's in the public domain anyway; I know about Project Gutenberg, of course.) Also, what gadgets do you use for downloading webpages for later offline reading? Do you know any good e-publishers who may sell stuff that never goes through a paper format, but who actually do some selecting, editing and proofreading before taking their cut? Or any authors who are selling their own works directly whom you'd recommend? Another part of my resolution is that I want to read more non-traditional formats, like poetry and comic books / anime, so recs appreciated.


In other news, today I saw a woman with לא נכשלת tattooed across her cleavage in large, blocky Hebrew letters. (I may have looked at her breasts a little longer than is polite, cos while I can read Hebrew, I am not quite fluent enough to read whole words at a glance.) I translated this, with some bemusement, as "she does not fall over"; Googling brings up a lot of technical help documents about what to do when Windows fails [to do whatever], but also several quotes about "love never fails". Perhaps she has "love" somewhere that isn't publicly visible, even on someone who's fairly skimpily dressed. People are strange, but in a good way.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
So I'm doing my bit for helping the economy not fall over: before Christmas, so it probably counts in the Christmas retail figures, I finally caved and bought myself a new camera. Then I actually participated, for the first time, in the ritual gift exchange at Christmas. And on Sunday I managed to spend about £180 on clothes in the January sales, which I think is a record for me.

ooh, stuff! )

In less capitalist news, I meant to add to my New Year social report that [livejournal.com profile] lethargic_man very sweetly agreed to meet up with me when I was on the way between Cambridge and the airport. It was really lovely to spend some time with him; we went out to Diwana Bhel Poori, a really excellent vegetarian Indian restaurant just behind Euston, which [livejournal.com profile] ewtikins introduced me to in 2007, and I stupidly forgot to write down the name in my LJ report. Happily she didn't mind reminding me of the name and how to find it, so we got to sample the tasty tasty lunch buffet. It just hit the spot, because I'm deprived of Indian food here, and it's amazingly cheap by London standards, and very good, with the different dishes providing really unique flavours. [livejournal.com profile] lethargic_man did me the huge favour of accompanying me all the way to Heathrow on the Tube, making the journey incredibly less boring.

This weekend was fun and sociable too; SA invited me and Joanna to dinner on Friday night, and we had some delightfully girly conversation. I was a bit pushed for time in which to get home, sleep, and get up in time to be in shul Saturday morning to lead the service. That went very well indeed; I got the timing right, and could feel that the community were really engaged, and lots of people said very nice things about it. Then I lead a successful seminar on the week's Torah portion. Slightly annoyingly, I had to spend the afternoon in a committee meeting, but we met in the Örtagården veggie restaurant, and the meeting was convivial if the random side discussions meant that it took rather longer than necessary.
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
Thanks for all your helpful comments and suggestions about teapot aesthetics and gender! In the end I settled on a Denby teapot that looks a bit like this picture. I think it's a bit more original, and likely to be easier to clean, than a transparent Bodum one. Then I used lots of creative googling to find a website that would sell it to me for a reasonable price and accept my foreign bank card. Conclusion: yay, I have a Christmas present for my Beau.

Even more yayful, though, is that teapot karma has returned to me with amazing speed. I went to a Progressive committee meeting this evening, and it was as usual both enjoyable and productive. Now, the thing is that I had invited the chairman of the committee to my teaparty last week (though she couldn't make it in the end), as she's become a personal friend and gets on well with [livejournal.com profile] cartesiandaemon. So she knew that my 30th birthday was coming up, and decided to club together with the committee to buy me a present. And guess what they chose? A teapot for the eccentric British tea addict!

It's really pretty, too, it's a unique artist-made one with a spout shaped like a sort of Viking bird's head. Apparently the potter assured EBH that it's a real teapot that will take hot tea and pour properly. Squee!
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
So as I mentioned I succumbed to irresistable gadget lust and bought me a teeny tiny eee.

geek wurbling )

I've named the computer Little list (cheers for the witty suggestion, [livejournal.com profile] emperor!) There doesn't seem to be a way to tell the computer its new name, but that's minor. So, yesterday and today, Little List got its first field trial, in the form of a couple of days at a small local conference I got roped in to attending.

This took place in Tammsvik conference centre, which way over on the other side of town, and near inaccessible by public transport. So I had to get up unpleasantly early Thursday morning, and take a 50 minute train ride to the end of the line, where I missed the only bus (it runs only twice a day), but luckily was able to share a taxi with some colleagues who were also aiming for that bus. Using Little List on a crowded train is slightly uncomfortable (I had to hold it on my lap with my palms, while typing with my fingers, not very ergonomic!) but certainly doable and much easier than using a full-sized laptop. I conclude it's not worth getting out the baby computer for my usual ten minute commute, but for any longer journey than that, it's very useful to have. And it felt really nice to be able to dash off short catch-up notes to a couple of friends, not a daunting task like settling down to write a long, properly composed email.

Tammsvik is very pretty, traditional buildings (some are genuinely at least quite old) looking out over Mälaren lake and beautiful forests. But it's otherwise very poorly set up. We were a group of a hundred, but the facilities would have been barely adequate for 20. There were three toilets for the whole group. The sound system was utterly dire. They somehow concluded that there were only four vegetarians, though to be fair they were generally helpful when we pointed out the error, apart from one frazzled waiter who yelled at the fifteenth person who asked for a vegetarian meal long after they'd run out. There were several groups using the facilities at the same time, meaning that we felt rushed and crowded a lot of the time. The meeting ran from 9 on Thursday to 4 today, but we were only allowed to check in after 3 pm and had to check out before 9 am. Outside those times, we had to leave our bags in a tiny little cloakroom which didn't really have space for a hundred coats, let alone a hundred overnight bags. Part of the problem was that the meeting itself was overscheduled; the toilet situation would have been less acute if we'd been allowed more than a 5 minute break in a four hour session, and the checking in situation if we'd been allowed more than half an hour for a hundred people to go through reception, take their bags to their rooms and come back to the meeting. Networking, ostensibly the point of the meeting, was pretty difficult with so little unscheduled time. But I did get to catch up with RS, who is now working at Stockholm and I hadn't done very well at keeping in touch with her since she left our department.

The centre has wireless, for which you buy 8 hour passes. That's 8 hours of time, not 8 hours of actual use. They had provided the group with some of these passes, but again, not nearly enough for 100 scientists. I decided not to bother trying to use Little List to take notes, as there were no extra power points in the room and the battery wouldn't last all day. But I did get my paws on one of the coveted wireless passes, so in the evening I was able to catch up on email and LJ from the not very comfortable comfort of my narrow, hard bed in a cold, draughty room.

Apart from the logistical crap, and the overscheduling, the meeting wasn't too bad. There were some good talks, and my own talk, first thing this morning, went pretty well even if it wasn't the greatest triumph of my career. I had thought of testing whether Little List would seamlessly talk to the projector equipment, but I decided I'd better not inflict that experiment on the audience at 9 am, and anyway, the SCSI cable needs a converter from its small socket to the standard sized one, I think. However, I was able to open my Powerpoint presentation in Open Office, in order to read it through and check that I knew what I was going to say.

I think even after the novelty wears off, having a tiny computer will make a positive difference to my life. I'll likely still need to carry a book wherever I go, because I get fidgety if I have to wait five minutes for a bus, but that's not long enough or comfortable enough to get a computer out. But it will be good to be able to use longer travelling or waiting around times to catch up on emails or LJ posts, to be saved for when I next get online. And it was so lovely to be able to get online while staying away from home, and I expect other conference centres / hotels will have better power and internet facilities than Tammsvik.

Of course, it may tempt me to spend money I don't have; I can't really subscribe to mobile internet, because there are so many different providers that it would be a waste of money. But if I start paying for one-off wireless access on the move, I will soon find that the costs mount up. But generally, yay tiny computer!

I hate living in a world where I have to specify this: but I'm not in any way affiliated with Asus, and I'm not getting any payment or consideration for writing a largely positive review of the eee.
liv: cartoon of me with long plait, teapot and purple outfit (Default)
So they fixed the evil EULA, and it's free-as-in-beer and I generally like Google, so I thought I'd give the new browser a try. Of course, anything new has a huge disadvantage because it makes you break your habits, but on the whole I'm reasonably impressed, though with some reservations.

further notes )

Overall, Chrome is not enough better than Firefox to overcome the inertia of switching, but it's certainly not worse and has a couple of nice little innovations. If I were setting up an internet newbie, I'd probably install Chrome for them in preference to FF, but for myself, I'll stick with the familiar.

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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