dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Stephenson's editor didn't. The result is the worst book with Stephenson's name on it.

The first 2/3 of this weighty tome (I assume -- mine came encoded as a very large number) is a series of technical infodumps on space technology of the early to mid 21st century, with a framing plot that destroys the Earth and more than 99.9999% of all living things in the Solar System over the course of three years. There are a couple of characters in there who recur often enough to keep their names straight. Most characters die or disappear quickly enough that job titles would do just as well. I didn't find any of the characters particularly sympathetic. Perhaps you have seen a slushpile book in which a first-time author has worked out the entire history of their fictional universe, and tries to tell that to you with the names of fifty legendary characters that you should definitely remember? This is like that. If the parts of Anathem and Dune that you really enjoyed were the glossaries and appendices, you might get more out of the first section than I did.

Then Stephenson skips 5000 years. The "Seven Eves" of the title are the seven surviving fertile human females at the end of part 1; their descendants, about 3 billion strong, are the subject of the second and far more interesting part of the book.  It's still not great: it is mostly a semi-utopian travelogue novel, where a viewpoint character visits many named places on the map and talks to people who come from the other named places. (Yes, there's a map with named places on it.)

Had I been the editor, and strong enough to say no to a heavyweight best-seller, I would have cut the entire first section and started off with the second section. SF readers are used to picking up clues about a fictional world, and doing so is actually fun for most people. This... not so much.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Here's what I want from the Hugo Awards:

  • A lively discussion before nominations which provides lots of lists of good books to read

  • A lively discussion of the finalists, hopefully providing a shorter list of really good books, along with a bunch of recommendations along the lines of "this didn't get nominated, but it is sooooooo good..."

  • An award in each of several categories that I can reasonably say "Yup, I can see how people thought this was the best novel/novella/short story/short video/movie/related/fan/Locus/thing of the year, even though I didn't think it was as good as Tales of the Space Gazette."

  • Or, alternatively, "Yay! Space Gazetteers forever!"

The Sad Puppies/Rabid Puppies have done absolutely nothing that advance those things that I want, and have, metaphorically, taken a dump in the punchbowl.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

The pond could be made deeper. I think I would suggest raising the sides with large rocks, gravel and then packing that with mud, rather than digging.

dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)

Better than most donuts. Not even a little bit good for me.

dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)


dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Hi. I'm still alive.

I shaved my head. It makes me happier than having short hair. Not as happy as having long hair. Oh well.

$EMPLOYER still likes me, more than eleven years after hiring me.

$SPOUSE still loves me, more than 15 years after marriage.

$KIDS seem to tolerate me pretty well, but who can tell?

I read some good books every so often, and I am starting to write about them and geekier things at https://randomstring.org/blog/

Still alive.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Here's what you need to make unpreserved sausage :

Meat, fat, salt, spices.

Here's the ratio: for each pound of lean meat, you want an additional 4 oz of fat, a teaspoon of salt, and all the spiciness you desire.

I bet you can make a decent vegetarian sausage out of seitan and butter, actually.

The ground beef/turkey/chicken/whatever you can get at a grocery store is a good start, but it's too coarse. Whizzing it in a blender along with the fat, salt and spices is what turns it into sausage.

If you want a smoky sausage, add smoked paprika and/or BaconSalt.

  • Italian: powdered onion, powdered garlic, dried basil, parsley, rosemary, ground or whole fennel seeds, red pepper flakes.

  • Greek: powdered onion, oregano, sweet paprika, mint. Yes, mint. Lemon zest is good, too.

  • "BBQ potato chip": powdered onion, powdered garlic, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, cayenne, black pepper, something sweet -- sugar or whatever.

  • Sage and onion: powdered onion, black pepper, more dried sage than you think is a good idea.

  • "Tastes like chicken": CostCo's Kirkland No-Salt seasoning contains everything you would put in chicken soup except salt and chicken. Remember to add salt.

After you've whizzed it all in the blender until it's a smooth consistency, scrape it into a freezer-grade ziploc. Label it, including the date. Refrigerate immediately. Use as you would use raw sausage -- that is, cook it, don't just sprinkle it on things.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)

An unmistakeable flare of sunlight crossing the sky and suddenly vanishing in the shadow of the Earth.

dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
If you have an old smartphone lying around, you might do worse than to plug it in by your bed and make it into an alarm clock that plays music you actually want to wake you.

(Alternatively, a cheap radio alarm clock tuned to static is pretty effective.)

If you are lucky enough to have a phone which can run Android 4 or so, you have the Daydream feature available, which can enable a clock display fading in and out every few seconds. Now it's a reasonable clock, too.

This morning Eliz noted that I had replaced all the music for our new 6AM wakeups with... love songs. Because I can. And why not set the mood to something positive?
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
I think we're in a period of massive upheaval which we are all desperately trying to avoid noticing.

One of the things which is changing is the allocation of income and wealth as a proxy for allocating goods and services. Activities which were once rare are now common; some which were valuable are not; some which were unthinkably esoteric are temporarily valuable.

There is a trainable pick-and-place robot station now available for $25K. Any factory job that involves a variety of repeated motions while sitting or standing can now be automated by a machine that costs about the same as a year of minimum wage labor, but can run 24/7 and never takes a break. Long term that's about an order of magnitude reduction in costs. An autonomous micro-forklift for warehouse use should be available in the next few years  at a cost of about $50K. Amazon and Walmart will swap them for people first, but it won't be long before a supermarket is run by two people and a bunch of droids: one front-of-house customer service rep and manager, one stocking and accounting supervisor. Both of them clean up spills as needed.

The lesson of the 21st century is that jobs are going away. But if you value a person by their job, most people are then valueless. Since that's an outcome we want to avoid, we need to start valuing people in some other way.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Five months since I last ate wrote a post in LJ.

I'm still alive. There has been stress. Nothing life-threatening.

I discovered that I have a tolerance for other people making mistakes, and for handling problems that are of the universe's making, but I get really angry when I can't solve a problem that someone has made my acknowledged responsibility.

I am happy that I shut down, cleaned, and started up my main house server today without incident. 180 days without a reboot is hardly a record, but given the number of things I have that machine doing, I was worried that I had made something go without putting in appropriate structures to survive a clean start. The shoemaker's children go barefoot -- and I'd like to avoid that. Along those lines I now have automated backups in place for all the house machines except the phones and four of the laptops. Three won't get them because they're running an odd OS (Windows, ChromeOS, MacOS) and there's really no personal data on the fourth: I use it as a terminal to access other machines.

This year I read four of the five Hugo novel nominees before they were nominees. (Haven't read Wheel of Time. Might, someday. Maybe.) This largely reflects the fact that I already liked two of the authors and had heard many good things about Ann Leckie. Oh, and until the last month I was reading at my usual speed, about three novels a week. I don't really know what's happened: I get stuck on a book I have started, don't feel a strong desire to finish, but can't bring myself to start a new one until I've really finished the first. There's a new Harry Dresden next week or so, that should snap me out of it.
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (current)
Actually, I miss the hair I used to have, more than a year ago. I liked having long hair.

The compromise short hair has not been making me happy. Possibly shaving it all off will. Possibly I will never be happy with my hair, ever again. Eh, I'll live.
dsrtao: (glasseschange)
It really shouldn't be a surprise to me that the cure for the overly-loud fan on a new server in my house's machine room is a program called fancontrol.

I'm not getting enough sleep.


Sep. 13th, 2013 10:12 am
dsrtao: (glasseschange)

Yes, this person reports to me, which I think is a plus, but who am I to say?

Refer the right person, and the company will buy you dinner. A very expensive dinner. OK, they'll write a check for $2000, and you can spend it on dinner if that's what you want.
dsrtao: (glasseschange)
Services left to migrate to new main server (at home): uh... NNTP. Probably this weekend.

Services migrated: DHCP, DNS, NTP, SMTP (change from qmail to postfix), IMAP, spam filtering, web proxying, HTTP, and the three main applications on the web server (RSS reader, wiki and static pages).

Primary reason for getting mail shifted over today: the mail servers at work are getting long in the tooth, it's time to shift them to new hardware and software. Better to have experience doing it on my own systems first. Well, any test system will do, but this makes me feel more motivated.

While it is still possible to send me email via an unencrypted channel, and I will send it back if that's all that is available, every other service runs over SSH or SSL/TLS, and mail happily does the same.


Sep. 7th, 2013 11:28 am
dsrtao: (glasseschange)
_The Republic of Thieves_, Scott Lynch. Book 3 of the Gentlemen Bastards.

Scott Lynch is a master of story pacing.
dsrtao: (glasseschange)
We have two usually happy Siamese, Tycho and Sophia. They're 26 months old. We just acquired two ... large shaggy lap monsters, possibly with Maine Coon ancestry. Archimedes (uses his tail as a lever) and Nikola (dark and brooding, like Tesla) are about 14 months old.

Archie and Nik are currently isolated in a bedroom with water, food, litter box and frequent company, including sleeping boys.

Tycho and Sophia haven't seen them, but are very nervous. Tycho has been hissing at me, then running away.

Anyone have reliable advice on procedures for feline harmony?
dsrtao: dsr as a LEGO minifig (Default)
Her brother was the nice one: sweet and forgiving and happy to see you. He usually wanted Eliz's lap. He's been gone more than two years.

And now Phoebe. She was the smart one. She saw things, considered her objectives, and made plans. Once she dragged a sheet of paper down the hallway... and then a pencil. We didn't investigate. Phoebe preferred my lap, and given her loudly expressed preferences, would sleep by my side. When Ben died she was still in perfect health, a 16 year old cat who could have been mistaken for ten. But her health started to fade about six months later. Neurological problems crippled her gait, and she became incontinent. Still, she purred and was happy in sunbeams until recently. The last few weeks she has had increasing problems moving around; she could take a few steps and then fell over.

This morning she couldn't take a few steps.

She had the softest fur. She was a mighty bug hunter. She was a great cat.

Posted via m.livejournal.com.

dsrtao: (glasseschange)
Almost all of Walter Jon Williams' novels are now available in DRM-free ebooks from Baen:


The remainder, which are his early historical naval novels, will be available soonish.

Highly recommended: _Aristoi_, the three Maijstral comedy-of-manners/SF/heist novels, and _Voice of the Whirlwind_.

But really? All of them. Those are just my particular favorites above.
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