Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Books of July 2010

9 Books
3683 pages

The Golden Compass
The Subtle Knife
The Amber Spyglass
Philip Pullman
ISBN 0-345-41335-0, 351 pages, July 24
0-440-41833-X, 326 pages, July 26
0-440-41856-9, 518 pages, July 31

Picked up the first in the series a few years ago.  I had only heard about it because a school board had banned it.  As far as I'm concerned, banned books are must reads.  Its been sitting on my 'to read' shelf ever since, as I didn't want to start a series and not be able to finish.  Last week I lucked out at the local thrift store and found the second two books.
I can see why the religious twits were upset and the atheists were so happy with the series.  However, I don't need a fantasy book to tell me that organized religion is a hypocritical load of crap.  The story was mildly interesting for the first two books, by the third, I was reading to finish and not reading because I was entranced.  I did like "Every little increase in human freedom has been fought over ferociously between those who want us to know more and be wiser and stronger, and those who want us to obey and be humble and submit."

An Instance of the Fingerpost
Iain Pears
ISBN 0-965-86064-7
690 pages
July 21

A historical novel set in 1660s England.  I found it quite enjoyable.  The story is told four times, from four different viewpoints.

The Golden Trail
Pierre Berton
ISBN 0-7705-1053-1
110 pages
July 14th

The readers digest version of the Klondike gold rush apparently. 

Killing Floor
Lee Child
ISBN 0-515-12344-7
420 pages
July 13th

The first "Reacher" novel.  A quick enjoyable read.

Robert J. Sawyer
ISBN 0-441-00372-9
289 pages
July 13th

I very much liked this.  Some mind stretching ideas rather than just standard sci-fi fare.  And he's Canadian!

The Man in the High Castle
Philip K. Dick
ISBN 0-679-74067-8
259 pages
July 10th

Been on my 'to read' list for years, completely lucked out finding it the local thrift store of all places.  Another one crossed of the top 100 science fiction books of all time.  It was interesting, but I didn't think it was anything spectacular, and certainly not 29th of all time.

A Mighty Fortress (4th in the Safehold Series)
David Weber
ISBN 978-0765315052
720 pages
July 5th

I've lived in towns that had phone books with fewer characters.  I'm not kidding when I say the list at the back has over 500 characters.  I often found myself confused.  Partly because its been 3 months since I read the first three in the series, partly because every character seems to have a first name, last name, and title, and they are interchanged.  Not as exciting as the first of the series, but somewhat of a disappointment.  Some naval battles, some intrigue and politics.  Less science fiction than I would have liked.  No resolution, so obviously more books coming.  A long book for the seemingly little that happened.

24 Hours without Internet. Commence Hyperventilating...

OK, so maybe I have a slight internet addiction.  I prefer to think of it as continually accessing a needed resource.  So when the internet stopped working yesterday morning, I had issues.  I was just doing my morning check - email to see if I had responses from some kijiji inquiries, weather to see what it would be like in the city, and news/newspaper.  Nothing.  The DSL modem had died.

I tried the normal electronics voodoo.  Rebooting.  Powering off.  Unplugging.  Checking cables.  Reset button.  Combinations thereof. Unplugging cables, turning the modem counter-clockwise three times, replugging cables.  No love.  I had just a LAN light, no Power, ADSL, or Internet lights.  Crap.  Maybe it just needed rest.  We were heading to the city for the day to catch up on some shopping, so I figured I'd try again when we got back.

Its funny how much of a necessity the internet has become.  For me it is communication, news, entertainment, and information.  If the TV was out for 24 hours I wouldn't care, and if it weren't for World Cup I wouldn't notice.  No telephone for a day?  Wouldn't notice unless it also killed my DSL.  No water?  Happened before, I fixed it... with the help of the internet.  No power?  I'd probably be searching for a UPS with a big battery online as soon as power was restored.

I drove a little faster than normal on the way home.  Wanted to be back in time to put a call in to our ISP.  Managed to get thru at quarter to five - would have been quicker but I couldn't look up the number online - had to find that book thing.  The tech quickly diagnosed a faulty modem (or wanted to leave work a few minutes early?).  I was very happy to hear that I could take it somewhere local for an exchange rather than waiting 2 more days for a courier.  Turned out he was just taunting me though.  The local computer company followed typical small town procedures and had closed at 4:30.

Headed out this morning to exchange the modem.  Managed to piggyback  it with trip to the Health Unit to drop off water samples and a trip to the playground before it got too stupid hot (too late for that unfortunately), so it didn't seem too much like an internet addiction.  Ahh, the bliss of having a connection again.  Checked email, checked the news, played some chess.  Time for morning coffee.

Friday, July 2, 2010

New Hard Drive Problems

Sometimes I hate computers.  They can be so frustrating, and trying to find the solution with google is often problematic.  Its easy to find the lowest common denominator, someones uninformed opinion, the wrong answer, or a site that requires membership or money or both.  Sorting wheat from the chaff is the issue, and whoever invents a search engine that can do that will be wildly successful.  (I like the firefox add-on surfclarity which automatically removes specified domains from google searches.  Think yahoo (always wrong) answers, or those annoying sites that return your exact search phrase.)

Bought a new hard drive the other day.  Its amazing how fast the damn things fill up.  I remember my first PC had an astounding 40 MB hard drive that I never did manage to fill.    I already have three in my home built rig.  The first was a 160 GB that I bought refurbished to keep cost down building the system.  When I filled that I picked up a 250 GB - bigger and better were available, but budget was tight.  Then I discovered I could back up movies to protect against toddlerzilla and got a 500 GB - not top of the line, but affordable.  Now I am installing a 1 TB hard drive - again not even the biggest available.  Crazy, but it cost 30% less than my original 160 GB drive.  I plan on not running out of room ever again by deleting a whole bunch of the crap that accumulates.

Even though my power supply is adequate, and I'd have a free bay by taking out the never used any more 3.5" floppy drive, I figured 4 hard drives was a little excessive for my system.  Extra heat, extra dust magnet, but mostly because I forgot to order another SATA cable ($3.99 online at NCIX, but $17.99 locally - 30% of what I paid for the HD!), so not worth it.   Popping in the new 1TB was no problem (yay SATA) but needed to move data from one or more of the full drives.  I planned on being 'smart'.  Move the 500 data to the 1TB, then the 250 to the 500, then the 160 to the 250.  I'd go from 3 full drives to 3 half empty drives.

It mostly worked.  But I decided I wasn't happy with the partition of the original drive.  I had originally split it three ways - one third for the system, one third for Leaf's stuff, one third for mine.  Mine filled up pretty much instantly, the system was 95% full, but Leaf's was mostly empty (except for my junk that I kept sneaking in).  I figured the new partition would work better with 40% system, 40% me, 20% Leaf.  Commence banging of head on desk.

I tried 4 different partitioning programs.   I could make an exact clone - ending up with 3 full partitions and a bunch of unclaimed space.  I could make a proportional clone - but again the drive would be split in thirds.  Despite all four programs claiming to be able to do what I wanted, none of them actually would.  Cloning a hard drive takes hours, the OS wouldn't boot, the OS would boot but not on the new drive, the data was corrupted.... after 6 or seven attempts I gave up.  It wasn't worth the pain and suffering.  I ended up doing a proportional clone.  Leaf's drive will have a bunch of unused space, mine and the system will fill up again.  Hopefully not before 10 TB hard drives are the norm.