Books

I’m a bookworm. I love curling up with a cup of tea and a  good book, to read.

So far at the moment, I’m re-reading two books, “The fifth elephant” – Terry Pratchett, and “Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone” by you know who 😉

Two books, because I got a bit into Terry Pratchett’s book, and then got bored, and I try to re-read Harry Potter every couple of years. Seems I am always re-reading it around Christmas.. 🙂

The majority of my books I get from charity shops. A few I get from bookmooch.com, the rest I buy from amazon, or am given by relatives for christmas and birthday (The Company, by Max Barry was a Christmas present 🙂 )

Where do you buy your books?

Day 1: NaBloPoMo

What a strange name for an event. Anyway, yes, this is my second attempt at the interesting experiment, of posting once a day, every day during this month.1 I expect quite a few of these posts will be small, random and useless. Sorry about that, just to warn you!

Anyway, onto more interesting things. Book review 🙂

Completed the “The Business” By Iain Banks the other week. Good book, though not one of his best… Gripping read from about ~60-70% of the way through. Predictable up to that point.
All about a large, democratic company, and the machinations and politics within it, as it looks to buy a small country, to attain a seat on the UN council.

Interesting and enjoyable enough read, but not spectacular by any stretch. I’ll not keep it for my book collection 🙂

Some other thoughts I had whilst talking to someone at church today… Working with the people I do, it’s easy to forget the fear and lack of knowledge a lot people have with computers. For me, they’re simple, far easier to understand than a human by any stretch of the imagination!

If you are ever afraid of a computer, the best thing you can do is to make a backup of all your files onto a USB stick, and then just play with your computer. Don’t be afraid of breaking anything, let your fear go. Just explore all the menus, options and settings, see what happens when you change things around. Right click on everything!

Time, privacy and its lack thereof

Over the weekend I watched “V for Vendetta”. Its come up recently in a forum I frequent, specifically the quote at the beginning – about ideas being impossible to kill.

Its wrong.

Ideas can be killed. Eventually. It takes time, patience, and willingness on the part of those whose minds you are changing.

I wonder, do you ever worry about this country? (I’m talking to the Brits here. Sorry everyone else, this post is aimed at the UK, our laws and situation though you may find parallels about where you live.) We have a government that (almost) no-one likes. We have a leader, who at best could be termed ignorant. At worst a devious schemer.

Not worked out what I’m talking about yet? This is what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the erosion of our privacy. I’m talking about the surveillance state we are in. Do you even know what powers our oh so wonderful government has over us now? Read some of the above links. Heck even the Information Commissioner, the guy supposed to be looking after our privacy as relating to computers is saying its here!

I’ve been reading all these news items one by one, slowly, over a period of the three or so years that I’ve been watching and reading all articles that come up in BBC News’s tech section. As I’ve read them one by one, and not put them together, I haven’t worried too much. Till now. Apart, each are only merely slightly worrying. Together, we’ve got a problem. If you’ve not already, I recommend you now go and watch “V for Vendetta“, and then read “The Traveller“. Then continue reading below the line.

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You think the technologies to create this don’t exist? As someone who sits on the edge (or maybe inside) of geek-dom, I can say with knowledge and certainty, they do. We could be living in George Orwell’s 1984’s level of observation in a simple matter of 6 months. Heck, if you’re in London, you’re probably already carrying at least one unique ID tracker, most of which can be read remotely at 30 feet (or more). Your RFID Oyster card. Your mobile phone. Your RFID chipped passport. Your RFID credit/debit card.

Don’t believe me? Read up on RFID and RFID skimming.

Literally, all we have to do now is wait, as our last safeguards are removed or bypassed, and before too long all it will take to bring us to the societies depicted in “1984”, “V for Vendetta” and “The Traveller” is one crack pot power maniac in government. Need I mention, I don’t have a high opinion of Gordon Brown?

Its not as if it hasn’t happened before in history, one man taking over a democratic country and turning it into a dictatorship. But much worse, as in our country is all the tools needed to *keep* our country in a dictatorship and aid its passage to one.

Now, I can say all this, as we’re not there yet. However, I see the day fast approaching when I would be arrested for what I have written here, and asked to relinquish my encryption key’s pass phrase. (You’ll have to torture me before that happens.)

Someone once told me, that we’d never get to the point where the EU constitution comes into play. The treaty that was ratified by the UK merely a few weeks ago, was basically the EU constitution.

I have heard many times, “I’ve got nothing to hide”. No, not yet. Until you have to hide your sexuality. Your Race. Your religious beliefs. Your musical preferences. Your secrets.

I leave you with a link and this old, poem. How long before it becomes relevant once more?

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When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,

there was no one left to speak out.

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Click Here to talk to others worried about this

Want to know more? Click the image.

Want to fight? Click the image.

Will you remain silent?

Hancock, Books and photographs

Hancock

I went and saw this film with my brother and a couple of mates today. Was good, up to a point. Certainly, Will Smith is getting better – he appeared to play the part flawlessly, at a level I’ve not seen him act at before.

My one, slight moan, is that they included a brief, guarded and pointless sex scene. I guess, it *may* have been included to make a point, but it felt more like a box-tick exercise than anything else. Apart from that, an enjoyable way to while away a bit of time.

Books

Stack of booksBooks, I finished a Colin Forbes book this week. Awful. I had to put it down mid-way, and read a completely different book as a break before I picked up again. It felt so rough! And to think, I used to like his books. Fit his usual formula to a T, felt contrived, with a few instances of what PBEM RPG players call “SuperHero Syndrome“. In a Matthew Reily book, I can forgive SuperHero syndrome: he does it with such flair! However, it is not forgiveable in a Colin Forbes book. Which is a shame.

I started to read a Clive Cussler book “Dark Watch” a few weeks back. I got half way through, an OK book, till I got to a line of pure placement advertisement, which put me off completely and utterly. Here’s an extract. (For the copyright fiends out there, this is fair use!)

“Juan found a parking spot a few blocks from the court and spent the next two hours walking the neighborhood, sipping black coffee from a Starbucks. He felt he should have bought his coffee from a local vendor instead of an international franchise, but it had been months since he’d had a taste of his favourite brew. He made a mental note to contact the company’s Seattle headquarters and see if it was possible to buy their special equipment for the Oregon.” [Oregon is the wet-merc ship he captains.]

Oh dear. What an abysmal excuse for an advert. At the very least, it could have been subtle! Stopping at “it had been months..” would have been fine. I have stopped reading the book. I’ll finish it sometime, but not yet. When I’m not so irritated at that advert. At least on the web, it is generally fairly easy to spot, and ignore, them. A bit harder to when you’re engrossed in a story.

Photographs

I’ve been trying to use F-Spot on my laptop to manage photos. Unfortionately, it has a nasty habit of freezing my laptop totally, when I click “OK” on certain dialog boxes. Quite frustrating. So, another question for those reading, what image management software would you recommend ? It has to run nativly on Ubuntu Hardy, but apart from that, pick whatever you like (including web-software). I have a large collection of photos (my camera’s counter recently went over the 1,000 mark), which I want to tag and organise. An effective search function is a must, so that I can add relevant photos to my blogs from my collections.

Books going free!

Hello all. I seem to be gaining books at an alarming rate, what with my current commute. So, I am going to give you first refusal (before I put these up on Bookmooch) on two sets of Elizabeth Moon books. Both of which I would love to be able to keep, but which I don’t have the space to.

So without further ado, I am offering these books to the first person who emails/comments for them. Full postal addresses if you please, UK preferred, but I will send to the US if asked.

The Serrano Legacy – 3 compendiums (paperback)

Vatta’s War – 5 books (paperback)

I also have Kevin J Anderson’s the Saga of the Seven suns, collection or close only (All 7 books. Its big. I live near London. Email for more info)

James Patterson’s Four Blind Mice. As this came from the US, I’d be quite happy to ship it back there.

My Email address is: kirrus@kirrus.co.uk

In unrelated stuff, I let my 5-a-day launchpad group subscription expire this weekend. Boy, it doesn’t half nag you! I got an email every day for _7_ days, saying “you’ll get one more email, when its expired”. Annoying by half. Unfortionatly with my nasty commute, I’ve not got the energy required for triage 🙁