Daily Archives: September 27, 2009

Time, Money and Technology

It seems to be about time for an entry that targets the intent of this blog.  One of the problems with technology is that it usually requires time or money.  I have had little extra of either lately (beyond getting my netbook), so I think I need to establish my next set of events.

I have Kubuntu 9.04 with KDE 4.3.1 running stably on my netbook.  As noted, I needed to reinstall due to partition corruption.  I have not had any trouble since, so I suspect one of two things:  ext4 or suspending while Amarok was playing.  Thus far,  I have really enjoyed my netbook.  There is expected slowness with some things, but this is a writing and surfing machine, not something intended for enormous power.  It is a fun little machine with excellent portability.  I look forward to the day that more powerful computers are this size!

As noted, there was a suspend problem with my netbook.  Since I suspect some things that are reproducible in a VM,  I intend to give that a try at my earliest opportunity.  I think the steps to replicate the problem should be pretty straight forward.

At some point I would like to start doing some development for KDE.  In the spirit of open source, it is because some things are broken that I want fixed.  I still cannot connect to wireless networks that have their SSIDs hidden.  That is very annoying.  I might also try to pitch in on Amarok, but what I really need is time (there’s that time thing again).

Lastly, and this needs to wait until I am at “my other home” again, I need to figure out some things with DSL.  I have to say I am pretty impressed with DSL — I really had no idea how it actually worked and that it used the telephone lines instead of a dedicated line!  I found some things that my VPN connection times out on, so I need to sort that out.  That also includes hopefully getting the Cisco VPN working under Linux (Kubuntu) again.

I think that sums up my technology plans at this point.  We’ll see how that sorts out against the real world.


Review of Tarantula Nebula by David Kantrowitz

Again, breaking from my technology theme to support a friend.

I have to admit to a bias and really liking this book (The Tarantula Nebula) over the first (Reckless Faith).  The characters were more mature and developed in David’s mind and that was so very clear in the writing.  The plot retained the intricacy and pace that the first book did.  Once again, I put it down and immediately wanted the sequel (which is presently being drafted… I have to wait?!).

The crew of the Reckless Faith find themselves at the ship’s AI’s origin.  There they have to resolve issues of planetary occupation and a science research program run amok (the writer’s exploration of the ethics of science for the sake of science?).  In this we learn the origins of Seth, the connection to a heartless pirate named Aldebaran, and the relationship to the planet Umber.

Of course, life is not quite that simple.  The crew finds themselves needing to hunt down some resources for Seth to use to improve the ship, and then the crew runs afoul of pirates and the law.  Even once that is sorted out, there is a long road for the crew to travel to reach their ultimate goal of freeing Umber.

Overall, my nits about this book are small compared to the first.  I think I can count them on less than a hand, and all of which are small — practically easily forgotten, and perhaps not shared by others.  So as for what not to like about this, at this point it comes down to waiting for the sequel.

The one scene that stands out in my mind (in a good way) is a visit the crew pays to a pirate colony.  The colony has been attacked by assassins, and the scene writing where the crew is in the dance club was utterly creepy.  It was some excellent writing (perhaps David showing some Maine influence a la Stephen King?).

My truly personal bias in this book is the exploration of some races and facets of an intergalactic culture of my design.  David used these ideas with his aforementioned elaborate creativity and provided an excellent touch — something for me to consider for my own writing!

I look forward to the sequel — the third and final book — and how this story will wrap up.

Review of Reckless Faith by David Kantrowitz

I am diverting from my normal content to support a friend.  Wikipedia is picky about entries and requires references — and apparently the fact that a book is being sold at Amazon.com is insufficient.

“The Reckless Faith”, by David Kantrowitz, is a sci-fi novel on the level of what Hollywood really should be making for movies.  While it is true that there is little new under the sun (if anything), the trick and art is in how details are mixed together.  That is what I enjoyed about David’s book.  I can see elements from a number of different sci-fi shows, movies, and books that come together to form an entertaining plot of a group of friends — and later associates due to circumstances — who construct a starship under the guidance of an extra-terrestrial AI.  The book concludes nicely which leaves open the possibility for a sequel, or it could have ended as it did given that enough of the plot was resolved.

I have to admit to finding the characters a little underdeveloped at times.  As the story evolves, they remained somewhat stuck though there was great potential in each character.  (That potential I found better explored in the second book “The Tarantula Nebula”.)  This is not to imply the characters were uninteresting, but that I was personally feeling as though an opportunity for character exploration was missed.  That, however, was offset by a swiftly moving plot that had me reading the last page far sooner than I thought I would!  David’s sense of pace and conflict kept the plot moving so smoothly and swiftly that the quibble I have over character development could be set aside.

For anyone looking for a fresher take on sci-fi, read this book.  Instead of the same droll “boy meets girl” sort of story, David employs something Hollywood should rediscover:  elaborate imagination.