Simon Bisson (sbisson) wrote,
Simon Bisson

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So here it is: Entry 1000. In all its, err, glory, and with lots of glossy pictures. Think of this as the Sunday newspaper colour magazine of LJ entries: a mish mash of different features thrown together into a long and rambling spiel. Only this time you don't get an Innovations catalogue or a pile of Trueprint envelopes. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

And remember, we LJ-cut because we care. And because we've put a lot of big photographs in here too. But if you like butterflies and hummingbirds and...


Wireless networks seem to be more and more popular, but people aren't thinking about wireless security. I recently switched back to Palm, thanks to evangelism from autopope and wendyg (and too much time spent in Terminal 3 at Heathrow). I now carry a rather cute little Tungsten C with me. Yesterday I installed a rather nifty little wifi sniffer, Netchaser. Walking from the house to the tube station with Netchaser running I found three open wireless networks (not counting the three here) - no encryption, no nothing. It was nearly enough to be reading email or browsing all the way down the street, without running up GPRS bills...

Oh, and 15 open networks on Oxford Street. And why do people not change the wireless network names from the defaults?


More capsule reviews!

Humans, Robert J. Sawyer
The second volume of Sawyer's Neanderthal trilogy deals with more moral questions, as he explores the interactions between two parallel worlds. At the same time he begins to set up a problem that looks likely to be at the heart of the third part of the story. In Humans, Ponter Boddit continues his relationship with the geneticist Mary Vaughan, and tries to understand just what it is that makes humans tick, as relations between the two worlds strain and grow. Sawyer is exploring deep questions of human culture from the viewpoint of an outsider who is close enough to understand humanity, and far enough away to be intrigued by its drives and desires.

The Standing Dead, Ricardo Pinto
Ricardo Pinto's Stone Dance of the Chameleon is a complex layered fantasy in the style of Richard Adams' Shardik. His rich and dark world mixes danger and desire, as he takes a deep look at a slave culture that has dominated its world for thousands of years. Literally built on bones this is a world where fear is the dominant emotion, fear that drives everyone - from the rulers in their sheltered valley, to the tribesmen of the plain. Two of the ruling class find themselves on the plains, and come into conflict with a diufferent set of rules and assumptions about the world. It's a a conflict that could shatter the world completely - or reafirm the darkness at the heart of all things. Alternately hopeful and horrifying, this second volume points the way to the finale. Oh, and there are lots more dinosaurs...

The Wisdom of Crocodiles, Paul Hoffman
The Wisdom of Crocodiles is an ambitious book. It's one that also fails to reach its target. Hoffman is telling a complex story, one that mixes love, murder, economics, sex, madness, violence, artificial intelligence and crosswords. It's a story that gets tied up in knots and loses threads on its way to some sort of climax - if the sudden end can be described as a climax. There's some aspect of chaos theory lurking at the bottom of things here, but it's nothing that makes much sense. Perhaps Hoffman just tired of working on a book for 13 years, and decided to end it, before it ended him. Whatever the reasos, this is a deeply unsatisfying story, and one that leaves the reader wondering just what was going on all along. Perhaps the answer to "the hardest crossword clue ever" is the real answer to the book's conundrum.

Issola, Steven Brust
Issola brings us back the the Dragaeran Empire, and to the life of the retired assassin Vlad Taltos. Sleeping in the woods, with the aim of saving his life, Vlad is approached to help save two powerful Dragaerans fro the clutches of the godlike Jenoine, the creators of the elf-like Dragaeran race. It's a rescue mission that is going to take Vlad to other universes, and to a conflict that could end in the deaths of gods and the destruction of his world. Issola is a fun, fast read, that advances the great cycle, and brings Vlad back in to the heart of the matter of Empire. One note of caution - there are elements here that work better if you've read The Paths Of The Dead, however, it's not essential.

Aberystwyth, Mon Amour, Malcolm Pryce
Aberystwyth is the dark heart of an independant Wales in an alternate 1980s, and Louie Knight is the town's hard-boiled private eye. In a word where druids control the town, and ice cream bars are a man's sole respite from evil, Louie must save the town from the plots and machinations of the Welsh teacher, and solve the mystery of a stolen essay - before anyone else dies. A light, fun read, and well worth hunting down.

[Other neat stuff]

My Stikfas dragon and rider arrived the other day, and I managed to only cut one finger while building it. I should probably be kept away from sharp objects as a matter of course. This may not explain the various Leatherman Tools, Gerbers, and Swiss Army knives I keep around the place.

Stikfas dragon and rider

It's a dead cool dragon, though!


While I was away, this meme came around and seemed appropriate for me to use here...

The Ultimate LiveJournal Obsession Test
CategoryYour ScoreAverage LJer
Community Attachment41.94%
There's something special about you. Every once in awhile, one of your topics gets everyone chatting.
An expert on multiple-choice questions, an whiz at the cut-and-paste
Original Content37.1%
Some stories must be told - and you're the one to tell them
Psychodrama Quotient8.43%
Had a comment taken out of context once or twice
Attention Whoring36.36%
This quiz is part of a grand scheme to keep people reading

[Travel pictures]

There's been a lot of travel recently, and I'm just back from Santa Barbara, which is one of the loveliest places I've been to. A beautiful Pacific bay with a low-lying town that reaches up into the foothills of the mountains. Lots of greenery and fountains to offset the heat, and lovely white stucco to catch the bright sun and keep the buildings cool. Plenty of photographs were taken, along with enough to make a rather lovely panorama.

Plazas and palms
Plazas and palms fill the gaps in a lovely little town

Dolphin fountain
A dolphin fountain on the sea front by the pier

Railway station
Even the railway station is pleasing to the eye

Tiled fountain
There are tiled fountains dotted all over the streets

Whales in the park
Whales surface in the grass of the park

Monarch butterfly
Huge monarch butterflies flit between the flowers

Tall palms
Skyscraping palms reach for the heavens

And I saw lots of these little fellows, too...

Hummingbird in the morning mist

Luckily it was cool enough in the early morning fog to catch them before they got up to speed...

A couple of weeks before that trip I was in San Francisco, for Oracle's OracleWorld event. I managed to escape a few times to see rowanf and spend some time with ocean_song. One of the press events took me to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, for an evening with Larry Ellison's America's Cup racing team, and one of the best sunsets I have ever seen...

The Golden Gate at sunset
The Golden Gate at sunset
The Golden Gate at sunset
The Golden Gate at sunset

I seem to have also accepted a trip to New York, one to LA and one to Copenhagen. That'll take me up to the middle of November...

[Panoramic views]

Santa Barbara from the pier

Santa Barbara from the pier (click for the full size image).

[Random fannishness]

All LJ posts need a poll. So...

Poll #187116 Should I go to Novacon

Should Simon go to Novacon?



..clicky thing?

[Links gacked from Boing Boing]

Make your own paper iPod [warning: 100K JPEG at the end of that link]

A real Acme catalogue, made up of screen grabs from Warner Brothers cartoons. Callahan's folks may remember Ignatz using one of these on many occasions!

[More shameless self promotion]

The US TV documentary series 60 Minutes recently filmed a piece on Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle. As part of the profile they were filming him at OracleWorld, including an interview session with a small group of international journalists. If they showed that as part of the segment, I'm the one with the longish curly hair, halfway down on the right of the room, between the girl from CNet and the Canadian in the suit...

In the mean time, I've also been keeping up with the Guardian pieces. Here's one on Oracle's new 10G platform, another on packaged mobile applications, one on small scale CMS solutions, and one on managing and securing email systems.

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