Review: Ansible 15717

Ansible 15717
Ansible 15717 by Stant Litore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

O.k., it’s official, I am a supporter of Stant over at Patreon. His prose deserves nothing less.

Not only does he explore what life could feel like for a plant-like lifeform, he also writes intriguing prose about a life where Islam is portrayed in a positive way. Given how hard I found it to discover good storytelling which does not portray Muslims as towel-heads at worst, and scientific ignoramuses at best, the Ansible series are a very welcome breath of fresh air.

The rest of the story you have to read for yourself, but I would suggest to RUN AND GET YOUR COPY NOW :-)

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Review: The Running of the Tyrannosaurs

The Running of the Tyrannosaurs
The Running of the Tyrannosaurs by Stant Litore

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stant did it again… The story is so tightly written that anything about it would be tantamount to spoilers, so I will just stay saying that I was blown away.

Just the right length to fill an extended lunch break, and just the right content to give you things to think about for the next hours. Let me just cite his dedicatation, “for the young women of this generation: no matter what a magazine cover may tell you, you are each more beautiful already than you know”. I can only stand amazed at the time and thoughts that must have went in the story.

Thank you Stant. Thank you so much.

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My Java library for OpenCage Data has been discovered

Over the last six weeks or so, I was writing a frontend to the nice geocoding service at http://www.opencagedata.com/ with the sources being stored at github.

As it always is the case, I never got around to really polishing the library and do a proper release. Imagine my surprise when I saw a post on the opencage data blog and a tweet mentioning me and my library.

Seems like I really have to do a proper release now, but only after my summer vacation… No coding allowed while visiting the relatives :-)

 

Review: I, Zombie

I, Zombie
I, Zombie by Hugh Howey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine being in a coma. On a hospital bed, unable to move in any way you would want to. Unable to show the people around you that you are mind still aware of yourself and your surroundings.

Now imagine your body I not on that hospital bed but stumbling on the streets, following that smell of humans alive. Of BRAAAAAAAAAAINS.

Imagine being locked up in a body which pulls intestines from another human, bites pieces of their bodies off, which is at the same time shitting all that human meat out and I crawling with maggots which grow inside your body…

Imagine all that, described from the points of view of a dozen inmates locked up in their former bodies and minds…

And then try to sleep peacefully at night. That’s the powerful prose of Hugh Howey, which for this tale would deserve six stars if I could give them.

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Review: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read this if you like a bit of apocalyptic SCIENCE to go with your post-apocalyptic fiction :-)

Instead of the run-of-the-mill “Oh my god, we’re gonna die in the next fifty years” essays, Annalee Newitz discusses in a very solid and scientific manner how many times in the history of our planet, life went through near-extinction events and flourished again. She also shows how our entire recorded history is nothing more than a blink of the eye compared to all the time earlier non-sentient species existed on our planet.

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Review: Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction

Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction by Annalee Newitz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Read this if you like a bit of apocalyptic SCIENCE to go with your post-apocalyptic fiction :-)

Instead of the run-of-the-mill “Oh my god, we’re gonna die in the next fifty years” essays, Annalee Newitz discusses in a very solid and scientific manner how many times in the history of our planet, life went through near-extinction events and flourished again. She also shows how our entire recorded history is nothing more than a blink of the eye compared to all the time earlier non-sentient species existed on our planet.

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Review: Vengeful Spirit

Vengeful Spirit
Vengeful Spirit by Graham McNeill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In a very refreshing change from other Black Library books, Vengeful Spirit actually has some traces of science fiction in it. Battles both in space and on the ground are well described, and for the first time, I did not have the feeling that the only use of space ships is to get Marines as fast as possible into hand-to-hand distance.

Also, even Space Marines can die in their dozens when fighting in the general vicinity of Titans, the description of which cuts those transhumans down to a bit more manageable scale.

Overall, well worth the admittedly steep price Black Library is asking for this volume.



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Review: Brotherhood of the Storm

Brotherhood of the Storm
Brotherhood of the Storm by Chris Wraight

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent novella which explains the beginnings and style of the White Scars. While not as long as some other books of the Horus Heresy, the story itself gains much from concentrating more on characters and less on bolter-porn..

Besides, for those slightly tired of faux-latin “Gothic” phrases, the old-turkish and mongol words here and there give a nice flair to the Scars… For this alone, they might become one of my favourite chapters :-)

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Review: The Martian

The Martian
The Martian by Andy Weir

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SCIENCE! HARD SCI-FI! MOAR SCIENCE! DON’T GO, RUN TO BUY AND READ THIS!

all-caps-words aside, this is easily the best hard-scifi book I have read in the last five years or more. Except of the beginning assumption that humanity somehow convinces itself to send humans to Mars, everything is so very plausible. Watneys speech / log entries have just the amount of black humour I encounter very often when one of our projects goes south.

I could gush more and more about this book, but other reviewers already have done so. Suffice to say that it cost be two consecutive days worth of sleep just so I would know what happens at the end.




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I want a smart house

SmartHomeSoooooo…. I got bitten by the automate-your-living-environment bug, too.

Actually, my reasons for home automation started off a little bit differently. My house is heated with a Vaillant EcoCompact unit. Most of the time, this thing works pretty reliably. Unfortunately, some of the times, it just decides to get into a fault state and stops heating. More unfortunately, this is usually sometime in the morning and I discover the problem when I get only cold water in the shover. Without precise information how often and when this issue occurs, the maintenance company just comes to my place, tells me that they cannot find any fault and leave me with yet another bill.

The low-tech and works-for-everyone way of logging this information is simply putting a sheet of paper next to the heating unit and write down the dates, but what self-respecting geek would go with low-tech solutions?

Instead, I plan on setting up something that:

  • is fully automated
  • keeps logs for the maintenance company
  • notifies me before I get into the shower

An appropriate high-tech solution which appeals to my geeky sensibilities would be to add home automation functionality to my already overloaded server in the basement. Therefore……..

Enter “openhab:-)