Book Review: Summerland

The afterlife is real because of mathematics and Brits got their first. Queen Victoria is still in charge in the 1930s. Also there are so many spies? Sounds like exactly my kind of nonsense. Very reminiscent of The Laundry Files. There’s even a quote from Charles Stross on the cover it. The afterlife exists in the 4th dimension. Rajaniemi has created some wonderful constructs that exist in with 4D space. Really neat and consistent set of mechanics to play by. [Read More]

Book Review: Normandy '44: D-Day and the Battle for France

On my military history book, I’ve not read a James Holland book before this one. Which is quite difficult given how many books he’s written. Very much a Ronseal book. It covers the planning and build up to D-Day to the to the end of August 1944. Holland’s style seems to be telling the broad story by using the stories of individuals. I can see this being very appealing to people who are very interested in specific actions. [Read More]

Book Review: How to Listen to Jazz

How to Listen to Jazz by Ted Gioia has given me so much homework. Hours and hours of listening to go. So I’m not really done with the book but I have finished the reading portion. I’ve had a passing interest in Jazz for a while but never really ventured beyond the odd playlist on Spotify. Turns out the stuff I’ve been listening to is Nu-Jazz (Bill Laurence, GoGo Penguin, Too Many Zooz, Get the Blessing). [Read More]

Replacing Postman with Rider

As you might have read Postman is deprecating the Scratchpad feature. At work we have been using this feature to create and share collections of requests that are useful for manually driving APIs in non prod environments. We commit the collections and environments to repos for posterity. Well now that’s going away we’ve been looking for alternatives. There are other apps like Insomnia which look nice but seem ripe for enshittification. [Read More]

Book Review: Exercised

“There is more than health to not being dead” The Socially Distanced Sports Bar recommended this a while back. Their chat about how schools destroy people’s interest in physical activity resonated with me so I thought I’d give this a spin. I love a book that isn’t afraid to say that things are complicated. In every chapter Daniel Lieberman comes to this conclusion. Lieberman frames the science by busting some myths, I don’t think that works particularly well but the discussion of the anthropology, biology, evolution, etc is excellent. [Read More]

Book Review: XTL

Hands in the air, I did a module at university based on this book for my BSc. Simon Goodwin writes and lectures in a style that I enjoy, retain, and understand. At a charity lecture I “cosplayed” as Simon, frankly our styles of metal t-shirts under collard shirts weren’t that dissimilar anyway. Long live Epica. XLT covers the possibility and search for Extra Terrestrial Life and was written in 2001. There are some wonderful sentences that hope for progress in the field of exo-biology in the following decades. [Read More]

Book Review: Human Compatible

I’m not optimistic about the future of Artificial Intelligence. This book reinforced that despite a quite optimistic outlook on AI. It describes flaws with current AI and how we might change tack to create beneficial artificial intelligence. Unfortunately I must refer to one of my favourite memes: I don’t believe the current incentives for business (maximising shareholder returns) will allow for the paradigm shift that Russel is advocating. I’d recommend reading it. [Read More]

Book Review: Blücher

A bit of a change. On holiday I read the rule book for Blücher. It’s a scale agnostic Napoleonic big battle game. Some friends got into it and I must join them. It’s been a long time since I read a rule book from cover to cover. Blücher seems great. A real geometric puzzle to out manoeuvre your opponent. I’ve ordered the funky looking bases and some 6mm Austrians (Brits and French are already accounted for in the wargaming group). [Read More]

Book Review: Dead Silence

This one was a recommendation from a colleague. I picked it up as an audio book. It’s a very fun sci fi horror. The twist sticks the landing well and the ending is satisfying. It’s got the right amount of joking about corporations being evil, more like Alien rather than The Outer Worlds. My one criticism is with the audiobook (from Audible, sorry). It’s read by one person who brings more performance to the reading than I’d like. [Read More]

State of the Podcasts August 2023

Back in 2017 I wrote about the podcasts I was listening to. Five years later here’s an update. I’m embedded in the Apple ecosystem so now my podcatcher is Apple Podcasts. This year’s choice cuts are as follows. 2 Good Boys is a classic Friends Chatting podcast. AvTalk. I’ve been listening to this since just before the pandemic. It’s all about commercial aviation and is dead interesting. Doctor Who: Too Hot For TV is my top pick for DW podcasts. [Read More]