my recent reads..

Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters; From the Ozark Mountains to Fukushima
Power Sources and Supplies: World Class Designs
Red Storm Rising
Locked On
Analog Circuits Cookbook
The Teeth Of The Tiger
Sharpe's Gold
Without Remorse
Practical Oscillator Handbook
Red Rabbit

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Magician: Apprentice

Moving on to some fantasy after the hard sci-fi of Jupiter...

Magician: Apprentice was Raymond E. Feist's bestselling opener for his Riftwar Saga. First published in 1982, I read the 10th anniversary "author's preferred edition" (I gather that basically means he now has the stature to override the original editor's cuts;-)

Fantasy isn't normally my preferred reading material, but I really enjoyed this. Sure the scale is epic, but unlike Tolkien, Feist keeps the pace up and gory action a-plenty. And I'm looking forward to following Pug's development as a magician. Unlike the fast-food, just-get-the-pronunciation-right approach of Harry Potter, magic in this world is hard.

Tough Choices

I've heard all the stories about Carly Fiorina from friends in HP - no doubt mangled, misquoted and somewhat mysogynistic. All the ills of the company were by her hand of course.

Always found that a bit much to swallow, so when I saw her autobiography Touch Choices on the shelf I picked it up for a read.

I came away from the book with a much greater respect for the hard yards she has done to reach the top, although her rise to the top is a somewhat charmed path within a few large corporates. Which may explain why - although we get only one side of the story of course - she seems to have been so blindsided in the political manouvers that got her ousted from HP.

The book ends soon after her departure from HP, comtemplating where to go next and what she really values in life. And by then she had me won over; I think in truth a sincere, telented and hardworking person who really cares for the people she leads.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Free Nelson Mandela - The Special AKA

For no reason in particular, I get The Specials' Free Nelson Mandela spinning in my head every so often. It's wierd, since I guess the last time I actually heard the song was in the late 80's. This time I googled it, and happily YouTube comes to the rescue!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Winston Churchill had quite a bit to say about optimism.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
For myself I am an optimist. It does not seem to be much use being anything else.
But Havelock Ellis would rather lock him up..
The place where optimism most flourishes is the lunatic asylum.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mickey the Assistant Manager

..from Hobtopia/lol cats

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Ben Bova's Jupiter has me hooked on a new rack in the sci-fi bookshelf.

I've always liked the hard-science of Asimov, and find myself frequently revisiting classics like The Naked Sun. It was not until Jupiter that I've found anything close.

Now I'm just slow of course - for a long time I've been vaguely aware of the name Ben Bova and the respect he holds in scifi circles, but have failed to seek him out.

Jupiter is the tale of Grant Archer's conscriptment to serve as a graduate student on the planetary research station orbiting Jupiter, and his secret mission forced on upon him to spy for the fundamentalist religious groups that have political power in their grip back on earth. In all its intriguing detail of the efforts to explore the planet Jupitor, the real story is the exploration of the relationship - and often conflict - between scientific inquiry and religion.

I am sure the first of many Ben Bova novels I will read.

The rash assertion that "God made man in His own image" is ticking like a time bomb at the foundation of many faiths. - Arthur C. Clarke

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gordon Ramsay - The Biography

Living in Singapore, I first came across Gordon Ramsay on afc. I had no idea who this loud mouth git was.

But Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares soon got me hooked. Once you get past his confronting style, you start to realise there is real passion, concern and intelligence behind the bluster. And he seems to do a damn good job of turning places around on a dime.

On a whim, I picked up Gordon Ramsay - The Biography in the library. Got me suckered in very quickly and I tore through it in a day. The story behind the man is well told, and gives an idea of where the driven, hard-swearing and uncompromising character comes from. And why you should not be surprised that he is at heart a loving family guy with a wicked sense of humour and love for life... and be not a little bit impressed with all he has achieved along the way.

You may not agree that Ramsay's way is the best or only way to run a kitchen or a business, but he proves that it certainly is a way - and one that has worked for him.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Behold, the White City of Minas Tirith is under siege by one of the largest, and certainly the tastiest army ever to walk Middle Earth. For two days the evil host, under the brutal licorice fist of the Witch King of Angmar has bombarded the ancient city with stone and fire...
Wow, this is some awesome holiday project. Build the Battle of Pelennor Fields out of candy? Why not! See more pics and commentary here
If they ever re-release the LOTR DVDs, they should add this as a special feature (the baking of..)!

The Riders of Rohan

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


The guys from Miracle Denmark demonstrate how Oracle Database installation is so straight-forward, you can do it with your nose.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Talking Heads

For some reason, there's a common fixation on making computers take on a character and actually talk to us. Like another human. Or dog, seal or animated sponge....

Why? Can't think of any deeper reason than its just a bit of fun.

The state of the art is not quite Toy Story, but its certainly come a long way. I remember playing with (now defunct?) JavaHead a few years back: impressive demo, but it was hard work to get good results with your own images. You needed to be a techie/animator/audio engineer.

I've just been playing with PQ Talking Photo, and it's great to see not only a pretty good, synchronised animation but also a great, anyone-can-do-it UI. My little test is below, hopefully earning me a promo copy by blogging about it. Shameless!

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