All posts by ntbadmin

Tech News

From 2006

Mr Brian Harcourt of Mayfield, South Canterbury has just
invented a remarkable new computer product. This as yet unnamed
device consists of two small directional microphones and a
microchip. The microphones are attached to each side of the
monitor, and the chip is mounted inside the computer.

The microphones pick up any noises made by the computer operator and relay these to the microprocessor. After processing, a suitable
response is computed and played through the computer’s speaker.
Results were interesting to say the least, try whistling and the
computer will respond with a counter-melody. Shout obscenities
and it replies with “You could be arrested for saying that in
public. The software knows 600,000 words if the English language
(including the naughty ones). Some responses include “Shouldn’t
you read the instructions first ?”, “How would I know that, I’m
just a dumb machine” and “If you did that to your child they
would lock you up for eternity (which is a sod of a long time).
In fact it is possible to have a limited conversation with your
computer (but you probably know that already). Experiments at a
local secondary school have been generally successful. “This is
great” a teacher claims, “with this device I don’t have to answer
a lot of stupid questions all the time, the computer does it for
me. The problem is that some students will believe the computers
more than the teachers”. after some thought she added “I suppose
that we always talked to the computers, it’s just that they now
answer back”.

After several weeks of trials the project has been
abandoned because of complaints from the teachers union. They
think it could put them out of a job. Mr Harcourt has refused to
give up. He has taken his invention to England where he plans to
put his idea to Clive Sinclair.

(c) 28/2/2006

 

At 60

Written for a relative who was having a 60th birthday in 2006.

10 Things good about turning 60

  1. Making the ‘6’ look like a ‘5″
  2. Getting more respect from your children
  3. Still being the youngest of your siblings
  4. Still NOT a grandfather
  5. Any slowing down can be attributed to ‘getting ready for retirement’
  6. Getting less respect from your children
  7. Friends now show you to the softer seats
  8. You now have an excuse for bad behavior
  9. A greater proportion of the ladies now look younger and sexier
  10. NO MORE DISH-WASHING

2015 Nebulas

 

Novel

Raising Caine, Charles E. Gannon (Baen)

The Fifth Season, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
My Review

Ancillary Mercy, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Started the first book, never finished it

The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (Saga)

Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)
Read it, would recommend it

Barsk: The Elephants’ Graveyard, Lawrence M. Schoen (Tor)

Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)
Novella

Wings of Sorrow and Bone, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager Impulse)
“The Bone Swans of Amandale,” C.S.E. Cooney (Bone Swans)
“The New Mother,” Eugene Fischer (Asimov’s 4-5/15)
“The Pauper Prince and the Eucalyptus Jinn,” Usman T. Malik (Tor.com 4/22/15)
Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
“Waters of Versailles,” Kelly Robson (Tor.com 6/10/15)

Novelette

“Rattlesnakes and Men,” Michael Bishop (Asimov’s 2/15)
“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead,” Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed 2/15)
“Grandmother-nai-Leylit’s Cloth of Winds,” Rose Lemberg (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 6/11/15)
“The Ladies’ Aquatic Gardening Society,” Henry Lien (Asimov’s 6/15)
“The Deepwater Bride,” Tamsyn Muir (F&SF 7-8/15)
“Our Lady of the Open Road,” Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 6/15)

Short Story

“Madeleine,” Amal El-Mohtar (Lightspeed 6/15)
“Cat Pictures Please,” Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld 1/15)
“Damage,” David D. Levine (Tor.com 1/21/15)
“When Your Child Strays From God,” Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 7/15)
“Today I Am Paul,” Martin L. Shoemaker (Clarkesworld 8/15)
“Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers,” Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)

 

And the Winners Are:

Novel

  • Uprooted, Naomi Novik (Del Rey)

Novella

  • Binti, Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)

Novelette

  • ‘‘Our Lady of the Open Road’’, Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s 6/15)

Short Story

  • ‘Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers’’, Alyssa Wong (Nightmare 10/15)

 

2015 Hugos

Best Novel

  • Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie 
  • The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher
  • The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
  • Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Best Novella

  • Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
  • The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)
  • Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson
  • Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

Best Novelette

  • “And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander (Lightspeed, Feb 2015)
  • “Flashpoint: Titan” by CHEAH Kai Wai (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
  • “Folding Beijing” by Hao Jingfang, trans. Ken Liu (Uncanny Magazine, Jan-Feb 2015)
  • “Obits” by Stephen King (The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, Scribner)
  • “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)

Best Short Story

  • “Asymmetrical Warfare” by S. R. Algernon (Nature, Mar 2015)
  • “Cat Pictures Please” by Naomi Kritzer (Clarkesworld, January 2015)
  • “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris (voxday.blogspot.com, Jun 2015)
  • “Seven Kill Tiger” by Charles Shao (There Will Be War Volume X, Castalia House)
  • Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle (Amazon Digital Services)

The Big Lebowski

The Big Lebowski is a 1998 American neo-noir crime comedy film, written, produced, and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. It stars Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, a Los Angeles slacker and avid bowler. After he is assaulted as a result of mistaken identity, The Dude learns of a millionaire also named Jeffrey Lebowski who was the intended victim. When the millionaire Lebowski’s trophy wife is kidnapped, he commissions The Dude to deliver the ransom to secure her release. The plan goes awry when the Dude’s friend Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) schemes to keep the full ransom. Julianne Moore and Steve Buscemi also star, with David Huddleston, John Turturro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Elliott and Tara Reid appearing in supporting roles.

It’s easy to see why this is a popular film. Jeff Daniels is great as the stoner chilled out duke. John Goodman rocks as the aggressive friend. It taps into many of the myths Americans have about themselves, from the car culture to the western end that Sam Elliot provides.

 

24 Day 2

The second season of the American drama television series 24, also known as Day 2, was first broadcast from October 29, 2002, to May 20, 2003 on Fox. The season begins and ends at 8:00 a.m.

This season can essentially be broken into two acts:

The first act involves CTU attempting to stop a Middle Eastern terrorist cell from detonating a nuclear bomb in Los Angeles.
In the second act, Jack and the CTU try to prevent a misdirected retaliatory strike from the U.S. by investigating a possibly forged piece of evidence, as the strikes might touch off a world war if successful.

This season pushed the melodrama up another notch. Lots of close shots of people whispering and conspiring. Jack surviving torture then a few hours later taking on a crack team of assassins. The absurb-o-meter really gets cranked up to nuclear proportions in this season.

PC Crisis

Crisis, What Crisis ?
(or “Why staying cool is important”)

Saturday 14 Jan 2006
While playing a demo of Warcraft 3 the monitor went blank.
Then it came on again, went off, flickered and looked like
an electronic device near its deathbed. I turned everything
off, went and did other things for a while then came back.
Now it worked, but not for long. Five minutes later it went
blank. By pushing the contrast and brightnesss to max I could
just see the image, enough to do a proper shutdown.

It seemed obvious, the monitor was kaput, deceased and gone to
silicon hell. So I got in the car and went to Dragon PCs in Archon
Drive. They had a Viewsonic VA702S, a LCD 17 inch monitor for
$427. I was tempted to get the 19 inch for an extra $100, but
knowing the image would be a bit larger than existing monitor, went
for the 17 inch.

I put the old, damaged monitor in the corner (next to the trash)
and installed the new monitor. It went perfectly – for about 10
minutes. Then the same problem occurred. Bugger, the only explanation could be that the PC was faulty, probably the video card.
Could it be a loose connection ?
I removed the cover and blew the dust from 17 months of use
away. Gently pressing on the cards, there didn’t appear to
be any obvious problems.

Sunday 15 January
With my digital buddy resting there wasn’t much to do.
I watched Red Dwarf series 7 then looked at the old PC in the
corner. I had been intending to reformat the disks and get
red of it. An old version of Partition Magic came out and I managed
to stuff up the partitions on both disks and get DOS installed
on the C: drive (that was the idea).

Monday 16 January
At 8:30 the PC arrived at Vintron with a worried owner.
The cover was opened and the innards examined. Graham found the
problem immediately. The videocard fan was so stuffed with dust
it had stopped operating. It was left to be fixed.
Later that day he phoned to say it was fixed and I could pick it up.

Tuesday 17 January
After work the PC came home to a desk with two monitors ready.
I would get an adapter cable and run two 17 inch monitors side
by side. Everything worked OK, I could get me email and stay
up to date with Trademe (current addiction). Then I noticed
strange red patterns on web pages. I was wrong, it wasn’t just
the web pages, it was everywhere. Next, windows failed to close,
icons went blank and everything overlapped everything else, bugger.
I unhooked the old monitor and tried the new LCD monitor. At first
it was OK, then the same thing happened again. I checked the video
settings, everything appeared to be installed correctly. I turned
everything off and tried again. After 5-10 minutes the same thing
happened. It took about the same time for everything to go wrong
as before, on saturday. Conclusion: maybe the fan isn’t working
on this videocard either. This PC is going back.
The keyboard went on the old PC and I got to know DOS EDIT.COM
again. I amused myself by getting old DOS games working, including
Discworld 2, a game that wouldn’t work on anything but DOS.

Wednesday 18 January
Phoned Vintron and arranged to bring the PC to their workshop.
At Vintron, Graham didn’t bother to verify my problem, he just took
the old Videocard out and put another one in. We hooked the PC up
to his monitor and waited for something to go wrong. After 10 minutes nothing did, so we concluded the problem was fixed. In total it cost $3, and that was for the cheap speakers I got to put on my old PC. It was still working after about five hours of operation at home, so it looks like that problem has been fixed.

Friday 20 January
Finally got the adapter for the second monitor and had both running.
With a bit of fiddling, changed resolutions and settings so they
worked together. New problem, the new LCD is brighter and better than the old CRT monitor. Maybe I should get a new LCD monitor so they match. Anyone want to buy an old 17 inch monitor ?

2016 Update
I an still using the same set of monitors.

 

100 Top Female Books

From Book Riot – 100 Must-Read Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels by Female Authors

(with comments from me)

1. Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

2. The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

Have read a few of her short stories

3. Among Others by Jo Walton

Tried it, gave up half-way through

4. Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

Couldn’t get into it.

5. Ancient, Ancient by Kiini Ibura Salaam

6. The Antelope Wife by Louise Erdrich

7. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey

Tried to read two of her books, gave up early.

8. Ash by Malinda Lo

9. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

One of my top-rated books

10. The Pyramid Waltz by Barbara Wright

11. Biting the Sun by Tanith Lee

12. The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish

13. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter

14. Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

Another good read

15. Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

16. Cast in Shadow by Michelle Sagara

17. China Mountain Zhang by Maureen F. McHugh

18. Chorus of Mushrooms by Hiromi Goto

19. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

First in a series. Recommended.

20. The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

21. The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce

22. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

23. Daughter of the Blood by Anne Bishop

24. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

25. Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

26. Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

27. The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

28. The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin

29. Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

30. Dragon Sword and Wind Child by Noriko Ogiwara

31. Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

Tried reading it – not very interesting

32. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

33. The Etched City by K.J. Bishop

34. The Female Man by Joanna Russ

35. Flesh and Spirit by Carol Berg

36. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip

37. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

38. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

39. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

40. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

41. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

42. The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington

43. Her Smoke Rose Up Forever by James Tiptree Jr.

44. Hild by Nicola Griffith

45. His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik

First of another good series.

46. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende

47. The House on the Lagoon by Rosario Ferré

48. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

49. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

50. Ink by Sabrina Vourvoulias

51. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

52. The Island of Eternal Love by Daína Chaviano

53. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Now a TV series

54. Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

55. The Killing Moon by N. K. Jemisin

56. Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Started, gave up due to boredom.

57. Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

58. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

59. The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

60. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

61. Moving the Mountain by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

62. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi

63. My Christina & Other Stories by Mercè Rodoreda

64. My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

65. Native Tongue by Suzette Haden Elgin

66. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

67. Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

68. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

69. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

70. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

71. The Red by Linda Nagata

Just Read – see review

72. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

73. Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

74. Salt Fish Girl by Larissa Lai

75. The Second Mango by Shira Glassman

76. Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Read it – very average

77. Shikasta by Doris Lessing

78. The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Read this in 1990 – recommended

79. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

80. So Far from God by Ana Castillo

81. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

82. Soulless by Gail Carriger

83. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

84. The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

85. Spirits of the Ordinary by Kathleen Alcala

86. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

87. A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar

88. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

89. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell

90. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner

91. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner

92. Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff

93. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull

94. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

95. Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor

96. Wicked As They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

97. Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

98. The Woman Who Thought She Was a Planet and Other Stories by Vandana Singh

99. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

100. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

After the Election

Sometime after the 12 October 1996 NZ Election
(c) Nigel Baker  11/10/1996

Cabinet meeting room, parliament buildings.

In walks Jim Bolger, grinning like a Cheshire cat. He’s still the prime
minister. He takes a seat at the head of the table. Next comes Helen Clark. She is also smiling, after some quick negotiating with Jim she is now deputy PM. Ready and able to take shuffling steps forward in to the past.

Bolger waves his pudgy hands around, indicating the ten cabinet seats and who should fill them. There is some fighting over the finance seat between Birch and Cullen. Bolger wasn’t all that specific when he allocated the portfolios.

The remainder of the cabinet shuffle in like a flock of sheep.

Some appear to be missing.

Jim Anderson is absent. Despite gaining 18 seats in parliament, the
coalition between national & labour has relegated him permanently to the opposition.

Winstone Peters is the same way. He has disbanded his party. His retired helpers have gone back to their potting sheds.

You won’t find Alliance, christian or even McGillicudy Serious MPs.
All have been rendered useless by the solid block of MPs that were in the correct position to kiss leader butt.

10 minutes later :

Some MPs are beginning to pass out on the floor. Not from the heat, or lack of ventilation but from the affects of alcohol.

Doug Meyers has been helping the celebrations with some of his product. There was still some left over from last Saturday night.

“Come on Jenny, pass some of those drugs around” bellows Bolger from one end of the table to the other. A medicine bottle slides along the table. Jim stretches to catch the bottle. He has been eating a bit too much. His suit is tighter than usual. He misses the bottle, and it
breaks on the floor.

“AWW SHIT”, exclaims Birch. He is still teetering on his chair, pressing his big red nose to the polished oak table.

Doug Graham is growing impatient. “Shouldn’t we be DOING SOMETHING” he ponders aloud. “Like what ?” asks Bolger, even merrier than before. “Well, were the government now, we should be governing”.

“Don’t worry”. Bill Birch rising from table level. “It’s all been taken
care of”.

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN ?” cries Doug.

“Well”, starts Birch, “Remember all those state assets we sold during the eighties and nineties. We told you that it was to get money to balance the budget. It’s all bullshit. We were doing it so we could let others run the country and we could enjoy ourselves. We sold them to some fine fellows – Gibbs, Fay, Richwhite, Fernyhough, Kerr, Deane, Jones”

“Great school mates” Mike Moore adds.

“Great mates” Birch continues. “Although some of them were tightwad sadistic bastards, but great school mates all the same. A toast to them”.

Those MPs still conscious raise their glasses.
“TO GREAT SCHOOL MATES” they boom throughout the beehive.