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Whatcha reading?

Jason Menard
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*translated from Rhode Islandese, that means: "What are you reading?"
I'm bored so I thought I would see if anyone is reading anything interesting. I'm sure a good portion of us are reading technical books, but anything else? Fiction? Non-fiction? Exciting class textbook?
My current reading list:
Second Variety and Other Classic Stories by Philip K. Dick Good quick reading just before bed.
Logging in Java with the JDK 1.4 Logging API and Apache log4j by Samudra Gupta. Not exactly exciting, but I'm slogging through it. It currently occupies a prominent place in my upstairs bathroom.
Essentials of Fire Fighting by Richard Hall (Editor). Have to read again for a class.
Next up on my list for technical books:
Tivo Hacks by Raffi Krikorian. I'm a Tivo freak, so I'm looking forward to this one!
[ September 30, 2003: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast
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  30

Currently in the middle of all of these:
  • Harry Potter V
  • Jan Axelson's "Embedded Ethernet and Internet Complete"
  • "Core J2EE Patterns"
  • Paul Johnson's "A History of the Jews"
  • Ted Neward's "Server-side Java"
  • Fisher and Ury, "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In"


  • [ September 30, 2003: Message edited by: Ernest Friedman-Hill ]

    [Jess in Action][AskingGoodQuestions]
    Ashok Mash
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    That looks like a good list Jason (especially the firefighter's one) - Inspiring!
    This is the one I am onto next:
    Life of Pi
    No comment about it, as I haven't read it yet, but I kinda take one book at a time approach when it comes to reading.
    I am actually referring a number of technical books, OReilly Programming Jakarta Struts, SCEA Architecture Study Guide, and Car Maintenance DIY Guide etc, but thats purely based on need.


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    Rufus BugleWeed
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    JM - Is Gupta's logging book above average. I read some of his writing from the log4j site and was so confused?
    You got me started reading The Atlantic on-line too. You'll love some of the Bush bashing over there.
    EJB's Monson-Haeful
    RedBooks on Websphere 5
    Bob Martins deals about programming principles @objectmentor
    the JR and the NYT
    Mani Ram
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    Yet to settle down properly in the new place (SFO), so haven't got any time to look for a bookstore / library.
    Reading Lord of the Rings for 3rd time
    And ofcourse the 300+ pages big Specification Document


    Mani
    Quaerendo Invenietis
    HS Thomas
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    Joined: May 15, 2002
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    Agile Software Development
    (Really tiny image, Jim! - gone)
    And when I get them, Jess in Action, AspectJ in Action, UML for J Programmers.( I guess I have to make a contribution at some point to show my appreciation of these JavaRanch giveaways and for drivelling over precious space). Not much time for anything else. I think you need several lifetimes to really read good technical books.
    Non-technical: Simon Singh's Secret Code.
    Bill Bryson occasionally.
    regards
    [ September 30, 2003: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
    Jim Yingst
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    Posts: 18671
    It's pretty rare I read all of a technical book, unless it's short - usually I just use the index to find answers to specific questions. So, no tech books to list right now. But I'm currently reading:
    Budayeen Nights by George Alec Effinger. Collection of short stories and unfinished excerpts from Effinger's tales of Marîd Audran. Cyberpunk meets Raymond Chandler in a fictional North African city sometime later this century (actually based heavily on New Orleans). If it sounds interesting, start with When Gravity Fails, currently out of print but not too hard to find it used.
    Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavić. Ummm, too hard for me to describe at the moment; follow the Amazon links. Recommended to me by several different friends with interesting tastes. And Gilad Bracha included a quote at the beginning of the JLS2 (print version), so see, it's of interest to programmers too.
    Guns, Germs & Steel - The Fates of Human Sociaties by Jared Diamond. Original working title was "A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years". Gotta love an ambitious title like that. Lots of interesting ideas on how societies develop, and why they fail or succeed.
    [ October 01, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

    "I'm not back." - Bill Harding, Twister
    Jim Yingst
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    (Really tiny image, Jim! - gone)

    No objection to small images, or occasional large ones - I just didn't want people to get in the habit of filling up threads with them.
    Thomas Paul
    mister krabs
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    I'm reading this:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375422218


    Associate Instructor - Hofstra University
    Amazon Top 750 reviewer - Blog - Unresolved References - Book Review Blog
    John Smith
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    The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory -- a little heavy but fascinating.
    Jason Menard
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    Joined: Nov 09, 2000
    Posts: 6450
    Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:
    JM - Is Gupta's logging book above average.

    I would say it's above average, if not a bit on the dry side. I'm not too far into it though so this impression is only based on what I've read so far. Let's face it though, logging isn't really an exciting topic.
    John Smith
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    JM: Tivo Hacks by Raffi Krikorian. I'm a Tivo freak, so I'm looking forward to this one!
    I have a PVR device from my dish provider (same idea as Tivo), and I am crazy about it, too. Pause live TV, go take a piss, come back, and resume without missing anything. Go 5 seconds back of the live broadcast if you missed something, 2 minutes forward to rewind commercials, 40 hours worth of recording time, etc. I can't believe that I lived without it.
    Avi Nash
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    Joined: Jul 17, 2003
    Posts: 69
    I cannot concentrate on reading one complete (technical) book. I can read general (novel, stories) books from beginning to end at one go, but not technical . I just read the topics on the need basis.
    How do you people read? Do you complete one book from the start page till the end, and understand/remember everything or most of the thing? Do you make notes also? I just want to know how to concentrate and complete a book and understand each and every concept.
    Mapraputa Is
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    Just finished "Reading Lolita in Tehran". I wanted to read it to get an insider's look into Islamic society, but the author isn't that much an insider really. Too intellectual and too foreign educated. Instead there is a lot of interesting observations, on her personal circumstances, on how literature relates to the reality and on nature of totalitarianism. I hesitate to recommend the book to this audience, though, as it is heavily female-oriented (I bet, she took some gender theory and feminism classes ).
    Started Lost in Translation today, yet another great book. This is about emigration experience. The author somehow was able to put in words what I couldn't even realize. I'll post some quotes for you tomorrow.


    Uncontrolled vocabularies
    "I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
    Joe Ess
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        6

    Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
    Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavik.

    So are you reading it end-to-end, looking up same entries through the three versions or trying to follow one single thread by looking up the corresponding entries? Do you have the Male or Female version? Are you curious to know what the 17 line difference between the two is? That book is an enigma. I swear it is spinning new thoughts as it sits on my shelf waiting for me to read it for the sixth time.
    After plodding through Stephanson's Cryptonomicon, I'm reading Snowcrash. It has echos of Gibson's Virtual Light. Down to the post-apocolyptic world ruled by corporations and the female protagonist who's a courier.


    "blabbing like a narcissistic fool with a superiority complex" ~ N.A.
    [How To Ask Questions On JavaRanch]
    Jim Yingst
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    Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavić.
    Corrected my previous speling error. (Actually, a decimal/hex conversion error.)
    So are you reading it end-to-end, looking up same entries through the three versions or trying to follow one single thread by looking up the corresponding entries?
    Mostly I'm starting with the entries which are in all three sections (almost done here), then plan to follow corresponding roles (Sangari/Cyril/Ibn Korba, Al-Bakri/Methodius/Halevi, Cohen/Masudi/Brankovich, Suk/Muawia/Schultz). Of course the structure of the book encourages deviations from the path; I do some wandering too.
    Do you have the Male or Female version?
    Male. Not that I cared; that was just the one I found first. The friend who first told me about the book had both.
    Are you curious to know what the 17 line difference between the two is?
    Actually I've already read the differing lines, found via internet, before I got my own copy of the book. Not that this made any sense at the time, several years ago. Right now I barely remember what the lines were about; I figure I'll track them down again after I finish it.
    That book is an enigma. I swear it is spinning new thoughts as it sits on my shelf waiting for me to read it for the sixth time.
    So is that "sixth" a definite value, or an estimate? I suspect after I've made sure I've read everything once I'll end up wandering around indefinitely, and never know how many times I've really read the whole book. Or I could just rip out one page at random before I read it, and thus know that I'd [i]never[/b] read the whole thing. After reading the "Khazar Jar" entry, that seems vaguely appropriate.
    From your own readings, do you have a preferred strategy?
    After plodding through Stephanson's Cryptonomicon, I'm reading Snowcrash. It has echos of Gibson's Virtual Light. Down to the post-apocolyptic world ruled by corporations and the female protagonist who's a courier.
    Didn't read Cryptonomicon (we'll see if I do; there are a lot of other things on the shelf), and I tired of Gibson early on - never understood the hype there. But Snow Crash was a lot of fun, as was The Diamond Age. The middle of Snow Crash dragged for me somewhat, when it starts digressing about ancient Sumeria. But it does pick up again by the end. BTW, I'll reiterate my "When Gravity Fails" recommendation for you specifically, based on your other reading.
    [ October 01, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
    Ernest Friedman-Hill
    author and iconoclast
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      30


    Guns, Germs & Steel - The Fates of Human Sociaties by Jared Steel. Original working title was "A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years". Gotta love an ambitious title like that. Lots of interesting ideas on how societies develop, and why they fail or succeed.

    I found this in an airport a few years back, and read it during a cross-country round-trip. I wasn't sure what to think of it by the end. On the one hand, it provided some very plausible theories about the inevitability of the rise of Europe as the "first superpower" that had nothing to do with racial superiority or other such claptrap. On the other hand, it was a little too pat, a little too neatly wrapped up, as popular sociohistory often is. It was fun to read, anyway.
    Ashok Mash
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    Originally posted by Mani Ram:
    Reading Lord of the Rings for 3rd time

    Could not finish it even once! Guess I lost my interest somewhere when I read usages like 'eleventy-first' (hundred and eleventh) birthday of Mr. Baggins!
    Ashok
    PS: Thinking about it, 'eleventy-first' is not that bad!
    Mapraputa Is
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    Dictionary of the Khazars by Milorad Pavić.
    Does anybody know how the name really sound? Transliterating from Russian, it should be "Pavich". How do you pronounce "Pavic"? I would guess the last sound is "k" as Jim spelled the first time.
    Jim Yingst
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    Does anybody know how the name really sound? Transliterating from Russian, it should be "Pavich". How do you pronounce "Pavic"?
    It's not "Pavic", it's "Pavić". If those look the same, you need to install better fonts. I googled up a pronounciation guide:
    http://www.phantomranch.net/folkdanc/alphabet/serbo-croatian.htm
    From what it says there, it seems "Pavitch" would be a reasonable guess.
    I would guess the last sound is "k" as Jim spelled the first time.
    That was just because I accidentally used k instead of ć or ć. Just coincidence it came out to 'k'.
    Tony Collins
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    No logo - Naomi someone
    freedom in exile -
    Mani Ram
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    Originally posted by Ashok Mash:

    Guess I lost my interest somewhere when I read usages like 'eleventy-first' (hundred and eleventh) birthday of Mr. Baggins!

    And that was in the very first page of the first chapter! (I think it is there once in the prologue too!)
    Hmmmm..... :roll:
    Vladan Radovanovic
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    Does anybody know how the name really sound? Transliterating from Russian, it should be "Pavich". How do you pronounce "Pavic"?

    I do! LOL But it's hard to explain.
    ć doesn't sound like k.
    In addition to letter/character c, we have č and ć.
    č sounds like "ch" while ć is similar but little softer.
    My last name is actually Radovanović however I lost that thing from top of letter c when I moved here.
    p.s. We've got few more of these strange characters
    [ October 01, 2003: Message edited by: Vladan Radovanovic ]
    Mapraputa Is
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    JY: It's not "Pavic", it's "Pavić". If those look the same, you need to install better fonts.
    I might, but I suspected this little sign would be lost in most renderings and the letter would become simple "c". Like on Amazon, for example.
    VR: č sounds like "ch" while ć is similar but little softer.
    Now I have questions:
    1). When a native speaker of English sees "Pavić", what is his idea about pronunciation?
    2). When ć becomes c, what another native speaker of English thinks about pronunciation?
    Just curious what advantages/disadvantages are. "Pavić" looks authentic, while might sound weird, "Pavitch" will probably sound closest, while looking weird...
    Jim Yingst
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    [JY]: It's not "Pavic", it's "Pavić". If those look the same, you need to install better fonts.
    [MI]: I might, but I suspected this little sign would be lost in most renderings and the letter would become simple "c". Like on Amazon, for example.

    So, are you saying they do look the same on your browser? Here in JavaRanch, that is?
    I assume that the Amazon listing could just as easily come from people tying the name in without noticing the difference between c and ć.
    1). When a native speaker of English sees "Pavić", what is his idea about pronunciation?
    Probably "Pavik".
    2). When ć becomes c, what another native speaker of English thinks about pronunciation?
    No change for most people, since they just assumed they were the same to begin with. For more attentive readers, the 'ć' at least signals that there might be something unusual going on, inspiring some extra caution or research, whereas 'c' just encourages us to assume it's a 'k' sound. Though we do also see examples like "Slobodan Milosevic" and "Luka Kovac" (character on ER) where the name is spelled in the US with a plain c (which I assume is incorrect), but we hear it pronounced as "ch". So we do have some clues available as to how a name ending in c might be pronounced, but most people probably won't think much about it, and will just assume 'k'.
    Just curious what advantages/disadvantages are. "Pavić" looks authentic, while might sound weird, "Pavitch" will probably sound closest, while looking weird...
    "Pavitch" wouldn't look too weird in the US - people would just assume he was an immigrant from somewhere in eastern europe. Such phonetic respellings aren't uncommon for immigrants. They'd probably guess Russia or Poland first though. Russia would make more sense, as Poles are more likely to retain the original spelling of -wicz. I think Poles were just more common as immigrants in this country, therefore people who don't know any better with think of "Polish" before "Serbian" or "Croatian" or whatever other terms may be more appropriate here.
    [ October 01, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
    Mapraputa Is
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    So, are you saying they do look the same on your browser? Here in JavaRanch, that is?
    Nooooo... They look different. Not sure why I said "I might"
    They'd probably guess Russia or Poland first though
    Most Russian last names ends in "-ev", "-ov", "-in" (for females add "a" to the end), with few other variants. "-itch" would make me think about some West Slav roots (most likely Polish )
    To bring this thread back:
    EK: The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions, and the Quest for the Ultimate Theory -- a little heavy but fascinating.
    PBS will have a program about the book:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/
    Jim Yingst
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    OK for last names, but aren't there a lot of patronymics ending in -vitch or something similar? Seems like I've seen plenty of -vitch or -yich somewhere in male Russian names. For purposes of the question here, I think the typical native english speaker is not going to think about the difference between a Russian patronymic and a Russian last name - they'll just hear the -vitch and say either "sounds Russian" or "sounds Polish".
    The Lord of the Rings:
    [Ashok Mash]: Guess I lost my interest somewhere when I read usages like 'eleventy-first' (hundred and eleventh) birthday of Mr. Baggins!

    For what it's worth, that sort of "hobbit-speak" diminishes considerably once you leave the hobbit's homeland. And eleventy-first is one of the more extreme and silly examples. But there are other linguistic oddities - maybe you're better off avoiding the books for now at least. Check out the movies; if you like them enough, go for the books.
    Guns, Germs & Steel:
    [EFH]: I found this in an airport a few years back, and read it during a cross-country round-trip. I wasn't sure what to think of it by the end. On the one hand, it provided some very plausible theories about the inevitability of the rise of Europe as the "first superpower" that had nothing to do with racial superiority or other such claptrap. On the other hand, it was a little too pat, a little too neatly wrapped up, as popular sociohistory often is. It was fun to read, anyway.

    Yeah, I do sense a certain determination to try to use these nifty new theories to try to explain, well, everything - and some of it stretches a bit thin. But I think a lot of the arguments deserve consideration at least among the causes for Why Things Are The Way They Are - even if they're not the only causes. Seems like when the author considers alternate explanations, he considers only racially-based theories, and then rejects them more out of horror than from actually considering them. E.g. what about the role of cultural or religious institutions - is that too close to "racism" to even be considered? Or, forget both race and goeography - what if it's just an unstable system, such that once one group comes out ahead by sheer chance, they are able to keep pressing their advantage and widening the gap, more easily than other groups can catch up? There may well be holes in such a theory, but it's a bit vexing that the author seems so obsessed with defeating (or at least avoiding) racial explanations, that he doesn't want to consider any third or fourth alternatives. Though to be fair, given the scope of the subject matter he's got to leave out some stuff along the way. I do like the book pretty well, but don't want to swallow it whole.
    Jim Yingst
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    Oops - I now see that I got another author name wrong in my initial post - Guns, Germs, and Steel is written by Jared Diamond, not Jared Steel. Now corrected, except in EFH's quote of me. So, I guess this means we should now discuss the comparative significance of steel vs. diamond across different cultures.
    [ October 01, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
    Mapraputa Is
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    JY: OK for last names, but aren't there a lot of patronymics ending in -vitch or something similar? Seems like I've seen plenty of -vitch or -yich somewhere in male Russian names.
    Ah, I see. Also the fact that a polite form of addressing requires both first name and what you call patronymic (example: "Ivan Illich") could contribute to the confusion, as the patronymic could be easily mistaken for the last name. <sup>1</sup> In fact, a person can be addressed using only patronymic, this form combines deference and intimacy/informality and usually is used for an aged person if there are no social barriers (among co-workers of the same status, neighbors etc.) Leader of the world's proletariat Vladimir Illich Lenin was often referred to as simply "Illich".
    Now to confuse things, there is an original thinker Ivan Illich, where "Illich" is the last name, as I can tell.
    ------------------
    <sup>1</sup>) Like in Solzhenitsyn's "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich", Denisovich is not the last name. That Solzhenitsyn used the "full" form of addressing probably means that his main hero wasn't too young.
    P.S. Just read in Amazon's reviews: "As the title suggests, the story was about a winter-like day of prisoner Ivan Denisovich...but he is referred to as "Shukov", though it never says why." Because this is his last name.
    [ October 02, 2003: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
    John Smith
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    Ah, I see. Also the fact that a polite form of addressing requires both first name and what you call patronymic (example: "Ivan Illich") could contribute to the confusion, as the patronymic could be easily mistaken for the last name.
    It also adds to the confusion that many Russian patronymic forms actually become last names. For example, Ivan Petrovich Aleksandrovich is a real full name. So, in many cases, if you only hear one part of the name, it becomes impossible to determine whether it is a last name or a patronymic name. Just like in English: Thomas John Paul. Did I get your middle name right, Tom?
    Ashok Mash
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    Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
    For what it's worth, that sort of "hobbit-speak" diminishes considerably once you leave the hobbit's homeland.

    I totally agree with that. Half the charm of LOTR is that language and its the key element to let the reader feel the strange background, foreign environment and everything else that makes LOTR so interesting. Infact, I did scan thru The Fellowship of the Ring, and after a gap, started reading The Two Towers. But I guess its the movies, I kinda lost the suspense-factor, and since it takes time to appreciate the 'hobbit talk, I couln't get myself read the rest of it!
    vasu maj
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    You forever by Lobsing Rampa. Very interesting and insightful. I am reading it really slow as it makes me think a lot.. I keep going back and forth...
    Developers' certification book by Habibi. I want to do my developers' exam but I don't know if I will ever be able to do it in this lifetime...
    Vasu


    What a wonderful world!
    Angela Poynton
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    Sheriffs & Bartenders on this thread!
    I am SO ashamed of you! Not ONE of you included the vital piece of info on the end of your Amazon links that would give Javaranch a kick-back if anyone bought something after clicking on it!
    Slap yourselves on the wrist now you naughty people!
    For the benefit of anyone else who might want to help us all you need to do is format your URL so it looks like this http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0349115761/jr_bunk-20 (the number will usually be the ISBN number of the book.)
    Incidently I'm reading Things Snowball by Rich Hall
    Very Very funny!


    Pounding at a thick stone wall won't move it, sometimes, you need to step back to see the way around.
    Jason Menard
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    Originally posted by Angela Poynton:
    Sheriffs & Bartenders on this thread!
    I am SO ashamed of you! Not ONE of you included the vital piece of info on the end of your Amazon links that would give Javaranch a kick-back if anyone bought something after clicking on it!

    I followed mine with /jranch-20, which I thought served the same function.
    Jim Yingst
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  • In fact one bartender did already link in the manner you suggest, except he used a better link.
  • Actually we're supposed to use jranch-20 rather than jr_bunk-20, since the latter is used to track what comes from the bunkhouse proper.
  • OK, I admit, I forgot.

  • [ October 02, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
    Rufus BugleWeed
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    I wish this addition to the path info was published on the bull moose saloon home page. I cite a lot of books and might add the referer code if I could remember how to do it.
    What would really be nice is a filter before the front controller that did it automatically.
    Joe Ess
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        6

    Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
    So is that "sixth" a definite value, or an estimate?
    An estimate, and a low one.


    From your own readings, do you have a preferred strategy?

    I have read it linearly and picking a point and following the references. It's hard to know when to stop reading in the latter fashion. Like you said, start ripping out pages.
    I tired of Gibson early on - never understood the hype there. But Snow Crash was a lot of fun, as was The Diamond Age. The middle of Snow Crash dragged for me somewhat, when it starts digressing about ancient Sumeria. But it does pick up again by the end. BTW, I'll reiterate my "When Gravity Fails" recommendation for you specifically, based on your other reading.
    I enjoyed Gibson's Neuromancer a lot, as well a collection of his short stories called Burning Chrome. The other novels of his that I've read underwhelmed me. The seemed to hint at epic confrontations of immense forces just beyond the sight of the characters, but never get around to filling the reader in. Maybe it's me being lazy. . .
    Angela Poynton
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    Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
  • In fact one bartender did already link in the manner you suggest, except he used a better link.
  • Actually we're supposed to use jranch-20 rather than jr_bunk-20, since the latter is used to track what comes from the bunkhouse proper.
  • OK, I admit, I forgot.

  • [ October 02, 2003: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

  • OK Apologies to Jason, I missed that one!
  • Ahh well even I'm not perfect!
  • gotcha!
  • Richard Hawkes
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    Currently:
    "Foucault's Pendulum" by Umberto Eco - heavy going but interesting. Subway and bedtimes.
    "American Psycho" by Brett Easton Ellis. First re-read actually. After I finished it originally I didn't think I'd ever want to read it again but its a lot better this time round, now I'm all older and stuff. For the bathroom.
    A bunch of Sherlock Holmes stories someone's put on the web. For lunch breaks at the PC
    Richard Hawkes
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    Posts: 1340
    Originally posted by Joe Ess:
    I enjoyed Gibson's Neuromancer a lot, as well a collection of his short stories called Burning Chrome. The other novels of his that I've read underwhelmed me. The seemed to hint at epic confrontations of immense forces just beyond the sight of the characters, but never get around to filling the reader in.
    I agree. Thought it was just me! However I still enjoy the actual read (journey) as his environments and characters are always interesting.
     
    I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
     
    subject: Whatcha reading?
     
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