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Windows Tools

Source code for all these tools is on GitHub.

ADO.NET ConnTest A simple, free Windows program to test ADO.NET connection strings.

Lines of C# Ever wanted to know how many lines of C# code are in a file or folder hierarchy?  This free Windows program will tell you.

XmlTools Free tools to process XML files from the command line.

‘People, Character and Intelligence’
Score: 5/5

Daniel Keyes

This is an old ‘classic’ science fiction book that I hadn’t read until now. I can see why it’s a classic – it tries to explore current thinking and culture by using science fiction, rather than just being a regular story but with Space Aliens instead of some other enemy.

The narration is a little odd and takes some getting used to. It’s all in the form of journal entries. This doesn’t interfere with story – at times it’s written more as a ‘first-person past tense’ telling of events than what you’d expect in a journal. Transitions felt pretty seamless.

Transitions is a good word to describe a lot of what goes on in the book.

I’m not sure how well this will transition to film, but I may hunt down ‘Charly’ or the more recent ‘Flowers For Algernon’ to see what the filmmakers made of it all.

Posted by 'geoff' on Wednesday, 31 December 2014. No comments.

‘Fun, But No “Intruders”’
Score: 3/4

Steven Brust and Skyler White

Like Michael Marshall’s ‘The Intruders’, this is another look at what could happen if souls or consciousness could transcend death and inhabit a new body.

That’s about it for similarities though – the actualities are a bit different here. The differences seem to me to make it a bit less believable though – it’s hard to see how they’d be so altruistic, and also hard to understand how they’re not rich. The book does try to cover these points but as I said it’s a bit hard to believe.

That said, the book is well-paced and interesting, and there’s enough drama and action.

Posted by 'geoff' on Wednesday, 31 December 2014. No comments.

‘Fast Pace, Compelling, Short’
Score: 5/5

As usual, Gaiman has quite the imagination and he tells the story so beautifully. From the turns of phrase he uses to the subtle way he builds up to what’s actually going on, each page was a delight.

This was a lovely wee book. My only wish is it had been longer.

Posted by 'geoff' on Saturday, 22 November 2014. No comments.

‘Well Paced, Dramatic, Intense’
Score: 5/5

William Goldman
£2.00 (in a charity sale)

I thoroughly enjoyed this and raced through it very quickly.

I wondered how it would compare to the film, with its intense ‘Is it safe?’ scene, but it held up very well. The film is good, the book is different but also good.

As is often the case, the book has a bit more depth to it than the film, and a bit more backstory to ground some of the characters. The book came first but the film was quite true to the book’s story.

(As a side note, it’s worth watching the film if you haven’t already. I was surprised at a few people I mentioned it to who hadn’t seen it.)

Posted by 'geoff' on Wednesday, 19 November 2014. No comments.

‘Humans Dealing With Limits’
Score: 4/5

Karl Schroeder

A nice far-future novel that – like many others – wrestles with humanity and the nature of post-humans. Interesting enough in its own right, but something about the rich settings and pacing reminded me of Neverness.

Posted by 'geoff' on Wednesday, 19 November 2014. No comments.

‘Good Story, Gorgeous Graphics’
Score: 5/5

Cory Doctorow & Jen Wang

This was just lovely.

It’s not a complicated story, but it’s an enjoyable (if short) book to read. And yes it’s expensive, especially when it’s so short, but it’s also gorgeous graphics beautifully printed.

More like this please!

Posted by 'geoff' on Sunday, 16 November 2014. No comments.

‘Augmented Brains, Network Telepathy’
Score: 3/5

Ramez Naam
£21.98 (Really? I didn't pay that much!)

I’m in two minds about this book. When it was good it was thoroughly enjoyable. When it wasn’t good, it was a bit of a slog picking it up.

Some of the good parts were the action scenes, which were well paced and made the book hard to put down. The ideas behind some of the augmentation was also interesting, and there was more about meditation than I expected in a science fiction book.

Some of the rest felt I was plodding through the book rather than being carried away by the plot.

Posted by 'geoff' on Wednesday, 22 October 2014. No comments.

‘A Fitting Follow-Up’
Score: 4/5

Steven R. Boyett

I did enjoy ‘Ariel’ but I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from the follow-up. The author himself said he didn’t really feel like it lent itself to a sequel.

I’m glad he changed his mind though. Much as I enjoyed Ariel, I think this book is better. I felt it a bit more compelling and I felt a bit more in tune with the characters.

The discrepancies between the first and second were annoying though. The author explains why they’re there in the afterword, and I can see his point of view, but I stumbled a bit when I first came across them.

It also suffers a bit from why-don’t-they-just syndrome. There were a few occasions where I thought ‘But why don’t they…?’ and it was never explained why they didn’t. I don’t know if it’s because the author didn’t think of it, or it didn’t fit within his view of that world, or if it had already been explained away and I missed it, or something else.

Even so, it didn’t really detract from the quest nature of the plot, and I did enjoy this book a lot. I wonder if there’ll be any more.

Posted by 'geoff' on Friday, 26 September 2014. No comments.

I don't need Microsoft to save me from myself, I need someone to save me from Microsoft.

This was brought home to me once again this week when I put a 'Windows 8.1 with update' on a VM. (Side note: seriously, Microsoft, you are really, really bad at naming things.)

I have the VM on a Linux machine, and my plan was to use Remote Desktop into it from my laptop to do some occasional fiddling with ‘vNext’, the next version of .NET.

Developing on Windows involves a whole lot more rebooting of the machine than I'd like, but it's less of a problem with a fast machine. Except Microsoft have taken the dumb step of preventing you from restarting your machine via Remote Desktop. I guess this is because they don't want you accidentally shutting a remote computer down when you're far from the power button for switching it on again. (No idea why they won't let you reboot it though, unless they're not actually confident it'll come back up...) But I don't need or want that kind of protection, I want it to make common tasks easy.

In previous versions of Windows it was possible, even if (from memory) you had to change some of the security policies to put the Shutdown and Restart options back on the menu button. But now even that's not possible.

Someone has actually had to spend time taking this feature out. It was already in place, along (I think) with the security policy to control it, and they've had to take the time to delete that code. And in doing so, Windows takes another step back.

So I don't need Microsoft protect me from myself here. I'm all growed up now, and if I want to shut the damn thing down it's up to me, not Microsoft. I resent them going out of their way to make this harder. Yes I can just put commands in batch files on the desktop (for this release at least, until they fuck up the desktop some more), but every time I have to use them I'll be thinking again about how Microsoft has gone out of its way to make Windows a bit more hostile.

And yes, that's one of the reasons the VM is on a Linux host.

We don't need Microsoft protecting us from ourselves, we need protecting from Microsoft.

Posted by 'geoff' on Friday, 12 September 2014. No comments.

‘Boy And His Unicorn’
Score: 4/5

Steven R. Boyett

In contrast to that last book I read, I really did get into this book. I found it quite engaging, even though I wouldn’t have expected the subject to interest me.

It’s not giving anything away to tell you it was written in the early 80s, and is set in an almost post-apocalyptic US where technology no longer works but some magic does. And it’s about a boy and a unicorn. (This is all part of the set-up in chapter 1 so there are no spoilers here. This tells you much less than the blurb on the back of the book.)

The tale is told simply, and it does suffer from the occasional ‘Why don’t they just…’ but even so it was fun to read and I did keep turning the pages.

After a couple of decades of saying there’d be no sequel, the author has apparently relented and written one. I’ll let you know how I get on with it too.

Posted by 'geoff' on Friday, 12 September 2014. 1 comment.
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