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

‘Interesting, Fun, But Preachy’
Score: 4/5

This is an odd one. The book itself is free fan-fiction (so not authorised in any way by JK Rowling) and it’s not just set in the Harry Potter universe, it’s a replacement for the first Harry Potter book – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

But what makes it particularly odd is that it’s a book with an agenda.

The agenda is quite explicit – the author wants to get across the biases that affect our everyday thinking and bring us to a more rational approach to thinking. However, sometimes the agenda is so forceful it reminded me of ‘Dianetics’.

But what do you expect for nothing?

It is a fully-fledged book too, in length terms at least. (There is talk of it being sold as a physical book for charity, but that seems to me a target fraught with IP issues.) The premise is simply that Harry Potter was brought up with a scientific, rational approach to life and learning, so when the letter appears inviting him to Hogwarts he’s not just curious but inquisitive enough to want to run experiments to test this ‘magic’ thing we muggles know nothing about.

And from there the book takes you into Hogwarts and encourages you to think. There are puzzles and lots of guidance on the way too.

I enjoyed it, and found some of it quite fun. It took quite a few chapters to get going, and I still think it’s a bit preachy in parts. I’m still not sure what to make of the end-goal of rational approach described in the book though. I’ll need to think about that some more.

Posted by 'geoff' on Saturday, 25 April 2015. No comments.

‘Too Scared To Tweet’
Score: 5/5

Jon Ronson

I found this book thoroughly enjoyable and quite, quite terrifying.

The notion of shaming to enforce cultural norms is covered in the book, but the core of the book is the human repercussions. I knew of many of the cases talked about, and I’d already read some significant chunks of the book when they were published elsewhere as articles, but there’s plenty new in the book.

Also, reading this book may make you want to stop posting on Twitter.

Posted by 'geoff' on Wednesday, 15 April 2015. No comments.

‘Interesting, A Bit Sad’
Score: 4/5

Walter Mosley

An interesting, modern story that echoes ‘Flowers For Algernon’ in intent, if not in narrative approach. It’s very different from the Easy Rawlins story I read, but I enjoyed it too – just in a different way.

Posted by 'geoff' on Wednesday, 15 April 2015. No comments.

‘Future Tech, Future Problems’
Score: 4/5

John Scalzi

A nice enough near-future crime book. It seems to me the setting is used for its overtones of coming problems with internet-of-things and computer-brain interfaces but y'know, maybe that's just me. I still found it enjoyable, as well as quick and easy to read.

Posted by 'geoff' on Tuesday, 17 March 2015. No comments.

‘Geeky Humour And Magic’
Score: 4/5

Scott Meyer

Geeky humour and magic. A lovely combination. I thought this was very easy to read (especially compared to Out On Blue Six) and quite enjoyable too.

Posted by 'geoff' on Tuesday, 17 March 2015. No comments.

‘Too Deep For Me’
Score: 2/5

Ian McDonald

I thought this was a hard book to read and hard to get into. Not as hard as the book I started last year and haven't managed to get through yet, but hard enough.

I bought the book after reading this on Boing Boing, and since the author lives in Belfast I wanted to really like it.

Posted by 'geoff' on Tuesday, 17 March 2015. 1 comment.

‘That’s More Like It’
Score: 4/5

Gavin Deas

This is the second purchase in my refund-so-I-bought-Elite-books tale. It's much better than the first.

This one actually feels like it's set in the Elite: Dangerous universe for a start. The characters and situations are a bit more credible. And there's a lot of fighting in spaceships.

What more could I ask for?

Posted by 'geoff' on Tuesday, 17 March 2015. 1 comment.

‘Could've Been Set Anywhere’
Score: 2/5

Gideon Defoe

I started playing Elite: Dangerous a while ago, and was stuck in a bookshop looking for something to buy with a refunded purchase. I bought a couple of Elite: Dangerous books.

This one I just didn't really warm to. It's set in the Elite: Dangerous universe but it doesn't really capitalise on that, and it doesn't really have any of the feeling of that universe. Humour is subjective, but that didn't really work for me here either. Ah well.

Posted by 'geoff' on Tuesday, 17 March 2015. 1 comment.

‘More Anxiety-Ridden Misadventures’
Score: 4/5

This is a collection of articles, some of which I'd previously read. It does show the very odd situations the author finds himself in though and I do enjoy reading his work.

Posted by 'geoff' on Tuesday, 17 March 2015. No comments.

‘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. 1 comment.
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