Monthly Archives: August 2012

Book Review: The Chronicles of Amber Vol. 3 of 5 – The Sign of the Unicorn by Roger Zelazny


The story of this time-traveling, in-fighting and incestuous family dressed in anachronistic medieval attire really hit its stride in this volume. The pacing and political intrigue are tight and complex, yet comprehendible. The things revealed by twists are unforeseen and captivating. If you’ve read the first book or two and wondered what all the hoopla was about (the series has appeared on many Best Of awards lists and name-checked as an influence by a healthy number of talented writers, Neil Gaiman among them), stick with it and you’ll probably be rewarded at this point.

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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Books


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Finished Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ Novel, Here’s My Brief Review

Galaxies! Check this out:

“Look, Manlio, we’re proceeding along a planned history. We know that Hari Seldon worked out the historical probabilities of the future. We know that some day we’re to rebuild the Galactic Empire. We know that it will take a thousand years or thereabouts. And we know that in the interval we will face certain definite crises. Now the first crisis came fifty years after the establishment of the Foundation…Almost seventy-five years have gone since. It’s time, Manlio, it’s time.”

That’s got to sound really cheesy to if you haven’t read it before. And it is amazing how goofy a lot of this stuff is, especially taken out of context, yet it ultimately comes out of something intelligent and compelling. I’m addicted to the feeling of discovering fictional universes with traits that sound corny and stupid on the surface, but are actually deep and fascinating once I take the time to get to know them.

The most unique thing about this book is probably how protagonists and their rivals change regularly as the story spans multiple generations. The concept great – a plan to save the collected knowledge of sentient beings over a millenium as an empire collapses and regresses. It was challenging trying to keep track of all the characters, but not that bad. Chapters are usually 8 pages or less (much, much less in many cases) and the plot is engrossing. You have to keep reading to see how they’re going to solve each new crisis. Each time the hologram of the plan’s creator appears (and this is rare) to guide his descendants, I’m palpably excited, almost as much as the characters themselves.

The central mechanism upon which this whole thing is built requires your acceptance that something called ‘psycho-history’ is developed in the future, and that it can reliably predict future actions of human groups – for at least a thousand years. This can be difficult to accept at first, and for some reason seems to make the writing feel a little dated. It’s explained that the ability to understand and predict human behavior requires really large sample sizes, which is something I deal with in my statistics work as well. It’s a sound, if very basic, truth about any data set, and you’ll learn to live with a little disbelief since the rest is so exciting.


Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Books


Android Is Winning: Google’s Latest Voice Searches Coming to iOS First

“Now here’s the thing. See those screenshots above? They’re very elegant, very nice, and they’ll be iOS exclusive in a few days. Even Android 4.1 users won’t have this exact implementation.”

Over 90% of Android phones won’t have this when it’s released on iOS soon (even 4.1 won’t have the updated visual layout). Android: the cutting edge of last year.

[Source: Danny Sullivan]

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Posted by on August 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


The Smoking Gun in Apple v Samsung


Well, it looks like Samsung really did deliberately copy the iPhone feature by feature. Of course anyone paying attention at the time leading up to and immediately following the iPhone’s release should know how all the other cell phone makers went back to the drawing board to change their devices after it was clear the iPhone wasn’t a flop.

I’m guessing that a lot of the people who mistakenly think this lawsuit is about patents on rounded corners didn’t own pocket PCs and smartphones prior to 2007. For those of us who did (me: Handspring Visor Edge, Toshiba e330 Pocket PC, Sidekicks), it was clear as day how much the iPhone changed everyone else’s devices.

It was no mere coincidence, as Samsung claims, that iPhone-like devices were going to become the norm without Apple anyways. That is absolutely ridiculous.

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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Technology

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