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Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
9:46 pm - The Forsyte Saga
I haven't logged/reviewed books for a long while, so I have some catching up to do if I intend to record them all. Fortunately I can simply check iTunes to see what I've listened to, and I've even rated some of them at Audible.

On the "classics" side I recently finished The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy. It's a long story and the audiobook is nearly 50 hours long. If I would simply describe the plot it would sound like a trivial long winded story about a marriage that didn't work out, and some side stories of other more or less unfortunate relationships. In truth it's a study of the death of the Victorian era and lifestyle. If you set out to read it you should probably know this beforehand, or you might expect something else and be disappointed. If you're not at all interested in the history of the British upper middle class you're better off reading something else.

It's a slow book, and the version I listened to was read slowly and carefully to match the dry and subtle humor of the story. The main character is, by design, completely unloveable. Yet I found myself interested in learning what will happen to him; or rather, what sort of disasters he will manage to bring upon himself. Of course I also became interested in learning how much, if any, of the beauty around him would survive his touch.

I can see how this is considered a great classic. I can also see how many people put it down after half a chapter. I seldom give up on a book after just half a chapter, and I'm glad I read it.

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Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
3:48 pm - Mistborn, Kingkiller Chronicles and more
Some of the audibooks I've listened to the past few months:

The Mistborn trilogy, Brandon Sanderson:
Nice, slightly different fantasy. Definitely worthwhile. Sanderson is excused for not having finished WoT yet.

Shelters of Stone, Jean M Auel:
Crap. Varied from mildly annoying to painfully repetitive. I seriously doubt I'll ever read/listen to the last one in the series. Such a disappointment, I liked the first couple of books (when I was quite young, but anyway) and book 3-4 were only mildly boring in parts (still when I was young and chewed books for breakfast and wasn't too particular about quality yet).

The Kingkiller Chronicles, part 1-2, Patrick Rothfuss:
Very nice indeed. Book 2 was a bit slow in parts, but it's enjoyable anyway. One huge problem though: book 3 hasn't been written yet. Book 2 took 3-4 years to write so it'll probably be a long wait for the third book :-(

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Tuesday, March 8th, 2011
9:51 am - A pyramid of Opinions
When you see something you don't like, you form an Opinion against it. Many of those with an Opinion will share it, and their friends will share it to their friends, who share it further. Some create a symbol for the Opinion, even name a day for it, in order to share it even wider and remind themselves and others of it.

Information, debate and sharing of Opinions is important, but how often do you take the next step? Even a pyramid of Opinions is still just a thought and not an action. The symbol you carry as a reminder means nothing if you don't act on it.

What can I do today to help change the world?
Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
10:35 am - Eragon and Wuthering Heights
Last week I finished listening to Eragon (Christopher Paolini).

I've recently read or listened to The DaVinci Code and the entire Twilight series and Eragon fits into this "get through all that mainstream crap" theme quite well. It's neither better nor worse than those. It's more stolen though. The DaVinci Code was at least a bit imaginative. Eragon was not (the blatant rip-off from Star Wars and all that). I enjoyed it in a way anyway, and I enjoyed it more than DaVinci although I can't put my finger on why. Maybe it's because of the fact that Paolini is clear about that he's writing fantasy, while Brown tries to convince people that his fiction is based on facts without clearly stating where the fact ends and fiction begins (fact: Paris is in France and the Louvre is in Paris, fiction: most of all the rest). Twilight on the other hand was too angsty and the story was driven purely by the characters' irrational and stupid decisions. At least Eragon is a straight forward childrens book hero and doesn't try to be complicated. The only really irrational scene was where he and his friend (wotshisname - the problem with audiobooks, you have no idea how anything is spelled) suddenly start fighting like adolescents. Sure, Eragon is adolescent, but I thought his friend was a few years older and he suddenly behaved like twelve?

My other quest is to read some more classics, so before Eragon I listened to Wuthering Heights. It was very well read, I enjoyed listening to it just for that. The story is... well, if it hadn't been a classic I would have put it in the same category as Twilight (minus the vampires). Obviously people have found depth in the characters and have fun analyzing their thoughts and behaviour. I had fun analyzing exactly how naïve and "romantic" the author was and how far she could take the concept of people dying from heartbreak.

Now I've downloaded Eldest, but that was in a hurry yesterday when I thought I'd need something to listen to on my way to/from town. I haven't started listening to it yet, so I think I'll take another look at what Storytel has in the classics section first.
Sunday, November 21st, 2010
9:49 pm - ooh, a book meme
Snatched from various people.

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Books owned and/or partly read are in italics. Mark books you want to read with an X.

I've read 25 of them (including audiobooks). I'm not marking the ones I want to read, since I'm not certain about some of them.

Read more...Collapse )

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Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
11:04 pm - My new (ad)venture, part II
Four years ago I was getting tired of writing code(*) for a living. Three years ago I did something about it and started writing documentation for a living instead. Two years ago I decided to give coding another shot, in what could be one of the best teams I you can find in Sweden. A year later I could only admit that I was right in my earlier assessment. I don't want to write code for a living.

I was happy developing garbage collectors(**). For a long while I was happy enough to stand the necessary evil of having to write code in order to make the garbage collection actually happen. But when you've worked on same piece of software for several years, you only get to do more of the really annoying parts of coding and less of invention and development. That's why I couldn't continue developing garbage collectors and had to give it up four years ago. When I tried my hand at writing graph visualizers and similar tidbits in Mission Control a year later, I found that I still liked development and invention, but I still couldn't stand writing code for a living.

I guess I've been looking for a way out since 2006, but various things happened that kept me from leaving. In 2007 I got an idea for a distraction. I didn't really have a business plan or an ambition. My intention was to have something more to think about than just my work, a somewhat meaningful project with a lot of variation. It worked. It worked better than I expected, and it turned out to be my ticket out.

Now I've been on leave of absence for three months and have tried out the role as small business owner, web shop developer, and jewelry artist. I have three more months of LOA, but I also have three months notice, so today I informed my managers that I'm quitting.

I will miss my dear colleagues a lot. Visiting the office today reminded me how wonderful it is to have such great people around you every day. But in truth, I think that's the only thing I'll miss. I didn't hate my job, but at the end I didn't really love it either and I love developing my own business.

It's time to take the plunge into the adventure, for real.


(*)code = short for source code, the cryptic stuff you write when you write computer programs
(**)garbage collector = an advanced part of the software we were developing, it wouldn't help if I tried to explain it if you don't already know what it is...

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Wednesday, June 30th, 2010
3:31 pm - My new (ad)venture :-)
Tomorrow will be my last day at Oracle for a while. I've taken six months of "Personal Leave of Absence" in order to try running my web shop Silvergrejs full time and see if it works.

The past year or so I've felt torn between my work at Oracle and my business and both have suffered from this. I've come to the point where I have to make a choice. I don't make nearly enough on Silvergrejs to live on it yet, but if I keep running it part time I simply won't have time to expand it so that I could make more money. After much thought I decided to "take the plunge" and give it a try on full time.

I have big plans on how to improve and expand Silvergrejs - the ToDo list is long enough for at least a year. I also hope to finally have time to make jewelry again and perhaps even sell some instead of just selling beads and findings to others who make jewelry. What I'm looking forward to most is being able to decide for myself what to do and when to do it and knowing exactly why I do what I do. Even tedious chores like counting clasps into smaller packages or scheduled tasks like packing and mailing orders are more fun when I know for a fact that they are necessary. I also look forward to more varied tasks than just typing away behind a computer.

I'm starting off with a bit of vacation, but after that I will be spending most of my time at home behind a computer, a torch or my packing desk, with a daily trip to the mailbox. I will have a tighter personal budget but I will take the whole weekends and most evenings off for the first time in three years.

The main risk I see with the venture is that I may go stir crazy spending most of my time at home. I've enrolled on a course at the closest university (Södertörn) to get a reason to leave the house at least one afternoon each week. I would still appreciate some help in spending my new found free weekends and evenings, so if anyone wants to "fika", dine, play board games or whatever, just give me a shout (after July 19'th, that is) :-) I might also show up at the "fredagsfika" at the office now and then just to have a chat and some free fika ;-)

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Tuesday, May 4th, 2010
1:38 pm - The Swedish alphabet according to Google
When you start typing in Google's search box, you get a popup list with suggested key words. I assume the suggestions are based on the most common searches that begin with the string you have typed so far. So what happens if you only type one letter and look at the top suggestion? You'll get Google's own ABC book :-) The results will vary by country and over time. Here are today's results for Google.se:

a - aftonbladet
b - blocket
c - clas ohlson
d - dn
e - eniro
f - facebook
g - google translate
h - hitta.se
i - ikea
j - jysk
k - kissie
l - lexikon
m - msn
n - nordea
o - onoff
p - piratebay
q - qx
r - recept.nu
s - svt play
t - translate
u - utorrent
v - voddler
w - wikipedia
x - xbmc
y - youtube
z - zoovillage
å - åhlens
ä - ägglossningskalender
ö - översättning

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010
7:37 pm - Charlie and the Glass Elevator - Roald Dahl
I took a long bath this morning, and since the next book on my to read-pile is a borrowed book, I grabbed something thin from the bookshelf for reading. I thought I was grabbing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for a re-read, but when I got down to the bathroom and looked at the book, I realized I had picked Charlie and the Glass Elevator instead. That was probably for the best, since when I started reading I remembered that I actually re-read (or at least skimmed through) the chocolate factory recently, while I've never read the sequel.

To make a short story shorter, I read the entire book in the bath and the water didn't even get too cold before I was done. It was a cute little story, completely unrelated to anything that happened in the choccie factory and not nearly as inspired. I can understand perfectly why I hadn't even heard of it a few years ago, and why nobody ever makes movies out of it (or why I haven't heard of those movies, if someone actually has made them).

I loved the chocolate factory when I was little, and I'm quite glad nobody tried to recommend this novel as a "sequel". That would have been a huge disappointment. It's not horribly bad, it's just nothing like the chocolate factory. It's not very good either, but I'm glad I read it - it didn't take longer than a longish bath and now I know what all the lack of fuss is about.

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Tuesday, March 30th, 2010
10:53 am - The Graveyard Book & Twilight
Having a cold gives you time to read. I haven't had this much time to read in a long while, so in two days I've read two books.

Since I didn't want to read a borrowed and autographed copy of Twilight in the bath, I started reading The Graveyard Book in the bath on Sunday. A few hours later (no longer in the bath) I finished it. It was lovely and just the kind of children's book that I've always liked. At one point, Bod himself states why: he may have grown a year older, but he still feels the same. Most people know that feeling, but what they don't remember is that it more or less applies in the other direction too. Children aren't that much different from adults, and thus children's books don't have to be much different from adults' books. More importantly, the children in children's books don't have to be much different from adults in adults' books. Diana Wynne Jones got that, and now Neil Gaiman shows he also got that. Both get to remain on my "top five favorite authors list" (that incidentally only features three authors since I haven't decided on the last two).

So, yesterday I read the borrowed and autographed Twilight paperback. I had heard that Bella is almost a non-persona in the first novel, and that is very true. She's an "insert yourself here" template. I would compare her to Anne of Greengables, but Anne actually had a personality. Bella is a bundle of feelings who likes to read books, doesn't like P.E. and does fairly well in school except in Trigonometry. Most readers like to read books, so a MC who likes to read books is a sure bet. People who like to read books don't spend all their time playing sports, so it's not a long shot to guess they don't like P.E. And maths, well, who understands maths anyway? (I did, but I probably wouldn't have got too hung up on that detail.) She doesn't reveal her taste in music. She doesn't have a taste in clothes (or doesn't care - yet another point scored with the "outsiders"). She doesn't even have a favorite color. She practically has "INSERT YOURSELF HERE" written all across her forehead.
And the story? Chick-lit with vampires. Nothing more, nothing less. It's all about her feelings, which you can identify and integrate with perfectly since Bella herself doesn't claim any space. You're the one falling in love with Edward, using her as a proxy and her feelings as a guide for how to properly fall in love.
I only wonder how someone who isn't into guys reads this book. Or is Edward hawt enough that anyone (even straight guys & gay girls) can fall for him?
Oh, and what did I think of it? It was good up until the half-hearted attempt at a thriller plot near the end.

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2009
10:11 am - How to be less anti-social?
I don't tweet and seldom check tweets that aren't imported to LJ. Most of my LJ posts are "friends only". I read only two blogs that aren't in my LJ friends list. I'm not on Facebook. TokKOM feels quite dead nowadays.

I feel like I don't stay in touch with people.

So what should I do to keep up to date with people and help people keep up to date with me? Write more public LJ posts? Start a "real" blog? Read more blogs? Join Facebook? Twitter more? Give up?

"Everyone" is on Facebook nowadays aren't they? Should I give it a try?

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Monday, August 31st, 2009
8:01 pm - What I've been doing on my free time
Pics!Collapse )

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Tuesday, August 18th, 2009
10:53 pm - Shiny
A while ago I sponsored one of the prizes for a beading contest. When I saw who got the prize, I decided to send her something extra on the side: one of my fused dichroic glass cabochons. I never manage to do anything with them myself, and I was very curious to see what such a talented bead artist could do with it. A few days ago I got to see photos of the resut. It's nice to be a part of something this pretty:

http://mamma-foxan.blogspot.com/2009/08/what-can-come-into-my-mind-in-sleep.html

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Thursday, August 13th, 2009
9:34 am - So... Swedish (and how to deal with it)
If I let you have the first cupcake, then it's not fair to others who can't be first

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Sunday, June 21st, 2009
9:51 am - Sims 3
The other day one of my colleagues asked me if Sims 3 is any good. I hadn't said anything about buying Sims 3, he just assumed I had. Well, of course he was right :-)

Well, what can I say about Sims 3 that isn't obvious or hasn't been said by hundreds of reviewers already? The Sims games are and have always been what you make them. Some don't get it at all, some get bored after a couple of hours, while others don't stop playing until the next version is released.

Sims 3 adds two major features: an open, seamless neighborhood and "story progression"/"global aging". The former is a natural step forward, and the latter is widely discussed.

When Sims 3 was first announced, "global aging" was one of the top features. This caused commotion and even some panic in the forums. Many people were worried that they'd lose control over their neighborhood. After a while the Sims 3 website changed so that the aging wasn't mentioned, but the feature is still there. It works much better than I anticipated, and probably much better than many people feared. Some players hate that the characters you don't control will age up, get married, have children etc without your involvement. Others love it. I find it useful, but I also understand the control freaks who don't like it.

The other changes are really quite minor, but they add nice touches to the game. There is less focus on skill building and more on interactions. The personality traits add some flavor, while the "wish" system is just a modification of the old "wants/fears" system. Building and decorating homes has been improved, but I can think of some improvements they could make to the interface. Creating styles is fun for a while, but applying a consistent style to the entire home isn't as easy as I had hoped.

I like that the sims can grow vegetables right from the start. Now I'd just like some cows, chickens and a horse, then I can forget that "Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life" ever existed :-)

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Thursday, June 11th, 2009
2:57 pm - Rune safari
A couple of weeks ago we went on a rune safari south of lake Mälaren. Ola had never seen Sigurdsristningen*, a rune inscription decorated with illustrations for the tale of how Sigurd killed the dragon Fafne. Yes, it's the same story that Wagner used in his opera Siegfried. Of course that lack had to be remedied.

(* When I was little Sigurdsristningen was called Sigurdsristningen. Nowadays people seem to prefer to call it Ramsundsristningen, but I prefer the old name since that's what I learned in school and I'm too old to learn new names for things...)

I've seen Sigurdsristningen a bunch of times (it's just outside Eskilstuna, where I grew up) so I wanted to see something new too and suggested a rune safari. I did some research and found that there's another rune inscription with very similar illustrations not far from Sigurdsristningen, called Gökstenen.

Why is that never mentioned? It's not quite as artistic as the other one, Sigurd himself looks something like a tadpole and a piece of the rock has broken off, but I think it's interesting anyway. Nobody ever mentioned it at school, it's hard to find information about it and there weren't even any signs pointing to it.

It wasn't very easy to find, and after that experience we really could call the trip a safari. We tried following the GPS in my iPhone and ended up at a (farm?)house. The inhabitant of the house told us that it would be easier to go back, around a field and "follow the fence" than to go through the woods (what woods, I thought, I saw a bunch of trees but nothing I would call a forest). Well, we tracked back and started following a fence, but apparently the wrong one. The ground was very rocky and we couldn't find any larger rocks with runes on them (it didn't really help that I couldn't even find a photo of the rock beforehand, so I didn't have any idea of what we were lookinf for except that it was a rock). We met the farmer(?) again, and he said that we should have gone further down and followed the other fence. He pointed us in the right direction and after a while we found a tiny path, that eventually led to the rock. I understand why they don't take school children there, the whole area is rocky except for the farmland just below.

Just when we were leaving I remembered to take a photo of it. We didn't bring my camera on the trip, so the photo is taken with my iPhone (and it's the only thing I took photos of on that trip).



In addition to these two "Sigurd-stones", we looked at the rune stones at the church in Strängnäs and at a tall one in Kjula. I can almost read the runes (I had to cheat and look up some of them) but understanding the language is harder. It's still fascinating how much you can make out of it.

We also visited an impressive hill fort with "walls" several meters high. I've seen dozens of hill forts, there seems to be one at every hilltop around here, but none that I've seen with that much stone.

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Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
11:04 am - Två åsikter
Piratpartiet har dåligt namn. Dom som inte ids ta reda på fakta (kring 90% av befolkningen?) tror att deras program bara handlar om fildelning och gratis film och musik.

Vi som utvecklar datorprogram och -system har ett stort ansvar för framtiden. Det är vi som måste komma med dom tekniska lösningarna som gör det möjligt för skapare att få betalt för sitt arbete. Spotify har fattat.

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Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
1:29 pm - WoT part 5 and 6
I forgot to mention that I finished The Fires of Heaven, part 5 of The Wheel of Time, didn't I? Well, I finished it, and I'm almost finished with Lord of Chaos too.

contains spoilersCollapse )

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Tuesday, May 5th, 2009
7:12 pm
I seldom (never?) post links to random (cool) things, but this is just the coolest I've seen in a long while:

Miniature food

Just look at those colours, textures and luster... so perfect!

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Friday, May 1st, 2009
10:07 pm - Today
Filed my tax returns.

Went for a walk in the forest.

Did some gardening.

Played Sims 2 (for the first time in months).

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