Jun 15

My Bookshelf: Spook Country

Spook CountryFor about a year now I’ve been a pretty big fan of William Gibson. His Neuromancer didn’t begin the cyberpunk genre (that was Stephenson’s Snow Crash), but it certainly fleshed it out a bit.  I’d been wanting to get around to Spook Country for quite a while, but other books have been getting in the way.  Also, when the book was first coming out, I had just finished a giant Gibson kick and needed a break.  I finally listened to the whole thing (yes I love my audiobooks) and was fairly impressed.

The book centers on Hollis Henry, an ex-rock star who is trying to pay the bills with a little journalism.  After beginning an article about augmented reality art for a mysterious tech magazine (so new it doesn’t have any issues yet), she discovers that she was actually recruited for something much larger and MUCH more interesting.  The book brings together some of Gibson’s former character staples (think “Blue Ant” if you’ve read Pattern Recognition or his other stuff), but there is quite a lot of new material as well.  In fact my favorite parts are his descriptions of a secretive crime family who work like Cold War operatives in the streets of New York.

blue-antAs much of a mystery as any of Gibson’s other books, this one will have you following down Hollis’s leads and wondering just what the deal is with that enigmatic shipping container.  It’s hard to say much more without giving the plot away, but I definitely suggest you read this one (and it’s not all that techy, for those of you who get overwhelmed easily).

Reading through the article on cyberpunk on Wikipedia reminded me that I haven’t read Mona Lisa Overdrive, the third book in the Sprawl trilogy.  Even though Count Zero didn’t do a hell of a lot for me, I feel like I should finish it all off.  My next project is to finish off most of Neil Stephenson’s books, though.  I’m also going to try and get into the Sword of Truth series (more on that later).

Have you ever ready any cyberpunk?  What’s your favorite novel in the genre?

[Blue Ant image]

Jun 08

A Cool Way to Follow #WWDC

twfallOne of my favorite new Twitter webapps, Twitterfall, has just announced a special version of their site just for following #WWDC.

If you haven’t tried it out yet, Twitterfall lets you see the top trending Twitter topics (say that 5 times fast) and set up a live stream of all the people discussing that topic on the public timeline.  When you interact with any of the tweets in the stream (very easy as Twitterfall has API integration), Twitterfall pauses the “waterfall of tweets” and buffers any new ones.  For the powertweeter, Twitterfall is a must!

WWDCFall

The special WWDC edition has two modes: public tweets and “live tweets.”  The first option is essentially the normal mode set to display all WWDC tweets (though it looks like they’re doing something to keep it from becoming too hardcore.  The second one will only show tweets from a short list of users that represent people tweeting live from inside the conference itself.

While the liveblogs are a pretty reliable way to keep on top of things, if you really want to get your WWDC news as fast as humanly possible, give WWDCFall a try!

Oh and if you’d like to hear my thoughts on WWDC as well, you can follow my tweets too!

Jun 01

My First “Real” Rented Room…Involves Pirates

pirate-doorHave you been seeing tweets on my feed mentioning random housing decisions and pirates? Well here’s the explanation, now that everything is mostly settled.

My program hadn’t sent me any info about housing yet, so a couple weeks ago I contacted the director and he sent me through to a friendly grad student.  While chatting with her about housing local to the University of Maryland, she revealed that her house in one of the suburbs had a free room that they needed to fill.  I hadn’t thought of doing a room in a house because I didn’t want to deal with a family or anything, but this house was all grad students.  In fact, she and another guy were both in my program so it would be an added benefit if I met roomed there (since I’m brand new).

As she sent me info about the place it sounded better and better.  They have a reasonably large house…nice kitchen…ample storage…and…A PIRATE-THEMED BASEMENT!  If the description doesn’t make any sense, the pics should help (click to enlarge).

basement1basement3basement4

In any event today I went up to MD and took a look around the place.  I was really impressed with the house, excited by the party room, and actually got along really well with the current residents.  For that reason I’ve deceided to sign the lease!  Yay!

May 08

Star Trek Premier with the ThinkGeek Staff

[My longer review of Star Trek can be found at Geeks Are Sexy.]

Yesterday, ThinkGeek twittered that they were having a big company viewing of the new Star Trek movie today.  Not only that, but they had a few extra tickets and generously put them up for whoever wanted them first!  Well I tweeted my fastest to @thinkgeek and happily I grabbed one of them!

Long story short, today was awesome.  I got to the theater around 1pm and piled into to the stadium seating with all the other geeks there.  On my row were John Frazier (aka, Fraize), Hans, Carrie, and a bunch of other cool people.

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That empty seat in the middle is mine…I was right in the thick of it.  All the red shirts are Star Trek “red shirts,” the ultimate symbol of expendability.  Fraize and the guy next to him were apparently the captain and Bones, respectively.  I also saw some Defcon and coding shirts in there too.  Personally I had on my Back to the Future shirt, which was the geekiest thing I had, but in the end it worked well with the movie (spoiler: it’s got time travel!).  [Another pic with me in it has since been posted…can you find me?]

I really enjoyed the new Star Trek.  I feel like it really breathed new life into the old franchise.  The casting was awesome for sure.  I was most surprised by Bones because he’s a kind of subtle character, in my opinion, but the guy playing him did a great job evoking McCoy’s spirit.

What did everybody else thing of the movie?

And thanks again to ThinkGeek for treating me!  Here’s their blog post about it.