Books

Found a web designer!

Well we finally found a web designer! Now hopefully he can get the job done before the Emerald City Comicon.

Hard to find good web designers

My wife is a comic book writer and artist. She has two books out right now with the third coming soon (http://faminelands.com). She has been putting a lot of work into her website and I suggested she just pay someone to do that. She told me she investigated that option but didn't find anyone that she liked.

I browse craigslist all the time and knew there were always a lot of people advertising web design so I told her I would look into it.


Turns out she was right. Most of the ads are really poorly done and quite a few don't even have portfolios. I suspect a lot of them are folks who took a community college course on HTML and are now "web designers".


I heard back from a few who said "their plate was full" or a nice way of saying they didn't want to work on the site (then why are you advertising?).


Now that isn't to say we didn't find anybody. Some of the folks had real skill but also wanted $2k for a site redesign - I wasn't willing to pay more than $500.


So for now I guess its up to her.


By the way if your a web designer please contact
meHappy

Stupid Title, Great Book

I just picked up Secrets of The Rock Star Programmers: Riding the IT Crest. Wow what a horrible title. Good thing the book is really good. Ed Burns interviews well known folks in the field of programming. He asks them a range of questions from "How do you setup a new machine to work on?" to "How do you keep the work/life balance?". Someone once said that to be successful you need to study the habits of successful people, so this is my attempt at that I guess.

Putting down a bad book

Some astute readers of my blog (I think a total of two people) might have noticed I started reading a new book but didn't put Dan Brown's Digital Fortress in the "Just finished reading" section. I liked DaVinci Code even though it read like a screenplay - it was fun. However since I am in computers I couldn't stand all the little mistakes Dan made in Digital Fortress. Furthermore after reading DaVinci Code, which came after Digital Fortress, I felt I already read the book. I asked a good friend at work about this. I basically said - "Is it alright not to finish a book" to which he replied that yes it was. He told me earlier in his life he couldn't stop reading a book even if it was bad but now that he is older he will just put it down. Life is too short for bad books.

Emerald City ComicCon and Oblivion IV

I went to the ComicCon on Sunday instead of Saturday. It was a lot of fun. It was my first time going to one. I thought it was going to be like the Con featured in Chasing Amy and it was.

I saw two very cool things:

SoftWire (Rings of Orbis)
In the future a ring system in controlled by a massive computer. A boy has been born that can link with computer using only his mind. This represents a problem for the five or so alien races vying for control of the Rings of Orbis.

What is really cool about this is the author has teamed up with a software developer to create a free MMORPG to promote his books! Very cool.

The Looking Glass Wars
Alyss is fighting against her aunt, Red. She finds a portal to our world and meets up with Lewis Carroll who is fascinated by the girl's tale. Soon Alyss will have to go back.

I got a signed copy of the book and will blog about it when I am finished with Digital Fortress
The one other thing that was strange was the amount of copyrighted material for sale. I couldn't believe it. Movies, TV Shows, Cartoons, Porn. There were at least four booths selling this stuff. I can understand if the shows are not readily available and in fact support that but they were selling stuff that was available. Of course I didn't let that feeling get in the way of buying the entire Seaquest DSV series on 12 DVD's for $45 dollarsHappy I had just season one in my Amazon wishlist alone that alone was $44.99. Now this set was basically burned to DVD from SciFi channel but that's okay. I wanted Seaquest but not enough to pay a premium for it and have the nice transfer and sound.

Based on how much fun I had I am going to try to go to Norwescon 29 April 13-16. One of my favorite authors, Robert J. Sawyer, is the "Toastmaster" (not sure what that means).

I also got The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion from Direct2Drive this weekend as well. On a side note Direct2Drive is great if you have a fast internet connection. I have 7Mbits down and download the 4.3GB oblivion in about 90 minutes. I then burn it to DVD and its mine. No going to the store. Price is the same but the instant gratification factor too awesome to pass up.

Anyway back to Oblivion. I never got into Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind but I wanted too. I think it was the clumsy graphics. I am probably too superficial when it comes to gaming but if it looks good it helps me enjoy the game more.

Oblivion looks fantastic. The engine uses HDR lighting and it is well used. The game feels faster pace and right off the bat there is a lot to do. I felt in Morrorwind, at least in the beginning, you wandered around too much just talking to people. Within 15 minutes of starting Oblivion I was fighting baddies and getting better equipment.

Finished Harry Potter series

Well I just recently finished the whole Harry Potter series and now am actually excited for book seven to be released. I can't wait to see how J.K. Rowling wraps it all up.

Speaking of Rowling her site is one of the worst I have ever seen. Flash only sites are a horrible blight upon the internet and should be outlawed. She does have a text-only version but even that is ugly - white and yellow on black. Normally if I mention a site I would link to it but I can't bear to put anybody kind enough to read my blog through that kind of pain.

Where are all the emacs books?

So I decided to give emacs another try. I say another because in 2004 I used it for about 3 months before deciding to go back to vim. So I went to Barnes & Noble at the University Village shopping center tonight and they didn't have a single book! When I got home I went to Amazon.com (I work there by the way) and searched for 'emacs'. Three titles came up that were relatively new and in print. Three. The greatest editor ever and there are only three books? Eclipse hasn't been out that long and there are entire bookshelves dedicated to it so what is the deal? I don't know but it might be related to lisp. Lisp is supposedly the greatest programming language available but good luck finding more than one or two books on the topic and those will probably be academic texts.

Maybe the emperor doesn't have any clothes on. Maybe I am reading all these blogs from
Paul Graham and Steve Yegge and am convincing myself that the whole world is using emacs and lisp except me.

I will am still going to give emacs another go but I won't expect it to solve all my problems this time around and maybe I will enjoy it all the more.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Well you might have noticed my book list on the right and see that I am reading the whole Harry Potter series back to back. I just recently finished Goblet of Fire and the movie came out today and was anxious to see it.

My first impression was that it was a Cliff notes version of the book. They cut so much out that it felt like the movie was on fast forward. I think it was better than the Prisoner of Azkaban though.


Lets see some of the things they left out (there are more but here are the highlights):

  • Riddle family murders

  • Bertha Jorkin

  • Potter at the Dursleys

  • Mr. Weasley "flooing" to pick up Potter and confronting Mr. Dursley

  • Winky the house elf

  • Percy Weasley (Weatherby)

  • Ludo Bagman

  • Fred and George's bet

  • Team Mascots

  • Who won the Quidditch World Cup game

  • Ministry of Magic protecting World Cup

  • Potter, Weasley, Malfoy's in box seats

  • Death Eaters attacking muggles

  • Weighing of the Wands

  • Potter resisting Imperio Curse

  • Bagman and the Goblins

  • S.P.E.W. and the House-Elf Liberation Front

  • Return of Dobby

  • Return of Sirius

  • The giant spider in the maze

  • Explanation of Priori Incantatem

  • Potter giving the Triwizard Cup winnings to Fred and George

  • Rita Skeeter being able to turn into a bug