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Feb. 24th, 2015


'To Be Read' Meme

I don't often succomb to memeage, but I thought this was an interesting one (thanks to nwhyte for this one).

1. How do you keep track of your TBR pile?
We have a three-shelf bookcase in our bedroom with the majority of the TBR selection (both mine and pennski's), plus an overflow shelf in the built-in wardrobe. They are usually sorted into one of two orders: by date bought or by author - more often the former ('guilt order' as we tend to refer to it!) Note that this excludes the large selection of unread Doctor Who books and science fiction magazines which are in separate bookcases downstairs. Also any books which pennski has read and I haven't go on the bottom shelf of my bedside table (and vice versa).

For ebooks, I have an 'unread' category on the Kindle.

2. Is your TBR mostly print or ebook
The vast majority are print - though I'm prone to getting the ebook version as well if it's a particularly long (over 500 page) book for ease of reading! But I've got around 50 books that are only in the ebook version to read.

3. How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?
It's a mixture. Right now I've separated out the books which have been bought as gifts over the last few years and I'm trying to catch up on those. Sometimes I try and catch up on outstanding hardbacks. Sometimes I try and catch up on books that are older, sometimes clear down where I've got lots of books by the same author (I think C. J. Cherryh is the current winner in the category with four.) And once in a while, when I get in a rut, I'll chose randomly using dice!

4. A book that's been on your TBR the longest.
Excluding the Doctor Whos and magazine (for that way lies madness!), the oldest currently on the 'to read' shelf is Farah Mendlesohn and Edward James' A Short History of Fantasy, which is dated 6th June 2010.

5. A book you recently added to your TBR
ebooks aside, the last books added where various Christmas presents off my Amazon wishlist, including The Best of Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet (ed. Kelly Link and Gavin Grant), The Gate to the Women's Country (Sheri Tepper), The Golem and the Djinni (Helene Wecker), a book about the history of post-war UK musical theatre (a uncommonly apt gift from my parents-in-law!)

6. A book that will soon be added to your TBR
I'm trying not to buy any books for a little while to get rid of the double-stacking of the overflow shelf, but once I feel free to expand again priority is the new Karen Lord (The Galaxy Game), the new Kelly Link collection and the final volume of Adrian Tchaikovsky Shadows of the Apt series.

7. Number of shelves used to house your TBR
Four and half for the 'main' TBR (although that also includes books that only pennski will read), plus another two and half of Doctor Who books, plus a large number of shelves with old SF magazines (I've got a complete run of both Fantasy & Science Fiction and Asimovs, many of which remain unread, plus I'm about 5 years behind on Interzone which is my next priority on the magazines)

8. On a scale of 1 to 10, how painful is it for you to discard will-never-be-read TBR books?
Oh, I'd say about 5. I've got much better at giving books a go and if they are not engaging me for some reason after 50 pages or so, giving up. Sometimes discarded books will actually go on the 'read' shelves if I think there's a possibility that I might one day be in the mood for them (or if they are part of a set), otherwise they'll go to a charity shop.

9. A book on your TBR that basically everyone has read but you.
Of recent books, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. This won pretty much every sf award last year, but I've just not got around to it yet.

10. Name your sources of powers - where do you get your books from?
A mixture. Some are presents. If I'm going to buy the physical book I'll try and get it from my local Waterstones first, but if not I'll go to Amazon (I don't have any independent book shops anywhere near me, alas). Then there's conventions; I can't count the number of times I've started reading books by an author because they impressed me on a panel at a convention, though of course this is not necessarily a direct correlation - there are people I love dearly but cannot stand their writing and vice versa.

11. A book on your TBR that you're dying to read
Too many to list. Ancillary Justice as mentioned above, Kameron Hurley's Infidel and Mirror Empire, The Golem and the Djinni, an unread Ken MacLeod that's been sitting there for a couple of years, etc., etc., etc... This is one of the reasons, incidentally, why we rearrange the order of the shelves once in a while. It reminds us of what we've got!

12. A book you'd recommend others to add to their TBR shelves
Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is great. Also, wearing my Carl Brandon Award juror hat from a couple of years ago, both the winners - Karen Lord's Redemption and Indigo and Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death - are both really good in very different ways (though I would say that, wouldn't I?!)

13. Is your TBR a force for good in your life?
Yes and no. For the first five years or so after we got married we didn't separate out our TBRs, we just ended up missing them and rereading other books. Since we separated them out, there's a tendency to go too far in the other direction and feel pressured to only read 'unread' books and not reread. Which is a shame because there are loads of things I'd like to reread (a complete Patricia McKillip reread is in my future...)

Feb. 22nd, 2015


Bookzombie’s Babylon 5 Re-watch: Episode 1.14 TKO

New Babylon 5 review is up:

(ETA: fixed link)

Feb. 10th, 2015


Bookzombie’s Babylon 5 Re-watch: Episode 1.13 Signs and Portents

New Bablyon 5 review is up:

Feb. 8th, 2015


Bookcat woes

I've been using Bookcat as my book cataloguing software for many years now, but unfortunately the person who produced it stopped selling and updating it a couple of years ago - although he has been keeping up maintenance on the dll to be able to download data from the internets.

I've been continuing to use I've invested a huge amount of time into keeping it up to date over the years, but I know it's been on borrowed time (for example, if I had to upgrade my PC to a later version of Windows I would probably have a problem.)

But this morning it look as if I might need to look at replacing it sooner rather than later. We've been doing an audit of the book collection and found some stuff missing. A couple of days ago I uploaded it with a few missing books and was going to do some more today. But for some reason in the last couple of days the option to download from the internet has stopped working - in that it is coming back with 'not found' for everything, even the books it found a couple of days ago.

Now this might be a temporary glitch and it will soon be working properly again, but if not I need to look at a replacement.

I've been having a look at trial versions and the only other one that comes close to the same functionality is 'collectorz' series of products. The main thing this has is it is the only alternative that allows you to specify the contents of books (e.g. in short story collections or magazines) and treats them as database items in their own right, not as text. It does deal with them slightly oddly in that you can have a 'contents' view, but if you double-click on the content item it takes you straight to the book it is in, not the content item, which makes it more key clicks to update than bookcat.

All-in-all I'm hoping not to have to change - it's going to be a lot of work and even the best alternative doesn't have as much flexibility, but I'll have to see what happens...

ETA: And since I wrote this, there's been a new dll for Bookcat which seems to have fixed the problem, so I don't think I need to worry yet!

Feb. 3rd, 2015


At it again (work)

Yep, it's another large round of redundancies at work - 70 across the company this time, with 9 in technology. Yet again, I am - for the moment at least - safe. I ended up working from home today so I don't know yet who is affected.

I honestly don't know how I keep dodging the bullet; that's about seven rounds of redundancies since 2008! Moving into the architecture team certainly seems to have done it this time - I very much doubt I would be safe if I was still in my previous role.

The rhetoric for this round of redundancies is a little different from previously; it isn't being presented as a cull ('we have to reduce costs so lets get rid of 20% of the workforce'). Instead our CEO is talking about wanting to focus on particular areas so they are closing down some positions so that they can afford to recruit for others.

It's enough people once again to have the whole 45 day consultation period, but that seems to be perfectly timed to have all the decisions made - and probably implemented - by the end of the financial year.

Obviously I'm relieved for myself, but sorry for any colleagues who might be affected.

Feb. 1st, 2015


Bookzombie’s Babylon 5 Re-watch: Episode 1.12 By Any Means Necessary

New review is up:

Jan. 22nd, 2015


New job role

So it's official: as of the beginning of the week I became a Solutions Architect. What does that mean? To be honest, mainly the same as the job I've being doing for 10 years but more focussed on high-level technical architecture than specific projects.

The good news is that I should be getting sponsored by the company to get the TOGAF certification (which is the Architecture equivalent of ITIL certification), which is a really good thing to have on your CV.

Overall this is good news. With the change in the company from global to local focus I really didn't have a clear role and the role I did have - even if it was due to changes in the company rather than any failures in my own performance - would look like a demotion on my CV, while this is definitely a step up.

It probably doesn't really make my job any more secure, but it should make getting the next one easier if and when I get there.

In general, after years of being in the doldrums the company seems to be turning things around, slowly, though cost cutting is still a real priority. Currently we occupy the 5th to the 10th floor of our building (although the 5th has been empty for a while) but today we had an announcement that we are giving up the 8th - 10th and just using the 5th - 7th. Sadly as part of this cost cutting we are also losing the canteen and the gym on the 10th floor. It's got to the point now where the only 'perk' they could take away is the car parking - which is super useful - but given that it is mainly fairly senior staff who use it they might keep it going for a while yet.

So mixed, but mainly personally good, news on the work front for a change.

Jan. 21st, 2015


Bookzombie’s Babylon 5 Re-watch: Episode 1.11 Survivors

Latest B5 review is up:

Jan. 15th, 2015


Bookzombie’s Babylon 5 Re-watch: Episode 1.10 Believers

Yes folks, the miracle has finally happened! After more than 18 months hiatus the B5 re-watch is back! Hopefully I should be able to return to a slightly more regular schedule for the next few months (I've already got my notes for the next episode).

Comments as always are welcome here or at the review itself.

Jan. 3rd, 2015


An oddly specific Chicago question!

This is for anyone who knows what the happening things are in Chicago (lcohen, maybe one you can help with?)

Does anyone know whether there is anything specifically exciting going on in Chicago on Friday 29th May 2015 that may do weird things to flight bookings?

The reason I ask is that I've been booking our flights to and from Chicago O'Hare for Wiscon. We are flying home on 29th May, but for the flight we normally return on (around 5pm) and the seats we normally get, the cost is literally double what they normally are! The subsequent flight, three hours later, is back to the normal cost again (which is what I've booked, naturally!)

Anyone got any ideas?

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February 2015




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