Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I finally got my books today. Not seeing them in my mailbox, I emailed the people in charge of post in Irdeto to ask if they'd gotten anything. Sure enough, they had, and asked me to come up and sign for it. Up I went, got my package, and signed for it. Only then did I notice that the package had been marked received by them last Friday. I could have been reading my books all weekend!

That aside, I'm glad to have finally gotten them. Head First Programming, Head First Java and Alastair Reynolds' Terminal World. The Head First series has come highly recommended. A series from O'Reilly, those smart people who publish all sorts of well regarded technical books, that's a bit lighter and easier to digest than most. I was looking for books on Java and Python, though the Python book hasn't been published yet, so I got the Programming one instead, as it's written through Python and brushing up on the basics couldn't hurt. It was also about half the price of the rest of the books in the series, which helped.

I'm already a chapter into the book, and it seems to be pretty good. There's a lot of hand holding, though it does seem to be aimed at beginners so I can't really fault that. What is good, is it has me writing code every second page. In a book about learning programming, this is great. Once I'm through this book I might start on the Java one, which is what I intended to being with before picking up the Programming one. If these books turn out to be good, I'll probably pick up the Python one and maybe the C# edition too.

Alastair Reynolds is a favourite writer of mine. He can be a bit dry sometimes, getting caught up in describing the immeasurable vastness of distance and time in space or the precise nature of how technology might work. Characters aren't his strong point, but I've enjoyed most of his books so far. This new book, Terminal World, I picked up in hardback from Amazon, as it turned out quite a bit cheaper than the paperback in Waterstones in Amsterdam, the only English language bookstore I've found.

The art on the cover of this book looks a little more comic book than his previous books, all of which proudly displayed great big spaceships on their face. This particular book seems to be concerned with the last human settlement. The city is separated into districts, each district maintaining a society set at a different point in human history, from medieval up to post-human. There's no hint as to what the story may be, though I expect that he'll explore potential evolutions of human society as he's done in a few other books. Whether it's any good remains to be seen, but provided he hasn't lost his touch, I can at least be assured that it will be interesting.

My bus card worked just fine taking the bus in this morning, though on the way home, I had to remove it from my wallet and hold it to the scanner for a few seconds longer than it should normally take. I don't know anything about the Near Field Communications device used in these smart cards, however I suspect it's growing weaker. I only need to get a few more months out of it, so as long as it doesn't fail completely there should be no reason to replace it.

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