Alert! Geekery ahead.

I am going to publicly fess up to being a geek.  Yep, I am a walking talking stereotype.  That is… apart from having impeccable taste.

Not interested in geeking out with me?  Please ignore this post.  There should be something more interesting further down.

For the past wee while I’ve been using Chromium.  “What’s that?” I hear you ask.  Well it’s the developer version of Chrome – aka the unGoogled one.  There’s a couple of different branches to this particular browser, Google use it for testing new features in their browser, while others use it to produce a secure browse.  I’ve been using Chromium for a while because it lacked all of Google’s branding and also because I thought that the interface was pretty slick.  It IS an extremely agile browser.  Compare it with dross such as IE (and Safari)…  Firefox also seemed to have run off the rails.

The Mozilla browser had become bloated, took ages to load and it was looking quite dated.  Step forward mighty Google… and thus my flirtation with the dark side began again.  You’d think that I would have learned after the debacle of the earlier browser wars, and the software monopoly of Microsoft.  But, Chromium is a great browser it’s just that it’s backers New Satan don’t seem to look like the good geeks they purport to be.  I had an increasingly bad taste in my mougth so I thought I would take a look at the new Firefox (version 4).  It’s really good.  Really nippy and by switching back I can go back to the nice safe unobtrusive browsing I used to have.  And I feel much better for it – like I’ve been to geek gym!  I even managed to hack together a pretty slick interface rejig for it that I thought I would share:

I can’t take credit for this.  It’s actually a slightly tweaked look taken from this guy’s site. I salute you sir!

You mean people ARE reading more?

Can potter cast a fireball that will burn the smug smile off of Dan Brown's face???

Is this the saviour of Western Culture?

A long time ago in a bookshop not very far far away I found myself face to face with something interesting.  A queue.  This queue stretched out of the shop and wandered all the way down the street.  Because of the queue people were struggling to walk down the street.  Many of the people in that queue were dressed up Trekkie-style and all of them were waiting for the opening of the shop.

Which book were they waiting for?  Not The Da Vinci Code (spit)…. Harry Potter (which one is not important).

For a long time I’ve not been a fan of these books. They enforce certain stereotypes I find irritating, many of the tropes are recycled and I read the first one only to find that the writing style wasn’t my sort of thing.  In short it didn’t feel very sophisticated.  Others may disagree but that’s their problem.

After a period of reflection it occurred to me that my sniffiness from that time was misplaced.  These are books not aimed at me.  I am an adult, and I’ve read a LOT of that genre so it’s entirely unsurprising that I it just didn’t work for me.  I also remember thinking about this and wondering what the effect of these books would be.  As a triumph of marketing hype I am certain that they are very successful but as the herald of a new dawn of fantasy I have never thought they were much cop.  A far better book is Strange & Norrell which I thought was one of the best books I’ve read in the last few years.  It’s great check it out.  It’s also very long and quite challenging in some respects.

I digress.

What I’ve been wondering is how much of an effect on reading, amongst the proper target, audience would Harry Potter have?

I agreed  with the general consensus from back then; that these books wouldn’t change very much.  Reading which, generally, isn’t  encouraged very well wouldn’t change.  It would spiral downwards and disappear.  I would be very sad.  Kids would continue to have a world view that seems (to me) to be increasingly simplistic.  I would be increasingly frustrated and grumpy.

I wonder if I was wrong?

I’ve been listening to this.  Lou Anders is the senior editor for a book company in the States.  I imagine he knows what he’s talking about.  In the course of his interview he mentions that he’s had a “change of heart” [about reading in general].  He goes into detail about how he’s come across a lot more young folk who have an interest in reading.  In fact he says they’re avid readers.  These guys are just about all from the Harry Potter generation.  He mentions that reader numbers have been going up recently (by a large amount) and attributes this to the effect of Harry Potter.  Basically he echoes something I’ve been wondering.  If everything around you lacks depth then surely you will start to look for that from somewhere; and surely that’s where books are?  If true (and it’s only one man’s vision from the US) then things sound quite encouraging.  Thanks JK!

I still wonder what exactly these kids are reading because grumpy me sees a lot of stories I think are crap being given quite a lot of prominence.  And I also see a lot of genres (yeah erotic vampires and steampunk I am looking at you) being promoted to within an inch of their life but then that’s nothing new!

Is the future of films with big ideas still small?

Having just watched a short film called Stasis I’ve found myself wondering how far film making has come?  Big idea SF has largely been the perserve of small independent films since the 70s – certainly since Star Wars.  Back before then large scale SF was being made regularly.  You could go to a cinema and see a seriously handled big concept SF idea on the screen and enjoy yourself.  Towards the end of the 70s these become less common and are virtually extinct by the end of the 80s. The mainstream became dominated by franchises, tent-pole films and action films in SF trappings.  Now; don’t get me wrong, I really like a lot of these movies and I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with well executed pure entertainment (a recent example might be Predators) but I would like to see some of the better elements of SF put up on screen again.  My big hope is that Inception marks a turning point.

A man floating in a tank... what's going on exactly?

All of which is a long winded way of saying watch Stasis.  It’s really good.

Hello New Chair…

You’re not the old chair but you’re a new chair. .. and you’re the updated version of old chair.  Okay so you’re cheap but sometimes cheap is what you want!

Ah... I have a comfortable bum

RIP Chair I knew thee well…

It’s finally happened.

My chair, the one I’ve spent the most time in, the one supports me when I type, the one that’s always been there for me, has gone to chair heaven.  I was sitting the other day basking in the heat that  my newly repaired boiler was pumping into the central heating when, with a loud crack, the back fell off.  Needless to say I went over and ended up lying with my feet in the air.  I imagine it was probably very comical but as I was alone it was only me who laughed… once I finished groaning in pain.  Now I am in the market for a new Chair.

See I capitalised that last word.  I don’t think that many people are fully aware of the relationship between a man, his keyboard and Chair.  It’s very personal.  It’s something that’s built up over time… I invested a lot of time in that Chair.  Now that Chair is gone I feel the need to shed a little tear.  If there was a Chair  graveyard I would be there scattering lilies all over the place.

RIP Chair you will be missed.

Now I am in the market for a new one.  It’ll have to be one that I want to spend time with;  it’ll have to comfortable and also comfortable with my [sitting] habits.  In short it’ll be one that I want to spend time building my relationship with.  If only there was a dating website that allowed like minded people to meet the correct Chair…P

P.S. I want an Aeron.  I used to work in a business where we had one.  I am not kidding when I say that they are the best I’ve sat in… ever.   If anyone knows where I can get a good one at a reasonable price (no, I am not paying £800 or ever £400) then they need to let me know.