The Hardware, Grilled

Posted in Film, Maxtor, Miscellaneous on December 21st 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: About three weeks ago I bought a Maxtor 320GB external drive. Everything was going fine until I linked it to my desktop, a 2002 Dell Dimension 4400. The Dell froze and wouldn’t reboot. A few days later, the Dell was at David’s house (the drummer in HDNB), where its hard drive was made a slave drive, and one of David’s drive temporarily became the computer’s C drive. We copied the contents of my drive to the Maxtor, which took a few days, as the Dell’s USB ports are 1.1. When this task finished, the Dell’s original hard drive was reformatted, and I took the computer home, reloaded XP and Office, and then connected the Maxtor to copy the files back to the C drive. Except that the Dell was telling me that the Maxtor wasn’t formatted. I connected the Maxtor to my laptop with the same results.

So I thought, now what? I surfed the Maxtor site, and learned that there were programs I could use to recover the data on the Maxtor, but of course at a cost. I chose this program, which ran for four days but recovered over 70,000 files from the Maxtor, paid for the licence (which allowed me to copy the files back to the C drive), and finished everything tonight. Lesson learned: back up your important data.

.: Christmas is impending. I’ve been off work since 16 December 2006, and have spent a lot of time resting and laying low. I saw three movies this week: Apocalypto, Casino Royale, and Little Miss Sunshine. I’m behind preparing my Christmas cards, and hope to finish a few more tomorrow. I’ve started the daunting task of cleaning my house, beginning with the basement. I filled six blue and six green bags for garbage pickup this morning, plus two blue bags of shredded paper products. I tossed about fifteen large cardboard boxes into the local recycling bins, and donated five boxes of books to the University of Alberta Libraries this morning (where, coincidentally, I work). I bought two new Uniden cordless phones to replace the aging Uniden phone I’ve had since the mid-90s. In between the foregoing I’ve been finishing last minute Christmas shopping.

.: I was saddened to learn last week that my Little Brother is moving away from Edmonton. I am an In-School Mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters in Edmonton, and my Little Bro, JG, is leaving town. In-School Mentors visit their Littles once a week at their schools, and spend about 45-60 minutes with them once a week. I’ve worked with J for about 18 months, and recently he was teaching me how to play chess. I’ll miss him, but wish him well; he’s a great kid.

.: It hasn’t taken the corporate world long to take advantage of YouTube. NBC, for example, is uploading videos of its shows (or sections thereof) within minutes of a show’s finish. Last Saturday, NBC uploaded the uncensored version of a video featuring guest host Justin Timberlake and cast member Andy Samberg soon after the show ended. The music video is crude but funny – Timberlake plays the boy band schtick to the nines! When the YT video ended, links to a number of other NBC videos appeared, including this one, which includes one brilliantly hilarious scene (extreme sports), and is about an NBC-sponsored site called It’s Your Show. Create an original video (with original music if need be), use the supplied toolkit if applicable, upload the video into an existing category on the site, or create your own category therein. Sounds like fun, if you have enough free time to work on such things.

The SF/Fantasy Book Meme…

Posted in Books, Science Fiction on December 4th 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: While scanning a few friends’ blogs, I found this meme at Cindi’s site. Generally I loathe blog memes, I think they are silly and too cute for their own good, but I’m sucking it up here and participating in this one, because I found myself scanning the list and making mental notes about various titles, given that I used to read a lot of SF once upon a time. Plus I like Cindi! Cindi notes that the layout of the list is a bit odd in that after the first ten titles, the list is alphabetized. ‘zup with that?? Anyway, here goes:

“Below is a Science Fiction Book Club list most significant SF novels between 1953-2006. The meme part of this works like so: Bold the ones you have read, strike through the ones you read and hated, italicize those you started but never finished and put a star next to the ones you love.”

1. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
3. Dune, Frank Herbert
4. Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein
5. A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
6. Neuromancer, William Gibson*
7. Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke*
8. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick

9. The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
10. Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
11. The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
12. A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller, Jr.*
13. The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov
14. Children of the Atom, Wilmar Shiras
15. Cities in Flight, James Blish
16. The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
17. Dangerous Visions, edited by Harlan Ellison
18. Deathbird Stories, Harlan Ellison
19. The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester*
20. Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
21. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
22. Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
23. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Stephen R. Donaldson
24. The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
25. Gateway, Frederik Pohl
26. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
27. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
28. I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
29. Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
30. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin**** (my all time favorite sf novel)
31. Little, Big, John Crowley
32. Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
33. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
34. Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement
35. More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
36. The Rediscovery of Man, Cordwainer Smith
37. On the Beach, Nevil Shute
38. Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke*
39. Ringworld, Larry Niven*
40. Rogue Moon, Algis Budrys
41. The Silmarillion, J.R.R. Tolkien
42. Slaughterhouse-5, Kurt Vonnegut
43. Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson
44. Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner*
45. The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
46. Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein
47. Stormbringer, Michael Moorcock
48. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
49. Timescape, Gregory Benford
50. To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Philip Jose Farmer*

There are no books on the list that I read and hated, but some of my all-time faves are there, including The Left Hand of Darkness, Stand on Zanzibar, Ringworld, To Your Scattered Bodies Go, Neuromancer, and A Canticle for Leibowitz. In addition to Lord of Light, there might be one or two others I started but never finished, but it was so long ago that I can’t be sure about which titles those might be.

ADDENDUM: In his comment, Jason notes, “Leave it the SF Book Club (the SF presumably still stands for Science Fiction) to include a number of outright fantasy novels in their top list of science fiction novels.” It’s a valid point, and I agree – the list would have had more credibility if the SF Book Club had limited the criterion for inclusion to science fiction novels only. In addition to the important titles Jason suggests are missing from the list, I would add The Dispossessed by Ursula K Le Guin, Way Station by Clifford Simak, and A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. I’m sure there are dozens of others that could be included as well.

-40C Is -40F

Posted in Books, Hardy Drew and the Nancy Boys on December 3rd 2006 by Randy Reichardt

.: We’re knee-deep in snow and have been freezing our butts off in sub-zero temperatures for the past few weeks. Edmonton endured a few days of temperatures in the -30C range, which felt like -40C with the windchill factored in. -40C is equal to -40F; that’s where the two temperature scales meet, so yes, it was feckin’ cold indeed. For the most part, I’ve been dragging myself to work, surviving each day with enough energy to return home and sleep rather than head to the gym.  Driving can be a nightmare, but thankfully the City of Edmonton has been able to increase the number of contracted snow cleaning services in the past couple weeks, so at least the roads are passable. The 7-10 day forecast is for temperatures to return to average figures for this time of year, which is around -5 to 0C, much more tolerable.

.: The past few months I’ve been reading more than I have in years. When at the Y, I work out on an upright cycle, and read a lot there. The titles I’ve read recently include:

The Amorous Busboy of Decatur Avenue: A Child of the Fifties Looks Back by Robert Klein
The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System by Siva Vaidhyanathan
The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman
The Beatles: The Biography by Bob Spitz
The Film Snob*s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Filmological Knowledge by David Kamp with Larwence Levi
Hip: The History (P.S.) by John Leland
In Praise of Slowness: How A Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honoré
The Keep by Jennifer Egan
New Rules: Polite Musings from a Timid Observer by Bill Maher
Queenan Country by Joe Queenan
The Rock Snob*s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge by David Kamp and Steven Daly
Sloth: The Seven Deadly Sins by Wendy Wasserstein
The Stanley Kubrick Archives edited by Alison Castle
The Truth (With Jokes) by Al Franken

I am currently reading Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the Rise of Independent Film by Peter Biskind, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction by Jon Stewart, Ben Karlin, David Javerbaum, et al, and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I’m maintaining my own library catalogue using LibraryThing.

.: HDNB played a gig last week at The Fox in Edmonton, in the -40C atmosphere of a late Sunday evening. Kudos to the 15 hardy souls who braved the mean-spirited weather to come down and watch us play a couple sets of tunes.

.: My secondment at NINT has been renewed until January 2008. 2008…would you believe I will be eligible to retire in 2008? I can’t believe it, either.

.: The province in which I live, Alberta, has a new leader, Ed Stelmach. Stelmach won in a runoff vote on Saturday to become the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Party and the next Premier of Alberta. It was a stunning defeat for the big business candidate Jim Dinning, and a rebuke of the ultra-right wing, US-born and bred candidate, Ted Morton. Any Albertan could vote if he or she was a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta; a membership cost $5.00. Predictably, thousands of people in the province joined, as did I, just to be able to vote, and in the end, to elect Stelmach and defeat Dinning and Morton. Stelmach is a moderate, something this province hasn’t seen in decades, and he appears to be a decent human being, unlike the retiring buffoon who is our current Premier. I will celebrate the day Stelmach is sworn in, because we will finally be free of Ralph.

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