Papal Vacation: Rehoboth Beach

Given the forecast of millions of Papal pilgrims Marisa and I decided to head the heck out of town last weekend.

The week before the Pope's visit it looked like we made the right call given the signs we were seeing in our neighborhood:

Papal vacation

Papal vacation

Papal vacation

So we packed our bags:

Papal vacation

And headed to the beach:

Papal vacation

And looked at the ocean:

Papal vacation

We visited a couple of random stores, one of which had this interesting model:

Papal vacation

We saw a dolphin:

Papal vacation

And tried on some hats:

Papal vacation

Papal vacation

Sadly, we missed the yacht rock:

Papal vacation

But we did see the super moon:

Papal vacation

Papal vacation

And found some interesting soda:

Papal vacation

And had some almost butter:

Papal vacation

Running progress 2

Runscott5 months ago I posted that I was trying to get back to being able to run 3 miles in 30 minutes on the treadmill. Then, a funny thing happened. I had to run outside for a screen shot for my latest book (which I'll blog about later), and it wasn't awful.

I've shifted to running outside almost exclusively now (though it is rough in the summer, so I still hit the treadmill from time to time.. I plan to tonight!). I haven't hit a consistent 10 minute mile outside yet, in fact, I'm pretty far from it. However, I have been concentrating on distance over time. What does that mean?

It means I ran 7 flipping miles on Sunday! Which is crazy.

Even crazier? It didn't totally suck.

Overlooked Series

Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid books, wrote a great post listing some underrated series of books for adults. He wrote this in reaction to having his own series of books listed on this Buzzfeed list of underrated YA series (which lists a bunch of stuff that isn't YA).

I love this idea, and it has inspired me to create my own list of underrated series, one of which appears on Kevin's list (he has good taste!).

The Iron Druid Chronicles

I'll start off listing Kevin's series: The Iron Druid Chronicles. I'm not generally a fan of Urban Fantasy, it isn't my bag. However, Atticus O'Sullivan, the ancient Druid who is the last of his kind, is a lot of fun to read about. And his dog is fantastic (this makes sense if you read the books).

Ok, these books aren't literary gems but they aren't meant to be. They are fast, fun reads. All I can say is that I read one in a couple of hours and then bought every single available novel right afterwards and devoured them all.

Books in the series:

The Glamourist Histories

Jane Austin with a touch of magic is how I describe Mary Robinette Kowal's The Glamourist Histories. That's true of the first book, though the later entries in the series have a heck of a lot more action than you'll find in an Austin book.

Jane and Vincent, the main characters, are glamourists (they can create illusions, and do so for installation in manor houses and the like) who are very much in love and end up in many interesting situations. These situations include everything from encountering Napoleon's army to being fleeced in Venice.

Sadly, the final installment of this series is coming out this month. I'll read it and look forward to what else Mary Robinette Kowal has in store for us.

Books in the series:

The Athenian Mysteries

I'm a sucker for a period mysteries series, and Gary Corby's The Athenian Mysteries fit the bill. Set in ancient Greece, the books follows Nicolaos who has a knack for solving mysteries but has trouble making a living out of it. Pericles is sort of his sponsor, though they have a fragile relationship. Oh, and did I mention Nicolaos has a young brother by the name of Socrates? Yeah, that Socrates.

Once again, these books are fun, light, quick reads that always entertain.

Books in the series:

The Paradox Trilogy

Rachel Aaron, writing as Rachel Bach, wrote a damn fine trilogy of scifi books called The Paradox Trilogy. Devi, the main character, has some sweet power armor and dreams of serving her King. Those dreams don't work out as she had hoped, but she does get to encounter some "monsters" and fall in love.

I enjoy the fact that these books feature a strong female protagonist who falls in love, but isn't super happy about it (it is very complicated, as you'll find out when you read it). Also, did I mention the sweet power armor? It is pretty sweet.

The books in the series:

Engineer Trilogy

I've said time and again that K.J. Parker books are great. The Engineer Trilogy follows an engineer who is exiled for creating things that are out of spec, and he get his revenge. A lot of revenge.

This is a fantasy series, but there isn't any magic to be found. There is a lot of blood, gears, and betrayal. This isn't a lighthearted read, but man is it compelling.

The books in the series:

Six Colors: How TiVo Roamio reached its potential

I love my TiVo (as I've said once or twice on this very blog). And I would seem Mr. Jason Snell is also loving his:

My family and I watch many YouTube videos on the TiVo, and all of my Netflix viewing these days is via the TiVo.

I enjoy flinging YouTube videos from my iPhone/iPad onto my TiVo so I can show Marisa Maru's latest hijinks (oh, that silly Japanese cat). And the Netflix app is good too, though I tend to use my Fire TV for streaming video (via Amazon Prime).

Comm Badges

I couldn't resist them (get it?). And they were cast from the original molds used for the props on TNG, DS9, and Voyager.

Marisa was disappointed that they don't beep when you tap them. I had to break it to her gently: they add those sounds in post-production.

Wrong on the iPhone 8 years ago, twice!

For some reason this tweet of mine from 8 years ago is making the rounds of a few folks on Twitter:

I was totally wrong, and oddly enough I tweeted that out shortly before I left Philly for the Macworld during which Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone:

And I was wrong again about the iPhone:

Ok, technically I've bought way more than one iPhone since then so I suppose it is correct.

Also, anyone else remember when you would tweet in the form of the answer to the question, "What are you doing?"

Kindle Family Library: the downside

Kindle Family Library is great. It allows you to share books across Kindle devices (e-ink and Fire only) between two linked accounts (Kirk has a great tutorial on how to set it up, and here’s  list of devices on which it works).

Marisa and I set this up, which is great since we do have some overlapping tastes in books. Here’s what my library of books looks like on my Kindle Fire:

Can you tell which books are mine and which are Marisa’s? That’s the problem with the Family Libray, books just show up (which isn’t really a problem, but for the purposes of this blog post it is, OK!?). You can view only you books, but what if you buy a book and you don’t want it to show up in your Shared Libray?

The boffins at Amazon have thought of that, which I discovered after purchasing a Kindle book the other day. Check out this screen you are presented with after purchasing:

Click Do not share and it doesn’t show up in your Family Library.

You can also stop sharing books via Manage Your Kindle. Click “Show Family Library” and you’ll be able to manage which books you’re sharing:

Easy as a couple clicks.

Larp Trek

The Internet is an amazing thing. Today’s evidence of this: Larp Trek.

I found out about this amazing comic from Carrie Anne, who will be appearing on a future episode of Random Trek. When she told me about it she said, “You’re going to lose a lot of time to it.” She was right.

Here’s the idea behind it: the holodecks are all offline on the Enterprise and the TNG bridge crew needs something to entertain them. Geordi decides to game master a role playing game where each of the crew members plays a character on the fictional space station “Deep Space Nine."

That’s right, this comic imagines that DS9 was a campaign in an RPG played by TNG characters. I can’t even.

Just read it. Read it now. Start at the first page. If you like D&D and Star Trek you won’t be sorry.

Also, if you like D&D, Star Trek, AND podcasts, you should listen to:

Apple World Today rises from the ashes of TUAW

AppleWorld.Today launches, well, today. It is an effort from a few fine folks at the defunct TUAW (of which I was associated from a while there). I wish them all the best of luck!

Here’s a fun fast: one of the main reasons TUAW wasn’t invited to official Apple events (at least according to folklore) is that fact that “Apple” was in the name. It’ll be interesting to see if AppleWorld.Today will run into the same issues. Of course, I have no idea if they even want to go to official Apple events, as they tend to be pretty well covered.

on TUAW (or WTF, AOL?)

I never really thought I’d be a writer. In fact, for a long time, I thought I was going to end up being a physicist. Fast forward to freshman year in college when I realized that calculus wasn’t for me and I waved goodbye to my aspirations of a career in the hard sciences.

I didn’t immediately think, “Well then, I’ll just be a writer!” I had to pick a major, so I went with English. I graduated, started looking for careers and ended up in Higher Education (which is where I still work!). I never really thought of myself as a writer until I saw a post by Barb Dybwad on The Unofficial Apple Weblog. They were looking for bloggers (not writers) and since I had been blogging for awhile and I liked Apple stuff I figured why not apply.

I sent off an email and waited. I didn’t hear anything, so I figured that was that.

This was all 10 years ago, mind you, but I still remember seeing that email from Barb asking me to join up with TUAW. I did, and wrote this first post, and after a few years I ended up becoming the Lead Blogger at TUAW. I covered a couple of Macworlds for the site (that first Macworld I wrote something like 25 posts A DAY, which meant that I didn’t talk to anyone at the actual event), “starred” in a couple of videos, and wrote and wrote and wrote (my back of the envelope math shows that for the 3 years I was there I wrote 2.7 posts a day on average, or a little over 3000 posts).

More importantly TUAW gave me the opportunity to meet lots of people: fellow bloggers, writers,  developers, and fans. So many people, in fact, that as I started listing them it grew so long that I decided not to include it with this post.

I left TUAW 7 years ago mostly because of AOL’s incompetence, so it came as only a mild shock to hear that AOL is shuttering the site and waving goodbye to all the talented folks who worked there. There’s some corporate speak saying that TUAW would be “rolled into” Engadget which means, I assume, the content will be absorbed into Engadget’s archives so they can still put advertising around it (and sip on that sweet, sweet SEO juice). A sad end to a fine site. A site that is directly responsible for the fact that I now honestly think of myself as a writer (though I still find it hard to believe that I’ve written books that you can buy in a bookstore! Sure, no one actually buys them, but they could and that’s what counts!).

Since today is the last day of publication for TUAW I wanted to thank everyone who read the site, anyone who was involved with it, and everyone I’ve met because of it. Writing for TUAW gave me my first taste of limited highly specific notierity (there was a time when I was recognized whenever I walked into an Apple Store), and my first realization that somewhere on the Internet there is someone who has nothing better to do than to tell you how whatever you’ve shared sucks (now I just go to Twitter for that).

You can read some more about my thoughts about TUAW in my farewell post (which used to have lot of lovely comments from readers wishing me well, but they seem to have been axed whenever TUAW changed commenting sytems. You can see why I have my doubts about the TUAW posts being around for the longhaul).

Books you should read (or give as a gift!)

Since it is the holidays here in the good US of A (and elsewhere I presume, but I don't concern myself with the goings on outside of our fine borders) I thought it only appropriate to share some of the best books I've read this year. Along with affiliate links and a plea for you to buy them for friends, loved ones, or enemies.

The Golem and the Jinni

Hard to believe I read this book in 2014, but I did (finished it on Jan. 25th, 2014). This is a great book, as discussed on this episode of The Incomparable. And at the moment it is only $2.99 in ebook format. Why haven't you purchased it already?

Ok, so you want to hear a little bit of what this book is about. A golem is shipped to NYC, as you do, and he master dies. She's left to fend for herself and ends up meeting a Jinni. It is great.

Amazon | Kindle | B&N

My Real Children

MyrealchildrenI love Jo Walton. Well, I love her writing (I'm sure she's a lovely person though). After reading her Small Change series I decided that I would just buy whatever her next novel is without question. That's why I preordered My Real Children and read it as soon as it appeared on my Kindle.

This book is science fiction, but with a light touch. The main character is an old lady who is in a old folks home and remembers living two lifetimes. Is she crazy? Nope, she is just remembering two different timelines of her own life.

Fantastic. And there are moon-bases, so: science fiction.

Amazon | Kindle | B&N

The Bone Clocks

BoneclockDavid Mitchell knows how to write a book I tells ya. The Bone Clocks is definitely science fiction, but since Mitchell wrote it people you'll find it shelved in the "Fiction" section of the bookstore (serious writers don't do science fiction, you see. Even though the Cloud Atlas was also SciFi).

This book pings around the world and history following the story of Holly Sykes who ends up involved in a war that she knows nothing about. I devoured this book (after I got through the first 30 pages or so).

Amazon | Kindle | B&N

Station Eleven

StationelevenI'd never heard of Emily St. John Mandel before (but what a name), however, this book is crazy good. It is a post-apocalypse book, but it isn't apocalypse porn. Most of the action happens a good while after the fall of society, when new rules and societies have been formed and life is somewhat stable (though nothing like we know it).

A traveling band of Shakespearean actors are the main vehicle of the plot with characters connecting threads across time before, during and after the pandemic.

Amazon | Kindle | B&N

And the sequels

There are two other books that I quite enjoyed this year, but it is difficult to recommend them since they are both a part of a larger series.

The Causal Angel by Hannu Rajaniemi blew my mind with the bizarre stuff that it contains. This is a science fiction lovers science fiction book (though if you don't like rather baroque writing, this might not be your cup of tea).

Last year Ancillary Justice was my favorite book, and this year the sequel (Ancillary Sword) is on my best of list. You should read the first one though, and then pick up the second.

Random Trek T-shirt


I have a podcast called Random Trek in which I discuss a random episode of Star Trek with a non-random guest. It is a hoot. You should listen to it.

You should also buy one of these nifty Random Trek t-shirts (available for a very limited time). Why? Because my little podcast could use the support, and I could use the ego boost of having more than 12 people want to wear a t-shirt promoting a project of mine (really, it is all about me).

Buy a shirt, damn it!

Also, if you haven't been listening to the podcast why not check out a few episodes. The most helpful review on iTunes raves:


Why wouldn't you listen?