Ebooks – Self Made

I have written some articles for a Danish science fiction magazine.

Since I have an e-reader I would like to have those available to bring with me.
For an article the process is very simple :
I take the text version of the file and add some headline tags (Simple HTML), make some paragraph markups .
Things come up very readable, and I used a neat text editor for the Mac called “TextWrangler” The editor “understands” Regular Expressions, a hairy Unix way of doing text editing, but I just had to learn a bit of it to do this.

Neat to get my own stuff on the e-reader. I may put more of my stuff on it.

Up’s and down’s of using Mac OS X

Having tried out Mac OS, Linux and Windows I find that they all have their advantages and disadvantages.
Linux comes with a large amount of free and quite useable software, yet can be tricky with new or exotic hardware
Mac OS is very easy to use, but the selection of programs is more limited than the two others.
Windows has as many programs as you want, yet is so commonly in use that it is a target for Virus, Trojans and other malware.

I found a neat program for making and organising notes when using linux. Zim desktop wiki easily creates linked text files in a wiki-like way, yet it is on my own machine.
The Linux version is packaged for the most common distributions There is a Windows executable, so there it is easy, too.

Enter the Mac

Mac OS X is a Unix like system, much like Linux,yet with some quirks.installing Linux programs directly is not possible, so someone has made package installers available, compiling the source code and, mostly taking care that dependencies are installed.
Macports has Zim in its repository. However the version is an ancient one that possibly will cease running in a not so far future. The version is Perl based and no longer maintained. The latest version is written in Python, and here is the thing.
Some dependencies are not readily recognised because they are not in the “expected places”.
I have been looking into it the last week, and it looks like I have found a way to get it running. I want to make sure it is reproducible, and then I intend to write in the blog how I got it running.

Update : It looks like I got the install procedure running, nor I will make an attempt to simplify the procedure.

Leviathan Chronicles – Audio play, season 1

During travels between Netherlands an Denmark I have been listening to an audio play titled  “The Leviathan Chronicles” by Christof Laputka , a story of immortals living among us. Throw in some deep sea and air travel and some ancient legends of how the immortals came into being, and you got the sense of the story

The first “season”, 25 episodes is out now and I listened to those, with several meta eposides in there.

The story is intended to consist of 2 seasons of 25 episodes each. Since the production of the first season took longer than planned, the show will not be released until all of the second season has been produced.

My first impression is that the production values are quite good, and the story plot is flowing rather well, as seen in the first season. If (when) the second season arrives I plan to follow it, yeah I am curious enough.

I did find the theme music somewhat intrusive, but it does fit the story to a large extent. One thing I noticed : The extensive use of a narrator is not too bad, but a few things did pull me out of the story.

The first is that I found the narrator, at least for me, speaks at the same break-neck speed all the time, even when the narration is more on the descriptive side, or scenes with less action. Why not relax a bit when the story warrant a calmer tempo ?

Second, I found that for an audio play there was too much narration and too little dialogue.

The two first are minor niggles compared to the third one :

In this example the action is just ramping up, you hear heavy footfalls – attackers on the way . . . then the narration suddenly goes into description mode, describing the attackers in place of continuing the action . . . The story completely lost its momentum for me.

Now the main complaints are done, I found the chcracters rather believable in the context of the story, and the story seems to be rather consistent in its progress. Likewise the acting was mostly good, though I found the narrator/narration the weakest link in the story.

Since this was a podcast play with comments from the writer, I will have to say that I found that he was talking too long and with too many repetitions after the main episodes, and in particular in some of the meta episodes. But that is my personal matter.


I will rate this to 7/10 on the Lurker’s scale.




Iran Launches a satellite into orbit.

Today Iran is a member of a very exclusive group of countries – those who have launched satellites into space.
The then Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in October 1957. The United States followed with the successful launch of Explorer 1 in January 1958.
France, Japan, China, the United Kingdom, India and Israel followed later .

The satellite is called “Omid” which means “Hope” in Persian, and carries experimental control systems, communications equipment, and a small remote sensing payload, according to Iranian news reports.

I do find it a bit worrying that a nation with a stated hostile intent towards USA and Israel in particular, and the West in general, now has the capability to deliver whatever type of weapons they have (their secrecy about the nuclear installations, anyone ?) to any place in the world.

It remains, however, quite a feat from a nation to do what they have done, so we must have some respect for their technical abilities. Let us hope that they will learn the lesson of the Cold War – and that they will not start a “hot one”.

Find more information on Spaceflight Now

RIP Mars Phoenix Lander.

NASA has finished listening for the Phoenix Mars Lander, reports Spaceflight Now in *this article*.

It comes due to the Martian Winter fast approaching, the solar panels are unable to keep the batteries charge…. and it is a little tricky to send someone to run a generator or change the batteries. 😉

In a sense it is sad to lose a spacecraft, but Phoenix had done what it was supposed to do, and was operational for 2 months longer than its original 3 months mission. Not bad at all. The Odyssey orbiter appears to continue functioning, so not all is over yet, even if we are unlikely to hear it for some time while Mars passes behind the Sun (from our perspective).

eBook reading on the iPod Touch

Yes – the 2.0 software for the iPod Touch allows (finally !) 3rd party software to be installed, making the Touch a more versatile piece of equipment than just a browser and audio/video player. Suddenly it becomes more of a PDA.

I downloaded the Stanza ebook reader to the Touch. It allows downloads of free ebooks from project Gutenberg. I downloaded a few, and got to read one for now. Having watched the “Jekyll” miniseries on DVD I got curious and wanted to (re)read the story giving the inspiration for the series – the short story “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Also I downloaded a few ebooks that come as applications for the Touch. Mike Stackpole has a few there, mostly short stories, but his novel “One a Hero” is there as well.

I have read a bit of those as well.

The small screen of the Touch is not really ideal for the purpose, but if you go travelling and want to travel “light” it is an option for having a set of books with you. It is easy to adjust the font size for relatively comfortable reading. Just don’t expect to read a novel in one go on the iPod Touch.

Bloated Linux

I have been using the standard Ubuntu Linux with the GNOME interface for a while with my small eeeBox.

The Atom processor got exhausted rather fast just running a browser, chat client and satellite tracking program.

Switch the desktop from Gnome to XFce, a lightweight desktop environment, and bingo, things run faster and the processor does not run into the 100% barrier. Looks like I will configure the XFce a bit, but that is a small price to pay for some speed.

Of course – it does not look as sleek as the other desktop, but I want functionality, not eye candy.

The “Blessings” of a Linux distribution.

Or rather – “why does a package not work as it is supposed to be ?”

Today I tried to install a text mode satellite tracking program under Ubuntu. It installs fine and starts up, asking for some initial data (“this is the first time….”). I enter the data, the program exits. Sounds ok. The screen (window) looks strange, I restart the program : “this is the first time …”

I do not know what is wrong, something is incompatible. Probably the modifications used by the distribution.

When I get time I will look into it, for now that will have to wait. But it is annoying.