Final books of 2018

This will almost certainly list the last books I finish this year, although I may still start some before January. Overall, I read 12 books in 2018 (approximately) which is about one per month. Not the best rate ever but not awful.

reWritten (2017) by Jako Malan

Cover2This was written by a South African fur and happily fills the gap of South African fantasy and science fiction. Usually, when I hear of South African books, they are dry, dealing with real political and social events rather than fantasy. ReWritten is a post-apocalyptic, sci-fi story with furry characters and a cool backstory.

I found the book started off very slowly and led to me taking a break after the first part. It was nice seeing a South African-flavoured story but there was initially little to really draw my attention as well as some bad editing, which frustrated me. From the second part though, the story picked up; both the pace and excitement increased and stayed high untill the end. The story of how the mammalæ came to be was very well presented.

The ending was a little clichéd and unsatisfactory, mostly serving to set up a sequal. The follow up story, Project Greenfields, was originally intended to be a graphic novel but, due to various difficulties, was changed to a normal novel which is still not finished. Overall, despite its flaws, I found reWritten refereshing and really engaging once it gets going.

Just for Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary (2001) by Linus Torvalds & David Diamond

Cover1This is an autobiography of Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux. For various reasons (mostly the extended support of Windows 7 ending in 2020 and my dislike of Windows 10) I switched over to using Antergos Linux as my main operating system (OS). It’s not the first time I’m using Linux as a main OS but I thought it might be interesting to read more about its creator and some of the thoughts that went into it.

We learn a little about Linus and his life in this book, as well as some of the thinking behind Linux but I didn’t find there to be too much that was really interesting. I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more about the OS and why certain decisions were made and more expansion of the philosophies behind it. I guess part of why that is is that Linus says he made practical rather than principled decisions nearly all of the time. Another issue is that the book is now 17 years old. When he talks about Linux or Apple or Microsoft or anything technical, it’s so completely out-of-date that I’m not sure there’s much relevance these days.

The book has its interesting parts and it’s a look into a mind that has helped shape a lot of our current computing environment but it’s not really a great book. I guess it’s more for if you’re really interested in either Linus Torvalds or the early history of Linux. For others, I doubt it really offers enough to make it worth it.

2018 Book List

One reason I can be glad of the two weeks I spent with my family in South Africa is because it gave me some time to catch up on some reading. It was also hot, so I didn’t actually write anything but we’ll forget that. Let’s start the 2018 book list!

12/05/2018 Added The Conquest of Bread

26/05/2018 Added A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

7/07/2018 Added one-and-a-half books

29/07/2018 Added The Fact of Evolution

22/09/2018 Added A Wasteful Death and Straight Men

28/12/2018 Added reWritten and Just For Fun

Thank you, Jeeves (1934) by PG Wodehouse

51xuergtiil-_sx322_bo1204203200_I remember my interest in reading the Jeeves and Wooster stories came from a small extract in one of the English comprehension pieces we did at school. There wasn’t much there but there was something about it that made me curious and I was disappointed when I couldn’t find any copies of the books at the time. Continue reading

Open-source and open-access news

I think as a global society we need to start working together to benefit everyone. Being in South Africa I’m constantly exposed both to sections of society that are incredibly poor and sections that are incredibly rich. One of the ways to move out of poverty and work towards a better world is through education and technology, but that costs money. Sometimes a lot of money, which is why I am supportive of various initiatives for free and open-source software. Previously I’ve expressed support for Mendeley and disapproved of attempts to prevent the public having access to research they funded. I’ve seen a few pieces on the topics recently and thought I’d share them in one convenient post. Continue reading