Daily Archives: Sunday, 20th May 2012

Weight and Stuff Report – 20 May 2012

Eh? What? Where did that come from?? I seem to have gained an unusual amount of weight since yesterday, and indeed over the last week. I’ll really have to try and do something about that…

The weather forecast for today was for more dull greyness, so I planned to stay in. Oddly enough, by late afternoon, the sky cleared, the sun came out and it looked like being a nice day after all. This was a bit too late for me to get it together and go anywhere, of course. Mutter.

Today’s picture is of a prickly character at Blue Reef



Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Aperture: ƒ/9
Shutter speed: 1/25s
Focal length: 82mm
ISO: 1600
Location: 55° 1.662′ 0″ N 1° 25.813′ 0″ W

Kindle Touch 3G

Since I got my first Kindle in 2010, it’s been in almost constant use. It’s only when my current reading matter isn’t Kindle-friendly that it gets a rest. Apart from the case-induced reboots, it’s been no trouble at all. Well, apart from one little thing. Sometimes, it’s not convenient to have the Kindle with me, such as those trips to Kingston Park Tesco’s, or the odd day when I don’t take a bag to work. The answer here is to use the Kindle app on my iPhone and carry on reading there, which works just fine so long as the Kindle was connected to my wireless network when I stopped reading. As I’d gone for the WiFi only version, and I like the battery to last, I’ve been in the habit of keeping the wireless off except when I’m expecting a book to download. Now that’s all very well, but what if I’m not at home and I don’t have a handy wireless network available? Well, after some thinking, and checking of the resale value of used Kindles, I began to think that I should go for a 3G one to replace my current model.

There are two options for 3G – either what’s now called the Kindle Keyboard, or the newer and fancier Kindle Touch. Now I wasn’t that bothered about having a touch screen, but a slightly smaller device with newer system software did appeal, so that’s what I decided to get.

For the most part, it’s the same old Kindle, but with a well-designed touch interface, which makes it as easy to use one-handed as the version with physical page turn buttons. Pressing and holding on book titles brings up the various options, and it’s quicker and easier to mark text or look up a word in the dictionary than using the four-way controller on the Keyboard model.

I used the management facility on Amazon’s website to deliver my existing content to the new Kindle, as this is a wee bit easier than downloading from the device itself. I had to manually recreate the various collections I’ve set up to keep my books organised, and there were a few ebooks I’d bought elsewhere that I had to copy across over USB, but that was easy enough.

The display is essentially the same as the eInk on the older Kindle, but with a trick to speed up page turns – rather than blanking the display completely, it sort of semi does it for a few pages before clearing it properly. This can leave vague shadows of text in the background, but does seem quicker. If it annoys you, it can be turned off.

The free 3G service works well enough – it’s slower than WiFi, but perfectly capable of downloading full-length books in a short enough time. The only thing it didn’t want to do was download the small sample audiobook from Audible, which seemed fair enough to me.

So there it is, my second Kindle. I’ll be selling or otherwise disposing of the other one quite soon.

The Company of the Dead – David Kowalski

I read advance reviews of this book before its UK publication, and it sounded like the sort of thing I’d like, so I ordered it in advance. I was so interested that I started on it before some other books that have been patiently waiting on my Kindle for months, but that’s the kind of thing I tend to do…

Anyway, this was first published in Australia a while back, but appeared here this year, presumably in an attempt to hook into all the Titanic centenary fun and games, which seems like a good move, as the story starts with the Titanic centenary. Except it’s not our Titanic centenary, oh no. Things are very different in this 2012. The United States has again divided into a Union and a Confederacy – though without a civil war this time. The two major powers are the empires of Japan and Russia. Hitler was a successful artist. Germany won what’s still referred to as The Great War, and a very different European War took place around the middle of the previous century. And it’s quite clear to informed observers that the world is going to hell without the aid of a handbasket very soon. War is looming, and both the major parties have new atomic weapons which they seem keen to use.

Now that might be the basis of a nice alternative history novel, and in part that’s what this is, but there’s more. Sailing into New York on a replica of the Titanic, newly appointed Captain Lightoller (a descendant of an officer on the original ship) soon gets pulled into a strange adventure.  Agents of the Confederate states, led by a Kennedy, armed with a letter of authority from the British King, recruit him for an unbelievable mission.

In this world, the Titanic missed its appointment with the iceberg thanks to the intervention of a time traveller called Wells.[1] While Wells prevented the disaster that happened in our world, he failed to take account for the fact that there were lots more icebergs, and so the ship still met with disaster, this time with an even greater loss of life, and at least one survivor who didn’t make it in our time line. Wells left a journal describing his actions in the safe on the Titanic, and this has now been recovered.

And so we get into a long, possibly overlong story of getting to the mysterious time machine[2] in a desperate attempt to reset the world and undo the damage Wells did. There’s lots of conspiracy, and for my taste an excess of bloody battle scenes, but overall there was enough to keep me reading and wanting to see how it would end.

I’d give it a qualified recommendation. It would have benefited from a bit of editing for length and to remove a repeated howler in which the speed of a ship is given in

knots per hour

which even a dedicated landlubber like me knows is very wrong.

Good fun though. The background of the changed world is revealed gradually, with not too many infodumps, and it all fits together pretty well. If you like a good time paradox, a bit of alternative history or a thriller, you may enjoy this.

[1] Well, of course…
[2] It arrived from the future. In Roswell. In 1947. Oh dear