Brown's latest thriller (after Angels and Demons)is an exhaustively researched page-turner about secret religious societies, ancient coverups and savage vengeance. The action kicks off in modern-day Paris with the murder of the Louvre's chief curator, whose body is found laid out in symbolic repose at the foot of the Mona Lisa. Seizing control of the case are Sophie Neveu, a lovely French police cryptologist, and Harvard symbol expert Robert Langdon, reprising his role from Brown's last book. The two find several puzzling codes at the murder scene, all of which form a treasure map to the fabled Holy Grail. As their search moves from France to England, Neveu and Langdon are confounded by two mysterious groups-the legendary Priory of Sion, a nearly 1,000-year-old secret society whose members have included Botticelli and Isaac Newton, and the conservative Catholic organization Opus Dei. Both have their own reasons for wanting to ensure that the Grail isn't found. Brown sometimes ladles out too much religious history at the expense of pacing, and Langdon is a hero in desperate need of more chutzpah. Still, Brown has assembled a whopper of a plot that will please both conspiracy buffs and thriller addicts.
Hmm… what can I say. Well, first off, it was better than Decipher. ‘course, that’s not really saying much, now is it?
It’s not actually that bad of a book, as far as pulply action stuff goes. At least, unlike Decipher, it was actually written like a book, as opposed to feeling like a screenplay that got rejected and then converted. The pacing is pretty decent, the language middling, the plot not terrible, although I have to admit that I always expect stories like this to involve some amount of globe trotting, something this book certainly lacks… there are probably 6 major locations (as in, places the characters tarried for some period) in the entire novel, three in France, three in the UK.
The plot itself is decent enough… like I say, it’s not the most ambitious work of it’s type, but it keeps the reader entertained, and there is a reasonable twist at the end when you discover who The Teacher is. OTOH, I’m not the type to try and guess at plot twists while I’m reading, so I’m easily impressed when I get the answer. ;)Continue reading...
So, in my on-going search for ways to justify the purchase of my PDA, I’ve decided to try and read my first e-book on the thing, specifically “The Da Vinci Code”.
Okay, quit laughing. I’m entitled to read a little pulp from time to time, too, ya know. So piss off! And, hey, it can’t be as bad as Decipher. No, seriously, it really can’t. If an author tried to write a book worse than that, I’m pretty sure his/her own lower intestine would reach up and strangle him/her, Douglas-Adams-style.
Anyway, surprisingly enough, the experience has been remarkably positive. I absolutely love real, physical books as much as the next guy (actually, probably more… I have this really nasty habit of “stopping in” to book stores and walking out with two or three new items to add to my collection. Which would be fine if paperbacks still cost $5, rather than the current going rate which is upwards of $10… frickin’ wallet rapists), and still think that the classic paper book provides a superior overall reading experience, although that’s probably at least in part due to nostalgia. But I have to admit, this whole e-book thing might not be so crazy after all.
Now, going in, I knew that e-books have some problems:
- Eye fatigue.
- Difficult to see in bright-light conditions.
- Poorer “random access” facilities.
- Less durable (for obvious reason).
In my case, the first two were my major concerns, especially given my poorer vision. But, as it turns out, it’s not as bad as I thought. The screen on my TX is clear and readable. The brightness controls make it pretty usable in a variety of light levels (though reflection is an issue). And as for the other issues, well, I can deal with them. Plus, e-books have a few advantages:
- Smaller pocket-print, thus easier to carry around.
- Easy to read one-handed, or even no-handed with autoscroll.
- Ability to adjust fonts, colours, etc, to suit the reader.
- Can carry around a whole collection of books easily.
- Very easy to just power on and read. The reader automatically remembers where I was and opens directly to where I left off.
- Works in dark environs. I could read while Lenore’s sleeping, if I wanted.
- Allows me to easily read material from resources like Project Gutenberg without having to print stuff off.
As for actual software, I really can’t say enough good things about PalmFiction. Unfortunately, the only things the author can say are in Russian, so you kinda have to fumble a bit with it. But once you do, wow! The feature set is incredible!
- Reads txt, PalmDoc, Word files, RTF, and others, and can even read compressed files.
- Can display the text using anti-aliased fonts converted from TTF sources.
- Supports any screen orientation, so you can read left- or right-handed.
- Can display in true full screen on hi-res devices. No wasted screen space!
- Does a great job of word wrapping and hyphenation.
- It’s FREE.
And there’s probably many more features I neglected to mention. Truely an awesome program, and far better than trying to read PDFs using PalmPDF.
On a separate but related note, the next e-book on my list is a Russian work called The Twelve Chairs, by Ilf and Petrov. ‘course, I was originally planning to read The Golden Calf by the same authors, as recommended by Arkadi, our resident Syberian. However, the folks at that site haven’t completed the translation, and the last thing I want is to be left hanging halfway through. ;)
So in attempt to stay reasonably current, I’ve upgraded the version of OddMuse I’m using to the latest revision. If anyone finds anything odd, lemme know so I can fix it… assuming it worked before, of course. ;)
I decided to install a little sketching tool for my Palm called DiddleBug, and with it, I’ve found it possible to express myself in new and unique ways, by unlocking my latent artistic talent. With it, I’ve been able to tap into the deep well of my being, to create works of art that would have otherwise been impossible. You can see the result yourself. He’s my new site logo. Nice, eh?
Of course, I must admit, I also wanted to spruce this place up a little bit more and add some colour. I think it worked out nicely. Don’t you?
Update: Courtesy of lenore, my logo is now named Mr. Squiggle.
So, I just saw a new Coffeemate ad campaign, and I’ve just discovered what ad agencies now, apparently, believe speaks to women. In the past, the advertising industry has used all kinds of things for marketing products to women: hot men, hot women (who, presumably, the female audience wants to be like), normal women who appear to be “in charge” (remember all those commercials for cleaning products containing extremely competant, MILF-like women who, clearly, are happier using product X?), images of happy families getting along well because they enjoy product Y. Well, apparently the advertising world has discovered the next big thing: gay men.
Yes, you read that right: gay men.
Now, granted, this has been somewhat evident for a while. Flamboyantly gay men have become very popular on female-oriented programs, particularly fashion-related TV, celebrity television, and so forth. But this new Coffeemate commercial? This is a new one for me. It features two very gay dudes in a coffee house with a very confident, MILF-like woman interviewing them, asking them about how incredibly awesome Coffeemate is. These gay men then go on to describe, in very flamboyant terms (the use of the word “fabulous” being favoured) how incredibly lovely and delicious this product is.
After seeing the commercial, I’ve been left feeling incredibly conflicted. On the one hand, if it wasn’t evident before, it’s pretty clear now that homosexuality has hit the mainstream in a big way, and as such, this commercial is a sort of victory. OTOH, flamboyantly gay men have now, apparently, become (extremely transparent) marketing vehicles for selling lifestyle products to women, something I find offensive for some reason. Then again, maybe I’m just being overly sensitive and should relax and sit down with a nice vanilla coffee… mmmm… that texture, so smooth and velvety… just fabulous…
The sequel has arrived. We were passing by a Future Shop downtown, and we decided to stop in, and lo and behold, they got in new stock! So I decided to take the plunge once more. I hope I don’t live to regret this.
OTOH, this time I bought the extended warrantee. Of course, normally, these things are scams, and primarily act as just a great way to pump up the sales dude’s commission. But, in this case, particularly given my first experience, it seemed worth the money. Of course, if I decide enough is enough, I just threw $60 out the window. Then again, if things go south in 6 months, it’ll all be worth it (the warrantee is for a rather ample 2 years).
‘course, the real irony in all this is that, just today, I discovered PocketMod. It’s been raved about again and again elsewhere, so I won’t get too deep into it, but it basically lets you make small, customizable 8-page booklets, which can contain anything from calendars to to-do lists to music staffs, and are intended to act as little organizers/notebooks/what-have-you. Which, of course, is exactly what my Palm is for. :) Oh well, a PocketMod or two is still useful for other things, and I’ll put my more ‘mission critical’ stuff on paper, rather than dedicating the information solely to my Palm (eg, important contact information, etc).
Finally finally, winter has arrived. Sure, we’ve had cold weather, but without snow, it just ain’t the same. Then, in the last 24 hours, we get something like 10 to 14 centimeters!
Of course, that much snow certainly screws up the city infrastructure for a while, and so, given that the buses were running around 30 minutes late, Lenore and I decided to declare and Snow Day and “work” from home. :) ‘course, we did this with the expectation that many of our other co-workers would forgo the commute and do the same.
Well, we were wrong. Apparently we work with people who are far more dedicated to their jobs than I realized. Or they love sitting in traffic for hours just to say they did. Regardless, Team TK ended up being the only ones absent from work. Thanks a lot, guys!