• Reading 2012

    During 2012 I have read 57 novels, which is significantly less than the previous year (83 between 09/10 and 12/11), when I first received my Kindle but still probably more than most other years since I was a child.

    Here is what I read during 2012, in rough chronological order:

    1. Guns, germs and steel by Jared Diamond - Similar to Why the Rest Rules (for now) and equally as enjoyable
    2. Start Small, Stay Small - Rob Walling
    3. A people’s history of the United States by Howard Zinn - Some parts very interesting, some parts dull.
    4. Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
    5. American Pyscho by Bret Easton Ellis - Enjoyable, but sick, very sick.
    6. Watership Down by Richard Adams
    7. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin - Reread as a precursor to the latest series being on tv.
    8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card - Really enjoyed this entire series
    9. Ender’s Shadow: Book One by Orson Scott Card
    10. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
    11. Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott - interesting but not great
    12. Xenocide by Orson Scott Card
    13. Children of the Mind by Orson Scott Card
    14. Shadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card
    15. Shadow Puppets by Orson Scott Card
    16. Shadow of the Giant by Orson Scott Card
    17. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
    18. A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin
    19. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - quite enjoyed the first two parts of this fast paced YA series.
    20. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
    21. Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut - surreal but ultimately felt like a struggle
    22. Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card
    23. A Storm of Swords by George RR Martin
    24. A Feast for Crows by George RR Martin
    25. A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin - really enjoyed, intending to reread to ensure I captured all of the detials
    26. Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett - A discworld novel, I read one from the Guards! series every so often as a short light hearted interlude after an intensive reading session.
    27. Makers by Cory Doctorow - another re-read
    28. The Making of Modern Britain by Andrew Marr
    29. Dune by Frank Herbert - I’d started reading this series before but didn’t remember getting to the end so I decided to re-read. Dune is the best of the Dune series.
    30. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
    31. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
    32. God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbet - It is a dull drag, I stopped my re-read after this novel, previously I read the sequel to this one, but remembered that that too is a dirge.
    33. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins - The finale of the Hunger Games series, quite different to the previous two, slightly clumsy but still enjoyable.
    34. A Walk-On Part: Diaries 1994-1999 by Chris Mullin - The first chronologically of the Mullin diaries but the last one I read. The whole series is a really good inside look into British politics from the perspective of an MP/junior minister rather than from the PM or cabinet. This isn’t the best in the series but worth a read if the others were enjoyed.
    35. Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - The first film I saw at the cinema, I enjoyed the book too.
    36. The Lost World by Michael Crichton - Very different to the film, a worthy sequel.
    37. Next: A Novel by Michael Crichton - A dystopian fiction about genetic engineering nad intellectual property. Worryingly close to fact.
    38. Congo by Michael Crichton - The most similar Crichton novel to Jurassic Park. Very enjoyable.
    39. Disclosure: A Novel by Michael Crichton
    40. Airframw by Michael Crichton
    41. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
    42. Childhoods’ End by Arthur C Clarke - I didn’t realise until I got about half way through that I’d actually read this before, which must have been a very long time ago.
    43. The autobiography of Malcom X by Malcom X - What a remarkable life.
    44. Why The West Rules (for now) by Ian Morris - Re-read. A history of the development of Chinese and Eurasia. Not dry at all.
    45. Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctrow from the first humble bundle
    46. Pump Six and other stories by Paolo Bacigalupi - Several future dystopian short stories - I really wished most of these were full fleshed novels.
    47. The Secret World Chronicles by Mercedes Lackey - The beginning of a series of books partially populated by X-men like superheroes. I really enjoyed this, was most disapointed to find the other books are not yet available as ebooks.
    48. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link - A mixed bag of short supernatural stories. Some are great (the title novel), some are less compelling.
    49. The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett. Another Guards! discworld novel
    50. Old Man’s War by John Scalzi - Similar to Starship Troopers, my first Scalzi novel, I intend to read more.
    51. Penpal by Dathan Auerbach - I found this short novel split across several /r/nosleep posts and decided to buy it immediately. A good example of how self-publishing can work.
    52. Final Empire: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson - The start of a fantastic fantasy series. Not sure where I picked up on this from but I’m glad I did.
    53. The Well of Ascension: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
    54. The Hero of Ages: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson - The finale to the series.
    55. The Alloy of Law: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson - Set in the same world as the other Mistborn books, but 300 years later.
    56. Zoo City by Lauren Beukes - An interesting book set in a world where criminals have magical animal familiars.
    57. Utter Folly: A high comedy of bad manners by Paul Basset Davies. A pretty funny farce in the English countryside.

    I started reading War & Peace a few weeks ago, which is obviously going to take a while, I think I’m about 25% of the way through.

  • Raspberry pi audio

    If you are trying to play audio on your raspberry pi over hdmi and it is not working then you need to ensure that the raspberry pi is driving your tv or monitor in hdmi mode and not dvi mode. To do this type /opt/vc/bin/tvservice -s

    If it’s running HDMI it will print something like state: HPD high|HDMI mode|HDCP off|composite off (0x12001a), 1920x1080 @ 60Hz, progressive

    If it’s running DVI it will print something like state: HPD high|DVI mode|HDCP off|composite off (0x120016), 1280x720 @ 60Hz, progressive

    This happens because the raspberry pi asks the monitor about itself and deduces the best resolution from this information. To view this information run: /opt/vc/bin/tvservice -d edid /opt/vc/bin/edidparser edid

    This will then list the resolutions supported for your display device and the id number and the score for each. CEA (hdmi) are in tv format (1080i etc) and DMT (DVI) in screen resolution (1280x720 etc). Note down the id of the highest scoring CEA resolution.

    Open /boot/config.txt and add: hdmi_group=1 hdmi_mode = x # The ID number you noted

    Then save, quit and reboot. and /opt/vc/bin/tvservice -s should include “HDMI mode” as above.

    I assume that including hdmi_drive=2 does the same thing - automatically choose the highest scorign CEA option.

  • Reserving IP addresses with buggy Netgear firmware

    My netgear DGN2000 router has an annoying bug where the IP address reservation refuses to reserve addresses for devices with MAC addresses that don’t begin with 00. This happens when you:

    1. Log onto your router at
    2. Click LAN Setup
    3. Click Add at the bottom of the central frame
    4. Click on the device you wish to reserve an address for
    5. Press Add

    An alert that pops up saying “Invalid MAC Address, please enter again!”

    Half of my devices have a mac address that begins with something other than 00, so this is annoying. Thankfully the validation is only done in javascript so it is very easy to subvert. Simply turn javascript off in your web browser.

  • Diplomacy

    A few weeks ago I started playing diplomacy. diplomacy is a board game that is like a combination of chess and poker that looks like Risk. You have to think about the positions of your units and tactics but you also have to make alliances, bluff everyone and stab your allies in the back.

    The mechanics of the game are on the whole simple, you have fleets and armies and on each turn, each unit can defend, attack, or support another unit. The object of the game is to capture 18 supply centres, each supply centre allows you to build another army or fleet. The complexity and the fun comes from your interactions with other players, between each turn you have time to talk with them - to plot with them against another, to declare truces and plan DMZ and to leak anothers plans to them (fictional or not).

    Stories like this one persuaded me to start playing the game.

    It’s a game for the patient - my first “live” game took 3 hours and the one turn every 24 hours games I’m playing via the internet last about a fortnight.

    I have been playing online using Web diplomacy and Play Diplomacy, both have their ups and downs but play diplomacy emails reminders when a new turn has begun, which is very helpful.

    I’m in the midst of my first game on Android using Droidippy which also has a web interface to the same games.

    My current results are played 3, lost two and two-way drawn another. I have a good feeling about the game I’m playing on Droidippy now.

  • Kindle statistics

    Mildly frustrated to learn that I’m generating all kinds of interesting data while using my kindle, such as how long I’ve spent reading a book, how many times I’ve read the book and so forth and yet none of it is (easily) directly accessible to me, or exposed by Amazon.

    It is possible to get at this data, though it requires first jailbreaking the kindle and then installing further hacks to add usb networking and ssh servers. Then you can use Matt Browns scripts to parse the logs. Sigh…

    On a happier note I realised today that kindle.amazom.com is not just an en-US thing, though it appears under publicised, few of my friends have really used it and a bit of a fath to use. You can follow me if you like though.