Blog Posts

New phone: Nexus 5

I gave in and bought a new phone last week. It arrived on Tuesday. Specifically, I bought a 32 GB black Nexus 5 from the Google Play Store. My former (and first) smartphone was a Samsung Galaxy Captivate (that is, the original Galaxy S phone). I don’t think it ever received an update beyond Android 2.2—I don’t know, though, because I eventually grew brave enough to flash CyanogenMod to it, freeing me from the tyranny of TouchWiz, and there was much rejoicing.

It's Desert Bus time again

It’s November, and that means it is Desert Bus for Hope time. Those of you who are old enough to remember life before the web might remember the phenomenon known as the charity telethon. Not-for-profit TV stations, or various charity organizations, would host fundraising drives. You could watch people perform on TV and make a pitch for donations, then you could phone in, and an operator would take down your name and your money. Desert Bus for Hope is kind of like that.

That autumn feeling

Well, it’s happened. The leaves have changed colour. They are starting to fall. That chill is in the air again. Autumn is here. I’m lucky enough to live in a part of Canada that (usually) experiences all four seasons to a good extent. And I am especially anticipating winter this year, of course, because I “missed” it last year.

Will consult on your spam email for $$$

I don’t get a great deal of spam, and Gmail does protect me from the most obvious—from a machine’s point of view. Gmail has dropped the ball, however, on detecting spam that is clearly spam to a human but cleverly disguised as legitimate. Here’s a message I received on Wednesday: Dear owner of, I’m sure you have been contacted in this matter many times before but our value proposition is much different.

Libraries make my day

I feel the need to make note on this blog that I’m 25 now. Since Saturday. I started a blog post last week about how I felt to be 25. Essentially it boiled down to “I don’t feel like an adult yet still” and then digressed into morose ruminations on the cognitive dissonance of being Facebook friends with people from high school I never talk to. It was entirely too serious and lugubrious considering that, on the whole, I’m feeling like I’m in a good place with my life right now.

On police cameras, Ferguson, and justice

Chatter about police wearing cameras while on duty has been picking up over the past year. The recent shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson has only amplified such calls. Really, as more and more ordinary citizens undertake lifelogging seriously, police wearing cameras will be inevitable. For an example from some recent and near-future fiction, look no further than Halting State, by Charles Stross.

Currently Reading

Book Reviews

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions cover image

I don’t really need to review this, do I?

Randall Munroe is the much-beloved writer and illustrator of the much-beloved webcomic xkcd . He puts his physics and robotics background to good use creating humorous situations based on science, mathematics, and nerd culture. He has since branched out with What If? , a weekly blog in which Munroe answers over-the-top questions by following the facts to whatever consequences they might lead.

This is the book of the blog.

(That’s like the book of the…

The Unincorporated Man cover image

Do you have a brick wall handy? Because hitting your head against that would be a more productive and more enjoyable experience than listening to The Unincorporated Man as an audiobook. This was the only format in which it was available through my library. Audiobooks are not my preferred format for reading. They can definitely be great if you have good material and a good narrator. The narrator here, Todd McLaren, wasn’t bad—but even he couldn’t make this book sound interesting. Even at 2.5x speed…

The Sum of All Men (Runelords #1) cover image

I read The Runelords, or at least The Sum of All Men, when I was much younger. I like to revisit books I think I enjoyed when I was younger but don’t remember now. If I like them still, hoorah; if I don’t, then I get to better understand how I have changed over the years. The Sum of All Men falls in the middle of that spectrum: it’s an enjoyable book with intriguing fantasy elements, but the characters and story vary from pedestrian to poor.

Most of the praise for this book will involve the magic…

Simon's Cat vs The World cover image

At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to write a very deep review of Simon’s Cat vs The World. After all, what can one say about something that is, ultimately, an all-ages picture book? I thought, I’m going to review this just because I know I’m already going to miss my reading goal for this year, but damned if I’m not going to use a picture book to get me that much closer. Then I realized Ben the Literature Snob was rearing his ugly head once again: how dare I be so biased? This isn’t a picture…

Seeds of Earth cover image

This book landed on my to-read list in 2009, and I remembered nothing about it when I finally tracked it down at my library. (For a while, I actually owned a used copy in the UK, but it went missing. Very mysterious. I suspect the AIs had something to do with it.) As I started reading Seeds of Earth, I wanted to dislike it. I wanted to find faults with it. Disappointingly that didn’t happen; frustratingly I found myself drawn into the story and Michael Cobley’s intricate depiction of a multiverse…