Recently, I’ve finished the Frontlines series after more than a year of reading. Sometimes a book or two a week, sometimes a book or two a quarter. Quite a good series in its genre. After eight volumes, it does rather make me think about how my reading habits have changed in the last few years.

Somewhere over the years, I’ve started to divide my taste in reading into two different groups: light reading and heavy reading. Light reading is often serialized, less deep and more to the point. Good examples abound among Japanese light novels (thus, my choice of noun, lol) and the more “Pulp” like spectrum of science fiction and fantasy. Something you can sit down, read, enjoy, and not have to spend a lot of brains on to avoid distraction. Heavy reading tends to be more in depth and long form, things that reward interests in world building and greater detail up to the point that focused reading is necessary for enjoyment. Good examples are epics like Lord of the Rings and Shogun, things that aren’t short reads and benefit from focused reading where you can really enjoy them.

Oddly, I think Frontlines fits neither of these taxonomy. Terms of Enlistment and some of the other entries in the series, straddle a fine line between little enough detail to maintain the pacing and focus; but also flesh out the world sufficiently that it provides the depth needed for character and plot development. That’s not an easy balance to achieve in writing a story.

While I’ve found that fitting more light reading into my life fits better with the reality of how much time I can spend reading, many of my favorite novels are definitely in the heavy category. Curiously many of the best novels are somewhere in between these two extremes. But the only way to really tell whether a book will land in between is to give it a good reading 😀

Been hearing bits and pieces for a while now, and anxiously wondering when we’d see a release. Sounds like the new Dune fil is due in October, and one can hope ^_^.

My introduction to Dune was the 1984 film. One late night, my mother invited me to watch it with her, but warned that you’ll probably have to watch it twice to understand it. And of course, I did, lol. Some years later, she would also lend me her copy of the book, and House Atreides. I think Dune still holds my personal record for most pages read in a sitting, since I basically sat on my ass and inhaled about the first 100 pages–after reading the four appendices! I remember seeing the novel had appendices with information about its world, and just knowing that it would be my kind of book.

Oddly, ironically, or fated, the other night I started reading Dune again. It’s been maybe eight or ten years since I last read it.

Since reading the novel as a kid, I’ve come to have a cautious view of anyone attempting to make a movie out of the story. It’s just to big and multifaceted. The cluster-hells aside, the ’84 film basically cut out 30 – 60 % of the novel, literally an entire cast of characters worth. But it still managed to tell the important pieces of the story, and is far from a short film. Much like the Lord of the Rings, I try to respect the fact that no one can watch a 12-hour long movie without taking multiple bathroom breaks unless you’re wearing a still suit or diapers.

IHMO, unless you’re prepared to make a film trilogy out of it I think Dune lends itself more to a miniseries than a theatrical film. So at best, I can hope to enjoy Villeneuve and cie’s efforts. Sounds like he has the good sense to make it more than one movie, hopefully that pans out. The novel itself, as I recall: was not only followed by four appendices, but also divided the story into three “Books”. Which is well reflective of how long a story Dune is, regardless of the publishing history that lead to it being so.

So far my adjustment to the new Kindle has been going well. Also nice that I’ve been able to catch up on my reading a bit, hehe.

My biggest real concern was the refreshing, which kept me on the wall a while. E-ink screens are actually pretty fascinating technology, but not your average display. The refresh rates are high enough that hard flipping pages aren’t an issue, but a whole lotta flashin’ is goin’ on when images are involved. Typically this is more towards the UI, browsing covers on shelves kind of things. I assume this is in the name of making book covers render without artifacts. Because the black flashes are often more a ping-ping-ping than a slam-bam, and mostly occur in UI.
Thus far it hasn’t bothered me, or been anywhere near as bad as I had expected. But it should probably come with a seizure warning or something just in case.
The pint sized device is also damned convenient. It’s literally small enough to stuff in the breast pocket of my t-shirt, a feat not even a Goosebumps book could achieve so well. For the most part though, I just carry it like a PADD from Star Trek.
Actually the size and design of the 10th generation Kindle very much fits my mental image of the 24’th century PADD.
This is especially true with the extra bezel towards the bottom. And that the damned thing weighs so little: you could mistake it for a sheet of paper, or a weight reduced plastic Frisbee.
Thus far I’ve found the e-ink rather lovely. It’s suitably sharp that I find it easy to read. Brightness controls range from that’s really friggin’ dim to a fairly bright white. After a few days, I backed off from a few notches over half to a few notches below; the brightness scale is 24 notches.
At really low brightness: for a moment I was reminded of the original GameBoy; which really is an unfair comparison because it’s a much better screen than those ever were. Cranked up the front light makes it feel more like a tablet set to white on black. Dimmed to the middle is like a crossing point between notably white, and something closer to a page in a book.
If you have 20/20 and drop your phone on your face a lot, I could see why higher resolution would be an interest. For me it’s kind of like the 720p vs 1080p debate in phone screens. Yeah, better resolution would be nice, but I’m not inclined to cram the screen close enough to my eyeball for it to be a big return on investment. So I’ve no worries there. Mostly, it’s like paper. Which isn’t all resoluted equal itself, but just fine in the magority.
It’s been a pleasure to read on for conventional text. Most of the content I’ve loaded takes the form of novels. For that kind of text it’s brillant. Haven’t tried fancier technical books but expect anything not too PDF centric rather than reflowable would be fine. For manga it’s a no go, but just like on a phone: this is more a matter of size than quality. The Kindle can render the content well enough but no one really wants to shrink a comic book page down that tiny, and I don’t really like the panel-by-panel thing.
Personally, I think the browser experience sucks like a twenty year old phone, combined with a broken thumb stick. Let’s just say for reading Wikipedia: reaching for my iPad is a better plan.
Battery life is fair. The past week has seen the battery drop from 100% to 68% since Monday, and I’ve probably been reading a mixture of 20~30 minute to 2~3 hour sittings. Unlike my old HDX: the battery is not 7 years old! And much like my various tablets, I don’t need a booklamp.
Actually that’s one of the things I’ve come to like about e-books in general. As a teenager: I spent a lot of time with a book canted towards TV light, reading in the dark. As an adult: my love and respect for a good booklight is such that mine is kept safely on my bookshelf, batteries removed. I can’t say that I really miss needing a booklight, and I reckon the amount of reading I do at night is probably a larger percentage than when I was a kid.
Damned adulting, and all that more wearing pants and reading less :-o.

I finally bought a Kindle

After much trepidation, I’ve finally gone and done it. The 10th generation Kindle makes both the first e-ink device I’ve ever owned, and the first Kindle I’ve actually bought.

A good number of years ago I ended up “Winning” an HDX 7 from a developer raffle that a certain audio company was doing at the time. But I’ve never had one of their dedicated e-readers, and the only Amazonion devices I’ve bought over the years have been their Fire TV boxes, a product I’ve come to enjoy.
For me the HDX7 was both surprising and novel. On one hand, it was pretty much free; on the other it was pretty cool. The device’s battery life and performance was spectacular for its day. Comparable hardware for the day would have been a Nexus 4, if you traded all the Googly services for battery life that was more like a week of mixed us / when the heck did I even plug this thing in, kind of idle time.
Back then my content was more mixed. Amazon Kindle, Google Play, and various odds and ends made up my repository of books. I have gigs of files on my private server from back when I was a heavy use of Calibre. I’ve made pretty good use of the lit’ HDX for reading over the years.
Amazon would go on to become the dominate source of e-books over the decade. But still I never bought one of their readers. In fact, I posted nearly a decade ago about how unlikely me and an e-reader were. That was before tablets came to dominate my computing life. So even after the Tabletination I never really saw the point in a purpose built e-reader versus a standard tablet.
At best: my freebie HDX has always been an auxiliary device. A device that I would mostly use for reading books, many of them converted via Calibre, or passing an insomniac night. Typically I’ve stuck to my regular tablets, since last year: an iPad, and much the earlier decade Android tablets from Samsung and Asus. Even for reading, I’ve usually used a regular tablet about 80% of the time; maybe more.
Lately, I’ve been using the HDX more as a book reader because of its small size. Something that is pretty damned perfect for reading. The folks that designed that generation put much TLC into its build, IMHO.
My iPad is rather large and I’ve always valued the little Kindle Fire’s superb build for reading. Thus not a big surprise when the device still works (hehe). Yes, I preferred paperbacks over hardcovers to the face back when I still had shelf space. After seven years though: the battery life under load isn’t as Hercules strength as it once was, and honestly there are more than a few “Yeaaah pal, your software is so frakkin’ old this ain’t supported no more”. Considering the age, I of course have no right to complain. Especially when it’s a really nice device that I didn’t pay a dime for, lol.
In fact in the past couple years it has spent some time as a clock or a photoframe. Being repurposed for reading once in a while, or to curiously see if the old thing was still turning on.
I’ve recently given some mind to whether or not to trade it in towards some regular tablet purchase, or to buy a modern Fire just for the non-reading parts. But I’ve not seen too much of a point to trading it in. Unless it’s a killer deal, like Samsung / Best Buy sometimes run, it’s too damned old to be worth much to anyone shy of being an alarm clock that reads books. Likewise, I don’t really care much about Amazon’s app store, so much as it can be convenient to read Wikipedia on a 7″ device.
Well, after a while of thinkin’ on it: I finally caved in, and bought a Kindle. So far, I rather like it.
I remember being tempted back when the 3rd generation came out with an accessible price. Think folks call that the “Keyboard” now. It helps that for some years now: the basic Kindle has been pretty cheap. Even more so with another year older, coming up soon.
Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m going to be dead a few thousand years before I catch up on my reading backlog.

Passing thought: it’s kind of sad The Outlaw King trilogy never ended up a TV mini series, or a feature length film. And probably never will 😕.

The whirlwind in the thorn tree, Law of the wolf, and Ten thousand devils made a rather good set of stories. Both when I read it years ago, and as I reread it, I enjoy this tale.

Possible signs that I have strange, or at least varied tastes: when my debate of what to cycle back to reading includes:

  • Cow boys, writers, cyborgs, and interdimensional adventure.
  • Gothic love-horror, and a side of witches and gaslighting.
  • Horn dog comedy with a side of heart rending drama.
Also on that note: 
  • The Whirlwind in the Thorn Tree is an excellent series of novels, enough so that started reading it a second time. Enough years have passed for details to start to fizzle.
  • The House in Fata Morgana is one of the better executed long form visual novels, but it’s story has plenty of twisted shit.
  • Edelweiss is both a hilarious visual novel, and one that may leave a lasting impression on your tear ducts.
I’m also pretty sure that combing reading, and snacking, would cause massive death glares from the hounds…lol.

While I can’t speak for the reference books, O’Reilly technical books are usually worth the money. Two on this list that I can vouch for are Programming Perl, as I own a hard copy of a previous edition, and Java in a Nutshell which is a rather good book for getting up to speed on the language.

I remember buying the Camel book for about $56 nearly a decade ago. Came for a means of thinking through the documentation that didn’t require alt+tab, stayed for the wonderful wit, anecdotes, and stories. If you’re serious about Perl, you probably should own a copy or three.

Java in a Nutshell, I had checked out from the public library over a decade ago wanting to brush up on how the language has evolved since my study, and really found its explanations wonderful. Especially if you’ve ever wondered why the answer to Generics in Java is so often no. The only Java  book on my shelf, by contrast was written while JDK had yet to reach a 1.0 release. Needless to say, I had needed updating, lol.

Thus far, I’ve found Hulu’s Halloween suggestions mostly a positive. A broad mixture of horror films, largely from the ‘70s to the ‘90s and beyond for some more recent films. Both familiar films and ones I hadn’t gotten around to yet.

This afternoon, I’m going with something I haven’t seen in a few years: the second version of The Haunting.
Personally, I think the film more or less deserves the critical panning it received, it’s a film you watch for the effects not because it’s an essential anything. For me, it’s probably the last movie that ever scared me. I remember watching it on a rather long break many years ago and then having to go move furniture, and being a bit unnerved. I mean, it’s basically a house that comes alive and eats people as far as the special effects go. What’s not unnerving about that concept? Since then tidbits of Hill House have haunted my dreams over the past few decades: enough to no longer be scary as it became a reoccurring setting for various nightmares.
On the flip side, I’ve never really cared much for the original film. It was very fateful to the novel in my honest opinion, but just not scary. As a horror film: it’s only scary in the sense of kids around a campfire kind of stories, not terrifying, well not when I first watched it fifty some years after the book was written. Perhaps because I view Eleanor’s part in the story more a cause for sadness than a vehicle for terror, which is kind of essential to the novel. Her torment and place in the world is the real terror, not the house or spooky occurrences. Meanwhile, as out of the wall as the ‘99 film is, it tries to rely largely on the horror of the situation rather than the characterizations. The two films have different takes, and the novel’s greater time for exposition means it can leverage a more psychological terror than the simple scares the ‘63 horror film could ablidge.
If you have some time, probably better to read the novel and ignore the rest, or just watch the ‘63 film if you want a decent abridged version of the story. Me? I watch the later film because I remember being like 12, and finding it disturbingly horror.

I find out kind of odd, I’ve almost always read on a tablet in landscape if I was reading for a prolonged period. Yet settling in for an afternoon of reading, I find self happiest in landscape.

Wide screen 10” form factor has never been my bag. The 16:10 typically found is just crap in portrait, and out approximates a form that was really meant for landscape video. Now the 7” and 8” tablets I’ve owned were different stories: despite the meh aspect ratio they’re usually sizes on par with a paperback. In fact I’d say the old “Thor” model HDX 7 was about the perfect size for reading.
Standard 9.7” on the other hand is like the perfect all purpose form factor, thanks to the greater squareness of the 4:3 aspect. Thus I’d still read novels in portrait mode and do everything else in landscape or portrait as I prefer.
The standard 11” of the iPad Pro, I’m finding it easier to focus on reading in landscape mode. Conveniently it creates a very book like pages side by side effect on the perspective. Much like how you might focus on an open book.
Kinda odd to me because of how similar the sizes are. Nerine’s screen is the size of Scarlett; such that if you just put bezels around the Tab S3 and make the screen that much bigger, you’ve essentially got the iPad Pro 11 right there. That is to say, it’s what happens if you take the most perfect multi purpose  size and blow it up about as big as you can make a tablet that’s going to be used often with one hand but most frequently with two hands.
Anyhow, back to my book 😜.