Considering the Kindle

I've been keeping an eye on Kindles since launch. The idea of a very small, very light reading device is very appealing. Two things where I would use it every day are The Guardian and Crikey. Neither are formally available on the device, but its new web browser sounds like it might provide adequate access.

Has anyone got the Kindle 3 and have any comments on the experience reading long-form content online?

Final question, dear lazyweb, is this: I remember people talking about setting your country to US to get access to the full catalogue. Does this still work?

Wouldn't want to be restricted to the retarded delayed book release dates in Australia. Not only do Australian publishers charge more, they want me to wait for it? William Gibson's new book, released in the US tomorrow and would cost me AU$26.48 delivered to receive now, or I could wait until January for the Australian release and pay AU$31.95.

Fat Man in a White Hat

I discovered Bill Buford having watching Fat Man in a White Hat, a seemingly-truncated BBC4 series broadcast earlier this year. It featured a passionate and highly-articulate American guy who'd thrown in his job and moved his family to France to learn all about being a French chef.  I enjoyed the two episodes and looked the guy up to find more.  Turns out he's an amazingly good writer in the headlong experiential gonzo style.


My first stop was Heat, following his journey to learn Italian cooking. He starts out at Mario Batali's restaurants working his way up from dish pig to ever more important stations. It's a fascinating account of the life, the culture and the flavour of high-end kitchens, from the perspective of an enthusiastic outsider. The man clearly has a saint for a wife, obvious when he talks about how he brought a whole pig carcass home to his small New York apartment to process.  The book is excellent, and the man is an amazing journalistic talent.

Next I read his account of English football hooliganism, Among the Thugs, which is slightly less accomplished but still an excellent experience. Buford has a great way of describing the scene and everything he experiences in it that places you right in the action. His conclusion about football hooligans is depressing, but likely very true. His descriptions of life in English terraces pre-Hillsborough are enlightening.

Strongly recommended.

Tim Flannery tonight!

Last night I went to the launch of Ryan Heath's book Please Just Fuck Off, It's Our Turn Now (Holding Baby Boomers to Account) at Australia House. Quite a fun evening, and the debate was quite entertaining and thought provoking.

While there, I discovered that Greatest Working Australian Tim Flannery is in town promoting his latest book, The Weather Makers, which is all about climate change.

The event is on at The Menzies Centre at 18:00. Not sure I'll be able to make it as I'm getting a vaccine in Victoria at 17:30, but I'm gonna try.

Snow Crash, again

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

I'm out of books (read all the ones I bought off Amazon with my xmas gift voucher) and am back to reading the excellent Snow Crash yet again. Loving it, but I'd like to discover something written this decade that is as ground breaking and exciting.


Stamping Butterflies

Stamping Butterflies, by Jon Courtenay

I really like Jon Courtenay Grimwood's books. He writes science fiction that tends to be based in North Africa, with all the flavour you would expect from that.

This, his latest, is a bit more sedate than his previous high-tension rollercoasters, but is beautiful and intricate. It's less science fiction than previously, but still delightfully weird. Quite enjoyed it.

Available for a loan if you can get it off me.

pred.txt arrived

Predator and some
hairy freak

I just got my copy of pred.txt, the book form of the collected writings and rantings by pivotal C@talyst hardware geek <predator> who died this year and will be sorely missed. The book collects his various text files, long email diatribes and the like for easy reading.

<pred> was always vehemently pro-text and pro-freedom so the book is a great tribute to the man and his philosophy on life. But it still seems a bit weird reading someone not-necessarily-intended-for-public-consumption writings. That said, I'm quite looking forward to plowing through the very articulate and generally very entertaining words of the man.

<pred>, we miss you.

Omega by Jack McDevitt

Omega by Jack McDevitt

Just finished his book. It's a great sci-fi novel in the post-space opera vein. The story is quite understated, but involving. Drags you in but isn't an adrenaline rush.

Basic story is this: A future Earth is threatened by giant nanobot clouds that will reach us in 20,000 years and appear to target objects made by intelligent races. While investigating the origins and nature of these giant clouds, scientists discover an inhabited world that will shortly be hit by the devastating clouds.

I'm not keen on series-type books, but this works well as a standalone book. It's also part of a loose series, which I'll start trawling through shortly.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

There are two big sci-fi book releases I've been hanging out for this year. The first is Gibson's Pattern Recognition and later this year will be Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver.

So this one was pretty damn good! Nothing to blow you away but I quite enjoyed it. I don't think it grabbed me as much as Idoru, but it was definitely an interesting story and explored some good ideas. It's also a very timely book, exploring themes around September 11 and ideas stemming from new online movements.

All in all, an interesting read and worth the wait. My copy will be going to the library shortly unless I hear from someone who wants to borrow it directly from me.


My copy of Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver arrived last week and I've been reading it. Quite good so far, though not the roller coaster ride that was Snow Crash.

Anyway, page 92 appears to abruptly end. Fortunately there are massive amounts of annotations on Stephenson's Wiki about the book, including one about this. Turns out it was a device, not a fuckup.

UKizens will be interested to know that he's currently doing a book tour in these parts including London next week. Yet all the other appearances are in the evening yet London's is at midday. Waaaa!