Friday, June 9, 2017

The Way of Shadows

Brent Weeks' The Way of Shadows is a good palate-cleansing fantasy book: solidly in a fantasy-world-but-pretty-obviously-medieval-Europe-by-culture-and-civilization, chronicling the rise of a no-name peasant who, through hard work and cut scenes, grows up to become a totally rad assassin and an imposter in the upper echelons of landed-gentry society.

It's a good example of the type and a fun read, without being so riveting that it is difficult to put down, or so predictable that it is hard to pick up.

The fourth wall was solidly in place, but at the point where the actually-magic-but-inevitably-overly-oblique Cassandra-like prophet comes along, it very briefly seemed like it might verge into breaking the fourth wall:
"... your purpose in life isn't your happiness. We're part of a much bigger story. Everyone is. If your part is unsung, does that make it worthless?" (p. 181)
The hint of irony is, of course, that if this dialog is in the very novel I am reading, then of course it is not unsung. It's been documented and transmitted to me! The author wasn't interested in this angle, and continued with the assassin thriller plot.

This book would make a good action movie. It's not grimdark, it ranks at approximately LotR on the drama-fantasy scale, with some acrobatic battles and some tense emotional conversations about inheritance/power/leadership. Unfortunately, women get sidelined for most of the book, with one plot-important woman stereotypically described as fierce-and-protective ("he saw her cry for the first time" was used at least twice to indicate that something was extremely emotional).

This post's theme word is vituperative, "uttering or given to censure; containing or characterized by verbal abuse." Her lukewarm review was mildly negative without venturing into vituperative.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Proper system revision documentation

Dear readers,

If you can read this, then an incredibly unlikely sequence of steps has succeeded. Huzzah!

There is currently some sort of eldritch alignment of planets whose main influence is to rewrite critical boot sectors of all my hard drives. (Perhaps concomitant with finishing a semester?) Alas! Time to reformat and reinstall, in every operating system known to man. If one more computer fails, I'll be reduced to publishing tweets via carrier pigeon. This blog post may have been written via telegraph STOP

This means I get to start a new "installation notes: what I did" file. And so I am revisiting my past logs, little missives from my past self, to make sure I set up all the bells and whistles just right. (Keyboard shortcuts are the main way I interact with these light-boxes I relentlessly stare into.) Usually these logs are curt and useful, but sometimes they range into quite colorful and narrative tales, for example (details and lengthy intro expurgated to prevent your eyes from bleeding):
After fiddling with [hardware], I find that [software flag] is again disabled. Augh. The following commands did not work to re-enable it: 
sudo [heinous and expurgated set of commands]
This time, banging around wildly on [list of unusual keyboard keys] and crying openly into my hands worked.
... it's important that every log includes instructions for how to replicate the steps that ultimately led to a successful setup. Apparently at the time I felt that the strange wizardry that made my keyboard commands work included crying, and included the notes necessary to replicate it.

Don't worry, I have extensive notes on which "fiddling with [hardware]" caused this weird thing, and I am very carefully not reproducing that. Also, according to the logs, I have not solved any computer problem by weeping since 2012. My streak continues!

Writing to you from the edge of known OS support forums,
 --- Lila

P.S. While writing this post I jinxed my wifi card and it refused several times to maintain a connection. Go figure. I also managed to get exactly the perfect alt-tab behavior, so it's a wash.

This post's theme word is lazaretto (noun), "a medical facility for people with infectious diseases", or "a building or ship used for quarantine", or "on a ship, a space between decks used as storage." I fear my brain is the lazaretto between different computer systems.