# Sunday, September 27, 2020

When Fat Charlie's father died, he learned some secrets about his family: Charlie had a brother named Spider; and their father was in reality the mischievous god Anansi.

Spider shows up at Charlie's door and almost immediately begins using his magic to disrupt Charlie's life.

Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys is a series of misadventures that takes the reader through alternate realities, ghosts, animal gods and demi-gods, voodoo, and a Caribbean kidnapping. The story draws a contrast between the timid, hyper-average Charlie and his father and brother, who spent their lives focused on wine, women, and song. But it also takes us through transformations as each brother is influenced by the other.

Like the spider-god Anansi, this story weaves a web that traps the characters and the reader in a funny, intriguing quest.

It is great fun in the way that Neil Gaiman has perfected. An excellent story, even by the standards set by Neil!

Sunday, September 27, 2020 9:46:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, September 26, 2020

I enjoyed Eternity's Wheel more than the first two books of the InterWorld trilogy. As with the preceding books, Neil Gaiman's name appears at the top of the authors list, but it was actually written by Mallory Reaves with her father Michael assisting with the ideas.

This book wraps up the FrostNight saga that began in volume 2 - The Silver Dream.

The villains of Binary (which derives their power from science) and HEX (which derives their power from magic) have launched FrostNight in order to destroy all the different earth's from the different dimensions in order to take dominion over the chaos that remains. Joey Harker and the countless other versions of himself that make up InterWorld are battling to stop them. They are assisted by Timewatch - a police force that seeks to stabilize threats to the time stream.

The book is not complex but it introduces some interesting new characters and evolves some existing ones; and includes some clever possible time loop twists.

Saturday, September 26, 2020 10:39:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, September 24, 2020

GCast 95:

Creating a MinIO Agent for Azure Blob Storage

Learn how to use MinIO to manage blobs in an Azure Storage Account

Thursday, September 24, 2020 12:25:40 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, September 21, 2020

Episode 627

Irma Mesa on Cafecito

Irma Mesa created Cafecito for those who are working from home. Cafecito uses machine learning algorithms to connect people to others with similar interests and schedule time to meet. She talks about building this technology and business and about the b2b service she is planning.

https://meetcafecito.com/
Monday, September 21, 2020 8:54:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, September 20, 2020

Rachel became fascinated by the sight of a beautiful copy that she would see from her seat on the train every morning. She fantasized about their idyllic life, so she was shocked to see the young wife kissing another man one morning and to learn the next day that this same wife had disappeared. She began investigating the disappearance and it was not long until she had injected herself into the incident and the lives of those involved.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is told by three different women:

  • Rachel - An alcoholic who often drinks to the point of blacking out. She is reeling from the loss of her husband, who left her to marry his mistress.
  • Megan - Married to an emotionally abusive husband. She loves him but cannot resist sleeping with other men. She is haunted by a dark secret in her past.
  • Anna - The mistress who took away Rachel's husband. Her idyllic life with her new husband and baby is disrupted by Rachel's stalking.

The story involves the sudden disappearance of Megan. Rachel becomes obsessed with the case. Although she never met Megan, she would see her from her train nearly every day and fantasize about the perfect marriage she witnessed.

This suspenseful novel kept me interested until the end.

I loved the way the author began Megan's story a year before Rachel's, so we were able to see what led to her disappearance; I loved how Hawkins often related the same scene from three different perspectives; I loved how key factors were withheld and revealed later, taking the reader in a new direction; and I loved that each of the narrators was fatally flawed and unreliable, so we were left to guess at the truth.

The only weak point came near the end when the villain arrogantly and foolishly began relating their crime, reminiscent of a James Bond villain.

But this can be forgiven after the rollercoaster ride that is this novel.

Sunday, September 20, 2020 9:39:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, September 19, 2020

Like most slackers, Jake Donaghue seldom puts thought into the future or the consequences of his actions.

Hoping to find a free place to stay, Jake visits his old girlfriend Anna and her actress sister Sadie. He then attempts to re-connect with his estranged friend Hugo. Jake was once close to each of these people but left them abruptly when he felt uncomfortable.

Iris Murdoch's Under the Net takes us through Jake's misadventures, including his kidnapping of a movie star dog, a riot on a film set, and an escape from a hospital.

The book focuses on miscommunications and the resulting misunderstandings and the incorrect perceptions that people tend to have of one another. Jake spends much of the novel searching for someone. He is ultimately searching for himself.

It is a farcical story of the self-destruction of a likeable rogue.

And it is great fun!

Saturday, September 19, 2020 9:53:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Thursday, September 17, 2020

GCast 94:

Creating a MinIO Server

Learn how to create a MinIO server, organize into buckets; then, read and write files to the server.

Thursday, September 17, 2020 9:21:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Monday, September 14, 2020

Episode 626

Nayonna Purnell on Changing to a Career in IT

Nayonna Purnell was a teacher who decided a few years ago to change careers and become a software engineer. She talks abuot her journey, the challenges, and the rewards of that journey.

Monday, September 14, 2020 8:17:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Sunday, September 13, 2020

Two years ago, Joey Harker stumbled into another dimension and ended up joining Interworld - an elite fighting force consisting of versions of himself from multiple Earths who can walk between worlds and strive to prevent the bad guys from taking over the Earths of all the various dimensions.

In The Silver Dream, new characters are introduced. Most significant is Acacia Jones. She has the ability to "walk" between worlds but is clearly not another version of Joey.

During a training mission, Joey loses a teammate, discovers there is a traitor within Interworld, and is transported through time. 

This book is the sequel to Interworld and suffers from even less Gaiman than the first novel. The writing itself was mostly delegated to Mallory Reaves, daughter of Interworld co-author Michael Reaves.

This is a good Young Adult book and a quick read, but well below what Neil Gaiman fans have come to expect. And it ends with a cliffhanger, which pretty much means you must read book 3 to finish the story.

Sunday, September 13, 2020 9:26:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
# Saturday, September 12, 2020

In 1960, Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird, which has been rightly hailed as one of the greatest American novels of all time. 55 years later, her publisher released Lee's second novel Go Set a Watchman, which included some of the same characters as the first.

Watchman takes place two decades after Mockingbird. 26-year-old Jean Louise "Scout" Finch has returned to her childhood home of Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father Atticus. If you know Jean Louise from the earlier novel, you will not be surprised to learn she has grown into a strong-willed, independent woman during her time in New York. The novel follows Jean Louise as she interacts with the town folks and flashes back occasionally to her teenage years in Maycomb.  The story climaxes when JL discovers that Atticus holds racist beliefs inconsistent with her perception of him.

Although originally marketed as a sequel, Watchman is now seen as an early draft of Mockingbird. There is very little overlap in the scenes of the two novels, but Lee did reuse several passages in her final version of Mockingbird.

In addition, the central story of Mockingbird (Atticus defending Tom Robinson - a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman) is mentioned in Watchman, but some of the details are different.

I am happy this is not a sequel, because I disliked this version of Atticus. I grew up knowing Atticus as a hero worthy of admiration. He was open-minded and fighting for the rights of the oppressed negroes of the south; but here, he is transformed in 20 years into one who sees blacks as inferior to whites and unfit to govern themselves. In his 50s, he stood up to the status quo of a racist society; In his 70s, he saw the NAACP as a greater threat than Jim Crow laws.

Here are a few of examples of Atticus's philosophy in Watchman:

"Now think about this. What would happen if all the Negroes in the South were suddenly given full civil rights? I’ll tell you. There’d be another Reconstruction. Would you want your state governments run by people who don’t know how to run ’em?"

"Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?"

"Honey, you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people. You should know it, you’ve seen it all your life. They’ve made terrific progress in adapting themselves to white ways, but they’re far from it yet. They were coming along fine, traveling at a rate they could absorb, more of ’em voting than ever before. Then the NAACP stepped in with its fantastic demands and shoddy ideas of government—can you blame the South for resenting being told what to do about its own people by people who have no idea of its daily problems?"

"If the scales were tipped over, what would you have? The county won’t keep a full board of registrars, because if the Negro vote edged out the white, you’d have Negroes in every county office."

It is comforting to think this is a different Atticus from an alternate universe and that Ms. Lee discarded him before deciding to publish her masterpiece. I can see hold onto the Atticus I know as the real one.

Saturday, September 12, 2020 9:53:00 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)