drewbear: (Nice Day)
Ladies and gentlemen, it's that time of year again:

The Barnes&Noble Summer Clearance Sale

They have stuff going for as little as $1! Hell, there are (as of the time of this post) over 8000 titles under $10! Get it while the getting's good!

EDIT: Does this not sound like every single Scifi Channel made-for-TV movie ever? Even the book cover manages to look like it was ripped from the inevitable m4tv adaptation.
drewbear: (Default)
So by now most people who chose direct deposit for their IRS rebates have their money and the paper checks are being sent out soon. So let's get a little personal, hmm? Inspired by this site, I decided to run down how I used my rebate money:

1) Deposit just over 1/3 of it into my original savings account.
2) Use $100 to open a new, higher-yield but deposit-limited savings account.
3) $100 towards extant loans. Yay, extra payment this month!
4) 3 books from Barnes & Noble (including Nurk), a pair of jean shorts from Kmart, eBay, some pizza and some "personal items" whose exact nature I won't mention here.

Since I'm slightly ahead on my loan payments and I'm getting the PTO I cashed in for my birthday on this paycheck, I may send some money towards Kiva. It looks like a good organization.

*...yeah, I don't know where that title came from either.
drewbear: (Default)
First, the cards are all done and in the mail. Depending on how far you are from me, they should be there by the end of the week.

Second, I've been so slammed at and tired from work that I haven't checked my flist a lot lately, so please forgive me if I haven't responded to any of y'all. It doesn't help that posts from at least one of you are only sporadically appearing on my flist. (I can't see about 5 or 6 random posts by the person on my flist page, despite being able to read them directly off that person's account page.) So again, please forgive me.

Thirdly, since I'm not spending Christmas with anyone this year, I decided to get myself some gifts. I got this tiny little tabletop tree, which I've decorated, and put in out on my coffee table. My company gave everyone in my clinic $50 Amex gift cards as a reward for being the "bestest clinic EVAR!!!" or some shit, and I used it to buy some TPB comic collections. I immediately stuck those suckers in a gift bag, unread, and put them under the coffee table. I won't read 'em until Xmas Day, I promise. ;-)
drewbear: (Default)
Huh. I just saw an ad for The Seeker and am in the middle of re-reading the The Dark Is Rising series. What with the Harry Potter flicks, the Chronicles of Narnia movies (Prince Caspian is currently filming, I understand) and now this, it looks like epic magical preteen movies are big money. Any suggestions on which series will be next?

I'd say the Wrinkle in Time series, but frankly, it's too cerebral to make it through the Hollywood grist mill unscathed. Your suggestions?
drewbear: (Default)
I am a weak, weak bibliophile.

I just ordered Thud! and Where's My Cow in hardback from Amazon because they have a deal running wherein you get both bundled together for $26 and change. Note that that's less than $2 more than buying Thud! by itself at the bookstore.
drewbear: (Insane Mind)
I just finished reading Digital Fortress by Dan Brown, the guy who wrote The Da Vinci Code. It's a thriller about the NSA, code-breaking and cypher analysis.

And I absolutely cannot believe how bad this book was.

One of the protagonists is a woman described as being a stunningly beautiful (of course) genius-level (170 IQ or so) programmer and code-breaker working for the NSA Cryptography Division and she has no idea what quis custodiet custodes meant until someone translated it for her ("Who watches/guards the watchers/guardians"), and even then she wasn't able to grasp the larger implications of the phrase. He boyfriend/fiancé regularly signs love-notes with the phrase "without wax" as a minor code-puzzle to tease her, and she can't figure out that it's a more-or-less literal translation of the roots of the word "sincere".

Of course, she's not the only one in Crypto with this stunning lack of knowledge or competence. People who should know better have to have the most basic code systems explained to them. A high-level functionary slash accountant has to have "divide-by-zero error" explained to him. Despite surreptitiously monitoring intel from around the globe, the NSA apparently doesn't have professional linguists on staff and must hire a local university poly-linguist (the aforementioned boyfriend/fiancé) on a case-by-case basis. This lack is most glaringly obvious when a cypheranalysis team trying to decrypt a Japanese communication are unaware that Kanji can represent individual words AND syllables in a larger word. They're trying to track down an anonymous someone via his email correspondence and don't think to try anagramming his short, letters-only address until it doesn't matter anymore. They're trying to crack the self-encryption of a purportedly unbreakable encoder that uses blah-blah-blah-impossiblecakes. They're given a clue to "use the prime difference between the elements of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" and can't figure out that it's referring to the fissionable material used in the bombs until they do a fucking internet search on it! And this clue was given by the disfigured child of a Nagasaki survivor! And said clue was found WITHIN the body of the supposedly still-encrypted program!

For fuck's sake! The director of the Cryptography Division, which works heavily with electronic intel and the various permutations of the internet, doesn't know what freakin' WORMS are!

Completely aside from the characterization flaws, which might barely be forgiven as exposition for the benefit of code-ignorant readers, it's badly written! Brown repetitiously reiterates the same point over and over again in an extremely short timespan, sometimes even repetitiously reiterating the exact same wording over and over again in a repetitiously reiterating manner. He randomly has page-and-a-half long chapters. Which don't even necessarily change perspective or time-frame. And could've easily been included in the previous chapter.

Basically, the characters were idiots when it came to their jobs, the book was badly written and I successfully predicted every single "twist" the instant it was hinted at. If The Da Vinci Code was half as bad, I cannot for the life of me figure out how it got to be such a best-seller.

July 2013



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