Friday, November 23, 2007

Book review - The Atrocity Archives

I have to say I really enjoyed the read. The book is easy to get into and the lead character fun to follow. That being said, I must warn you that if you are not fluent in English (British English) the writing will likely go right past you. Mr. Stross writes strongly but in very colloquial English.

As we follow our hero Bob through his dreary and drab existence as a civil servant in the great British hierarchy of civil services things are not always quite as they appear. Bob works for a branch of the government so secret that it is a crime to know they exist. What do these secret civil servants do? They guard the rest of the world from the other worlds out there.

Citing as inspiration H.P. Lovecraft and Len Deighton, the book is a delightful trip through the mazes of politics and intrigue in the civil services of England with side trips into higher mathematics, physics and the occult thrown in.

I can't really review some of the best parts of the book with 0ut providing serious spoilers to the plot, but leave it to say that the great evils are not always the ones that are currently out to get you.

I give this one a "Must Read" rating.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blessed Silence

Ah, blessed silence, what a joy.
With the move to the new building here at work, we had all of our test gear moved into the lab. This means that cube land no longer has the roar of fans and hum of electronics. The down side of that is being able to hear your coworkers conversations two rows away.

Over the weekend I found a very inexpensive set of over-the-ear headphones. You know, the ones that look retro because smalled is better. These are not noise canceling or anything expensive but that do work just like a set of safety headsets in reducing the background noise to a tolerable level.

The noises that I am trying to reduce are:
the clatter of keyboards
people talking on the phone to customers
people having hallway conversations right at the end of the row
street noise from the traffic outside

I will give the cheap Koss headphones a double plus good rating for making the day much more pleasant.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Change for the sake of change

Or really just dealing with boredom.

It looks like I might be making a job change this winter. Having been here for 8 years makes me kind an anomaly in the high-tech community of Seattle. I don't like to change jobs. I don't like the culture of high-tech companies that mandates a job change to get a reasonable raise. I would like to think that we are all rational human beings and can be reasoned with about things like cost of living increases and raises commensurate with promotion and title. Experience, however, has shown that this is not the case.

The genesis of my last job change was New Years Eve 1999. Any one in the IT fields knows that this was the most boring non-event in history. For those that missed the hype, or have conveniently forgotten, this was the Y2K disaster evening. Absolutely nothing happened, and I chatted with friends on LambdaMoo for the evening and watched as folks to the east signed off one at a time. With this considerable time to think, I considered what I was doing in my current position and what I wanted out of it. My conclusion was that I had effectively worked myself out of a job and should plan to move on to something else. My director was rather surprised at my letter of resignation, but handled it well. From that point I gave myself six weeks to find something else.

Using my theory that it is almost always who you know, I tracked down a recruiter from a previous job and found that he worked at a fairly new company here in Seattle and was having fun. That sounded interesting enough to get my resume, and two interviews later I was here at my current position. That was April 1st, 2000.

This time, there has not been a night of introspection followed by a leap of faith. In this case there is a company that wants some one with my talents and they have tracked me down and asked for an interview. And so after weighing the costs of leaving the current comfy haven, I have said yes and will interview in Bellevue next week.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Daywatch available in stores

Having really enjoyed Nightwatch, and unfortunately missing Daywatch at SIFF I am quite happy to note that Daywatch is now available at Best Buy for $18.
I like their new release discount policy.

If you have not seen either, I must recommend starting with Nightwatch. These movies are probably some of the best out there for action and story.