Redhat has a shiny new Openstack install process, which includes an all-in-one configuration. This beats DevStack on Ubuntu for me because it’s persistent, which DevStack is not. And I’m a bit too lazy to work through the install by hand if there are options available. I’m pretty sure this guide would have been useful if I wasn’t lazy, FWIW.
Anyhow, I’m running through the install now. Only one snag so far; the Quickstart fails to tell you that you need to install puppet. Do this before step 3:
sudo yum install -y puppet
No problem rerunning the packstack step if you didn’t install puppet the first time through. Two minutes later I had an instance up and running, and most of that time was downloading the image.
The last time I spent extended time in London, lo 10 years or more ago, I brought back the Malazan Empire books. Possibly thanks to Jess Nevins, I can’t recall. It was certainly a worthwhile haul in any case. This time I fine-tuned the process; Susan and I hit Forbidden Planet in the company of Catie and Ted, and we picked up a few first novels in various series which are not so readily available in the United States. We also controlled the urge to pick up some books you can easily get over here but which have much better cover treatments in Great Britain.
I mean, really. And there are corresponding designs for every Miéville book. Or how about the lovely minimalist Gollancz 50th collection? Fortunately we retained some modicum of willpower, if only to justify our later extravagance.
Which is to say: after reading the aforementioned first novels we decided which ones we really liked and would have trouble finding in the States, and went back later in the week and splurged. Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series would easily have made the cut, but they’re readily available here. (Important note: Midnight Riot is the first book in the series, originally titled Rivers of London in the UK.) Paul Cornell’s London Falling is awesome but there is no more to buy at present.
There is no shortage of British novels about ordinary people falling into a fantasy world just beneath the skin of the London we know and love, huh? I’m surprised Cubicle 7 hasn’t done an RPG along those lines. Perhaps The Laundry counts.
Anywise, the exciting find was Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt series. There are eight of these in print in the UK; I now have seven. Only five of them are available in the US. I am a bit concerned about that since the fifth one came out in the US over a year ago; sales may not have been good enough to justify more. This would be a shame! On the other hand, the series will end at 10 books, all of which have been turned in, so even if I have to go to Chapters or Amazon UK it’ll work out for me.
The setup is a fantasy world in the very early stages of an Industrial Revolution. There’s a barbaric empire roaring down from the north with an eye towards conquering the Lowlands. The Lowlands, of course, are unconvinced of the real danger. There are spymasters and assassins and artificers and lots of politics — it’s a very city-oriented series, which I like. I’m two and a half books in and I don’t think anything significant has taken place outside a city except one big battle.
Said Industrial Revolution and the concomitant fading of magic are the engines of change in the setting. The clever setting postulate is that humanity is divided into kinder, each with a special connection to some kind of insect: Beetle-kinder, Moth-kinder, Wasp-kinder, Spider-kinder, and so on. Some kinder are Apt, and can understand and use machinery. Some kinder are Inapt, and can’t even comprehend how a lock works, but can do magic. In parallel, each kinder has some abilities drawn from their insect connection, which are explicitly not magic. I suppose you could assume they were psychic if you felt like deconstructing it, but Tchaikovsky doesn’t feel any need to explain it.
Slight detour: if the Inapt were noble savages this would irk me. They aren’t. Spider-kinder are Inapt, for example, but they rule an advanced group of cities and have no objections to technology even if they can’t use it themselves. Moth-kinder live in isolated cities and are a shadow of what they once were, but that’s because they were once the fairly tyrannical rulers of the Apt. The Wasp Empire is an Apt empire that’s essentially still barbaric. There’s also no shortage of exceptions to the kinder stereotypes.
I get a bit of a K. J. Parker vibe from the books in that they’re examinations of change in a fantasy setting. The world’s going to be an awfully different place by the time these are done, and it’s not just that a Dark Lord will be overthrown. I don’t think I even have any certainty that the Wasp Empire is going to be defeated. On the other hand, they’re not as grim as a typical Parker book. Competence is a primary virtue, as it is in Parker’s work, but good is also pretty important and is even often rewarded.
They’re pretty sprawling books. Well, 10 in the series, that’s fairly obvious. The initial book is about Stenwold Maker, professor and spymaster, and his four proteges. It spreads out rather quickly after that, however. For reference points, I’d say there are fewer viewpoint characters than you have in Game of Thrones, and the books are closer related to one another than the Malazan Empire books.
The existence of the Inapt means that there’s plenty of justification for epic swordplay even while artificers are inventing dangerous new weaponry. I like books with larger-than-life swordplay, and the Mantis-kinder provide plenty of that. Secretive sect which specializes in combat with members who can take down groups of ten men? Check.
Finally, there are ornithopters and repeating crossbows.
Susan and I will be hitting LoneStarCon 3, aka Worldcon 2013. It’s in San Antonio, so we can take the whole week and spend a few days in Austin first. Mmm, barbecue. Mmm, breakfast tacos. Mmm.
I have now poked my nose back into Worldcon site selection politics and am delighted to note that it’s still Worldcon site selection politics. By which I mean I’m relieved that I moved to California just when I would have gotten sucked into convention organizing in Boston. I dunno, Orlando looks good to me for 2015.
I am of course voting for that L. Ron Hubbard biopic in all Hugo categories.
Did you remember that Ron Perlman was in Quest for Fire? Me either, but he was. This post is not about cavemen, though. It is a note on an AT&T LTE provisioning problem in the interests of helping other people get the problem solved.
I upgraded from my iPhone 4 to a spiffy new iPhone 5 on AT&T. It was great except LTE wasn’t working; I just got 4G and nothing better. The first week I had it, I went to Austin and Las Vegas which kept me a bit too busy to bug AT&T. I did call AT&T tech support from Vegas a couple of times, but neither time was very successful. (Do not foist me off on Apple, dude! Uncool.) My research said that a number of things could be wrong: my sim card might not be provisioned for LTE; I might not be on an LTE data plan; or the sim card itself could be hosed.
In all these cases except the broken sim card, it’s reportedly possible to get a phone support person who can fix it. I believe this is true because ultimately it was a phone support guy who solved the problem, but none of the ones I talked to in Vegas were clued in. So I finally went down to the AT&T store in Palo Alto today and chatted with this awesome guy named Chris Dubon. He swapped out my sim card and double-checked my data plan with no luck. I offered to hit the Apple Store, since at this point I was suspecting hardware, but he was all “nope, let’s eliminate anything we can eliminate before you leave.”
So he called tech support and they said “hm, we don’t see that sim as provisioned for LTE.” He swapped in another one, and they reset the whole profile. Bam: LTE.
The key thing here is not to go bug your AT&T guys with the magic words I’m not even sure I got right; what I’m saying is just hit the AT&T store directly and let them be smart about fixing the problem. They can pull out a replacement sim card on the spot, they’ll get through to the right tech support people, and so on. It took like 45 minutes but it was time well spent.
The first two issues of High Society showed up on Comixology this week. The first one was free, so I bought it. It’s really gorgeous: high-def, quality scans for the most part. There are one or two pages where the white on black text fills in a bit much, but given the unfortunate house fire which destroyed a bunch of the negatives recently, I am not unhappy about that.
It’s gorgeous and funny and an amazing achievement and this is even before Gerhard came on board. Plus there are 30 or so pages of notebooks and historical stuff at the end. Issue two is only 99 cents, which is a bargain — at the rate of a couple of issues a week, I would have no financial qualms about buying all the Cerebus this way.
Then I happened to read this stuff about his current negotiations with Fantagraphics. So. Plus the misogyny.
Like any number of others, I will spend some vague amount of time wrestling with the problem of great art created by someone not so great, with very not great messages embedded therein.
After a really jam-packed first episode of Last Resort, I wound up with a multitude of questions filed into two slots.
First: is the plot in any way believable? You have to buy into the captain of a nuclear sub refusing orders, plus he’s gotta have enough charisma to make his crew more or less stick with him. Also there’s a huge conspiracy in the background. Said conspiracy does some pretty outrageous things even if the Reagan quote at the beginning is taken as good foreign policy. What I’m saying here is that I’m not entirely certain that we’re watching actual humans making sane decisions.
Second, though: is the situation as presented at all stable? And the trick here is that I don’t think it is, but I also don’t think Shawn Ryan necessarily thinks it is. If I’m looking for a showrunner who’s willing to mess with the status quo in a big bad way on his shows, I’m looking for Jeff Pinkner and J. H. Wyman of Fringe. But Shawn Ryan is my number two choice; The Shield went all in on actions with consequences, and Terriers had no qualms about major alterations to the show’s world.
That’s the hook for me. If Last Resort digs into the consequences of all the messed up things that happened in the first episode, it’s gonna be awesome and I will forgive the implausibilities. We’ll see.
Every year, if at all possible, I walk to raise money for suicide prevention. It’s an important cause for me because four years ago, my friend and housemate Wyatt Parkinson killed himself in the house we (and Susan) lived in. Susan found him. It’s a really horrible thing to have happen.
I’m walking again this year, in the San Francisco Bay Area. I am looking for donations, that being the point of the walk. We’re also happy to have company. The first walk we did was right after it happened, and it was tremendously important to see hundreds of other people mourning the same kind of violent occurrence.
If you can’t give, or if you’re one of the generous people who’ve given already, a link to this post or to my fundraising page is also appreciated.
Suicide is one of the top ten causes of death in the United States. The suicide rate in the US Army is at an all time high. (I write that most years, because it keeps going up.)
The number to call if you’re feeling suicidal, by the by: 1-800-273-TALK.
Thank you for reading.
It’s really easy to do twice-baked potatoes on the Egg, especially if you have like three hours to kill. Which, sure, sometimes.
Take your nice big russets. Put some olive oil on the outside, and whatever spice you want. I used some hickory garlic rub and that was nice. Wrap them in foil, and kick ‘em into the Egg at 400 degrees for an hour. Turn them every 20 or 30 minutes. I did a WoW instance during that hour and I didn’t worry about the temperature once and it all worked out okay.
Then take the potatoes off and let them cool. While that’s happening, fry up some bacon. Then fry some onions and whatever else in the bacon grease; I used some old smoked chiles that Gretchen gave me, and some spinach. I would have used garlic but we were out, which is sad. You need to let the potatoes cool for like 20 minutes so you have time.
Mix up: a cup or so of sour cream or Greek yogurt. We used yogurt. Another cup or so of butter. Chop up the bacon and the spinach and so on. Salt and pepper if you want. Then hollow out the potatoes, leaving like a quarter inch of potato on all sides, and throw that in. Mash it all together. Oh, and some cheese!
Then put that glop back in the potatoes, and sprinkle some cheese on top, and let it go back in the Egg at like 350 or so for another 20 minutes. If you hurry it, like I did, it won’t totally set up and bake but it’ll still taste good.
I am pretty sure this is not healthy.