Friday, November 26, 2004

Damn... just after I've done a post as well. It's another must share this one.

Check out - it has the most amazing screensavers. I've tried Euphoria and Flux and they're superb...
posted by Mike Foord on Friday, November 26, 2004

(0) comments Well, it's a sad day.... but my favourite e-book reader uBook is no longer freeware. Still, at twelve dollars it's well worth the money.

Whilst I'm on the subject of e-books I've been updating my section on ebook resources. It'll be a while before I get to post the links anywhere - so I thought I'd 'stick-em here' for the moment.....

Online Libraries
The Baen Free Library
Lots of free ebooks in various formats. Mainly Science fiction.
The Online Books Page. Listing over 20,000 free books on the Web. - the largest online library.
Subscription only, but with a free book every month.
Voidspace - A large selection of ebooks for download.
A large set of links to online book/e-book resources - including many sources of ebooks.
An ebook library especially for PDAs.
A huge page of resources - the electronic reference shelf.

The Mystery Net
Mystery short stories and links to more online.
Crime and Mystery
Self publishing library - mystery and crime section.

Science Fiction & Fantasy
Science Fiction and Fantasy World. Archive of short stories.
Some cyberpunk short stories.
The Chatsubo tea bowl - cooperative sci-fi.

About E-Books/E-books Utilities
The E-Book FAQ
Includes HHH - the HandHeld HTML spec and lots of advice about ebooks.
Ebookmall - 'About E-Books'
A commercial library, with a useful comparison of ebook hardware and formats.
A long list of tools for creating/working with ebooks. ( could go in several of these sections !)
Ebook discussion group.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library.
A huge library of classic Christian texts.
CTheory Digital Library
Several books on technology and cyber-culture.
Russian History.
The O'Reilly Open Book project.
Philosophy, spiritual and psychology texts.
Buddhist books and texts.
The internet sacred text archive.
Developmental Biology - virtual library.
Network computing technical library.
posted by Mike Foord on Friday, November 26, 2004

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Sunday, November 21, 2004

Selling Out...

By the way - voidspace does book and product reviews. We have over twenty thousand unique visitors per month. That's visitors, not hits, and doesn't include bots. Not bad for a sprawling homesite. Email me at fuzzyman AT voidspace DOT org DOT uk for more details.

Back to the New Thing

Yesterday two things happened to me that haven't happened for ages.

First, we had our twice-yearly Men Alive for God conference in Northampton. Nothing unusual in that. They're normally very good, but can be a bit of a marathon. They start at about eleven am and go on until ten in the evening. We had the usual worship time, ministry and brotherhood meal time. It's great to be surrounded by six hundred or so brothers in Christ - this is the tribe of the UK Jesus Army. Still nothing out of the ordinary in any of that though.

In the afternoon, we broke up for the seminars. The first one was fine - about building a multi racial church, good stuff. For the second one, I didn't mind which one I went to - so long as it wasn't the one taken by one particular guy. He's the sort of person who is likely to get you *doing things* in his seminar, and I can't stand that. Unfortunately for me, the two young guys I was with chose guess which seminar ? Astonishingly I really enjoyed it. It was energetic, enthusiastic and full of life. It was great to get back to some out front, gutsy, passionate Christianity. Everything that Christianity is renowned for not being. We went on a bit of a march through the town - it's a long time since I've done anything as out front as that. I felt like I was blowing off the cobwebs. Later we had more worship and in the energy of it I felt my spirituality alive again, like I haven't done for ages. It made me realise how little of my life I spend being active... oops ! Anyway, it's great to get back to the new thing.

The next thing I did, that I haven't done for ages, was get so wrapped up in a book that I couldn't put it down. I don't get the chance to read an awful lot these days - what with the hectic church schedule, programming and so on. This is one of the things having a PDA is great for though. I can read in bed at night even when the wife is trying to get to sleep. It does restrict me to books I have electronic versions of, which means I still haven't finished Mr Blur (more on that later). I've been reading a short book called 'The Death of Grass' by John Christopher. I think John Christopher is the author of the Tripod Trilogy which gripped me when I was younger. At first this book was just mildly interesting, but I thought I'd finish it before moving onto the latest Terry Pratchett which I'm really looking forward to. About a third of the way into it the story took hold of me and I couldn't put it down. I had to stay awake until about two thirty in the morning until I'd finished it. A great read. I won't spoil it by telling you what it's about though.

What's the Future of the Future Business

I've had an interesting email from Bram Harris. He's one of the guys at radiant press who've produced Mr Blur. It was responding to my post of a few days ago about Mr Blur and cyberpunk. There I said that it's refreshing to see something new happening in the cyberpunk genre. He asked if I thought cyberpunk has had it's day ?

Science fiction is an interesting genre, it's directly concerned with guessing about the future. The best fiction in any genre does several things - entertain, excite, and inform. Some of the very best also explores human nature and what it is to be alive. Whilst science fiction has this added dimension of pointing us to the future it is often sadly lacking in a depth of understanding of human nature. Good science fiction writers often have amazing imaginations - but it's rare to find ones that have a good empathy for people as well.

Largely cyberpunk has been no exception, with thin poorly painted characters as an excuse to hang a storyline with fancy weaponry on. But Cyberpunk *has* been a social commentary. Exploring pollution, crime, breakdown of society and isolation, over obsession with technology and entertainment and so on. William Gibson (the great father) also predated the rise of the internet as a social phenomenon with some incredibly accurate visions of how things might go. (He was also the first to use the term the matrix in conjunction with people being plugged into the web - he called it 'the matrix, the consensual hallucination that millions plug into daily'). His stories were gritty and exciting. Several threads woven together into an explosive climax. They had an odd depth to them as well - his AI characters like Wintermute *did* explore what it meant to be conscious, even spiritual.

But then cyberpunk became trendy, the death knell for any movement. But even more than that, it's predictions often became true and it lost it's edge as the wave of the future. An interconnected world has happened - it's here. With it has also come a social malaise, an apathy. The excitement has gone. Kids now have always known this technological universe, they just missed it's explosion - and for us it's little more than a fading echo. But stuff the movement - what about the issues ? Is pollution and global destruction not an issue anymore ? What about the rise of the corporations, has that stopped or does it not affect us ? Is there no new technology to find ? Is society less fragmented than it was ?

Cyberpunk does need to change. Perhaps people are now less concerned with the rights of the individual than they are with wanting to belong to something - society is more than the individuals it's comprised of. But many of the issues remain. One of the things that I like about Mr Blur, is that it mixes cyberpunk elements with other genres - like the detective story and supernatural horror. I think cyberpunk needs to move away from kids with long black coats and address the concerns of people again, to morph and evolve. This particular bundle of worries that we label cyberpunk *is* relevant. Science rushes onward, and we're plunging headlong into the kind of technology that Mr Blur and William Gibson envisage. Fiction is the vehicle to explore how this will affect us - and whether we really want it. Wherever these things are explored it's going to be cyberpunk - it's day is not yet done.

And in answer to Bram's second question - the reason I don't write, is that if this was being published, I'd have to rewrite it a couple of times !!
posted by Mike Foord on Sunday, November 21, 2004

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Thursday, November 18, 2004

I well remember the first days of my plunge into Cyberpunk. If I was a religious man I might be tempted to say that reading Neuromancer by William Gibson was some kind of transcendent experience for me. The gritty, murky reality that pitted the small individual against the evil corporation touched a nerve - as did the heady blend of technology and adrenaline. But I was already ten years behind the revolution, that was the nineties and cyberpunk was already nearly a cliche.

Well, I wouldn't say Mr Blur was another Neuromancer - but it's certainly a good read. It's good to see that there a still people doing new things with the genre. Checkout The Radiant and have a look. I'm about threequarters of the way through Mr Blur - when I've finished I'll be sure to post a review. In the meantime, maybe the hour is near for me to don the old virtuality goggles, descend into voidspace, and write something myself... hmmm....
posted by Mike Foord on Thursday, November 18, 2004

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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

No time, no time... more white rabbit syndrom here I'm afraid. Discovered something so jubilicious that I just had to share it. At our big new shiny Jesus Centre we have a permanent display screen with computerised GFX thingy for displaying the song words. This is about a zillion times better than the acetate screens we've had so far. At our big meetings it also shows videos and images from the cameras. At our smaller meetings we don't bother with video cameras - so someone decided that it would be a good idea to show some incredible acid flashback computer images during the worship songs. They were awesome but utterly distracting. Weeeeeeeeeell.................. apparently they were generated from a program that originated as a winamp plugin. Called R4 and R2 (no I don't know the difference - I think R4 is a standalone version and R2 is still a winamp plugin). All found at a website called rabid hamster - far out. Here are the links anyway : R4 at Rabid Hamster and R2 at Rabid Hamster. Unfortunately I don't know if my graphics card is man enough for the job.
posted by Mike Foord on Wednesday, November 17, 2004

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Sunday, November 07, 2004

Those of you who have read any of my previous posts will know that I'm heavily involved in a big project with my church. About four years ago we purchased a large disused cinema in the centre (note the UK spelling !!) of Northampton. It is a 'listed building' with lots of Art-Deco features, which is why it had stood empty for a few years before we bought it. After three years of wrangling with planners and architects and a year of wrestling with builders we have now had our first public meeting in it - hooray.

When fully open it will have a community cafe, drop-in centre, education suite etc We are still four weeks away from the full public opening of these facilities - so everything is very hectic....
posted by Mike Foord on Sunday, November 07, 2004

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Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Did you know.... Facetiously, eleven letters long, is the shortest word in the English language that contains all six vowels in alphabetical order. Oh, and I sorted out my sitemap, but I think I mentioned it already.

I nicked it from 'ere.
posted by Mike Foord on Tuesday, November 02, 2004

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Monday, November 01, 2004

Well at last blogger is working - thank goodness for that. I'm trying out their weird 'blogging' by email feature. They give you a secret address to email posts to.... bizarre.

Anyway - I've also put a new sitemap online. It needs cutting down in size a bit, but this one works with IE *and* Mozilla as it doesn't do any DHTML trickery. UPDATE is now cut down and just fine and funky.

The python cookbook *might* be publishing one of my recipes in the new version, which is nice if it happens - I'll get a free copy of the book !! Hurrah. Pyzine might also be publishing an article of mine as well......

Let's see if this works - and if it does, which blog it appears on ;-)

posted by Mike Foord on Monday, November 01, 2004

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