Cutting the hard line

We no longer have a landline. This past week our household made the shift. By no means the first to do so. And certainly not the last. It just made sense at this time.

I needed a new phone. My venerable Nexus 5 was on its last legs. In truth it was probably beyond its last legs. Its battery no longer held a charge for more than a few hours. And there were some other issues all age-related. Plus I was due a new phone for entirely extraneous reasons, which I might mention in a future post.

I’ve had my eye on the Google Pixel ever since it arrived on the scene. And yes, I know there is a new version coming some time in the late autumn. But I needed a new phone now. It seemed like a good opportunity to simply transfer our landline number to a new mobile. But there was a catch.

Without a landline, there would be no way for K. to reach me (or anyone else) when I’m out and about. K. has never had a mobile phone. She says she never needed one. Still, it would be hard to convince her that if she also got a mobile then the only apparent challenge to getting rid of the landline would be obviated. She’d need a stronger reason. But then disaster struck.

A minor disaster. K. lost her beautiful iPod Touch while we were on vacation in Spain. It was a brilliant little device and she was heartbroken. (I’m exaggerating a bit because it had been a gift from me.) So we were faced with the choice of either replacing the iPod Touch with another iPod Touch or move to an iPhone with 128GB of space so that it could also carry all of our music and podcasts. In then end it was not such a hard decision. K. now has an iPhone SE. It’s a little bulkier than her beloved iPod Touch, but still very small by mobile phone standards these days. And she’s already loving it (I think).

The only challenge now is remembering where my phone is at all times (since it now has the old landline number that most people used to reach us) and remembering to turn on its ringer.

I’ll adjust.

Producing Open Source Software, 2nd edition, by Karl Fogel

Recently I received a notification from Kickstarter that Karl Fogel has completed his project of revising Producing Open Source Software. Back in 2013 I made a small financial contribution, along with many others, to enable Karl to take some time away from his open technologies consulting business in order to revise and update this much used publication. The first edition was released under a Creative Commons licence back in 2005 and published as “treeware” by O’Reilly a year later. By 2013, the world of free and open source software had evolved. Even more so in the intervening years it has taken to reach the completed second edition.

As with the first edition, Producing Open Source Software is freely available under a Creative Commons licence. You can go to Karl’s site right now and read it. Or you can wait a bit for the print version. I confess to being a bit thrilled to find my name listed there in the acknowledgements along with the many others who donated to the Kickstarter project. I spotted the names of a few old colleagues and friends.

Congratulations to Karl for completing this edition. I look forward to reading it with pleasure.

 

Reading – a year in review, 2016

2016 was a good year for reading. I discovered new authors whose work I enjoyed: Rick Moody, Alexis André, David Szalay, and Rachel Cusk. I continued my affection for authors with whom I had already been acquainted: Colm Tóibín, Tom Drury, Zadie Smith, Willa Cather, Elizabeth Strout, and Kazuo Ishiguro. I also wrote short reviews of each book I read this past year and posted them on LibraryThing, a few of which I re-posted here on this blog. I’m already looking forward to another great year of reading ahead.

Stats from my 2016 reading list:

  • 24 were borrowed from our public library
  • 11 have Canadian authors
  • 22 were chosen due to personal recommendations from friends
  • 4 are by authors who appear more than once on the 2016 list
  • 1 was being reread
  • 0 was read aloud by my wife and me
  • 13 are non-fiction
  • 0 are ebooks

Books read in 2016 (69):

  • Drury, Tom. The Driftless Area
  • Moran, Caitlin. How to Build a Girl
  • Cameron, Claire. The Bear
  • Grosz, Stephen. The Examined Life
  • Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace
  • Smith, Zadie. NW
  • Moody, Rick. Hotels of North America
  • Brautigan, Richard. Trout Fishing in America
  • St. Aubyn, Edward. The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother’s Milk, At Last
  • Richtel, Matt. A Deadly Wandering
  • Alexis, André. Fifteen Dogs
  • Evison, Jonathan. This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
  • Casey, John. Beyond the First Draft: The Art of Fiction
  • Coetzee, J.M. and Kurtz, Arabella. The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy
  • Keret, Etgar. The Bus Driver Who Wanted To Be God and other stories
  • Christie, Michael. If I Fall, If I Die
  • Modiano, Patrick. After the Circus
  • Tóibín, Colm. The Master
  • Russell, Bertrand. The Problems of Philosophy
  • Marcus, Ben. The Age of Wire and String
  • Alexis, André. Childhood
  • Cather, Willa. A Lost Lady
  • Alexis, André. Despair and other stories
  • Oyeyemi, Helen. What is not yours is not yours: stories
  • Wilson, Kevin. The Family Fang
  • Scott, A.O. Better Living Through Criticism: How to Think About Art, Pleasure, Beauty, and Truth
  • Doerr, Anthony. All The Light We Cannot See
  • Strout, Elizabeth. My Name Is Lucy Barton
  • Beatty, Paul. The Sellout
  • Modiano, Patrick. The Occupation Trilogy: La Place de l’Étoile, The Night Watch, and Ring Roads
  • Moody, Rick. The Ice Storm
  • Millet, Lydia. Mermaids in Paradise
  • Gardner, Leonard. Fat City
  • Petersen, Alice. Worldly Goods: stories
  • Eugenides, Jeffrey. The Virgin Suicides
  • Ishiguro, Kazuo. The Buried Giant
  • Wolf, Maryanne. Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain
  • Szalay, David. All That Man Is
  • Currie Jr., Ron. Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles: a novel
  • Barnes, Julian. nothing to be frightened of
  • Royle, Nicholas (Ed.) Best British Short Stories 2016
  • Bryson, Bill. The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island
  • Antrim, Donald. The Emerald Light in the Air: stories
  • Kawakami, Hiromi. Strange Weather in Tokyo
  • Coe, Jonathan. Number 11
  • McKenzie, Elizabeth. The Portable Veblen
  • Goncharov, Ivan. Oblomov
  • Alexis, André. The Hidden Keys
  • Bell, James Scott. Revision and Self-Editing
  • Link, Kelly. Get in Trouble
  • Cayley, Kate (compiler), Francis, Brian (compiler), Thien, Madeleine (compiler). The Journey Prize Stories 28
  • Beukes, Lauren. Broken Monsters
  • Diaz, Junot (ed.). The Best American Short Stories 2016
  • Barrett, Andrea, and Turchi, Peter (editors). A Kite in the Wind: Fiction Writers on Their Craft
  • Winterson, Jeanette. The Gap of Time: The Winter’s Tale Retold
  • Cusk, Rachel. Outline
  • Haslett, Adam. Imagine Me Gone
  • Nabokov, Vladimir. Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited
  • Smith, Ali. Public library and other stories
  • McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian
  • Smith, Zadie. On Beauty
  • Edugyan, Esi. Half-Blood Blues
  • Svevo, Italo. Zeno’s Conscience
  • Smith, Zadie. Swing Time
  • Atwood, Margaret. Hag-Seed
  • Tesdell, Diana Secker (ed.). New York Stories
  • Adler, Renata. Speedboat
  • Tóibín, Colm. On Elizabeth Bishop
  • Luiselli, Valeria. Faces in the Crowd

 

Wild Writers Festival 2016

It seems like every year around this time* I’ve got a choice to make. I could spend the first Saturday in November writing furiously (but with a touch of grace). Or I could attend the Wild Writers Festival and learn from the pros just how difficult it is to write and (worse) publish. Few of them, I think, will mention the challenging distraction of the best Canadian writers festival within walking distance of one’s house.

It’s not procrastination if you are gaining valuable insights into the art and craft of writing. Right?

This year, The New Quarterly has brought together such luminaries as Michael Crummey, Carrie Snyder, Madeleine Thien, Michael Helm, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Rosemary Sullivan. As per usual, there is a Friday night gala event, a Sunday brunch event, and a Saturday night speakeasy. But for me, the heart of the festival is on Saturday when a raft of small-enrolment workshops are offered (for a small fee) as well as a series of panel discussions (free) on everything from small press publishing to the art of dialogue or writing a thriller. There is something there worthy of distracting almost any writer from a hard-won full day of writing.

Maybe I’ll see you there.

* Well, every year since 2012.

Grand Porch Party 2016

Sunday, 12 June, promises to be a sunny day. Perfect for a stroll around the neighbourhood pausing in front of host houses as a selection of fine musicians perform on porches.

Yes, it’s time for the Grand Porch Party again! Between 2 and 5 pm, the streets in our area will be humming with adults and children catching some free tunes, everything from soulful rhythm and blues to folk and pop and even a hand-clap orchestra for good measure. Rain or shine. But it’s a bit nicer in sunshine.

The Grand Porch Party is always great fun (it’s been running since 2011). However, this year the organisers have shifted the party over a street or two. So I could just sit on my own porch and listen to the music coming from two doors down. But it’s more fun to take a walk and soak in the ambience.