I liked this book best of the Iain M Banks books I’ve read so far – but I’m a sucker for science fiction books where the main character enters a tournament of games. I even liked Split Infinity, for Pete’s sake. I always like books that are set up around games, and am starting to get a better sense of what Banks is aiming to do with the Culture books, so enjoyed it the most so far. Will probably wait a bit before reading the next Banks book, but will definitely read one before too long.
This is a really interesting book, given to me by my friend Peter Sims, particularly in light of the Iranian elections last week. It’s an in depth, but readable explanation of the history of the Shia/Sunni relationship, but also a very broad look at the contemporary politics across the region. I have a pretty strong sense that there’s some pro-Shia bias in the book (although as an outsider, it’s difficult to assess how much, really) — nonetheless, this was probably the single most useful book I’ve read to understand the situation and possible new developments in the region.
What can you say about Dune, really? A classic of science fiction literature; a book that many consider to be the best of the genre. I last read it probably 20 years ago in high school — I remembered a lot of sand, I remembered enjoying it, and then I have some sort of weird memory of a movie with Sting in it, but that was pretty much the extent of things.
Then the other day a friend of mine tweeting about the acquisition of Sun by Oracle as another one getting gobbled up by House Harkonnen, which triggered me to reread it.
This time around, I understood a lot more of what the book is about, of course, and enjoyed it just as much. It’s a great book, for sure — although my memory of the rest of the sequels is still good enough that I’m not going to ruin the original by re-reading those.
I think the pacing is a little on the slow side — not really contemporary speed, anyway — but the idea, and the bigness of the setting are of course amazing, as is the range that Herbert shows, going from huge imperial family intrigue & wars to personal mysticism.
Anyway, definitely worth reading again.
(photo credit: Jay Goldman)
To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what to expect 4 summers ago when I started at Mozilla. We were in our (extremely small) space on Villa St; Firefox was taking off; I was quickly learning that the Mozilla-style of doing things did not quite match what I expected. I knew that it was an important project; I knew it had smart, unique leaders; I knew that I didn’t understand much about how it could possibly, you know, actually exist.
But it was an undeniably exciting time — tons of people were using and discovering Firefox — there were probably something like 20 million users at that time. Firefox 1.5 was nearly finished; Thunderbird 1.5 was on the way. And it just felt like there was a ton of promise and opportunity on the web that hadn’t been there a year before.
A couple of months after I started we moved into our current offices at 1981 Landings Drive (pictured above), and in the intervening 4 years, tons and tons has happened. Mozilla has grown, of course — into a network of community and contributors around the world that create a product that’s in more than 70 languages and used by more than 300 million people. But the web itself has gone through an enormous explosion of innovation. When we moved into this office in late 2005 was a time before YouTube became huge (they were just 6 months old) — and was really before video on the web was meaningful. It was before Facebook was big — would be another year until they opened up to everyone. And of course it was way before Twitter came on the scene.
And, of course, the world of the browser looks incredibly, impossibly, and wonderfully different today than it did then, with a faster-than-ever Firefox dropping soon, an improved IE8, and Safari, Opera and Chrome each competing and innovating. Oh, and the whole mobile browsing thing happened, too.
In just the four years that we’ve been here — out of the 11 since the Mozilla project started — the web has been transformed, and has itself transformed so much of the way we live our lives. It’s easy to gloss over, since we see the changes every day — and it’s easy to see the road that we’ve traveled on as being inevitable — but it really wasn’t. The reason we have a vibrant, open web today is because of millions of little decisions and contributions made by thousands of people in that timeframe — people who work on browsers, people who build web sites & applications, people who evangelize for standards, people who use the web and ask/demand that it be better.
Leaving this building for our new home at 650 Castro (which, for the eagle-eyed Netscape historian will look familiar) gives me a bit of a chance to reflect on how much our world has changed while we’ve been here, as well as the part Mozilla’s had in effecting that change.
And I have to say that looking forward, I can’t wait to see what the next 4 or 5 years brings, and what we can do from our new home & vantage point. The web continues to be the driver of an unprecedented amount of change, and I don’t see that slowing down any time soon.
So as Mitch likes to say: onward.