February 23rd, 2006

fink whiky

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I figured out how to set up a playlist in Amarok to give me 50 previously unplayed random tracks ... so my next three & a half hours of music will be somewhat varied ;)

And Tuesday I figured out how to get Civ4 running in Linux (using Cedega - but I had to get the new version of Cedega and install it, which turned out to be non-trivial). Unfortunately that's knowledge that's pretty much useless till I can get a new PC (autumn this year, I think is vaguely the plan for that) as it runs faaaar too slowly - unplayable in late game, and more than overly sluggish in the early game. Needs more memory, I think. Shame, but I can keep rebooting.

I finished "Dragonfly in Amber" by Diana Gabaldon on Sunday - not my normal sort of book, but I'd seen several recommendations in various places so thought I'd give it a go. It's not the first in the series, but I had a vague idea of the premise and it didn't seem to matter starting in the middle. Basically it's the story of Claire who stumbles through a stone circle in 1940s Scotland while on her honeymoon and comes out in the early eighteenth century. The framing story for this book is set in the 1960s, and Claire is back in Scotland with her daughter - in telling her daughter she recaps (I presume) the events of the other books, so I was brought up to speed. The bulk of the story then is set in 1745 (presented as Claire remembering the events of 20 years ago for her) - and Claire and her husband Jamie Fraser are trying to prevent the Battle of Culloden, due to Claire's foreknowledge of the disaster for the Scottish aristocracy that it'll be. Given the framing story, we know some things about how it all turns out, but that doesn't stop it being an engrossing read - it gives some moments a sense of tragedy and foreshadowing they otherwise wouldn't've had. Jamie's time and world are well defined, and feel completely believable - though it's not a period of history I'm particularly familiar with, and I have only a broad outline knowledge of Scottish history anyway, so I can't speak as to how accurate it is. I enjoyed it rather more than I expected, and I've reserved the next book out of the library. But somehow I don't really feel any need to read the previous books - the recap was enough, I just want to know what happened next as this book ends on a bit of a cliff-hanger.

On Monday I finished "Heaven" by Ian Stewart & Jack Cohen - which I picked up as I'd liked "Wheelers" by the same authors. This felt a bit shallow - the characters seemed to me to be there to give the plot something to work with rather than feeling like actual people. Mind you, few of them were human so that's possibly part of it - but not all. Just felt a bit flat. But some nice ideas (which I rather think was the point). And yesterday I finished "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides for clubbook, so I need to write up some thoughts about that some time for the discussion on it (which starts on Monday).

Today I'm just tired - the new patch for Quake 4 came out in beta last night, so J just had to play a few games (given he's been waiting for the patch for weeks now) so we got to bed really late. I wasn't tired then, but I'm exhausted now.