my recent reads..

My Crazy Roommate

If you've ever known or lived with someone who seems to lived in an alternate reality, you need to check out the My Crazy Roommate blog. This site is hilarious. Make sure you checkout his superpowers ..
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The Ambler Warning


I remember first getting hooked on Robert Ludlum when I was about 13. Desperate for something to relieve the boredom while sick for a few weeks, I borrowed The Chancellor Manuscript from my Dad. For many years, devouring and disecting the latest Ludlum was a unique pleasure we shared.

I guess my reading interests wandered, and The Ambler Warning is one of the first Ludlum books I've read for some time. I was surprised he was still writing. A quick check unfortunately confirmed that the newer books are ghost-written under the direction of Ludlum's estate, and apparently based on the wealth of notes and partially completed works he left behind. Sadly, Robert Ludlum himself died in 2001.

Putting these thoughts aside however, The Ambler Warning stands up as a very engaging read in true Ludlum style. Harrison Ambler, former covert operative, escapes from a state psychiatric facility. Even as he tries to make sense of his own memories, it seems everyone is out to kill him. Finding out why is the key to his sanity, and also stopping the bad guys.

Coincidentally, it proved to be an evocative counter-point to the last book I read, blink. Harrison Ambler is so successful in the field because he has the ability to instantly and accurately read people .. "the walking polygraph". At the outset, he has uber-rational CIA auditor Clayton Caston on his tail .. "..don't talk to me about feelings..". Ironically, they find that only in teaming up can they win.

So in a way, this is affirming one of the central themes in blink: sometimes you can't trust gut reaction, and sometimes you can't trust rational analysis either. But if you consider both, then you have considerably increased your chances of being correct.

Still more coincidences in the cameo department. As the book reaches a climax, action centers on the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos..
"A couple of yards away from him, an older, rangy American billionaire - someone whose 'enterprise software' was an industry standard across the globe..." Hmmm, ring any bells? If you don't think Bill makes 'enterprise software', then I reckon it can only be one person ... but then again, I did just read Softwar.

"Another audience member - a woman Ambler vaguely recognized from pictures, a CEO of a tech company, blond and perfectly coiffed - looked distracted, as if rehersing talking points for an upcoming interview.." Got to be Carly!

Favourite quote:
"There's a difference between risk and uncertainty .. Risk is quantifiable. Uncertaintly isn't. It's one thing to know there's a fifty-fifty chance of something going wrong. It's another not to know what the chances are at all."



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My Reading Feed

Just a quick note to highlight a relatively new enhancement to blogspot .. the ability to get an RSS feed for a given label. I stumbled across the instructions while trying to figure out how to get a feed of all the book reviews I decided to put up at my Prata Life blog. The basic URL formulation is like this:

http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/labelname
e.g. my reading feed is:
http://pratalife.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default/-/Read
So now I have a little side-panel on the tardate blog showing the most recent books I've read, using the RSS widget. Cool!

Top of the list right now is The Ambler Warning by Robert Ludlum, which had some interesting, coincidental cross-overs to other books I'd read recently (blink, Softwar). Includes an interesting cameo(?) as the book reaches a climax, action centers on the World Economic Forum meeting at Davos..

"A couple of yards away from him, an older, rangy American billionaire - someone whose 'enterprise software' was an industry standard across the globe..." Hmmm, ring any bells? If you don't think Bill makes 'enterprise software', then I reckon it can only be one person ...

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OTN in China and the importance of aggregators

Justin reported the stunning success of the OTN lounge at OpenWorld Shanghai 2007. Although I never made it to the lounge, the buzz in the halls and corridors was great testament to the enthusiasm of the Oracle community in this part of the world.

My trip up to Shanghai also provided a pointed reminder of China's on-again-off-again dance with blogspot (currently "off-again") when I tried to update my blog.

Now I'm not going to argue that China needs to cease its attempts to censor the net since I respect it's authority to exercise such control, just as we do in the west but with different values. However I must admit I had never thought of the collateral damage inflicted on the Oracle community of users in China, since it seems quite a large number of bloggers on Oracle topics are using one of the blocked platforms.

Fortunately it seems that the various Oracle-topic aggregators have not been hit by any of the blocks (and presumably won't be because of the generally non-political content).

So I'd encourage the aggregators to note the importance of aggregating full-text feeds with attachments ... it may be the only chance that some people may have of reading the content (also works better for anyone with an offline reader anyway).

For Oracle, I'd suggest this is another reason why it would be great to open up to hosting non-employee blogs.
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