Wednesday, June 30, 2010


I just finished reading Orbus, by Neal Asher.
Orbus is the third Spatterjay novel, although none if this takes place on that planet. Orbus is an Old Captain, a long time infectee of the Spatterjay virus, which turns biological creatures into super tough, effectively immortal creatures. The longer you have been infected, the tougher you are, and Orbus has been infected for a very long time. He has to be careful around normal people, shaking hands alone is fraught with danger.
But then, there's also a Prador, Vrell who was more recently infected by the virus, but Prador are inherently tough, being huge alien crab-like creatures.
The story takes us quickly into the no-mans land between the Human Polity and the Prador Kingdom, where the warships of each side are not permitted, and the rest of the novel is one long violent spatterfest. Brilliant, and thoroughly enjoyable violence, mostly involving the spattering of giant crabs, but the Polity war-drone Sniper also takes a massive beating.
New technology originating from the Jain, and further fleshing out of Prador politics and history adds interest and deeper flavour than the spatterfest would suggest, and the pace of events leaves you constantly turning pages.
This is now my favourite Spatterjay novel, even over the excellent The Skinner.

Blogging Less

You may have noticed. I've been writing here less. I blame my slate. I just spend much less time in front of the PC now. Hopefully, as I'm getting used to having it, I'll feel less like I want to use it all the time, and more like it's just available whenever I need. If that makes sense. The games are such massive time wasters, but I think at some point the novelty will wear off and I'll go back to more constructive things. I should look more into Cocoa Touch, and perhaps write something for the iPad, but then no idea has particularly inspired me yet.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

iPad Review

I've now spent a week with my 64Gb WiFi iPad. I'm just going to cover here what I think is important, so if you want more information there are plenty of detailed reviews around.

Casual browsing of the web on this device from the couch is simply awesome. The finger navigation is so natural, fluid and much more relaxed than mouse usage and clicking. The screen in general really is gorgeous.

Playing free and very inexpensive games that rely on touch and accelerometer use is great fun. It's a whole new experience that is so different from a DS Lite or a PS3 or a PC. This will probably wear off, but it's novel and just plain fun.
The typing in landscape mode is really quite good, but I'm still getting used to the autocorrect and prediction. You really have to look at the keys though because there is no feedback for what you are pressing. I wouldn't want to type a long blog post on it yet but maybe after more practice it will be ok. It's really good for short messages. Facebook is brilliant on this device and I don't think it even needs an App. Reading news is great, especially via the new "The Australian" app, which is excellent. The AirVideo app is brilliant, because it streams DivX and Xvid video from my PC into the iPad, and can also convert and add to iTunes for loading in iPad format. Battery life is closer to a phone than a laptop which is excellent. I use the iPad stand from Apple to browse news while eating breakfast. That's sweet.

While I love the look and feel of the brushed aluminium back, it scratches really easily. I've put an Invisible Shield on it today to protect it. This should also help with grip, as it is a little slippery, and you do NOT want this to slide off your lap onto the floor. Ever. Safari just isn't as customisable as Firefox, and I miss that, especially not being able to block ads. The App Store is bloody slow. Apple needs to boost their servers. It's bad in iTunes, it's bad on iPad. Also, iTunes on PC is unintuitive, slow and hangs. It needs a complete rewrite.

Yet to see:
The glass screen seems really robust, and some reviews have shown it is actually hard to scratch, so I may hold off putting the Invisible shield on the front, until I see what the shield surface is like on the back after a week.
I'm yet to see what the long term reading of iBooks is like. The text seems perfectly fine to me, good, high resolution, and the screen brightness is nicely adjustable to conditions. I'm yet to see if my eyes suffer after reading for 90 minutes. Be good to see actual recent books for sale in iBooks too.