Noel Rappin Writes Here

Five Things From: The Week of April 22, 2016

five thingsNoel RappinComment

Let's try something new this week. At least new for me. If, by new, you mean, "haven't done it in few years".

Five Things From, listened to, or encountered that I want to pass along. The "five" is more of a guideline than a rule.

We'll see how long this keeps up:

First, A Word From Our Sponsor

That's me, I'm the sponsor. This week's Medium post is a comparison between my first RailsConf in 2008 and this years' through the simple expedient of making you guess which talk titles come from which year. (Spoiler: I deliberately chose ambiguous ones).

As you probably don't know, I'm working on a new book for Pragmatic. Title's not set yet, but it's about handling payments on the web and all the variously logistics and aggravations that entails. The initial draft is 50% done, which means it goes for technical review. I'm hoping it will go into beta toward the end of the summer.

Onto the things:

Thing One: A Book!

Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire. The setup for this book is, frankly, brilliant. It takes place at a boarding school populated by children who have had portal fantasy adventures (think Narnia) and have been rejected by the other world and are trying to cope. There are a lot of discussions of belonging and being an outsider. It's a heartbreakingly beautiful premise in a heartbreakingly beautiful book. There's a plot, yeah, but the characters and tone are everything here.

Thing Two: Another Book!

The Edge of Worlds, by Martha Wells, which is, I think the fourth novel in the Raksura/Three Worlds series. Wells is one of the best at describing a particular kind of weird world, with unusual species (the main characters are all shape-shifting lizard-people who live in a colony that is somewhat bee-like). She delights in creating bizarre and uncanny parts of the world for them to explore, and in creating interesting characters to stay with. You should read this. Well, you should probably start at the beginning, but eventually, you should read this.

Thing Three: Big Ben!

The NPR Podcast How To Do Everything had a brief chat with the person in charge of maintaining the clocks of the UK Parliament, including Big Ben, and now I know exactly how much you can adjust the speed of the clock by adding a single penny to the weight of the pendulum.

Thing Four: Hamilton!

If you are me, one of the interesting things about the musical Hamilton aside from how amazing the music and lyrics are (I’ve become a big fan, okay?) is that it presents Hamilton as kind of the progressive hero of the Revolution. If you are about my age, and took a Revolutionary War class in college from, say, Pulitzer Prize winner David Hackett Fischer, then that idea seems, weird? This article from Vox explains a bit about how interpretation of the Revolution, and especially Hamilton and Jefferson, has changed over time.

Thing Five: Tech Things!

If you liked my video about floating point numbers you might be amused by this quick bit about rounding and Apple’s environmental initiatives by John Graham-Cumming

This medium article by Tom Whitwell about media pricing was interesting. The big recent flap for me was TextExpander moving to a very expensive subscription model, though I think they are grandfathering in existing users with enough of a discount that I’ll be able to justify continuing use. Pricing is hard. Ask me about ebook pricing someday. Then run.