River of Gods, The Family Trade

Ian McDonald's River of Gods is absolutely fantastic, it rocked my world. The picture it paints of a near future India is incredibly vivid and compelling. Made me want to visit India. I haven't read any of the other 2005 Hugo nominees, but at least this book is totally deserving.

Also, I shouldn't have read (well, haven't yet finished, I've been reading it on the commute) The Family Trade by Charles Stross: now I have to wait for the sequels. It's smart, fun and totally not your run of the mill fantasy. And just the right size: as the author commented on Making Light, short books are the new long.

Notes from a honeymoon to Florence and Milan.

  • Florence is beautiful. Consistent renaissance style with a few dabs of the medieval and modern makes for a wonderful city. Milan less so, with mostly buildings that are ugly, pompous or both. However, Milan has more greenery, which is nice: Florence could really use a few parks in the center of the city, especially of the non-fenced kind.
  • Milan felt like a real city, whereas Florence had this slight feeling of being an open-air museum and a tourist trap. But with that many tourists in that small a city, it's inevitable, I guess.
  • An awful lot of those tourists were Americans.
  • We got mostly indifferent or unfriendly service in Milan. However, we were there only for one day, so it's plausible we only had bad luck. Florence was better.
  • The weather was totally scorchio. However, a nominally cloudless sky in Milan with 31 degrees celcius was actually a greyish blue. We couldn't figure out if this was because of pollution.
  • Avoid the restaurant of Una Hotel Century in Milan like the plague. When "a glass of white wine" (no wine list was forthcoming) means the bottom of a chardonnay bottle with some sauvignon blanc on top and the arrival of the dessert is marked by the unmistakable sounds of the microwave, you know you aren't in for a great dining experience. Otherwise the hotel was pretty decent.
  • Booking a room at Hotel Medici in Florence was a mistake. Maybe we expected too much from a two star hotel, but we went roaming the city streets for a nicer place to stay at as soon as we arrived. Sofitel was pricey, but I guess every hotel in that city is.
  • The food (and wine) was mostly fantastic, as long as you avoided the most obvious touristy places with menus in six languages and people in front trying to lure more customers in.

This language thing

Not that I particularly expect this GNOME language issue to be resolved anytime soon, but still: assuming that the choices are Java and C#, do people actually want to standardise/bless/whatever the language, the runtime standard (that is, "JVM" or "CLR"), one particular runtime ("Kaffe" or "Mono"), or some combination thereof?

On a totally unrelated note, I always wonder why on earth Microsoft chose a totally ungoogleable name for their language.

© Juri Pakaste 2024