Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Monster Hunter Alpha

On Monday I bought Larry Correia's novel Monster Hunter Alpha as a digital download from Baen Book's  Last night, I stayed up late and finished it.  MHA may be the best book in the series yet.

Unlike Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta, the main character in MHA is Earl Harbinger, head of the independent monster killing company, MHI.  The book delves into Harbinger's background and provides more depth to the character than in the first two novels.  Along the way, Harbinger encounters a nemesis from his past, a witch with a score to settle, has to deal with a competitor, and has to fight an uber bad ass werewolf.  As always, the Feds make an appearance in the form of agents from the US government's top-top-top secret Monster Control Bureau.

Correia's characterizations and wordsmithing are getting better. His sense of humor provides comic relief, and as with his previous novels it's nice to read a story not riddled with mistakes about guns.  It's also good to read a story in which the author is clearly in favor of the right to bear arms in defense of oneself and one's neighbors.

I give Monster Hunter Alpha an enthusiastic two thumbs up. It is 100% pure awesome, covered in awesomesauce.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Adding e-Books to Kindle in iPad

Since I got my iPad last week I've been using the Kindle app on it to read e-books, instead of carrying both it and my Kindle around. Yesterday, I bought Larry Correia's Monster Hunter Alpha from Baen's, whereupon I realized that there's no straightforward way to load e-books purchased from some place other than Amazon onto the device to read them.  (If you're not using an e-book reader, you can get Monster Hunter Alpha in the Dead Tree Edition here.)

After a minute on Google I found a solution, using Dropbox, which I access from my computers and my iPad.

  1. On your computer put the .mobi e-book file in your Dropbox folder and wait for it to sync. 
  2. Then go on your iPad, open Dropbox and then click on the e-book file. The Dropbox app cannot read the file and asks you what program you want to open it with. Select the Amazon Kindle app, and it'll download the book to the the Kindle apps local data store.

It would be nice if Amazon would let you leverage their Cloud Drive free online storage space for Kindle-format books purchased elsewhere, and then let you access it from the Kindle app on the iPad.

Edit 7/27/11:

Apparently, e-books from are available in a format supported by Apple's iBook app, and to which you can add them using iTunes. Clicky here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

iPad 2

At work my department will soon be receiving about 20 iPad 2s for development use. Since I'll be managing them, my boss felt I should have one for my own use. So, on Monday I came home with a shiny new white 64 GB iPad 2 with both WiFi and Verizon 3G capability. (If I want to use the 3G I'll have to pay for it myself.)

So far, I've been using the heck out of it. The screen is very nice and clear, displaying both text and graphics nicely. Speed seems good for the apps I've used. On my home network I'm getting about 12 to 14 megs down, about 10 mega slower than what I see with my MacBook Pro. The iPad has a slower processor, so that makes sense.

When typing I find that it's much easier if I put the iPad in landscape orientation, providing that the app I'm using supports it.  The onscreen keys are larger in this mode.

My use has primarily been for browsing, reading a couple forums using Tapatalk, and using the Amazon Kindle app. Compared with a Kindle, the iPad is more versatile since it allows you to do more than read books, but as an e-book reader, the hardware Kindle is superior. The grayscale Kindle screen, which isn't backlit, is superior for reading in bright light; there is more glare on the glossy color screen of the iPad. However, the iPad is superior for viewing PDF files, which don't display well on the Kindle.  The Kindle's e-ink display uses a lot less juice than the iPad's backlit LED. A Kindle can go weeks between being charged, while an iPad will go about 8 hours of active use.

Compared with the Samsung Galaxy tablet I got to play with a few weeks ago, the iPad is better. The iPad's larger screen versus the Galaxy's 7" display is more usable. (Obviously a 10" Galaxy would fare better in this regard.) The OS feels smoother, and Safari is overall a better browser than the stock Android 2.2 browser, with at least one caveat, see below.

So far I've bought a couple applications through iTunes: iSSH and GoodReader. I've also installed NoterizeEvernote, an RDP client, and Dropbox. ISSH allows me to access my servers at work over a WiFi bridge onto my lab network. GoodReader allows me to view many file types, including .doc, .xls, and PDFs, and manage files. It also integrates well with Dropbox.

I mostly typed this post in Evernote on the iPad with some final touches on my Mac.  Evenrote is an extremely neat notes and clipping program which can sync your files across multiple platforms and the cloud. (I used Evernote for this post because Safari on the iPad doesn't work with Blogger for some reason.)

Taking notes is something I see as becoming one of my main uses for the iPad, so I need to settle on a good solution for it.

Since this is a company owned device, I was able to get approval to have ActiveSync enabled on my Exchange account, which means I can now get my work email and calendar on it. I'm going to like not schlepping my laptop to meetings.

When I first handled an iPad last year I was a bit underwhelmed. I didn't like how it felt. The iPade 2 is noticeably slimmer and lighter and feels a lot better in the hand.  I can see why Apple has had a he'll of a time keeping up with demand.

For heavy content creation a laptop or desktop remains superior to the best tablet. But for note taking, email, checking my calendar, or light web surfing, the iPad works extremely well.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


I just found out that I made it into the Contagion 2011 Zombie Shoot.

They've scaled it back this year, down to 125 shooters from 200 last year, so things should move a bit quicker this time around.

{Happy Dance}

Monday, July 04, 2011

It's Not "July 4th"

It is Independence Day.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The 56 signatures on the Declaration appear in the positions indicated:

Column 1
   Button Gwinnett
   Lyman Hall
   George Walton

Column 2
North Carolina:
   William Hooper
   Joseph Hewes
   John Penn
South Carolina:
   Edward Rutledge
   Thomas Heyward, Jr.
   Thomas Lynch, Jr.
   Arthur Middleton

Column 3
John Hancock
Samuel Chase
William Paca
Thomas Stone
Charles Carroll of Carrollton
George Wythe
Richard Henry Lee
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Harrison
Thomas Nelson, Jr.
Francis Lightfoot Lee
Carter Braxton

Column 4
   Robert Morris
   Benjamin Rush
   Benjamin Franklin
   John Morton
   George Clymer
   James Smith
   George Taylor
   James Wilson
   George Ross
   Caesar Rodney
   George Read
   Thomas McKean

Column 5
New York:
   William Floyd
   Philip Livingston
   Francis Lewis
   Lewis Morris
New Jersey:
   Richard Stockton
   John Witherspoon
   Francis Hopkinson
   John Hart
   Abraham Clark

Column 6
New Hampshire:
   Josiah Bartlett
   William Whipple
   Samuel Adams
   John Adams
   Robert Treat Paine
   Elbridge Gerry
Rhode Island:
   Stephen Hopkins
   William Ellery
   Roger Sherman
   Samuel Huntington
   William Williams
   Oliver Wolcott
New Hampshire:
   Matthew Thornton