Archive for May, 2019

Review: Their Little Secret, by Mark Billingham

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Their Little Secret, the latest in the Tom Thorne series of crime novels, offers further proof of why author Mark Billingham is probably the best crime writer in Britain today — and one of our very best writers, full stop. This complicated, deeply human story revolves entirely around an extraordinary woman named Sarah, who at the very start of the book appears as the next victim for a con artist named Conrad, but is actually so much more than that. In parallel with the Sarah and Conrad story is the ongoing struggle of DI Thorne to have a life outside of the Job. His fellow officer, Nicola Tanner, plans a key role in the story and her name now features in the series title. The only thing wrong with this book is that having devoured it in two days, I now have to wait a full year for the next book in the series.

All The World’s A Stage, by Boris Akunin

Sunday, May 19th, 2019

I read this book in the wrong order as it precedes Akunin’s Black City, which I recently completed. And it does set the stage (sorry – couldn’t resist) for the latter book, with Fandorin now unhappily married to a woman he meets in this one. This book is set in Moscow during the final years of the tsarist regime, before the outbreak of the first world war, and one can sense the impending demise of that regime. Theatre directors are all cultural revolutionaries of a sort, the tsarist police force is useless in the face of ordinary criminals and revolutionaries, and the hero of these books, Erast Fandorin already seems rather weary of the whole business. Still, worth reading as the series itself is a remarkable achievement — and I do wonder if we’ve seen the last of Fandorin.

Back to Linux

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Several years back, I had a Linux laptop. But by around 2010 I had migrated to the Apple ecosystem, starting with an iPad, and left Linux behind. Now I’m back to Linux and let me explain why.

It turned out that I hardly use any of Apple’s software products – not Siri, not Pages, not iTunes, not Safari. My software — even on the Mac — consisted mostly of free and open source tools, such as Libre Office, Thunderbird, and Firefox, and I rely on web applications for much of what I do (e.g., TickTick for my to-do list, Diaro for my daily diary, Netflix, Spotify, etc.). I was getting no added value from being with Apple.

Today took delivery of my new laptop, a Dell XPS-13 with Ubuntu Linux 18.04 pre-installed.

I’ve spent the last hour getting re-acquainted and it’s been a happy experience so far.

What I have learned is that migrating from other operating systems to Linux is much easier than it used to be. For example, there’s one-click downloading of software. I was surprised to see that Firefox did not come pre-installed, but installing it, syncing it with my previous version, and making it my new default browser took less than a minute – no technical skills required.

Connecting to wifi and bluetooth was a piece of cake. My Microsoft mouse works perfectly — though I do have to get used to the fact that I now have a touch screen.

The XPS-13 is a lovely bit of kit — it seems so much smaller than my MacBook Air, but it’s the same screen size. The screen resolution is spectacularly good, the memory is quadruple what I had before, as is the hard drive capacity.

The first new app I downloaded (which does work on Mac, but I never tried it there) is Typora. It may come in useful when I write my next book.

More in the days to come as I complete the transition (and learn about all the hard stuff).