Charlie Stross: November 2010 Archives

This is prognostication without information. Do not mistake it for TRVTH. Feel free to point and laugh when Apple announce something completely different next January!

Leaving aside purely local issues (such as an iPhone 4 that works on Verizon's CDMA network in the USA — not terribly interesting to non-Americans), I think Apple will, in 2011, seek to revive the Macbook Pro range, differentiating it from the Macbook and Macbook Air by adding new tech. Intel's LightPeak optical bus looks set to offer a long-term replacement for Firewire and, probably, USB 3.0 (which hasn't gained traction — at least with Cupertino). And when Intel get over their packaging issues, there's a chance that the Macbook Air range will get a modern CPU — probably Core i3, once it's lost enough girth to fit in a slim case.

But Macs are so 21st century ... the iOS platform seems to be the future for Apple, but I think there's a gap in the range.

We can be fairly certain that Apple is gearing up to launch a second-generation iPad in early 2011. What will it look like?

(This blog entry brought to you from the "if you whack the hornet's nest and it doesn't explode you obviously didn't whack it hard enough" department ...)

Steampunk. Is it a dessert topping or a floor wax? 

Are you healthy?

There's an interesting op-ed in New Scientist this week. A psychiatrist and a political scientist make the point that "health" is a loaded term; while in principle we all want to be healthy, it's a word that has been co-opted by those with agendas to push:

Health now means more than the absence of disease or presence of a positive state of bodily flourishing. In 2010, health also describes an ideological and commercial tool, used to make moral judgements, convey prejudice, sell products, or even to exclude groups of people from healthcare.
It's an interesting point — "health" is so self-evidently something that we all care about that if you have an agenda (be it making money by pushing pills, or getting funding for a stadium for your favourite sports team) you can sanctify it simply by pitching it as being all about promoting good health.

It's not hugely controversial to propose that unscrupulous individuals use push-button marketing to make their profit-making schemes seem saintly; there's a lot of greenwashing going on these days, and a lot of money in alternative medicine[1]. But is it possible that imbuing the concept of health with moral value is actively damaging?

I've been quiet for the past week or so because I've been busy. Just so you know why I'm not blogging like, well, a blogger, here's what's on my plate:

I am a Republican.

Not that kind of Republican, I hasten to add: remember, this is a British blog, and American political distinctions do not apply.

Rather, I'm a republican insofar as I'm in favour of government based on the consent of the people, rather than the divine right of kings (or, in our case, a queen).

I am reminded of this today because on Tuesday this week, William Windsor and Kate Middleton announced they were getting hitched, which — as Bill is second in line to the throne, right behind his dad, Speaker-to-Vegetables — has triggered a locust-like media feeding frenzy as banal as it is ridiculous.

It's that time of year again, and Tor are getting ready to re-typeset "The Trade of Queens" for paperback release next March.

If you own the hardcover (Kindle edition doesn't count) and have spotted some typos, this is the thread for posting them on! It'd help if you can quote four or five words of verbatim text around the blooper, and a page number in the hardback. As Linus Torvalds observed, with enough eyeballs all bugs are easily spotted: so if any of you eagle-eyes spotted anything, now is the time to gloat in public about it!

I'm getting ready to go to Novacon (taking tomorrow and Thursday for the trip down), a round trip drive of around 650 miles, and I'm not looking forward to it. Yes, I have a co-driver, and yes, we're not doing it in one run; but the A1/A1(M)/M1 from Edinburgh to Nottingham and back via a family visit in Leeds isn't exactly enjoyable. At this time of year the light up here is fading — it gets dark by 5pm — and the weather is likely to involve clouds, and rain. There are stretches of single carriageway along the A1 north of Alnwick (yes, this is the main highway connecting Scotland's capital city to England in the 21st century: why do you ask?) where one gets stuck behind slow goods vehicles and/or tractors towing tanks of pig slurry. There are stretches further south, where the road rises to the status of motorway (two lanes plus hard shoulder in each direction until you reach Englandshire), and then the happy fun fifty kilometres of roadworks monitored by average speed cameras. I have eyeball-related medical issues that make driving an exercise in applied paranoia, and even when I go sit in the passenger seat I can't read a book — I get motion sickness if I read in any vehicle that weighs less than twenty tons.

The only reason I'm putting up with it is that the alternatives are worse ...

Today I'm in Birmingham (where yesterday I did a reading and talk with the Brum SF Group). Tomorrow I'm in Edinburgh. On Wednesday I shall be in Leeds, and on Thursday in Nottingham. Don't expect a lot of blogging in the middle of all that travel.

I have seen the 11.6" Macbook Air in the flesh aluminium, and it is indeed a thing of beauty; if it had a beefier processor and/or a bigger SSD I would have been unable to resist the compulsion to grab one as an on-the-road engine for running Scrivener 2.0 (which came out last week, and looks to be the bee's knees as a tool for jobbing novelists). Luckily (or otherwise) it's not quite there yet, but maybe they'll bump the spec in 12 or 18 months ...

That's all for now.

Welcome to my blog.

I normally get around 10,000-11,000 readers a day poking their noses in here. By blog standards, that's a bit hardcore — but it seldom spikes over 15,000 visitors, even if I post something interesting enough to get BoingBoing'd or front page coverage on Hacker News or Slashdot. The most visitors I'd ever seen until yesterday were 120,000 on two consecutive days, when I bloviated about the iPad and struck a nerve.

It's a good thing I upgraded my server last month ...

(Hat tip to [REDACTED] over on LJ for spotting this one ...)

Hansard is the official printed transcript of the proceedings of the houses of parliament — in other words, the working log of the British government.

It is an authoritative primary source, and records every speech made in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Interestingly, it also records words spoken under parliamentary privilege.

So when an eminent member of the House of Lords stands up six hours into a debate and blows the gaff on a shadowy foreign Foundation making a bid to buy the British state, and this is recorded in Hansard, one tends to sit up and take notice. And one takes even more notice when His Lordship tip-toes around actually naming the Foundation in question, especially after the throw-away about money-laundering for the IRA on behalf of the Bank of England. Parliamentary privilege only stretches so far, it seems, and Foundation X is beyond its reach. I'm going to quote at length below the cut — if you want to read the original, search for "1 Nov 2010 : Column 1538" which is where things begin to tip-toe into Robert Ludlum territory.

(NB: The venue is the House of Lords, at 10:42pm on November 1st, 2010.)

One of the annoying aspects of this job is that I periodically hear from people all over the world about how some publisher or other has grotesquely mutilated my work, turning it into a poor-quality travesty of ... well, you get the picture.

And then, sometimes, something else happens.

I got home late last night from a rainy weekend in Antwerp, dog-tired and expecting a backlog of work, to discover an anonymous box. Which turned out to contain an unexpected trophy and a covering letter:

Dear Charlie Stross,
We are happy to announce you, that "Accelerando" has won Estonian SF Award Stalker 2010 in the category of best translated novel in 2009.

And we are also happy to announce you, that "A Boy and His God" has wpn Estonian SF Award Stalker 2010 in the category of best translated story in 2009.

These awards are issued by Estonian Science Fiction Association, according to votes of Estonian SF readers.

And we in the publishing company Fantaasia are especially proud about it.

Many thanks and best wishes from Estonia!

(Here we see Frigg preparing to deliver the head-butt seal of LOLcat approval.)



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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Charlie Stross in November 2010.

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