Michael Lange -

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  1. Dezember 2014

Michael Lange war bei Philip Banse im Küchenradio, und sie haben über sein Buch gesprochen. Berlin in all seiner Veränderung hat mich immer fasziniert. Ich erinnere mich noch an die Baukräne, damals, Ende der 90er. Ach, was für Zeiten.

Johnny Haeusler – I live by the river!

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  1. Dezember 2014

Johnny Haeuslers “I live by the river” hatte ich gelesen als er es in Ebook Form veröffentlicht hat. Jetzt ist es endlich als richtiges Buch herausgekommen. Das habe ich natürlich sofort gekauft, vor allem um Johnny zu unterstützen.

Es sind kleine, wunderschöne Geschichten, Miniaturen unserer Welt, in denen er über das Leben und die Welt schreibt. Ganz wunderbar.

Das gedruckte Buch hat noch drei neue Geschichten, sehr passen “Bonustracks” genannt.

Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, Stefano Gaudiano – The Walking Dead – Volume 21 All Out War Part 2

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13th December 2014

It is dark and cold and grey outside. Perfect time for some Walking Dead. Volume 21 is the second part of the “All Out War” storyline. As usual, it is very dark and very brutal.

Rick continues to fight Negan, and just before it became boring and repetitive things turn to the better. Negan is really outright stupid, you want to punch him all the time and ask him: What are you fighting for? Why? And Rick does exactly that.

I am interested again to see where the story will go now. I know I have said it before, but this would be a good point to end it. A fine conclusion.

Kevin Kelly – Cool Tools

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29th November – 13th December 2014

Kevin Kelly worked on the Whole Earth Catalogue and is one of the major proponents of the Maker Movement. This year, he published the spiritual successor of the Catalogue – Cool Tools. It is a conglomeration of life hacks, tools, cool stuff found and expression of Kevin’s philosophy.

All the stuff can be found on his website, but Kevin figured that a book is easier to read and that websites can breakdown. So it is good to have a book of cool tools handy, that itself is a cool tool.

Many of the items are in deed timeless, including some of the technology items. Even if they were not, I truly like the whole idea behind the book.

The only sad thing is that he won’t bring the Catalogue back, these times are probably gone.

Blake J. Harris – Console Wars

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27th November – 13th December 2014

I always was a technology history geek. I am fascinated by the development of hardware and software and the stories and people behind.

“Console Wars” came out this year in a bit of a hype. It is the story of how Sega for a brief time won over Nintendo in the US. In the long run of course Nintendo kept their market leadership, but for a few years Sega lead the pack.

The book is very much centered on Tom Kalinske, Sega’s President in the early and mid 90s. He achieved market leadership through unconventional methods, aggressive marketing and a good portion of guile. Blake Harris interviewed over two hundred people and reconstructed the events which lead to Sega’s rise and final stagnation. In the end, Sega was still a Japanese company. While the mother was pleased with the American daughter, they preferred to have things their way. This ultimately lead to Sega’s decline and exit of console hardware production.

The book is very biased, you clearly see where the author is in the Sega vs. Nintendo game. At some points I wish the story were a bit more factual. Blake Harris reconstructs dialogs and interprets a bit too much of what people thought and did for my liking. On the upside this makes a better read, almost like a novel.

Tobias Hamelmann (Hrsg) – Shadowrun Regelbuch 5. Edition

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  1. Oktober – 7. Dezember 2014

Ich habe vor ganz langer Zeit Shadowrun gespielt, damals noch in der zweiten Edition, Mitte der 90er. Dann ganz lange Zeit gar nicht mehr, bis schließlich letztes Jahr Shadowrun Returns rauskam. Und ich war sofort wieder gefangen. Zwar denke ich nicht, daß ich noch mal mit dem Rollenspiel anfange, dafür fehlt mir einfach die Zeit. Aber ich wollte die Hintergründe des Computerspiels einfach besser verstehen. Wie ist das mit den Handlungen, wie wirken die Waffen, wie die Magie und die Matrix?

An einige Grundkonzepte erinnerte ich mich, aber andere waren neu oder werden nun anders behandelt. Ich kam erst auf die Idee das Grundregelwerk zu kaufen nachdem ich mit dem Spiel durch war, aber das macht nichts. Im Rückblick wird mir nun vieles klarer.

Am Grundaufbau des Buches hat sich bemerkenswerter Weise nicht viel geändert seit der zweiten Edition, nur ist alles natürlich in einem modernen Layout gestaltet. Wobei das Layout der zweiten Edition damals schon sehr klasse war.

Dieses Buch ist die deutsche Übersetzung des englischen Originals. Aber man merkt das gar nicht, es wirkt wie aus einem Guß.

Awesome, Chummer.

Neil Stephenson – Cryptonomicron

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16th October – 27th November 2014

I bought this book because I wanted something very long to read for my vacation where I could be sure not to finish it. Running out of something to read is my worst fear, and I had no possibility to carry more than one book.

The book has actually four different storylines, which at the end all come together.

First, there is Lawrence Waterhouse, a brilliant American mathematician who was responsible to create and break code systems during the Second World War. He is a real nerd, completely lost in code, borderline autistic. Neal greatly manages to describe how he sometimes just looses hours while thinking through a problem. He was friends with Alan Touring and Rudy von Hacklheber, in the same line of work for England and Germany respectively.

Waterhouse storyline is about the psychology of encryption. If you break the code system of the enemy, you act as if you haven’t so that the enemy does not know. For example, the Allies knew which attacks the Germans would launch, since they early on broke Enigma. But they did not always act and let some of the attacks pass, just to keep the secret that they have broken the encryption. Ultimately that leads to an endless cycle: Assume the enemy knows that you know…

Second, there is Bobby Shaftoe, an American marine during the same time. Bobby was stationed in the Pacific. After he went mad during one of his missions, he became the go-to candidate for all sorts of strange, unusual and suicidal missions. Bobby didn’t ask, he just acted, no matter what. His mission were an outcome of the encryption psychology. You often have to do something really odd or stupid to keep the enemy puzzled. Bobby carried out those missions.

Third, Goto Dengo, initially a Japanese soldier, very much in the same position as Bobby. However, Goto did not go mad and always made sure of his survival. He was responsible to bury the Japanese gold during the war.

Finally, Randy Waterhouse, a hacker in the late 90s and expert for cryptography. He build up a data haven in the Middle East implemented secure email, and developed a crypto currency.

The story which develops throughout the book is that Goto Dengo buried the Japanese gold in the Philippine jungle. He was supposed to be killed to keep the secret by burying him with the gold, but made sure he got out. Lawrence Waterhouse intercepted the transmission of the Japanese military about where the gold was buried, but could not decrypt it with his means during his time. He kept the punchcards. Years later, Randy comes across them and finally manages to decrypt them with modern means. But since today any message can be intercepted, he must somehow find a way to get to the gold without anyone noticing.

Cryptonomicron was written in 1999 and is strikingly modern and still very up-to-date. Although Randy still carries floppy discs (which is fine, that was common during the 90s), the cryptographic principles have not changed at all. In a way, Neal Stephenson predicted today’s complete surveillance, as well as bitcoin. Fascinating.

Neil Gaiman, Mike Carey, Glenn Fabry – Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere

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18th – 22nd November 2014

I recently listened to the BBC’s Audio Version of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and it got me hooked again in the story. I had read the book back in 2005 and really enjoyed it.

Having heard the audioplay and also seen the BBC TV series, I also wanted to read the Graphic Novel.

So here we go.

It is interesting to compare what each of the three tells and leaves out, and how they interpret the original source. I liked the graphic style of the comic, it somehow reminded me a bit of Sandman. In some instances, there was too much cut or the pace was too quick for my liking, but overall, a very nice read.