Tuesday, 2014-07-15

The Rhesus Chart by Charles Stross

The latest Laundry novel takes on vampires! Stross does a good job integrating the known lore about his universe - magic as a side-effect of applied mathematics - and his explanation about the origins of his vampiric cell makes internal sense.

However, if there’s one criticism that can be levelled at Stross is that his plotting could be better. This novel deal with double-cross upon double-cross and it gets confusing about who’s crossing who. To deal with this, jarring interludes of exposition are introduced that try to explain what’s happening.

Monday, 2014-06-30

June

Michel

Tour Eiffel

Sjöstaden

Valhallavägen

Djurgården

Hanny & Patrik

Solbryggan

Saturday, 2014-05-31

May

A certain theme this month…

Kungsgatan

Djurgårdskanalen

Sicklasjön

Hammarby kaj

Hammarby kaj

Île Saint-Louis

Saturday, 2014-05-10

Two novels by Paul McAuley

  • 400 Hundred Billion Stars
  • Eternal Light

These are McAuley’s debut novels, and while they’re set in the same universe, they’re very different. 400 Hundred Billion Stars is basically an alien-contact novel. Functionally it’s a space opera, although thankfully not of the Galactic Imperium style. The main character is also a telepath, and although that’s handwaved as a form of quantum tunneling it’s still a rather 70s detail.

The second crams too much into one novel - Gibsonesque McGuffin chasing, virtual reality, intra-galactic wormholes, civil war IN SPACE, religious fanatic, alien macrostructures. The sensawunda is relegated to background noise.

However I’m a big fan of McAuley and I’m glad I’ve read these. They’re not bad books, just that he’s written better since.

Saturday, 2014-05-03

April reads

Bit late, I read the following books in April:

  • Sandman Slim and Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey
  • Crack’d Pot Trail by Stephen Erikson

Wednesday, 2014-04-30

April

Garnisonen

Hasse

Kungsträdgården

Hammarby sjöstad

Tuesday, 2014-04-22

Confluence by Paul McAuley

A trilogy, comprising of the novels Child of the River, Ancient of Days, and Shrine of Stars.

It’s one of McAuley’s first novels and even if it’s cleaned up in this re-release I still think it’s a very good effort. The atmospherics of this far-future world are well-rendered. It reminds me of Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, in a good way. Recommended.

Friday, 2014-04-04

Adventures in tiny Nikonland - a review of sorts of the Nikon V1

Hammarby sjö

So… in 2011 Nikon mystified everyone with the introduction of their mirrorless system, called “Nikon 1”, featuring a relatively tiny 1” (2.7x crop) sensor. Nikon was very proud of this sensor, because it had fast AF and a bunch of other things no-one really cares about; everyone wanted a 1.5x crop sensor or bigger that they could mount their big lenses on. Oh, and Nikon decided that this little sensor was worth a lot of money so their pricing was insanely high. The Nikon V1 cost ~$900 at introduction, with the kit 10-30mm lens.

Well, you don’t mess with Mother Market, and a few years later I could score a nice used V1 kit for 170 EUR. So, how does this little runt compare with my other used old camera, the Nikon D700 DSLR?

Nackanäs

This is only my superficial notes. If you want a rant-y real review of the Nikon V1, check out Thom Hogan’s one here. Thom also publishes an ebook that covers the first generation Nikon 1 cameras - Complete Guide to the Nikon 1. I’ve purchased it and can recommend it. That work also tells some of the history of the Nikon 1’s design. Basically, Nikon skated in the opposite direction of the camera market puck…

Garnisonen

What I like

  • It’s small and light. It fits (with some effort) into my coat pocket, and doesn’t weigh down my bag. This is good because the D700 is way too big for everyday carry, at least where I am right now in life.
  • The image quality seems ok to me. The short focal length of the kit lens doesn’t really bother me, as much of my so-called “work” is “urban landscape” and I’m not that interested in thin depth-of-field. If this is important to you, go ahead and get a Sony A7.
  • It’s an all-dancing, all-singing techno-wunder camera. It has stuff like VR in the lens that helps with slow shutter speeds, Lightroom does auto-correct of distorsion, there’s a fancy EVF in it, it takes movies… considering my D700 is treated as a digital FM2n, this is a big deal for this cheap-ass Luddite.
  • It doesn’t break the bank. I paid as much for this camera as for a crappy little P&S my kid got for Christmas. The lenses available for it aren’t that expensive either (I’m looking at getting the 30-110mm tele-slowzoom, and maybe the 18.5mm normal)
  • Image quality is “good enough”. If I ever feel the need to create a masterpiece fit for a giant printout with oodles of dynamic range, I’ll bust out the D700 and tripod. But for cat pics on the internet the V1 suffices.
  • It has an EVF - this was a dealbreaker for me when it comes to compact/mirrorless cameras. While I appreciate the read LCD in some situations, I really prefer holding a camera up to my eyes and squinting at the scene through a tiny hole.

Sickla udde

What I don’t like

  • the controls are retarded. See Thom’s review for more details. The “mode” dial in particular is a pain, as it often slips from the only good position into stupid stuff like “Motion Snapshot”.
  • There’s no built-in flash, something that can be forgiven due to the size of the body. But the accessory slot is not compatible with any SLR flash, and there’s no adapter available.
  • Battery life could be better, but that may be due to the battery I have being used.

Conclusion

The digital compact camera is an endangered species - cellphones are eating their lunch, and the traditional camera manufacturers don’t have a good answer to them right now. The Nikon 1 series was designed for a world where there would be a niche between compact cameras at the low end and DSLRs at the high end. It tries to combine the portability of a compact with the fast AF of a DSLR, adding exchangeable lenses and balancing the act with a small but not tiny sensor.

Now that niche is no more, and the Nikon 1 is floundering in a sea of mirrorless cameras, many more capable and cheaper than it is. But if you can find one for a decent price, I can recommend it. The pros outweighs the cons.

Monday, 2014-03-31

March

L'Heure Bleue

Glashus Ett

March snow

Kyrkviken

Thursday, 2014-03-13

Monument to Descartes

Monument to Descartes / Cartesiusmonumentet

René Descartes famously died 1650 in Sweden, either from old age and disease, or from being overworked trying to tutor Sweden’s Queen Christina. As a Roman Catholic, he was buried among unbaptized infants in what is now the cemetery of Adolf Fredrik’s church. In 1666 his remains were moved to France.

In the 1770s, Gustav III of Sweden wished to honour the philosopher with a monument in the newly built church. The sculptor Johan Tobias Sergel received the commission, and cleverly incorporated a separate commission from the dowager queen Lovisa Ulrika into the design. This design, “Truth freed from its Shroud of Lies” was meant to honour an executed nobleman who had plotted to increase the power of the royal house.

The sculpture, rendered in lead, hangs on a pillar to the right of the altar in the church. The cherub unveiling the globe of Truth bears the likeness of Gustav III, the “Enlightenment King”.

In 2006 a friend of mine from my student days, David Sjögren, died after falling through the ice on a long-distance ice skating trek. His memorial service was held in Adolf Fredrik to accomodate all those wishing to pay their respects.

David was of French and Austrian extraction and the service was a Catholic one, in French. I’ve only lately noticed the connection.

Sources