Apr 282014

Daniel Suarez.
Google Books

I enjoyed the previous 3 books from Daniel Suarez, Daemon, Freedom(TM), and Kill Decision, so I was happy when I heard Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson discussing his newest book on their Security Now podcast a few weeks ago. I watched the library to get the ebook (or printed copy) as soon as possible and was able to get it last week.

If you enjoy techno-thrillers, then this is another good book. The plot seems so unfathomable, yet at the same time plausible. Didn’t want to put the book down till I finished it.

Book Info

by Daniel Suarez
Publisher: Dutton Adult
Published: 01/20/2014
ISBN-10: 0525953183
ISBN-13: 978-0525953180
Started: 04/22/2014
Finished: 04/28/2014
Source: Library
Format: e-book

Publisher Synopsis

What if our civilization is more advanced than we know?

The New York Times bestselling author of Daemon –“the cyberthriller against which all others will be measured” -Publishers Weekly) –imagines a world in which decades of technological advances have been suppressed in an effort to prevent disruptive change.

Are smart phones really humanity’s most significant innovation since the moon landings? Or can something else explain why the bold visions of the 20th century–fusion power, genetic enhancements, artificial intelligence, cures for common disease, extended human life, and a host of other world-changing advances–have remained beyond our grasp? Why has the high-tech future that seemed imminent in the 1960’s failed to arrive?

Perhaps it did arrive…but only for a select few.

Particle physicist Jon Grady is ecstatic when his team achieves what they’ve been working toward for years: a device that can reflect gravity. Their research will revolutionize the field of physics–the crowning achievement of a career. Grady expects widespread acclaim for his entire team. The Nobel. Instead, his lab is locked down by a shadowy organization whose mission is to prevent at all costs the social upheaval sudden technological advances bring. This Bureau of Technology Control uses the advanced technologies they have harvested over the decades to fulfill their mission.

They are living in our future.

Presented with the opportunity to join the BTC and improve his own technology in secret, Grady balks, and is instead thrown into a nightmarish high-tech prison built to hold rebellious geniuses like himself. With so many great intellects confined together, can Grady and his fellow prisoners conceive of a way to usher humanity out of its artificial dark age?

And when they do, is it possible to defeat an enemy that wields a technological advantage half a century in the making?

Author Info
DANIEL SUAREZ is the author of the New York Times bestseller Daemon, Freedom™, Kill Decision, and Influx. A former systems consultant to Fortune 1000 companies, he has designed and developed software for the defense, finance, and entertainment industries. With a lifelong interest in both IT systems and creative writing, his high-tech and Sci-Fi thrillers focus on technology-driven change. Suarez is a past speaker at TED Global, MIT Media Lab, NASA Ames, the Long Now Foundation, and the headquarters of Google, Microsoft, and Amazon -- among many others. Self-taught in software development, he is a graduate from University of Delaware with a BA in English Literature. An avid PC and console gamer, his own world-building skills were bolstered through years as a pen & paper role-playing game moderator. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Apr 252014

Anki Spanish Stats

    Current Stats:
  • Vocabulary
    • Active Cards: 2174
    • Reviews Pending: 563 – working this down
    • New Cards Waiting: 685
    • Total Cards: 9946
  • Conjugations
    • Active Cards: 434
    • Reviews Pending: 5
    • New Cards Waiting: 106 – just added imperfect indicative
    • Total Cards: 2088
  • Grammar
    • Active Cards: 214
    • Reviews Pending: 13
    • New Cards Waiting: 6
    • Total Cards: 234
  • Total
    • Active Cards: 2822
    • Reviews Pending: 581 – made some nice progress
    • New Cards Waiting: 797
    • Total Cards: 12268


Apr 242014

Cabo Evening at Sando Finisterra

Enjoying an evening of entertainment under the stars — at Sandos Finisterra Los Cabos.

We spent a number of evenings on the 7th floor of the Sandos enjoying their entertainment and gazing out over the harbor.

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Apr 172014

Anki-Spanish Progress

    Current Stats:
    • Vocabulary
    • Active Cards: 2103
    • Reviews Pending: 748 (too high – see note below)
    • New Cards Waiting: 694
    • Total Cards: 9943
    • Conjugations
    • Active Cards: 255
    • Reviews Pending: 96
    • New Cards Waiting: 25
    • Total Cards: 2091
    • Grammar
    • Active Cards: 161
    • Reviews Pending: 1
    • New Cards Waiting: 0 (need to activate some of my old cards)
    • Total Cards: 221
    • Total
    • Active Cards: 2544
    • Reviews Pending: 845
    • New Cards Waiting: 719
    • Total Cards: 12255

I have been working on my Spanish again for just over 2 months now. Wishing I had documented some of my progress along the way and changes I have made in my study habits. Better late than never!

My Anki Spanish deck is divided into 3 groups: Vocabulary, Conjugations, and Grammar. The vocabulary deck was created from an Anki deck I found that had the 5000 most frequent Spanish words. I first activated the top 500, and after working through those, I activated the next 500. I will keep adding the subsequent groups of 500 as I master the active cards. Right now I have too many cards pending for immediate review. I had Anki set up to give me 20 new cards a day and did not realize I was not clearing my older cards as worked on learning new cards. The new cards are visible as the blue portion of each days progress bar.

The Conjugation group is also from an Anki deck I found online. This deck allows me to learn regular and irregular verbs in all the tenses. I currently have only activated the Present Indicative, Preterit, Gerunds, and Participles. I will add the Imperfect once these are mastered, then another tense.

The Grammar group are cards I have developed myself as I read my Grammar book. This group has the least number of cards since I have to create them myself. I just make questions based on the text of the book.

Mar 302014

People Led Into Captivity

A verse from this last Sunday’s sermon caught my attention:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.
2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV

When I think of Christ’s triumphal processions, I don’t imagine myself, as a Christian believer, in among the captives; in chains and defeated. No, I want to be among the victors, one of those being cheered and praised. The apostle Paul, though, says Christians are the captives. Maybe he means our past lives? Maybe once we are saved we get to move to the front of the line?

Sorry. Notice the word ‘leads’ is present tense. Not ‘he led us’ but ‘he leads us.’ Now throw the word ‘always’ in the mix and we see this is not talking about some past condition but rather that he is speaking of his own position at the time as well as our current status.

Should this discourage us? Doesn’t the gospel promise us health and wealth? No, it doesn’t. The only people who believe that the Bible promises a carefree life have not read their Bibles or at least have chosen to ignore large portions of it.

As a side note, the verse continues with a discussion of our aroma. Our aroma as captives. It would be interesting to see what some commentators make of this portion of the passage. It brings back memories of driving into my wife’s hometown of Lewiston, Idaho and smelling the paper mill. I would make derogatory comments about what it smelled like but my father-in-law would retort that it “smells like a paycheck.” And so, our ‘aroma’ as Christ’s captives smells like death to the dead but to those who are alive in Christ it is the smell of life itself.

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Mar 292014
Level 1 Spanish Readers

Level 1 Spanish Readers

As part of my Spanish 2.0 learning program, I am immersing myself in Spanish, yet at a comprehensible level. To do this I have found these ‘graded’ readers that limit the Spanish vocabulary to fewer than 400 high-frequency words plus some cognates that are easy to guess since they are so similar to English.

I read through all 4 books and then read them again, picking up more the second time. I am trying to follow the Extensive Reading model, not attempting to understand every single word but getting a feel for the story and the language by immersing oneself.

What do you do when you encounter an unfamiliar word? I am following Stephen Krashen’s Word Attack Strategies as summarized on the bookmarks provided by Bryce Hedstrom:

  1. Skip it. Just keep on reading if the word does not seem too important to understand what is going on in the story. Stopping just breaks the flow of the story.
  2. Guess. Check to see if your guess fits with the meaning of the sentence and the paragraph and keep on reading.
  3. Guess again. Take another guess if your first one doesn’t seem quite right and keep on reading.
  4. Look it up. If the word keeps on appearing in the story, or if it seems like an important one to understand, go ahead and look it up or ask somebody what it means. But don’t get in the habit of doing this too often because it will slow you down and break your concentration

It is difficult to just ignore a word that is not understood but usually the story still makes sense and if it does keep popping up, rule 4 allows you to look it up. This is also why graded readers, designed for second-language learners are important. Books designed for kids, who already know the spoken language are not ideal for this method. Kids are expected to know a the definition of a word once they decode it.

I have now started on the four Level 2 books in this series and once I have gone through those twice I will probably return to these to see how much my Spanish has improved.

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