Overthinking It

Another post from my secret time as part of the ratings system. Much shorter this time:

July 19, 2015

There’s a testing thing… I’m trying to remember what it was. Something about the simple fact that you’re observing changes the outcome of the experiment. I’ll track that down here sometime.

That is precisely what has been crossing my mind every time I look at the TV now. I think about what I’m watching more than I ever did before. Will they note the fact that I turn the volume to “mute” every time a commercial comes on? Will they realize that 5 minute commercial break is the reason I turned that show off?

I actually turned the TV on, then off again, then on again debating this sort of stuff in my head. I’m clearly thinking things over far more than they want me to. The idea is they want me to just do what I did before without thinking about it. How can I do that? They’ve inserted a step that makes me think about what I’m doing.

We’ll see if that changes as I go forward.

Do not rocket while impaired…

Space TrippingSpace Tripping by Patrick Edwards
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three stars-ish.

IF you’re looking for distant planets, space battles, far ranging corporate plots and drunk aliens doing the equivalent of “hold my beer” then this book is for you. It was amusing and a very quick read. I think I actually knocked it out in a day.

The reason this suffers in my opinion is that I have other drunken adventures that I am much more partial to. Totally not a “fair” thing to this author, but it is how I feel.

If you like this book and you’re looking for something else, you will probably very much enjoy the works of the Drunken Comic Book Monkeys in Scary Tales of Scariness (Fortress Publishing).

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Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom for Sale—Sold!Magic Kingdom for Sale—Sold! by Terry Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I read this once a long time ago. I suspect it didn’t fit with the sort of fantasy I was expecting at the time so I didn’t particularly remember it, but I picked it up again since it was a book group choice.

This actually falls directly into the category of “matters when you read it”. The main character is NOT the typical fantasy hero. He’s already had a lot of life and success in his career. He’s middle aged, not the mystery secret sixteen year old prince who’s been in hiding all his life. At this time in my life I really appreciated the difference in character.

Yes, there are other fantasy tropes in there that were kind of expected. Yes, there are some small hints of anachronism since the book was written over 30 years ago. None of those things bothered me and I really enjoyed the story this time. This may very well move up to the top of the Terry Brooks list for me.

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Justice

Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch, #1)Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is one of the best science fiction works I’ve read in a very long time. I really enjoyed this book. I understand why it garnered the praise that it did.

Taking the point of view character away from being a human is never easy, but splitting that character apart into the many places an AI can inhabit would be particularly challenging and the author handles it wonderfully.

There is a lot of discussion worthy stuff in here. IF you’re a fan of science fiction this is very much worth the read.

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Let the Ratings Begin!

Last week I posted about the little secret I’ve been keeping for the past 2 years – being a ratings family for Nielsen. This is from installation day…

July 17, 2015

Installation day!

Mike (expected) and Courtney (new?) were very prompt. The appointment was set up for 10 am and that’s when they got here. No insignia on the car, no official uniform, just computers, equipment and lots of zip ties.

Both of the installation folks were very personable and couldn’t have been nicer. They worked diligently at getting everything connected and running properly. Sounds easy, but they’re monitoring everything connected to the TV. They were crazy detailed about it all. There’s an entire basket full of equipment tucked neatly behind my TV stand that’s connected to all the ins and outs of my smart TV. I’m still not convinced my TV is all that smart, but that’s what they call it. The level of detail they went to lends (at least to me) the genuine sense that this is a thorough and well thought out scientific basis for all their numbers. They sat with my remote and clicked one by one through every single channel I have listed to be certain the signal was connected. EVERY CHANNEL. All the way to channel 1648 or wherever we topped out at, testing the signals all the way.

There were smart and engaged representatives that weren’t allowed to tell me anything about their viewing habits at all. Seriously – nothing. I was trying to describe something to them druring the course of the conversation and said, “have you seen the new Avenger’s movie?” because I figured it would be an accessible place to start from. Mike’s response was, “Sorry, can’t talk to you about that. I can’t tell you if I’ve seen it or not.”

I was shocked. He went on to explain that they aren’t allowed to tell me anything at all about what teams they like or what they’ve watched for fear of influencing what I would watch. It’s a bit silly, I’ve already seen the movie and it’s not in the theater anymore. What difference could it possibly make at this point? But Ant Man is just coming out…

I was really into hearing about what they could talk about. Neilsen is a big company and they’re everywhere. They also monitor more than just TV channels. I believe they’ve scooped up arbitron for radio. They’ve got folks that monitor how you use your credit card. They’ve got folks that monitor what groceries you buy. They’ve even got a group (and I don’t know where or how big this group is) that monitors and verifies what you throw away vs. what you recycle.

I had a little trouble with that last bit. I wasn’t even certain I would be a good demographic – I don’t particularly care for or about TV and don’t watch the regular networks. Mike said, “all information is important to someone…” and proceeded to tell me he’d seen people that didn’t turn their TV on for a month at a time, but somebody wanted to know, when they *do* turn it on, why? What do they want to see?

The process of getting all the information hooked up and connected and tested and running right took significantly longer than I suspected it would. We were all in the living room for about 3 ½ hours. Right through lunch and on until they were certain I had a handle on it all – not that it’s hard. I’ve now got an extra remote that I have to hit my number and “OK” when I turn the TV on. As long as I don’t forget, I’m good.

So – what to watch first?

Fiction fan

I’ve written reviews of Linda Nagata’s work before over at MilSciFi.com. The Red series is not the only work by her that I’ve read. She is one of the writers whose work I look at and think, “Damn it, she’s good. It’s almost not fair…”

And then I want to go out and see what she’s done next.

This post allows her to tell you a little about her latest – and I’m really looking forward to checking out her “big idea”:

The Last Good Man