Spare Cycles turns eleven…

eleven

This lovingly crafted blog is celebrating its eleventh birthday. A beer (or eleven) is cooling in the fridge to toast the reaching of a milestone. Happy birthday!

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns ten…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns nine…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns eight…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns seven…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns six…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns five…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns four…

• Spare Cycles: Spare Cycles turns three…

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Film review: Avengers – Infinity War

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Wow.

Now that was off the scale…

Where do they go from here?

Also, as ever, stick around to the end of the credits.

• Spare Cycles: Marvel Cinematic Universe: movie reviews Assembled

• Empire: Avengers: Infinity War Review

Film review: Solo – A Star Wars Story

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I really enjoyed Rogue One, the last Star Wars Story, and this is great too.

Roll on the next one…

• Spare Cycles: Film: Star Wars: The Last Jedi

• Spare Cycles: Film: Rogue One – A Star Wars Story

• Spare Cycles: Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens

• Spare Cycles: Happy Birthday to… The Empire Strikes Back

• Spare Cycles: Review: Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (Special Edition) soundtrack

IBM 5 in 5 predictions (2018): blockchain, cryptography, AI and quantum computing

The “5 in 5” is IBM’s annual prediction of five things that will change our lives in the next five years.

If these are correct, the future will be here sooner than you might think…

• IBM: 5 in 5 – Five innovations that will help change our lives within five years

• IBM: Changing the Way the World Works: IBM Research’s “5 in 5”

Film review: The Right Stuff

This is the film version of Tom Wolfe’s brilliant book of the same name that I read a while back.  For a film that is now over 30 years old it looks remarkably good.

I really like how it is true in many ways to the book but also has it’s own personality. This is due, in part, to a brilliant (young!) cast and a sometimes morbid sense of humour. I think the film is actually better than the book at keeping the stories of the prospective astronauts (John Glenn et al) and the test pilots (Chuck Yeager) in parallel.

The film clocks in at over 3 hours but for me it flew by (…) and I enjoyed every minute.

• Spare Cycles:  Mini review: “The Right Stuff” by Tom Wolfe

• The Guardian:  Tom Wolfe obituary

• The Guardian:  Sam Shepard obituary

• BBC Radio 4: The Infinite Monkey Cage (BBC Radio 4) – Astronaut Special

Mini review: “One Deadly Summer” by Sebastien Japrisot

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This is a book that I first read as part of my French classes at school  – it is a translation of Japrisot’s “L’été meurtrier” – and I’d wanted to read it again for a while, so I took it on holiday last summer to Spain where some days it was blisteringly hot. Perfect reading conditions for this book.

A young woman is out to avenge a vicious attack on her mother many years ago.  The impact on all those pulled into her path is life-changing.

The story is told from the differing vantage points of some of the main characters and you are given a lot of information – especially dates – which allows you to build up a fuller picture of what is going on.  Towards the end of the book you need to keep reading as you know there is very little time left to bring the story to a close.  You really do have to read to the very last word to know how things come together.  It is very well done, leaving you to reflect on all that you have learnt so far.  I was left with a sense of horror at the end.

A little word of warning: the writing style might not be to everyone’s taste as this is a translation of a 1970’s French book.  As with Japrisot’s earlier book “Trap for Cinderella” the translation leaves something to be desired.  Some phrases are translated too literally, but to be fair, the author does play about with the language of the young woman especially when she refers to herself in the third person and exaggerates periods of time that have passed.  Still, don’t let this put you off –  it reflects aspects of the character’s personality and you get used to it.

If you’re a fan of crime books and fancy a break from all the Scandinavian noir I highly recommend this Gallic story of deception, consequences and revenge served cold.

 

 

 

Mini review: “Troublemakers: How a Generation of Silicon Valley Upstarts Invented The Future” by Leslie Berlin

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This unconventional, informative and entertaining book looks at the history of Silicon Valley between 1969 and 1984 by interweaving the personal stories of seven people who are not necessarily widely known.

I was drawn to the book by the fact that Bob Taylor featured, who I knew played an important role at Xerox PARC and at the beginnings of the ARPANET, which would go on to form the basis of the internet. I had recently read about him in an article in Rolling Stone magazine from 1972 and wanted to find out more. Mike Markkula was also a name that rang a bell but I did not know about his story. It was really interesting to find out the essential role he played in the early days of Apple Computer – I follow Apple news closely so I was surprised how little I knew about him.

It was also good to have a couple of women amongst the men – this book takes a good look at their particular battles against the attitudes of the time. Having said that, it is not the only reason they have been included. All the stories – regardless of gender – highlight the skills, hard work and dedication needed to succeed, and also how they dealt with setback or failure.

What was occurring in Silicon Valley at that time really was remarkable, even if it did not always seem that way to the people there at the time, and even if the magic of that moment was not to last.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Silicon Valley, especially if they work in the field of IT – a bit of insight into how we got to where we are today would be valuable, and this is an easy, likeable read.

Also:

• Spare Cycles: Article: “The Tinkerings of Robert Noyce” by Tom Wolfe (an excellent article if you want to go back to the very earliest days of the Valley, from the 1950’s to the 1970’s).