Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • On Monday I returned the last third-pass page proofs (of a very gnarly part of the book, the partial instruction reference) and if the publisher’s schedule is to be believed, Assembly Language Step By Step, Third Edition goes on press tomorrow. Real books should be out of the bindery and in the warehouse by September 22.
  • We came within a few hours of having a sunspot-free calendar month in August, but then very late Monday night, a barely visible sunspeck showed up, ruined the run, and then immediately started to vanish. The sunspot minimum appears to be heading for a double bottom, and there are people at NASA suggesting that deeper mechanisms are changing within the sun, and we may be a long time before seeing anything like a proper sunspot peak. So much for DXCC on 10M.
  • Cory Doctorow speaks up on cloud computing, the goal of which, he says, is to allow companies to make money in a mature computing market by charging you month by month for computional facilities that you already have at home. So tell me: How many people actually collaborate in the Cloud, as a percentage of people who actually compute? I think it’s in low single digits–which suggests that the Cloud as an idea is something like 95% scam.
  • If you’re following Michael Arrington’s CrunchPad project, the CrunchPadFans blog is worth a visit every week or so. It’s a little sparse, but there hasn’t been much news generally on the long-awaited gadget in recent weeks. I intuit that it would make a jack-fine ebook reader, if software to handle the major formats is included or installable.
  • And speaking of ebook formats, Sony has announced that it will be supporting the EPUB format in its new reader products, days after Google’s announcement that it will be doing the same within its Google Books system. EPUB is a reflowable open standard not controlled by any particular firm, and if I had to finger a winner in the ebook standards wars (at least for primarily textual works) this would be it.
  • Further relevant to ebooks is a reader app I’ve been fooling with on Ubuntu: Okular, which is nominally a PDF viewer but can open and display lots of other formats, including DjVu, CHM help files, Epub, Plucker, MobiPocket, and a few others. Although it’s a KDE 4 app, I’ve had no difficulty making Okular run under GNOME. Okular on a suitable handheld Linux-enabled device could make a helluvan ebook reader.
  • And Okular led me to the KDE on Windows project, which aims to create native-code ports of KDE apps to Windows, with an installer to make it easy for non-techies. It’s early and the product doesn’t look as easy as it should be, but then again…it’s early.
  • I’ve discovered a much higher-resolution photo of the old Turtle Wax building at the Ashland/Ogden/Madison intersection in Chicago here. We would pass that building on the way to my grandfather’s house Back of the Yards back in the late 1950s, and my mother would always point out the 25-foot tall turtle on the top of it. Cool building, too, turtle or not. Gone now, alas–the turtle and the building both.


  1. Alex Dillard says:

    Your Assembly Language Step By Step, Second Edition web page says that you signed a number of the copies which were sold. Is there a plan to do the same thing with the third edition?

    1. The gotcha is that back then, my company had a side-business selling computer books, including my own. I would sign all the books that I wrote before they went into the warehouse, and (as I recall) we sold hundreds of them. Now I’m all by myself, and not selling books, so although I’m always willing to sign books, the logistics are a lot trickier. If you’re ever in Colorado Springs, do bring it along.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *