Sunday, December 30, 2007

Looking Glass Reviewed in the Denver Post

Looking Glass got reviewed in the Denver Post today. This was certainly a nice surprise. :)


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Season's Greetings, and more bits of the future

Season's Greetings to all.

Just a quick post, kind of a loose update to the long discussion about energy and the lack thereof previously discussed here.

Cartridge nuclear reactors
"Home" nuclear reactors

It doesn't take too much imagination to put a reactor between these two sizes in a high speed rail locomotive. Which is funny, because when I came up with the T1s, my nonstop nuclear trains, it was the early 1990s, and the smallest nuclear reactors I knew about were in submarines. It just seemed like the logical extension.

In the battery world:
ten times the power and 5 minute recharges. Assuming, of course, that these two developments can coexist in the same battery. This is actually beyond I was picturing (though I'd not imagined the technology this explicitly) for the electric cars in Looking Glass. I assumed that electric cars would have the kind of limited ranges we see today, with the fast charging, thus making them primarily useful only for city driving. As an aside, electric cars came into the LookingGlass world much later than the trains. When I originally thought of the world back in the early '90s, people in cities used mass transportation and those in rural areas rode horses.

So how does all this fit in? Well, for one thing, I don't see anyone seriously selling individuals their own nuclear reactors for home use any time soon. I do think we'll see a transition to local nuclear power, instead of regional nuclear power. Big cities could get a cartridge nuke instead of buying power from the grid at all, although they'd probably stay connected so they could *sell* power. Having a backup is nice too.

The battery power is a surprise, frankly. Assuming both advances are marketable and compatible with each other, I think it could push decentralization of electrical power much further. (I didn't invent this idea - Heinlein posited it with his ShipStones in his book Friday.) If electrical power storage hits roughly the energy density and cost of petroleum fuels, it's reasonable to picture houses with a large battery array that are charged from a truck, much as propane and fuel oil are delivered today.

Interesting stuff.

Anyway. I hope this snowy Christmas day finds you all well.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Signed Copies

As you might expect, I shop at book stores. A lot. And as I mentioned earlier, my books have started showing up at them. When I find them, I usually offer to sign them, and thus far, I haven't had any bookstores say no (or even ask to see my ID, oddly enough. One might think...) So now, if you live in the Denver Metro Area or Colorado Springs, I have recently signed copies of Looking Glass at the following bookstores:

Barnes & Noble (Colorado Springs, CItadel Dr.)
Barnes & Noble (Lonetree)
Barnes & Noble (Littleton, Wadsworth)
The Tattered Cover (Highlands Ranch)
The Tattered Cover (Lodo)

There may still be signed copies at:

The Tattered Cover (Colfax)
Who Else! Books (Denver Book Mall)

[edit:] You can also get any copy signed by mailing it, along with a self addressed and stamped envelope to:

James R. Strickland
PO Box 631151
Littleton, CO., 80163-1151

Please include who you'd like the book signed to.

(Yeah, okay, it hasn't actually been an issue, but a guy can dream, right? :)

Season's Greetings to all, and a happy, healthy, and tranquil new year.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Democratization of Technology

On my livejournal some time ago, I wrote an article called Meta-Resources and the Democratization of Technology. I will probably crosspost that article here at some point, particularly with some of the off-line comments I got to it, but I was reminded of the matter by this article about a 3d printer. The article where this was brought to my attention correctly pointed out that the first laserprinters cost more than this. (I wish I could *find* the article again.) Anyway. Here it is. For $5000, you can pre-order the ability to print plastic gadgets straight out of your computer.


[edit: Ah. The desktop factory was brought to my attention on the Front Range Robotics Mailing List. ]

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

More site changes

If you're reading this page from the "News+Views" link on my website, you already know what's new. First, the link name changed to reflect the content. Second, thanks to Scot Hacker, the hosting service admin, and the fine folks who bring you Magpie RSS, I can now feed rss feeds onto my own pages.

It's not perfect yet. I'm aware that Magpie is barfing on some characters (the stray ? marks in things are this). I also definitely want to be able to see how many comments I've gotten on a page, and I know the data is in the feed, though at present, Magpie doesn't seem to make it available.

But it works, and it gives me more control, so here it is.

And as long as it works, why not add a second one? So I did. On the right hand column of the news+views page (you already know this if you're looking at it) I've added the feed from my goodreads bookshelf. Not all the books there have reviews yet (I am supposed to be working on Irreconcilable Differences, not writing reviews or coding), but some do, and clicking on the links *should* take you right there.

As always, do please contact me if things are broken.



(edit: The character problems seem to be fixed. I had to tell magpie to output in utf-8 instead of whatever its default is. define("MAGPIE_OUTPUT_ENCODING","UTF-8") does the trick. Still poking at the comments number problem.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

The hardest writing assignment ever.

For reasons which will become obvious, it took me over a month to write this. To reach the point where I could write it. To wade through four decades of memory and put down the facts, catch a little of the man's life, to reach some kind of understanding of who he was, now that this is a static target, and condense all of that down into the smallest space possible, as I was being charged by the column inch. It appeared in the Sheridan Press on Nov. 29, 2007.

Robert Louis Strickland, 79, died October 8, 2007, at Westview Healthcare Center, of a stroke. His remains were donated to science. Strickland was a local writer, best known for his many articles and editorials in local newspapers, and for his series, “How to Enjoy Yourself at a Mental Hospital.” He was preceded in death by a daughter, Kay Olsen, and is survived by daughters Carolyn Manning and Joy Jennerette, and by a son, James, five grand children, many friends, and his cat, Dusty. Memorials may be made to the Brain Injury Association of America (, or to the Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter ( The family wishes to thank the staff at Westview and the V.A. hospital for their care of Mr. Strickland, and their kindness.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Major site recombobulation

Ideally, nobody will even notice the changes I've made to the site. They're supposed to be completely invisible. But I'm changing things around to use much more PHP to make maintaining the thing easier. (Yes, I did have to edit the nav bar in every single page separately when I made changes to it, why?)

More changes coming, once I make sure what I've done hasn't broken anything.


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