arkadi cloud

tech, teaching, and books

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is another intense, heart-wrenching historical fiction book a war in Africa. I seem to be reading a lot of these books lately. I guess I just need a good cry. Half of a Yellow Sun is about before and during the 1967-1970 Biafra-Nigerian Civil war. It's one of those wars we have never heard about in the Western world because as it's mentioned in the book, 100 black men dying are not as important as 1 one white man.

Read more...

Tehanu by Ursula K. Le Guin

(Earthsea Cycle #4)

Seems I'm on an Earthsea kick at the moment eh? This is the 4th Earthsea novel and the 3rd one I've read back to back. I just started reading Tales from Earthsea (Earthsea #5) too. I will finish this whole series by the end of the month.

I can see why people say Earthsea #1-3 are sort of a mini-trilogy. The 1st book is learning about origin of Sparrowhawk/Hawk/Ged and how he gets his power. The 2nd book is about Tenar and her upbringing in the temple complex, and her eventual 'meet up' with Hawk. The 3rd book is about Tenar and Hawk getting together and the backstory of a new person, Therru, a girl that Tenar has adopted. Therru, her True Name being Tehanu of course, shows promise in Magic. The 3rd book ends just as it is revealed the true nature of Therru.

Read more...

The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin

(Earthsea Cycle #3)

“I would not ask a sick man to run a race,” said Sparrowhawk, “nor lay a stone on an overburdened back.” It was not clear whether he spoke of himself or of the world at large. Always his answers were grudging, hard to understand. There, thought Arren, lay the very heart of wizardry: to hint at mighty meanings while saying nothing at all, and to make doing nothing at all seem the very crown of wisdom.”

The Farthest Shore is the story of Ged, aka Sparrowhawk, and his quest to help rid the world of a new blight, the death of magic. He is aided by Prince Arren. The must travel to the ends of the Earth, deal with dragons, and find the source of the sickness. I've heard that this book is the end of Ged being the focus of the Earthsea books. This is great because he's a rather dull character most of the time.

Read more...

The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

(Earthsea Cycle #2)

I have a bit of a disdain for sequels and book series so I was neglecting reading Earthsea Cycle #2 for quite some time. I really enjoyed The Wizard of Earthsea. It was fantasy with wizards and dragons but with a story about a boy trying to make his way in the world. I really enjoyed it as a character based story, set in a world of magic.

The Tombs of Atuan continues in its focus on characters but this time we are with a girl Tenar. She ends up serving as the One Priestess at a temple complex. She has her duties there, and power over the others there but no freedom. Her life changes when she meets a foreigner from outside the temple. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil this book.

This is a sequel to Earthsea Cycle #1 but it has different characters, so it feels fresh. It expands the Earthsea world and shows us the perspective of a woman in the religious system. I really enjoyed this book. I shall be quick to pickup Earthsea Cycle #3.

PS The books are short, but incredible, so the are a great way catch up on your reading goal if you have fallen behind as I have. I have been reading many very long books this year so this was a refreshing change of pace for me.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #33 in My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Earthsea #BookReview #books #fantasy #LeGuin

Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid

Quaint little coming of age story of a girl in Antigua. There isn't too much to say about this story. It's not that gripping actually. It ain't boring either, but just not very exciting. I'm not sure why I bought it from the used book store. I read it because I ran out of books to read at my school and found this on my shelf.

Rating: ★★ Book #32 in My 2019 Reading Challenge

#BookReview #books

A guide for installation on a regular computer to supplement the official installation guide. I've installed #YunoHost a few times on different machines so just thought I'd make a checklist of things you should consider, or decide upon before you go down the road of #SelfHosting.

Before Installing...

Installing...

  • Domain name: You need to choose a dynamic domain name for your server: yourname.nohost.me yourname.noho.st, yourname.ynh.fr More info...
  • Hard Disk Setup: – Encrypted LVM? I would say no because you lose auto-reboot functionality on power failure. What partitions do you want to setup? Default is one big partition.

After Installing...

#SelfHosting #Yunohost #tech

Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks

(Culture Series #3)

What a book! Be warned though, if you dislike non-linear books, run away very quickly and don't look back. Otherwise, keep reading about one of the most intricate, and satisfying Culture books I have read thus far.

The Culture Series is set in the future where there is a super huge civilization called The Culture that has eliminated money, have super smart AI (Minds) controlling big ships and most of the large decisions in their society. Humans are free to relax and pursue their interests. The series has 10 books in it. They are all in the same universe but do not need to be read in order. I read The Player of Games (#2) first, then read Consider Phlebas (#1), and then finally Use of Weapons.

Of course, this 'perfect' society Culture doesn't get it's hands dirty that often but they do work behind the scenes trying to bring their values to other planets and clusters. This book is about one of the agents they've employed from outside their society to be their agent of change, Cheradenine Zakalwe (Don't you love the names in the Culture universe?).

The novel has two narrative streams, one moving forward in the present, and one moving backwards towards a major event in Zakalwe's life. This can get confusing at time but it does come together when you finish the book. This book rewards the patient, careful reader. This is not a beach read! This is a book you curl up with on the couch in silence as you digest this complex book.

Have you read any any of The Culture series? I would suggest you do, but this might be a difficult entry into the world. I would suggest reading The Player of Games or Consider Phlebas first.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #31 in My 2019 Reading Challenge

#Books #BookReview #TheCulture #scifi

Worlds Seen in Passing: Ten Years of Tor.com Short Fiction

I knew Tor.com from the Murderbot stories and reading their blog occasionally. The only authors I knew before reading this anthology were Ken Liu, the author of a short story that the movie Arrivial is based, and Yoon Ha Lee, the author of Ninefox Gambit. I count this as a positive thing. I was exposed to 38 more authors I would've never found before picking up this book.

I am really into sci-fi but haven't read many fantasy books. It was good to read some amazing fantasy stories. There is no theme to this whole anthology but just good quality stories.

At the end of each story there is a few sentence bio about the author that highlights some of the awards they've gotten, and their most popular books they've written. I plan to go back to the end of each short story and seek out more books by the authors in this anthology. I especially will seek out books by the fantasy authors. I've been reading a lot of sci-fi lately but was really taken in by some of the great fantasy stories in here.

Don't be fooled by the term 'short fiction' in the title of this book, some of these stories are like little novellas. They suck you deep into a world and when you finish reading it feels like you've just come up from reading a 500 page novel. It's amazing how some authors can use so few words create fantastic worlds.

Sci-fi and fantasy seem like they are solid, easy to understand genres but I found myself wondering what do these genre's even mean. With some of these stories, I would be hard pressed to put them neatly into one of these genres.

If you're looking to be immersed in some exciting new worlds, pick up this very long book by Tor.com.

Rating: ★★★★★ Book #30 in My 2019 Reading Challenge

#BookReview #books

You may have heard of the projects, Yunohost and Freedombox. They both aim to make it easier for regular humans to self-host services on their own computers or SBC (Single Board Computers) for themselves, their friends or family.

I was motivated to write this post because of all the reviews of Freedombox I've seen on the web lately. I haven't seen even one review of Yunohost out there, and I think that's tragic because it is a great self-hosting alternative as well.

Why self-host?

That's a big question and outside the scope of this comparison of Yunohost and Freedombox, but remember “There is no cloud, only someone else's computer.”

If you truly want to take control of your own data and minimize being tracked by large corporations (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft), then self-hosting might be something you might want to consider.

My Experience and Current Setup with Yunohost & Freedombox

I've been running Yunohost for about 6 months in my home. I am running it on regular desktop computer.

Services/Apps I use on my Yunohost: ad blocking (Pi-Hole), storing files and syncing them to my computers (Nextcloud), calendar & contacts (Nextcloud), blogging (WriteFreely), downloading Bittorrent files (Transmission), RSS reader (TinyTiny RSS Reader), and search engine (Searx). I've tried some other apps on Yunohost but these are the ones I use on a daily basis. I have gone through the installation more than once because of a lost password (doh!), and trying it out on other computers.

Read more...

A story about the end of the world with zombies, but not like your typical one. Humanity is all but gone, but there are some zombies that show signs of humanity. Some zombies have retained their ability to think and 'feel'. Scientists and teachers are studying them to see if a cure can be made. Eventually they are on the run together and have to deal with complicated feelings towards the zombies with them. Are they human? Do we treat them as such?

If this sounds far heavier than it is, don't worry it isn't. This story is told from multiple perspectives in different chapters. It's a great YA novel but still enjoyable for olds like me.

Rating: ★★★★ Book #29 in my 2019 Reading Challenge #books #BookReview