Reading Challenge #75: The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

It’s been a while since my previous reading challenge post. There’s two reasons for that. First, there were a bunch of great books that came out in the past couple months that I couldn’t wait to read. Seriously, if you might be interested in the Cthulhu mythos told from the perspective of a Deep One, check out Ruthanna Emrys’ Innsmouth Legacy series. Or if ghost stories from the perspective of a ghost are more your speed, try the Ghost Roads books by Seanan McGuire.

Anyway the second reason it’s been a while between these reading challenge reviews is that this next book is another by Neal Stephenson. You may remember that my reading ground to a halt during the previous book of his that was on the list. I was so dreading going through that again that I kept putting it off. The book is The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer, first published in 1995.

So, was my fear validated? Read on to find out!

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The New New Mouse

DSC_0401I’m a gaming mouse user. I’ve been a convert to the Razer Naga since back in my “hardcore” WoW raiding days (circa 2009). The side buttons take some getting used to, but once you do there is no going back.

Sadly, although the design and functionality of the Naga is fantastic, the actual craftsmanship doesn’t hold up to my use. I end up needing a new one every 1-2 years. At $70 – $100 a pop, that adds up. My current Naga had been doing a little bit better than the average. It was over 3 years old and just starting to get a little flaky on me. I thought I might get 4 years of use out of it, right up until my cat decided it would be a fun time to chew completely through the cable.

I decided to use this cat-astrophe to try something new. Since I can’t imagine gaming without my beloved thumb buttons there were only a few options. I know from trying them out in the store that the Logitech version is a bit big for my hands, further narrowing my choices.

DSC_0413My final pick was the UtechSmart Venus. It has a ton of bells and whistles that I probably don’t need, for less than half the price of my beloved Naga. One bonus that I do like is the adjustable weight. I’ll probably be playing with that over the next couple days until I find the right fit. It also has the requisite number of buttons, and the ability to tune the color to match my keyboard. Fashion is always important, people.

The default settings were overly sensitive, but configuration was pretty fast and painless. As a bonus, I don’t have to register for an online account like with the Naga software. So far I like it quite a bit. Even though it is wider than the Naga, it isn’t much longer, so it is still very comfortable in my small hand. Much of the extra size is simply giving me more comfortable places to rest my fingers. I especially like the thumb rest. It’s the sort of thing you don’t realize you need until you try it.

So far no regrets with this purchase. I look forward to putting it through its paces!

Reading Challenge Interlude: The First 25 Books

I started working my way through NPR’s list of the top 100 sci-fi and fantasy novels almost two years ago, in August 2016. Rendezvous with Rama represents the 25th book on the list, so I’m officially averaging a little bit faster than one book per month. I wanted to use this milestone to look back at what I’ve read so far and see how my personal rankings match up with the list.

I’ve been updating my spreadsheet every time I finish a book, and adjusting my rankings as I go. Goodreads also has a version of this list, with a different ranking order based on their users. I’ve included all three (NPR, Goodreads, my personal rank) because I think it is useful to see how they compare. I have some suspicions about how the demographic differences between Goodreads users and NPR survey respondents play out in the different rankings.

NPR_first25

Since I’ve been updating my order as I go, it’s been interesting to see how things have shifted. For example, The Space Trilogy and The Xanth Series started at the bottom of the list and haven’t budged. Nothing since has been quite as bad as those two. Likewise, the Doomsday Book was my first 5-star review, and it has stayed at the top of my list until getting dethroned by Rendezvous with Rama, 20 books later. The amazing books and the truly awful books are all pretty easy to place. What is really difficult is sorting all the 3- and 4-star books. It is getting even harder as I finish more books and the less-memorable ones start getting fuzzier in my mind.

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