Commuting again

Today, for the first time since mid-March, I went physically back to my University to work.

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On going virtual

Virtual machines are now commonplace in industry and academia. They offer huge flexibility in managing large and/or complicated installations. But what about for individual use, as a power user and developer? Would that work? Would it be worth it? In the interests of science, I decided to find out.

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Our Man In Havana

Graham Greene (1958)

A study of the dangers and absurdities of intelligence work, in which by definition it’s hard to tell if information was made up or is just really, really hard to find.

The book starts off quite slowly and only really gathers pace when the Wormold’s inventions start to come out – at which point things get very interesting indeed. It’s interesting to compare the slow and rather plodding protagonist to the racier Bond – or even Ashenden, for that matter. Greene almost certainly captures reality more closely.

3/5. Finished Friday 30 October, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

The Beauty and the Terror: An Alternative History of the Italian Renaissance

Catherine Fletcher (2020)

An excellent tour through the Renaissance that doesn’t steer away from the bits that don;t fit the usual narrative. Whether I’d agree with the subtitle of “alternative” history I’m less certain: it certainly mentions the role of women and the prevalence of slavery more than other books, and also explores the relationship between Italians and Spaniards in the conquest of the New World in interesting ways, though.

5/5. Finished Wednesday 28 October, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)

What is Life?: Understand Biology In Five Steps

Paul Nurse (2020)

A quick and clear introduction to all the main currents in modern biology, especially cell and molecular biology, explained with a fantastic clarity.

The five main chapters and the conclusion all address the core idea of approaching the question of “what is life?” from multiple perspectives. But there’s also an additional chapter on how science and scientists need to engage with the wider world, with decision-makers and popular culture, that deserves more prominence than as what is, essentially, an essay sitting slightly uncomfortably with the thrust of the rest of the book.

5/5. Finished Friday 23 October, 2020.

(Originally published on Goodreads.)