November Already?

Today is November 1st.

Which means that I’m probably not going to see much of some of my friends as they dive head first into the gaping maw that is NaNoWriMo. ūüė¶¬†I won’t be doing it myself this year – I’m just not able to dedicate the time to it in 2016. Instead I’ll try to write a blog post a day. That way I might feel like less of a failure. (An unlikely result!) Some days the post will might only be a brief and short update on something¬†– others might be a full on review of a book or TV show/movie… who knows. But to everyone taking part in NaNo this year, best of luck!

So, yes. I’m finally back. But what have I been up to for the last… however many months?

Well when I last made any meaningful posts worth mentioning, I was looking forward to my first EdgeLit in Derby, Fantasy Con in Scarborough, Various book signing events I wanted to attend in various locales around the UK. I wanted to keep up with my reading challenge. (I set myself a goal on Goodreads to read 104 books this year) and I was taking part in a few Read Alongs  with the SF/F Read Along group on Goodreads.

But health is a fickle beast. I suffered a crippling bout of Migraines in the run up to EdgeLit. and in the end couldn’t go as I was suffering too much. Those health problems continued for quite a while, preventing me from blogging, traveling, working or even reading. Thankfully my health improved enough that I managed to attend Fantasy Con in Scarborough… although through a combination of food poisoning and head-pain I wasn’t able to enjoy it as much as I wanted to.

But the worst of everything was my lack of ability for the longest time to enjoy reading anything or blog/write anything. For about a month I had a special app installed on my phone that could change the colour balance on my phone screen AND dim the brightness down even further than the default brightness range allowed. My head hurt so bad and I suffered severe light sensitivity – making it worse still.

I’m also now being treated for a back problem I’ve been suffering from for a while now through anti-inflamatories and physiotherapy – So yay, hopefully I’ll become more mobile again soon.

Several months later¬† after the migraines I’m still effected in little ways. I’m still avoiding drinking caffeinated drinks (as much out of habit as anything now) because too much caffeine was one of my migraine triggers –¬†Which has made some of the early shifts I work INCREDIBLY FUN! I’m also still not reading as much as I would like –¬†something I’m trying to improve upon. Goodreads seems to take great delight in taunting me with the fact that I am now 9 books behind on my target!

Otherwise there are little things that keep me sane (A minor miracle considering I’m not drinking Tea at the moment) and have captured my attention. I have become addicted to Pok√©mon Go – which thanks to the new phone I got in September (Oh hey, did I mention my new phone?) means I can enjoy the crazy madness of wandering the streets, oblivious to danger and peril as I attempt to “Catch ‘Em All!”.

Oh and hey, even though I would have missed it when it was at the Cinema, I still managed to see Ghostbusters on a big screen because one of the local cinemas had a one off late showing well after everywhere else! So yay РIt was AWESOME!

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More recently I went with friends to the now annual Hallowscream at York Maze. It was a lot of fun. ūüėÄ

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Other visual media treats I have enjoyed include Luke Cage (Seriously awesome!), The Girl With All The Gifts (So Good!), Gilmore Girls (Don’t judge me, it’s really good – Rory’s choices in boys not withstanding!), The Good Place is off to a really promising start¬†and I’ve just started watching The Walking Dead. I’m also enjoying Bull, but have conflicted feelings about the new MacGyver series.

Books I’m reading right now: Vicious by V. E. Schwab and Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn. Books next up after those: After Atlas by Emma Newman, Conspiracy Of Ravens by Lila Bowen, The Forever Endeavor by Chuck Wendig and a major re-read of the Merchant Princes series by Charles Stross.

So, what else have I missed that you would recommend? Tell me about the TV, Movies, Books and whatever that have stirred up your feelings in a good way.

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A letter to my MP Rachael Maskell (York Central) re: Exiting the EU.

This is a letter I have written and emailed to Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central – regarding my feelings and thoughts over the ‘Brexit’ issue and recent consequences for the UK.

Whatever your thoughts might be about the UK’s future in or out of Europe, I hope you will respect my right to petition and fight politically –¬†for the UK to remain part of the EU.

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TV Show Cancellations: Then, Now and in the Future…

Traditional TV networks are declining, Online only services are ascending. In the modern connected world in that we live, where a TV show will have a global audience РI put it to you that TV networks are fast approaching a tipping point. By deciding the ultimate future fate of their established shows (Agent Carter, Person of Interest etc) based upon US viewing figures and other US domestic data points РThey are rapidly going to hit a point where they will not be relevant enough to survive.

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Nook, Kobo and Kindle – They’re all a bunch of…

Many years ago, I purchased my first E-Reader. It was made by Sony, it supported almost every type of e-book file format imaginable (at the time). It did not have a built in store, hell – it didn’t even have built in Wi-Fi!

For more than a year, when using it – people who noticed it would ask “What is it?”

Then Amazon launched the Kindle in America. Slowly the question people would ask shifted to “Is that a Kindle?”. Now, this demonstrated that Sony really should have marketed and improved their offering sooner (They didn’t and that’s why nobody buys Sony E-Readers anymore)!

Eventually Amazon expanded & launched the Kindle in the UK. At the time I was hesitant to jump ship to Kindle for a variety of reasons, mainly that my e-book collection was mostly epubs and Amazon decided that wasn’t for them. So I plodded on with my Sony.

But alas, the Sony only had so much life in it (The built in rechargeable battery grew old and weak) and I had to start looking at a replacement. I again looked at the Kindle, but Amazon at the time was being a bit of a bully and not paying its taxes so I looked at my other options.

My other options at the time were Kobo and the new Nook which had just been announced as launching in the UK.

Both seemed ideal on paper, they both supported epub files, so I could easily import my books onto the new device and they weren’t Amazon!

I went out and found the Kobo devices on display in shops, but I wasn’t impressed – they seemed to feel cheap and flimsy compared to my old Sony. (Which was built out of metal)

I then found a Nook on display shortly thereafter and was a lot more impressed, It felt much more solid and although not made of metal, felt sturdy in my hands. I bought one immediately! A few weeks later I bought another one to replace my old one, mainly because the new one had a built in glow-light screen, but partly because my girlfriend wanted my old one!

Everything went smoothly more or less until early this year I needed a replacement device, the screen was getting nasty bright light spots when the glow light was being used and the battery was needing to be charged every other night! (It was also crashing/freezing a lot!) So I looked for a replacement.

Now, Tablets had come a long way in design and functionality over the last few years, so whilst I wouldn’t have considered a tablet 3 years ago, it was a better option now. I ended up buying a nice 8 inch Windows Tablet which could run a Nook reading app. It worked wonderfully.

Fast forward to the last few weeks: On August 8th I went to the Nook website and purchased 5 or 6 new books. On the 9th I opened up the app on my Tablet to sync and download those books. But before I could do any of this a Pop-Up notification appeared telling me that as of August 7th, The Windows Nook Reading App would no longer be supported outside the US.

Now this came as quite the surprise to me. I had not received any emails from Nook UK or¬†Barnes and Noble giving any advance notice of this change. (I even checked my junk folder for any emails I might have missed – nothing). Because there had been no warning I initially thought it might be an error. Nook later responded to me via Twitter and advised me to change my payment options, sign out and back in. I did this – and then couldn’t sign back in at all!

Because B&N decided to pull the plug on the Windows App outside the US, I could not sync any new content into the app. This means that the books I just bought could not be read. What’s more, since following their instructions I can no longer read any of my old Nook books!*

So what are the consequences for me now that B&N have pulled the plug without giving me any notice? Well, Now I can’t read any of the books I’ve purchased over the years through Nook. Nook don’t let you download those books for use outside their app or dedicated devices!

Nook/B&N have advised me that I can still read them through the Reading apps on iOS or Android – or even through a Nook E-Reader. The problem is that would require me buying yet another device!

Why Have Nook/B&N taken this decision? From what I can piece together the Nook reading app on Windows came about as part of a deal between Microsoft and B&N. That deal has ended/fallen apart. Therefore because Nook/B&N can no longer accept Microsoft Account payments, they have withdrawn support. As a result B&N have pulled out completely from every non-US market with the exception of the UK. They also have withdrawn support for the Windows App outside the US (Including the UK). B&N Still make the iOS and Android reading apps available in the UK. (All books to be purchased through their website) B&N are still supporting the Windows App in the US (according to their US Tweets, are improving the App for Windows 10).

Yes, that’s right They are still using the same app in the US. So the issue isn’t to do with App development costs, the costs are still being paid for the US market – and IT IS THE SAME APP!

If the reason they have withdrawn support from the UK is to do with not being able to accept Microsoft wallet payments through the apps built in store – It’s worth noting that the iOS app doesn’t have a store interface – iOS users must buy books through the website and then sync them onto their device. This is¬†how I was buying my books anyway! Why can’t Nook/B&N just remove or block the store functionality from their app?

I don’t know!

What I DO know is that I’ve had enough. I’ve decided to accept and join the Kindle flock. I really want to use and support a rival service, because competition is good for the consumer. But B&N seem determined to let Amazon be the only game in town. Yes, I could still switch to Kobo. But I’ve been burned¬†now. I don’t want to go through all of this again in a year or two if Kobo do the same.

So I’ve started to pick up books on Kindle when ever they drop below ¬£2 or go on promotion OR I want to read a book immediately. It’s going to be expensive to replace the books I had on Nook, but unless¬†B&N do a U-turn or sell off the ebook division to someone who actually cares/thinks – I can’t see a future on the platform.

Rest In Peace Nook. Long Live the KINDLE!

*Obviously I can still read any old epub books I bought elsewhere over the years using a different app.

Sense8: The best show to come out of 2015? (Contains Some Spoilers!)

sense8Netflix recently unleashed Sense8 upon its subscriber base. The latest in a steady stream of “Netflix Originals” and in this blog post, I’m going to squee and generally be very effusive of it. WARNING: There will most definitely be spoilers!

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Hugo Awards: What will I do…

It’s been an age (in internet time spans) since the 2015 Hugo Award Nomination Shortlist was announced. Much has been said on all four metaphorical corners of fandom about the controversial short list and the methods used by certain parties to attempt to populate those short lists with their own chosen candidates.

I’m not going to talk about those parties or those methods. Instead this post is for me to express my decision on how¬†I am going to act when considering my ballot.

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