Tag Archives: reading

Observation: EBook Weirdness

Two absolutely pointless observations follow. Feel free to skip. Continue reading


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Book Review Conundrums

Intro: Navel Gazin’ Time

The silliest things bother me, and what are undoubtedly the most most important seem to pass under my radar. Thus, I find myself worried about the way I’ve been reviewing books on Goodreads.com, rather than, oh I don’t know, the million or so other things that I admit are more relevant to my life, and the million or so that I do not, but doubtless are.  But such is the state of my existence.

At one point I’d actually declared to myself that I’d stop reviewing books until I came up with some guidelines about how best to approach the whole topic. But, guess what? I never did establish those guidelines and rather sheepishly went back to reviewing books. But, yeah, the whole thing has continued to bug me. So, I suppose this meandering mess is an attempt to plug that hole as much as it is anything else.

But it is also both more and less. More, in the sense that I’m now interested in documenting why such-and-such a novel appeals to me. Or does not. Ditto works of nonfiction, though I’m not sure I’ve got the energy to slay that dragon in this post. Less, in the sense that I’m now utterly uninterested in striving for coherence, readability or (hell, no) brevity. So if an overdose of punctuation bugs thee, as in excessive parentheses, commas, semi-colons, ad nauseum, get thee behind me Satan. And begone, foul creature. And that says nothing of the meanders; oxbows; dumping of untreated sewage, PCBs and so forth into this particular stream of thought as it meanders its way to the sea of oblivion.

Perhaps I could consider this case of diarrhea of the keyboard a draft of sorts, but, nah. That would be intellectually dishonest. (Says the guy anonymously reviewing books, to hoist me on my own petard, but fuck it. Let’s just say my lines of honesty and dishonesty are drawn a bit oddly. But for all that, they are bright lines that I try not to cross.) Can’t absolutely rule it out, but

Part 1 of a whole lot. Maybe.

As I was writing this it dawned on me there’s no way I’m going to finish it in one sitting. Pity this didn’t dawn on me before I started, but it didn’t.  So, just adjust yer settings to “series of posts” from “post” wherever such a thing occurred. And I’ll hopefully be putting a bunch of rococo additions onto this house of horrors over time. Or I’ll somehow magically get a clue and realize that life is too short for certain things. Especially things like this. But the odds of me doing such a thing are up there with the return of Megatherium (my favorite animal of all time) from extinction. So, I’m anticipating I’ll see this mess through to completion.

Yep. We’ll do it live. To play us out. And so on.

EDIT: Sigh. The dictates of a capricious conscience made me return to this post to note that said YouTube link has enough F-bombs to result in a scorched earth if they were real bombs. Clicky on linky at own risky.

Speaking of caprice, why should “clicky” and “linky” invoke the red squiggles of spell check, but “risky” does not? Even more curious, MS Live Writer’s spell check didn’t like “begone,” but the Firefox variant is a-ok with it. Discuss amongst yerselves. END EDIT.

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Book review: The Causes of the Civil War

The Causes of the Civil WarThe Causes of the Civil War by Kenneth Milton Stampp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a collection of abridgements of source documents and later periodical and magazine articles, all concerning the, duh, causes of the Civil War. Stampp seemed to be focused primarily on the most provocative writings from both “sides,” antebellum and postbellum. Thus there’s scarcely a mention of, say, Stephen Douglas, but we are blessed (ahem) with a screamingly funny discussion of the Southerner as an emerging being, the “Tropic Nordic,” alas whose full flowering was never reached, cut down by the War.

There is virtually nothing in this text to suggest that any sort of compromise was possible, and that as time went on more and more people on both sides of the divide lost any interest they might have otherwise had in reaching such a compromise anyway. To read this book and no others is to take the War coming as inevitable as the sun rising or the tide changing. And perhaps it was

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Okay. I wanted a copy of all the book reviews I write at Goodreads.com to pop through to this particular blog. Only I can’t seem to get it to work.

I did get it to work on my “main” blog, at least for a bit. But I really don’t want them there. I want them here. Phooey.

In theory, the next post is how you can get it done manually. Which, since all else has now apparently failed, if it works that’s what I’ll do. Not getting this or that particular “app” to work is a fact of my life. There’s always the chance the “app” in question is somehow not working, but if you had to go “all in,” you’d be better off choosing me as the cause rather than not. Que, sera, sera.

Edit/Update: It works, barring only the minor business of adding a post title. And since I’ll want to stick a tag on those book review posts that I cross-post, that’s a mere bagatelle, since GR is obviously not supplying those whether or not said app works. The only downside, I suppose, is remembering to actually do it. But as forgetful as I am of all the truly important details of my life, this type of thing I never forget. Or almost never.

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GR-CSV Export to MS Access

Note: this is a reprint of a message I posted on the suggestion page at http://www.goodreads.com. I hold little hope of any help for the goofy series of problems I brought in large part upon myself, but figured I might as well ask. And at least a “no,” would confirm my suspicions that there’s not much to be done. And I’ll certainly bear no one any ill-will when the “no” is forthcoming.

It *seemed* like a good idea at the time. I figured I could bring my book data down every once in a while, play around w/it, and maybe generate some reports if and when I felt ambitious.

Anyway, I’ve gotten the export to work, but only after a fair amount of tweaking. The biggest (and weirdest) problem is that the CSV file automatically sticks an “=” sign just before both ISBNs in the file. And this makes Access go “KABOOM,” and not show any of the fields in most records after the equal sign. Here’s an example of what it looks like: Image 1

What I’ve been doing is opening the CSV file in notepad and < ctrl >H-ing out the equal signs, Taking [ ,=” ] and replacing it w/[ ,” ] globally. Image 2, a couple of those pesky “=” signs circled. In Access, I have to play around with the file specs, so it looks right… Image 3, s/b fairly self-explanatory.

And, taa-daa, here it is, working Image 4.

I realize:

(a) this is something I cooked up entirely on my own, and if I had known it was going to be half the pain it actually became, I’d never have started it

(b) it is my own fault I’ve been too lazy to play around inside Access, even though I *THINK* I could set all the changes I make manually (barring the equal signs) somehow to work automatically w/any one particular import without also upsetting the program defaults (which I want to keep as is)

(c) I can’t imagine the GR staff has been buried under a tsunami of requests for something like this, since everybody I talk to about the program seems to preface the words “MS Access” with some adjectives I probably shouldn’t repeat here

But…I’ll ask anyway: Is there any way I can get this done, while at the same time making my life a bit easier? As in, I guess, customizing the CSV export? Or perhaps something else?



PS: The booklists in the images are sorted by GR’s own Book ID. So if there’s any issue with that first title, it is just that somebody at GR gave it a very low number, in fact the only three digit Book ID I’ve seen, personally. Interesting choice, I guess.

PPS: Believe it or not, I tried to keep this post as short as I could. I could have talked about the linked table I have from Access to Excel and the other linked table I have from Excel back to Access…only way I could figure to split book title/series name/series volume into separate fields.

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