Ra - a free SFF story about magic (which isn't)

A while ago, I forget where, I came across a link to this SFF story called Ra.
Magic is real.
Discovered in the 1970s, magic is now a bona fide field of engineering. There's magic in heavy industry and magic in your home. It's what's next after electricity.
Student mage Laura Ferno has designs on the future: her mother died trying to reach space using magic, and Laura wants to succeed where she failed. But first, she has to work out what went wrong. And who her mother really was.
And whether, indeed, she's dead at all.. It was originally written from 2011 to 2018 with new chapters appearing every so often. As it's effectively a blog, there are comments at the bottom, though I didn't delve into those too much. I read it over a period of weeks, but you can binge it now. It has some really interesting worldbuilding around magic. The storyline jumps around a lot, almost too much. I was glad I hung on to the end though as the plot gets very big; very, very big. I r…

When life gives you #flickr1000

Flickr's new 1000 photo limit on free accounts hasn't gone down well. I agree with Thomas Hawk who says it's a smart move though. (It would be good if they just hid your photos over the 1000 limit from the photostream like they used to when your Pro subscription lapsed.)

I have 1,086 photos, so I'm viewing this as an opportunity to choose my best 1000 before they get deleted on 8 January 2019. Here's my photostream.

Update: I found out that Creative Commons licensed photos are exempt from the limit, so actually I'm OK.

Libraries are my guilty secret

When the austerity measures imposed on local government started to kick in, in the UK, (yes, I've been brewing this post for a while) people were campaigning against the closure of libraries. Libraries are probably viewed as an optional extra, whereas things like rubbish collection aren't. I was glad the people were campaigning because it made me less guilty about the fact that I love libraries.

When I was a child the library assistant at my local library, who knew me because I was friends with her son, gave me the adult allowance of six library cards, instead of the children's allowance of three. I was so happy about that.

When I was a teenager I started collecting coins. One of the things I particularly liked about this hobby was that I could store them in little envelopes, which were like those long drawers full of the tickets from books, that library assistants would go through when they were looking for your books, using that particular walking actions with their fin…

In praise of blogrolls

(That’s blogrolls not bogrolls. Stop sniggering at the back there.) Back in the days when only scientists and software engineers knew about algorithms, and the words “filter” and “bubble” were only next to each other on a Scrabble board, we had blogrolls. This would be a selective list of the blogs that you subscribed to placed on your own blog. Selective because only the bravest people put all their feed subscriptions on public show, unless you didn’t mind everyone knowning you had a thing for Selzer drinks or dogs dressed as Star Wars characters.

Today I came across a blogroll, which shows that they aren’t dead. What happened was I followed a link to an article on where Jason listed readers' recommendations for new blogs. I had a look at the suggested list and subscribed to a few which looked like they had interesting posts in. One of them was I was looking for contact details so I could comment on an article and I came across this link to her blogroll. I&…

Things I think or know about unicorns. A thread.

Things I think or know about unicorns. A thread.— Paul Morriss (@paulmorriss) March 31, 2018They seem to be quite popular these days (slippers, mugs, cakes). As well as sometimes meaning something mythical, they also seem to be treated as cute.— Paul Morriss (@paulmorriss) March 31,— Paul Morriss (@paulmorriss) March 31, 2018They aren't cute. They're horses WITH A SPIKE ON THEIR HEAD. Never mind the four hooved feet.— Paul Morriss (@paulmorriss) March 31, 2018I only recently realised that the unicorn on the heraldic picture with a lion and a unicorn signifies Scotland, in the same way that a lion signifies England. Sorry Wales. (I like dragons.)— Paul Morriss (@paulmorriss) March 31, 2018When I was in primary school we had two houses, lions and unicorns. I was in the unicorns. Unicorns are great.— Paul Morriss (@paulmorriss) March 31, 2018

When old bands do new songs

A few years ago I heard a new song by the Beach Boys. I was never a great fan of their, though I did listen to a whole album by theirs on the way to a chess tournament (as you can imagine that was really wild), and I think Good Vibrations is a great song. However this new song left me distinctly underwhelmed. "That sounds like the Beach Boys", I thought, "what more would you expect?".

I watched a programme on BBC4 recently about how these days there are so many bands that are getting back together, going on tour and sometimes releasing new singles.

Blondie reformed 20 years ago. Do you feel old? — Paul Morriss (@paulmorriss) February 2, 2018
On that programme Stewart Copeland, the drummer with the Police, captured my thoughts about why new songs by old bands are rarely that good. He said that old songs have emotional baggage, like those crazy times on the chess tournament tour bus, and the new stuff doesn't evoke that emotion when you first hear it. So when the…

All the right notes - my gigs of 2017

I don't often go to see gigs, but in 2017 I somehow went to several. I've put photos in to break up the text, but my phone's camera doesn't exactly excel in concert conditions. They started in...
February - Under Construction, the Bailey Sisters
Under Construction is a covers band based in High Wycombe. One of my friends is the bassist and for his 50th birthday he got them to play for the party (and joined in on bass). They have two lead singers - one male and one female - and some very competent musicians. There's nothing quite like hearing some great songs from the 80s and 90s played live. His wife is in the folk band, The Bailey Sisters and they did a few songs too. Traditional folk isn't my cup of tea, but I enjoyed what they did.
March - elbow elbow is my favourite modern band. (Seeing as you didn't ask, my favourite non-modern band is Genesis and I was very glad to see them in 2007.) I bought their Mercury prize winning album "Seldom seen kid&quo…