Ayende @ Rahien

Oren Eini aka Ayende Rahien CEO of Hibernating Rhinos LTD, which develops RavenDB, a NoSQL Open Source Document Database.

You can reach me by:

oren@ravendb.net

+972 52-548-6969

Posts: 6,919 | Comments: 49,399

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time to read 2 min | 262 words

image I love the WoT series. My nickname, Ayende Rahien, is based on that series. So you can imagine how happy I was to start reading the Gathering Storm.

There are no spoilers in this post, I a going to spend some time digesting the book and then post a review about the actual details of the book.

What make this book unique is that the author was changed (the original author died), which caused a huge delay for this book and caused sever worries whatever the new author would be as good as the original.

I can tell you that I personally had not been able to figure out the original scenes vs. new author scenes. It does seems like there are less feminine clothing discussion (which I consider to be a great plus).

It is probably hard to see, but the cover art is still as bad as the previous ones, which also make me nostalgic.

This book focuses mostly on Rand, with some really interesting developments. There hasn’t been enough Rand in the last two books, so that is good. On the other hand, I could do with more Matrim scenes.

Things are moving, rushing pretty fast, actually. The book is a page turner, it is a 784 pages book that I finished in one seating, taking about 12 hours.

I can’t wait to read the rest.

time to read 1 min | 160 words

This book (free online version!) is part of the Posleen series, and I stands quite well in that series. Ringo manages to weave a complete tale, and even there are some stuff there that stretch my credulity even in SF novel, I liked it.

One very interesting aspect of the book is the treatment for “war crimes” during the book. I don’t want to give any spoilers, since it is a good book, but let us just say that I could more than see how the enemies were able to use stupid and insane laws to hinder the protagonists.

The book ends in a rather surprising article, which I recommend reading.

I don’t agree with everything that they say there, mostly because it is primarily aimed for US readers, but they are saying quite a lot that I do agree with.

time to read 2 min | 330 words

Watch on the Rhine (Posleen War Series #7)

I just finished listening to this book, and it is… quite an interesting one. The basic premise of the book is enough to ensure that it would be interesting:

After the first [alien invasion] enemy landings in 2004, the German chancellor decides, despite fierce opposition, to rejuvenate survivors of the Waffen SS. Eager to redeem their tarnished honor, these veterans display the same steadfastness and fortitude that they did in Russia and Normandy.

I think that just from that, you can understand why it is interesting by default. I have to say, Ringo and Kratman managed to set a very believable world, and the handling of the topic was superb. I am going to have another post about Ringo’s style vs. Weber’s style, so I’ll skip a lot of that discussion in this post.

This is a Good Book, although I have to say, I find it much easier to accept alien invasions than the Judas Maccabiah SS brigade (which appear in the book).

I wonder the affect of Heinlein on Ringo’s writing. Some of the themes woven throughout the plot are definitely Heinleinism. The parasitic pacifist and peace through superior firepower, in particular.

I want to say that the book’s portrayal of the civilian attitude to the military mindset is unrealistic, but I have to say that unfortunately it isn’t so. There are some really stupid people out there.

The one thing that I find totally unrealistic in the book, however, was that political pressure was able to basically castrate the army. Mostly from environmentalist groups and the like. I have no idea how the German political and military game is played, but in most places, there is Peace and there is War. And you don’t mess around with the army in a time of war, the army tend to push back on that, and hard.

time to read 2 min | 292 words

By Heresies Distressed

Hands down, David Weber is my favorite author. He has the ability to create rich worlds that are complete, logically consisted and interesting. While Weber is mostly known for the Harrington series, which I also really like, I have to say that the Prince Roger books (March Upcountry, etc) are the best military action series that I have read, and that the Safehold series is the best political action series.

Of the two, I actually think that I prefer the Safehold series, although it is a very close match, and I’ll likely change my mind if there would be a new book in the series.

All of that said, this book is actually about the latest book in the Safehold series, which includes Off Armageddon Reef and By Schism Rent Asunder. In a single sentence, I can tell you that Weber has managed to capture my interest all over again. His ability to weave so many concurrent plot lines is the key part of the high level of enjoyment (and quality) that I derive from the books.

The one problem that I have, like the one in the previous one, is stops too early! If I were smart, I would probably drop the series for a decade or so, and wait for Weber to pump enough books out that I can get them all in one shot.

That is not to say that the books are too long, or full of fluff. It is just that Weber is painting a big picture, and that takes time. Unfortunately, it means that by the book ends, I was left with quite a desire to known what the hell is going to happen next.

time to read 1 min | 193 words

image

Okay, I just finished listening to this book. It was... hard to describe. The book itself is excellent, the sheer quality of the world that Weber paints is flat out amazing.

I really liked the amount of sheer magnificence that is going on there. The number of balls that Weber manages to keep in the air is impressive.

There is just one issue with this book. It is a setup.

That is, it lay down the ground for the next book, By Heresies Distressed. Which sounds like it would be action filled. I hoped for a more interesting ending, because it feels like the story just hit its stride and is ready for action when it is over.

By Heresies Distressed, the next book, is supposed to be released in early 2009, which supports my assumption that this a case where we have a single story, but in two books.

Highly recommended, and I am going to re-read it now in text format, to give you an idea of high high the quality of the book is.

time to read 1 min | 112 words

I have no idea how he does it, but Terry Prachett is so consistently funny, amusing and a very good writer.

Making Money is a continuation to the Going Postal book, with the main hero being Moist, again thrust into an unwilling job description, and raising to the occasion.

It was both hilarious and a good read, two distinct qualities, but Prachett is combining them masterfully. Highly recommended, and more than worth a second read, which I need to make time to.

There is also the shred of a promise to have Moist as the tax collector for the city, which would make for an interesting story, considering he is a thief.

time to read 2 min | 353 words

Last week I started to listen to the Empire Of Man series of audio books. The series has been written by David Weber and John Ringo, and all I can say is Wow!

It starts with March Upcountry, which gets interesting in the first few minutes, rather than the usual longer opening of most books, proceed with March to the Sea and then to March to the Stars and finally to We Few, where the books (but not the story) ends.

You may have noticed that I didn't have much activity in the last week, that is because I spent most to all of my free time listening to those books. Excellent is too weak a word to describe them. Suffice to say that a quick calculations shows that out of 168 hours in a week, I spend over 70 hours listening to those books (and walking the dog till she dropped :- ).

Page turner is not quite the word to use for an audio book, but I can't think of an appropriate term to use for them.

The story is good, very believable, highly consistent, great characters, a lot of depth, great pace, a lot of action, and a sense of a full world behind the story. It is also a story that has managed to make me forget the real world for more than a few times.

I have just finished listening to We Few, and the only think that I can think right now is how to get the next book in the series, which apparently doesn't exists (extremely disturbing, since I really want to know what comes next).

I am usually on the side of fantasy when it comes to reading, but this has certainly convinced me to go back to hard core SF. So if you like SF, and if you have better self control than I am, I can strongly recommend these books.

Update: Apparently the first two books can be gotten (legally) freely from the net. Part of Baen's Free Library:

time to read 2 min | 220 words

I had plans for this weekend. I really did. But it is not 05:35AM and for the second day in a row, I am watching dawn raise and feeling very annoyed at myself. Yesterday I started to listen to the March Upcountry audio book. Just to give you an impression, it is a 17 hours audio book, and I have just now finished it. Yes, this does mean that I spent most of the last to days listening to it. Luckily I am able to do other tasks while listening (mechanical only, nothing that requires concentration or beyond-reflexes thinking).

To say it is intense is like saying that water are wet. I really love the style, and the narration is excellent. The story itself is very good, extremely detailed and believable and I simply love the characters. I am really pissed that the book ended in a cliff hanger, and as I am in the process of downloading the second book in the series right now, I woudl be seriously considering starting to listen to it right now, if I didn't have about an hour to wait for it to get down.

As a side result of this, I am on an Email Strike, which means that I am only giving cursory look in my inbox, which has ~70 unread conversations.

time to read 8 min | 1445 words


(Image from clipboard).pngProgramming WCF Services

 

 

Let us start with the conclusion, I don't like this book.

 

Allow me to start with an analogy, I thought I was going to read a book about working with SQL Server, instead, I got a book that tells me how TDS* works.
*TDS == Tabular Data Stream - the network protocol for SQL Server.

 

I am sorry, forget that I said that. Below is my first impression of the book, and I still stand by it, it is not a book you want to learn WCF from. It is a book that you want to at least go through, and keep as a reference if you are working with WCF in any but the most trivial of manners. This change in opinion was caused by needing to do something in WCF that I thought was possible, and finding the answer in a few minutes of searching in the book.

 

It is a very thorough discussion about WCF implementation, it probably has a lot of valuable information. The problem is that it is nearly impossible to understand this information, because it is presented outside of any context.

"Let me show me how you can turn the knob in all possible ways, but I'll not tell you why you should turn the knob, and what is on the other side."

The book contain a lot of details about WCF, some of which I am sure that will be of use in the future, but I have to say that it feels like it should be the third or fourth book that you read about WCF, after you already understand the way that it works and how you should implement it in your business scenarios.

It may be a great book if you are a framework developer who to better understand WCF, in a mid-level way, but even then, I would rather understand the way WCF works first, and then rely on web/reflector for the rest of it.

Let me give you an example, in many cases, the author chose to use such meaningful names as: "IMyContract1" or  "IMyContract2" to demonstrate a technical point. That is nice, and if it was a textbook, requiring rote memorization, it may have been appropriate. The problem is that I expect books about such topics to give a meaning to the choices that they present, not just in the narrow technical terms, but with the broader design implications.

 

Other problems that I had with the book:

·         In one particular instance, the author bothered to show me the definition of System.SerializableAttribute. Thanks, I already know that one…

·         Each and every configuration sample is shown with both declarative XML and using C# code. I am not sure if the intent was to supplement MSDN, but I consider this a bad idea. I am capable of making the transition from XML to C# easily, and I can look in MSDN what this element map to, and vice versa.

·         Another annoying issue is that the author spend a fair amount of time building  a set of helper classes to work with WCF. I am not sure if this is a personal preference issue or not, but I am coming away with the feeling that WCF has very low usability if just about everything need to be wrapped in a helper class. This is valuable in the narrow sense that it shows me how I can do things, but it is not very useful in the long run.

·         It keep mentioning static variables to preserve state in per-call services, which drives me crazy, since it is something that I consider a very bad practice (it mentions the complexity, but doesn't warn against it).

 

It may seems that I harp about the no context issue too much, but take into account what a database book would look like if all the examples were:

 

SELECT [Column1], [Column2] From [MySchema].[MyTable1]

 

Sure, it teaches the syntax, but it leave me with the burden of translating the pure technical details into a problem domain.

 

Who is this book useful to, then?

If you are tasked with building a complex WCF service and you already has a rough idea about what you need, you can use this book to pinpoint the technical details and understand how you can implement those. As a reference, it is going to be very useful, since it goes to a great depth into a lot of the details of WCF. Once you know what you need to do, it would be easier to correlate that to the technical requirements that you need to meet.  Apparently it is not supposed to cover WCF in low level detail, which really scare me if this is true, because there are a lot of stuff that are covered in detail.

 

What I really like was the coverage of transactions, it was very thorough, and presented me with quite a bit to think about. Specifically, the use of Transactional<T> in a service to allow the service members to take part in a transaction is something that made me sit up and stare at the air for a while, thinking about all the possibilities that it can enable. Specifically, combining this support with NHibernate support may give me a fully transactional view of my entities, in both memory and database.

 

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