Reading List for March 2021

In a continuation of my monthly recap of what I have read, or more practically, listened to; at least in terms of books. You can review the lists from January or February. With it being the very beginning of April, it is time to provide last month’s list with the items that I have listened to. As is the case for most of my books and podcasts, I listened to most of these at 2x or possibly even slightly faster.

Unlike January and February, I did not listen to nearly as many books in March. Over the course of the month of March, I managed to listen to 12 different titles. Of these 3 were titles that I listened to for the first time. Not listening to as many books makes a lot of sense given that the first three titles total over 110 hours of listening. I am guessing that I might listen to about the same number of items in April as much, or something similar. It all depends on how the month goes.

Disclaimer: the links below will provide a bit of a commission if you purchase anything.

Title Author First Listen
Evening and the Morning (Kingsbridge Book 4) Ken Follett No
Pillars of the Earth (Kingsbridge Book 1) Ken Follett No
World without End (Kingsbridge Book 2) Ken Follett No
Origins: Fourteen Billion years of Cosmic Evolution Nathan Hystad No
Mars Rover Curiosity: an inside account from Curiosity’s Chief Engineer Bob Manning Yes
First Encounter Jasper T. Scott Yes
The Salvage Crew Yudhanjaya Wijeratne Yes
The Jester James Patterson and Andrew Gross No
Valhalla Rising Clive Cussler No
Trojan Odyssey Clive Cussler No
Black Wind Clive Cussler No
Bourne Identity (Bourne Book 1) Robert Ludlum No
Total   12

Reading List for February 2021

Last month I created a post about the items that I managed to read/listen to during the month of January. You can see that list here. With February just finished, I have another list with the items that I have listened to. As is the case for most of my books and podcasts, I listened to most of these at 2x.

Over the course of the month of February, I listened to 29 different titles, 12 of them being ones that I listened to for the first time. This is actually more than 1 book per day, which in some cases makes sense given how short some of the audiobooks are. I did not think I would be able to listen to more books in February than I did in January, but I did manage to. We will see if this pace keeps up, but I do not think it will, but we shall see.

Disclaimer: the links below will provide a bit of a commission if you purchase anything.

Title Author First Listen
Man in the High Castle Phillip K. Dick No
The Messengers Lindsay Joelle Yes
The Event (The Survivors Book 1) Nathan Hystad No
New Threat (The Survivors Book 2) Nathan Hystad No
New World (The Survivors Book 3) Nathan Hystad No
Fringe Runner Rachel Aukes No
The Salvage Crew Yudhanjaya Wijeratne Yes
Ashen Stars (Exile, Book 0) Glynn Stewart Yes
Exile (Exile, Book 1) Glynn Stewart Yes
36 Hours (The Blackout Series Book 1) Bobby Akart No
Zero Hour (The Black Out Series, Book 2) Bobby Akart No
Turning Point (The Black Out Series, Book 3) Bobby Akart No
Shiloh Ranch (The Black Out Series, Book 4) Bobby Akart No
Daemon Daniel Suarez No
Freedom(TM) Daniel Suarez No
Stranger in a Strange Land Robert Heinlein No
Farmer in the Sky Robert Heinlein No
Starship Grifters (Rex Nihilo, Book 1) Robert Kroese No
How the internet happened: From Netscape to the iPhone Brian McCullough Yes
Warship (Blackfleet Book 1) Joshua Dalzelle Yes
Call to Arms (Blackfleet Book 2) Joshua Dalzelle Yes
The American West: History, Myth, and Legacy (The Great Courses) Patrick N. Allitt No
Medieval Myths & Mysteries (The Great Courses) Dorsey Armstrong Yes
The History of Rum (The Great Courses) John Donoghue Yes
The Science of Sci-Fi: From Warp Speed to Interstellar Travel (The Great Courses) Erin MacDonald Yes
A History of Video Games (The Great Courses) Jeremy Parish Yes
Witches in Western Tradition (The Great Courses) Jennifer McNabb Yes
Turning Points in Medieval History (The Great Courses) Dorsey Armstrong No
The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague (The Great Courses) Dorsey Armstrong No
Total   29

There are two months down with another 10 to go. I can already tell I do not think I will be able to keep up this pace, but we shall see.

Reading List for January 2021

One of the things that I tend to do often is to listen to audio. This could be podcasts, music, or even audiobooks. Listening to Audiobooks allows me to do multiple things at once, like grocery shopping, playing video games, cleaning, and another tasks.

I generally listen to music when I am not listening to audiobooks or podcasts, and most often while I am working, although I can listen to audiobooks or podcasts as well, depending on what I am working on. If I am doing something that does not necessarily need me to concentrate on programming.

I cannot say why, but I thought I would keep track of the books that I have listened to over the course of the year. With today being February 1st, I figured now is a good time to recap those items that I listened to during January. It should be noted that I listen to audiobooks using the Audible app and generally listen between 1.5x and 2x. Therefore, I get through audiobooks a bit faster than normal. Typically, if it is a title that I have not listened to before, I listen at 1.5x or 1.6x. Whereas, if the title is something that I have listened to before, I will listen to it at 2x.

Over the course of the month of January, I listened to 27 different titles, 12 of them being ones that I listened to for the first time. I do not think I will be able to listen to as many books in February, but only time will tell.

With that, here is everything that I listened to throughout January, in the order that I listened to them.

Disclaimer: the links below will provide a bit of a commission if you purchase anything.

Title Author First Listen
The End of Everything Dr. Katie Mack Yes
Pilot X Tom Merritt No
Trigor Tom Merritt No
Band of Brothers Steven E. Ambrose No
Beyond Band of Brothers Major Dick Winters No
Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942 American War Department No
Conversations with Major Dick Winters: Life Lessons from the Commander of the Band of Brothers Col. Cole C. Kingseed No
Ordinary Heroes Scott Turow No
Star Runner B.V. Larson Yes
Revolt in 2100 Robert Heinlein No
Methuselah’s Children Robert Heinlein No
The Real History of Secret Societies Great Courses Yes
Street Freaks Terry Brooks Yes
New York 2140 Kim Stanley Robinson No
Childhood’s End Arthur C. Clarke No
Fuzzy Nation John Scalzi No
The Enigma Cube Douglas E. Richards Yes
Rendezvous with Rama Arthur C. Clarke No
Time’s Eye Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter Yes
We are Legion (We are Bob) (Bobiverse 1) Dennis E. Taylor Yes
For We Are Many (Bobiverse 2) Dennis E. Taylor Yes
All These Worlds (Bobiverse 3) Dennis E. Taylor Yes
Heaven’s River (Bobiverse 4) Dennis E. Taylor Yes
Quantum: A Thriller (Captain Chase Book 1) Patricia Cornwall No
Spin (Captain Chase Book 2) Patricia Cornwall Yes
1984 George Orwell No
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams Yes
Total   27

I hope to be able to keep up the record of what I have listened to over the course of the year. I am sure that the number of books that I listen to during the summer will decrease, since I work on my books during the summer.

macOS Big Sur and iOS 14 Books Now Available for Preorder

It has become my own tradition to write two books about Apple’s latest operating systems. Despite everything going on in 2020, I have managed to do just that. There are two books, one for macOS and another for iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS. The title’s of this year’s books should not be any surprise. These books are available for pre-order.

macOS Big Sur for Users, Administrators, and Developers

macOS Big Sur for Users, Administrators, and Developers covers the new features with the latest release. macOS Big Sur brings a slew of new features like new icons, a refined design with updated toolbars, menu, and alerts. The new design is accompanied by Messages and Maps now having feature parity with their iOS versions, which means new features coming to the Mac that were not present before. One of the most used apps on the Mac is Safari, and there is a whole new privacy section to help you see which websites are tracking you and which trackers they are using. Reminders and Notes have seen a couple of updates like assigning reminders and easier access to text styles in notes. The biggest change for the Mac this year is that it is moving to Apple Silicon and a significant portion of the book is dedicated to that, including a history of the Mac

For administrators we dive into managing Macs running Apple Silicon, scripting language updates, some changes to how updates are handled, and the updates to Profile Manager.

Developers can learn about how Apple Silicon will affect their applications, the changes to Xcode, enhancements to the Swift programming language and SwiftUI. Also discussed are some new Swift Packages, how to implement Widgets using WidgetKit, SF Symbols 2, and Safari extensions.

macOS Big Sur for Users, Administrators, and Developers has something for everyone.

You can pre-order this book from Apple or Amazon for $3.99 each. There will be black & white and color paperbacks available soon.

iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 for Users and Developers

iOS 14, iPadOS 14, tvOS 14, and watchOS 7 for Users and Developers somewhat mirrors macOS Big Sur in that there are some design tweaks like the new Widgets and your ability to place them on the home screen for device running iOS, the new App Library system, which can help you organize your home screen. Along with the home screen changes, search and Siri have seen some improvements as well, and those are covered. Safari can now help keep you informed about who is tracking you across the web. 

Communications is a big part of today’s society, so the updates to Messages is covered, and there is a whole new help to help you translate text, called the Translate app. Users will be able to learn about the new updates to Notes, Reminders, and Maps. If you prefer to handwrite items there is a new feature just for you called called Scribble, which will take your handwriting and covert it into text.

Health is a huge topic and there have been some big changes like the renamed Fitness app on the iPhone and a way of tracking Sleep on the Apple Watch. These are both covered along with updates to Face ID and masks, as well as new ways to protect your hearing.

The Music and Home apps have been slightly changed and updated and the Shortcuts app gets some new tricks to help automate things even better than before.

Developers will learn all about Apple Silicon, because their iOS and iPadOS apps can run natively on Macs running Apple Silicon. Along with Apple Silicon, developers can learn about changes to Xcode, the new Swift, SwiftUI, and Swift Packages, as well as how to implement WidgetKit, some things to keep in mind about AppClips, how to implement the new Color Picker and how to support PencilKit and Scribble with their custom interfaces.

You can pre-order this book from Apple or Amazon for $3.99 each. There will be black & white and color paperbacks available soon.

One Downside to Streaming and Subscriptions

The way that we consume media has greatly changed over the last twenty years. At the turn of the century, which seems just like yesterday, we listened to mix-CDs on our Sony Walkman CD players or had MP3s that were either ripped from CDs or obtained via other means. Movies were on DVDs, as Blu-Ray would not come to market until 2006. And there was no streaming media to speak of due to lack of bandwidth, both on the server and consumer sides. Basically, we purchased our media or borrowed it from others.

There were some who had high-speed internet, but this was likely using a desktop that was not equipped with Wi-Fi. One of the most ubiquitous items that everyone has today is a cell phone. Yes, cell phones were available and had just started to become more and more popular, but they were still not as commonplace as today. If you did have a cell phone, you actually used it as a phone and if you were lucky you could possibly have a very basic game or two. Life has changed significantly in a mere twenty years.

Today we have streaming media and subscription services. There seems to be a subscription for just about everything these days. Some of the types of subscriptions available include games, music, movies, apps, and tv shows. The two types of services that most users have a subscription to are for Music and Movies/TV Shows. For music, there are options like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, among others. For Movies and TV Shows, you can subscribe to Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Hulu, and Disney+, along with other options.

The shift that we have had over the last twenty years means that we have gone from owning our own media to merely being renters. Having a subscription can be a mixed bag. On the one hand, we are able to see shows that we may not have purchased. This results in us being able to consume more media, which creates more demand, which means more content will be created. Being able to subscribe to a service means that you can dip in and out, and you do not need to make a significant commitment to the service. To provide some perspective for the amount of content available, according to Variety, in 2019, Netflix alone had more new shows than the entire television industry did in 2005. And that is just one streaming service, so you can imagine how many new shows were created in 2019.

With having subscriptions, on an intellectual level, we all know that we do not have perpetual access to media, yet is not always something that we fully understand. We have all had a show that we enjoyed on a service disappear because the rights for that program with that service have expired. This is quite common with movies and TV Shows. Whereas it is not as common with music. However, I have experienced, first hand, a song that gets pulled from a service, yet it does happen from time to time.

I am one who subscribes to fewer streaming and subscription services than most. I have Amazon Prime, Apple TV+, Apple Music, and This Old House. I used to subscribe to Apple Arcade, but I cancelled it, but that is another story. The service I use the most is Apple Music. This is because I listen to music throughout the work day.

Now I have had songs that have not been playable, because they were singles and the album that contains the single has been released, so access to the single is removed. In these cases, I just re-add the song and continue one. However, I have not had a song just become completely unavailable before. I went to listen to the song “Never Told a Lie” by Noah Smith using Apple Music and I could not. At first I thought, maybe an album has been released with it on it, but that is not the case.

Next, I was thought, I will go and buy the song. I searched the iTunes Store, could not find it. I then searched Amazon Music, could not find it in the U.S. It is not available on Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, Pandora, or any other streaming service in the U.S. Even the YouTube video has been pulled. When I did some searching it is possible to purchase, just not in the U.S. You can purchase the song in the UK, Germany, Italy, and many other countries.

While I am generally in favor of streaming services, the times when media is no longer be available, can be inconvenient. Suffice to say, if you want to be sure that some media remains available you will need to purchase it. You will likely want to purchase the items before it is too late.

I do this with movies and some TV shows, but not as often with music. Due to not being able to listen to “Never Told a Lie” anymore, I have taken my own advice and purchased a number of songs that I did not own, but had added to my iTunes library from Apple Music. In all, I ended up purchasing 39 songs. Some of these songs were just singles, so I purchased the entire “album”, while others were just songs on albums, so I purchased them individually.

I understand that this is very much a first-world problem, but it is one that you may experience at some point and it is easily avoidable. If you would like to see the list of songs that I purchased, you can do so by browsing the Apple Music playlist.