Friday, August 10, 2007

Desert Island Lists

When I first started blogging, and restarted blogging a few weeks back, the most important task was to attend to my music and book lists. Making sure these lists are available was more important than actual blog entries - kind of like when I make sure the stereo is set up first in a new residence - then I can get on with the work at hand.

I've always loved the notion of "desert island" lists, even though it's unlikely that I'll be appearing in Castaway any time soon. But for some reason I am drawn to books and music that I know have more to offer than one reading or a few listenings will yield. When I was writing computer games for a living, an industry/consumer publication (I don't recall which one) asked some game developers what one game they would want if stranded on a desert island. One developer said "Visual C++", which was the programming language and tool most widely used at that time for developing new games. I thought it was a profound answer. I'll take the one thing that is renewable, able to be looked at freshly each day - the one that has enough raw material for a lifetime.

So perhaps I'll take the opportunity to occasionally write about items on my list. In fact, why not start now. I'll pick an easy one from the book list - Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson. This is probably the most entertaining book I have ever read. It was sheer fun from start to finish - sort of a combination of computer hacking and swashbuckling adventure spanning a 60 year timespan. The computer episodes were detailed enough to seem authentic and challenging if you are a true tech lover like I am. And the adventure segments were highly imaginative, yet totally believable. I still carry strong images of two particular themes/scenes- a daring Japanese POW escape from a Pacific island via tunnel, and a running thread where a familiarity with pipe organ mechanics leads to mastery of various computing and decoding devices. The book is over 900 pages long, and I nearly read it in one long sitting!

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