Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Octyx 2016/2 launched

October 23, 2016

Hello to all,

As you may know, one of my hobbies is to maintain a software program, called Octyx, since 2004. Octyx is, by storing data on your local PC, capable of supporting you in managing and organizing your daily life.

You can enter your book collection, disc or film collections, as well as several other collections. Next to that, you can manage your daily medications, your to-do’s, and even your documents, passwords and your various bank accounts.

All this in a secure way, and since April 2016, also available on your iPhone to have your data with you, all the time. I wrote several pages about the previous release, end of April. See here for the April overview.

Today I released the latest update, Octyx version 2016/2, which you can download for free from www.octyx.com. If you decide to keep using it after 30 days, you just pay 10 Euro, and that only once to use it forever. Almost for free, you will say. At indeed it is.

intro_002

This latest update brings again several new functionalities, and mainly to see more data on the iPhone. Added are todo’s, books, music and films. Stored images on your PC can be transferred as well. All available via a secure cloud environment and the updated iOS Octyx App (see Octyx 2.0.2 on the Apple Appstore for more information).

The developments on Octyx are not yet finished. Still to do is to make the other data available on the iPhone in a secure way, and to develop also the same info on the iPad. But that is for the year 2017.

Take care, and have a nice day,

Bas

 

Doing nothing? Also not so easy in 2014.

December 26, 2013

Hello to all,

As I wrote in one of my first blogs, doing nothing is fairly impossible for me. I am really not good at it, although there is progress :-).

While it is still Christmas over here in Belgium, I finished my travel blog, I continue to read my tramway and train books I received for Christmas, I need to clean my car, I want to read and write on IT in 2014, I just finished again a good book, and I want to listen to the Top 2000 on the Radio. A cool day, in fact.

Travel

First of all, I just finalized my last blog post on the preparation of my trip to Australia. Only 1 week left from my departure. Just done, check it out here.

Books

I just read ‘Trams 2014‘, the yearly book on tramways. Europe is mostly described and sometimes also other parts of the world. The book is published since 1979, so 35 years of history on my bookshelf on tramways. I really appreciate the editor, Alk Uitgeverij  in The Netherlands for their support. Fantastic books for a reasonable price. And tramways in Europe are still going strong; much better than 35 years ago, especially in France.

I also just started to read the ‘Spoorwegen 2014‘ book (is Dutch for Railways). Also edited by De Alk and especially for those people who wish to know everything that happens on railways in Europe. As in the above mentioned book on trams, also this book has many good photos. But a bit too much pages this year. Too heavy. But still very complete.

I also just finished two good books (in Dutch): “Geloof je ogen” written by Linwood Barclay (in English “Trust your Eyes; not yet published ‘en français’). A very well written thriller with suspense, humor, action, and very important, a final plot which you discover on the last page of the book. Back to “old-fashioned” suspense, as thrillers should be. You should read this one.

The second book I read last week is “Alles wat overblijft‘ written by Elisabeth Haynes (in English “Human Remains”; not yet published ‘en français’). Also a thriller, although here you know the responsible almost from the beginning. The interesting thing from this book is that although many people die in this book, there are no murders as such. It is a different kind of book than you may read normally, but I found it interesting to read.

IT

Several of my previous colleagues know that I consider IT as an art: the art to make useful and reliable solutions for businesses and consumers for an acceptable price. The art itself is to bring hardware, software and people together at the right moment in a professional way. The year 2013 almost finished, I wish to “throw” some of these items forward for 2014.

For businesses we may expect many items popping up: big data, the internet of things (translated by for example google glass, iwatch, …), mobile apps and data, the cloud and 3D printing. Some of the solutions that will be brought forward by these techniques, and by the related startups, will again be a breakthrough and will bring changes to the way we act and live. For example, I expect the ibeacon solution pushed by Apple to become a valuable asset for businesses.

For consumers, let’s check if Snapshat will still be the big thing for the youngsters. The same for Tinder. Both apps allow for further and more intense social interaction. In Holland, the Hyves social site did not survive in 2013.

It will also be interesting to see what happens with Nokia and Microsoft. Or with Blackberry and Microsoft. Blackberry is ‘out’ for the youngsters, but many large companies still use Blackberry material and software solutions.

And finally, let’s see what the digital financial world will bring us. Will the Bitcoin be our new currency? I have some doubts. Will the banks make further steps towards digital banking ? They must.

All of this will bring IT again some steps further. Still a very fine art, but luckily for all of us more and more mature, and hugely interesting.

Music

During the Christmas period, and during the writing of this blog, I listen to the radio, and especially to the famous Top 2000.  I listen to the Dutch one, although I am convinced that every country has its own. In Holland, the top 2000 is on the air from December 25 to December 31. At the moment I write this text, they play number 1628 (“Koot en Bie: zoek jezelf“); a nice song from the seventies on “being yourselves”, only known in Holland :-).

On number 1 since years is the classical Queen song Bohemian Rhapsody. And a nice example of modern social media is that the full text was twittered a few days ago: check it here. A real interesting example. And I expect that the top 10 of 2013 will also be again in the top 10 of 2014.

Cars

Many new cars are expected in 2014. Next to the new Mini (partly build in Holland), we expect the new Mercedes C and GLA,  the BMW X4, i8,  2 coupé and CAT, Volkswagens new Golf Sportsvan, etcetera. And several new Japanese, French and Korean cars are also expected. Just to indicate that the era of normal cars (hatchback, sedan and van) is definitely over. Now almost every carmaker has SUV’s, SAV’s, and these also  in mini and maxi formats.

I expect also that cooperation modes will progress, such as the new Twingo from Renault and the new Smart from Mercedes, built on the same platform. And China will become more and more important for the European car manufacturers, as Europe in 2014 will still be in ‘regression mode’.

2014

2014 will be again a wonderful year to come. Many expectations, challenges, cities, ideas, solutions and emotions. Thus doing nothing will therefore still be difficult for me. That’s for sure. By the way: my next blog on “doing nothing” will be published after returning from my trip to Australia, so towards begin of February.

Ensure that also in 2014 you have fun and that you stay cool with 2 feet on the ground. I wish you a happy new year in good health,

Bas

Trams 2014

Spoorwegen 2014

Geloof je ogen

Alles wat overblijft

Top 2000

Big Data Landscape

Mini evolution

Het Rosie Project : A nice Christmas gift

December 8, 2013

Hello to all,

Today a book review of ‘Het Rosie Project’. The book is written by Graeme Simsion, an author from Australia. The book became a huge success after it was published in 2012, and is already translated in many languages. Enthousiastic reviews everywhere. The original english title is ‘The Rosie Project’, and in Germany it is titled ‘Das Rosie Projekt’. Le livre sera publié en français par les éditions Robert Laffont en 2014.

The story is about an autistic professor, Don Tillman, teaching genetics. He is very well-organized, intelligent, adorable, but socially quite handicapped as he can not express his feelings in a way that others are used to. The professor is looking for a woman and for love, however due to his extremely scheduled way of life, this is a huge challenge. He decides to create a 16-page questionnaire asking all possible questions to find the right partner.

When having met Susie, a young lady working in a bar, he wishes to help her finding her father, but he has to learn new techniques to bring this to a success. This creates many situations not foreseen in his well-organized way of living. Ultimately he falls in love with her without realizing this, and the story finishes with a happy end.

The story is hilarious, well written and the book made me smile. I liked it because it is different. One can argue that it is again a love story, which is true, but it is a very funny love story. I liked for example the fact that every specific action is organized by the professor, such as the ‘Wife project’, or ‘Coat incident’.

The book is very easy to read, so I suggest it as a perfect gift for the Christmas tree: a gift to someone or for yourselves. You will see people smile during the reading of the book, and be happy at the end. And it learns us something about people and the way we think and act.

So why not just read this ?

Take care,

Bas

Het Rosie Project

Het Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

The Rosie Project

Das Rosie Projekt

Das Rosie Projekt

Book review: ‘Wie wind zaait’ by Nele Neuhaus. Aussi en français.

November 29, 2013

Hello to all,

This is short book review of ‘Wie wind zaait’ of Nele Neuhaus, the dutch version.

For our french readers: en français, le nom du livre est ‘Vent de sang’ édité par Actes Sud. For our German readers: it is called ‘Wer Wind sät’. I did not find yet an english translation. All Nele Neuhaus books can be found in bookshops in many countries, or on the website of Actes sud, Amazon Germany, Amazon Uk or bol.com for dutch versions.

This specific book ‘Wie wind zaait’ is the third book translated into Dutch about the colleagues at the police department K11 in mid-Germany: Pia Kirchhof and Oliver Von Bodenstein. The series has in Germany already 6 different books and the translation into Dutch is not in the same order as she wrote the books.

The book can be described as a thriller. It has multiple story lines, although the main story is related to the installation of wind turbines in a forest and residential area in Germany and the acceptance of the local population. A realistic theme nowadays, in close coordination with described climate issues. Next to that, there are several implications of the people involved including as most important the search of the murderer of the guardian of the wind turbines main offices and the murder of a close friend of the family Von Bodenstein.

The stories are well told and the characters are realistic. It may a bit difficult for some readers to understand the various characters as there are many people involved. However, Nele Neuhaus was able to present many surprises in the book and the 478 pages became fast page-turners for me.

I’ve read all 3 dutch translated books, and sofar, I found this book the best of the three. The other 2 books, ‘Diepe wonden’ and ‘Sneeuwwitje moet sterven’ were also good, but I found them a little less well written compared to this one. Nele Neuhaus also writes children books, and next year she will publish a different kind of book under her maiden name.

The last months I read many books, these days often described as ‘literary thriller’ or ‘psychological thriller’. This book, ‘wie wind zaait’, was again an old-fashioned normal written thriller. As they say in Dutch, this was ‘gewoon een lekker boek‘.

For me personally, I hope that her other 3 thrillers are also translated into Dutch as soon as possible. If you wish to read a good thriller during the christmas period, I definitely advise this book.

Take care, and have a good read,

Bas

Wie wind zaait

Vent de sang

Wer Wind sät

Donna Tartt’s latest book ‘Het Puttertje’

October 30, 2013

Hello to all,

I just finished reading the latest book of Donna Tartt : in Dutch it is called ‘Het Puttertje’, making a reference to the famous painting of ‘Het Puttertje’ of Carel Fabritius in 1654.

The English name of the painting (and the book) is : The Goldfinch. Nota: pour les francais: le nom du livre sera ‘Le chardonneret’ et disponible à partir de janvier 2014.

The Dutch version of the book contains more than 900 pages, and 1300 gram. That’s what one can call a book!

Although my favourite books are normally thrillers, this specific book is a novel. As Donna Tartt doesn’t write a lot of books (this is her third book), and the 2 previous ones were really good books, I started with enthusiasm on her 3rd novel.

The story is written around a painting ‘the goldfinch’, a famous painting over more than 350 years old. Due to the big fire in Delft in 1654, very little paintings of Fabritius are left. And this specific one is really nice.

It begins with a visit in a museum where the main character, Theo, still very young with his 13 years, is hurt and loses his mother by an explosion in a New York museum. The story tells his life, from a lonely person in New York, via Las Vegas at his father, and back to New York where he becomes a famous art specialist. But at the explosion, he has taken the painting with him, and being afraid to return it, it becomes the ‘red line’ throughout the book.

The book is a story about life, power, low, fate and trust. Well defined characters, with my personal favorite ‘Hobie’. Well written scenes, especially in New York and Amsterdam. The story around the chain (check the goldfinch!) and the life of Theo is well thought.

But: for me the book is too long. I do not think that over 900 pages were needed to tell this story. Even with all the details, the background, the people and all the other fictional aspects, I had several pages I could read very fast because, in my humble view, in fact nothing happened. I would call it a ‘flat’ book.

As I said to some people after having read the book: on page 600 nothing really had occurred. The last 300 pages, the adventures in Europe added some interest, but not enough to make this a top novel. I was disappointed after reading the last page.

I am sorry for the fans of Donna Tartt : to me, it is not her best book. But if you are fan, you should for sure read ‘Het Puttertje’. No doubt. But it is not my personal 2013 favourite.

Being back soon, take care!

ps You can currently admire the real painting at ‘The Frick Collection’ in New York, as they have their great overview of Dutch painters (Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Hals: Masterpieces of Dutch Painting from the Mauritshuis). Until January 19, 2014.

Image1

Mauritshuis_Fabritius_605

Ludlum – Het Janus complot

May 25, 2013

As many of you probbaly did also, I read almost all of the original Ludlum series. It started in the 70’s with great books such as The Osterman weekend (“Het Osterman weekend”) or The chancellors manuscript (“Het Hoover archief”). Great books. All.

Today I share my thoughts on one of the latest out of the series: The Janus Reprisal (“Het Janus complot”), I read this week.

As you may know, Robert Ludlum wrote many books (check for wikipedia here):

* The books credited to him and written fully by himself using different characters. 19 books always in his famous fast style. You liked them, or not. No gray zones. There were also 5 further books published in which Ludlum’s personal influence was visible, but they were finished and published after his death.

* The 3 books he wrote on Jason Bourne by himself, followed by 7 further books written by Eric Lustbader after Ludlum’s death in 2001. Personally, I am not a big fan of the Jason Bourne character, as part of the books always describe a mysterious organization (‘Treadstone’), and, as I see it, never being really explained.

* A third series based on the character Jon Smith of Covert One, written largely after his death, and always written in combination with different writers , such as Gayle Lynds, Patrick Larkin, or the one I discuss today with Jamie Freveletti.

Overall, until end 2012, around 45 books, with further 2 more coming in 2013.

So, ‘Het Janus complot’, written in 2012 by Jamie Freveletti is also based on the Covert One Series, with Jon Smith described as a combination of a scientist with a strong military background. As indicated by the wikipedia page, the books feature a team of political and technical experts, belonging to a top-secret U.S. agency called Covert-One, who fight corruption,conspiracy and bioweaponary at the highest and most dangerous levels of society.

It starts with a terrorists attack on a conference hotel in The Hague, The Netherland. Jon Smith is caught in the crossfire and barely escapes… but not before discovering a picture of himself and two other targets in the pocket of one of the terrorists. Simultaneously, the whole city is under attack: bombs are going off at the train station, the airport, and the International Criminal Court, where Pakistani war criminal Oman Dattar manages to escape.

Dattar was under trial for crimes against humanity and does not really like the United States and its allies. He controls a mysterious new weapon and is ready to unleash it against the West. Unless Covert-One can stop him. Dattar is also angry at a women who took his money and starts getting after her. But she’s strong, and difficult to get.

As usual for this series, the setting is in various countries, but this time mainly focused on the US. The book is really describing action, and you get value for money. There is less focus on the plot, while several items can be thought up upfront by the reader. The book reads well for a sunday afternoon, and you may well like it.

The end is quite straightforward as for this Jon Smith series: end good, all good. Overall: a nice book to read, but for a thriller I was not impressed.

My rating (for thrillers) : 6/10.

One day off tomorrow, so back on Monday with a new blog. Take care.

Janus

Books – Jussi Adler-Olsen – Het Marco effect

May 10, 2013

Today I write on the book ‘Het Marco Effect’ from Jussi Adler-Olsen which I finished reading yesterday.

The original title is (in Danish) “Marco Effekten”, and in English “The Marco Effect”. The book is available in Denmark since end of 2012, and the Dutch translation was done begin of 2013. The book (in Dutch) has 508 pages. It’s not yet published in France to date.

This book, already the 5th book in the series “Series Q” (in France it is called “Département V”) a series about Carl Morck of the Q department. The Q department has its place in the basement of the Police Headquarters and treats the ‘forgotten’ cases. The team consists of Carl, a person with a complicated private life and personality. Next to himself, there is Assad, a person with many hidden skills and advantages from Irak with a past. The 3rd person is Rose, also a special personality but very effective. The three of them together have the continuous challenge to solve many strange cases.

The previous books also described the 3 characters, although we discover more and more specific things for each of them. The series ‘Q’ are up till now very well documented and contain many storylines with continuous suspense.

This book describes the story of Marco, an intelligent teenager having to live in a group of people, mostly from a gipsy background. Under the leadership of a strong clan leader, he and his other ‘team’ members are obliged to steal and break into houses in Copenhagen. After some time, Marco decides to quit this environment, but by accident he discovers a body. At the same time, the team of Carl starts to investigate the disappearance of an official of the Danish Government possibly implicated in corruption. Both elements lead to a book with many storylines well mixed into each other, a very clear and in-depth description of the characters, and a well written plot.

I consider this book, as the previous other ‘Q’ books, very good structured, with many details. They are also putting you to laugh as the characters described are so well brought to life, that some scenes become really funny. The series  are giving a good description of Denmark, actual social views, and are a good mix of classical police work and some suspense. As I personally like books in which the plot is only knew almost on the last line, this is for me not a 100% thriller, but a well written detective with a high degree of addiction.

I’ve read the whole series. My advice : do it also yourselves. You will not regret it. My rating (for thrillers) : 8/10.

Back tomorrow with a new blog. Take care.

Marco

Books – Håkan Nesser – Het tweede leven van meneer Roos

May 5, 2013

I read many thrillers every year, and almost always in Dutch language. In my posts I will always blog on it in the english language, even if the english version has not yet been released.

Håkan Nesser wrote in the past a famous series on inspector ‘Van Veeteren’. Since a few years he started to write a new series on inspector Barbarotti.

When we were last week in Warsaw, I read the 3rd book in this series , which is the latest one translated into Dutch : Het tweede leven van meneer Roos. In swedish it is called : Berättelse om herr Roos. A possible translation in english is “The second life of mister Roos”. 566 pages.

The Barbarotti series are ‘less’ thrillers than the Van Veeteren stories. They are more descriptive and contain more character descriptions.

This specific story explains the situation of a person in its late fifties, not really happy, and waiting for the ‘thing to happen’. And it happens. He starts his second life and several challenges pop up. It is the story of a murder, a chase, and people discovering that life can bring good but also bad surprises. All the details you’ll find in the book.

This new series of inspector Barbarotti : I think they are easy to read and contain many interesting thoughts and descriptions. But do not expect the action you find at other swedish authors.

My rating (for thrillers) : 6/10.

Het tweede leven van meneer Roos