Book Review – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

I’ve been reading a ton of J.R.R. Tolkien these last few months, so naturally the next step is to start reading some of C.S. Lewis’ works. I’ve started reading arguably his best known work, The Chronicles of Narnia. Like with The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia is a fantasy children’s book (or series), and also just like The Hobbit, it’s unfortunate that I never was exposed to these beautiful stories as a child; neither at home or school.

Theirs a debate regarding the reading order in how one should approach reading The Chronicles of Narnia. That is reading the books in their original publication or chronological order. Though their is no right or wrong answer, from what I can see online, it seems to me the best option is to read the books is in their original publication order. So this is what I did. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series. The book’s main protagonists are four young children and one main antagonist. Before reading this book, I’d imagine The Chronicles of Narnia to be completely high fantasy without any contemporary elements (similar to Tolkien’s legendarium). I was mistaken, while Narnia is completely fictional secondary world with many mythical creatures, the stories’ main protagonists are Englishmen and women during the WWII era (book was published post WWII).

This is the first book of a seven book series, so it might be an inaccurate assumption to do, but reading just The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it feels to me that The Chronicles of Narnia is a not an epic story (large in scope) with vast array of characters and many subplots.

This was such an enjoyable read, I practically read almost the entire book in one sit-in, completely oblivious from time.

Blocking Facebook and YouTube


Although I didn’t mentioned it as being one of my New Year’s Resolution. This year I’m opting to limit myself wasting time in social media sites, in particular YouTube and Facebook. It’s incredible how much time I waste in these social media sites, instead of using this precious time in something more productive and practical. Like improving my Portuguese, reading, or studying for an AWS certification!

My first step was removing the Facebook mobile and messenger applications from my phone. But then I decided to up the ante, so I’m also blocking all Facebook and YouTube access to my primary laptop.

I’ve been using pfSense for years, and one of the reasons why I love it is because of it’s simplicity. So blocking certain traffic to a specific host in your network is a relatively thing to implement.

1). First I created aliases of both URLs that I was blocking and another another for my laptop.

Firewall → Aliases

2).Then it’s just a matter of adding the new block rule to the firewall.

Firewall → Rules → LAN
(rule)

(target)

For now I’m keeping Twitter, since that’s mainly where I get a hold of my futebol news and Reddit, since that’s the place where I get my technology news from. Also, this block currently only affects my laptop. I’m still able to access Facebook (via web) and YouTube from my phone, but I nethertheless I feel this is a good time management process improvement.

Book Review – In-Flight Portuguese: Learn Before You Land

Anyone who is completely new to Portuguese, this book and it’s companion CD is going to be a complete waste of time. This book is really short and it doesn’t go into detail whatsoever; it’s simply just phrases. Aimed for travelers, this book’s phrases teach (or translate really); phrases that a traveler might need to know; greetings, basic expressions, numbers, flight, hotel, restaurant info, money, shopping. etc.

This book was released in 2001, and almost seventeen years later, I honestly can’t think of pitch on why someone would buy this. I know Google Translate is not good when it comes to translate full sentences and phrases correctly, but with proper training in Portuguese, Google Translate does a good job translating words from were an intermediate Portuguese learner can mold it into a more accurate translation. To me this book was not waste of time, since it was a good refreshner, but that’s it. This is simply just a reference book.

This is the first book of many that I’m planning on reading to improve my Portuguese.

 

Book Review – The Lost Road : And Other Writings


The Lost Road and Other Writings is the fifth book in the History of Middle-Earth twelve set book series. In this book, we finally start reading the early manuscripts that will make up the stories regarding Númenor. The first title portion of this book, The Lost Road follows a very unique short story that connects the modern world, to that of the Númenórean era.

Given that the entire History of Middle-Earth series was published after The Silmarillion. To me what stood out the most reading this book was the acknowledgment of Christopher Tolkien regarding editorial mistakes that he made during his scrupulous work in The Silmarillion; in particular those belonging to the tale of Beren and Lúthien. Additionally, it was also really interesting to read passages that had some events that were inconstant with some of the narrative of the stories, and how even Christopher Tolkien himself had no explanation of it. I can only imagine how rigorous, J.R.R. work might of been when he was writing all of these stories, that he possibly didn’t noticed these mistakes in his original manuscripts.

The last portion of this book starts delving (although not in a linguistic scholarly manner) into J.R.R. Tolkien’s languages. A significant amount of etymology is covered. It’s quite amazing the vast amount of work Tolkien did in creating his languages and incorporating them into his secondary world. Just about almost everything whether being a character or a location in works has a linguistic meaning associated with their names. This actually reminded me of an amusing George R.R. Martin interview I saw a while ago were he explains how he comes up with character names. I don’t minimize Martin, but reading the etymologies of the words Tolkien invented; he is on a different level.

PlayStation 4 Hard Drive Upgrade

I was pleasantly surprise to see how incredibly easy it was to upgrade the hard drive on a PS4. I have an original PS4 model with 500GB storage, and for the longest time I’ve always found myself having to constantly delete games in order to install new ones. I’m not a PlayStation Now subscriber and my digital library of games is fairly small, yet 500GB was not sufficient space for my gaming needs. With the ridiculously amount of disk space modern games take up, quite frankly unless you’re playing less than three games at any given time, just about everyone will run into this problem. Luckily not long ago Sony finally patched the PS4 to support external storage. While I do have an extra external 500GB USB drive laying around, it really bothered me that Sony didn’t placed the USB ports on the back side of the PS4. Usually, I really don’t care about aesthetics, but having the external drive connected in the front of the PS4 and be completely visible felt like eye sore. So I decided to upgrade the internal system drive. Upgrading the internal drive does not void your warranty and Sony has easy to follow instructions on how to perform a new installation of the PS4 software onto a new drive. https://www.playstation.com/en-gb/get-help/ps4-system-software

Given the positive reviews, I opted to upgrade to a 2TB Seagate FireCuda SSHD. The entire hard drive upgrade process including the software installation took me less than 10 minutes to complete! I didn’t restore the data of the old factory 500GB drive, instead I decided to start from a clean slate. 2TB should be sufficient space for my gaming needs, if anything I’m angered I didn’t did the upgrade earlier.

Book Review – The Shaping of Middle-Earth


The Shaping of Middle-Earth is a continuation of the development of early myths of made up The Silmarillion. This book is mainly just a combination of passages, that further develop Tolkien’s amazing mythology. The Shaping of Middle-Earth is divided into seven sections:
1. “Prose Fragments Following the Lost Tales”
1. “The Earliest ‘Silmarillion'”
2. “The Quenta”
3. “The First ‘Silmarillion’ Map”
4. “The Ambarkanta”
5. “The Earliest Annals of Valinor”
6. “The Earliest Annals of Beleriand”

At this point, I estimate about 70% of The Silmarillion is almost at it final form, excluding the Downfall of Númenor and Of The Rings of Power and The Third Age. In this book, you’ll find some of the very first Silmarillion maps, and the history behind them. Just like the first three previous books in The History of Middle-Earth series, Christopher Tolkien does an awesome job analyzing and explaining his father’s writings in an easy to understand manner. To me, the best thing about reading The History of Middle-Earth is learning about the things that were not included the final version of The Silmarillion. For example, in this book you’ll learn more “The Final Battle” and the ending of the world, which this is only mentioned in The Silmarillion, but doesn’t go into detail. In this book, you’ll read the details (and different versions) and holyshit it’s absolutely amazing. J.R.R. Tolkien’s creation story is amazing, but wow, his story of the ending of the world is just as epic!

This is the fourth book in the twelve set volume series of The History of Middle-Earth, and I cannot stress this enough; in order to enjoy these books you really need to understand and like the stories in The Silmarillion. Reading The Shaping of Middle-Earth, felt to me like reading (albeit a differ version) The Silmarillion for the tenth time. This is not a problem for me, since I absolutely love it and it’s personally my favorite book of all time.

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

In no particular order:

    1. Lose the weight I gained in 2017.
    2. Eat more healthy.
    3. Write more.
    4. Replace my daily Castilian vocabulary with Portuguese.
    5. Obtain a professional tech certification (AWS, Docker, or RHCE).
    6. Not buy anymore video games.
    7. Delve into the world of photography.
    8. Start my day at 5:00 am.

Bye 2017

2017 has been a the year that I went full blown Tolkien. Although I must admit, this year has been one of my poorest reading years in terms of quantity, but of quality, that’s a different story. Another cool thing that happened this year was my purchase of an awesome Sauron statue. In terms of politics and popular culture. 2017 has been the year, I’ve lost all respect to the alleged conservative media (mainstream and independent). In my personal development, 2017 was an excellent year in my goal of speaking Portuguese fluently.
Lastly and to conclude, not all things were positive this year. 2017 has been the year basic logic and rationale has been thrown out the door, and abolishment of Net-Neutrality is the perfect example.

Adeus 2017, and olá 2018.

Lord of the Rings TV Series

When I first heard the news that Amazon was going to making a TV serious based on The Lord of the Rings, I honestly didn’t really paid much attention to it. Since my impression was of; oh look, another major entertainment outlet that’s jumping on the live action fantasy bandwagon. Just like with Netflix making a TV series based on the Witcher universe, effectively both to competing and trying to follow the incredible success that HBO is having with the Game of Thrones.

It wasn’t until I found a reddit post where someone indicated that Christopher Tolkien had resigned from his position in the Tolkien Estate that made me worried. Christopher Tolkien is almost 93 years old, so it was inevitable that he was going to step down as the guardian of the Tolkien Estate, however giving Christopher’s history and the timing of the announcement, I must say this is now a little concerning. We’re all thankful of the role Christopher Tolkien has had in editing and publishing his father’s work posthumously. But more importantly, I think we should more thankful that Christopher Tolkien kept a firm tight control of his father’s work. In fact, it is well known that Christopher was not a big fan of the Peter Jackson LOTR/Hobbit films because these didn’t fully portrayed the stories the way the novels did.


George R. R. Martin on Christopher Tolkien

By reading Amazon’s official announcement, it looks like they only have the rights for the LOTR, and possibly The Hobbit. This doesn’t necessarily mean, that Amazon has the rights to all of Tolkien’s Legendarium. However the sentence “The deal includes a potential additional spin-off series.” makes me think that, it might be possible.

Set in Middle Earth, the television adaptation will explore new storylines preceding J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring. The deal includes a potential additional spin-off series.

Perhaps the only silver lining here, is that if their were ever a live action adaptation of the stories that make up The Silmarillion, the only possible this could be done is if it had its own TV series and not a not through multiple movies.

It would be really tragic to see Middle-Earth based theme parks, or even worse, see Tolkien’s stories be adapted into never ending shitfests like those in the Star Wars universe.

Book Review – Gwent: Art of The Witcher Card Game

I must admit, I didn’t fully play Gwent until my third Witcher 3 playthrough. Gwent: Art of The Witcher Card Game is a beautiful 245 page art book that can be used as reference or companion to the stand alone Gwent card game. This book does NOT teach not play Gwent, but rather it gives you a brief description of the characters in the Gwent cards. In some occasions, it’s just a simple quote related to the card being demonstrated, while in others is a full concept explanation of the art; written by the artist themselves.

The book covers all four Gwent card decks: Monsters, Nothern Realms, Skellige, and Nilfgaard. The illustrations in this book are beautiful, some spanning through the entire page, while others being much smaller.

In a universe as vast and rich in lore as The Witcher, I was surprise to see new characters/cards be created just specifically for the card game.

I love the Witcher universe, and love seeing and reading new content of the Witcher universe that was never mentioned on any of the games, but played a major role in the Witcher novels.