HashiCorp Rocks!

It never really bothered me when companies use open source software and implement an “Open Core” business model around the software that they give for free (both as in freedom and beer). After all, I’m a capitalist as well (I also love my cash). This is the prime reason why I side with the open source folks over the free software purists. But that’s a different story, for another day.

HashiCorp is the company behind Vagrant. Vagrant itself, is completely open source however some additional extensions to it are not. Those being support for VMware Fusion and Workstation virtualization platforms.

About a year ago, I became the maintainer of a Vagrant plugin called vagrant-notify. At that time it only worked with VirtualBox and one of the goals of mine in becoming the maintainer of the plugin, was to have it working with many different virtualization platforms as possible. Also not to mention that many people in the Vagrant community also wanted this.

Given that each license costs $79, I contacted HashiCorp’s customer support to see if they provide me with either a trial, discounted, or free license for both of their VMware Fusion and WMware Workstation Vagrant plugins. After a few days, a HashiCorp customer rep reached back to me and low and behold they were awesome enough to give me licenses for both VMware Fusion and Workstation completely free of charge without any hesitation of them. This is a small, yet an awesome demonstration of a company that totally understands open source and how both commercial proprietary software can co-exist with free open source software. Although it may bug some people the wrong way.

Book Review – Unfinished Tales

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth is a collection of both new stories and expansion of stories from The Silmarillion, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit. That being said, it is absolutely necessary to read those books first prior to reading this one. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth is not a traditional novel, instead you should approach this book as a literary analysis by Christopher Tolkien on his father’s work and unpublished work. Given how incredibly complex The Silmarillion is, reading this book will make you comprehend it more (in my case love it even more). I know I found myself plenty of times being confused about certain characters, their relationships, and certainly their languages. In my opinion this book does a good job further explaining this. The writing style of this book is more like of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. So unlike The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales is a really easy and straight forward read.

This book consists of different stories. All of which at the end of each story Christopher Tolkien further explains something in particular about that story, including perhaps some inconsistencies or unfinished works regarding that story. In addition he also includes notes/comments made by his father regarding something about that particular story. Reading these portions of the book should make us really appreciate Christopher Tolkien’s work on editing his father’s unpublished work.

To say that Tolkien’s legendarium is complex, is an understatement. It’s absolutely amazing how much work J.R.R. Tolkien did in creating this amazing fantasy universe. Reading this book for example, gave me such appreciation to the different elven languages that he created. Everything from the different languages to the names of the characters, they all have a meaning that fits into the narrative of the story. And I think that is absolutely beautiful.

Happy 10 years!

So this blog is officially ten years old! Well, not quite. Technically, I began experimenting with WordPress 1.5 back in early 2005. Back then I was a still in college, on the now extinct ITT-Tech. At that time I wanted to learn the LAMP stack more in depth (I’m still learning since this is a never ending process), so I decided to host my WordPress blog from home internet connection. It’s amazing how this little experiment helped me learn much of the foundations that I use almost on a daily basis.

Book Review – The Silmarillion

I have read many books throughout my life, and I have to say, The Silmarillion is my favorite book of all time. This book has some really amazing stories, and it’s unique creation and publication made me love it even more. To start with, this book is NOT for everyone. Also I would definitely suggest to anyone wanting to read this book, to NOT rush through it. Thus said, this book is absolutely amazing. When I first saw the Tolkien Society website giving tips on how to read this book, it initially made me somewhat worried. While the writing style in this book is definitely “old school” or “biblical” as many people seem to say, I absolutely loved every portion of it.

I took my time reading this book, in fact I actually re-read a good chunk of the book twice to fully understand it. The fact that this book is somewhat challenging to read to fully understand, I feel that once you understand how the stories are being told, you’ll truly appreciate the beauty of how they’re being described by Tolkien.

I find it really interesting that many readers often compare The Silmarillion to the bible, and or being the bible equivalent of Tolkien’s legendarium. Given’s Tolkien’s religious background, I can see why many people make these comparisons.
One thing to keep in mind, is that this book doesn’t necessarily have a central protagonist. Although, I think the most important character The Silmarillion is the elf Fëanor, whose actions ended up changing the history of the world forever. I can see why certain readers would prefer The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings over The Silmarillion. Instead this book is divided into five parts:

  • Ainulindalë
  • The Quenta Silmarillion
  • The Akallabêth
  • Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

Unlike The Lord of the Rings, were people who read that book that didn’t liked, and bitched about how slow pace that book is. Well, in The Silmarillion the stories are incredibly fast pace. This book covers the first few thousands of years of the “Arda” (the world). Also, this is not quite a spoiler, but it’s well worth mentioning is that they’re aren’t NO hobbits in The Silmarillion.

Overall, with the exception of the love story of Beren and Luthien, this book is fairly dark and filled with tragedy. It’s somewhat saddening to read of the fate that many of the characters in this book ultimately have. Speaking off, there is a massive amount of characters in this book which is certainly confusing. In fact, Christopher Tolkien mentions this in the Foreword and suggested seeing the family genealogies outline to avoid confusion.

I found a very informative video on YouTube in which Christopher Tolkien talks about The Silmarillion. Watching this interview made me love The Silmarillion even more.

The Silmarillion was not finished during J.R.R. Tolkien’s lifetime, and it was his son Christopher Tolkien that finished it (and later also edited and published other writings of his father). The fact that this book took J.R.R. Tolkien’s entire lifetime to write, is what captivates me the most. In the above video Christopher Tolkien explains the history of creation of The Silmarillion, and the reason why his father was not able to finish it.

A Beautiful Irony

They’re very few things that can captivate me emotionally. This fan made video is one of those few.

I’ve started reading The Silmarillion over the weekend, and the very first story in the book is called Ainulindalë. This story describes how the world in which Middle-earth resides in, was originally created. The beautiful irony of this video is that it outlines two things that I’m not exactly to fond upon. That is creationism and book to movie adaptations.

Creationism is a crock of shit, as I’ve always seen it (and will continue to see it unless theirs scientific evidence that says so otherwise) as being plain fantasy. Yet, Tolkien’s own creation of his secondary world described in Ainulindalë is so beautifully done. The second point regarding book to movie adaptations; I’ve never been a big fan of books (or comics) being adapted to movies. Mainly because for theatrical reasons, the movie is not always an 100% match to the book. The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit films are a perfect example of this. Yet, even tough some of the visuals in this fan made video are plain wrong, and it doesn’t describe everything in Ainulindalë (whence my dislike towards book to movie adaptations). It was still able to massively captivate me.

This video is absolutely beautiful, so much so that it made me cry. Literally, a tear rolled down my cheek when I originally saw it.

Book Review – A Fractured Land: Tales of the Northern Realms

This short hardback 96 page graphic novel came along as a companion to the original Witcher 3 Strategy Guide.

Unlike The World of the Witcher, for the most part this compendium primarily focuses on the current state of the world and characters during the time of the Witcher 3. You’ll read some of the backstory regarding most of the characters that you’ll be interacting throughout the game.

This book does has some minor spoilers. I’m somewhat undecided whether or not to recommend reading this book prior to playing the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for the very first time. A benefit of reading this book is that you’ll have an understanding of who’s who in the game, as well as knowing what’s going on (Northern War, Nilfgaard, Redania, Temeria, Ithlinne prophecy, law of surprise, etc.). On the other hand, the built-in “Glossary” that the game provides has a vast amount of character information. So much so, that a lot of the same text in the “Glossary” is included in this book!

Book Review – Tales from the Perilous Realm

Tales from the Perilous Realm is a collection of short stories and poems by J.R.R. Tolkien. As suggested by The Tolkien Society, I opted to read this book after completing reading The Lord of the Rings.

One thing to keep in mind when buying this book is that not all of the stories/poems are directly related or take place in Tolkien’s legendarium (ie middle-earth, etc.) This book consists of the following short stories/poems:

  • Roverandom
  • Farmer Giles of Ham
  • The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
  • Smith of Wootton Major
  • Leaf by Niggle

Just like The Hobbit, the story Roverandom was originally written for Tolkien’s children own private amusement. This short story follows the adventure of a dog who’s been enchanted by a wizard.

Farmer Giles of Ham is my favorite short story of this book. This story follows a simple farmer who because of certain heroic events his a part of, becomes a highly esteemed person within the kingdom he lives in. The cover of this book is an illustration related to one of Farmer Giles’ deeds.

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil are a handful of poems. Tom Bombadil is one of my favorite characters in the LOTR, and to be quite honest the primary reason why I bought this book. Unfortunately, I have to admit this portion of the book was my least favorite. I’ve never been a big fan of poetry, and this is not the exception.

The Smith of Wootton Major and Leaf by Niggle stories are somewhat kind of hard to describe with out spoiling them, which I refuse to do so.

The Appendix included in this book is really interesting. It’s a fairly lengthy lecture called “On Fairy-Stories”, which a long lecture on Tolkien’s methodologies and thoughts on fantasy. Though I’m not a writer, I actually found this text somewhat inspirational. Certainly a must read for any inspiring fantasy writer.

This book has some really nice illustrations by Alan Lee. Lee, who also has illustrations on Tolkien’s The Children of Húrin as well as a lead design artist on all LOTR and Hobbit films.

I told you so #2

Well, what can I say. President Trump must be getting really tired of winning! A half-ass so called “Muslim” travel ban getting stalled. His wire-tap accusation revealed as a lie. Investigation on Russia ties, and now this health-care debacle. Trump must be getting really tired of winning!

So to all the morons that believed and continue to belief in Trump, haha I told you so.

Book Review – The Return of the King

The final volume of what is arguably one of the greatest fantasy books of all time, The Lord of the Rings. Return of the King is my favorite.

Wow. Those three words perfectly describe this book (and the entire Lord of the Rings for that matter). This book is the culmination of an amazing epic story. What makes LORT amazing are its characters, and in the final book you finally know their ultimate fate. I haven’t seen the movies, so I can’t really compare the differences between the novels and films. The part of the book that had me the most on the edge of my seat was The Battle of the Pelennor Fields. The only “What The Fuck” moment that I head while reading this book was the penultimate chapter, The Battle of Bywater to be exact. I certainly did not expect this, and it was somewhat amusing to read.

Return of the King is indeed the longest book in the LOTR, however I was surprised to see that only 2/3 of the physical book was for the content of the Return of the King. While the rest was the appendix, and holy shit the appendices are incredible! Like probably most of people reading LOTR for the first time, people can easily be confused on who is what, what is the x role of this character, etc. The appendix gives you a vast amount of back story of the people of Middle-earth, as well as new stories of what happened to some of the characters. Reading the appendix gave me an even bigger appreciation towards Tolkien and his fantasy universe. In my opinion, what makes a good story amazing depends how immersive its world is, Middle-earth is certainly one of them.

Regarding the author, I was surprised to find out that J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and that the LOTR and much of his writing has a strong underlying Christian and Catholicism message. Having read the books, I can certainly see the connotations. I think Tolkien is an absolute genius. He created an amazing fantasy world with a massive amount of interesting characters, while at the same time he was able to bind his religious beliefs in his work.

Many people mistakenly believe (perhaps because of the films) that The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy, when in reality it is one massive novel. I read the Lord of the Rings (75th anniversary edition), and I see this amazing piece of fantasy literature as an absolute masterpiece of which people will continue to love and cherish for many centuries to come.