Log et al – Peter Curd

An irreverent peek into the inner rumblings of Peter Curd



Review: Sharpe’s Triumph

By pcurd

Sharpe's Triumph
Sharpe’s Triumph by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a lot shorter than Sharpe’s Tiger but was no less of a good story. The characters remain great, and Sharpe’s life is brought into ever greater focus.

Wellesley gets a much large role in this story as well which was very pleasing. He is one of the best characters, of course!

I am keen to continue with each of these stories but I have little to add to my review of Sharpe’s Tiger – the locations are excellently detailed, the battles are vivid, and the pain and suffering the soldiery experience is clear and well described.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

By pcurd

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was looking forward to this book as to me, this is when the story starts. The scene setting is out of the way and the last main character (I think) is introduced. I was strangely saddened when I finished it, as it really sags in the middle. The first 1/3 flew by, the last 1/3 I pretty much read in one night, but the middle 1/3… I lost all enthusiasm for it.

Umbridge is a potent character and her presence in this book is not as extreme as it was in the film, which I think captured the repressive atmosphere better, but she is still unlikable. It felt like she is intentionally over-evil to make Dumbledore all the more over-good by comparison. His flaws and his attitude feel very different to the previous books in which he was all-knowing.

I believe this is intentional, it shows Harry growing up and realising he has to stand for himself, etc, but it’s heavy handed. The film again covers this better.

There is some foreshadowing echoing Fred and George to Harry, Hermione, and Ron which I missed the first read through but I’m not convinced it’s intentional!

It’s OK, but not as good as I remembered sadly.

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Review: Sharpe’s Tiger

By pcurd

Sharpe's Tiger
Sharpe’s Tiger by Bernard Cornwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m listening to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe books in chronological order as recommended by his fans and so this is a “middle” book in the series but the first book in Sharpe’s life. He is 22, a private, and bored with the army.

Throughout the book we learn quite a bit about Richard Sharpe and his desires. The characters are (in typical Cornwell fashion) well fleshed out, the baddies are bad, the goodies are complex, and the rest are just doing what they think best.

I was attracted to the series because they are acclaimed to have a fair and true representation of the period and I’m a sucker for historical fiction.

Other than some terminology that had to be researched (what is a shako!) I’ve found it easy and comfortable to follow – it’s written entirely in modern English bar some slang – and a delight to visualise the environments and characters going about their life.

For many people I imagine the book is a little boring since you know what is going to happen to Sharpe but I’ve managed to stay fairly spoiler free so I honestly don’t know what will happen to him (I assume he doesn’t die, there are at least 21 more books!) as he progresses through the story.

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Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

By pcurd

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Took me a bit longer to finish this because the story isn’t as compelling and I found myself doing other things rather than read it. I think that sums up the writing fairly well, it’s a better story than some of the earlier ones but the ominous sense of dread that should be building in this story.. just isn’t. I assume the editors/publishers wanted a more kid friendly tone but it spoils the book quite significantly.

It’s sad to say that I think the film version of this book is better (a first for the Harry Potter series in my opinion) because it manages to capture the atmosphere better.

It has some twists (unusual in a story aimed at children) that I wasn’t expecting – even on my second read through I had forgotten it was coming up. The final scenes (with the big payoff) are very short, edited to within an inch of the minimum words needed – I’m not sure if that was a good choice or not.

I don’t think this is a good book to jump into the series with, but it’s essential to understand the next book – where the series takes off IMO – so it becomes a must read just for that reason.

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Review: Leviathan Wakes

By pcurd

Leviathan Wakes
Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed how this story stands alone but clearly sets up a series. Several twists and turns I wasn’t expecting kept the pace up and my interest in the ending strong.

The characters feel and act different, their personalities clearly coming through in dialogue and through actions – I was surprised how human they felt considering this is a SciFi story.

The story focuses on the politics and differing opinions between the “Inner Planets” and the “[Asteroid] Belt” and how the different groups living in each location feel about each other. As the main plot starts to pick up, these differences manifest in believable ways and add to the sense of reality Corey manages to create.

I look forward to diving into the remainder of the series!

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Review: The Rowan

By pcurd

The Rowan
The Rowan by Anne McCaffrey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This isn’t the best of the series, or even an especially good story, but it does set up the universe for the remainder of the series. On a reread I’ve realised how bad McCaffrey was at describing relationships and how almost all of her male characters are either father figures or horrible people.

Still, worth reading if you are diving into the whole series or later points aren’t clear.

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2015 in review

By pcurd

A big year! 2014 was one of the biggest of my life (but I didn’t write a blog post about it!) so 2015 felt like it would be simpler, well let’s talk about it.
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Twitter updates on this blog

By pcurd

Back in 2009 I started including my public twitter feed on this blog, a practice I continued for 2 years or so until early 2012.

Today I have archived all of those posts as although they were a considerable percentage of my total posts they were not truly in keeping with my intentions for this blog and led me towards laziness.

If anyone needs to see my old tweets there are various services around including snapbird.org.



How to perform an SQL “IN” query in Linq

By pcurd

Using Linq to achieve a query that in SQL that uses the “IN” keyword – i.e. to check a value against a range of values – requires use of the .Contains method on a new array of the range of values.

For example, if I need to exclude from reports the following customers:

  1. Internal
  2. Demo
  3. Sample
I would in SQL use something like:
CustomerName NOT IN ('Internal', 'Demo', 'Sample')
In Linq I need something like:
!(new[] {"Internal", "Demo", "Sample"}).Contains(CustomerName))

Appropriately wired into EF or your ORM of choice.

I think this is confusing since it is written backwards to a SQL programmer, so it reads “does this list of things contain the value?” instead of “is the value in this list of things?” as we are used to in SQL.



How to get SQL Server Table Row Counts fast and efficiently

By pcurd

SQL Server Central ran an article this morning about using a system DMV to get table row counts without doing a table scan (so it’s VERY fast and has no performance hit).

I decided to test this on my test server, a virtual machine running on a Dell R900. I ran the queries four times, discounting the first time to be sure all were in memory, and averaging the last three for the following values.

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