Book Review: Two Kinds of Truth, Michael Connelly

This is another excellent thriller in Connelly’s Harry Bosch series – it also features his half-brother Micky Haller.

We follow two storylines. In the first, Bosch is haunted by a murder case that is under review. The convicted killer now claims that a vital piece of evidence, a necklace belonging to the deceased, was planted in his apartment by Bosch. In the second, Bosch is part of an investigation into a ‘live’ murder case of father and son pharmacists. A gang are organising wholesale distribution of prescription drugs, sending addicts to fraudulently obtain the drugs with the necessary paperwork provided by unscrupulous medics. Someone must infiltrate the gang by going undercover – but Bosch is torn because he also needs the time to clear his name for the case under review.
Four stars

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Rambling: Helvellyn including Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, Lake District

Lake District

Despite many hiking holidays in the Lake District, and at least two previous walks up Helvellyn via less challenging  routes, I had never crossed Striding Edge before.  The weather was perfect during this holiday, so I took the opportunity to tick this item off my bucket list.

I followed the route from the Pathfinder Guide, which starts at “Helvellyn Base Camp” in Glenridding, climbs up the side of Grisedale then circles around the beautiful Red Tarn.  Striding Edge is accurately described in the book as “positively hair-raising”, particularly because you have to scramble over fairly severe crags at the beginning and end of the ridge.  Whilst there is a narrow path just below the ridge, that has a vertical drop to the side and still requires some scrambling – so this isn’t a walk for novices.

After the exhilaration of crossing Swirral Edge, I didn’t want to drop below the peak of Catstye Cam without climbing that too.  The path down from the end of that descent, though, does not coincide with the path back to the “Hole-in-the-Wall”, so it was necessary to improvise a route across rocks in Red Tarn Beck and climb back up to the official path.

This walk was booked as 8.5 miles and my phone recorded 25000 steps and 267 floors climbed that day.


View back across Striding Edge

Swirral Edge

Swirral Edge from Catstye Cam


Hole-in-the-Wall crossroads

Striding Edge

Red Tarn

View across Red Tarn to Ullswater


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Rambling: Loughrigg Tarn, Lake District

Lake District
This was a short, family walk starting from Skelwith Bridge. We parked on the road near the Skelwith Bridge Hotel and roughly followed the route to Loughrigg Tarn from the Jarrold Lake District Short Walks book.  After a short ascent through a holiday park of wooden chalets, the route around the tarn is quite clear and largely flat.  There is a small stream into the tarn which can be jumped or crossed by stepping stones.

The circuit is under 3 miles, so is a handy short walk if you need to fill in an hour or so.

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Tech Book: Effective Java, 3rd Edition, Joshua Bloch

Effective Java, 3rd EditionI’ve just finished reading this technical book on Java. It’s widely recommended if you’re going to work on a Java codebase and provides best practice guidelines on:

  1. Creating and Destroying Objects
  2. Methods Common to all Objects (such as hashCode and toString)
  3. Classes and Interfaces
  4. Generics
  5. Enums and Annotations
  6. Lambdas and Streams
  7. Exceptions
  8. Concurrency
  9. Serialization

Although there isn’t the humour that I’d associate with the Scott Meyer’s Effective C++ series, I’ll definitely refer to this one in the future.

Java Fundamentals, Jim WilsonThis book isn’t the starting place for learning Java though (and doesn’t intend to be). For that, it’s worth turning to a more basic set of materials. I worked through a PluralSight course, Java Fundamentals.

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Book Review: Line of Fire, Andy McNab

LineOfFireThis book is a sequel to Cold Blood, which I hadn’t read. That meant I had little understanding about why the main character, Nick Stone, and his team were being hunted by the mysterious “Owl” and what intelligence they were hiding as leverage to keep themselves safe.

In my view, the editor of this book should have aggressively trimmed the preliminary material and jumped straight to the subject of this novel. That concerned a team of Soviet spies intent on intercepting digital information following through Cornwall, England, into the rest of Europe. Nick and his team are tasked with kidnapping Yulia, a key hacker in the Soviet team. They also need to take revenge on cyber criminals who stole thousands of pounds from Jack, one of their own team.

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Book Review: This is Going to Hurt, Adam Kay

ThisIsGoingToHurtThe sub-title of this book is “Secret diaries of a Junior Doctor”, because Adam Kay was for some years a doctor in the National Health Service. His stories are often hilarious but they also reveal just what stress the doctors and the NHS as a whole are under. He had a successful career as a doctor, including several promotions – but ultimately, the crazy demands of the job took its toll on his well-being as well as his relationships and he had to leave.

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IET Meetup: Mountbatten Lecture, 2018

I was lucky to attend the 2018 Mountbatten lecture at Savoy Place, London. This year’s speakers were Dr Julia Sutcliffe of BAE Systems and Air Marshal Julian Young of the Royal Air Force.

Dr Sutcliffe’s theme was “Air Sector Technology – is the sky still the limit?” and spoke of breakthrough technologies such as cloud computing and artificial intelligence as the 4th Industrial Revolution (after Steam, Electricity and Electronics/Computing). Her interest in military air systems is the generation of huge amounts of information for each single flight – not only from machine performance but also from crew health metrics. It would be a game changer to be able to receive the telemetry in real time so that appropriate action could be anticipated and actioned as soon as the plane returns to base. Other topics were unmanned systems for dirty or dangerous tasks and “Chemputation“, a method for using algorithms to build materials.

Air Marshal Young’s theme was “RAF 2118 – Engineering the next 100 years”. His point was that the Royal Air Force has been entwined with technology throughout its whole life, with innovation often the deciding factor in conflicts. Innovation has produced accuracy improvements in weapons delivery as well as amazing reliability for engines (such as the EJ200 in Typhoons). Novel technologies can also deliver increased operational performance, reduce production costs and reduce through-life savings – leaving more money to buy shiny new aeroplanes.

Interestingly, multi-core processors are not currently sanctioned for use in safety-critical systems because predictability is paramount. And whilst 3D printing could potentially allow spares to be produced “in theatre”, in practice it’s more reliable to produce them at home in a factory and send them in one of the daily flights transporting crew/cargo to the area.

The RAF Engineering teams breed a culture of innovation and “restless improvement” with each new generation.

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