Wednesday, 26 December 2012

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McIntosh

An absolute classic. How come I didn’t read it until now?

This special edition hardback (no. 126 of 1200), with black-and-red illustrations by Iain McIntosh, is a beauty. Maybe one day there will be such thing as an e-book signed by both the author and illustrator. Maybe. I don’t care really. I prefer the real thing.

She knew the railway station slightly. It was a place that she enjoyed visiting, as it reminded her of the old Africa, the days of uncomfortable companionship on crowded trains, of slow journeys across great plains, of the sugar cane you used to eat to while away the time, and of the pith of the cane you used to spit out of the wide windows. Here you could still see the station — or a part of it — here, where the trains that came up from the Cape pulled slowly past the platform on their journey up through Botswana to Bulawayo; here, where the Indian stores beside the railway buildings still sold cheap blankets and men’s hats with a garish feather tucked into the band.
Mma Ramotswe did not want Africa to change. She did not want her people to become like everybody else, soulless, selfish, forgetful of what it means to be an African, or, worse still, ashamed of Africa. She would not be anything but an African, never, even if somebody came up to her and said, ‘Here is a pill, the very latest thing. Take it and it will make you into an American.’ She would say no. Never. No thank you.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Searle’s Cats

by Ronald Searle

This is the book no cat lover — or hater — should be without.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Wireless Double Charger for Wii® Handle

by Chin Fai Electronics

The moment came when I got tired of endless requests to change the batteries in the Wii remote controls. So I’ve ordered this docking station. Once you unpack the charger, take out the conventional AA batteries and put the (supplied) battery module instead. This is the first and hopefully the last time you have to open the battery compartment of the remote. As this is an induction charging device, there’s no need for electric contact. You don’t even have to take the silicone jacket off the remote. Then plug the charger in, put the remote(s) on top of the charging board... and wait. It took slightly more than 24 hours to completely charge the remotes (as indicated by the steady green light instead of flashing red), but they could already be used after six or so hours of charging. It’s almost like magic.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


by Kompass Karten

After more than a year on Fuerte, the time has come to get a proper map of this island. At last. Google Maps is useless for place names: in the best case, they are not there. In the worst case, they are years out of date. (No, there is no street in Corralejo named Avenida del General Franco). I don’t know about GPS. I never seen anybody using GPS here anyway.

This 1:50000 Kompass map is... good. Not perfect — well, nothing is perfect — but way better than any other map I’ve seen. It is big too: 117 x 74 cm, to be precise. (The dimensions 19.5 x 11.6 x 0.9 cm quoted by Amazon refer to a folded map.) So if you find the art of map folding nontrivial, you may wish to practice. Even so, our beautiful island is rather long, so they had to print its southern part on the other side. The legend is in German, Spanish, English, French and Italian. Naturally, the place names are in Spanish, but one can come across a number of random German words or phrases (usually printed in red) which are left on their own. Here they are for you:

100 Jahre alter Plattenweg100-year-old paved path
Achtung! Gezeiten beachtenAttention! Beware of the tide
Baden gefährlich!Swimming is dangerous!
Bauernmuseumfarming museum
Felsenkapellerock chapel
Freilichtmuseumopen air museum
Genehmigungspflichtig (Rathaus La Oliva)subject to permission (from La Oliva Town Hall)
nur mit Genehmigungonly with permission
Kulturlandschaftcultural landscape
Landschaftsschutzgebietlandscape conservation area
Museumsdorfmuseum village
Naturdenkmalnatural monument
Siedlung(early historic) settlement
Surfschulesurf school

Finally, the enclosed Lexicon (a short guide to the island) is in German only. But you don’t buy a map to read a guide. Pretty much disposable, unless you really want to know how to say gofio in German.