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And for those who, like me, have been waiting for the third volume of Richard Phillips' brilliant series The Rho Agenda, the third volume, Wormhole, is now available as a paperback original and as an Audible.com download.
That means you can give someone all three books for Christmas – an excellent gift for mature teenagers on up to aging coots like me; and, with both male and female protagonists, you can give it to your niece or your nephew.
I actually like Google. Yes, they want to be a big corporate monster like Microsoft and Apple, with their fingers in everybody's computer. But Android, for all its flaws, really is an open-source operating system based on Linux. And while Google sometimes overreaches, they don't think they own my computer the way Microsoft and Apple do.
So I gave their web browser, Chrome, a try. In a lot of ways, it's smoother and clearer than Mozilla's Firefox, which I have been using for the past few years.
However, there are some weirdnesses. For instance, when I wanted to copy into this column the addresses of several websites I bookmarked on Chrome, I couldn't get Chrome to let me get the full URL. It hides "http://www"
from view, which is fine; but not fine when I'm trying to paste or edit a link.
Even when I tried to "manage bookmarks," it would show me the full URL, in faint letters off to the side, but it wouldn't let me mark the URL as a block of text in order to copy it. Maddening!
There's also the annoyance that Chrome handles my downloads from Audible very weirdly. I go to download a book that is "divided into multiple parts to make the download faster." In Mozilla and Explorer, it's all treated as a single automatic download. But with Chrome, I have to start it manually.
That's fine, except that each part of the book causes a separate download operation to begin. But each one includes more than one part of the book, or sometimes resumes an earlier, already completed download, though none of the download windows includes all of them.
If I close one of the download windows, it shuts down all the downloads, as if Chrome knew it was all one operation. But when one of the windows finishes its download, the same download in another window continues, as if it hadn't already been fully downloaded, by Chrome, in another window.
In other words, Chrome's left hand doesn't know what its right hand is doing.
Chrome is still a fairly new program. I assume that eventually it'll get fixed. Just like all the weird problems with Android. As in the weird problem that has cropped up for all of us in our family who use Android-based smart phones.
All of a sudden, the phone will close the screen for no reason. We slide the bar to open it again, and resume what we were doing – and it immediately closes the screen again. This can happen a half dozen times. Infuriating. And then, for no reason we can detect, it stops doing it and we can finish the operation.
We have looked for some setting, some error, that might be causing this problem, but we haven't found it yet. It's just an Android weirdness that you have to get used to.
But hey. I'd rather have a few weird things like that with an operating system that doesn't think it owns me, my phone, my computer and all my children, the way Apple and Microsoft do.
So the whole time I've been writing this column, I had the can of Taza dark-chocolate-covered cashews open beside me. It was two-thirds full when I brought it upstairs to my office.
It's empty now.
Dang, those cashews are good. Now I can only hope they also have no calories.
No. I looked on the can. 170 calories per serving. Supposedly eight servings in the can.
As I buy new and larger clothing, I will remind myself of how good those cashews were.
Remember that on every Monday morning till Christmas, I will sign and personalize selected hardcovers that you buy or order by phone (but not online!) from our local Greensboro Barnes & Noble store.
The phone number for ordering (and prepaying by credit card) is (336) 854-4200. The books are Ender's Game, Shadows in Flight, Ruins, Earth Unaware, and Lost Gate. The deadline for ordering books to be mailed is before 11 a.m. on Dec. 17. The deadline for books you'll pick up in the store is 11 a.m. on Dec. 24.