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Other posts by Paul St John Mackintosh

In Stockholm’s Strindberg Museum
July 3, 2015 | 9:56 am

IMG_20150701_190620Polymath playwright, novelist, and painter August Strindberg is the one Swedish author that everyone knows (until Stieg Larsson, perhaps), and so he naturally enough is commemorated by the Strindberg Museum, housed in the so-called Blue Tower at the top of Drottninggatan, Stockholm's Piccadilly, where he spent the last years of his life until his death in 1912. The Museum includes Strindberg's fourth-floor apartment, reconstructed with its original furnishings, as well as his private library on the sixth floor. And the Blue Tower itself, though only blue in its interior plasterwork, is a beautiful period building worth seeing for its own...

The English Bookshop in Stockholm moves, goes big
July 2, 2015 | 6:00 am

IMG_20150702_103905The English Bookshop in Stockholm, a much-loved local institution with its sister establishment in Uppsala, has just moved from its old location in the historic Gamla Stan to new and bigger premises at Södermannagatan 22, in the stylish and creative SoFo residential area of eastern Södermalm. The new premises are big enough to allow for readings and events, as well as much-needed extra shelf space. In a Swedish book market that has also seen its share of bookstore closures and chain mergers, according to staff, the English Bookshop's move has attracted attention for being both a relocation and an expansion. Yes,...

Stockholm, sunshine, Swedish literature, Strindberg, … and Nobel Prizes
July 2, 2015 | 2:00 am

IMG_20150701_181035 I'm in sunny (right now) Sweden, home of the Swedish Academy (whose Nobel Museum is pictured above), of Pippi Longstocking, of August Strindberg, of the Millennium trilogy, of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, and a whole lot else of great literary and cultural merit. I'll add more detail in subsequent reports, both from Stockholm and elsewhere in the country. Meantime, here's a few visual teasers. ...

How to save loads of memory on a MediaTek device
June 25, 2015 | 9:11 am

MTK logger settingsReaders may recall I rooted my Navon Mizu M500 phone a short while ago, partly in order to stop the machine running short of phone memory and refusing to update apps. Sure enough, the problem started to manifest again, with hidden files apparently filling up the machine's onboard capacity. In most cases on Android phones, the culprit appears to be log files, which are implemented by differing manufacturers in various ways and progressively fill up the system with activity logs. With a rooted device, you can get down and actually clean these out. But how? The following fix appears to apply...

Why I went for a Lenovo A7-10 instead of a Kindle Fire HD 6
June 24, 2015 | 4:16 pm

IMG_20150623_202217For some time now, I'd been toying with moving on from my Google Nexus 7 2012 edition. Partly it was the weight: at 340 grams, the Nexus 7 is a pretty porky beast for its size. Also, I wanted a cheap and cheerful tablet that I could sling in my pocket and not worry about, ready for use when I wanted to write something. The Nexus 7 was just a trifle too unwieldy for that, and too costly to be casual about. For a long time, I toyed with getting a Kindle Fire HD 6. Price was a big point in...

Book review: Strange Tales V edited by Rosalie Parker, Tartarus Press
June 23, 2015 | 11:39 am

Strange Tales VThe fifth in an award-winning series of speculative fiction anthologies from Tartarus Press, Strange Tales V contains some outstanding instances of dark, strange, bizarre, and disturbing writing. No surprise when you see that they were chosen by Rosalie Parker, who, as her Wikipedia entry states, is an "author, scriptwriter and editor who runs the Tartarus Press" with Ray Russell, and who "jointly won the World Fantasy Award 'Special Award: Non-Professional' for publishing in 2002, 2004 and 2012." The first volume in the series, Strange Tales, won the 2004 World Fantasy Award in the Anthology category, and this one is a...

How to handle PDFs on Android devices – or at least, try
June 22, 2015 | 9:05 am

Screenshot_2015-06-22-13-04-05 PDF is an ereader file format I'm still being bombarded with constantly, despite my issues with it. I find its lumpy file size and rigidity to be hugely challenging, for relatively little commensurate benefit in terms of readability and fidelity to the original format. Yet publishers continue to distribute review copies of books that aren't available in other ebook formats. And there are specific applications, like art books - for instance, the marvellous archive of free digitized catalogues from exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum on Archive.org - where the shortcomings of PDF are acceptable for the sake of...

How to fill your Kindle with free and discounted titles
June 19, 2015 | 9:42 am

appsNo, this isn't the obvious call to go to Gutenberg and download out-of-copyright titles, handy as that is. But it is a testament to how useful a good grasp of the deal alert resources out there - and by no means only for the Kindle Store - can be if you want to build a great library for nothing, or almost nothing. I'm a daily user of the Deals, Freebies, and Resources forum at Mobileread.com, one of Teleread's peers in the pro-ebook online community. This is updated daily with tips from fans and regulars on discounted or free-offer titles available for...

New podcast The Outer Dark chronicles the Weird Renaissance
June 16, 2015 | 4:51 pm

TheOuterDark1A new podcast series on Project iRadio from leading weird fiction writer Scott Nicolay, entitled The Outer Dark, "presents weekly interviews with authors, artists, and other voices from the dark end of the spectrum, with an emphasis on what’s happening NEXT in the Weird Renaissance." And in case you wonder what that term is, it's the catch-all epithet and hopefully new designation for the great upsurge of fantastic ... well, fantastic literature, otherwise styled dark fiction, horror, weird fiction, dark fantasy, or whatever other term you prefer. Note that this is distinct, or at least descended, from the New Weird, as encapsulated in...

Keep those rejection slips coming, authors: Scottish prize goes to book rejected 44 times
June 15, 2015 | 12:21 pm

bbfscottprize003130615_afh1-1160x500_cHere's heartening news for writers still battling on through a blizzard of rejection slips from publishers: English historical author John Spurling "has won the sixth Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction for his novel set in imperial China, The Ten Thousand Things," despite being rejected 44 times by publishers. According to Spurling's own statement, "I always thought that I would like success to be in my seventies, and I’m seventy-nine this year, so have just made it!" The award to Spurling was worth £25,000 ($38,888). The prize's official description states that: "honouring the achievements of the founding father of the historical...

Book review: The Unquiet House by Alison Littlewood, Jo Fletcher Books
June 13, 2015 | 5:21 pm

getImageYorkshire-based UK horror and dark fiction writer Alison Littlewood has already produced some very fine horror novels, and this, her third, has been nominated for Best Novel in this year's Shirley Jackson Awards. The Unquiet House could be considered a brave choice for the Shirley Jackson Awards, because much of it is not only written with dialogue in a rich Yorkshire dialect, but also is initimately, palpably woven into its Yorkshire setting, so much so that parts of it are very effective period pieces. As a Brit, I have no idea how much American or other non-British readers are going...

American Library Association doesn’t welcome the CODE Act
June 13, 2015 | 9:29 am

copyrightThe American Library Association (ALA) has issued its response to the introduction of the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act (CODE Act), designed to reform the dysfunctional U.S. copyright system, and its evaluation is not a very positive one. “For more than 20 years, content creators, rights holders, legislators and public users alike have acknowledged that the U.S. Copyright Office needs to modernize its technological capabilities for the 21st century," said ALA president Courtney Young, in the ALA official statement on the CODE Act. "Unfortunately, the recently introduced Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act does little to address significant technology challenges...

Edinburgh International Book Festival 2015 lineup announced
June 13, 2015 | 5:06 am

67dac432The Edinburgh International Book Festival has announced what it claims is "its most international programme to date," under the title "Around the World in 18 Days." According to its advance notice, "the Book Festival welcomes voices from over 55 countries writing in a multitude of languages, many of whom are translated into English for the first time." These international names include Spain’s Jaume Cabré, Germany’s Jenny Erpenbeck, Helle Helle from Denmark, South Korea’s Han Kang, Alain Mabanckou from Congo, and Salla Simukka from Finland. The more familiar slate of authors and participants, meanwhile, includes David Hare, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Philippa Gregory, Pat Barker,...

What can happen when you get Kickstarter and crowdfunding wrong
June 12, 2015 | 9:12 am

The Doom that cameThe short answer to this headline is: The Federal Trade Commission can investigate you for "deceptive tactics" and impose a fine on you that is so heavy that it will be suspended due to your inability to pay - as well as requiring you to refund all the money you received from Kickstarter backers. This was in fact the FTC's "first case involving crowdfunding," and has a literary angle in that it involved a board game project based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. "The Doom That Came To Atlantic City!" was described as "a light hearted Lovecraftian game of urban...

Clive Barker needs comic artists: Stop. Read. Repeat.
June 11, 2015 | 9:29 am

Clive Barker Yes, Clive Barker needs comic artists. The Clive Barker. Hellraiser, Nightbreed, Candyman, Tortured Souls Clive Barker. The Prince of Horror (though not the King). That Clive Barker. And he is advertising, right now, for comic book artists, right out there in the open on Facebook. Shared from Clive Barker's official Facebook account, the request reads as follows: COMIC ARTISTS NEEDED. Please share! We have some extremely interesting projects on the horizon, and what better place than the internet to spread our tendrils far and wide? It's paid, professional sequential comics work, and whether your work is traditional or boundary-resetting like J. H....

How to tool up a rooted Android phone
June 10, 2015 | 5:25 pm

framarootAfter successfully rooting my Navon Mizu M500 with Framaroot, I settled down to working out what to do with it to tune it up as a better ereader and all-round Android powerhouse. Only, what to do? Many Android rooters do their phones in order to install custom mods and ROMs like CyanogenMod - but phones running on the MediaTek MT6589 CPU and other MediaTek chips are not exactly overserved that way. So, rather than risk bricking my phone by pushing the wrong ROM onto it, I decided to keep the existing Android 4.2.1 system intact - but tune it up...

Cloud or external storage for your backups?
June 10, 2015 | 9:49 am

Calibre Portable travels with you on a USB stickMoved by the plight of a writer buddy who complained on Facebook about two external hard drives crapping out on him, and his laptop locking him out, I felt moved to raise the issue of what backup option works best. After all, a writer can lose reams of critically important work as a result of a tech meltdown (or, before Luddites start mocking, as a result of a house fire or a briefcase being inadvertently left at a station ...) So, let's look at the options. Hard drives and solid state storage are one possibility, seductive for those who worry over...

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