Radio Active #88: Summertime

Radio Active PodcastOn this episode of Radio Active, I catch up on the Nuketown redesign, talk about summer vacations … and summer reading lists.

I also finally complete my quest for a bean bag chair and offer a review of the Amazon Dot, Amazon’s always-on, always-listing digital assistant.

Getting the Show

Show Notes

Nuketown News

  • The web redesign continues … slowly.
    • I’d hoped to go live in the spring, but four months later I’m still fussing with it.
    • Content migration took even longer than I thought (and I thought it would take a long time)
    • I’ve been writing the whole time though, so expect a lot of content when it does launch, probably sometime in September.
  • Yellowstone!
    • I’ve become something of an outdoor geek over the last few years, largely because of our summer vacations to Lake Champlain and my son’s involvement in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
    • The family went to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons this summer, visiting family and taking in the natural wonders (and ignoring the whole “giant volcano under our feet thing”)
    • Old Faithful is the thing people talk about, but the Grand Prismatic Spring is much better – such vibrant colors and a surreal landscape.
  • Summer Reading List 2017
    • 17 books. 1 novella. 8 graphic novels.
    • That’s one more book than last summer … and it’s a lot to read.
    • Vacations help with that. Read 5 books in June as the family went to Yellowstone, another 6 in July, many during our traditional summer vacation at Lake Champlain.
    • Favorite books so far?
      • Babylon’s Ashes (The Expanse, Book 6) by James S.A. Corey (Amazon):  Satisfying space opera with great space battles
      • 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (Amazon): solar system-spanning hard science fiction with a climate change edge
      • Revenger by Alistair Reynolds (Amazon):  Space pirates in a transhuman future. A Numenera setting if there ever was one.


  • Is anybody out there?


  • For years, I quested for a bean bag chair. I finally got one: Betelgeuse.
  • It’s a massive red foam-filled chair by Sumo (thus its name)
  • I looked at a lot of options, but this is the one that fit me the best …
  • … even if it doesn’t exactly fit the game room.
  • It’s been fantastic for relaxing on the third floor, but it takes up more space than I would like on game nights.
  • Clearly, I need a bigger house.
  • Learn more at


  • Is anybody out there?

The Amazon Dot

  • My parents got me an Amazon Dot for Christmas.
  • It’s an always-on, always-listening device (albeit “listening” for the activation keyword but still … listening)
  • My parents use it extensively for music, making to-do lists, etc. We’re a wee bit paranoid about it — it’s in my game room, with voice-activated shopping turned off.
  • I like the daily briefings, forecasts, and dice rolling. You can also easily ask it questions about particular topics (e.g. “What is Dungeons & Dragons”) but that knowledge only goes so deep (it doesn’t know how to answer the question “When was Dungeons & Dragons published?”)
  • Fun device but it doesn’t understand the concept of a conversation; each question is atomic, and you can’t ask follow-up questions (they are working on that)
  • I also like it for streaming music — it’s cool to come into my office and say “Computer, play some Rush” and have it start playing a random track by the band (you need Amazon Prime for that though)
  • I haven’t really tried “Skills” yet, which are tools for extending the device beyond the basics.

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