It’s getting a bit silly

All of the Cisco Press books I’ve ordered have arrived, and the stack is looking pretty intimidating:

Pile of Cisco Press books

Cisco Press books

I have to work my way through that stack, not just skimming them, but paying attention, making notes as I go…it’s going to be a long winter working through them all.

I ended up buying them from a mix of Amazon, Fishpond and a local Borders store. I got lucky with the Multicast and Internet Routing Architectures books – Borders was selling them for only $20 each. They think that because they’re 10 years old, they’re out of date, but they cover core protocols, so they don’t date as quickly as technical books usually do. All the other books cost quite a bit, especially when you add International shipping. Kudos to Amazon too – one of the books was water damaged. I filled in a return form, and within 10 minutes Amazon had responded to say “We’ve shipped a replacement, and don’t worry about shipping back the old one – do whatever you like with it.” Good to see that for all the work Amazon is doing with things like EC2, they haven’t lost sight of keeping their long term customers happy.

Thinking about Libya

You always have a different perspective on a place when you’ve actually been there, rather than just seen it in pictures.

I’ve been thinking about Libya quite a bit recently, after the unrest going on there. It was only a matter of time before things came to a head there, regardless of what has been going on in surrounding countries.

The thing that stood out to me when I was there 5 years ago was the enormous Gaddafi propaganda. Every place where you might see a commercial billboard in another country, Libya had a huge picture of Gaddafi. Signs, slogans, posters. Watches were the souvenir to buy – I still have a watch somewhere around the house with a picture of Gaddafi on the face, celebrating 37 years of rule. You don’t have that much propaganda if everyone truly loves you.

It was an unusual country to visit, in many ways one of the lowest hassle Middle Eastern countries. Few tourists visit, so there hasn’t been the same development of touts, scam artists, and general level of people selling you crap you don’t need. Instead, people are reserved but friendly. It is sad to think of them at war with themselves, people being shot at by their own government. Most of the people killed will just be ordinary people, trying to go about their lives.

I recall staying in a small town in the desert, walking around, when I met a young man who asked me “What are you doing here?” He couldn’t understand why I would be in Libya, when I was lucky, I had a passport and money, I didn’t have to stay there. He did. He was learning English, maybe he got lucky, and was able to escape.

As an aside, it’s not widely known, but Libya has some of the best Roman ruins anywhere. Hopefully Gaddafi will either see sense and leave, or someone will knock him off, and this can end, without further loss of life, or damage to the archaeological treasures.