back to article The Girl with the NSObject Class Reference tattoo

What better occupation, at this time of year, than to polish up one's IT skills with some background reading? What have the great programming publishers got lined up for our delectation in 2011? Alas, as far as this reviewer is concerned, these rhetorical questions must remain unanswered. A certain Amazon parcel, containing …


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  1. Iwan Davies


    It's worth noting that the translator of TGWTTDT, Steven T. Murray, was so enamoured with how his translation was "revised" by the editor at the publishing house, he eventually persuaded the publisher to release the translation under the nom de plume "Reg Keeland". Apparently the screenplay for the forthcoming Hollywood version starring Daniel Craig is more closely based on Steve's original, unedited, translation, removing some of the idiosyncrasies of the book translation.

  2. John Styles

    What's the Italian detective the BBC are showing called?

    I saw a ticket machine in an Italian station (*) rebooting, it was running OS/2 and I think the boot sequence mentioned HPFS.

    (*) the ticket machines are about a million times better than the festering British embarassments - you can find out when the trains are and it will sell you tickets with a price based on the actual train rather than the British ones which have vague unhelpful disclaimers on the lines of 'you may or may not be able to use this ticket on any particular train, if not you will have to pay the 500 pound non-discounted fair and like it'.

    1. Sean Baggaley 1

      If it was set in Sicily...

      ... the detective is probably Camilleri's "Salvo Montalbano".

      Good to know RAI is still making *something* worth exporting, even if they've only managed to sell two episodes to the UK so far. (Both shown in 2008, but one was apparently repeated last month.)

      I won't wank on about the novels—if you can't read Italian, there's little point going on about them—but RAI did a very good job making them work on TV.

    2. Mr Larrington

      Italian copper... Zen. I only saw a small bit of it, in which the eponymous hero gains a bit of cred for driving a black Alfa Romeo. However Dr Larrington sat through the whole thing and says it's utter bobbins, not least for Rufus Sewell having to pretend that his legs are six inches shorter than they actually are, that he might both pass for an Italian and drive said Alfa. The only person I know with an Alfa is 5'6".

      The "El" Reg Keeland translation of the Millennium Trilogy is a bit, OK, a lot, clunky but the Swedish films are worth watching.

  3. Gav
    Thumb Up

    Another gem from Stob.

    I could have read a dozen more reviews along the same lines.

    I see a bright future for the "It's encrypted, this may take a little longer" meme. In time it may even supplant "I'll have to use the back door".

  4. John Styles

    The Girl with the Perl earring

    I had an idea for a film starring Scarlett Johannson with the title above, the earring would obviously be USB stick.

    The strap line for the posters would be 'Not that kind of CGI movie'

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Not the Perl necklace then?

      What with there being 'more than one way to do it' and all.

      Apologies, etc.

      Mine's the one with the obfuscated code on the back...

      1. Robajob


        ...there's already been a "specialist" film called The Girl With The Pearl Necklace.

        Mine's the one with the... actually, you don't want to know.

  5. Alan Bourke

    If the heroes all use Macs

    it'll be ideal for a BBC adap since they follow those guidelines also. Bo!

  6. Edwin


    ...and I thought it was just me that had noticed this rampant fanboiism. Thanks Stob!

    And yes, the other books are just as bad, if not worse here and there. Tech bits aside, though, they're not bad reading.

    I have noticed that any author using fruity products tends to describe them in loads of (irrelevant) detail, whereas those using non-fruity products seem to stick to the plot (and get equally many techie bits wrong). I can't help but wonder why that is... Does Apple pay for product placement? Or do these guys get decent service when their kit breaks?

    1. lee harvey osmond

      Apple product placement?

      ... if you want to see Apple product placement in print, try anything William Gibson has written in the past ten years. His latest novel, "Zero History", is worse than ever in that respect. [But hey, I owned a Power Mac G4 Cube once.]

      1. Reg Blank

        Fanboy adolation or deliberate literary device?

        @ LHO & others on William Gibson:

        Having read the Bigend books recently, I don't think the Apple=good, PC=bad is as clear cut as in TGWTDT.

        Gibson has said that despite the "tech" aspects of his books, he is not very computer literate himself. He uses a Mac to write and research his books, and that is about it. Word processing and web browsing. In this case it really is a matter of writing about what he knows. He actually uses a Mac, but if you read his comments he isn't much of a fanboy. Having started on a Mac pre-Windows, he hasn't needed or wanted to move.

        He also has said that the people in the Bigend trilogy use iPhones and Macs because he felt that that is what the people of this social type (arty/creative) use. You notice that Milgrim doesn't use an iPhone, and he isn't a bad guy. And nor is Hollis' boyfriend whats-his-name.

        The Bigend books are very much about branding, descriptions include liberal use of them. It isn't an anonymous SUV but an armoured Toyota, or the plane is a Cessna, or the jeans are Levis. Are these fanboy references? It was a deliberate choice and Apple was a part of it, how its brand is everywhere until you get sick of it.

        I also had another thought about the Apples/PCs in these books while making my argument. Apple's product style is almost unique to the Apple brand or at least is most attributed to it, and it is possible that the very ubiquity of PCs makes them anonymous with their generic style and nonsense lettered/numbered model names.

        The Bigend trilogy are set very much in the now, whereas the Sprawl and Bridge trilogies aren't. I don't think there was any mention of Apple products in these books, despite their being written on Apple computers, and indeed he has said that Neuromancer was inspired by an Apple IIe commercial.

        Disclaimer: I should point out that I own a Mac, a Power Mac 8100/100 from 1995, so I must be biased. Other than that I own 6 Windows and Linux-based PCs.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Apple Cubes

        I still own one. And it still works. I use it in the garage, for viewing Haynes PDF's and watching TV while I avoid the wife.

        I'm going to hell, aren't I?

      3. Daniel 1

        Product placement? Geoff Goldblum. Independence Day. Powerbook 5300.

        "Oh, it's in Alien... This may take a little longer."

    2. PT

      Product placement?

      I believe Apple must pay Hollywood for product placement. For many years now I've noticed that in movies, the good guys always use Apple and the villains always use PC. There may be one or two exceptions but right now I can't think of any. It's overwhelming, far more than can be put down just to chance or directors' preferences.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Why Title? Free

    The funny thing is that apple gets a free plug

  8. lee harvey osmond


    Yes, the sscanfdinavians do have a non-British-English set of vowels, and there is mirth and/or confusion to be had there. Anybody see the TV movie version of the Wallander novel where Inspector Forehead's love interest is a computer programmer, and when she's not guessing his password ("fiske" -- bit easy that) she's lecturing him about a programming language called Eeeyava? And suggesting he read the documentation with something called Acrobott?

  9. Jamie Kitson

    N.V.I.D.I.A. sic?

    Does nVidia really get dotted? And is there anything wrong with "computer programme"?

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


      A programme is a thing you get on a television, a set list, or a pre-defined series of events.

      A program is something you punch into a computer. Occasionally with fists if you have to maintain legacy code. It is derived from the US English spelling of the word programme but is spelt that way on both sides of the pond, due to the early development of commercial computing being largely US led, hence them getting to come up with the nomenclature.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Computer programme

      Is grammatically incorrect. Although in many instances programme equates to the American program, within the IT world a computer program has always been such on both sides of the pond. Probably to differentiate it from any type of programme. Computer programme has never been the correct usage.

      In the same way that Roald Dahl did not write about a Great Glass Lift.

    3. Rob Crawford

      Is there anything wrong with programme?

      Yes there most certainly is if you watched a computer programme it would be set in the 1980s feature a BBC micro and have Lesley Judd presenting it

    4. Chika

      Anything wrong with the Computer Programme?

      Well, I believe that the owl featured in the opening credits is a bit past it by now...

      Hey! Who put that copy of the BBC Micro User Guide in my pocket?!?

  10. Chris Pollard
    Thumb Up


    Very funny.

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    William Gibson does Apple placement, too.

    And other stuff. Bechtel-armoured cartel-grade Toyota Hilux, anyone?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The sainted William Gibson has pulled the Mac=good, PC=bad trick too

    his recently-concluded "Bigend Trilogy" features G4 Cubes, PowerBooks, MacBooks and iPhones in the hands of the good guys, while the baddies get to run around with no-name outdated gear

    1. Edwin


      Oh dear... that's really bad. Does he know Apple stopped using Motorola chips a few years ago?

      1. Linbox

        VERY obscure

        Have a click for cleverness.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Someone bought me a copy of TGWTTDT for Christmas. I haven't started yet and I was really looking forward to it. I hope it doesn't suck.

  14. Sandy Ritchie


    I've read all the Dragon books, and all I can say is at least the author had more than a passing knowledge of hacking PC's, murder, and general sickness... making the books a great read.

  15. ben 29
    Thumb Up

    @Evil Graham

    Overall TGWTDT doesn't suck too much.

    Techwise, IMHO it does - what novel doesn't? (aside from Mr Stoll's, but then IIRC that sucks as far as writing style is concerned)

    Storywise - it is quite readable (even re-readable)

    1. Dave Bell

      Non-sucking tech in novels.

      Charles Stross does a good job.

  16. Il Midga di Macaroni

    Happy New Year Verity!

    Thanks. Have a beer or three.

  17. volsano

    The Bue Nowhere

    For sheer unadulterated techoporn, try Jeffery Deaver's _The Blue Nowhere_.

    Set around 2000 in the early days of commercialising the web. It features astounding viruses, astonishing feats of decryption and of encryption as an automatic response to incoming hackers.

    And it has all the techie, nerdy words you can think of, many of them strung together in sentences more reminiscent of Willam Burrough's cut-up writing than of deep technical knowledge:

    > But the leaders of the Knights [a legendary hacking crew] were skilled

    > software writers, so good that they didn't even bother to compile

    > many of their programs....

    1. Yag


      Maybe they write in assembly code... good ol' days.

  18. Dr Who


    Easy. Just drop to machine code and Sven's your uncle.

  19. Martin Marv

    Other weird technicity

    In the later Girl-W... books, Larsson seems obsessed with Hotmail accounts at the expense of any other webmail, and ICQ as a current method of people keeping in touch, as well as Yahoo Groups. Maybe that's just the way they roll in Sweden...

    1. Alien Doctor 1.1


      Larsson died in 2004; ICQ and hotmail would have been popular then (gmail launched to general public in Feb 2007 although I had my account in Feb 2005).

  20. John 62
    Thumb Up


    didn't our great Belfast export, Ken Branagh, also do the Firewall storyline in English?

    I quite liked the whole feel of the BBC Wallanders, nice and relaxed for a Sunday evening despite plot foibles and Branagh blubbing rather too often and it's Midsomer-ish stylings at times in the beautiful Skane. I also thought that in the 2nd series the director of photography was just showing off a lot of the time. It also made me want an XC70, but not an SE phone.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Movie of the third part

    ... of the trilogy seems to put a pleasant emphasis on Macs too (but one was nicked?)

    1. Sooty


      I thought there was some kind of licensing reason behind why macs, or made up os's, are always used in films/tv instead of windows. Windows 7 has only just started to appear, but it's still pretty rarely seen.

  22. jake Silver badge

    ::heh:: That'll irritate a few :-)

    May I offer you an Ovibos-bacon sarnie? On the house.

  23. alyn

    Write your own

    Why don't you write your own, Verity, you could use all the correct jargon and even confuse some of the most expert computer nerds. Throw some comedy in and you're onto a winner. You have enough fanbois of your own who would rush out to buy a copy.

    Go for it, girl!

  24. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Plural of VAX

    I deplore the Germanic plural VAXEN. Let us have a proper Latin plural, VACES.

    1. jake Silver badge

      It's not Germanic. It's DECish.

      Two VAX are "a brace". More are "vaxen", or sometimes "VAXen".

      1. Chika


        I thought that more than one VAX was a cluster...

        But what do I know? I still speak RSTS/E...

        1. jake Silver badge


          A "cluster" is a configuration of equipment.

          The proper collective noun for more than two VAX computers is "vaxen".

          My small cluster of VAX computers is part of my total collection of vaxen.

    2. fch

      x-en ... or -es ...

      ... do not confuse hexen with haxen if you're german nor vixen with vaxen if you're english. Or sexes with saxons. Gives me a thought, "vaxons" sounds nice ...

      Crushing apples makes cider - does crushing macs make rainwater ?

      In any case, thanks for the article. Made me laugh almost as much as a friday afternoon BofH.

  25. disgruntled yank

    Ah, Marketing

    I noticed F. Salander's preference for Macs, but missed the others. As I recall, the Swedish title of TGWTDT translates literally to "Some Men Hate Women". Perhaps Ms. Stob could give us a follow up with "Some Men Hate Windows", to reach the US market as "The Girl with the Apple Tattoo"?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Ross 7

    Product placement isn't the worst of it

    TBH I'll take product placement/fanboi-ism over the use of markup languages as code!

    Seriously - paging through some XML (or worse, HTML) is not a good representation of code analysis. You'd think they could mock up a screendump of softice or something similar in a minute flat. But no, "view source" on the Beebs website and change the colours to green on black - that's far more realistic... ^^

    Love the take on the Dell box btw.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Product Placement

      I used to work for Apple in the 90s/00s. They had a team of people entirely devoted to product-placement in movies and general plugging of Apple products. Not sure how they did it with books though :-)

      Every now and then a breathless email would get sent companywide telling us to make sure to watch the Nth episode of 'Friends' where an iMac could be seen in the background, or to see how many G4 Cubes you could spot in 'About a Boy'.

      I remember they nearly creamed themselves in the 'Independence Day' email.

      Going Anon in case his Steveness is a Reg reader. Hi Steve :-)

  27. Hollerith 1


    Erm, it actually does mean 'wickedness' and not 'something that is enormous'.

    1. John Gamble

      Re: Enormity

      Yes, I believe that was her subtle point.

  28. JonHendry

    Swedish movie has lots of Macs

    Lots of attention paid to Salander's Mac. Lots of translucent windows, Remote Desktop screen sharing, and Expose.

    I noticed that in an early scene, the wealthy industrialist who hires Blomkvist has a Lenovo box on his desk. He doesn't turn out to be a villain.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    ǝbɐd ǝpøɔ

    "I wouldn't be surprised if part of Lisbeth's expertise comes from having an ASCII character chart - Swedish cøde page, natch - inscribed above her elbow"

    The Swedish alphabet does not contain an ø. Their equivalent of the other Nordic countries' ø is ö.

    1. Edwin

      If you're going to be pedantic...

      ...then please get it right!

      Only Danish and Norwegian (well, and Faroese) have the ø. Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic and the various Sami languages don't.

      (and clever title btw)

      1. jake Silver badge

        "(and clever title btw)"

        In the Yorkshire sense of the term "clever", maybe ...

  30. Stevie


    "Bugger. It's saved as an MSWord 4.0 doc - we'll never decrypt the sodding thing".

  31. ThomH

    Reminds me of...

    "This fictional account of the day-to-day life of an English gamekeeper is still of interest to outdoor-minded readers, as it contains many passages on pheasant-raising, the apprehending of poachers, ways to control vermin, and other chores and duties of the occasional gamekeeper. Unfortunately, one is obliged to wade through many pages of extraneous material in order to discover and savor these sidelights on the management of a Midlands shooting estate, and in this reviewer’s opinion the book cannot take the place of J. R. Miller’s Practical Gamekeeper."

    — Field and Stream Magazine's review of Lady Chatterley's Lover, November 1959

  32. gdmitchell

    Uh huh...

    A graphics processor that "shakes the P.C. advocates" in a Mac laptop? That'll be the day. The graphics options (or lack thereof) were actually what kept me from buying a Mac laptop.

  33. dilbert77

    Bad guys always use PCs

    AFAIK, the same was the case in the first season of '24'. The baddest bad guy was a PC user, everyone else used Macs.

    Crime investigators all over the world should take note of this fact.

  34. TechMark

    For the sake of facts regarding AK4 abbreviation...

    AK4 is an abbreviation for ”Automat Karbin modell 4” which translates to approximately “Assault Rifle model 4”. The AK4 is a modified version of the Heckler & Koch G3 assault rifle using 7.26 x 51 Nato ammunition. The AK4 has since 1986 more or less been replaced by the lighter AK5 (5.56 Nato) which a licensed version of the Belgian FN FNC assault rifle.

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