Daily Archives: September 24, 2012

The faithful have dutifully lined up outside their favourite smart phone store and have laid down there hard-earned cash for the latest iteration known as the iPhone 5. Sales have been somewhat less than expected but that may have been due to the fact that the available number of units available was somewhat less the amount necessary for another record-setting opening day. In conjunction with the launch of the iPhone 5, Apple has released the latest version of its mobile operating system, iOS 6. Those seeking to upgrade their older iPhones to this new release have experienced a less than stellar upgrade experience with download progress being best described as “glacial”.

Whether is’s a new iPhone 5 or an upgrade of an older 4 or 4S, there has been one common complaint: Maps. If you tuned in late, Apple in its wisdom decided that Google Maps weren’t good enough for iOS 6 ad decided to create their own mapping system. Whether this was an attempt to add one more proprietary feature to its ecosystem or simply because Google has now become a competitor in the tablet market with its Nexus 7, Apple’s maps are henceforth the native cartography application for iOS 6.

Even if one does not subscribe to the idea that Google Maps are the sine qua non of mapping applications, you will have to admit that they are pretty handy and pretty darn good. Given the Apple mystique that everything emanating from Cupertino is so darn good, one would expect that Apple’s maps would be  perfect – or nearly so – straight out of the box. According to users, that is definitely not the case. In the short time since Apple’s maps have burst on to the scene, there has been a steady litany of complaints that the maps are less than accurate with misplaced landmarks, wrong or missing addresses and bizarre image renderings. Apple has been compelled to defend its nascent mapping system by saying it’s a work in progress and will get better the more you use it. That is cold comfort if you’re looking for an address in Fort Lee. New Jersey and wind up in Wall Twp.

We have, of course, seen this before. When the Apple 4S came out, there were plenty of adverts touting Siri and implying that it was an electronic Jeeves with the wit of Stephen Fry. As it turned out, Siri was . . . well . .  challenged. A new and improved Siri was supposed to be part of iOS 6 though reports are few and far between at this point. Apple really didn’t talk much about Maps in the run-up to the iPhone 5 and it appears that relative silence was with good reason.

All this makes me less than enthusiastic about upgrading my iPhone 4 to the latest and greatest edition of iOS. For more on this story, see PC Magazine’s take on the issue.

by Ciye Cho
Florence is invisible . . . or nearly so, at least. Her full name is Florence Waverly and she lives with her mother’s property manager on Australia’s Hamilton Island. She is one of those people in high school who is barely noticed . . . by anyone . . . and when she is, Florence is marked down as an oddity, a “new girl” and then quickly forgotten. On this day of days, Florence sits alone at the back of a school bus, on a biology field trip to a smaller island – named Mermaid’s Reach – that, like Florence, is invisible most of the time because of the tides. The roll was never called at start of the trip and if something should happen to her, the disappearance would go unnoticed . . . which is exactly what takes place.

While snorkeling in the shallows, Florence is kidnapped by a merman and taken far below the surface to a kingdom named Niemela, not for her plain beauty but rather, to serve as an exotic pet at the upcoming coronation of Prince Kiren. There, she learns from Prince Kiren’s brother, Rolan, that her abductor has far exceeded his remit to find an exotic animal and there is now some question as what to do with her. King Iriego is disposed towards tossing Florence in the Nemilian prison as a permanent resident but Prince Kiren’s younger sister, Yolee, begs permission to keep her out of the way as a sort of  guest under house arrest.

Florence begins to learn about her new environment and discovers that she serves no purpose in Nemilia and therefore does not fit in. At first, she simply wants to quit Nemilia and return to the surface but over the following 6 days, her feelings about leaving become ambivalent. Florence does not really fit in to the world on land either and there is not as much to go home to as she thought. As for remaining in Nemilia, there is her friendship with Yolee to begin with and Prince Kiren does seem to have his eye on her. Prince Rolan, however, is another matter.

Ciye Cho has created a wonderful undersea world of both beauty and danger in this charming fantasy. As the story progresses, Florence seems to fit in a bit more than she did at first and comes to play a crucial role in the future of Nemilia. Things aren’t always what they seem and enemies may just turn out to be friends in this charming story for young adults. Although Florence has two princes who are interested in her – for very different reasons – it is Florence’s friendship with Princess Yolee that really steals the show. Indeed, if there is anything at all that could be construed as a disappointment in this novel, it would be that Yolee’s character fades out in the latter part of the story.

Mr. Cho’s novel is an extremely clean read which gives this reviewer hope that proof reading is not the lost art that he has come to believe it is. This fantasy is very YA friendly with enough danger and horror to give the story some action but certainly not enough to cause nightmares. This reviewer, however, is now looking at lampreys in a whole new light. Florence is a very hard book to put down and this reviewer read it almost non-stop until he was at the final scene.  The reader could almost say that it was addicting in its own way. Cho’s novel is more than suitable for younger YA’s, older ones who want a fantasy interlude and adults who simply need an escape.

Although Florence appears to be a one-off because of its story arc, Ciye Cho may wish to seriously consider writing a sequel. There is enough beauty, mystery  and adventure in the world he has created to warrant at least one more novel. This reviewer suggests Florence of  Nemilia as a title and, if nothing else, we would get to see more of Princess Yolee’s character.

This reviewer is always on the look-out for teachable moments in Young Adult Fiction and Florence certainly has a number of them. However, rather than pontificate on what these moments are and the lesson to be learned or reinforced, he strongly suggests that you read Florence and find & enjoy them for yourself. Florence will not disappoint you.

My Rating:

Ciye Cho’s website is at http://www.florence-books.com/. The website for Florence is at http://www.florence-books.com/

 

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