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Blind Tasting: On the Net, even the winerati don't know you're a dog Paperback – September 15, 2010

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1453785892
  • ISBN-13: 978-1453785898
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,637,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

A.C. Houston is a linguist and programmer who has worked on artificial intelligence systems and a semantic search engine. She currently resides in Boston, MA. You can visit her blog about language at

More About the Author

I'm a linguist and a computer programmer with a passionate curiosity about language. I've always enjoyed reading and writing, but only recently took the plunge into the world of fiction and wrote my first novel, Blind Tasting. Writing a full-length novel is an obsessive and humbling experience beyond what I ever imagined. Having written a novel, I realize my approach to reading the fiction of others has been forever changed; there is a deepened sense of appreciation for what writers grapple with at all levels -- the story, the plot, the characters, the syntax of every sentence. I've written non-fiction articles and essays and the writing goal there is to be clear and accurate. If only fiction were that straightforward. The choice of a word, the choice of whether to leave a single word or phrase out or in, the rearrangement of two sentences -- these can make a world of difference in the flow and impact of a fictional tale, and it's a daunting, enthralling task that constantly confronts one in the writing process.

I've loved the writing of so many authors: Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, Arthur C. Clark, Robert Heinlein, Ayn Rand, John le Carré, Dorothy Parker, Lewis Carroll, Tom Wolfe, Joseph Conrad, V.S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie and Annie Prouix. The list could include dozens more.

Anyone who reads books through the centuries knows that language has changed and will keep changing. I think it's fascinating to observe this through the shifts in slang and writing style that reflect different times and places. Writing about our current time and place will one day provide a snapshot for future generations, a window onto our particular piece of civilization's journey.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Benham on October 31, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You will enjoy this book if you have an interest in any one of these: high tech, dogs, wine, food, northern california, sailing, and general curiosity. It was a great modern adventure that combines all of these. I love food and romance and do not know nearly enough about wine and the high tech world of silicon valley. I had a great time learning about these and the stars in the night sky as I followed the modern day life of the ups and downs of Cory and his friends. Job loss, romance lost, and new opportunities found/created. I was hooked from the start. Great modern renaissance adventure story!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Before I start I should mention that I know the author, and purchased this book based upon several conversations about it.

I'll admit that I was skeptical that a book about a wine tasting dog could actually be pulled off in a way that wasn't ridiculous, but the author does in fact pull it off. There are some technical sections in the book that make the story possible that that are explained in such a way that makes me wonder why wine tasting dogs aren't a reality.

Well written and thoughtful, Blind Tasting was an enjoyable read. While it isn't a book that I'll read again and again, I was impressed with the author's style, technical skills and ability to share her many passions through the pages of a novel.
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Format: Kindle Edition
I recently reviewed "Blind Tasting" but I'll be honest and say that due to the title I wasn't really sure what to expect at first. Would this be a fictional book about food? Would it feature a blind critic? More importantly, would it be good? Needing to know more I read the jacket blurb. Okay... The premise sounded interesting enough even if it did seem somewhat far-fetched.

Initially the book was difficult for me to get into. Not because it was boring or poorly written. It wasn't. It's just that I'm not very fluent in "geek speak" and that was the first thing that jumped off the page at me in paragraph one, chapter one. I'm also not the most computer literate person and so, knowing this, I took a deep breath and prepared myself to read slower. This way I could hopefully better understand phrases like "plenoptic illumination function" or "NP-complete." *chuckle* Don't worry; the characters don't talk like that all the time.

Let me move on to the "meat and potatoes" of the story. Cory Wilder is the main character and he exemplifies the meaning of the word "geek." Three guesses who used that memorable phrase "plenoptic illumination function..." Besides being incredibly smart, he's also attractive; he has a great job and a gorgeous girl-friend. What more could a guy, geek or otherwise, really ask for? Unfortunately Cory's world is suddenly turned upside down. He has two choices. He can sit around and mope or he can pick himself up and start putting his life back together. One evening he comes up with a verifiably crazy idea. Can he train his beloved dog to identify and match wines? His two best friends, Dawn and Rob, throw themselves wholeheartedly into seeing if they can make this project work.
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Format: Paperback
"Blind Tasting" is a light-hearted romp through the power corridors of Silicon Valley and the bucolic valleys of nearby Sonoma and Napa counties - California's unique blend of farmers and millionaires, of honest laborers and pretentious technocrats. A.C Houston's debut does a yeoman's job of capturing the spirit of the Bay Area, from the entrepreneurs and geeks who keep the valley flush with no ideas and the venture capitalists of Sand Hill who keep their brains fueled with cash. It's about wine, code, stock options and lust - the ingredients that pretty much make Silicon Valley run.

This is a clever tale of Cory Wilder, a disgruntled Stanford PhD who jumps ship when their visual search startup changes course to follow the herd developing mobile phone applications. After half-heartedly interviewing other tech companies, and getting dumped a couple of times in the process by his gold-digging hottie girlfriend, the intrepid Cory decides to try his hand combining his two loves: Shepherd-Lab mix "Snoots" and wine. Taking advantage of a dog's superhero olfactory capabilities, Cory teaches Snoot to differential and match wine types, starting a blog that virtually overnight becomes an Internet and wine-world hit. The bar is raised when Cory is invited to a high profile Napa tasting - a dilemma solved when Cory poses as "the blind taster" and super-nose Snoots his service dog. Far fetched? Yeah, but fun - and hey, you couldn't really make dinosaurs from blood in fossilized mosquitoes, either.

So as a guy who's lived the valley life, done venture-backed startups, loves dogs (and has a shep-lab mix), and spends a lot of time in the wine country, Houston has a lot to offer.
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