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Ira Laefsky "Ira Laefsky" RSS Feed (Philadelphia, PA)
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Code Warriors: NSA's Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union
Code Warriors: NSA's Codebreakers and the Secret Intelligence War Against the Soviet Union
by Stephen Budiansky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.60

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Valuable Contribution to Public Knowledge of the NSA's Cold War Record, April 24, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A well researched history of the NSA concentrating on the Cold War and Russian Decrypts. This book makes a significant contribution in addition to the works of Bamford, Aid, and Hayden. Particularly valuable were the technical appendices which is greater in its exposition of Venona and the Russian cable codes and successors of Enigma. These appendices, perhaps because they deal with more recently declassified history and perhaps because of the limitations of prose reporting for a non-technical audience, however, do not approach the level of detail given in Gordon Welchman's "Hut Six Story".

A valuable contribution to public information on the history of the NSA and the Cold War.


Stories of Your Life and Others
Stories of Your Life and Others
by Ted Chiang
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful Stories of Sci Fi, Philosophy and Literature. A Collection to be treasured, which has been reprinted to synch w/ film, April 7, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Many other reviewers have commented on Ted Chiang's mastery of the science fiction short story for which he has been awarded both Hugo and Nebula Awards. I hope I will not be held out as racist for noting that two contemporary Chinese American authors, Ted Chiang and Ken Liu are among the best of contemporary masters of the Sci Fi short story; liberally educated, and careful philosophical writers exploring themes of language and logic in careful beautiful language. Mr. Chiang has written a smaller collection of literature but all of his stories and novella have huge philosophical and literary footprints I recommend them to all who love Sci Fi and literature.


SmartLab Toys Smart Circuits Games & Gadgets Electronics Lab
SmartLab Toys Smart Circuits Games & Gadgets Electronics Lab
Price: $43.16
9 used & new from $43.16

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Experiments With Electronics That Can Be Safely Performed by An 8-10 Year Old. Documentation Could Be Improved., April 5, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Exciting Experiments With Electronics That Can Be Safely Performed by An 8-10 Year Old. Documentation Could Be Improved

This offers a "Paint by Numbers" approach to building electronic circuits with labeled plugs and color-coded wires and connections> A reasonable Instruction Booklet suited to the target age cohort is provided. But the only understanding of what the circuit does is provided by a short 1-2 paragraph "What's going On" section with an illustration.

This kit certainly wet's the appetite of a young scientist in performing Electronic Experiments, but its utility could be improved for growing with the kit by providing, without additional cost, more complete explanations of the theoryof how the system operates and additional experiments that could be performed with the same parts, or additional parts purchased online.


Decision Quality: Value Creation from Better Business Decisions
Decision Quality: Value Creation from Better Business Decisions
by Carl Spetzler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.51
58 used & new from $15.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I would recommend this book as an appropriate introduction to Decision Making to anyone who currently flies by the seat..., April 5, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As an MBA who majored in what was then called Decision Sciences, this consulting guide seemed like a combination of Decision Tree Methods, with some complements of modern so-called Behavioral Economics and Tversky and Kahneman's studies of cognitive biases. As guide to Decision Making in a variety of situations it seemed to offer few detailed quantitative methods for problem solving, although proposing an interesting overall framework for judging "Decision Quality" and the various requisites of a good decision in terms of framing, necessary information, viable alternatives, etc. For financial decision making in particular it should be supplemented with one of the better guidebooks to the HBS Case Method. I didn't find much useful advice on imagining and testing creative alternatives and am better guided by studies of Imagineering, Design Thinking and Prototyping methods in the Business endeavor.

I would recommend this book as an appropriate introduction to Decision Making to anyone who currently flies by the seat of his/her pants.


Kwikset 258 Uptown Low Profile Round Contemporary Deadbolt featuring SmartKey in Satin Nickel
Kwikset 258 Uptown Low Profile Round Contemporary Deadbolt featuring SmartKey in Satin Nickel
Price: $36.51
3 used & new from $33.80

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An easy to install secure lock, our second followup to one purchased recieved on the Vine Program., April 4, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
An easy to install secure lock, our second followup to one purchased received on the Vine Program. We are pleased by this locks ease of installation, security and understated appearance which easily fits our suburban colonial or any other modern or traditional style. Can be installed by anyone with an electric drill/router in 20 minutes.


Hello Raspberry Pi!: Python programming for kids and other beginners
Hello Raspberry Pi!: Python programming for kids and other beginners
by Ryan Heitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.54
58 used & new from $12.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Python Programming on the Raspberry Pi and Basic Hardware Interfacing and I/O including LED's GPIO, March 23, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
An excellent introduction to Python Programming on the Raspberry Pi and Basic Hardware Interfacing and I/O including LED's GPIO, etc.
It is intended for an absolute beginner but with the I/O concepts it will also be applicable to the hardware tinkerer. One tradeoff with the Arduino for introduction to Microcontroller "Making" is that its programmibility is virtually unlimited and you are dealing with a true operating system, but basic interfacing concepts such as Analog to Digital Conversion are more difficult. Those beginning with the Raspberry Pi should be aware that this book was written before the introduction of the R Pi 3 although the differences are minor.
A useful and fun Introductory Makers book.


The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
by Ken Liu
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.87
61 used & new from $9.25

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, Thoughtful Essays Having the Best Effect of Science Fiction, Philosophy and Literature, February 25, 2016
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I first ran into Ken Liu in his Hugo-Award winning translation of "The Three Body Problem" by Cixin Liu where I saw his talents of combining beautiful (English) language, a unique Asian flavor and technological accuracy. This multi-talented laureate of the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy awards, is also a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Law School and an accomplished technologist. Here I was able to dig into his talent for original fiction which could best be described as thoughtful and in-depth rather than either hard science fiction or fantasy. I was most amazed and drawn into hid "Bookmaking Habits of Select Species" where he describes the intimate relationship between written and recorded information and Karl Popper's Third World of Human Knowledge. That is the world of thought and that of recorded knowledge in all forms, physical, embedded in space and embedded in thought.

A masterwork.


Dragon for MAC 5.0, US ENGLISH
Dragon for MAC 5.0, US ENGLISH
Price: $123.13
43 used & new from $122.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Relatively Good Recognition. Less Feature Customized Than Windows Version, February 24, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Relatively Good Recognition. Less Feature Customized Than Windows Version & Less customization for Office, Browser ,etc.
Dragon on the Windows platform has had continuous improvement over the last 15 years or so and requires correction about once in two sentences or so. The raw recognition in the OS X version is almost as good but the product is less customized to the general OS environment and ancillary applications.


Why: A Guide to Finding and Using Causes
Why: A Guide to Finding and Using Causes
by Samantha Kleinberg
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.06
51 used & new from $15.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wide-Ranging Analysis of Reasoning About Causes and Correlations. An Important Book On Decision Making., February 14, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The areas in which people must make important decisions (for business or living a good life), and they generally have less then optimal decision making capability are especially important in modern life. Daniel Kahneman won a Nobel Prize and authored "Thinking, Fast and Slow" one of the most important science books of the 2010's in talking about reasoning under uncertainty an area were most people have notoriously inaccurate fast judgement. Samantha Kleinberg, a Professor of Computer Science at Stevens Institute of Technology has written another important book about reasoning about the causes and relationships of things and events. This is another important area where people lack good judgement and need to make important decisions. For example, if you've heard that married men live longer than their unmarried cohorts, you might conclude as many women's magazines have suggested that marriage leads to a longer lifespan for men. But, you might if you had the benefit of better reasoning skills concluded that healthier, wealthier and more attractive men both had a greater lifespan and might be more attractive as marriage prospects.
Dr. Kleinberg covers reasoning about causality and causation in a wide ranging essay covering topics including philosophy, economics, statistics, psychology and experimental design and writes clearly with a textual and graphical summary employing little mathematics. My only slight recommendation for future editions of this important book would be: to include a chapter giving a flowchart or framework for approaching decision and analysis problems in the real world (a flow chart for reasoning about causes), and greater reference to current tools for machine learning and their effects on our analysis methods.

I highly recommend this important book on reasoning about "why?", and "what effects what?".

--Ira Laefsky MS Engineering MBA Human Computer Interaction Researcher and retired from the Consulting Staff of Arthur D. Little Inc. and Digital Equipment Corporation


Laptops For Dummies
Laptops For Dummies
by Dan Gookin
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.33
58 used & new from $10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Choice if You're Absolutely Committed to use of A Laptop in Window's 10 and Have No Unusual Requirements, January 31, 2016
This review is from: Laptops For Dummies (Paperback)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A fairly complete guide to purchasing, using, and optimizing Windows 10 laptops. Less useful for OS X, Linux, Chrome and Android. Also less useful for convertibles like Microsoft Surface, and Laptop/Tablet Combinations. One area where I saw some good information but not enough was on optimizing battery life. While the book is correct that with current Lithuim Ion batteries, unlike previous generations of Nickel batteries it is not necessary to completely drain the battery before recharging; but it is also true and not given in the book that you must not always leave the battery fully charged or battery life will decrease (see Wikipedia), all of this should be explained (and is not in the book) in terms of the basic physics of Lithium Ion batteries. Another area where I was less than satisfied with the book's advice was in the area of trackpad difficulties, while there is description of Windows 10 adjustments, is the only alternative in other operating systems to purchase an external USB mouse? UEFI use and optimization is not described in the book. With that all said the book is friendly and fairly complete if you are looking with help choosing and using a Windows 10 laptop.


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