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Mark "Technology, Music and Movies" RSS Feed (East Coast)

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The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China
The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China
by Huan Hsu
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.34
54 used & new from $14.30

4.0 out of 5 stars The Porcelain Thief - A Journey Into A Family's Past And a Nation's Future, March 3, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Porcelain Thief is a unique book. Part travelogue, part memoir, this book doesn't just span generations and continents, it spans every aspect of human experience. The author does a great job of blending his family history with the history of their native China. And China is portrayed in a real and beautiful way that will make anybody appreciate her even more.

While the author took his trip to China originally to seek out a lost treasure in priceless porcelain, the job he takes at a semiconductor company provides a very interesting backdrop. This is not meant to be a business book at all. Yet I found that there were so many salient business insights that the author made, many in an off-handed way. It was this aspect of the story that was most surprising and unexpected for me personally.


The story takes many twists and turns. In many ways it's about the author finding himself, not just discovering what happened to his family's porcelain. But the way he tells his story is so engaging and lucid I think it will appeal to a huge cross-section of readers.

The Man in the High Castle
The Man in the High Castle

4.0 out of 5 stars The Man In The High Castle – A Worthy Adaptation, February 14, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"The Man In The High Castle" provides a glimpse into the world created in the monumental novel by PK Dick. Dick wrote his book in a very lean and targeted way, choosing to focus on the day to day lives of several key characters to portray his alternate world. Readers are left to infer much, but one should always note that not all characters' perceptions can be counted on for 100% accuracy. So those who are focused on the original book in a linear way are bound to miss a lot of world that Dick created. In fact, I would argue that they would be missing the point of his book entirely.

This pilot features some excellent cinematography and very good acting. There seems to be an unhealthy focus on the writing, where it differs from the original book. But I believe many of those criticisms are at best exaggerated. And at worst, they show a complete misunderstanding of the original novel and some of its larger themes.

I think that this pilot episode is a huge success and a tremendous accomplishment in its own right. While there are many things I would have done differently, I feel that the tenor of this adaptation is in fact in line with Dick's original work. The only question nobody can answer is how these story lines might be developed were this to continue as a full series. It's important to know that Dick's alternate world was not created to tell a political story, and I think that they did a good job of displaying the obvious political elements in the context of the human interest story that is at the core. Dick's story includes some very deep philosophical threads. Nobody can know how those ideas would be presented in this format, particularly with slightly different plot lines.


It saddens me that more people can't appreciate what a great job they did with this pilot. While there were some changes, they are in keeping with Dick's original work. Nothing that is shown here cannot be inferred from his book, even if it's not explicitly spelled out there. And I hope that this show gets the go-ahead, so that a new generation of readers can be introduced to Dick's fantastic ideas.

Plum Organics Baby Hello Morning, Blueberry, Banana and Quinoa Oatmeal, 3 Ounce (Pack of 6)
Plum Organics Baby Hello Morning, Blueberry, Banana and Quinoa Oatmeal, 3 Ounce (Pack of 6)
Price: $29.57
4 used & new from $25.45

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Plum Organics - Bland Taste, Poor Value, December 29, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a disappointing product. There is no sweetness to it at all. There are hardly any blueberries in it. I know babies have different taste buds, but I found it so bland I don't know how any baby could enjoy it. I had to add tons of condiments to make it palatable. I know that quinoa is a fad right now, but there has to be a more tasty way to consume it.

I was also somewhat surprised by the extremely small portions. The contents of all of the packs in this box might fit into just one of the packs. It's such a small amount of cereal and it comes at such a premium, I don't think it's worth it.

Time's Edge (The Chronos Files)
Time's Edge (The Chronos Files)
by Rysa Walker
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.73
47 used & new from $5.44

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Time's Edge, The Chronos Files Book 2 - Entertaining But Flawed, December 25, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Time's Edge (The Chronos Files Book 2) is a book that is strangely compelling despite many weaknesses. For those looking for a light read, this book can definitely be entertaining. But don't look too deeply. This is not really a science fiction novel in the traditional sense, and is more akin to vampire romance novels like "Twilight." As a child "The Time Machine" was one of my favorite books. The contrast between the two books is staggering. Even with a century of science between publication, it's the Wells book that presents a more solid scientific foundation.

There were many problems with flow throughout the book. At parts the book reads like a thriller. If you believe the premise, what these characters do should matter a lot. But the fact that the characters have the ability to travel through time is a convenient crutch. Because after a supposedly crucial jump, the character will then return home and take a long bubble bath, go on a date and watch a movie. How can anybody believe there is a sense of urgency there, or that the fate of the world is in the balance? And any time the author wants to change a plot line, she needs only to claim that ABC character traveled back in time to observe something and it was indeed different than what character XYZ thought it was.

The author does not trust the reader to read between the lines. There are many excess explanations of trivial details, while more fundamental questions remain unanswered. Most annoying were the constant reminders that this Kate was different from the Kate in the "other timeline," which is basically isolated to book one. This kind of story element only needs to be mentioned periodically. I wish I had a dollar for every time I had to read the phrase "the other timeline."

The author also tries to support the story with name dropping of various brands and hipster keywords. Thankfully this diminishes a lot once you get past the first third of the book.

The author does do a good job of projecting a solid image of the protagonist, Kate. But to be honest, Kate is an annoying character. From time to time she sprinkles in statements to the effect of "it's no big deal, but the fate of the world is basically in my hands." Her narcissism is only magnified by the built-in love triangle and her constant reminders that she's aware that Kiernan "wants something more" than what she is prepared to give. "And even though I don't want to give him false hope, I can tell from his smile that I have." Get over yourself sister.

The Cyrists are not presented with any degree of precision. The author seems to just want us to think of them as pure evil. They are a combination of every negative cult stereotype. Their goals are not even hinted at for most of this book. Their strange mix of beliefs and customs are presented matter-of-factly. But there is never any attempt to explain how their practices are related to their goals.

Those looking for a resolution to the story arc will definitely be left disappointed. It seems as if the author is planning on drawing this story out as long as possible.


Despite the many flaws in this book, both in its design and in its execution, it is a surprisingly addicting read. I found myself wanting to continue to see where the author would take the story. And maybe Kate's self-centered personally was just amusing enough. But this is definitely a story meant to be enjoyed on the surface. Any kind of analytical inspection makes the story completely fall apart.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 6, 2015 11:32 AM PST

Relic Men's Mark Traveler Wallet, Black, One Size
Relic Men's Mark Traveler Wallet, Black, One Size
Price: $16.14

2.0 out of 5 stars Relic Wallet - Too thick For Me, November 3, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This wallet is attractive enough and it may work for some. But it doesn't meet my needs.

For starters, this wallet is thick before any cards or money are even in it. So that means that fully loaded up with money and cards, this wallet will be way too thick for my needs. Even the Relic badge on the outside just seems like unnecessary bulk.

This wallet does have a lot of slots for card storage. And it has 2 zippered compartments, which will be convenient for some. But given all of that, I don't love the bifold design. If it was a bill-fold, those extras would add less bulk.

The leather grain is nice enough. It definitely has the look of a quality product that will last. So it's still a good candidate for a gift. But despite that, this is not a great value given the similarly priced alternatives from better known brands.


If you don't mind a super thick wallet, this is a quality product that should be functional and durable. But the design just doesn't work for me.

Logitech Wireless Mouse M320, Black
Logitech Wireless Mouse M320, Black
Offered by T.R.G.
Price: $14.29
53 used & new from $14.29

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Logitech M320 Mouse - Good Basic Mouse With Nano Receiver, November 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Logitech M320 Laser Mouse is a good basic mouse that combines sleek design with above average battery life. It lacks any extra side buttons, but has a wide scroll wheel. And this mouse is designed well to be used by left and right-handed people.

++ The small nub receiver works great and is now a standard
++ Optical laser lets you use this mouse on many surfaces
++ Uses one AA battery (included) and is advertised to last up to 2 years before replacement!
++ Extra-wide scroll wheel for more comfortable scrolling
++ Receiver is small enough that it can be left in your USB port
++ Great shape for comfort while holding it
++ Sides have a nice textured surface
++ Convenient On / Off button conserves battery life when not in use
++ Convenient storage compartment for USB receiver inside the mouse
++ The LED light on top alerts you to a weak battery and when turned on or off
++ Well designed for use by right and left handers
++ 1 year limited warrantee

-- No forward / back buttons on the side
-- The lack of extra function keys limits this mouse from power users
-- Logitech's support website malfunctioned when I went to check for available software
-- The list price is in the ball-park, but not a great value


This mouse worked almost immediately after plugging it in. Unlike with prior versions, there is no management software mentioned for use with this mouse. And going to the Logitech website resulted in a strange malfunction, where the site would re-direct me away from any download or login page I navigated to. If and when I am able to get more information on software for this mouse, I will update this section.


This is a very good basic mouse that is great for mobile or home computing. The small USB receiver is great for laptop users on the go.

Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2014 11:54 PM PST

Systemic Thinking: Building Maps for Worlds of Systems
Systemic Thinking: Building Maps for Worlds of Systems
by John Boardman
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.44
45 used & new from $23.31

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Systemic Thinking - A Simpler Approach To A Complex Topic, September 16, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This book is a revelation. The author's have drawn on their vast professional experience and have come away with this treatise, that can only be the result of great thinking. And while this is not really a novel theme, it provides a nice new simplified take on this timely topic.

The authors draw on a number of well known case studies from various areas. For those who work in computing, be warned this book goes far beyond that. It takes your approach to systems to a very abstract level, where the concepts can be applied to a number of problems, both business and technical.

These kind of "thinking maps" are akin to the flow charts of yesteryear, yet with much more depth and substance than the average business analyst has ever had to work with. And so the result is a lot more than a means to understand problems and processes. The result allows you to anticipate problems and improve systems to identify their root causes.


This is a great book, and I think a wide audience can benefit from it. This book is not all things to all people, and certainly there are academic treatments that cover more areas of this topic. But the authors succeed at simplifying this topic in a way that people from other disciplines will understand. As long as you are receptive to abstract thinking, I think most readers can gain a lot from this book.

Five Star Locker Storage Pocket with Dry Erase Surface, 4 x 6.5 Inches, White with Red Pocket (72616)
Five Star Locker Storage Pocket with Dry Erase Surface, 4 x 6.5 Inches, White with Red Pocket (72616)
Price: $18.92
2 used & new from $12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Star Locker Storage Pocket - A Great Idea, September 9, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of those accessories you don't know you need until you have it. It basically has a giant magnet on the back so it can stick to your locker wall. And you can write on the surface with a dry erase marker. That lets you use it to store different things, and change what you have written on it as needed.

The well is plenty deep enough. You can use these to store pens, glasses, or other accessories. This is a great idea. Highly recommended.

Case Logic CL5-2003 iPhone 5/5s Cover - Gold/Brown
Case Logic CL5-2003 iPhone 5/5s Cover - Gold/Brown
Price: $12.99
2 used & new from $12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Case Logic CL5 - One of the Classiest And Most Attractive Slim Cases For the iPhone 5, September 8, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Case Logic CL5 is one of the most attractive slim cases for the iPhone 5 that I have seen. It is very thin and light, and has a basic design that comes in 2 patterns. But in addition to the basic frame, there is a fabric backing that makes the case really seem polished.

The only thing I can't know for sure, but I suspect, is that often times with these fabric backings they start to turn up at the edges. I will update this over time, but as long as you can get a year out of this case it's worth it. It's attractive and light. Recommended.

Ace Elbow Strap with Adjustable Custom Dial System
Ace Elbow Strap with Adjustable Custom Dial System
Price: $18.05
4 used & new from $11.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Ace Adjustable Elbow Strap - Good For Minor Adjustments Only, September 6, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This strap does provide for some adjustment. But it has several flaws. For one thing, a bigger person is not going to be able to fit this in more than one position, because the strap is not long enough. Secondly, the adjustment dial has a limit on tightness. It simply could never be tightened enough for my needs. And lastly, as with all such straps it can irritate the skin if you are using it while working out. This is not the soft material that is normal for Ace bandages. So while it does have some merit, be aware of the limitations before you select it.

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