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CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, 8th Edition (Exams 220-801 & 220-802)
CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, 8th Edition (Exams 220-801 & 220-802)
by Michael Meyers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $32.10
78 used & new from $23.63

76 of 78 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Passed A+ Exams 220-801 and 220-802, December 12, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A couple of months ago, I decided to take the steps necessary to become A+ certified. Since I already had good hands on experience, I knew that I didn't want to pay an outrageous price for a class. So, I opted for home study based on the good reviews I'd read that were posted on earlier Mike Meyer's books. I bought his latest A+ exam guide to prepare for tests 220-801 and 220-802. Using this book, I was able to pass both tests, just barely.

Do I blame the book ? Nope. In fact the book is quite good. Yes, it's a back breaking 1400+ pages. But it does a very thorough job explaining the basics of what a PC Technician might encounter in their first 1-3 years on the job. Mike Meyer's wrote the book based on the current Comp TIA A+ exam objectives. So, don't be surprized if certain topics do seem to have better explanations in the previous edition. The new edition is all about presenting the current exam objectives which emphasize topics like portable computers, smart phones, networking and security.

The problem with working with computers is that the hardware and software are constantly changing. In order to keep up with the Joneses, a technician has to know a lot of small details. And that's what the Comp TIA A+ exams test you on i.e. your knowledge of those really small details. Mike Meyer's made sure that no detail was too small to be ignored from those objectives. Read and study the exam tips. They are great bullet points.

The book does cover all the objectives set out by Comp TIA. Here's the catch 22, because all the A+ prep books were written before the new tests even went live, there just are not enough "free" supplemental materials posted on the internet that a person can use to help them study. The exams are just too new. The included CD is somewhat helpful in that the test engine does mimic the exam structure exactly. However, as others have complained, 100 questions per exam aren't enough to prepare a person for the actual exam. It's a start, but you need more to pass. That's where Mike Meyer's loses a star rating. The CD will direct you to his website were you can PURCHASE extra practice questions. And the free online video tutorials, aren't free either. If you're looking for great free online videos to prepare for the A+, I highly recommend google searching for Professor Messer's website. He has excellent hardware tutorial videos posted on his website. He also has an assortment of free A+ questions you can use for practice. If you were do a search on 220-801/802, the only exam prep resources you'll find will cost you. If you can afford it, I highly recommend purchasing some of those practice question packages and there are different packages available. The more questions you can answer from the objectives, the better prepared you will be to pass the exams.

Mike Meyer's does not cover the performance questions in the book, but he does mention them on his website.


Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
DVD ~ Tom Cruise
Offered by Expedited Warehouse
Price: $7.84
31 used & new from $3.61

198 of 240 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wait Until You See the Car, December 17, 2011
I won't be cliche and tell you that your mission, should you choose to accept it... You know the rest.

Without a doubt, this is the best of all the Mission Impossible movies, including the original. Over the years, the MI franchise had become something of a cartoon of itself. So, it seemed appropriate that Brad Bird should be chosen to helm MI4 Ghost Protocol. As the Oscar winning director of the Incredibles, he made animated cartoons seem very real. Now, he's made Mission Impossible real again. He's injected a fresh breathe of confidence, humor and camaraderie into a series that sorely needed it. He's not only re-invigorated the franchise, he's re-invigorated Tom Cruise's career as an action star. With this movie, Tom is back on top.

You'll notice that there is a lot of the Incredibles in MI4 Ghost Protocol. That's not only because of Brad Bird's influence, but because the Incredibles was a humorous homage to action films. You could say it's the IMF meets the Incredibles. That is not a deterrent. It's a tribute to a director who can think outside the proverbial action box. This isn't the same old, same old. The movie is much more upbeat and doesn't take itself too seriously. Which works to its advantage.

Tom Cruise has never been better. This isn't the brooding Ethan Hunt of previous movies. He's a man on a mission. pardon the pun. To make a complicated story short, the IMF has been shut down and disavowed after a massive explosion at the Kremlin. That explosion is blamed on the IMF. But, it was nothing more than a diversion to steal a nuclear detonator by a terrorist hell bent on ensuring peace on Earth by starting a nuclear war between the super powers. It's up to Ethan, and his cobbled together disavowed team, to hunt down the nuclear terrorist and save the world. simple.

Once you have suspended disbelief, sit back and enjoy. The cast is uniformly excellent. Jeremy Renner plays an IMF analyst suit (with more than desk skills at his disposal) reluctantly recruited into the field. Paula Patton is the former team leader of a mission gone bad sent to rescue Hunt. Simon Pegg is back as Benji, the computer/technology genius. While it may seem like he's there just for comic relief, he is an integral part of the team. There are no dull moments. The movie has a quick pace, fun one liners and mind blowing special effects filmed in glorious IMAX. Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner both have sensational action sequences. Tom Cruise isn't the only actor who gets to jump off buildings. And if this movie is any indication, Jeremy Renner is going to make a fantastic Jason Bourne. This wasn't a vehicle for just Tom. Everyone gets a piece of the action. It's a true throw back to the original TV series.

and wait until you see the car. James Bond would trade in his Aston Martin for it.
Comment Comments (19) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 29, 2014 5:46 PM PDT


Horrible Bosses
Horrible Bosses
DVD ~ Jason Bateman
Price: $3.99
42 used & new from $1.99

26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Crude, Rude and an Awful Lot of Fun, July 10, 2011
This review is from: Horrible Bosses (DVD)
Horrible Bosses is a revenge fantasy on acid or better yet, a snort of cocaine. It's obscene. It's politically incorrect. It's boorish and absolutely hilarious. Everyone seems to have having a good time, especially the horrible bosses played by Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell. Colin Farrell seems to be channeling Tom Cruise's performance from Tropic Thunder. He's completely unrecognizable as the kung fu obsessed tool of a boss, Bobby Pellit. Of course, no one does smarm better than Kevin Spacey. He's played this type of role before but never with so much glee. As for Jennifer Aniston, she is fabulous as the nymphomaniac dentist who lusts after her hygienist.

The premise is very simple. Three under paid, under appreciated and over worked employees played by Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day decide that if they want their lives to improve, they need to murder their bosses. Thus begins the clever and very rude homage to Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train as well as Throw Mama From the Train.

It's an intelligent, witty and extremely well written movie. What made it more fun were unexpected cameos by Ioan Gruffudd and Bob Newhart. Ioan Gruffudd's scene as a potential assassin for hire is a riot.

This movie was a pleasant surprize.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 30, 2012 9:14 PM PDT


Wellington: A Personal History
Wellington: A Personal History
by Christopher Hibbert
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.14
91 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Personal Life of the Duke of Wellington - Shorter Edition, March 2, 2011
Christopher Hibbert has written a competent, but very brief personal history of the Duke of Wellington. The Duke of Wellington's life could easily fill thousands of volumes, let alone 500 pages. Hibbert has collected some of the more interesting tidbits of the Duke's life to create this brief overview. This isn't a bad book. In general, it is well written, but it is also shallow as a result of the brevity. It's just not enough to grasp how much impact this man had on British and European history from 1805-1851. I was somewhat disappointed. I had hoped for more.


True Grit
True Grit
DVD ~ Jeff Bridges
Price: $7.50
174 used & new from $0.95

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Movie Worth Its Weight in California Gold Pieces, December 25, 2010
This review is from: True Grit (DVD)
True Grit is not a remake of the 1969 Henry Hathaway classic starring John Wayne. In interviews, the Coen Brothers have said they decided to return to the original source material i.e. the book by Charles Portis. As a result, it's a closer adaptation of the book. That's what sets this movie apart. People will make comparisons. That's alright, but they really are two different movies.

Jeff Bridges is extraordinary as the "one eyed fat man", US Marshall Rooster (Reuben) Cogburn. He's not Jeff Bridges doing an imitation of John Wayne. He has made the role of Rooster his own and it's worth its weight in California gold pieces. You can tell he's enjoying himself. He personifies the "true grit" that our hero, Mattie, feels is necessary to help her capture Tom Cheney. The man who murdered her father. In the original, the central character was Rooster Cogburn. Not so in this movie. It's Mattie Ross, as in the book.

Mattie is 14 years old and is determined to avenge the death of her father. She is certainly precocious and intelligent far beyond her years. And she is just as single minded as Rooster, except without the ornery attitude. Every time he tries to shoo her away, she doggedly returns to seek his help as well as roll his cigarettes. She will not be put off her task. Half the fun of this movie is watching Mattie outwit Colonel Stonehill for the funds she needs to pay Rooster as well as the costs of her father's funeral. Hailee Steinfeld plays Mattie as an intelligent, independent minded young woman who will not be treated like a child. She definitely holds her own on screen with Jeff Bridges as well as Matt Damon, Barry Pepper and Josh Brolin.

All the actors are wonderful. Matt Damon is marvelous as the nincompoop Texas Ranger, LeBouef (pronounced LeBeef) also after Cheney. At first, he seems like a ninny constantly being bested intellectually by Mattie. However, in the end, he too proves that he has true grit. As for Josh Brolin and Barry Pepper, can you get two better onscreen outlaws. Josh Brolin is fabulous as the villainous Tom Cheney. He's all snarling miscreant. While Barry Pepper is made all the more menacing with a mangled set of teeth and furry chaps.

This is a wonderful old fashioned type of western that Hollywood used to make and thanks to the Coen Brothers has been resurrected. The script is humorous, tight and witty. The one weak point is the ending. Towards the end, the script does seem to lose a bit of steam. However, do not let that stop you from seeing this movie. Yes, there is some violence. However, it is something you can take your 14 year old to see.

Go see this movie !! You will not regret it. I loved it. Now, I must read the book.


The Dancing Girls of Lahore: Selling Love and Saving Dreams in Pakistan's Pleasure District (P.S.)
The Dancing Girls of Lahore: Selling Love and Saving Dreams in Pakistan's Pleasure District (P.S.)
by Louise T. Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.82
126 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dancing Girls of Lahore - Gigi in Pakistan's Pleasure District, June 7, 2010
Louise T Brown has written a remarkable study of life in Pakistan's Pleasure District. It is not for the weak of stomach. Life for women in the Heera Mandi is brutal, unforgiving and harsh. Privacy is non existent. Gossip thrives. At times it seems as if the the only refuge these women have are their memories of a better life in their youth (as viewed through photos and video tapes) or drugs.

This is the story of Maha and her daughters, Neena, Nisha and Ariba. She also has a son, who's treated like a little god. But he's peripheral to the story. It's Maha and her daughters who take center stage. Their life is not unlike that of Gigi by Collette. Maha, like Gigi, was trained from an early age to be a courtesan to rich and powerful men. Today, she is a 30 something former dancer/courtesan considered past her prime. In the pleasure district, a woman's prime is roughly between the ages of 14-30. But, Maha does not consider herself a prostitute. She does not sell her body for money. That's beneath her. She is a highly trained dancer, an artist. There is a caste system in the Heera Mandi and Maha considered herself at the top because of her lineage. She has known the good life and dreams of getting that life back through her daughters.

When we meet her, she is somewhat down on her luck. Her "husband" barely visits her and when he does, he does not provide her with the money she needs to survive. Their marriage is what would be considered a morganic marriage i.e. a temporary marriage that can be easily dissolved by the husband. In Pakistan, it is illegal to have sex outside of marriage. So, these women have to marry in order to ply their trade, so to speak.

When her daughters reach their prime, she will act as their pimp. This is what makes the book so difficult to read. You can't understand why a mother would prostitute her daughters, but this is life in the Heera Mandi. Maha does not see herself as selling her daughter's virginity to the highest bidder. She sees it as assuring that the family can live comfortably once the daughters are past their prime. Maha wants a better life for the family and to her, that better life means making some wealthy man happy. This is what she teaches her daughters i.e. that pleasing a rich man will make them wealthy.

Something I found distressing is how Maha treats Ariba, her youngest. When Louise Brown first meets the family, she thinks the dark skinned Ariba is a servant. She is certainly treated no better than a slave and yet, she is Neena and Nisha's sister. She is an outcast because of her dark skin. In Pakistan, women with lighter skin are more valued than those who are dark. They even use creams on the poor girl to try to lighten her skin. Because Maha could care less, Ariba is allowed to run wild in the streets. As a result, she is raped in her early teens. Maha is upset, not that her daughter was raped, but that she didn't receive any money for the act !

There is much to admire and abhor about life in the Heera Mandi. I could not put down this book. I wanted to know what would happen and in the end, it really isn't all that different than Gigi.

Read this book, it's excellent.


Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France
Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France
by Leonie Frieda
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.12
138 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Biography of a Maligned and Misunderstood Renaissance Queen, April 20, 2010
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Leonie Frieda has written a tremendous biography of a much maligned Renaissance queen. Catherine De Medici has been blamed for many of the ills experienced by France after the death of her husband, Henry II. How much complicity she had in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre is still a subject of debate. Leonie Frieda states that she did have some culpability. However, she also makes it clear that Catherine made many efforts to make peace with the Huguenots before and after the event. Something that history seems to have neglected.

Catherine's entire reign has been defined by that one event. There was much more to this remarkable renaissance queen. She was a woman of her times and ahead of her time. She received an education far beyond what was considered respectable for a woman. She cultivated the arts, poetry and architecture. And yet, she is considered the "Queen of poisons" because several of her enemies seemed to conveniently die (of poison ?). Above all, she was a mother to her children.

What is interesting about her is that while she was never affectionate with her children, she loved and protected them. She made sure all of them married well. That was important during the Renaissance. A woman was defined by her marriage. Catherine was no different. Most of her early life was defined by her marriage to Henry II. She didn't come into her own until after his death when she became regent for her son, Francis. This is a period when she flourished. Up until that point, she remained the dutiful and submissive queen. She may well have owed that position to Diane De Poiters, Henry IIs mistress. Catherine remained childless for the first nine years of her marriage. That would have been a legitimate legal reason for an annulment. With Diane's urging (?), Henry kept Catherine and they eventually went on to have ten children. Catherine's relationship with her sons makes for absorbing reading. Three sons lived to become king of France and in Henry III's case, Poland. Her daughters did not achieve the same success of their mother. Although, Margot achieved equal notoriety.

This is a wonderful biography as well as history of Renaissance France. I highly recommend it.


Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy
Lucrezia Borgia: Life, Love, and Death in Renaissance Italy
by Sarah Bradford
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.12
194 used & new from $0.01

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lucrezia Borgia - Interesting Subject, Not so Interesting Book, April 1, 2010
I have to agree with other reviewers who've made negative comments. This is just a muddle of facts and fashion tidbits. Sarah Bradford said that the purpose of the book was to separate fact from fiction. She never accomplishes this. Her subject is a difficult one. Very few women (noble or otherwise) of the Renaissance left records of their lives. The fact that we know anything about her means she must have been extraordinary for her time. So, with a subject matter as interesting as well as reviled as Lucretia Borgia, you'd think that would have made for a better book. Sarah Bradford just didn't seem to understand her subject.

I was expecting to read a book that did compare and contrast the known facts with contemporary gossip. The only gossip she discussed was the topic of incest. There was speculation, but no hard evidence that Lucretia had an incestuous relationship with her father, Alexander VI and her brother, Cesare. Being accused of incest by your detractors was common in this age. She does make this clear.

However, what she does not do is discredit the myths associated with Lucretia. In particular, the myth that Lucretia was the queen of poisons. She doesn't mention this at all. In fact, she doesn't mention any myths. So, how does a person separate fact and fiction if she doesn't even mention the fiction.

I also agree with the comments made regarding superfluous names and places. Those were things that could have easily been included in a footnote. There was no need to include them. I expected better scholarship. This was a disappointment.


The Damned United
The Damned United
DVD ~ Michael Sheen
Offered by Paint it Orange
Price: $6.98
50 used & new from $0.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Damned United - Not Your Average Sports Movie, March 21, 2010
This review is from: The Damned United (DVD)
The Damned United is not your typical sports film. It's much more than that. It's a study of contrasting personalities. Set during the 60s and 70s, the movie details the conflict of two very different managers of rival football (soccer) clubs i.e. Brian Clough and Don Revie. Don Revie (played by Colm Meaney) is the manager of the top ranked and virtually unbeatable, Leeds United. They are the Damned United of the title. Brian Clough (played by Michael Sheen) is the very outspoken, but extremely talented manager of a second tier team, Derby County.

At the start of the film, Revie has accepted the position of manager for Team England. That leaves the position of Leeds United manager open and the job is offered to Brian Clough. The film traces Brian Clough's rise as Derby County manager and fall as Leeds. Of course, he finds much more success after his tenure at Leeds United. But, that's another movie. Most Americans might ignore a film about English football thinking the subject boring. This is not the case. It's a marvelous character study and a fantastic movie. Michael Sheen's performance as Brian Clough is absolutely riveting. He's a very talented and versatile actor with roles as diverse as David Frost, Tony Blair and even Lucien from Underworld. I found myself fascinated by Clough's obsession with Revie. That obsession is what drives the plot. The adapted script is extremely well done by Peter Morgan. He also wrote the screenplays for Frost/Nixon and the Queen. It's an extremely literate script with sharp dialog.

One thing I will mention is that while Colm Meaney did not have as much screen time as Michael Sheen, he makes his presence felt as Revie. He's a marvelous character actor who has big shoes to fill with this role. All the characters in this film are larger than life. Now, what makes this story interesting is that you eventually learn that Brian Clough's obsession with Revie arose from a perceived slight at a match. Clough says that Revie refused to shake his hand at the end of a game. Is that what has been driving this man ? That obsession is what keeps you glued to your seat. Michael Sheen is just that good at playing Clough. He's a foul mouthed ball of energy.

And this movie isn't just about the conflict between Clough and Revie. It's also a very good portrait of the friendship between Clough and his co-manager, Peter Taylor played by Timothy Spall. These two are also contrasting personalities. Peter Taylor was Brian Clough's anchor. He kept all of Clough's eccentricities in check. He's the sensible one. They were a team and when they had a fall out, that left Clough foundering.

One small detail I found interesting was the accents of the performers. Most Americans are used to hearing the polished accents of BBC English. There's none of that here. The movie is filled with rough Northern accents that may seem jarring at first, but eventually grow on a person.

This is a movie I hope more people will watch because it really is a fascinating subject. Is it true to life ? I'm sure it's a dramatization of the facts. However, that does not detract from the movie. You expect movies to take a certain amount of poetic license. Make time to see this movie, you won't regret it.


No Title Available

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sherlock Holmes - Viewed Through a Modern Lens, January 1, 2010
When I heard that Robert Downey Jr was going to play Sherlock Holmes, I had my doubts. Robert Downey Jr is an immensely talented actor, but could he play such a well established character as Sherlock Holmes ? If you're looking for a movie novelization of Conan Doyle's books, watch the Jeremy Brett episodes instead.

Guy Ritchie has definitely updated this version of Holmes to be a more modern man of action, but he still adheres to the original characterization. Holmes is described as being a talented boxer and fencer as well as having great strength. So, it's no surprize to see him engaging in fisticuffs. He's also described as being rude, insolent and at times morose. Whether or not he'd work hand in hand with Irene Adler is another issue. There are many parts of of this movie that seem very true to the books and others which are a modern update. I'd say that Guy Ritchie definitely took some poetic license with this movie. But, this does not detract from the story. This is a very entertaining movie.

Oddly enough, Robert Downey Jr was a surprizingly good (cerebral) choice to play Holmes. It certainly required out of box thinking to cast him. No, he doesn't look like the drawings from the Strand. He shouldn't. Once again, you can't compare him to any other portrayal of Holmes. This is a modern way to look at Holmes. In this version, he uses his brawn as much as his brain. As a personal note, find out who Robert Downey Jr's personal trainer is because RDJ is in amazing physical condition. While you can argue that Sherlock Holmes might not have fought in a pit, he would have felt uneasy in a social situation. In one scene where he's dinning with Watson and his fiancee, Mary, you see how uncomfortable he is in public places. You see how outside noises seem to disturb his neural processes. He can't block out the noise, he can't think clearly and it puts him on edge. RDJ is wonderful at displaying Holmes' brilliant mind and occasionally off putting eccentricities. Speaking of those eccentricities, the moments with the violin were a nice touch.

Now, also of considerable note was Jude Law. His Watson was absolutely spot on. He was wonderful. Nigel Bruce, God bless him, was nothing like the books. In fact, Jude Law's Watson is much closer to the book and that was a pleasant surprize. Watson was never supposed to be a bumbling old fool. Watson was supposed to be a competent retired military doctor. So, it makes sense that Holmes would have someone like Jude Law's Watson by his side. And Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law have absolutely fabulous chemistry. You have to pay attention because their witty repartee is very rapid fire and very funny. When you see them arguing, it really does look like you're watching an old married couple. There is a off hand reference to them being brothers, not of blood, but of the soul. That's very true in this case. Holmes and Watson are portrayed as squabbling siblings. Can't live with each other and can't live with out.

Rachel McAdams does make a fetching Irene Adler, but her character does seem out of place in this story. I feel she was put in so that the film didn't seem like an old boys type of film. It is a very male dominated film and the Irene Adler character is supposed to add a bit of femininity. Here's my problem with her character. She's described as a master criminal in the movie. That was never the Irene Adler in the books. Yes, she bested Holmes and yes, she masqueraded in male costume and maybe Holmes was in love with her. But, in the movie, she's portrayed as a female Sherlock Holmes and that didn't sit right with me. Once again, this is a modern update of the Holmes story. The villain, Lord Blackwood, is portrayed by Mark Strong and he is very good. He has a very mellifluous voice that he uses to his advantage as Blackwood. I can't say if the black leather jacket was period to the 1880s, but it did lend a sense of malevolence to his character.

I will say that I appreciated that the art director showed London as it was in the 1890s i.e. dirty, grimy and crime infested. People should remember that the London atmosphere that produced Holmes, also produced Jack the Ripper. Of course, in some ways, you could compare Lord Blackwood to Jack the Ripper, but it isn't so neat. This is where the story does get a bit confusing and convoluted. Part of the story involves black magic and a secret society that may or may not be the Masons. The story doesn't always make sense and that's where the action compensates. I do think that Guy Ritchie did go a bit overboard with the action. He should have concentrated more on the story. In short, what the story lacked in coherency, it made up with great actions scenes and witty repartee between Holmes and Watson.

I enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed this film in spite of the weakness in the story. It's a surprizingly good take on the Holmes mythos.


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