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Philip R. Heath "Gadgets, Music, & Books" RSS Feed (DFW)
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Critical Cycles Chatham Beach Cruiser Men's 26" Single-Speed, Matte Black
Critical Cycles Chatham Beach Cruiser Men's 26" Single-Speed, Matte Black
Price: $179.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Nostalgic Cruiser, April 30, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Background: I haven't ridden a bicycle in about a decade, and I've had horror stories from assembling bikes in the past. However, I decided to trust Critical Cycles' claim of "mostly pre-assembled". With this in mind, I give you my experience with the Chatham Beach Cruiser.

Setup Time: I took about an hour, but there are two factors that contributed to that. I'm not very good with "some assembly required" items, and I started with the wrong bike. The manual covers multiple models. The only real problem I had was getting the seat stable. I should have gotten my own 14mm wrench, but I tried to use the included multi-tool instead. Someone a little more handy could probably be up and running in 30-45 minutes. However, I did like the fact that the chain was already assembled.

Ride: The Chatham Beach Cruiser has a decent ride on fairly level surfaces. However, it is not the best for hills of any sort. Downhill, the gear is too big to really give any resistance. Uphill, the gear isn't smooth when you stand. That being said, I did enjoy it for cruising. Now, make no mistake about it. You will be much more likely to be mistaken for Pee Wee Herman than Greg Lemond. :) Riding around on the Beach Cruiser gave me a strong sense of nostalgia - like when I was riding as a kid. That is a powerful thing. I enjoy it, and I hope that my experience is helpful for your considerations.


Umbra Verso Hanging Travel Organizer, Grey
Umbra Verso Hanging Travel Organizer, Grey
Price: $15.00
6 used & new from $12.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful Travel Organizer, April 24, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My wife has all manner of small items when it comes time to travel - jewelry, make items, etc. The Umbra travel organizer is just what the doctor ordered. Now instead of a haphazard collection of small boxes and whatnot, this organizer ensures that her things don't get lost in a single bag. We like it, and I think you will too.


Do You Talk Funny?: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker
Do You Talk Funny?: 7 Comedy Habits to Become a Better (and Funnier) Public Speaker
by David Nihill
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.60
66 used & new from $6.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Resource For Comedic Storytelling, April 10, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have been trying to improve my public speaking abilities, and in a broad sense, I've focused on storytelling. In James Whittaker's The Art of Stage Presence, he talks about comedians as examples of good storytellers. With this in mind, I decided to see what David Nihill had to offer. He outlines a structured approach to comedic storytelling that is easy to follow. I liked that the chapters include exercises to help the reader put what they learn into practice. While I don't know if I'm quite up for some what he did - signing up for open-mic storytelling contests for example - I think this is a beneficial book for aspiring speakers. I recommend it without reservation.


The New Relational Database Dictionary: Terms, Concepts, and Examples
The New Relational Database Dictionary: Terms, Concepts, and Examples
by C. J. Date
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.95
42 used & new from $15.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Well Done Reference With A Minor Complaint, March 29, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The New Relational Database Dictionary is an essential reference for IT professionals who don't deal with databases as their primary area of expertise. I've been a developer (now an architect), and this is a great resource to help decode what the experts are talking about. The definitions are thorough, and there are good examples too. I have only one complaint on this book: it lacks a table of contents. You might wonder why a "dictionary" might need such a thing, but it is split into three parts - types and relations, inheritance, and intervals. Granted, it would be short, and this information is embedded in the "introduction". However, do you read the introduction to other dictionaries that you own? This is a nit, but it could have been addressed with one additional page.


Outward Hound Kyjen 32131 Squeakimals Squeaking Plush Dog Toy, Moose, Small, 5 unique noisemakers
Outward Hound Kyjen 32131 Squeakimals Squeaking Plush Dog Toy, Moose, Small, 5 unique noisemakers
Price: $8.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Tough Squeakers, Weak Fabric, March 29, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The product description talks about this toy's being for tough chewers. While the squeakers have held up fine, it didn't take long for our dog to chew through the material. If you are are looking for an indestructible toy, this is not it. Products from Kong or those made of firehose are more durable than this. The squeakers may hold up, but I'm more concerned about our dog getting them out and choking on them.


Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Two Tone Oval Created Blue Sapphire 8x6mm and Created White Sapphire Leverback Earring Jackets
Rhodium Plated Sterling Silver Two Tone Oval Created Blue Sapphire 8x6mm and Created White Sapphire Leverback Earring Jackets
Price: $36.67

4.0 out of 5 stars Another Great Gift Idea For Your Wife, March 29, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The Amazon Collection is starting to fill my wife's jewelry box because they produce a consistent variety of quality, low-cost items. I've given her a number of items from the collection in the past, and she loves them all for everyday use. Just know what you are buying. These are not the "real deal", but surely you don't expect that for the price. They look nice, and that's what matters for everyday use. The Amazon Collection is a husband's dream come true because it simplifies special occasion shopping. Shh! These are for Mother's Day...


Wellness Petite Treats Small Breed Grain Free Lamb & Apples Natural Soft Dog Treats, 6-Ounce Bag
Wellness Petite Treats Small Breed Grain Free Lamb & Apples Natural Soft Dog Treats, 6-Ounce Bag
Price: $4.49
28 used & new from $3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Dogs Loved Them!, March 29, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I look for limited, quality ingredients when I choose treats for my dogs. These certainly fit the bill, and that's a good thing. One of my dogs has a very sensitive stomach, and the wrong thing causes bad things to happen. I'm happy to report that nothing undesired occurred - at least as far as my dog's digestion goes. My dogs went so nuts over these that I almost lost a finger trying to give them the treats. I guess you could say that their endorsement is higher than mine!


The 14th Colony: A Novel (Cotton Malone)
The 14th Colony: A Novel (Cotton Malone)
by Steve Berry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.52
84 used & new from $11.19

4.0 out of 5 stars Another Solid Entry In The Cotton Malone Series, March 29, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've read about half of the novels in Steve Berry's Cotton Malone series, and The 14th Colony is the latest entry. This novel clocks in at about 450 pages - a bit more than your garden variety 300-350. However, what this does is allow Berry's characters space to develop into more than paper-thin, one-dimensional beings. Cotton Malone is well-known to readers of the series, but the villain is new. In this story, we learn about Aleksandr Zorin, a KGB operative who still operates under Cold War orders that hinge on the "14th Colony". We learn of his true hate for the USA, and the story takes readers on a journey from remote parts of Siberia to Canada to the greater D.C. Area. It has the trademarks of the series - President Danny Daniels, Stephanie Nell, Luke Daniels, and the return of Cassiopeia Vitt. If you are a fan of the series, you should have no hesitation in reading The 14th Colony. If you are new, you might be at a bit of a disadvantage. While the story is fairly self-contained, you will miss a lot of implied meaning between the characters with this being the 11th installment. Happy reading!


Java Testing with Spock
Java Testing with Spock
by Konstantinos Kapelonis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $43.03
35 used & new from $25.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book For An Important Testing Framework, March 24, 2016
Spock is a significant testing framework because it is the first one on the Java platform that bridges the gap between development and QA. In a typical shop, you will see developers using JUnit or TestNG while the QA Team uses anything from HP's QTP (please, no!) or Java tools such as JBehave or Cucumber JVM. Now, with one noted exception, these are not awful tools. However, the use of disparate tools across team boundaries makes collaboration difficult, and development and QA have limited to no opportunity to share what should be common resources. Spock brings additional structure (think BDD similar to JBehave) to unit tests while still being powerful enough for higher level tests. As a JVM framework, Spock can use tools like Selenium for those limited instances where you test through the front end of your web app.

Here's the great thing about Konstantinos Kapelonis' book Java Testing with Spock. He gives you a concise roadmap to start from ground zero and work your way up to enterprise level tests. Spock is actually a framework that is targeted for tests written in Groovy (if you want to learn more about the full power of this language, I highly recommend Groovy in Action, 2nd Edition). However, what if the term groovy only conjures up images of bad 70's clothes and disco music for you? Kapelonis gives you a crash course in the language that assumes you know Java. It's good enough for testing purposes, but you might also want to check out Making Java Groovy by Ken Kousen (that's three must of books when you include this one).

I've been reading this book as a part of Manning's MEAP program for about a year now, and my print book just showed up on Tuesday. This is the first book to be published on the Spock framework, but it is a very strong offering. The code examples by and large work, and I think that they strike the balance with having enough substance to translate to the real world without being overly long and complex. It takes a special talent to find this balance and produce a book that bridges the gap between theory and practice.

Here's what you need to do. Buy one copy of this for yourself and a second copy for your testers. I'm dead serious about this. This book will show you how to bring structure and elegance to your unit tests using a framework that is still powerful enough for QA testing. Right framework; right book. What are you waiting for?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 24, 2016 5:08 PM PDT


Platinum Plated Sterling Silver Cubic Zirconia Freshwater Cultured Pearl Dangle Earrings
Platinum Plated Sterling Silver Cubic Zirconia Freshwater Cultured Pearl Dangle Earrings
Price: $27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Winner With My Wife, March 16, 2016
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have gotten a number of items from the Amazon Collection to use as gifts for my wife on various occasions. I gave her this set of earrings for her birthday last week, and she absolutely loves them. The Amazon Collection is a great choice for affordable jewelry that women love for everyday use. I highly recommend these, and anything else in the collection that appeals to your (or you significant other's) sense of stye.


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