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George Jempty "Insert pithy tagline here" RSS Feed (Fort Worth, TX)

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by Brad Green
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.99
56 used & new from $13.50

3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars if you love reading the word "awesome" over and over, December 7, 2013
This review is from: AngularJS (Paperback)
The content is 4 stars but the writing and continual use of the word "awesome" is 2.5 stars. I'm not a child and don't appreciate being treated like one.

Starting Out: The Scandinavian
Starting Out: The Scandinavian
by Jovanka Houska
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.37
51 used & new from $12.43

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing mish-mash, October 8, 2013
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This is no repertoire book as about half it's material is on 2...Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5, a quarter on 3...Qd6, and a fifth on 2...Nf6, leaving only 5% to barely cover the historical and still viable 3...Qd8, and other odds and ends. So it's a survey but with disappointingly little fresh material. For instance, in the line 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Nf3 Qxd5 4.Nc3 Qa5 5.d4 c6 6.Bc4 Bf5 7.Bd2 the reader is warned away from 7...Nbd7 on the grounds of 8. Qe2 e6?! 9. d5, as though there is no other 8th move for Black. 8...Qc7 however certainly springs to mind, considering that is was used by GMs Grigoryan and Bauer to obtain draws just two or three years before this volume was published.

Furthermore, in the line 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Nf6 3. Nf3 Qxd5 4. Nc3 Qa5 5. d4 c6 6. Ne5 Nbd7 7. Nc4, the author points out that 7...Qc7 transposes to a line from the 3...Qd6 and then refers you to the appropriate section in those chapters where 8. Qf3 is acknowledged as being in White's favor. But this completely ignores 7...Qd8 a move employed by AT LEAST THREE GRANDMASTERS (Savic, Rogers, & Hodgson). Surely they play it for a reason, and now I still have to seek out other sources for annotations and analysis of these games, and the ones in the line mentioned in the previous paragraph, when surely there should have been SOME material in this book.

Otherwise the book does a good job summarizing themes and as such it is probably a 4-star book for players under a certain level. I'm a 2000+ correspondence player however and at this level I'd say it's a 2-star book. So I'm splitting the difference and giving it 3 stars. Whatever level you're at, be prepared to fill in the gaps from readily available online databases
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 24, 2014 7:57 PM PDT

Ruby on Rails Tutorial: Learn Web Development with Rails (2nd Edition) (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series)
Ruby on Rails Tutorial: Learn Web Development with Rails (2nd Edition) (Addison-Wesley Professional Ruby Series)
by Michael Hartl
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.65
65 used & new from $19.99

8 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Five stars if you're a 'half-trained former PHP moron' (to quote Zed Shaw), June 10, 2013
This review pertains to the 1st edition which I read 2 years ago. I got at least a couple of responses to the original review from the author (and NOT just the original he quotes in a comment to this review), which got ruder as he realized I wasn't changing my opinion/review, so it would be a pleasant surprise if he took any of the criticism to heart.

As a developer with only 2-3 months exposure to Rails, sprinkled over the past 2-3 years, and most of that time spent working with Javascript rather than Rails, since I've shifted to a front-end UI focus, I cannot express strongly enough how disappointed I am that this book is not going to take me anywhere close to the next level with Rails.

As I see it there are 3 main problems: 1) too much emphasis on ancillary technologies, 2) inability to identify the audience of the book, and 3) too slow of a pace. Let's examine each of these in turn.

#1, Too much emphasis on ancillary technologies such as Git, Heroku, RSpec, Autotest, Spork, CSS, Gravatars: the list goes on and on. Rails can run without any of these. Some of these are undoubtedly good things: we use Git for version control where I currently work. The author often encourages readers to bypass this material, but is that a good thing or a bad thing? I lean toward the latter: it's distracting from the primary topic at hand.

Furthermore the following are direct quotes about a couple of the elements of what has the danger of becoming a stack of technologies run amok. On page 85, regarding Autotest: "configuring it can be a bit tricky". On page 92: "configuring Spork and getting it work can be difficult." Not only that, but there are several pages about Spork wedged between first launching into the Red/Green/Refactor test driven methodology on p. 87, and finally at the bottom of pg. 97 "Now let's get to the Red Part." What a disorganized mess: where was the editor?

By the time you get to the middle of the book, RSpec code listings take up approx. 20% of the material. This is very un-Rails like: Rails philosophy is that you should focus on the matter at hand, and the matter at hand in this book should be Rails, not RSpec. Furthermore, Rails ships with an entirely different testing framework than RSpec.

#2 I'm supposed to be expert enough to get Autotest and Spork up and running, but I am inexperienced enough that variable assignment must be explained to me on pg. 110, or how to copy files on pg. 122. For readers that inexperienced, all the extraneous technologies are going to be particularly daunting.

#3 Too slow of a pace. Even the author admits this, on pg. 115 concluding chapter 3 (the chapter introducing Rspec, Autotest & Spork): "this chapter hardly accomplished anything". The first example including every facet of MVC (Model View Controller), the architectural pattern on which Rails is built, doesn't come until about page 230, or about 40% of the way into a 500+ page book. Active Record associations aren't introduced until about page 410. All this is just too little, too late, on some of the most important Rails concepts. If not for the material on extraneous technologies, perhaps 300 of the 500+ pages would actually pertain to Rails proper, allowing for another couple hundred pages of real meat, or a smaller book, at a lower price.

But what I'm suggesting above would have taken proper editing. Instead I get the impression that this book got thrown together and put out there for public consumption as quickly as possible. Indeed, why the proviso toward the beginning that the book is meant to be read straight through, rather than skipping around? It's because if you don't read straight through, you'll have a hard time finding the material that actually pertains to Rails, and not the ancillary technologies.

I could go on, but here's just another sample head scratcher. There are all sorts of puzzling non-sequiturs. For instance, by way of introducing Data Structures on page 134, the author writes "making ... strings requires using other data structures". Requires? Really? This makes absolutely no sense. Or one later in the book where the author attributes assigning default values with the = operator as being a concept known as "memorization". No such thing; he means "memoization" (no "r") and the example is so trivial as to be ridiculous. Again, terrible editing.

Conclusion: you will still be a Rails newbie after reading this book. I personally have no other suggestions on Rails at this time, but my boss keeps recommending Agile Web Development with Rails (Pragmatic Programmers for its tutorial in the first third of the book, and more explanatory/reference material in the last 2/3s. For the Ruby programming language in general I did like The Well-Grounded Rubyist which I gave 4 stars. But, I would never have bought this Rails 3 Tutorial, if not for all the 5-star reviews.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 28, 2013 7:34 AM PDT

Rubinstein's Chess Masterpieces: 100 Selected Games
Rubinstein's Chess Masterpieces: 100 Selected Games
by Akiba Rubinstein
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from $5.39

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unreadable, May 4, 2013
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How could anyone read this entire book when there are several mistakes in the first game alone. For instance, in note b) to White's 40th move there are at least 3 mistakes! Against the suggested alternative 40. P-QB5 (yes it's descriptive notation but that is not my gripe), the line given proceeds 40...R-R6 41. PxP PxP 42. P-KB4 (#1 -- unnecessarily specific, simply 42. P-B4 suffices, this might seem minor, but it foreshadows the next two more serious mistakes) 42...PxP 43. PxP RxP (#2 -- not specific enough, besides 43...RxBP also possible is 43...RxNP??) 44. R-K7 R-R7+ 45. R-B8+ (#3 -- impossible, White is in check).

Whats worse, these mistakes are repeated lock stock and barrel in the reprint: -- follow the links "Search Inside this Book" and then "First Pages" and refer to the first column of page 15, beneath the diagram. It's as though nobody bothered to (re) read the book before re-printing it. Had I been involved in the project, I would have attempted to find the manuscript in the original language and determine if the fault was with the original author, or the translation. If the former, I would not bother with a re-print, but if with the latter as I suspect, a new translation is warranted.

Until this is determined, I hate to say this, but don't waste your money.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 17, 2013 5:15 PM PDT

Larger 40" Wardrobe Moving Boxes - 60% more Cubic Feet (Bundle of 3) 24" x 24" x 40" Moving Boxes
Larger 40" Wardrobe Moving Boxes - 60% more Cubic Feet (Bundle of 3) 24" x 24" x 40" Moving Boxes
Offered by UBOXES
Price: $41.95
2 used & new from $39.95

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 2 out of 3 were crushed in the moving truck, November 10, 2012
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The title says it all: 2 out of 3 of these wardrobe boxes were crushed in the moving truck en route. The contents survived (which is why I'm giving 2 stars instead of 1), but we were anxious and unsure about this until we could get into the boxes after the movers unloaded them.

As it turned out we needed another wardrobe when we were packing, and picked up a "grand" wardrobe box from U-haul, it survived the move just fine and in general seems much sturdier.

Will Rogers: A Political Life
Will Rogers: A Political Life
by Richard D. White
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $25.56
74 used & new from $5.96

5.0 out of 5 stars Will Rogers: Ambassador/Minister without portfolio, October 16, 2012
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In the postscript to this book, Will Rogers is described as an "ambassador without portfolio". This description as well as "minister without portfolio" (look it up on wikipedia) aptly describe Will Roger's role in both international and domestic affairs. I agree with the other two reviewers, one who essentially wrote they didn't really know about Rogers before reading this, and the other that wrote it's as easy to read as a (well-written) historical novel. I learned about Rogers' influence on leading issues of his day such as repealing Prohibition to providing disaster relief (1927 Mississippi Flood) and economic relief (after the Stock Market crash of 1929), while never feeling any boredom or other discomfort in the learning.

To his credit the author does not shy away from occasionally painting Rogers in a negative or, at least enigmatic, light, while the reader is largely left to judge for themselves, with many of the issues having counterparts to this very day. In a couple of instances I found the organization of the material to be less than stellar, such as the chapter "Rooting out Political Corruptness" that spends perhaps one third of it's material on the topic, and other places where summaries are interspersed like non-sequiturs in the middle of chapters. Perhaps these warts warrant just 4.5 stars but I'm giving the author the benefit of the doubt here.

Barcelona, Catalonia: A View from the Inside
Barcelona, Catalonia: A View from the Inside
by Matthew Tree
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.26
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Poor Man's Mark Kurlansky, October 11, 2012
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I expected to learn a lot more about Barcelona and/or Catalonia from this book, for instance on a par with how much you would learn about Basque country through Mark Kurlansky's The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation, but I was disappointed on this point. Rather than containing bona fide chapters with some real substance, Tree's book contains almost nothing but one page vignettes that have been gleaned from a weekly column he writes, and though sometimes they are about Barcelona/Catalonia, often times they are not.

I sympathize with the plight of Catalans but I think that the author's arguments in their favor are often specious, and sometimes his facts just downright questionable (I think he writes that Catalan is the 7th most spoken language in the EU and I find that hard to believe). As airplane material -- and indeed I read it on a plane -- it is quite good, albeit like reading a bunch of dis-jointed blog posts, but if you want something even reasonably close to as deep as Kurlansky's treatment of the Basques, you will need to look elsewhere.

Slay the Spanish! (Everyman Chess)
Slay the Spanish! (Everyman Chess)
by Timothy Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.85
38 used & new from $16.42

7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sufficiently open minded about Exchange variation(s), April 4, 2012
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The material on the Modern Steinitz proper is very good, but IM Taylor cannot resist the temptation to make this a "repertoire" book by including material on the Exchange variation. The 35+ pages tacked on to the end therefore comprise 10+ percent of the book, have nothing to do with the Modern Steinitz, and are just plain bad.

IM Taylor apparently is sick of the drawish Exchange variation with 4...dxc6 5. 0-0 so he instead recommends 4...bxc6?! which just plain sucks. He complains that other authors have been similarly disparaging toward the line without really analyzing it, but then he makes the same mistake about the Exchange line with 4...dxc6 5. Nc3 -- after 5...f6 he opines that 6. d4 is "necessary (due to) 6. 0-0 Bg4 and White can't get d2-d4 in." I'm sorry but I'll hang my hat on the experience of a former World Champion over one sentence of IM Taylor's -- there are other 6th moves for White and considering that Taylor begins the book with over 15 complete games by former World champions, he should know better.

This myopia carries over to other variations too. For instance since IM Taylor thinks 4...bxc6 is viable against the Exchange variation, he thinks little of the line 5. Bxc6 bxc6 for White in the Modern Steinitz proper. And between his myopia and his veneration for the games of Keres (a grandmaster who was about as strong as World champions in his day, and who Taylor has made the "hero" for this book), he disregards improvements for White. For instance he follows the game Mecking-Keres in this particular delayed exchange variation on pp. 53-55, and he makes a big deal out of 9...Rb8 and how another author didn't even consider this move or game. But then he glosses right over 10. b3 as played by Mecking without considering alternatives for White, which I found in my own database (namely 10. 0-0).

Either Taylor's database is smaller than mine, or he chose to ignore this; neither is a good indication, particularly the smaller database, since I am nowhere near IM strength (rather, class A/B). Rather I think IM Taylor's tunnel vision may be at work again when it comes to evaluating the quality of games in the database. For instance, in the line of the Siesta variation 5. c3 f5 6. exf5 Bxf5 7. d4 e4 8. Ng5 d5 9. f3 e3 10. f4 Nf6 11. 0-0 Bd6, he writes "the soundness of the entire Siesta may rest on the evaluation of the obvious 12. Bxe3, which has never occurred in a high level game". My database however shows that International Master and many time Latvian champion Vitolins drew as black after this very move (there's a wikipedia article about him). Again, either IM Taylor's database is not sufficiently up-to-date, or he did not recognize the name Vitolins, in which case he needs to broaden his team of research assistants (especially when he makes such a bold statement about the viability of the Siesta), because to me Vitolins was readily recognizable when I saw it in my database -- he played lots of correspondence games in the Latvian Gambit (and Taylor claims to have used databases of correspondence games).

The material on non-Exchange variations of the Modern Steinitz proper with 3...a6 4. Ba4 d6 does seem well worth it. Bear in mind though due to the lightly annotated complete games format, you are still going to have lots of work to do on your own if you plan to add the Modern Steinitz to your openings arsenal, because the annotations are inconsistent: usually sparse but insightful, occasionally deep, but often insufficient. I'm already coming to different conclusions for instance in the Yandemirov gambit, so you need to do your homework and not follow everything blindly, just because an IM says so.

For instance, here is an instance of the white elephant in the room not even being mentioned: 5. 0-0 Bg4 6. h3 h5 7. Bxc6 bxc6 8. d4 Bxf3 9. Qxf3 exd4 10. Rd1 Qf6 11. Qb3 Ne7 12. Qb7 Rd8 and no mention is made of the obvious 13. Qxa6 (and then if 13...g5 14. a4 combining threats of advancing the a-pawn with the not-so-obvious rook lift idea of Ra3. Black can and in my opinion probably should play it much more safely with 10...c5 and then if 11. c3 Qf6 and White cannot transfer his queen to b3.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 29, 2012 3:25 PM PDT

The Well-Grounded Rubyist
The Well-Grounded Rubyist
by David A. Black
Edition: Paperback
Price: $30.14
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Verbose: yes, not valuable: no, August 17, 2011
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I'm not sure what the two-star reviewer expected after reading a book co-authored by Matz the creator of Ruby. But to claim this volume is "not valuable" is a gross mis-representation. With little previous experience with Ruby, I've read (and heavily high-lighted) well over half of this book in the past couple/three weeks as preparation for a new assignment I've begun, and it has helped me write enough idiomatic Ruby code to demonstrate to my employers that I have the makings of a "well grounded rubyist".

I do however agree that the book can be a bit repetitive (verbose). Maybe though that's why I'm remembering so much from it?

Besides being somewhat verbose, I don't think the book does enough to point out the differences between Ruby 1.8 and 1.9. Sometimes it does, and sometimes it doesn't (as in the case of being able to use a colon suffix (instead of prefix) when using a symbol as a hash key). When I tried developing such code on a system I have to support that still runs Ruby 1.8 I got an error; I wouldn't have tried it if the book pointed out this was new under 1.9

A couple of other points of confusion lead to me giving this book 4 stars rather than 5; if I could I would dole out 4.5. There are a few technical errors, and while such books cannot be perfect, one of them is early enough in the book and fundamental enough to cause possible confusion. The author many times makes the point that modules, unlike classes, cannot be instantiated, but then at the bottom of pg. 99 refers to "instance methods in Kernel" (Kernel being a module)

Something else that's confusing: in the introduction to chapter 11 about regular expressions, the author advises those experienced with them to consider skipping to section 11.5. However I am glad I didn't, because in section 11.4 he covers the "MatchData" object, which has a corollary in other languages (regular expression "captures" using parentheses) but in Ruby is, like everything else, an object, and worth familiarizing oneself with.

Also, by the end of Part 2, things are starting to feel a bit rushed. The last section of the last chapter thereof promises to "explore" open-uri, but then at the end of the chapter just a couple of sentences are devoted to it. This is on page 370 of 470 though and to be much more thorough might have resulted in a 600+ page door-stop

Finally, some basic though not critical topics get interspersed at odd places (i.e. not up front) within the text, namely comments. Despite these few warts, I think this book lives up to it's title: reading it will put you well on your way to being a "Well Grounded Rubyist"
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2013 7:30 PM PDT

Sennheiser HD428 Closed Circumaural Hi-Fi Headphone (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Sennheiser HD428 Closed Circumaural Hi-Fi Headphone (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Offered by Corner Discount
Price: $63.99
15 used & new from $25.00

6 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sound terrible, July 29, 2011
Some cheap ($20) Koss headphones I bought in Walmart sound better than these. Sorry I wasted my money on these. Avoid at all costs
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2011 5:04 PM PDT

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