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Sreeram Ramakrishnan RSS Feed (Lynnfield, MA)
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Nexia Home Intelligence Z-Wave Garage Door Opener Remote Controller
Nexia Home Intelligence Z-Wave Garage Door Opener Remote Controller
Price: $96.50

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent product, service model (subscription) may require multiple products to be economical for a buyer, October 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The ease of installation and compatability with most garage doors are significant advantages for this unit. However, the need for constant subscription service via Nexia will negate the value for this product unless you plan to expand your Nexia portfolio - if you intend to build out a home monitoring network (smoke alarms, indoor cameras, motion sensors, etc.) using Nexia compatible products, this addition is a no-brainer. If you are starting out, one should realize that the economics will not play out very favorably with this unit alone. The product itself is excellent, but the service model is geared towards increasing stickiness to the Nexia hub and their other products (nothing wrong with that approach, but a prospective buyer should be mindful about this).


The Swap
The Swap
by Megan Shull
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $12.89
58 used & new from $6.27

4.0 out of 5 stars good plot development, more appropriate for upper middle schools..., October 18, 2014
This review is from: The Swap (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Though marketed with Grade 5-9 as key target, the plot and treatment may be better suited for the latter half of this audience, with more exposure to middle-school dramas. Though the concept is not very novel, conveying the story in the context of middle-schoolers certainly facilitates a different perspective for the young audience. The Disney-ish ending for the story may come across as forced, but the overall plot development sustained the interest quite well. Vocabulary is not likely to be very challenging for most of the target audience, though kids just starting middle school may need assistance in both concepts and narrative.


Mega Bloks Halo UNSC Flame Warthog
Mega Bloks Halo UNSC Flame Warthog
Price: $21.05
21 used & new from $21.05

4.0 out of 5 stars attractive, sturdy set, October 18, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Despite minor troubles with pieces with pins, the overall quality and sturdiness, the etched labels on the pieces, attractive action figures, and configurability of this set makes it an excellent choice. My 9 year old had fun coaching a 4 yr old with the pieces....part of the fun is to go through all the pieces and finding the right ones to assemble - with 200+ pieces that can test the patience of the younger audience. the star of the set is certainly the very realistic and maneuverable "Hog" - the rubber wheels and the rotating turret is well-designed.


Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values (Columbia Business School Publishing)
Berkshire Beyond Buffett: The Enduring Value of Values (Columbia Business School Publishing)
by Lawrence A. Cunningham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.38
33 used & new from $14.95

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One cannot prescribe culture, but may be able to nudge it...., October 8, 2014
(Based on a free advanced ebook from NetGalley)

3.5 *

The book makes two key premises - Berkshire's culture is a strong component of its performance and that the power of culture will transcend individuals (at least in Berkshire's case). Tomes have been dedicated to the concept of organizational culture - some of it tend to focus on superficial/symptomatic treatment (cafeteria, bring pets to work,...) aiming to improve employee morale. Cunningham argues that for a company like Berkshire, its trust-and-autonomy culture is more important than any command-and-control structures.

In the first part of the book, the history of Berkshire is revisited (given the number of books in this subject, a reader is unlikely to unearth anything significantly new, but serves as a good reminder of how the company was built...). In the second part, the key traits (the author identifies 9 traits, from his research focusing on annual reports of Berkshire, its subsidiaries, reports pre-acquisition, interviews and other public sources) and expands on each of the traits in the context of the the subsidiaries. The effort to name these traits to enable using "BERKSHIRE" as a mnemonic aid comes across as too cute and forced. Nevertheless, the author's discussion of these traits and how it may have influenced their operations is interesting; Key controversies such as involving Gen Re, Sokol/Lubrizol, Benjamin Moore are not glossed over; they are used as stark reminders of consequences of deviance from the defined traits.

The last part focuses on key issues around management hires and succession plans. Most of these issues are well discussed in the media; Cunningham aims to consolidate those concerns and defuse them using assertions based on the nine traits. While it sometimes reads more as an attempt to self-assure that Berkshire will survive (thrive) without Buffett, Cunningham provides a helpful thought framework to describe and baseline an organization's culture - and the core tenets one should define to ensure that it transcends individuals. A reader may not glean new information on Berkshire or its towering personalities, but viewing them in the context of culture will be a worthy read for Berkshire fans.


The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $8.99

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and informative narrative on foundations of technology (kindle:great;hardcover: even better), October 7, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In a classic retelling of the story of digital revolution, Isaacson makes broader comments on the importance of collaboration and tries to de-romanticize the notion of innovation happening as a series of significant breakthroughs emanating from lone geniuses. In that sense, one could see that themes introduced in Where Good Ideas Come From and How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World are (deliberately or not) explained well in the context of digital revolution. More specifically, the often 'incremental' nature of innovation, significant gaps between others realize the importance of someone's invention, impact of developments in unrelated fields, and the very nature of collaboration. Later on in the book, Isaacson quotes Twitter co-founder "....they simply expand on an idea that already exists". The author also makes an important point in reminding that corporations (IBM, Intel,Bell labs, Honeywell..etc) played a significant role in these developments, but their stories oftentimes unfairly gets discounted in the face of narratives centered around individuals.

Trying to balance interpretive historical narration and cataloging key details pertinent to the digital revolution, Isaacson weaves a (mostly) linear complex storyline starting with Ada to more recent topics such as IBM's Jeopardy machine. Throughout these often dense chapters, a patient reader is able to understand the core tenets of computers, programming, and the Web itself - and how they evolved over time. The calibration, refinement, and sometimes negation of these ideas over time, as with most understanding in science we take for granted, is well-documented and very informative. The fairly long chapters on computers and programming could test the patience of a reader early on, but these chapters lay the foundation for the chapters describing the dramatic growth seen in the past few decades.

One could argue that books such as The Intel Trinity: How Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore, and Andy Grove Built the World's Most Important Company, Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internetnumerous biographical sketches of Ada Lovelace, Crystal Fire: The Invention of the Transistor and the Birth of the Information Age (Sloan Technology Series) covered some of these topics with greater technical and/or biographical depth. However, most of these attempts have been stymied by a crucial fault - they all told history from a single point-of-view. In this book, there is no protagonist per se. That approach provides the author a dispassionate approach that allows for more incisive analysis, though he doesn't necessarily capitalize on it. Discussions on who should be given credit for the first computer is a rare example where the author manages to inject his own analysis.

Given the vast research that went into this book and access to some of the key technology leaders of the time, one wishes the author attempted to predict the next few decades or hypothesize on what's required to make the next few steps in this field. Leveraging Ada's story to begin and end the narration gives a unique sense of closure for the reader - and a very stark reminder that despite all the advances we've seen so far, we are still far away from machines that can think (this last chapter (shortest and succinct), aptly titled 'Ada Forever' is one of the better-written chapters). The hype-less narration, systematic building of the key concepts, doing a good job in relating the developments across decades and tracing an investigative path to where we are, makes this a very compelling read for anyone interested in technology. 4.5 stars

(Kindle version on iPad app worked great; though the layout of the photographs and the initial detailed timeline with rare pictures are much better in the hardcopy. It would've been great if the timeline at the outset of the book was available as a pullout)


Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking content jarred with oversimplified generalizations, hind-sight bias, October 4, 2014
Thiel's success as an entrepreneur needs no additional proof - this book, however, seems to be founded more on some wild premises that swing from hyperboles to obviousness, but all presented in an authentic-looking 2*2 matrices or simple graphs. Perhaps, that's the price of attempting to answer a grandiose question Thiel himself posed "how to build the future".

In a series of often disjointed chapters, Thiel dismisses the "MBA-types" and everything that can be deemed "incrementalism" - if the entire world focused on his arbitarily defined "10X" improvement and moving from "0 to 1, instead of 1 to n", there better be good social programs and plenty of reality programs on TV! Despite the generalisations and what seems to be an aversion to lean start-up techniques, Thiel provides a very unique take on capitalism, monopolies, and by far the best critique of Malcolm Gladwell's blink-y approach. These sections, along with a chapter outlining seven critical questions for a start-up, are well worth the read. Of course, the most important question, "secret question" has to be unique to one's company - so Thiel cannot state it in the book (how convenient!). Thiel also resorts to some clever narrative in support of his hypotheses for which he has already prescribed a conclusion - for example, the long zoom approach in arguing whether Google is a monopoly or not (same approach used in a chapter on green technology).

Despite the disjointedness and oversimplifications, this is an informative read that can help calibrate one's thought framework in the ideation phase for an endeavor.


Sterling Silver Created Ruby and Created White Sapphire Heart Dancing Pendant Necklace, 18"
Sterling Silver Created Ruby and Created White Sapphire Heart Dancing Pendant Necklace, 18"
Price: $45.76

3.0 out of 5 stars great design, but more appropriate for a tween/teen, September 30, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The effect of a very catchy 'dancing' heart design with a not-gaudy sparkle is spoiled by the very thin chain and the difficult clasp. The chain length/pendant size combination makes this a good gift choice for a teen; if purchased for a gift, it is strongly recommended to get a classier looking box and set the chain in it than the plastic bag in the original packaging. If it were presented in a better way and the chain was thicker, this would rival most entry-level chains in department stores.


Hot Wheels Marvel Avengers Die-Cast Amazon Exclusive Vehicle, 5-Pack
Hot Wheels Marvel Avengers Die-Cast Amazon Exclusive Vehicle, 5-Pack
Price: $20.99
2 used & new from $11.07

5.0 out of 5 stars sturdy, stylish set typical of the Hot Wheels brand, September 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This made-in-Thailand collection of die-cast Avengers has proven to be a great hit for my 3.5 year old. His familiarity with Avengers is not very strong, but hours pass by with his role playing aided by this collection. A well-made set typical of the Hot Wheels brand; appealing construction, Subtleties on whether the set is a true reflection of Avengers and whether cars are the right representations for Hulk and Thor may be lost on the target audience - overall, an excellent set.


BELL 22-1-70310-9 Gray Foose Boulevard Seat Cover - Pair
BELL 22-1-70310-9 Gray Foose Boulevard Seat Cover - Pair
Price: $21.19

2.0 out of 5 stars Not impressive, the hunt for the right seat cover continues, September 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
At the more reasonable pricepoint of around 20$ (at one point, this was listed over 120$), one may be able to overlook the sheer-like quality of the cover and the foam padding. This is not easy to install - certainly not a universal seat cover as it may sound. For the two cars I tried (2000 and 2004 models of sedans), this was a poor fit - no matter how much you try to stretch, it bunches up and looks tacky. No amount of pressing has helped. Seats with room all around (space between seat belt adjusters and the seat cushion itself, for example), this may be adjustable in a more appealing way. As for me, given the poor fit, so-so quality and the tacky look when installed, still on the hunt for the perfect seat covers. For seats that will fit this, the current price is a good gamble.


Rowenta DW5197 Focus Steam Iron with Stainless Steel Soleplate, 1725-Watt, Purple
Rowenta DW5197 Focus Steam Iron with Stainless Steel Soleplate, 1725-Watt, Purple
Price: $99.90
2 used & new from $99.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Feature-packed choice offering excellent price/value, September 28, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Quick warming, excellent streaming and steaming capabilities with decent water capacity, fairly good steel plate area, very long cord, light for easier maneuverability, intuitive and easy to read dials, and stylish color make this steam iron an excellent choice. The sturdy build gives confidence in its anticipated durability. The vertical steaming capability with no leaking water droplets and no auto-shut off makes this the best option for blinds/drapes. For a long time, auto shut-off has been touted as a safety feature (it is), but it is inconvenient when you are trying to do all your ironing in a single sitting... this option eliminates that issue but clearly one needs to be more careful especially if kids are around the house.
Overall, a feature-packed, stylish and sturdy iron that is the best for vertical steaming and for all regular ironing needs.


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