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The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
by Ben Horowitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.22
63 used & new from $13.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for All Entrepreneurs, April 23, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ben Horowitz is a very well known name in the Silicone Valley circles. A veteran of tech industry and a very successful entrepreneur, Horowitz is a cofounder of Andreesen-Horowitz, one of the most dynamic and successful high-tech venture capital firms. Those credentials, impressive as they are, would not in-and-of themselves distinguished Horowitz in the place that is teeming with incredibly talented and incredibly successful individuals. What really makes Horowitz one of the most admired figures in the world of high-tech startups are his unique willingness and ability to share the hard-earned insights from his experiences with others who are embarking upon the same path of building a successful company. For many years Horowitz has shared many of those insights via his blog. In “The Hard Thing About The Hard Things” he’s distilled some of those insights into an engaging and extremely informative book.

Writing a blog may seem like a great way of accumulating enough material for a book: you write when the fancy strikes you, you don’t have any writing deadlines to deal with, you don’t have to worry about the stricture of the written material, you get immediate and ongoing feedback from your readers which can help you correct and refine your ideas, etc. However, from my experience, most blogs that have been turned into books tend to be a failure. The fragmentary and disjoined nature of blog writing is at odds with the clear and unified structure that we’ve come to expect from books. Horowitz manages to overcome that barrier, and the book the book that comes out of his blog is remarkably coherent and smooth. The individual chapters do feel like they came out of separate blog posts, but transitions between them are smooth and there is an overall sense of coherence and continuity that neatly ties everything together.

I’ve read many books on various topics pertaining to business, careers, leadership, etc. Most of them fall somewhere between completely useless and utterly vacuous. It’s almost impossible to find any concrete, actionable advice in any of them. I have pretty much given up on the whole category. Fortunately, Ben Horowitz’s book is as far from those other books as they come. Each chapter deals with a very concrete experience and/or problem that Horowitz had encountered in the world of startups. The experience is then distilled into the most important insights, and those in turn are oftentimes channeled into very clear, actionable steps that others can take if they find themselves in a similar situation. Most of the advice makes a great deal of sense, but even if you are not totally convinced by some of it, at least you know what is the reasoning behind. This can greatly help you come up with your own set of ways to deal with the similar set of problems.

As already mentioned, Horowitz was a very successful CEO of high-tech startup(s). The experience and the advice in this book are clearly aimed at other CEOs or people in a leadership positions within their startups and companies. The book will clearly benefit all of the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but in my opinion there is a wider business audience that could find many of the insights in “The Hard Things” invaluable and well worth the read. Anyone who has ever had to hire or fire employees, change an important business or organizational strategy, or dealt with uncertain business and market forces, would appreciate a very candid and straightforward account of what are truly hard thing in the business world and how to deal with them.

In the end, the most important insight from this book, and one that anyone irrespective of their professional background can take, is that what really matters in business and life are people. The most important decisions that you will ever make are the ones that affect many other people, and the greatest satisfaction in all spheres of life can be found in helping other people flourish. These insights can oftentimes be lost or overlooked in the hypercompetitive technologically-obsessed world of Silicon Valley, but that’s why they need to be repeated and proclaimed whenever possible. For this insight alone Ben Horowitz’s book is a must-read for anyone who works in those circles.

The Runaway Mommy
The Runaway Mommy
by Jane Kuo Paris
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.01
16 used & new from $10.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, Insightful and Charming Story, April 23, 2014
This review is from: The Runaway Mommy (Paperback)
As any parent will tell you, kids are a great source of fulfillment and joy. They also make almost constant demands on your time and attention, especially when they are really young. They make you put many of your personal aspirations and career goals on hold, and put breaks on your professional life. (I am trying to squeeze in writing of this review between a breakfast with my family and the time when I’ll have to take care of our toddler this afternoon.) In the end, the joy and fulfillment we get from our kids far outweigh all of the daily frustrations, but the more honest parents would admit that there were many moments when they wish they could just run away from it all.

“The Runaway Mommy” is a sweet and endearing look at the dreams of escape by one overworked mommy. She dreams of running away from her little bunny to San Francisco, Barcelona, New York, and several other places and activities. Her little bunny, however, finds a way to follow her into all of her daydreams and manages to interfere with her carefully laid plans. In the end, mommy realizes that those “infringements” are perhaps the most meaningful parts of her daydreaming experiences, and comes to relish and enjoy adventuring around the world with her little bunny. It is a very heartwarming story that would make you want to come back to over and over again.

A big part of the charm of this book lays in its illustrations. By turning mommy and her boy into anthropomorphic bunnies, the story takes away some of the possible harshness of the idea of a mother who wants to run away from her child. The illustrations are clear, crisp and very charming. They greatly add to the overall story, and in particular enhance its comic and amusing elements.

This book will appeal to a wide variety of audiences, but especially to parents and children. Even though the book has all the trappings of an illustrated children’s book, (cute illustrations, anthropomorphic animals, simple straightforward text), its theme directly appeals to parents in particular. Nonetheless, the children will find it fun as well. This is perhaps one of those rarest books, a children’s book that can equally be enjoyed by parents. And just like the conclusion of the book, the parents will find that enjoying the book together with their little bunnies is great and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.

[Optimized For SSD, Support UASP SATA III] Rocketek USB 3.0 & eSATA Hard Drive Enclosure for 2.5-Inch 9.5mm & 12.5mm SATA I/II/III HDD and SSD
[Optimized For SSD, Support UASP SATA III] Rocketek USB 3.0 & eSATA Hard Drive Enclosure for 2.5-Inch 9.5mm & 12.5mm SATA I/II/III HDD and SSD
Offered by Rocketek
Price: $40.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great HDD/SSD Enclosure, April 22, 2014
I have recently upgraded my Mac Mini to a larger internal HD. The old HD was still perfectly functional, and contained a lot of my very valuable data and info, and was in effect a good backup. In order to access it, however, I had to use HD docking stations. They were effective, but this was a bit of a clumsy solution. That’s why I was really happy to try out this Rocketek enclosure.

The enclosure looks and feels pretty solidly built. The top slides backward to reveal the inner docking ports, and the 2.5″ HDD snaps into place smoothly and securely. The enclosure has been optimized for an SSD, but I didn’t have any issues with using it with my old fashioned spinning HD. The enclosure is slightly bigger than my stand-alone Toshiba external HD, but that’s to be expected – Toshiba’s design was optimized for the purpose of not having to be opened and for a very specific HD. The enclosure connects to the computer via the included USB 3 or eSATA cables. If you use the USB to connect the enclosure is entirely bus-powered, which is standard for external 2.5 inch HDs. If you connect via the eSATA cable then you need to use the included external power supply.

I’ve tested this enclosure with moth my Mac Mini and HP laptops, and in both cases it was recognized and mounted properly. The transfer rates were on par with other USB 3 devices that I’ve tested.

Overall, a really good product that I would recommend to anyone looking for a reliable and well-built 2.5 inch HD enclosure.

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****

Bolkin Hybrid Armor Series Shockproof Case Cover for Apple Ipad Air (Hot Pink)
Bolkin Hybrid Armor Series Shockproof Case Cover for Apple Ipad Air (Hot Pink)
Offered by Bolkin
Price: $63.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely Made and Functional iPad Air Case, April 22, 2014
This is a very basic, no nonsense, protective case for iPad Air. It features basic physical protection, and it comes with the added functionality of a small kickstand.

The main part of the case is built out of a polycarbonate shell, and it feels sturdy and impact resistant. The outer parts of the case are rubberized which makes this case easy to grip and hold. iPad Air snaps easily and securely into the case, but it's not all that convenient to take it out again. This is not the kind of case you would want if you intend to take your iPad Air out a lot. The case has cut-out opening for all ports and plugs.

The kickstand works nicely, and it is easy to set it up and retract it. It gives you a lot of a choice in terms of the viewing angles, and it's very well suited for small typing angles.

Overall, a very nice and functional product that I would recommend to iPad Air user looking for extra protection for their product.

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****

Thera Pearl Ankle and Wrist Wrap with Strap, Blue
Thera Pearl Ankle and Wrist Wrap with Strap, Blue
Offered by beautystoredepot
Price: $13.00
4 used & new from $8.81

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Thermal Therapy for Your Sore Joints, April 22, 2014
A few months ago I've discovered the Thera Pearl line of products, and they have since been my favorite way of temporarily soothing sore muscles and joints. Their innovative design of small gel beads suspended in highly viscous fluid makes them a very effective gel packs. When frozen they tend to be less rigid than the other gel packs that I've tested, without compromising on the soothing action.

I have a few on and off issues with my wrists, and cold therapy seems to sooth the pain and decrease the symptoms. This cold pack is fairly large and well made. I've only used it for cold therapy, and had primarily put it in the freezer before use. However, the deep freeze is an overkill, and I had to put a piece of cloth between my wrist and the pack. The pack is moderately sized, and can provide thermal therapy for up to fifteen minutes in my experience. The pack features an elastic band, which works fine and looks fairly durable. I have enjoyed the cold therapy for my wrist and will continue using it. The other Thera Pearl products that I've used have been very durable (even withstanding a few really rough treatment by my toddler), and I expect that this pack will also last me for a while.

The Sociopath Next Door
The Sociopath Next Door
by Martha Stout
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.44
221 used & new from $2.75

4.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read, April 21, 2014
For many years we've been friends with this guy whom I'll call Steve. Steve is an upstanding member of the community, has a picture-perfect All-American family, a respectable job, and a wide circle of friends. He comes across as charming and very friendly, and seems to be very eager to help and please those around him. However, after getting to know him just a little bit better all these aspects of Steve's life appear to be an act. Steve is in fact extremely competitive even over the dumbest things, scheming, and manipulative. The more I got to know him, the less I wanted to know about him. His constant scheming was eventually too much to handle, and we were forced to cut all personal ties with him.

All along I was wondering what is it that made Steve act in the way that he did. A few years ago I came across an article on Wikipedia on psychopathy, and that's when things finally started making sense. It turns out that psychopaths/sociopaths are actually very common in the society at large. Most of them are not Hannibal Lectors of Hollywood's imagination. They are not serial killers, nor are the majority of them necessarily physically violent. All of them, however, have one main thing in common: they wreak havoc on almost all lives that they touch. Most disturbingly, there are surprisingly many of them around: one to four percent in the US, depending on how rigorous your classification criteria are.

"The Sociopath Next Door" is in many ways the best book on sociopaths/psychopaths that I've read. What distinguishes it from many other similar books is its very practical and applied approach. Furthermore, Martha Stout is an excellent writer in her own right and this is an eminently readable, even literary, book. Book's a pleasure to read, and were the subject matter not this serious and frightening, this would make a great pleasure read.

There are three main things that I loved about the book.

1. Stout reduces psychopathy/sociopathy to just one most salient feature: lack of conscience. She argues, quite persuasively, that all other features of sociopaths are secondary. This insight alone can explain why sociopaths come in so many different guises.
2. Stout provides a very easy and counterintuitive way of identifying sociopaths. One thing that really gives them away is the "pity play": all of them to various extents tap into their victims' compassion in order to manipulate them.
3. Stout provides an excellent and very effective thirteen-point list of ways in which we can deal with sociopaths. Unfortunately there is no way of "curing" these people, so the best we can hope is to try to reduce their effects on others. I have been practicing pretty much all of the recommendations on my own to begin with, and I can assure you that they are very, very effective.

So if this is such a wonderful and useful book, why did I give it only four stars? Because I fear that Stout had overreached. If this had been only a book about individual sociopaths, who they are, and how to deal with them this would have been a wonderful and self-contained book. However, it seems that one of the main motivations behind writing this book had been to denounce wars, and the wars waged by the United States in particular. I have no doubt that many politicians and World leaders are in fact sociopaths, including some US presidents. Nonetheless, reducing all of warfare and a pretty big chunk of international relations to psychological defects of a few individuals, without providing a single concrete shred of evidence for such a claim, is at best intellectually questionable. I am afraid that this other underlying theme has a potential to seriously undermine Stout's main points and insights about sociopaths. Fortunately, this part of the book can be to a large extent ignored.

OXA Perfume 2600mAh SAFE External Battery 18M WTY Premium Samsung Cells Key Chain charger external portable power supply (Check Amp for tablets) for Smartphones and other electronic devices
OXA Perfume 2600mAh SAFE External Battery 18M WTY Premium Samsung Cells Key Chain charger external portable power supply (Check Amp for tablets) for Smartphones and other electronic devices
Offered by OXA USA COM
Price: $10.99
4 used & new from $8.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Small Emergency Battery, April 21, 2014
There are many external batteries out there that can help you recharge your portable devices, and which one you choose will depend on your particular needs. This OXA 2600 mAh external battery/charger is one of the smallest I’ve seen, both in terms of physical size as well as charge capacity. The battery looks similar in shape and size to an elongated lighter. The battery is charged from an USB port, and it comes with its own micro USB cable with several different charging attachments. You can charge it by plugging it into a spare USB outlet on your PC (slow), or by using one of the wall USB outlets from your cell phone or a similar device.

I’ve been able to use this battery to fully charge a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone and iPhone 4S. It took me a few hours to charge both of those devices. In order to charge an iPhone I had to use my own iPhone cable – Apple is very restrictive when it comes to allowing third party manufacturers using their proprietary designs.

Since this battery is very small it is ideally suited for an emergency backup charging. It can easily fit in your pocket along with your smartphone, although I wish that it came with a small bag into which to put it.

This is neither a particularly stylishly designed nor remarkably well built external battery. It has a very utilitarian look and fee to it. It gets the job done, at least for now. I have not tested it long enough to see how durable it is in the long run, and if I discover anything noteworthy about that I’ll update my review.

Decent small external charger, especially for the price.

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****

Bluefinger ultraKee Pro the Ultra-thin Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard with Brightness and Color Adjustable Backlight for iPad 2/3/4 Generation - Black
Bluefinger ultraKee Pro the Ultra-thin Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard with Brightness and Color Adjustable Backlight for iPad 2/3/4 Generation - Black
Offered by Bluefinger
Price: $69.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Well Designed and Elegant Keyboard/Case for your iPad, April 19, 2014
The case is extremely well built and well designed. iPad slips into it easily, and it fits very snugly. The case is very sturdy and it gives your tablet quite a bit of protection. The case has a built in kickstand that allows you to angle the tablet under a variety of angles. Unlike some other kickstands that I've seen, this one designed in such a way that it allows you to use your tablet on your lap for typing. Even though this is a very light case relatively speaking, it will still add quite a bit of bulk to your iPad. If you intend to use your iPad as a laptop replacement though, that might not be a very noticeable issue.

The keyboard synced via Bluetooth with iPad. The whole process was very smooth and quick. While it's turned on the keyboard stays in touch with the tablet at all times, sometimes that is not always the case with the inferior wireless keyboards.

The keyboard uses rechargeable batteries, and it can be charged through a USB cable. The keyboard will last you a several days to a few weeks, or even a month, on a single charge, depending on how much you use it. It takes about two to three hours to get it fully charged.

One major shortcoming of this keyboard is its cramped size. This, of course, is not Bluefinger's fault, as it's impossible to have the full keyboard functionality that fits a 10" device. The smaller keyboard is suitable enough for most short writing tasks, such as composing emails and shorter documents, but I would not rely on it for, say, writing of a Ph.D. thesis. The key action, however, is really good and it's one of the best ones I've seen on any keyboard. It makes typing on such a cramped space much more tolerable.

The outer parts of the case are covered in PU leather, and this detail gives this combo a very elegant look. The whole case is fairly light and compact, but it will increase the weight of your iPad noticeably. The case feels well made and sturdy, and it will protect your iPad from most minor bumps and falls. The case is very competitively priced, especially compared to some well-known brand names in this category (Belkin, Kensington, etc.)

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****

Black+Decker BDH2000PL MAX Lithium Pivot Vacuum, 20-volt
Black+Decker BDH2000PL MAX Lithium Pivot Vacuum, 20-volt
Price: $69.99
2 used & new from $65.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Affordable Handheld Vacuum, April 19, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Over the years I've owned several hand-held vacuums - from the inexpensive $30 ones to the "top of the line" Dyson vacuum. These small appliances are very useful, and probably see more consistent use than our regular sized vacuum.

This vacuum is very easy to use and provides almost as much of a suction as some of the higher end ones. I've used it to clean up my car, as well as get the dust out of corners and other hard to reach places around the house. It was very powerful and it worked with all but the most stubborn sticky dirt in my car. For most everyday purposes this vacuum is more than adequate.

The vacuum is very easy to clean. The filter compartment is separate from the dust compartment, which makes cleaning and replacing the filter a snap.

The vacuum takes a couple of hours to get fully charged. It has a small blue LED light which indicates the level of charge. The light is very faint, and you might have to take a very close look at it in order to see how much charge you have left. One single charge provided enough suction for most minor vacuuming chores.

I wish that this vacuum came with a bigger variety of extensions and attachments. This is one category where Dyson is a clear winner.

The vacuum folds easily onto a more compact configuration when not in use. This makes it very convenient for storage and charging. The vacuum is very elegantly designed, and I don't mind keeping it in plain view even when it is not being charged.

Aerb® Qi Enabled Wireless Charger Charging Plate Pad (With 5V/2A AC Adapter) for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, New Nexus 7 Tablet, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Note 2, Note 3, Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 1020 and Other Qi Enabled Smartphones (Lovely Pink)
Aerb® Qi Enabled Wireless Charger Charging Plate Pad (With 5V/2A AC Adapter) for Nexus 4, Nexus 5, New Nexus 7 Tablet, Galaxy S4, Galaxy S3, Note 2, Note 3, Nokia Lumia 920, Lumia 925, Lumia 1020 and Other Qi Enabled Smartphones (Lovely Pink)
Offered by River Tech
Price: $20.00
3 used & new from $18.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Neat and Fun Looking Wireless Charger, April 19, 2014
I am fairly new to the world of Qi wireless charging, and I am so glad that this technology seems to be finally taking off. Juggling various cables and docks for all of my small electronic devices is increasingly becoming a major hassle. As WiFi and Bluetooth are becoming ubiquitous, I am really looking forward to the days when we'll be able to finally sever the last cable that is keeping all of those devices "wired." Qi seems to be the answer to all of those troubles.

As far as I know there is only a handful of smartphones that use Qi charging natively. My Samsung Galaxy S3 doesn't have it, but I was able to get a small Qi charging pad that turned it into a Qi enabled device.

Aerb Qi charger is a small device that is very neatly designed. It is very thin, portable, and it is also very fun to look at. The small footprint and the smooth surface of this charger mean that you will have to be very careful when positioning your smartphone directly on top of it for charging. There is not much wiggle room in terms of hitting the charging sweet spot. The charger also uses a proprietary charging cable - I would have much preferred if it used the micro USB technology instead.

Charging time can take quite a while. This is not a kind of charger that you would want to use in a hurry. However, because of the ease of use of a wireless charger, having your phone charged on an intermittent basis now becomes a very convenient option - just put your phone on top of this charger whenever you are not using it, and you will almost never again have to deal with low battery. That in itself makes this Qi charger a very worthwhile product to have around.

This charger is also very affordable. Even if you have to buy an extra wireless adapter for your phone's battery, your total cost will still be comparable or even lower than the cost of some wired chargers.

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