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Hormones: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Hormones: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by Martin Luck
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.42
79 used & new from $4.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Short and Informative, February 25, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
In popular culture hormones are considered chemicals that cause a lot of disruptive or unwanted behaviors: from a teenager’s acting out, to rampant promiscuity, to drug abuse in professional sports. In this view hormones are thought as something of an “add on” to your normal bodily homeostasis. However, hormones are an essential part of our biological makeup, and without them we simply couldn’t function. They are the overarching “signaling” chemicals, generally secreted in one part of the body and carried by the bloodstream to the other parts.

This is a very well written and thorough book on hormones. It gives a short historical account of their discovery and the evolution of our understanding of these important substances. The book covers the biochemistry of hormones, and the physiology of their secretion and action. Unsurprisingly, the bulk of the book deals with human hormones and the associated physiological conditions that accompany them.

The book gave me a new appreciation of the incredibly subtle and complex role that hormones play in our bodies. It also managed to dispel certain myths that I’ve had about hormones. (For instance, both testosterone and estrogen are present in both sexes. They are not THE sex hormones as conventionally understood.) I also learned how much interaction there is between different hormones, and that this is still an area that is not completely well understood, where a lot of current research is going on.

As an aside, just like with any other book written for the general audience that contains “medical” information, there is a danger that a fair number of readers of this book may be tempted to self-diagnose after reading it. Don’t. You will most likely misdiagnose yourself, and make yourself unnecessarily worried. If you suspect that you might have a medical condition that could possibly be related to hormonal imbalances, you should consult your doctor.

Overall, this is a pretty good book that taught me a lot of new things about hormones and human physiology in general. Highly recommended.


The Python Workbook: A Brief Introduction with Exercises and Solutions
The Python Workbook: A Brief Introduction with Exercises and Solutions
by Ben Stephenson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $40.39
26 used & new from $36.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Python Exercise Book, February 24, 2015
Python is a very popular and very powerful modern programing language. In terms of its syntax and style it might be one of the “cleanest” programming languages out there. Yet, its deceptively simple code often belies the underlining power and efficiency. In terms of professional development, knowledge of Python is right now probably one of the most sought out technical skills. Learning Python is very learning for many technical professions, and this small books is a very useful resource to have for exactly such purpose.

The best way to learn any new skill is to do a lot of exercises and solve a lot of problems. This workbook provides 174 relatively straightforward excises that cover most important programming topics. The exercises are dived into eight different sections, such as “Loop Exercises,” “Dictionary Exercises,” “Recursion Exercises,” etc. The statement of the exercises/problems is very clear and well explained, and it’s usually covered in one or two paragraphs. The exercises also state if they are solved or not, and how long in terms of lines of program the solutions are.

As is to be expected from an workbook of this kind, many of the exercises come with a solution that is provided at the back of the book. The solutions are very to the point and concise, with a minimal amount of comments and explanations. Comments are given in the form of commented-out lines of code, while the short explanations are given on the side in grey boxed areas. All the code is properly and cleanly formatted. It is also color coded, which is a nice bonus and greatly helps with readability.

The content and the difficulty level of this book are both very accessible. The book is suitable for a gentle introductory college level course, or even a solid high school intro to programming course. None of the exercises require more than a few dozen lines of code to implement, and thus are not too demanding on your time and effort. A book like this one might in fact be ideal for someone aiming to learn programming or Python on his own. It can also be a very good supplementary material for an online course, which is in fact how I have been mostly using it. After a few weeks of going through these exercises I find that my Python fluency has greatly increased, and I am able to think in Pythonese and code much more efficiently. The book is a great resource for acquiring the basic coding fluency, but for more advanced programming skills you will need a more substantial reference.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 25, 2015 12:01 AM PST


Genes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
Genes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by J. M. W. Slack
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.15
80 used & new from $4.67

5.0 out of 5 stars Short and Informative, February 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
For as long as humans have been occupied with agriculture and raising of cattle, concern with selecting the best crops and the best farm animals has been an important intellectual topic. However, only with the work of Gregor Mendel in the late nineteenth century have we started to get a better quantitative picture of how heritability really works. Remarkably enough, most of the deep insights that Mendel came up with have survived subsequent major revolutions in our understanding of molecular nature of inheritance.

This little book aims to cover all of the major topics in the study of genes and genetics. It has a short historical preamble which is followed by the attempt to give the best definition of what genes are. The book deals in some detail with the biochemistry of cells and cellular development. It also goes into some detail to cover the human genetics, and human pathologies that have genetic component in particular. It contains a lot of interesting information in its very short format.

To its credit the book does not shy away from some more controversial topics in human heritability and genetics, such as the existence and nature of races and group differences. The book tries to present all sides of such debates fairly and equitably. (A bit too equitably for my taste.) It leaves it up to the reader to form his own conclusions, or to seek out additional resources and information on these matters.

One of the biggest insights that I’ve gained from reading this short book is that the very notion of a “gene” is not as well defined on the most fundamental level as I had previously thought. The notion of a “gene” is best defined and most useful for single well defined characteristic of an organism that is due to a very precise single region of the DNA sequence. (Even there there are many important caveats.) For heritable characteristics that are far less well defined in terms of their determination by the DNA code the very notion of a gene becomes much more dubious. Nonetheless, our main macro insights about genes and genetics are still largely valid, but we need to keep our expectations from the molecular genetics somewhat in check.

The book is very well written, and it is organized thoughtfully and comprehensively. It still uses quite a bit of scientific jargon and more advanced concepts that many general readers may be unfamiliar with. Nonetheless, all of that should make for a more educational and informative book. I really enjoyed reading it and would strongly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in genetics, biology, or science in general.


By Jonathan Slack Genes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]
By Jonathan Slack Genes: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Paperback]
by Jonathan Slack
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from $24.61

5.0 out of 5 stars Short and Informative, February 23, 2015
For as long as humans have been occupied with agriculture and raising of cattle, concern with selecting the best crops and the best farm animals has been an important intellectual topic. However, only with the work of Gregor Mendel in the late nineteenth century have we started to get a better quantitative picture of how heritability really works. Remarkably enough, most of the deep insights that Mendel came up with have survived subsequent major revolutions in our understanding of molecular nature of inheritance.

This little book aims to cover all of the major topics in the study of genes and genetics. It has a short historical preamble which is followed by the attempt to give the best definition of what genes are. The book deals in some detail with the biochemistry of cells and cellular development. It also goes into some detail to cover the human genetics, and human pathologies that have genetic component in particular. It contains a lot of interesting information in its very short format.

To its credit the book does not shy away from some more controversial topics in human heritability and genetics, such as the existence and nature of races and group differences. The book tries to present all sides of such debates fairly and equitably. (A bit too equitably for my taste.) It leaves it up to the reader to form his own conclusions, or to seek out additional resources and information on these matters.

One of the biggest insights that I’ve gained from reading this short book is that the very notion of a “gene” is not as well defined on the most fundamental level as I had previously thought. The notion of a “gene” is best defined and most useful for single well defined characteristic of an organism that is due to a very precise single region of the DNA sequence. (Even there there are many important caveats.) For heritable characteristics that are far less well defined in terms of their determination by the DNA code the very notion of a gene becomes much more dubious. Nonetheless, our main macro insights about genes and genetics are still largely valid, but we need to keep our expectations from the molecular genetics somewhat in check.

The book is very well written, and it is organized thoughtfully and comprehensively. It still uses quite a bit of scientific jargon and more advanced concepts that many general readers may be unfamiliar with. Nonetheless, all of that should make for a more educational and informative book. I really enjoyed reading it and would strongly recommend it to anyone who has any interest in genetics, biology, or science in general.


300Mbps Mini Portable WiFi Range Extender, WiFi Repeater, WiFi Range Extender(Support IEEE 802.11g、IEEE 802.11b、IEEE 802.11n)
300Mbps Mini Portable WiFi Range Extender, WiFi Repeater, WiFi Range Extender(Support IEEE 802.11g、IEEE 802.11b、IEEE 802.11n)

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Range Extender, February 23, 2015
Over the years the WiFi standard has become very powerful, robust, and far reaching. These days most of my home computers and other networked devices access the Internet via WiFi connection, and I have permanently put on hold all of my plans to extend the Ethernet connections throughout the house. My Netgear Nighthawk 1900AC router is powerful enough to send fast signal to all the reaches of my house, and even cover all of the back yard. However, when it comes to larger buildings or areas, an extra signal boost can really come in handy. This is where a range extender, such as this Vonets unit, can come in handy.

This is one of the easiest networking devices to set up. You just plug it into an available USB charging port, and then follow the intuitive instructions that it comes with. The extender supports signals up to the WiFi g standard, so as long as you don't need anything ore powerful than that you'll be fine.

As this is a range extender, this unit works ideally for the static devices on your network – desktops, TVs, smart refrigerators (hey, don’t judge), etc. It is much less useful for mobile devices, such as laptops and tablets, because you will be having to jump from one network to another as you get in and out of range of this extender. This is not a problem for me as I primarily use it with the networked gear in the workshop next to my house, but this is one important consideration to keep in mind when deciding on the best way to get the Internet connectivity to the remote corners of your domestic realm/small business.

In terms of signal quality and data speed I have not been really impressed so far. This unit is great for casual web browsing and light networking, but I would not want to rely on it for HD video streaming. It can be done (up to a point), but more often than not my experience has been pretty choppy.

This extender’s price is one of the best things about it. It is very affordable, and can serve as a simple solution for a quick WiFi connectivity issue. It is also very small and portable, so in case you need to take a range extender with you somewhere on a trip this little fella could be just the right kind of gadget for you.

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


Comfy Baby Universal Insulated Stroller Weather Protector - black, one size
Comfy Baby Universal Insulated Stroller Weather Protector - black, one size
Offered by Number 1 In Service
Price: $64.99
3 used & new from $64.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Sturdy Stroller Cover, February 23, 2015
Between the end of Fall and the early Spring it is hard to get out for a walk, especially if you have a baby or a small toddler that you need to take along. The weather can be very variable, and even if it’s steady you may have to endure many days of steady rain. If you still want to go out in such a weather, than a stroller cover like this one can be a Godsend. It is very thick and protective, but can still be folded into a very portable shape when not in use. It covers the stroller almost completely, although it can be a bit tricky to install. We’ve used it with our BOB jogging stroller, and for the most part it was a good fit, although far from perfect. The cover’s fabric is fairly resilient to light rain, and I would even be comfortable using it in a heavy downpour. Our baby was fine inside it, although after a little while he started feeling a bit claustrophobic (I think) and started crying a lot. I am not sure if he’ll get used to it, but I certainly hope that he will.

Overall, this is a a very good and durable product that I would recommend to all parents with little ones who want to go out for a walk in inclement weather.

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


Symphonized XTC Premium Genuine Wood In-ear Noise-isolating Headphones with Microphone (Nylon White Cable)
Symphonized XTC Premium Genuine Wood In-ear Noise-isolating Headphones with Microphone (Nylon White Cable)
Offered by Symphonized
Price: $49.99
3 used & new from $17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Good In-ear Headphones, February 23, 2015
These days I listen to music on my iPhone primarily in the gym while exercising, and for those purposes the Bluetooth wireless headphones are mostly adequate. However, almost all of those headphones have very subprime sound quality, to say the least. The standard iPhone headphones are not much better, but they are usually the ones that I reach for when listening to music in other situations. Unfortunately, as a consequence of these choices of headphones I’ve been inadvertently forced to settle for a rather inferior music-listening experience. So when I came across Symphonized XTC headphones, I felt that my ears had been opened. I’ve used high-quality headphones in the past, and in terms of sound quality the Symphonized XTC headphones are definitely on par with many of those.

***** The Sound Quality *****

The sound quality is definitely one of the biggest selling points of these headphones. They make a crisp, loud and well-formed sound. When listening to classical piano works I can hear each note reverberating clearly and distinctly from the others. The high notes don’t have the “tinny” sound that I’ve been accustomed to from many lower-end headphones. The lower notes are rich and warm, and the headphones can handle the bass sounds as well as any in this category that I’ve tried. The high fidelity of sound is particularly noticeable when listening to the older recordings – all the subtle “noise” of such recordings comes clearly through. The wooden build of these headphones probably have a lot to do with the particular quality of their sound.

***** Noise Canceling *****

These headphones don’t have the active noise-canceling capabilities, but their passive noise suppression and "noise isolation" were more than adequate for most of my purposes. This is particularly the case when listening to music somewhat loudly – all the surrounding sounds were completely blocked, and hardly any of the headphones’ own sound leaked out.

***** Look and Feel *****

These headphones look pretty elegant and fashionable. The wooden look definitely sets them apart. I also like that the playback/volume controls are placed directly on the cable. The headphones are very light and they fit smoothly and unobtrusively into your ears. Even after a few hours of listening to the music on them they did not become uncomfortable. Oftentimes I have a slight pain in my ears after wearing some other in-ear headphones, but so far I have not had any such experience with Symphonized XTC.

***** Conclusion *****

These are really impressive headphones and they will make most music lovers happy. They are solidly built and have really good sound quality. Recommended.

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


Xqisit LZ380 Bluetooth Stereo Headset - Matt Silver
Xqisit LZ380 Bluetooth Stereo Headset - Matt Silver
Offered by BREED
Price: $69.99
2 used & new from $69.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Midrange Over-the-ear Headphones, February 23, 2015
These are very slick looking and affordable over-the-ear headphones. Overall I am pretty happy with them, and thanks to their look and some smart design choices they are now my favorite headphones of this type in this price range.

The headphones fit fairly comfortably and securely on my head, and seem to be capable of giving a good fit for most head sizes. The headband spring mechanism is not as finely balanced as some other “double-headband” designs that I’ve seen, and hence they feel a bit tight. The headphones are well-padded and soft on the ears. They are comfortable enough for several hours worth of music listening, although all over-the-ear headphones that I had ever tested felt uncomfortably hot on my ears after two to three hours. I think this is one of the few advantages that in-ear headphones still have.

I found the sound quality of these headphones to be very pleasing and well balanced. The low notes were rich and filling, while the high ones were pretty crisp and clear sounding. I listened to classical, pop, and some techno music on Pandora with my iPhone, as well as to several iTunes songs that I had. All of them sounded very good. The sound quality is a noticeable, albeit not a dramatic, improvement over the Rokit Bluetooth headphones that I’ve been using. It’s still not as impressive as some other high-end headphones that I had tested, but it’s more than satisfying for my listening needs. I consider myself a casual music listener, and don’t spend an inordinate amount of time listening to music during my day. Nonetheless, I do appreciate high quality sound, and these headphones satisfy my need.

I love the fact that these are Bluetooth wireless headphones. Bluetooth is very convenient when you don’t want to be physically tethered to your audio source, especially since it has a decent amount of range. I’ve been able to use it around the house and it worked fine for me. Connecting the headphones with my iPhone was easy , and I have not had any issues with reconnecting them after the initial pairing. The headphones were also easy to charge, but this will mean that you have to be more cognizant of their battery life than with the regular “passive” headphones.

One of my favorite features of these headphones as compared to some other similar ones I've used is that these are foldable. This makes them very convenient to carry around and travel with, especially if I need an upgrade from my small in-ear Bluetooth headphones.

The headphones use “passive” noise canceling, which essentially means that they rely on their shape and cushioning to block external sounds from reaching your ears. This works well enough for my needs, but if noise canceling is a priority for you than you might want to invest in some of the higher end active noise canceling headphones.

I have not used these headphones for phone calling or other activities that require the use of the inbuilt microphone. I am not a big fan of bluetooth phone headsets in general, and in my experience headsets that muffle the sound of your voice are even less than optimal for such purposes. Nonetheless, this is a nice feature to have.

Overall, I really like these headphones and intend to use them as one of my main headphones from now on.

**** Product provided for review purposes. ****
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 24, 2015 11:42 AM PST


ONVO® 4K Smart TV Box Mini PC Android 4.4.2 Kitkat Quad-Core Amlogic S802 Cortex A9 2GB/8GB Streaming Media Player Miracast DLNA XBMC HDMI 2.4G/5G Dual WiFi
ONVO® 4K Smart TV Box Mini PC Android 4.4.2 Kitkat Quad-Core Amlogic S802 Cortex A9 2GB/8GB Streaming Media Player Miracast DLNA XBMC HDMI 2.4G/5G Dual WiFi
Offered by Alldaymall
Price: $75.99
3 used & new from $70.83

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Video Streaming Device, February 20, 2015
I have been waiting for quite some time for a truly “smart” TV to arrive. Most TVs these days allow some extra functionality that has until recently been restricted to PCs – streaming online content, browsing the web, etc. However, due to the nature and variety of digital content it has been really hard making all of it accessible from your TV. Now I am completely convinced that unless you have a fully functional PC attached to your TV, you will always find some content that either doesn’t play well or is completely inaccessible. Onvo smart TV box promises to be an inexpensive and powerful enough mini PC that will let you have all the functionality that you expect from such a device. Unfortunately, even though it performs well under certain conditions, it still leaves a lot to be desired.

The box comes with several video streaming and viewing apps. If you consign yourself to those then you will have pretty good overall streaming experience, on par with Amazon Fire TV say. However, one of the main reasons to choose this device over a "regular" video streaming box is that it provides the full capability of an Android device. However, this is where all the troubles begin. In order to use this as an Android box you'll need a separate media keyboard, something with a trackball or a trackpad for instance. The included remote just won't do for such purposes. Configuring the Android to play nicely with your keyboard and TV can be tricky, and this functionality is not for the faint of heart. However, if you are willing to put up with all the annoyances then you can be rewarded with the ability to use thousands of Android apps right on your TV, including many really cool games. But be warned: Android was not designed with a media TV in mind, nor were most of the apps written for that platform. You can still use most of them with only some minor annoyances, but your experience will inevitably be frustrating.

One of the bigger promises of this device was the ability to connect to a TV via the old AV cables. Unfortunately, due to the fact that it's configured for a non-US standard, I was not able to use this feature properly. My search for a media streamer device that would work with my old flatscreen TV continues.

If you are looking for a simple video streaming device that also plays some local video content then this Onvo Box does reasonably well. As a full-service media PC it falls short, as do most of these Android based devices. I would only recommend it to the early adopter types and people who like to tinker with their device. For a full media PC you really want a real PC - there is nothing out there that can do even close to what a PC can. Inel is about to launch a PC-on-a-stick that sells for about twice as much as this guy does.

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


Falcon Zero by Incredisonic F-360 HD, Rear View Mirror Car DashCam, DVR Accident Video Recorder, Dual-Camera 1080p HD, ~ FREE High Speed Class 10 SD Card Included ~
Falcon Zero by Incredisonic F-360 HD, Rear View Mirror Car DashCam, DVR Accident Video Recorder, Dual-Camera 1080p HD, ~ FREE High Speed Class 10 SD Card Included ~
Offered by Pioneer Distribution
Price: $249.95
7 used & new from $94.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Versatile DashCam, February 20, 2015
This is the first dashboard camera that I have used, and thus far it has been a very positive experience. Dashboard cameras are very useful to have, especially in cases of an accident, road rage, or irresponsible and harassing behavior by the Police. (This last point is not so much of an issue in the US as it is in other countries, but I have had my share of unprofessional and harassing experiences.) So a camera like this one is becoming more and more of a necessity.

This particular dashboard camera has several features that set it apart from the other ones. Dual rotating cameras allow you to capture any direction you want, with both of them recording simultaneously. The high res 1080p capture mode gives you enough detail to see clearly what is going on in any captured video. I like the fact that the camera system mounts on your rear-view mirror. My dashboard is already cluttered with GPS/smartphone mounts and other small accessories I use. The camera system actually has a much larger rear-view area than my own car's mirror, so it actually increases the visibility. The camera can be charged using your car's power outlet, but it also has an internal battery which will last you about 45 minutes. This is long enough for a morning commute, but not nearly long enough if you go on a long (or not even that long) road trip. For those purposes you need to keep the camera constantly plugged in, which is really annoying since it puts a long dangling cord right there in front of you while you are driving.

One of the best features of this dash cam is the included monitor. This allows you to review the footage while you are still in the car, and don't have to wait to transfer it to your computer. The camera uses SD card for recording, but you will have to get one of your own. These days SD cards have enough capacity for hours and hours of recording, so you should be able to use this camera for many days without removing the recordings to some other storage. (Or deleting them.) The screen is pretty good for a quick review, but for any more in-depth look you'll want to transfer the footage to something with a vastly larger screen.

The camera was not too hard to set up, but some of the features were trickier than others. The included instruction manual comes in handy.

I really like this product overall, and would strongly recommend it, especially if you drive a lot every day.

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


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