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Chris P. OConnell "Chris P. OConnell" RSS Feed (Boston, MA)

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Business Data Communications and Networking
Business Data Communications and Networking
by Alexandra Durcikova
Edition: Paperback
Price: $177.53
50 used & new from $101.12

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Does NOT work on Windows 8 version of Kindle., August 23, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've never seen this before, but this book will not open OR download on the Windows 8 version of Kindle. So I bought the book using my Surface Pro 3, but can't open it. Will have to buy the hard copy, which I'm not that happy about.

Touching Mountains: The Imagination and Surrounding Country
Touching Mountains: The Imagination and Surrounding Country
by J. A. Appleyard SJ
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A descriptive reflection that leaves one pondering important questions., August 16, 2015
Set in the mountains of Colorado the author's cleverly written narrative hooked me right away. His interesting writing style and intricately crafted passages transported me from the couch on which I sat while reading, to the rocky ridges and starlit nights he so beautifully described.

To say this book is about a man's adventures in the Outward bound program would be a brief, but fairly inaccurate description of the authors intentions. The author undertook the Outward Bound challenge hoping to better understand how the imagination is formed. I found myself fascinated by some of the metaphors used to describe imagination, particularly those involving perspective.

I have spent a lot of time pondering what the author walked away from the Outward Bound course with. Did the course help him understand how his own imagination formed? These questions led me to wonder, how has my imagination been formed? Is it crafted with just one of many possible perspectives? How does my imagination fit into my everyday life? How does it contribute to my behaviors?

This is a cleverly written book, and will probably strongly appeal to those with a background in literature. The book appealed to me because I like the great outdoors and appreciated a chance to both escape and use my mind at the same time.

Chinese Numbers Wall Clock
Chinese Numbers Wall Clock
Offered by CafePress
Price: $24.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A good idea but the quality is horrible, February 18, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
One can't expect much from a $17 clock I suppose. Even so, I have seen clocks for $10 at Walmart that far exceed the quality of this terrible piece of garbage. Clearly the inside characters were printed on a piece of paper and cut to fit inside a generic clock face. This in itself doesn't make the clock bad, but there's stain on the inside of the clock face that looks like the remnants of a sticker that wasn't completely peeled off. The bottom piece of the clock does not line up correctly with the outer black ring. This just looks like a .99 cent clearance item.

I won't return it because the expense and time required to do so is worth more than this clock is. I just want to warn others against buying this thing.

Teva Men's Tanza Sandal,Black,12 M US
Teva Men's Tanza Sandal,Black,12 M US
Price: Click here to see our price

5.0 out of 5 stars I have flat feet and poor arch support, February 6, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Teva Men's Tanza Sandal (Apparel)
According to my FitBit I walked 23 miles in two days while visiting Hong Kong. I have flat feet and poor arch support, so I usually return to the hotel feeling beat after a day of walking. I wore these Teva Sandals all 23 miles, for two straight days. I can tell you my feet, legs and back have NEVER felt better.

They're waterproof, dry quickly and have so far proven extremely durable. They did get a bit smelly though, especially after wearing them in salt-water. I suppose this shouldn't be a surprise since I wore them for 30 straight days. To eliminate the smell I wiped them down with a sanitizing wipe, but I bet just rinsing them in fresh water and letting them dry in the sun would have been fine too.

Seriously, I can't recommend these enough. I was so sad to have to start wearing shoes again when I returned to the US.

The Art and Science of Project Management
The Art and Science of Project Management
by Roger D. H. Warburton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $64.29
31 used & new from $9.85

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This book adds nothing to one's understanding of project management, February 6, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
"The Art and Science of Project Management, 2nd edition" is so full of grammatical and spelling errors that I could hardly believe my eyes. I found myself constantly distracted by thoughts of "how could this book be published like this?" Typeos in the text are one thing (of which there were plenty), but inaccurate mathematical formulas just created confusion. At least one in four mathematical examples in this book contain errors. Sections covering crucial formulas like NPV were terribly brief, confused and the formulas used were simply wrong.

The book was printed in black and white. As a result many of the line charts weren't readable... until the 12th chapter when the book started using dashed and dotted lines.

The book didn't even have a big picture map of the different project management processes. There wasn't any section that explained "OK, the deliverables from each process are x,y,z." I felt utterly confused and frustrated trying to use this book as my primary study guide for the course.

Studying project management, especially if you're trying to learn the PMI way of doing things, is challenging. This book offers absolutely no guidance. If you're like me this book will confuse and frustrate you.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4-Inch Tablet (16 GB, Titanium Bronze)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4-Inch Tablet (16 GB, Titanium Bronze)
21 used & new from $200.00

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An incredible, beautiful and temperamental tablet, August 12, 2014
A visit to Best Buy convinced me that this tablet is pretty sweet indeed.  The screen is stellar and the device is extremely light.  The snap on book cover case is what actually sold me on this tablet though.  The $60 cover is SO beautiful, so slim and so stylishly designed I just couldn't resist this seemingly perfect little package. So I bought it.

The screen is obviously incredible.  It's sharp and vibrant and has extremely small bezels, which makes the device look sexy.   The small bezels create some other, rather challenging side effects that I'll discuss later.

The Galaxy Tab S line contains the lightest tablets on the market right now.  Even with the beautiful book cover case attached the Tab S 8.4 is still relatively light, but the case adds .4 lbs bringing the combined weight of the tablet and case up to a little over 1 lbs.

To me it's important to remove the case as needed and I find this cover is pretty easy to work with in that regard.  Despite other reviewers saying the cover isn't easily removed or reattached I've found just the opposite.  The cover attaches to the tablet using two small holes on the back of the device.  The long term durability of this design is questionable however, as a bit of force is required to "pop" the cover in place.

Samsung put two very large speakers on both the top and bottom of this tablet (assuming you're holding the tablet in portrait mode).  This is a huge improvement over previous tablets where both speakers were on the same side.  The sound is really nice and powerful.  When you're holding the tablet in landscape mode watching Netflix the sound and picture are absolutely stellar, creating a nice experience.  I say nice because of some challenges with the way you have to hold the device which I'll talk about in a bit.

I'm generally wary of fingerprint scanners as I've never really had much luck getting them to work consistently.  With the Galaxy Tab S you can enter up to 3 finger prints used to unlock the device.  To my delight the scanner is incredibly accurate and fast, unlocking your device at lightning speed.

There are some things about the Galaxy Tab S that take some serious getting used to.

Let's focus on the screen for a moment.  It's certainly beautiful, but the tiny bezel really makes holding this tablet a challenge.  Fidgeting or re-positioning while watching Netflix can pull you out of the movie pretty easily as your fingers inadvertently touch the sides of the screen.  The small multitask  and back buttons, to the left and right of the home key retrospectively, make holding the device all the trickier.  There is so little real estate to put your fingers, and that large bezel on the bottom really looks like a good spot to grip by but is not.

The screen is also incredibly sensitive.  So sensitive in fact that I feel the device picks up touches when my finger has not even physically made contact with the screen.  This again causes some usability issues.  After a month of using this device I've largely gotten used to holding it.  Typing on it is a challenge though, especially as my palm tends to touch the lower left hand corner of the screen when I'm holding the device in portrait mode.  This creates some unpredictable results when typing and is a bit frustrating.

Android is still a mess DISASTER as far as picture syncing goes.  This is a problem that's plagued me way back since my first Android, the horrendous HTC Thunderbolt running Android 2.3.  The unreliable album syncing drives me nuts on my Galaxy Note 3 and my new Galaxy Tab S 8.4.  Web albums created in Picasa just don't sync reliably in Gallery.  On the Tab S all Picasa albums download into a single, huge and unsorted album called Picasa.  The album is a jumbled mess of 1,934 pictures.

After spending no less than 3-4 hours on Google trying to figure out how to sync my Picasa Web Albums I ended up throwing my hands up in the air and buying an app called Tools for Picasa.  The app works nicely.  The amount of time I spent researching this problem before giving up and applying a band aide is really unacceptable.  Google needs to take a lesson from Apple here and make things simpler.  

I foolishly attended a monthly board meeting for Windows Boston without my laptop last week.  I did, however, take my tablet with me.  Since most of my work is in the cloud I've been toying with the idea of not carrying my hefty laptop around with me anymore, instead relying on a smaller device like my tablet.

Largely due to a lack of Microsoft Office, this tablet (probably most Android tablets) really can't be used for productivity.  Attaching a Word file an email through GMail proved impossible.  I ended up borrowing a friend's laptop to send the attachment.  Using Microsoft's Web Apps to take meeting minutes was an exercise in futility, generating random lines of text that couldn't be deleted:

Hopefully Microsoft will release Office for Android this coming fall.  A real Microsoft Office app will make this tablet will much more usable for light productivity.

Samsung has released what is undoubtedly one of the best Android tablets ever made.  Every aspect of this device oozes a high quality and thoughtful design.  This tablet is a bit temperamental however.  The screen is so sensitive, especially with its small bezel, that one often activates unexpected and undesired screen taps which negatively impacts the user experience.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 10, 2014 1:21 PM PDT

Asimov's Science Fiction
Asimov's Science Fiction
Price: $2.99
2 used & new from $2.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just when I thought there is no originality left, January 26, 2014
Just when I think there is no originality left in the Science Fiction genre I find Asimov's Science Fiction. The stories in this magazine are so unique, so incredibly well crafted and well written that I can hardly believe none have appeared on TV or in the movies. Each issue contains four "novellas" and a series of short stories. Generally speaking I enjoy two or three of the novellas and a handful of shorts each month.

The formatting is wonderful on my Kindle Paperwhite, flawless!

Asimov's Science Fiction is worth every penny!

2600 Magazine: The Hacker Quarterly - Digital Edition
2600 Magazine: The Hacker Quarterly - Digital Edition
Price: $0.99
2 used & new from $0.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Some useful tidbits here and there, January 24, 2014
I've been reading this magazine since I was a kid. In honesty, even as a teenager I didn't love this publication.

Very few of the authors exhibit good writing skills. Many articles drone on needlessly to fill pages or meet the arbitrary length requirements of the editors. Further, few of the articles have any directly applicable content. The magazine also focuses heavily on pay phones, including pictures of pay phones from all around the world. I might be wrong, but I suspect many of the current readers have little interest in pay phones and don't understand the dedication these obsolete relics solicit.

Overall, there are rare articles that are worth reading.

Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)
Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)
Price: Click here to see our price
76 used & new from $730.00

33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievable camera, the best I've ever owned!, November 17, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
There's so much to love about this camera that deciding where to start is a challenge.

My absolute favorite feature on this camera is that you can easily attach your smart phone to it. Via wifi one can control the shutter or transfer pictures wirelessly. You can see exactly what the camera sees from your phone's screen! This is a great feature because you don't have to buy a dedicated shutter release.

Canon was super smart about how they implemented this wireless connectivity. The camera itself creates an access point that your device can attach to. Once you've connected your phone to the camera's hotspot you just launch the Canon app. You can even change the shutter speed and aperture on the camera from your phone.

The screen on this camera is AWESOME! It can pivot and turn allowing you to take pictures without being forced to look through the eye hole. The screen is vivid and colorful. Oh, and by the way, the screen is touch controlled. At first I kind of laughed at this feature, like "ha, who would ever use that?" I can't tell you how awesome the touch screen is, it's sensitive and accurate and a complete pleasure to work with. What's better is that almost every control you might ever need to adjust while shooting is accessible through the screen, meaning you don't have to fumble around with buttons, knobs or navigate menus to adjust your shot settings.

The 70D has a reasonable HDR shooting mode, which is a function I always want on my cameras. Some of the Sony cameras have pretty awesome HDR, taking up to 7 pictures to combine together. The 70D can take 3 pictures at different exposures and combine them together, which in many cases is adequate.

Of course the picture quality is astounding on Canon's 70D. Right out of the box I took 3 pictures of friends in my house that just blew me away. I knew after 10 minutes of shooting with this device that I made the right purchase.

I've owned the Canon 20D and 50D in the past. One thing that always drove me crazy was that the battery meter. The meter previously had four indications, Full, Medium, Low and flashing (very low). On my previous cameras the battery meter would show full, then be at low, skipping the midrange all together. The Canon 70D's battery meter is far more accurate, meaning you aren't surprised by a dead battery all of a sudden.

While we're at it, the battery life is superb on the 70D.

I never really cared much about shooting video with my cameras before. The 70Ds video shooting is SO incredibly good that I am now looking for opportunities to record things! Last night I recorded my friend's harp recital. I was standing in the doorway across the room and just using the built in microphone. The sound was good (though one can purchase a wireless microphone for better sound), and the video quality was out of this world.

The only real complaint I have with this camera is that it seems challenged by scenes with highly differing contrasts. The first evening after receiving the 70D I went for walk a little bit before sunset. I was taking pictures of brick buildings with the sky above them. The brick looked overly dark and lacked detail. I had several other similar experiences shooting with bright skies. The pictures were so concerning I called Canon tech support (which was excellent by the way). They looked at my raw images and said the camera was fine.

After using the 70D for some time now I've learned to compensate by setting the ISO to auto or adjusting the metering mode. Most DSLRs I've owned have had their own "personality." Learning the nuances of these cameras takes a little time.

All in all, this is by far the best camera I've ever owned. I can't recommend it enough!

Dell Venue 8 Pro 5000 Series 32 GB Windows 8.1 Tablet
Dell Venue 8 Pro 5000 Series 32 GB Windows 8.1 Tablet
Offered by TECHarvard
Price: $259.00
71 used & new from $89.55

150 of 186 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All work, no fun, November 10, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I made an impulse buy late Friday afternoon. My week had been long and draining leaving me low on creativity and self control. I've been eyeing a new tablet to replace my still perfectly good Samsung Galaxy 7.7 that I bought in Hong Kong not even two years ago. As a gadget lover I always want the latest and greatest. I am using Samsung's lack of an update for my existing tab, and the tablet's ever decreasing speed as a good reason to do some "looking around."

Well, that looking turned from research to purchase, and I sat anxiously awaiting my new toy's arrival Saturday morning.

Opening the box was a bit underwhelming. Dell's packaging was lackluster to say the least. The white outer sleeve looked a bit grimy and had some smudge marks that looked somewhat reminiscent of fingerprints all over.

Lifting the tablet from it's box I had mixed feelings about the weight. The Venue 8 Pro certainly feels well built, but my research indicated that Dell's tab would be lighter than my existing Galaxy. I haven't weighed them both yet, but I highly doubt the Venue weighs what the specs say it does. I'll update this later.


It's all about Apps. I couldn't determine if several of my favorite applications were available for Windows 8 tablets before pulling the trigger and buying. Here's what I found:

Amazon Kindle: The Kindle app is present for Windows 8, but it's missing a lot of important features. The one I noticed right away was no Amazon Docs. I email PDF's to myself all the time, lots of my computer magazines like Windows IT Pro come only by PDF these days. These PDFs end up in my "Amazon Docs" which then are available on my phone and tablet (but not PC or Metro Apps). I also found I couldn't download any magazines I bought through Amazon on the Windows 8 app! Very frustrating! One additional side note, there's no pinch to zoom in the Kindle App for Metro, so one can't rapidly increase text size without accessing the settings screen.

SirusXM: Not available.

FlipBoard: My number one source of morning news. Not available! (UPDATE, Flipboard for Windows 8.1 was released on 11/15/2013 and it looks awesome!)

Feedly: My number two source of morning news. Not available!

Flickr: I use Flickr to store my online photos. There is no app for Flickr available for Windows 8. My research indicated the built in Photos Metro app was supposed to be able to open Flickr albums, but I never got that to work.

So these apps (or lack there of) are bummers, but there are lots of awesome programs for this tablet too!

OneNote Metro Style: Microsoft released a really sweet Metro version of OneNote which is fast and finger-friendly. I've come to rely heavily on OneNote and was pleased by how nicely the Metro version worked.

Windows Mail: I've been using the Metro Mail app a lot lately, and find the program pretty nice. When I opened mail on the Venue I was asked if I wanted to add another mail account. I entered the credentials for my Gmail account, which is even protected with 2-factor authentication, and everything worked great!

I installed Microsoft Office directly from the shortcut on the start menu. Again, everything worked amazingly! Word on your tablet is finger-friendly, fast and easy to use! After having entered my Microsoft Live ID when setting up the Venue all of my previous accounts were associated with Windows. When I went to save a file through Word I was given options for two of my work SharePoint sites and my personal SkyDrive account. That's convenient.

Microsoft has made major integration improvements to SkyDrive in Windows 8.1 Those improvements are present on the Venue 8 Pro, making all of my SkyDrive documents available immediately. I loved that!

The Screen

As I do with any tablet I might potentially keep, I compared the Venue's screen to that of my Galaxy 7.7. I still believe the Galaxy 7.7 has THE best screen of any 7/8 inch tablet on the market. The 7.7 has an AMOLED display, which uses true black. The resulting colors are vibrant and have incredible contrast.

The Venue 8 Pro's screen didn't compare when held side to side with the Galaxy 7.7. In contrast the Venue's screen looked washed out and fuzzy (the archer in the background of my sample picture looked very fuzzy on the Venue's screen). For giggles, I also compared the Venue with the Galaxy Note 8's screen, which also looked far better (though not as good as the 7.7's screen).

I'm not saying the Venue's screen is bad, it's actually really nice if you don't compare it side by side to any other tablets. The viewing angles are great and the start screen looks nice and crisp.


When I first tested the speaker on the Venue I said "Hey, that's not too bad." The sound wasn't that great either though. I thought I heard a little bit of hissing and crackling. I then compared the sound to the Galaxy 7.7 and Note 8, both blew the Venue away. The Venue's single speaker simply (despite being larger than than both individual speakers on my Android test tablets combined) can't compare to the far smaller, pair of speakers on both of the other tablets I tested against.


The Venue 8 Pro is a performance MONSTER! This thing screams along, despite having lots of other programs running. I was shocked by how quickly the device ran even while performing numerous Windows updates.

Internet Explorer, the Metro version, rips through web pages, delivering them at speeds I would previously thought to have been impossible.

The built in, on screen keyboard is an absolute delight to type on. Unlike the Android keyboard I use on my tablet, which is downright infuriating. The Venue's keyboard is accurate, responsive and rarely lags. I say rarely because I did notice a slight lag in the keyboard one time.

I really loved using Netflix on this tablet. While watching a movie you can switch out of Netflix to another program. When you switch back to Netflix the movie starts automatically without asking you load the movie again (thus not requiring buffering time). This delay in restarting my Netflix movie has always bothered me with Android devices.

The bottom line

So here's what I think: If you want to be productive and get work done, the Venue 8 Pro is an incredible device. I can seriously see the Venue as being capable of replacing a laptop for many uses. I can almost see myself carrying the Venue 8 Pro with me down to St. John this winter without my laptop. Would I feel comfortable that in a work emergency the Venue would get me through? Absolutely.

That being said, I already have a laptop. Yes, my laptop is huge and yes, my laptop is heavy. But I've already got one.

Now, here's where the problem comes in. This device is just not fun. Many of the apps us Android and iOS users have come to rely on simply don't exist on this platform yet. Further, the apps that do, such as Kindle, are so limited that one feels like they've downgraded their experience by switching over to the Venue 8.

Some might argue "You can use the web based versions of the apps your want, so stop your complaining!" I could argue "Why do you need a tablet if everything you want to use can be used in a web browser? Why not just use a laptop?" The reason is that we want a convenient experience that's finger friendly, easy on our eyes and optimized for the device we're using.

I'm willing to sacrifice a few things providing that what I get is a net improvement. There are too many sacrifices to make with the Venue 8 Pro. It's a device for productivity, not fun. If I want to be productive I'll pull my laptop out and work with a full sized keyboard and big screen.
Comment Comments (32) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2014 1:31 PM PDT

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