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Joe Banks RSS Feed (New York, NY)

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Android How to Program (2nd Edition)
Android How to Program (2nd Edition)
by H.M. Deitel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $124.76
41 used & new from $84.99

1.0 out of 5 stars An Overpriced, Mislabeled Disappointment of a Book, December 21, 2014
I have a few major problems with this book:

1. It actually has fewer app examples than the First edition.
2. The approach is labeled as "app driven". This basically means they walk you through how they constructed each app. That has some merit, but the biggest drawback is that it does not give you a feel for best practices in Android development. Rather, you pick up knowledge haphazardly by observing how they implemented different app features. In many cases, I could have used a better explanation of what was going on under the hood.
3. Most of this book (the 2nd half -- really 2/3) is focused on Java. That might be okay if you don't already know Java. However, it is awful if you do and were expecting a book fully devoted to Android app development.
4. This book is way overpriced, especially when you take points 1, 2 and 3 into consideration. There are other Android programming books out there that are much better. What justifies the markup? If the answer is the Deitel brand, then (sorry), but that is just not enough.

Pawn Shop Chronicles
Pawn Shop Chronicles
DVD ~ Paul Walker
Price: $8.87
41 used & new from $3.78

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Salvation Comes in Many Forms, June 25, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Pawn Shop Chronicles (DVD)
Let me start off by saying that this is maybe the most genuinely fun dark comedy I've seen in a long, long time. The three stories were all excellent, with great performances by Matt Dillon and Paul Walker (worth watching just for the way he moves his fingers). On the surface, this movie would seem analogous to a dinner at a Chinese restaurant; that is, thoroughly enjoyed but quickly forgotten. Yet, many deep questions keep coming to mind regarding one of the movie's core themes: Salvation. Specifically the characters of "The Man" and the Preacher. "The Man" shows up in a pickup truck, looking like the Marlboro man dressed in black and offers salvation in the form of a shotgun. The recipient of his largess quickly puts the shotgun to deadly use, killing his backstabbing buddies along with himself. In contrast, we have the Preacher man, dressed in white, who hangs around a local restaurant called "The Fire Pit". He has the ability to seemingly appear from nowhere and hands out pamphlets that appear to have Satan drawn on them. Oh, and he goes around making deals for people's souls. In contrast to "The Man", the result of the Preacher's dealings are pretty benign. Thanks to the Preacher, Ricky Baldowski (the Elvis impersonator) can suddenly belt out a version of "Amazing Grace" that is good enough to make old enemies (like feuding barbers Doc and Cook) make up. So, who is offering salvation and who is offering damnation? Is the point that we can't tell the difference? Darned if I know.

Ghost World
Ghost World
DVD ~ Steve Buscemi
Offered by cds_dvds_guaranteed
Price: $28.89
51 used & new from $3.49

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Irony Defined, January 22, 2012
This review is from: Ghost World (DVD)
Ghost World is the anti-teen movie in that it perfectly captures real teen life. Most ironic thing: The fact that Enid is an artist who keeps flunking art classes.

Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge
DVD ~ Henry Fonda
Price: $4.84
143 used & new from $1.25

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Performance by Robert Shaw, November 14, 2010
This review is from: Battle of the Bulge (DVD)
I saw this movie back in the early 70s. As many have remarked, this is not the greatest war movie ever made. It also has historical inaccuracies that make one gag. The one thing that stood out then (and still does) was Robert Shaw's amazing performance as Colonel Hessler. For me, the Hessler character personifies the "ideal" German military officer: bold, fearless, driven, hard, ruthless, self-less, and.....just a little mad (which may help nourish the other qualities). Despite those attributes, Hessler is not totally evil. He has real contempt for the German High Command, especially when he finds out they are killing allied prisoners. While he drives his men hard, he also shows compassion for them and even for some Belgian nuns. The finale, where Hessler dies, manages to showcase all these qualities at once. After watching Shaw's entire performance here, you forget that he is just acting--he is every inch the prototypical [Nazi] military officer. The really ironic fact here is that Shaw himself was born to Jewish parents. Chew on that one. This movie is worth watching if only to see Shaw's phenomenal performance.

AVP: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (Unrated Edition)
AVP: Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (Unrated Edition)
DVD ~ Steven Pasquale
Price: $6.59
233 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Underrated Improvement over AVP, September 3, 2010
I'm going to disagree with most reviewers here. AVP2 was a huge improvement over the (ridiculous) AVP. I thought the action scenes were top notch and acting was respectable. Overall, AVP2 was fairly realistic in depicting what (and how) a real town might react to an alien infestation, as well as, the Government response. The overall formula can be found in several recent movies, especially "The Crazies". Such realism made it brutal at times--almost no one is spared. In particular, this movie has some scenes of young children (even babies) being horribly killed. I'm sure these disturbing images drove some of the low ratings. It also seemed like there were a few scenes were very similar to those in "Aliens" (like the National Guard unit getting waxed). I agree with many people that the scenes were darker than necessary. If this was intentional, it only succeeded in annoying the viewer.

The Book of Eli
The Book of Eli
DVD ~ Denzel Washington
Price: Click here to see our price
124 used & new from $1.59

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Movie--Ridiculous Premise, August 13, 2010
This review is from: The Book of Eli (DVD)
Overall, "The Book of Eli" is a respectable, post-Apocalyptic movie, with strong performances by Washington and Oldman. However, it suffered from two main problems. One is post-Apocalyptic fatigue. Seems like there have been many such movies over the last few years ("The Road", "Doomsday", and "Resident Evil - Extinction" come to mind). After a while, these start to look and feel alike. The second problem is the premise -- that somehow bibles have become non-existent. Considering how many bibles have been printed and distributed since forever, this seems quite implausible. There are certainly many more bibles than guns--and the movie had no lack of guns. Also there probably weren't enough people left after "The Flash" to mount a campaign to burn all bibles. Aned even if there were, people were probably too preoccupied with surviving to care. All in all, an unrealistic premise on which to base a movie.

Invasion USA
Invasion USA
DVD ~ Gerald Mohr
Price: $11.99
14 used & new from $8.53

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So Bad that's its Good, June 19, 2010
This review is from: Invasion USA (DVD)
This movie is so outrageously campy and shoddy that its actually very funny. Much of the dialog takes place in a bar of all places. And I get the feeling its the same bar in which the script was written (in maybe an hour or so). To buy the ease with which the Russians take over the USA, one has to totally suspend disbelief & common sense. The writers apparently had no knowledge of military strategy or logistics--and they probably assumed the viewers didn't either. For example, the Russians send a fleet of bombers from the West Coast filled with 10,000 paratroopers to capture Washington DC. They are able to do this without being detected on radar and seemingly without any resistance to this rather light force. Much of the movie is canned military battle footage that is clumsily strung together to support the script. My favorite scene is at the end where the protagonist leads some Commie soldiers to his girlfriends apartment. They promptly get drunk (at his suggestion), then try to make his girl. He is killed while resisting and his girlfriend jumps out the window to escape. I won't spoil the ending, but that was the only part that really made sense. I can't WAIT for the remake.

DVD ~ Luke Wilson
Price: $4.16
99 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slice of life that I can relate to., June 17, 2010
This review is from: Tenure (DVD)
As a college professor who just recently got tenure, I can certainly relate to this film. For a comedy, it manages to deliver steady amusement rather than any real laughs. The film does an excellent job capturing the pressure (and self-introspection) of the tenure process, as well as, the absurdity of faculty politics. Luke Wilson is playing the same basic character we've seen before, but (even so) was a good choice for the lead. All in all, a good way to pass the time--especially for academics who don't take themselves too seriously.

Gentlemen Broncos
Gentlemen Broncos
DVD ~ Micheal Angarano
Offered by Media Favorites
Price: $6.11
42 used & new from $0.01

6 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Predictable, Faintly Amusing, but Very Creepy, April 29, 2010
This review is from: Gentlemen Broncos (DVD)
From a story perspective, I found "Gentlemen Bronocs" to be faintly amusing (especially the Ronald Chevalier character). That being said, the story was almost totally predictable. After the first 15 minutes, you could tell exactly how it was going to end. Stylistically, it was very much like "Napeoleon Dynamite"--no surprise since they were made by the same team. What I found disturbing about both films, however, was their portrayal of Americans as a bunch of quirkly, ineffectual buffoons. The erstwhile filmmaker was the worst--he literally made my skin crawl every time he was on screen. Some no doubt find this to be an endearing quality of these movies. The characters in these movies don't represent the America I know--nor one I would ever want to live in. I suppose it was 'cute' the first time, but this time round it really got on my nerves. The queasy sense of creepiness I felt watching them got so bad that I could barely sit this one out.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 15, 2013 9:50 AM PST

Drive-In Double Feature: Creation of the Humanoids/War Between the Planets
Drive-In Double Feature: Creation of the Humanoids/War Between the Planets
DVD ~ Don Megowan
Price: $10.35
23 used & new from $5.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Waaayyy Ahead of its Time, February 13, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a review for Creation of the Humanoids (COTH) only. It is rare to find an intelligent film that deals with deep questions of consciousness, identity, the human-machine relationship, and the future of the human race. It is downright astonishing to discover one made in the early 60s that does so--but COTH is that film. Indeed, it is not until at least 20 years later (with the making of "Blade Runner") that more modern, high budget films began to grapple with these issues in a serious way. COTH does this very effectively, even discounting the handicaps of low budget production, cheesy special effects, and B-grade, wooden actors. It does it by means of an incredibly well thought out, coherent script that emphasizes ideas rather than action and special effects. There are also a number of sophisticated twists--both expected and unexpected. As a Computer Science professor, I try to play this movie for my classes once per semester. When I show it, there is typically is a collective groan at the start of the film. However, after a half hour or so, the students are held rapt. By the end, the students are surprised and appreciative--usually lining up to tell me how good the film was and asking more questions about it. On a side note, the film is quite humorous in places for unintended reasons--typically due to the antiquated, early 60s attitudes. This is especially true when you notice the strict attention to detail the Clickers give the male 'replacement' robots to make them identical to their human doubles. In contrast, they don't hesitate to make the female replacement more attractive (thinner) than the original.

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