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Jerry Saperstein RSS Feed (Evanston, IL USA)
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The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us
The Human Age: The World Shaped By Us
by Diane Ackerman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.68
101 used & new from $14.85

3 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You may find it interesting. I didn't., October 4, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A million years ago I might have taken a couple of hours to rebut many (if not most) of Diane Ackerman's misstatements, exaggerations, hyperbole, logical fallacies and overwrought adjectives. Frankly I no longer care. Voltaire was quite correct, in spirit if not fact that if God did not exist, man would invent him. Likewise, Charles MacKay's perceptive "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" is as true today as it was in 1841: people are easily fooled and victimized by mass hysteria. And Eric Hoffer's classic "The True Believer" remains an accurate guide to the how and why of fanaticism and how it is exploited..

Many have adopted environmentalism, Gaiaism and similar ideologies as their new religion. Others exploit them. Some do both.

If you think humankind is destroying the planet, there is a good chance that you'll like this collection of nostrums, based on uncritical acceptance of popular and unproven notions.

I'm not speaking ill of Ms. Ackerman: she's as entitled to her opinions as I am. I simply don't agree with her.

Jerry
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 1, 2014 8:34 AM PDT


Teach Yourself VISUALLY Samsung Galaxy S5
Teach Yourself VISUALLY Samsung Galaxy S5
by Guy Hart-Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.88
68 used & new from $16.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intended for first-time users, but useful for many experienced Galaxy owners as well, October 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Author Guy Hart-Davis makes it clear at the outset that this book “is for the reader who has never used this particular technology or software application”. Pretty generic, eh? He follow sit with the proviso that “it is also for readers who want to expand their knowledge”.

In truth this is a picture book that covers virtually every aspect of using the Samsung Galaxy S5: 329 pages of instructions, hints and tips . Even long-time Galaxy users have no idea of what Samsung’s software application “Kies” is all about, though you are frequently reminded to update it, log in and such. Everything is broken down into lessons of no more than two pages. There are plenty of good-sized, clear pictures illuminating your path to knowledge.

While the book is clearly oriented toward the new user, there’s plenty here for the experienced as well, especially for Samsung proprietary features like its Multi Window.

Overall, for the new user, this is a great resource at a reasonable price. More experienced users may want to browse before buying.

Jerry


Brother PTD400AD Label Maker With AC Adapter
Brother PTD400AD Label Maker With AC Adapter
Offered by Printers on sale (No Tax)
Price: $52.98
45 used & new from $49.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If there were an Olympics for label makers, the PRD400AD would have a solid chance for the Gold, October 3, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Okay, maybe I’m weird, but I’ve always found label makers invaluable. I have lots of stuff and I get lots more stuff form clients that I have to keep track of. Labels, labels and more labels – and I’m old enough to remember the days of trying to do labels with typewriters. So I am a label making addict, I guess: I still have a Dymo embossed plastic label maker sitting on the shelf.

I have a bunch of Brother label makers going back quite a while and it’s really mind-blowing to see how much innovation they’ve crammed into these devices.

The PTD400AD is a feature loaded gem that will satisfy your labeling needs as long as you don’t need anything wider than ¾ of an inch. (Obviously you can build bigger labels by laying strips below one another.)

The unit measures approximately 8 x 7 x 3 inches. You can power it with 6 AA batteries or the (thankfully) included AC adapter. It uses Brother TZe tape cartridges. They’re pretty expensive, but that’s how Brother makes its money.

Brother has come a long way since providing Pidgin English manuals that required a magnifying glass to read and made no sense anyway. The manual for the PTD400AD is excellent. It’s written in American English and every function is clearly explained and illustrated, though you still need a magnifier to read the button labels in the illustrations.

There are features, options and functions galore. Fourteen fonts, sizes from 6 through 42 points (and an auto size function). You can choose from 5 widths. 11 styles (ie., outline, shadow, etc.) , underline or strikeout and alignments, including justified, and margins. By my count, there are 117 frame styles – and applying them is very simple. You can access lots of symbols via the keyboard. Ten sample templates can be altered to fit your needs. You can print bar code labels. Finally, you can save 50 label layouts.

Depending on the tape width, you can print up to five lines of text.

While not designed for speed typing, the keyboard is more than adequate for efficient input.

Do I like the PTD400AD? You betcha.

Jerry


Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)
Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking)
by Christian Rudder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.80
91 used & new from $13.88

24 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Self-admitted pop-science. To be used for amusement purposes only., October 2, 2014
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Almost at the very end of this excursion into pop-science is an admission: “I don’t mention confidence intervals, sample sizes, p values, and similar devices in Dataclysm because the book is above all a popularization of data and data science”.

In other words, this isn’t a serious book and no assertion therein should be taken as scientifically accurate or valid.

“Big Data “ is a big buzzword at the moment and the author is one of the founders of OkCupid, an online dating service that collects a lot of data about a lot of users: “[t]onight, some forty thousand couples will have their first date because of OkCupid”.

Author Christian Rudder attempts the “Full Malcolm [Gladwell]” here, with Big Data trivia, like the ages of men considered most attractive sorted by the women’s ages. Big whoop: young women prefer men who re a very few years older than they and older men . . . well, they are older men, after all, but surprisingly they consider most attractive women only a few years younger than they.

As Rudder points out, these are essentially off-the-wall observations from data compilations which consist largely of self-selected individuals.

In other words, while some of the comparisons may have superficial interest and many are amusing, there is no there here. No valid statistics – just a lot of stuff that we’re supposed to find enthralling and eye-opening. The danger here is that those without an understanding of statistical methodology and who don’t spot the author’s flood of logical fallacies may think his conclusions about touchy subjects, such as racial relationships, are reflections of reality. Far more often than not, they obviously aren’t.

At one point, the author – a Harvard graduate – proclaims himself “a person reflexively skeptical of the language of the academic left”. Yet, most of his ramblings are reminiscent of the papers produced by man of the “academic left”.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, much as I enjoy dissembling the works of Malcolm Gladwell: it’s fun catching the errors and the logical fallacies. Read this one for pure fun, but definitely retain your skepticism about all the data and every conclusion.

Jerry
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 19, 2014 1:18 PM PDT


Literacy and the Common Core: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass Teacher)
Literacy and the Common Core: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass Teacher)
by Sarah Tantillo
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.59
69 used & new from $13.45

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This is definitely not intended for critics of Common Core, October 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was hopeful this book would provide me some insight into Common Core, which I believe is complete nonsense and yet one more public education boondoggle. Obviously I aml a critic of Common Core, but this is not the venue in which to voice my criticisms.

I don’t doubt that author Sarah Tantillo is operating in what she believes to be good faith. But from her basic premise onward, she and I are worlds apart philosophically.

She says to her primary audience of K-12 administrators (not teachers) “we all strive to prepare students for college and the careers they most desire”.

I personally don’t believe college preparation should be the principal goal of primary education. Learning how to read, write and calculate comes first. Learning how to reason is next. Social skills are vital. And more. Half or more of K-12 students are not college material and there is no shame in that: the nation has tremendous need of technologists and skilled people in many other areas. Useless college degrees abound along with unemployed and unemployable college graduates.

American public education, in my opinion, has lost its way.

Thus, “Literacy and the Common Core” is simply not my cup of tea. I find no redeeming value in it and it reinforced my opinion that Common Core, like “No Child Left Behind” and so many other initiatives, will be cast aside in a few years for the next public education fad.

My comments don’t imply the book is “bad”: I simply don’t agree with anything the author has to say.Those with less negative views of public education and Common Core may find some value.

Jerry


Virtually Human: The Promise---and the Peril---of Digital Immortality
Virtually Human: The Promise---and the Peril---of Digital Immortality
by Martine Aliana Rothblatt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.33
103 used & new from $5.97

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A popcorn book for the thoughtful, October 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have nothing but respect for Ray Kurzweil. Plowing through his "The Singularity Is Near" was tedious, but rewarding. Kurzweil's ideas on the merger between man and machine are provocative, The same can be said of Martine Rothblatt.

This not light-reading. Many would be offended by this book and its implicit rejection of certain religious beliefs. Others will simply be unable to comprehend the core concepts: conscious intelligence as a non-cellular being. A conscious being that is a machine. Human Level Artificial Intelligence. Machines that not only think, but are consciously aware and capable of what we consider "thought", but are not alive in the sense we understand the word.

BINA48 is the largely rudimentary clone of Rothblatt's real-life wife. "Scientists, innovators, doctors, programmers and dreamers know that human consciousness is not limited to brain of cerebral neurons. IT is rapidly closing in on creating humanlike consciousness simply because of what we know about how the brain works: it isn't necessary to "copy" every function of the human brain in order to generate thought, intelligence and awareness". One example: IBM's Watson which won a "Jeopardy" contest against the best two human competitors.

Stop and ponder for a moment, as the author does. At one time, the fruit on a tree may have been beyond the grasp of our ancestors - so the brain came up with a solution. Use a stick to shake the fruit loose from the tree. Shake the tree. Throw stones. And some millions of years later (or so) you hold access to millions of pages of information in your hand in the form of a device that communicates wirelessly at the speed of light.

Rothblatt wants us to consider going where few other minds have gone before.

This is a challenging book, one to be read in leisure, with many pauses to reflect on what she has to say. The consciousness of a beloved grandparent living on and even growing forever. Or the evil mind of a tyrant able to rule for eons, a frequent topic of post-World War II comic books.

Mindclones, Rothblatt calls them. And she brings to mind many considerations, legal, ethical, scientific that we have not had to consider with reasoning, conscious machines.

Heavy stuff to be sure, but taken in small doses, very thought-provoking. I happen to be in the same camp as Rothblatt, Kurzweil and others: soon minds will exist without bodies.

Jerry


Delkin DDMNT-BOOM Fat Gecko Kaboom
Delkin DDMNT-BOOM Fat Gecko Kaboom
Price: $85.55
11 used & new from $79.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely light, strong and versatile boom for GoPro and other light cameras., October 2, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There’s a lot of competition in this market, a lot of it lower-priced. Solutions like the telescoping xShot and single-piece poles.

What makes the Delkin Kaboom worthwhile is:

Carbon fiber construction. This makes it very light, very strong and essentially corrosion proof. Even when fully assembled and a bit longer than 5 feet with an attached camera, there’s no bending – and you can easily control it with your hand. You can safely use it underwater and just let it air-dry. No need to worry about erust, though I do have concerns for the longevfity of the rubber-like handle.

Modular construction. It may seem inconvenient to have to put pieces together in order to use a boom. And, in my opinion, it is. But the disadvantage is countered by its imperviousness to water damage and the strength of the unit. There are two 15 inch sections and three 10 inch sections, one of which has the handle and handstrap and the other a small ball head. They snap together easily and firmly.

Unassembled, the unit is 15 inches – the length of the long section. It would have been nice if Delkin provided a fitted case, perhaps with a strap or belt hook or loop.

Obviously, you always need two sections and the rest is up to you.

There are a few mounts provided, including a couple with permanent adhesive. But to use it as a true removable boom on a helmet, car6 or other surface, you’re going to neef suction cup mounts. Delkin recommends their Fat Gecko Suction Cup Mount which substantially adds to the total cost of the unit.

Overall, the serious photographer, will appreciate the flexibility of the Kaboom. You can do things like screwing it to the top of tripod, giving you an additional 5 feet of height, use it as a pole mount or hand-held boom or fasten it to helmet, car or other surface. And it is very light and very strong. Really a cool tool.

Jerry


Civil Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam
Civil Engineering Reference Manual for the PE Exam
by Michael R. Lindeburg
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $284.61
28 used & new from $250.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You don’t have to be studying for the PE exam to find this book fascinating and worthwhile., October 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am not a certified engineer, but I have studied various engineering disciplines and used that knowledge in a variety of endeavors throughout my life. I am also a collector references on many subjects, from the English language to engineering references like this.

This book is intended to serve as a review manual for the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Civil Engineering exam, a part of the process leading to the Professional Engineer license. Its 9 Topics (each a collection of chapters) touch upon every major body of knowledge required by an engineer, including mathematics, water resources, environmental;, geotechnical, construction and much more.

The book is clearly intended as a test prep review. In fact, the publisher literally guarantees you’ll pass what appears to be a vigorous examination or they wil refund the cost of the manual. A thorough examination preparation plan I provided as well as online resources.

The value of the book to a layperson is the vast array of knowledge offered. While you do need a solid basic understanding of al the subject areas, the condensed format of statement of principle followed by an example of application serves very well as a reference.

As I did with my son, when my grandchildren have questions that interest them more than a few seconds, I am quick to pull out a printed reference or go online. Often they wind up being gifted with a new book. For example, when my grandson was seriously asking me how he could make his online computer games play faster, he wound up with his very own copy of the classic “How The Internet Works”. I love knowledge. I love learning. I would be gratified if I can pass these passions on to my grandchildren.

How does it work? Well, last year we rode together for a couple of thousand miles to Mt. Rushmore and back. A great opportunity to explain things like why the bridge we were crossing over the Mississippi didn’t collapse. Or why hugely heavy objects like railroad freight trains didn’t sink into the ground. This book provides the information you’d need to explain how concrete structures like dams are used to hold back enormous bodies of water – and how to treat the waste this water helps to form. It’s really fascinating stuff, fodder for the endlessly curious.

Kids have a natural interest in science and technology – and I’ll do all I can to foster it. Books like this, as compendiums of knowledge, not only help, but they are fascinating reading as well.

Jerry


FE Mechanical Review Manual
FE Mechanical Review Manual
by Michael R. Lindeburg PE
Edition: Paperback
Price: $200.68
16 used & new from $158.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stellar resource for more than the Fundamentals Of Engineering (FE) exam, October 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I am not a certified engineer, but I have studied various engineering disciplines and used that knowledge in a variety of endeavors throughout my life. I am also a collector references on many subjects, from the English language to engineering references like this.

This book is intended to serve as a review manual for the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, typically the first step in the process leading to the Professional Engineer license. Its 15 Topics (chapters) touch upon every major body of knowledge required by an engineer, including mathematics, probability and statistics, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, heat transfer, statistics and much more.

The book is clearly intended as a test prep review. In fact, the publisher literally guarantees you’ll pass what appears to be a vigorous examination or they wil refund the cost of the manual. A thorough examination preparation plan I provided as well as online resources.

The value of the book to a layperson is the vast array of knowledge offered. While you do need a solid basic understanding of al the subject areas, the condensed format of statement of principle followed by an example of application serves very well as a reference.

As I did with my son, when my grandchildren have questions that interest them more than a few seconds, I am quick to pull out a printed reference or go online. Often they wind up being gifted with a new book. For example, when my grandson was seriously asking me how he could make his online computer games play faster, he wound up with his very own copy of the classic “How The Internet Works”. I love knowledge. I love learning. I would be gratified if I can pass these passions on to my grandchildren.

How does it work? Well, last year we rode together for a couple of thousand miles to Mt. Rushmore and back. A great opportunity to explain things like why the bridge we were crossing over the Mississippi didn’t collapse. Or why hugely heavy objets like railroad freight trains didn’t sink into the ground.

Kids have a natural interest in science and technology – and I’ll do all I can to foster it. Books like this, as compendiums of knowledge, not only help, but they are fascinating reading as well.

Jerry


BasicTalk HT701 Home Phone Service, Includes 1 Free Month
BasicTalk HT701 Home Phone Service, Includes 1 Free Month
Price: $8.31
12 used & new from $3.30

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't meet my needs, October 1, 2014
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
A lot of my equivocation about this device and service has to do with my Internet Service Provider, ATT U-Verse.

AT&T U-Verse is, at best, just better than mediocre. If Comcast weren't so evil and awful, I'd dump U-Verse without a second thought. Any service requiring consistent (not constant) data flow is problematic with AT&T U-Verse. Watching a Netflix movie or YouTube is a nightmare of starts, stops and stalls.

This in turn makes VOiP services problematic - and my BasicTalk experience proved no different. Call quality, when a call couldbe made or received, was middling.

BasicTalk's provided services are minimal, Support appears to be online only.Being a worry-wart, the e911 service - which is different than the landline 911 service - kind f freaks me out, appearing to be dependent on a third-party to rely emergency information.

I still have my regular AT&T POTS landline service because landlines genrally operate when the electrical grid goes outr. VOiP doesn't.

Overall, I'll keep my basic landline service and used alternatives like Google Talk and Skype until I can get a better ISP than AT&T U-Verse.

`For people who want very basic VOiP, BasicTalk may fill their need. It doesn't quite do it for me, though.Installation is simple as could be, but call quality is iffy (which may be an AT&T U-Verse problem).

Jerry


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