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Profile for Jerry Saperstein > Reviews


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Jerry Saperstein RSS Feed (Evanston, IL USA)

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Networking for Nerds: Find, Access and Land Hidden Game-Changing Career Opportunities Everywhere
Networking for Nerds: Find, Access and Land Hidden Game-Changing Career Opportunities Everywhere
by Alaina Levine
Edition: Paperback
Price: $19.05
39 used & new from $19.05

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful help., September 20, 2015
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“Nerd” is not a compliment. The Wikipedia article states: “Nerd . . . is a descriptive term, often used pejoratively, indicating that a person is overly intellectual, obsessive, or lacking social skills”

The reality is that “nerds” are generally more intelligent than others and often find themselves shunned by those who simply can’t comprehend what they say, do or think. Being smart in a world where half the people are below average isn’t easy.

As a result, bright people in technical and scientific fields often appear to be socially challenged. I would wager that it is actually a learned response to being rejected by so many people with lesser intellects.

Whatever the true case may be, intelligent technicians and scientists have been given a gift by author Alaina Levine: “Networking For Nerds”, which is a guide to social networking offering tremendous detail on how to get out there and mingle along with a compelling argument why you should.

I really wish I had a guide like this in my late teens and through my twenties. It would have made things easier.

Author Levine goes into great detail on the hows and whys of networking. Many may find this tedious, but I think her audience will find it satisfying – it provides the intellectual stuff that many intelligent people need before they head into uncertain social milieus.

I recommend this book for any intelligent technical or scientific person who has felt something missing in their social life in general and, in particular, for anyone in those areas who is not actively networking. This book makes a forceful argument for why you should be.

Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 26, 2015 12:51 PM PDT

The Learning Journey Techno Gears Marble Mania Zoomerang Building Kit (100-Piece), Multi
The Learning Journey Techno Gears Marble Mania Zoomerang Building Kit (100-Piece), Multi
Price: $19.99
9 used & new from $17.39

3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly disappointing, September 19, 2015
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I love construction sets. Saying I get them for the grandchildren to play with when they visit is a nice cover story, but the truth is I love them.

Marble contraptions are a favorite, but this one is a bit disappointing. Well, no, it is very disappointing.

The parts seem smaller than in other sets and can be very finicky to attach to each other. When a mistake is made – and mistakes are inevitable with this kind of set – pulling the parts apart can be difficult.

There is little leeway for misalignment. Despite the tight fit on some components, the overall structure is rickety. Only three marbles are included: there should be at least a dozen.

Overall, the construction experience is frustrating, rather than challenging.

I think a young child would quickly tire of building this even though the ultimate play experience is satisfying for the short while the set holds together.

When I first spotted this, I thought immediately that it would be a good place to start and then adding sets to build a monster layout. My interest in that has diminished almost to the vanishing point.

We have several marble maze construction sets that still get played with even as the grandchildren get older. I don’t think this one will displace the old standbys, though.


LEGO Awesome Ideas
LEGO Awesome Ideas
by Daniel Lipkowitz
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.38
55 used & new from $10.87

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it, September 19, 2015
This review is from: LEGO Awesome Ideas (Hardcover)
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When I was a small child, we were sent into the forests to forage as soon as we could toddle: we used acorn shells, fallen branches and mammoth ribs as toys ibn the few moments we weren’t searching for food.

Okay, so I’m not quite that old, but there were no Legos in my childhood. And, unfortunately, Legos weren’t around for my son’s childhood.

So I was old and gray when my grandson introduced me to Legos – and I fell in love with them (and, subsequently, Minecraft as well).

The grandson, of course, had dozens of learning resources when he was into Lego – his classmates, neighbor kids and hours and hours of time in which to experiment.

For me, it’s books – books aimed at kids about a tenth of my age. Books like this little gem.

Like all good Lego books – and this one is very good – it is profusely illustrated. Divided into four main sections, there are models galore and instructions on how to build them. I love it, because it shows me how little kids get the wondrous results at Lego exhibitions. (Yes, I go to them.)\

If you’re considering this for a child who is into Lego, they will love it, though the older, more experienced Lego builder may find it less valuable.

For the older, inexperienced wannabe Lego builder like me, it is phenomenally great.


OnHub Wireless Router from Google and TP-LINK
OnHub Wireless Router from Google and TP-LINK
19 used & new from $230.00

4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The router for the rest of us., September 18, 2015
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Some may remember “The computer for the rest of us” as an Apple advertising slogan when the Mac was first introduced.

Google and TP-Link are applying the concept to the arcane router, a device that has caused many an unsophisticated user to weep and pull their hair out in large clumps.

So Google and TP-Link set out to design a router that would be easy for the unsophisticated user to set up and use.

Get that? Unsophisticated user. Power users who know how to make routers turn somersaults and walk on their hands will find little utility or versatility in this product.

The OnHib comes out of the box, gets plugged into a 110v AC socket and hooked up to your cable or broadband box.

You control it with a iOS or Android app. There is no web interface, which I don’t like.

Setup is simple because you have no leeway. The purpose of this device is to provide WiFi connectivity without muss or fuss. Period.

It does that on the 2.4 and 5Ghz bands. Multiple antennas supposedly provide faster throughput to your various devices. I don’t have significant throughput issues with my AT&T U-Verse connection using its stock set top box. Signal strength and speeds with the OnHub were not appreciably higher in my limited testing.

I’m in an apartment on a single level. I suspect that in a muiti-story house, the improvements would seem greater.

Compared to other WiFi routers, the OnHub is among the more expensive. is it worth it? Marginally, my answer would be yes. The simplicity of installation and ease of use will be very appealing to a great number of people who really don’t want to get their hands dirty. The enhanced speed also has value.

As I said, marginally this is a more attractive package than most and, in my estimation, worth a modest premium.


Petty: The Biography
Petty: The Biography
by Warren Zanes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.78

4.0 out of 5 stars Great for real fans; interesting and entertaining for the rest of us., September 17, 2015
This review is from: Petty: The Biography (Hardcover)
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I’m a casual listener. Always have been. I’ve listened to Dylan since the beginning, for example, without being burdened by the hubbub around him. Same with Johnny Cash, Janis Joplin and a few others.

And Tom Petty is a guy whose music I knew.

But this very well done biography is for real fans, true aficionados – people who know and love the man’s music.

It’s inside baseball, if you will, of the music industry at the time. A true fan would, I think, eat it up. For me, it was often mildly interesting, but a bit tedious.

Warren Zanes benefits form his close relationship with Tom Petty and his own experience in the music world. He is also a very perceptive observer and can be fairly called a music historian. Best of al, he writes well and engagingly.

I enjoyed he book, learned more about Tom Petty and the music industry than I wanted to know, but even so, it was a fun trip.

Recommended for the true fan, but those like me will find it interesting as well.


Programming the Raspberry Pi, Second Edition: Getting Started with Python
Programming the Raspberry Pi, Second Edition: Getting Started with Python
by Simon Monk
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.88
22 used & new from $7.88

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For those very new to the field, this is helpful. Not so much for people with experience., September 17, 2015
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If you are already comfortably conversant with computer technology and programming concepts and languages, there are better ways to learn the bit-twiddling details of Raspberry PI and programming it to do fun and even useful things.

On the other hand, if you know nothing – and I mean nothing – about computer technology, programing and programming languages, Raspberry Pi is a good way to begin your education.

Its creators and sponsors say “Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python.” Raspberry PI is widely used in educational and training environments. It is inexpensive and unbelievably flexible. “Raspberry Pi has the ability to interact with the outside world, and has been used in a wide array of digital maker projects, from music machines and parent detectors to weather stations and tweeting birdhouses with infra-red cameras.”

This book is intended for an audience of neophytes.

It is a simple and superficial text. It will indeed help you learn the basics – the very basics – of Raspberry Pi and Python. Reading this and performing all the exercises won’t make you an expert in Raspberry Pi or Python, but you will know more than when you started and, very hopefully, be primed to want to learn more.

In my opinion, the book is very well suited for kids and adults with an interest in learning more about the technology in an essentially painless way. Monk’s style is okay, though not exactly scintillating. The book has been updated from its previous edition to reflect changes in Raspberry Pi.

On the other hand, if you already know what a GPIO is, are facile in Linux, program in any language, you don’t need this book and won’t benefit from it.

In my case, I intend on sharing this book and its lessons with my grandson. What's the fun of being a nerdy gradpa if you can't introduce a kid to the real wonders of technology?


Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless
Think Big, Act Bigger: The Rewards of Being Relentless
by Jeffrey W. Hayzlett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.53
51 used & new from $9.91

4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another business success book, but not without value for some., September 16, 2015
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Jeffrey Hayzlett “is a global celebrity” should serve as clear warning of what you’ll find in this book. Especially whne you learn “[h]e is the CEO of The Hayzlett roup, an international strategic business consulting company”. In other words, this book is essentially an advertisement for Jeffrey Hayzlett.

His operating philosophy is “I think big and act bigger” and he implores the reader to believe “I can think big, act bigger, and do it my way – because I can”.

The book is idiosyncratic to say the least, beginning with a diatribe about TED talks and why the author will never do one. Okay. Hayzlett’s massive ego is displayed on every page and not always to good effect. Personally, he’s not someone I would want to spend time with.

Overall, while the rhetoric is hot, the advice is rote.

We all need a coach or cheerleader from tiem to time, someone yelling gin our ear that we can make it, we can push ourselves to get over the finish line no matter what.

Hayzlett ultimately is a graceless coach, but his message, no matter how many times it has been stated before – usually in more politwe terms – is upbeat and many people may find his encouragement helpful.


1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History
1944: FDR and the Year That Changed History
by Jay Winik
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.19
52 used & new from $18.99

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious students of WWII will find nothing new here., September 15, 2015
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First, I think Jay Winik is an excellent history author: his “April, 1865” is outstanding.

But in “1944”, I think Winik stumbles. 1944 was indeed a pivotal year in world history. World War II in Europe, while very much seeing as if the Allies would be victorious was still being viciously (and brilliantly in many cases) contested by the Germans. The Soviets continued to sustain huge losses and although they were pushing the Germans back everywhere, the Soviets were feeling the strain. England was so weakened that they resorted to measures that would minimize their casualties, thereby slowing the pace of the Western Offensive. It was conceivable, given the proper circumstances, that the Soviets might have accepted a negotiated peace even at this late date. Not at all probable, but possible.

Franklin Roosevelt was supported by a magnificent team in the military and in charge of manufacturing. His role was rightfully confined to the realm of political decisions.

Winik basically is trodding the same ground as many others before him. To provide a difference, he focuses on tw issues. Roosevelt’s failing health and the murder of the Jews by the Germans.

Throughout this easily read book, Winik returns to the operation and progress of the German industrialized murder of the Jews and the failure of Roosevelt to forcefully address it and even take military measures to curtail or even halt the process. To those knowledgeable of the times and circumstances, Winik is dealing with a weak hand.

With the exception of Denmark, every non-neutral European nation participated in the slaughter of the Jews. The French authorities were fully aware of the fate of the Jews they rounded up and forced to buy tickets on the trains that would carry them to their deaths in Poland. In the Baltic states, mass murders of the Jews were public events. All of the European countries were anti-Semitic to some degree, especially in places like Poland. The United States was also not receptive to the plight of the Jews before the war, turning away Jewish refugees.

Finally, while the Jews were singled out for industrialized murder with thousands being gassed every day after the construction of specialized extermination centers and nearly two million shot in Poland and the Western Soviet Union before that, the Germans engaged in murderous campaigns across all of occupied Europe. The Germans cold-bloodedly plan for the deaths of tens of millions of soviet citizens through deliberate starvation and working to death, this in order to provide food for Germany and open up the conquered lands for colonization. In short, the Germans had death in store for many millions.

Ultimately Winik rehashes old arguments alleging that the railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz should have been bombed. Those arguments have been made in many other places and I will not repeat them here.

Overall, for the person largely unfamiliar with the history of WWII in Europe, this is a passable introduction to one stage of the war, specifically the events of 1944 and the lead-up to some of them. None of the material is new, none of it original. In the truest sense of the word, this is intended to be a popular history and that’s precisely what it is.


Rapid S060 Omnipress Stapler, Black/Red (5000591)
Rapid S060 Omnipress Stapler, Black/Red (5000591)
Price: $28.77
8 used & new from $27.40

5.0 out of 5 stars Better than typical staplers, but staples are proprietary and pricey, September 14, 2015
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This stapler innovates in several ways. First, it replaces the classic “bow” staple with a flattening process. This leads to being able to staple up to sixty sheets, according to the manufacturer. I didn’t test that specific claim, but I did gather up a bunch of sheets and it was hot knife through butter time. Next, you can use the stapler in a conventional way on the desktop or as a hand stapler (no pun intended). What makes this possible is the lever mechanism incorporated in the Omnipress which creates a lot of leverage (pun intended).

The outcome of all this innovation is an expensive stapler that puts it less costly rivals to shame. No need for eternal levers or brute foce. Whether its two pages or dozens, just press and its stapled. If you have to pile up a number of documents, they remain flat, which is very cool.

Yes, I like like it, but it appears that you have to use Omnipress’ branded staples which are very expensive compared to conventional staples.Because of that, I would tend to use only for stapling jobs that require its special capabilities.


Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times (Icons)
Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times (Icons)
by Anne C. Heller
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.41
68 used & new from $5.92

4.0 out of 5 stars I remain uncertain in my assessment of Hannah Arendt, September 13, 2015
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I remain uncertain in my assessment of Hannah Arendt

In my youth, like the rest of the non-conforming crowd of budding intellectuals who wore black turtlenecks (and occasionally a beret), smoked pipes, sat around in smoky coffeehouses with candles stuck in Chianti bottles. I was drawn in by Hannah Arendt. That was in the 1960s and I was very young.

Today I recognize Arendt as being no different than so many of the celebrated “intellectuals” of the time: the creation of a small cadre of New York doyens who raved about each other’s brilliance.

Today I consider Arendt largely wrong in her assessment of Adolph Eichmann and the Jews of that time.

But that doesn’t really matter in my assessment of Anne Heller’s biography of Arendt. It is a well-researched work that hews largely to the facts and doesn’t speculate on Arendt’s imagined inner thoughts. Heller lays out the facts and permits the reader to reach their own conclusion. Could Arendt justify her romance with a Nazi sympathizer? Was Arendt’s “disdain” for the Jews genuine or just an air that she adopted, something that was quite popular at the time among assimilated German Jews such as Arendt.

Arendt’s “The Origins Of Totalitarianism” was my first contact with Arendt and today I hold it in low regard. Heller, however, does an excellent job of describing the period of its publication when people were questing for an explanation of the great evil of the time – without knowing that a still greater evil had occurred in the Soviet Union and was yet to happen in mainland China.

I give Heller full credit for not turning her book into a hagiography. Yet I think there were faults in Arendt and her thinking that Heller does not dwell upon.

For those interested in learning more about a celebrated contemporary philosopher who may be overrated, I think this is a good place to stop on your journey, but before you begin, make sure you read “The Origins Of Totalitarianism” and “Eichmann in Jerusalem”. I really don’t think you can understand Arendt’s life and her work without reading those books first.

But obviously, a lot depends on how seriously you want to pursue the subject.


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