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Escape Plan
Escape Plan
DVD
Price: $13.99

4.0 out of 5 stars sympathetic Muslim character, August 23, 2015
This review is from: Escape Plan (Amazon Instant Video)
Because of the many reviews, I will try to add something new. First though, the plot is very logically coherent. The scriptwriting was tight, and made sense. There was one unfortunate scene at the end, where the bad guys shoot at a helicopter but somehow cannot seem to hit it, especially its blades. Oh well...

The most interesting aspect seems unappreciated by many. There is a Muslim character. He ultimately comes off as a sympathetic bloke. He is in prison because he was part of some gang whose exact exploits were carefully omitted. The point is that many other Muslim prisoners were suspected terrorists. The plot walks a fine line depicting him as just a criminal but not a terrorist. Akin in fact to Schwarzenegger's character.


How to Make Patent Drawings: Save Thousands of Dollars and Do It With a Camera and Computer!
How to Make Patent Drawings: Save Thousands of Dollars and Do It With a Camera and Computer!
by Jack Lo
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.40
44 used & new from $20.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars simple figures, August 23, 2015
The advice is helpful. If you are an inventor who wants to save some money, you can do the figures yourself, using common drawing packages like OpenOffice or Microsoft Office. There is likely no need to hire a professional drawer to make the figures. Note that for mechanical type applications, that some CAD package could come in handy, if you feel a need to have complex figures. The drawings on the book cover are examples of such objects.

The discussion is easily readable; little legal jargon. And also note that the PTO has always allowed hand drawn figures. Yes, to this day. So in the last contingency, just do it by hand. And keep the figures simple.

One qualification is if you file for a design patent. These are indeed about the look and feel; literally the surface stuff. Here the figures you submit need to look like an instantiated product.

I have gotten 6 patents using figures made in OpenOffice, without anything more specialised. I did not read this book before doing so, but its advice rings true.


Jenkins Essentials
Jenkins Essentials
by Mitesh Soni
Edition: Paperback
Price: $28.56
8 used & new from $28.56

4.0 out of 5 stars for smooth integration - quick read, August 15, 2015
This review is from: Jenkins Essentials (Paperback)
The book emphasises an easy integration with common popular tools like SVN, CVS and git. Though I suspect that git is now the most popular, the others are described in the text for completeness. This also include using Jenkins with Eclipse, which surely many of you use for java coding.

There are many screen captures of key steps using Jenkins. Good. But what it also does mean is that the text is necessarily a little skimpy on details. It is a short book to begin with, and the screen captures comprise over half the pages.

Chapter 4 on automated deployment is where a lot of value lies in using Jenkins. The idea is to make a simple automated process that your group can rapidly adapt to. The automation removes much of the manual steps that would otherwise be needed. Less error prone in and of itself. Handy given that a lot of your effort is in fixing bugs, and you do not want your development process to be brittle, which manual steps can induce.


Stereo Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Powered Subwoofer, Fm Radio, Built-in 1800mAh Rechargeable Battery, Mic, Audio Jack, Micro USB Slot, Support Tf Card function
Stereo Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Powered Subwoofer, Fm Radio, Built-in 1800mAh Rechargeable Battery, Mic, Audio Jack, Micro USB Slot, Support Tf Card function
Offered by BAYMAX
Price: $28.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars confusing instructions, radio mode is noisy, August 15, 2015
The design is quite pretty. Looks nice on a shelf. Handling the device is also good. It has a solid feel.

But a problem is the instruction sheet that comes with the device. There should have been a figure showing the buttons and their names. For a novice user, this can help. The engineers who designed the device have it obvious to them what the buttons mean. It is not obvious to some others.

The language is clumsy. For example, "Under radio mode into the USB charging cable, or 3.5 stereo audio cable when an external antenna." What external antenna? Is it possible to have an external antenna?

Related to this, when I hook up the speaker to a power cable from my computer, and it is in radio mode, playing a radio station, it sounds fine. Though with some static, for every station. When I remove the power cable, the device still plays, but the static increases significantly. Why?

This is bad because as a standalone radio, the device is not good. A portable radio from 30 years ago had better reception.

Also, I used a power charger (you know - the cylindrical things to charge cellphones) to power the device. When the charger is hooked into the device, and the device is playing a radio channel, there is a lot of static.When I unplug the charger, the device plays better. Here I guess the noise is coming from the charger. But it also suggests that the circuitry on the device could be better.

This was not due to the distance of the radio stations. I live in Altadena, a suburb of Los Angeles that is right against the mountains. We are just below Mt Wilson, where many radio and TV stations put their antennas that broadcast into the LA basin. The reception is the best in LA. Yet the radio is noisy.

Another problem is the recorded voice. When you press the 'M' to go to radio mode, the recording says 'radio modular' ??

Someone better versed in English should have written the instructions and redone the recordings. But more importantly, the device intrinsically is not well designed as a radio.


Hackathon: Your guide to running a hackathon
Hackathon: Your guide to running a hackathon
Price: $8.99

4.0 out of 5 stars clear and useful advice, August 2, 2015
Hackathons are an indelible part of the technology boom that we are now in [2015]. Unlike the dot com years, when the phenomenon was unknown. You might have heard of these through the popular press. But this short electronic book tells of the rudiments. Especially if you have never attended one, it will be useful. But it is ostensibly pitched to a narrower audience. Those of you thinking about running one. The advice is sound. Especially about the key elementary steps of insuring beforehand about enough bandwidth - typically via WiFi but sometimes also through wired connections at the venue.

Remember to provide enough refreshments. The participants are spending their time willingly and unpaid, unlike perhaps you if your firm is sponsoring the event. So make sure they are well fed and watered.

I have attended over 20 hackathons in Los Angeles and found this book to be quite accurate.


Principles of Adaptive Optics, Third Edition (Series in Optics and Optoelectronics)
Principles of Adaptive Optics, Third Edition (Series in Optics and Optoelectronics)
by Robert K. Tyson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $69.11
26 used & new from $54.60

4.0 out of 5 stars a worthy 3rd edition, August 2, 2015
Adaptive optics has made possible many of the great advances in recent optical astronomy. Especially including the detection of exoplanets, now numbering over 700. Many if not most of the latter tally were done with adaptive optics on telescopes. So students of observational astronomy might well find this book very useful. This 3rd edition is a real new edition. By that I mean it reflects recent advances in the field. Unlike texts in freshman subjects, where new editions are often just to charge a lot compared to the cheap prices of used earlier editions.

The emphasis here is on first principles. A reader with perhaps 3 undergraduate years background in physics can readily follow the narrative. Relatively little astronomy is needed, though that is the main use case for the subject.

Micromachining is covered well. Several of the advances are due to improvements in how we can make electromechanical parts with precision at the micron level. And control these with servos in a feedback loop.


The Wright Brothers
The Wright Brothers
by David McCullough
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.00
160 used & new from $9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars minimal discussion of later years, August 1, 2015
This review is from: The Wright Brothers (Hardcover)
The book is well written about what it covers. Quite readable. But somewhat lacking in the endgame after the Wrights became famous for their planes and flights. Sadly, the writing is perfunctory. You can see this in the last section of the book, when the patent disputes arise. It does summarise neatly that they initiated 9 lawsuits and were the target of 3, eventually winning all 12. But the discussion about the merits is modestly minimal. Ironically if you go to Wikipedia, there is a more detailed summary of the cases. Ironic because Wikipedia deliberately is meant as a summary of more comprehensive accounts.

I am not in any way suggesting that the outcomes of the patent disputes were wrong. But there should have been more coverage of how exactly the Wrights prevailed. McCullough wrote a book pitched for a general audience that would likely be bored by deep forays into the biography. So yes read this book as a popular account, but not as a full biography.

I guess I should say. I am an inventor myself, with 6 US patents and several pendings. So it was especially for the book's analysis of the Wrights' patents that took my interest. Alas, the book fell short. But even aside from this, what about Orville's relationship with the US government after the Great War? In the building of the Army Air Force. And of the early carrier air arm, which was to prove crucial in the Pacific during the next war. Was Orville totally disconnected from the military? Surely they would have tried to ask his advice at the very least.


A Long Time Until Now (Temporal Displacement Series Book 1)
A Long Time Until Now (Temporal Displacement Series Book 1)
Price: $6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dominated by rapid technology changes, June 30, 2015
Many commented favourably on this book. I try to add something new. The basic plot of a group of contemporary humans thrust into a more primitive arena has been well fleshed out by others. Like Pournelle in his Janissary series, Steven Stirling with his Nantucket books and of course Eric Flint with Grantville. I am only looking at plots where more than one person from our time goes awry. Sorry Lord Kalvan! And I equate scenarios where the humans go back in time or go back into a different dimension (Nantucket and Grantville) with the humans going to another planet (Janissary). Of these books, Janissary is actually the closest to Williamson, depicting US mercenaries plonked unceremoniously elsewhere.

All the books have the character effectively go to societies centuries if not millennia behind the contemporaries. But what is contemporary? Ironically you can trawl the books to see how relatively short time spans in that meaning gave different consequences once the humans were in exile. Janissary was written and set in the late 70s. In once scene, Rick Galloway, the mercenary leader, uses his calculator to write down the log tables, before the batteries run out. He does not have a solar powered calculator, because those did not become common till the 80s. And he and his men have no portable computers, of course.

Forward to Stirling's Nantucket. Written in the mid 90s and set in 1998. Now the narrative talks of Internet withdrawal, of those who could not longer get fixes from being on the Internet. There are workstations, carefully mothballed and brought out only for special uses, like running CAD packages.

Flint's Grantville hails from the noughties onwards. Now cellphones make their appearance, including on the cover of one novel.

Finally we get to this book. Set in 2012 and 15 000 years hence. All the soldiers have their own laptops it seems, along with portable music players and cellphones. These recur in many scenes. Strikingly, they do not do much writing on paper, because they have so little of it. Instead they plan on their computers, using Powerpoint and other software packages common to us. A scenario that shows an original take quite separate from those of earlier works.

The irony is how a comparative study across novels shows that the short time spans between their writings translates into plot consequences even after being transported centuries or more. Reflecting the rapid technology changes we've experienced.


Dart Cookbook
Dart Cookbook
by Ivo Balbaert
Edition: Paperback
Price: $40.49
28 used & new from $35.00

4.0 out of 5 stars ample examples, June 12, 2015
This review is from: Dart Cookbook (Paperback)
The unified aspect of Dart is its raison d'etre, of course, if you have heard of Dart before. One nice aspect of this book is how it gives many recipes for common problems you are likely to meet in the course of learning or applying Dart. Not surprisingly, since Google originated Dart, there are deep connections to the Google Chrome browser. For some of you, that will be another reason to delve into this book carefully.

The chapter on Web applications is the best way to see how Dart and Chrome can be integrated easily. More broadly, this and other chapters give links to further documentation online. Where you might get other apps whose source code is accessible; letting you extend them as good learning exercises. Another plus is the use of examples involving WebSockets. The latter let you make web pages that are far more interactive than traditional HTML pages.

Experience with data formatted in JSON would help in the web server side discussions. Nothing really hard about this in any event.


The Savior (Raj Whitehall Book 10)
The Savior (Raj Whitehall Book 10)
Price: $6.99

2.0 out of 5 stars mistake in first combat scene, May 30, 2015
This book starts badly. The first combat scene, in the first chapter, has a huge flaw. Abel Dashian, the hero, has his squad of troops ambushed by a group of attackers firing arrows. He takes 3 of his men and goes around the attackers. So now they are behind the attackers, who are all aiming at the larger group of Abel's troops. He shouts, not whispers, "Fire". He fires a pistol and his men fire muskets at the attackers. 3 attackers are killed. Abel and his men charge the attackers with bayonets on their rifles. (Abel was also carrying a rifle.) The book describes how he skewers an attacker who is the closest to him and his men, AND who is facing the main group of Abel's men. Next, an attacker shouts to his combrades, "turn around".

The bayoneting of an attacker in his back by Abel is flawed. The attackers would have to be deaf not to hear the 4 firearms go off. But suppose they were. When 3 of them were hit in the back by the bullets, and killed, the survivors would surely have noticed. They would have seen and heard this. Especially because they were firing arrows. Their bows (arbalasts) are silent compared to guns. Many would have immediately turned around. This would have been far quicker than the time it took for Abel and his men to run at them. Abel should not have been able to bayonet anyone in the back.

Such a gaping error ruined the entire book for me. If you doubt the above, try reading the first chapter slowly.

How Daniel made this error is troubling, and points to the second rate nature of the book. I enjoyed the earlier books cowritten by S M Stirling. In those, Stirling did most of the writing, while Drake supplied the plot outline. The battle scenes were graphic and interesting and the plots moved along. In this book, Daniel is responsible for the writing. Stirling would never have committed such a flaw. Ditto for Drake, for the books where he was the only author.

There are around 27 earlier reviews. None apparently read carefully.

I concur with other reviewers who found the plot plodding. The jarring back and forth in time was badly done. And overall, things moved too slowly. Daniel spends much time in the jumping back in time to before the main plot thread, to build background about the characters. But awkwardly done.

One minor aspect that is interesting is an unavoidable comparison with David Weber's Safehold series. Those depict a civilisation at roughly the same level as this book. With a dictatorial theocracy that halts all progress, on pain of terrible penalties. The Temple uses a leftover supercomputer. Sound familiar? The twist in the current book is that the hero works for the theocracy.


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