Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, Book 1)

When Tessa Gray arrives in London on a ship from New York, she's eager to see her brother, Nate. But before she can find him, she's intercepted by two women, known as the Dark Sisters, who kidnap her and force her to learn how to use the strange magical powers she never knew she had, all the while promising her that she is lucky, and she will soon meet the sinister Magister. Terrified and confused, Tessa is rescued by two young Shadowhunters , Will and Jem, and is taken to The London Institute, where she learns that her powers are just the beginning of a strange, magical world she never knew existed, full of wonder, but also full of hate, prejudice, and danger...and Tessa is in the center of it.

Clockwork Angel, the first in Cassandra Clare's new Infernal Devices trilogy, is a descriptive and elaborate book and a strong start to what is sure to be another knock-out trilogy. It takes about thirty pages or so before the book, which is set in the Victorian era, to reach familiar ground readers might be looking for, but once it does, the book unfolds quickly and smoothly. The times dictate that the mannerisms are a bit more refined in the characters, but Clare manages to sneak in plenty of humor and fun alongside the darker and riskier action scenes. There are a plethora of excellent new characters readers are introduced to, and each one is very realistic, and many have their secrets and mysteries--for Tessa, it is her heritage, and Will and Jem both have hazy backgrounds that are bound to become bigger issues later on.

One conflict that Clare portrays quite well was the struggle for the women Shadowhunters to be proper young ladies and women that society demands while balancing the Shadowhunters' need for strong fighters. Two characters, Jessamine and Charlotte, while on opposite ends of the controversy, both have to deal with it in their own way, and it's an issue that sets Clockwork Angel apart from Clare's previous work while at the same time making the setting more believable.

The idea of a clockwork army is brilliant, and the forethought and plotting that went into the book is impressive. There are plenty of intriguing mysteries and labyrinthine twists toward the end that will leave the reader far from where they were at the beginning of the book. Clare's talent for writing well-developed and entertaining characters and her fearlessness when it comes to creating dramatic, complicated conclusions to her books will garner Clockwork Angel plenty of attention and will leave readers impatient for the sequel.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition

What an excellent book!!! I had issues finding it, but once I found it on Amazon.com , they sent it to me in record time. I knew nothing about APA (not much more now either...), but at least I have a guideline to follow. Well worth the effort to get it!

It's a good book. It ties up all the loose ends with regard to the new APA changes from the previous edition.  This APA Manual was a great for less than a dollar . I am a doctoral student and we are able to use the 5th Edition for our dissertation because we were grandfathered in upon entering our program of studies before the sixth edition was published.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Easier event scheduling in Google Calendar - Official Gmail Blog

Easier event scheduling in Google Calendar - Official Gmail Blog

Now, it should be much simpler to schedule events in the latest Google calendar. If like me you spend time working all day on your computer, this is definitely going to come in very handy. Be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones

These Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones are great headphones overall for someone who isn't interested in spending a ton of money on headphones. It has great treble and bass levels (enough so that you can tell its there but not so much that you get a headache after an hour). The design is sleek and not bulky like some other headphones out there.

I have a slightly larger head size than other people so I find that these sennheiser headphones are rather small for me. I have to set them to their largest size and even then, the headphones press down on my head, however, the well cushioned headband helps to offset the discomfort. Also, the earpieces are smaller than usual so if I wear them for more than 2 hours at a time, my ear will be slightly chafed and sensitive. Also, the mateirial the covers are made out of makes it rather inefficient at canceling out sound. If I wear them, I can still clearly hear people talking around me. The last part about these Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones that I'm not really thrilled about is its 10 ft cord. I being a person who takes these to school with me and everywhere else practically find that this is very annoying. The headphones do have a plastic clip that you can wind excess cord around to shorten its length however its not very secure. If I move even a little,the whole roll of wire comes undone.

Besides that, it is a great set of headphones. It does not seal in sound very well so even at 50% sound on my ipod, people will still complain about being able to hear my music.

For devoted techno and metal enthusiasts, I would not recommend this product due to its tendancy to crackle at higher pitches and volumes.

Anyway, these Sennheiser HD 202 Headphones  were completley worth the $30 I paid for them. I've been using them for 4 monthes so far and there haven't been any defects with the product.

Monday, August 23, 2010

PC Repair carried remotey online

One of the magical things about modern technologies is the way they have changed things. Most things that we used to do that required weeks, if not months to do, no takes seconds or minutes (depending on how much further effort is required). I remember when we used to wait weeks on end for a technician to come over and get our computer fixed. And when they eventually turned up, there would be one thing or another that needs replacing; so it turns into backwards and forwards trip before it eventually gets fixed.

But nowadays, everything happens instantaneously - there's no more waiting ages for your computer to be inspected and then fixed, which could drag into weeks, if not months. PC Repair has changed dramatically. In fact, it does not apply to PC Repair alone, banking and other vital financial and supply chain industries have all embraced the modern computer technology. Gone are those days when you would have to wait for just about anything for a period of a week or more before you get any response. Sending letters took weeks to arrive and another to get a reply - in most cases, the round trip could take over a month. By the time the full circle completes, the initial reason for the letter would have been resolved.

Which is why I love the way most PC Repair shops work these days. My computer was having problem with the screen. Every once in a while, I would notice a blink on the screen, just like a flash light. I thought it was something to do with my sight. But I took it seriously when my friend also noticed it and told me there was a quick flash across the screen. So, not risking losing my work and vital data on my computer, I contacted the PC Repair guys who quickly used one of their remote tools to connect and fix the problem.

For the last couple months I have not noticed another flash. It did not take long to get right, in fact, nothing was replaced as I feared, he only updated a graphic card driver and asked that I restart the computer.

So, have you used a remote support before, did it go well? If not, what ever your experience please share with us.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Cobra - Frederick Forsyth

A new Forsyth thriller -- I was delighted! However, this solution to the cocaine problem, using one ingenious, ruthless man to mastermind the whole project (carte blanche, no holds barred) didn't turn out so well as the author intended. Essentially, it was good guys against bad guys, and no character development of anyone in the story. (The amoral leaders of both sides were purportedly devout Catholics. Did Forsyth run afoul of a nun or cleric at one time? Sounded like he had an axe to grind.)

The first two thirds of the story was finely tuned plotting, so I could hardly wait to see where it all was going to go.

The last third of the story just fell apart. No telling where or how the solutions developed, so it lacked coherence. Maybe I was reading too fast or something. I would go back and read it over again to see what I missed, but it wasn't that good.

The best part was just at the beginning, the ten-thousand word summary of the cocaine business -- that was informative.

My favorite books by this author were "The Fist of God," "The Day of the Jackal," and "The Eye of the Needle," all way much better storytelling than The Cobra.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Comparing Latest Amazon Kindles Made Easy

If you have been thinking of getting yourself a Kindle like me, then this is the sort of post you should read. We all know how confusing things can get when it comes to buying something - all of a sudden you are confronted with many versions of the same product; making it even harder to remember which one it was you initially wanted.

The same thing applies to Amazon Kindle. A work colleague bought one that looks very portable and sleek. Being the sort of person I am, I thought I won't need to go through the hassles of checking every device before settling on one. Given that my colleague already has one, it would make sense to get the same.

But things aren't that easy these days where technologies change and move on over night. The Kindle I wanted all of a sudden is now an antique - forcing me to look for something more modern and up to-date. With that in mind I headed to Amazon and browsed around for the latest models. The funny thing was that the more I looked around the more confused I became. Why can't they make things easy for those of us who are not techies savvy. Lo and behold, it looks like they read my mind and decided to make things alot easier.

So, seeing how things have improved since the last time I checked, I thought I would post the link here for anyone else who is in need of one of those Shiny Amazon Kindles and would like a detailed and comprehensive comparison between all the different  models to help you make you choice. Here's the link. Check it out and leave your comments.

If you find the comparison page useful, please share your thoughts here with other readers.
Good luck!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food

Alton Brown fans take note! You need a copy of Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks and Good Food. Seriously, this book takes everything I enjoy about Alton's shows and combines them into a book for the beginner, novice and pro alike.

Sure some recipes may seem basic. Extremely basic actually. It may seem weird to some that there are people who cannot even scramble an egg, but I've learned from experience that these people do exist. When my neighbour came flying out her house with a smoking pan, it had simply contained olive oil and water for boiling pasta but she'd turned on her stove and forgotten all about it. It became apparent that people can even burn water if given the opportunity.

Everything you need to know about cooking is in this book. From kitchen set-up and equipment to simple tips like reading a recipe completely before getting started, Cooking for Geeks has everything you need to start preparing home-cooked meals.

The book offers more than 400 pages of tips, recipes and even interviews with geeks of today. I loved reading Mythbuster's Adam Savage share his love of science and cooking. Learn easy recipes like a 30-Second Chocolate Cake or ones that may seem a little tougher like Butterflied Chicken. By the time you're done, you'll understand that kitchen and be able to whip together nutritious meals for yourself and others.

It's a very rare event that I come across a review book that I feel I must rush out and purchase a copy as soon as it is released. This is one of those situations. I can't imagine NOT owning this cookbook and I love to cook and know more than the basics already. With outstanding recipes, entertaining interviews and witty writing, this is definitely a book you should hand your friends, family and especially neighbours who do come running out of their home with flaming pans.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pro Android Games

This book will be obsolete ~6 months from now after the Android team removes its collective cranium from its collective digestive endpoint in response to the IPhone continuing to clobber it with better games despite the frustratingly unexposed hardware superiority of recent Android phones like the Droid and the Nexus One. And that time will be the moment they release the Android equivalent of DirectX. Interpreted Java without a JIT to back it up crossed with some very limited media APIs just isn't enough to compete with compiled C and a much more robust media API on the IPhone.

And I apologize for the short editorial, but I need it to set the stage for why you should indeed buy this book even though it will soon be irrelevant.

For if you need to write native-level games now, this is the book to buy, now. It's full of typos, it needed another round of proofreading, and it's already dated somewhat by NDK 1.6, but it shows how to get games like Wolf3D and Doom running in C on the Android and it's in print rather than out there on a set of disparate web pages. There's nothing else out there like it at the moment.

5 stars for content as it really does deliver on the goods and 3 stars for coherency and lack of sufficient proofreading.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

iPhone and iPad Apps for Absolute Beginners

First, to all the people giving low ratings because of a few typos - Get Over It! Any first printing of a technical book like this will have them, especially when things like the OS, SDK and dev tools are updated all the time. You have to judge the book on it's content, not a few mistakes in printing.

As for the book, this is EXACTLY what I needed. I've never programmed any iPhpne before in my life, but like everyone else I want to learn iPhone programming & make a million dollars. :P

I started with a few other "beginning iPhone programming" books and every one of them was way too out of my league. Inevitably the first chapter would say "You need to know Objective-C first...". So I'd grab a book on Objective-C for beginners and that would be over my head & the first chapter of those would say "You need to know C first..." So I'd grab a book on C for beginners. The one thing all of these books had in common was THEY DIDN'T EXPLAIN WHY THINGS WORK. So after reading a couple books on C, a couple on Objective-C, I was still completely lost when I started on the iPhone books.

Then I found this book. It is really the start I needed. Things are explained quite well and I was finally able to actually understand what I was doing, not just memorizing code. When learning something this foreign, it is much more helpful to have it explained thus; "This piece of code controls... and make the program do this..." or "This bit of code makes... happen because...". Analogies are used in a terrific way so you can understand the mechanics behind it all.

To use an analogy, if you never worked on a car engine,it would be far more helpful if someone explained what a spark-plug does than just telling you you need to have them. That is the kind of teaching Dr. Lewis provides in this book. I can't praise it and thank him enough for writing it & can't wait for more from him.

As for the typos (and there are really only a few), I actually benefited because it gave me a bit of a crash course in debugging and figuring out how things should really work. If you get confused or lost because of them, don't fret it, just come to the forum for this book and one of us will be happy to help out. [...]

If you are like me, "An Absolute Beginner, then you'll be hard pressed to find a better book to get you started. Trust me, I wasted many months trying.
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