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Book Review – In The Tall Grass by Stephen King and Joe Hill

My wife and I listened to the audiobook format of this novella while driving home from visiting family Christmas night. Before I get into the book itself, I would like to say that I enjoyed Stephen Lang’s reading of the story and would be interested in hearing more of his audiobook work.

One of the traits I enjoy about Stephen King’s writing is that he writes very compelling characters. They’re very much human beings, some good, some bad, all with their faults and personality quirks from how their lives have treated them. The characters of Becky and Cal DeMuth are no exception. I found myself liking them as people before they even reached the field of tall grass where most of the story takes place. They are also, not surprisingly, both New Englanders. This isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, I find it a little amusing.

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Books

Book Review: Building the Perfect PC, 3rd Edition

I have a confession which may cost me a large portion of my geek cred.

I have never built my own PC.

This is not to say that I haven’t upgraded PCs, both my own and those owned by clients of the company I work for. I’ve installed RAM, hard drives, optical drives, and power supplies. I’m halfway to building my own PC, so why haven’t I taken the plunge? Put simply, it’s just been easier to go online to the Dell Outlet and buy what I want. For example, the laptop I’m typing this review on, a Dell Studio 15, I picked up last year for under $600. Here’s the thing, though: Dell and other retail PC sellers keep their prices down by using low end parts which have failure rates higher than normal. While you usually get a one year warranty on the PC you buy, you’re out of luck if something breaks after that year ends. While building a PC on your own may cost more, the quality and piece of mind you get are more than worth the cost difference.

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Books

Book Review: Employment Rage by Howard Adamsky

Howard Adamsky is mad as hell and he isn’t going to take it anymore. Unlike Howard Beale, who uttered that famous phrase, Mr. Adamsky is real and is talking about the current crisis with America’s unemployment.

Adamsky is the author of Employment Rage, a book he felt compelled to write through both personal experience and anger with the current employment situation. Adamsky is a professional recruiter with over 25 years of experience, both as an employee himself and as a consultant. Adamsky has watched as many strong candidates for employment have struggled as companies string them along, putting them through multiple interviews for a position, repeatedly changing the definition of what that position entails, and even holding against them the very drive which led them to take the interview in the first place. Apparently, not having a job is a strike against you in a world where some states are experiencing 10% unemployment. Adamsky feels (and I agree) that this situation should make any American’s blood boil as the American Dream becomes more and more elusive.

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Books

Book Review: Baseball’s First Lady by Joan M. Thomas

 

As a fan of the game of baseball, I have a strong interest in the history of the game. My focus on that history, though, has always been with what happens on the field. When it comes to the board room and the world of ownership, my historical knowledge is rather lacking. Outside of what I’ve read in the Indians’ media guide and books written by Terry Pluto, I know almost nothing.

When the opportunity came to review a book focusing on the first woman owner of a baseball club, I jumped at the chance. Considering the historical significance of Helene Hathaway Robison Britton, both in baseball and in the early 20th century’s women’s rights movement, I felt I had a chance to begin filling a gap in my historical awareness. This book, while only 141 pages, exceeded my expectations.

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Books Reviews

Book Review: The Art of Community

My first exposure to Jono Bacon was when he was the host of the FLOSS Weekly podcast on the TWiT podcast network. I really enjoyed his personality and British wit, but, outside of having used the Ubuntu Linux operating system on occasion, I knew little about Jono’s role as Community Administrator at Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, much less why such a position would be useful, for Ubuntu our for any organization. After reading Jono’s book, The Art of Community, I have a much clearer understanding of not only how important it is to support a strong community, but also what it takes to build and fortify a community to be strong.

As I mentioned before, Jono Bacon is the Community Manager for Ubuntu. As a prominent and successful open source operating system, Ubuntu has a large community of proponents, made up of a diverse population of users, developers, documentation experts, and many other areas of expertise and interest. Keeping a community of this size happy, actively involved, and organized is no small task. Jono has taken his experience with the Ubuntu community, as well as with other communities he has been involved with, and passed that knowledge to us.

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Books

Book Review: Helix

One thing I like about science fiction is that stories can take place in the distant future. This doesn’t seem to me like a plot device which would work in other genres, especially one like romance where the future is hardly romantic. Setting a story hundreds of years in the future means that you can pretty much do whatever you want. After all, none of your readers will be alive by then (you hope) and you can be as technologically advanced or restricted as you like. That was one of the things which attracted me to J.L. Bryan’s book, Helix, and it wasn’t the only thing I liked while reading his story.

Helix takes place in the 28th century. Man has spread out from Earth, building many space colonies throughout the solar system.The colonies are even more diverse than the nations of Earth today, but all are subject to the United Nations’ rule, paying taxes and sending food and supplies back to the planet. One of these colonies, New Amsterdam, is home to Nicholas Vermeer, the protagonist of the story, and his wife Kemala. The book opens on a very special day for the couple as they are about to gain permission from their religion, the Aescelan, to design their future child. The Aescelan believe in the sanctity of life itself and, as a result, followers must be blessed by their priests to have children. What’s more, these children are genetically engineered, both to ensure they are not born with defects and to endow them with skills and abilities which are necessary to Aescelan society.

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Books

Book Review: Microsoft Access 2010 Plain & Simple

I can thank Microsoft Access for helping me break into the IT industry. Over a decade ago, I was working as a data entry temp at a company creating a database of motorcycle parts and accessories for an online catalog they were developing. We were using Microsoft Access 2000 to enter the data. Fortunately for me, we went beyond simple tables while entering our data, creating queries which helped us remove duplicate entries and double check our work. I even wrote my first basic SQL queries in Access during this job, and my desire and ability to learn how to utilize Access to its fullest abilities was noticed by the project supervisors, leading to my first full time technology job. Access has changed a lot in the time since I first played with the toy. Fortunately, there is a great book which Access users of any skill level can turn to for help learning the ins and outs of the latest iteration of the program.