Book Review: Fascism, A WARNING by Madeleine Albright

 

As many of you are probably aware, I just finished, FASCISM – A WARNING by Madeleine Albright. While I do not normally review political books here, because you will never win a political argument, there is an amazing amount of history in this book with each piece followed up with opinion, however, the book is informative and entertaining. While much of it was a history recap and brilliantly written, the last few chapters seem to be a combination of facts and opinion. These last chapters were my favorite sections because I think it truly brings out what a divided nation we have become.

Below are two bad dreams – one that convinces liberals that the right are Fascists and two, the nightmare that drove citizens to vote for Trump. In the end, both parties are on the brink of either Social Fascism or Nationalist Fascism. There is also a third dream in the book that focuses on terrorism “within” the United States and a world where the United States just becomes like other middle east countries and bombings and killing is just part of life, and we all end up being barbarians- ridiculous rules where we can’t even stop terrorism because of offending a group of people – PC gone really bad. Again, I highly recommend this book for everyone on the right, everyone in the center, and of course the left. The book is filled with all kinds of “bad directions” Trump is taking us and from the many stories told in the book, only time will tell.

“Envision Uncle Same in his long white nightshirt, tossing and turning, his sleep disturbed by three very bad dreams:
In the first, reactionary billionaires conspire to monopolize media platforms and pour their riches into campaigns of favored candidates who, when in office, ensure the selection of complaint judges. Laws are enacted to ban Muslim immigrants, criminalize abortions, unfairly restrict voting, divert funding for public education to private schools, and drill for oil here, there, and everywhere. The president is given full authority to issue or revoke broadcasting licenses, expand Guantánamo to include domestic criminal suspects, and bar investigations of himself. From cradle to grave, an increasing number of citizens spend their lives within a conservative echo chamber, where they watch nothing but Fox News, memorize Breitbart catechism, and learn only what goose-stepping right-wingers want them to know. Finally, as climate change advances and epic floods inundate our cities, heavily armed civilian militias are organized to protect private property, made bold by the promise of presidential pardons should anyone pull a trigger in “self-defense”.

 

Nightmare number two: Wealthy liberals from Hollywood and New York invest their money in favored candidates who, when elected, conspire to enforce rigid standards of political correctness across all major institutions of society- government, police, media, sports, theater, universities, and kindergarten classrooms. Anyone who violates these vague and unwritten norms, or is accused of having done so, is labeled a bigot and fired. Right-wing speakers are barred from public gatherings because their exercise of free speech might injure the sensitivities of club-wielding anti-Fascists. Gender-specific bathrooms are banned as discriminatory, and terrorists pour across our borders because to stop them would require racial profiling. The Second Amendment is repealed, fossil fuels are prohibited, and an increasing number of citizens spend their entire lives within a Socialist echo chamber, leaning only what Fascist liberals want them to know”. – Madeleine Albright, Fascism – A WARNING.

 

I think our country is being led by party members that are so extreme that any one of the three “bad dreams” in this book, while meant to be exaggerations, will most likely hit home for many of my readers and friends – on both sides. I see the arguments and I see the passion on both sides; knowing these people personally at some point in my life, they surely aren’t the villains my opposite friends call them out to be. We need to see the danger on both sides, whether it’s ANTIFA or some Neo-Nazi group demonstrating, provoking, or calling for violence, we need to always remember what that leads to, and where it has led us to in the past.

 

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Book Review: multipliers – how the best leaders make everyone smarter

This was an excellent book from the beginning to end. The book introduces the concept of multipliers and diminishers. It also does a great job providing many examples of both. By the end, you realize there are characteristics of both diminisher and multiplier within you, however, we all try to be multipliers to some extent because we want our teams to succeed with us. I especially liked the aspect as described in the book that sometimes you have to be a diminisher – sometimes the performance is so bad the team needs to be reset, ego’s are too high and production now suffers from too many “pre-madonna’s”.  In the end, you have to realize you have smart people working for you and challenge them. Give them responsibility, give them a challenge, and most of all, allow them to grow!

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do – Steve Jobs

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Book Review: Learn To Program with Minecraft

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Ok, I know it has been a long time since I did a book review but I really like this book and now I am trying to get my son to go through it.

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Bob’s review of the Apple Watch

I wasn’t sure if I would ever get the Apple Watch but when my health plan offered one at an amazing price I had to give it a go.

First off, I researched the size of the watch I should get. After watching a video on YouTube I realized I should get the larger 42mm one and boy was I correct. I am an average sized guy and as you can see from the picture my wrists are not huge. The 42mm ended up being perfect but I did opt for the smaller band that came in the package. So basically if you are a man you will most likely want the bigger face.

My favorite thing about the watch is the activity monitor and sports application. Because I bought this through my health insurance I am actually reporting all of my activity to their application. This will then allow me to receive my rebate at the end of the year without manually entering work outs. So the problem is, I am basically addicted to the statistics now. I find myself going for another walk or working out just to get the next medal or achievement. It is also interesting when I was sitting all day watching the NFL playoffs I was told multiple times by the watch “Time to get up!”, reminding me of how lazy I am – at least on a Sunday. It is interesting that I could run for 3 miles and workout for 40 minutes (lifting weights) and this records as a Light Workout! Anyway, looking at your actually physical activity is very interesting to me and being pushed to do more than I did the day before actually works.

My next favorite feature is the remote camera. This is where you can set your camera down somewhere, walk away and take the picture by looking at your phone. Below is a picture of my Apple Watch connected to my phones camera:

Apple Watch Camera

It wouldn’t be a review if I didn’t review the battery. I have been wearing my watch daily for about 3 weeks. It looks like I average about 50-60% usage a day. I could probably go two days if I really stretched it or knew I wouldn’t be able to recharge for a bit I might be able to go three days or more. I really wanted to monitor my sleep with a sleep application but I didn’t see any app that does motion plus sleep time. (I want to know how restless I am between times). So given the battery basically uses 50% or more juice a day I just put my watch on the charger each night.

Using my phone for navigation on business trips is great!  I just set my phone up, start the navigation and my watch takes control from there. I get reminders (audio and physical) for every turn and its very easy to quickly look down on your wrist versus holding or grabbing the cell phone. It is much less distracting and keeps both hands on the wheel. You can even start navigation right from  your watch:

Apple Watch Navigation

Lastly, I don’t hold my phone as much any longer. I get notified for text messages, emails, etc and instead of picking up the phone I just look at my watch to decide if I need to respond. This has really changed my cell phone behavior, basically if I am in the house I no longer carry my phone around. I have even texted via the audio translation to text feature and I think it has worked better than the iphone! If you can get passed the fact you look like Maxwell Smart (a.k.a. Agent 86), this is a pretty nice gadget addition.

Book Review: jQuery Hotshot

Did you ever go to a web site and think, wow, how did they do that? Or, wouldn’t that be cool to write? I know I do.

Well, this book is filled with 10 small projects you can use in real life. So unlike an API book where it focuses on the small granular API calls this book focuses on completed solutions.

It starts off in the preface with a high level summary of what jQuery is and the basic concepts of the API so you really don’t even have to know jQuery to read this book. You do however need to know HTML and JavaScript basics but I will add, all of the source code is available and the massive 296 page book does a great job going step by step. The beauty of the book is it covers a lot of areas for where jQuery can be used – from developing games to building your own jQuery. Many of the techniques used in the book are very creative and well thought through.  Each project has plenty of screen shots and narrative to help you digest the content. Did I mention all of the source code is downloadable? Yep, so you can casually read the book and then go back and play with the finished source code if you wanted.

From beginner to advanced this book is a valuable resource to see how different things can be done with jQuery. It mixes some really good JavaScript API’s along with jQuery API’s to create real life projects.

Well done Dan Wellman.

Book Review: Creating an MP3 Player with HTML5

Don’t let the size of this book fool you, the content is extremely well written and while providing the very basics of programming in HTML5 it also highlights many tips and tricks all throughout the book. As the title states, the book is a step by step guide for creating the MP3 player from scratch in HTML5 and JavaScript. It covers a lot of material from page to page but presents it in a very easy to read way. I actually read the book from front to back first and then I went through and actually wrote the code and skimmed back through the book. The entire process took less than a couple of hours, if that. I am a pretty experienced programmer so much of the information was not new to me but I really liked the way the author has written this and I actually learned a few tips around the HTML5 player object. If you are trying to learn HTML5 I think books like this are excellent. Any book that is written in the “by example” format is a great way to learn programming.

My first day with the Microsoft Surface – this is no tablet

surfaceI now see the attraction of the Microsoft Surface. While it has been documented, written about, reviewed, etc by many and in a sense does not get the recognition some of the other tablets get I think it is clearly getting short changed. And the reason is…

This is not a tablet, its a PC. It does pretty much everything my laptop and desktop can do and a whole lot more. The “tablet” is very thin and compares nicely against the other tablets on the market. I have the 128GB model and it seems to be so much memory when compared to my 64GB iPad.  It has the cameras on both sides, very cool. It comes with Skype, once again any PC app should install on the device – priceless. The actual tablet itself seems very stylish and sturdy. I remember when I got the iPad and thought “what a solid design”, I had the exact same impression when I first held the Surface. Since I have a Microsoft Account for XBox and I have Windows 8 on my personal laptop the instant I logged in with that account ID I had all of my cloud pictures, songs, etc. Brilliant!

Some of the key things I really like about the Surface:

  • The large screen resolution (1920×1080) is brilliant.
  • Having the option to go to “Desktop” brings back the PC experience
  • Putting a PC app like Chrome into full screen mode is a simple swipe – I am sure there are many little shortcuts out there
  • The USB stick, enough said. iPad’s clearly need this option – the cloud, network, wifi, whatever doesn’t always work and getting files to/from an iPad is difficult. Not too mention the iPad isn’t a PC

Some of the things I either don’t understand or don’t know how to do:

  • I do not have a keyboard so navigating or typing in fields is a little cumbersome today. For instance, web fields in Chrome the virtual keyboard shows and disappears quickly.
  • The stylus is a little flaky, it has a magnetic sensor it

I would be interested in hearing others reviews on this. Since I have only had this a couple of days I might end up writing a new review after some extended use.

Some other positive reviews on the net:

 

 

 

LeetPress – a great game review WordPress theme

A few weeks ago my youngest son Nathan and I talked about creating a game review blog. I figured this would be a great learning exercise for him and make “gaming” into a positive by applying critical thinking. The idea is he gets a new game on the xBox, Wii, iPad, etc and he has to write a review of the game in a notepad I gave him. So far he loves the idea and has written up some pretty impressive reviews. I do minor edits to his reviews but in general he does most of the writing behind them.

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Blog and video stats for 2011

I started keeping stats in 2010 and it looks like 2010 was a “better” year for hits and posts, most likely because I blogged a lot about Lotus and Eclipse stuff more (about twice as many posts) that year than 2011. This site generated 88,815 hits for the year in 2011 and 68,443 in 2010 (minus three months of logging statistics).

The home page is by far the most active hit, probably because of my blog URL on all of my social site profiles (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc).

Title Views
Home page 12,951
Window Builder for Eclipse – for SWT, RCP and SWING UI’s 1,628
Is GWT the future of web development? 1,561
Finding the XPath in Internet Explorer 1,344
plugin_customization.ini and Eclipse preferences 1,253
How does Facebook serve millions so fast? BigPipe 988
Flash, HTML5, Java, Silverlight – which one would you use? 864
Which Java sort is faster – MergeSort, QuickSort or Arrays.sort? 850
Eclipse announces move to .NET and away from Java 815
Kick ass Group Calendar for Lotus Notes 800
New Lotus Notes Attachment Viewer 2.0.1 posted 789
Eclipse 3.7 is available for download! 711
Java tops the list of “in-demand” and highest paid skills! 684
Will Java 8 bring in OSGI? 615
Where are all of these Eclipse preferences stored? 613
HTML5, CSS and Dojo it is 571
Quick tip: Using Sametime Emoticons for quick text 558
A great Lotus Notes Composite Application tutorial 539
Expensify CEO: Why We Don’t Hire .NET Programmers 535
Free charting in Lotus Notes 530
Dojo.query and forEach loop, a powerful combination 530
QuickTip Video: Using Eclipse’s Auto-Complete feature 520
Learning the Eclipse RCP by Lars Vogel 509
Extending Notes Mail – Mail Rule utility update for Notes 8.5 504

I did have a fairly good year of video viewers on YouTube with 6765 views of for the year. I am glad to see some WebSphere Commerce videos in that top 10 list but it looks like the Lotus and Eclipse ones still reign.

 

 

Revenge for bad reviews

It does not surprise me if this is true. I have often thought that if I gave a bad review something like that could happen (not that I have a book on Amazon though…) and that is one of the primary reasons I only review things I like or at least attempt to find positives in the things I review.

Freelance reviewer T. Michael Murdock reamed Conduit 2 earlier this month on gaming blog Joystiq, giving the Wii shooter one star out of five. Within a day, several negative reviews sprang up on the Amazon.com listing for Murdock’s book, The Dragon Ruby, which is linked in the writer’s Joystiq byline. Some of the reviews have since been deleted.