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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