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I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

23rd August 2012

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'Fitness for Geeks: Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health' - Bruce W. Perry; O'reilly Media

Book provided by O’reilly Media as part of their Blogger Review Program.  The reviewer maybe cheap, but his integrity isn’t.

Fitness for Geeks cover

O’reilly Media is perhaps best know for a series of programming and technical books all adorned with animal images on the cover.  They have been one of the mainstays of technical publications for quite awhile and in recent years have branched out from the purely technical with offers such as ‘Cooking for Geeks’ and this book published in April of this year.

'Fitness for Geeks' is an all encompassing look at nutrition, exercise, and rest in a way that appeals to the typical geek's mind.  There is quantitative analysis, scientific studies, hands-on experiments, and gadgets.  Quite honestly it takes the seemingly dull routine of maintaining a healthy body and turns it up to 11.

From the outset the author makes it clear that this isn’t a book that necessarily advocates one type of exercise/diet plan/gadget/website over another.  This book presents the facts and data to inform you for whatever choices you may or may not make.  The topics range from a description of micro-nutrients and macro-nutrients to descriptions of various weight lifting and cardio routines to an in-depth look at the key role rest plays in making us healthy.

The book is arranged in a way that makes it easy to access any particular subject in any particular order.  You do not have to sit down and read this book cover to cover, you can pick and choose a chapter as you feel led.  It is this aspect of the writing that I find to be the most ripe for a bit of criticism.  

If you choose to read this book from cover to cover you may find yourself wondering if there is duplication that could be edited out.  Because ideas in one chapter can directly link to ideas described in other chapters, the author’s tendency leaned towards a sentence or two overview with a note pointing to the relevant chapter.  I’ll be upfront and say there probably wasn’t a better way to handle the information and had I not been reading this from start to end for review purposes, I probably would not have noticed it.  However, I know I can’t possibly be the only one with an obsessive compulsive need for order in this world, so I’m giving this forewarning.

Overall I found this book to be a good foundation for exercise and nutrition.  There are plenty of notes throughout referencing other studies and papers for extended reading and plenty of websites and gadgets are mentioned to aid in the quest for a healthier you.

If you think walking to the 2nd floor printer to get your print-out is good, daily exercise, you need to read this book.  If you think throwing a handful of shredded broccoli into your cup o noodles every now and then  or adding green pepper to your pizza is eating healthy, you need to read this book.

4 stars.

Tagged: Fitness for GeeksBruce W. PerryO'reilly Mediareviewexercisehealthfood

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23rd August 2012

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Follow-up to Linux Journal bit

In reloading my tablet I’ve found that most magazines mentioned in the article do in fact have an Android app version.  One that makes you pay for another subscription, much to the ire of just about anyone that is currently subscribing if the reviews in the Google Play store are indication.

That’s another strike on the publishers.

Tagged: Follow-upAndroidmagazinesbad publisher;no biscuit

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1st August 2012

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Linux Journal gets it right(and what other publishers can learn from it)

I subscribe to a handful of print magazines that I find myself unable to keep up with as often as I would like to each month.  In the past month or so I picked up a cheap Android tablet at Kohl’s that isn’t going to win any head to head battles with more expensive tablets, but stands fairly well as a web surfing, ebook reading  platform.  One of the apps I downloaded was Linux Journal’s app so I could read the magazine somewhere other than on my computer.

I love it.  They’ve translated the magazine quite well into an electronic format PLUS they’ve translated the articles into a text only format that works really well on my iPhone.  This is how magazines should be doing it.  It has me reading the magazine on a regular basis and it got me to thinking about other magazines to which I subscribe.  I know many of them offer electronic versions free with a monthly subscription.

Then the air was let out of my balloon of excitement.  Yes, many have e-versions, but they are iPad specific or, if they have another version, they are keyed to Kindle Fire or Nook specifically.  This leaves out a whole segment of the computer using population and is, in many ways, a grievous error on their part.  Granted there are many people who don’t like the magazine format anymore.

The delay from writing, to proofing, to printing, to the newsstand makes it exponentially more difficult to have a magazine that doesn’t have stale information.  This is a good point, so magazines have to shift their thinking.  Write informational articles more and news articles less.  Not difficult in the case of the magazines I read, but a necessary approach no matter which magazine is being printed.  Magazines make it easier, more digestible for me to get information that I might not get otherwise.  I don’t have time to be searching all over the place and many articles on the web are still struggling with the medium, rushing to print in sometimes sloppily ways.  That isn’t meant as a slap in the face of new media, I fully support it, but we’re still working out the kinks.

Including how to adopt new methods for one to distribute established products.  I get that programming an android app is a somewhat expensive proposition.  I get that the iPad is the platform of choice if you are going to enter the e-publishing arena.  What I don’t get is the reluctance to embrace other options.  Linux Journal, admittedly a digital only platform now, not only has an app that will work with iPads and Android tablets, but will allow you to download an issue in a .pdf, .epub, or Kindle format.  And they all look good, even the .pdf.  Why can’t we get other publishers to include a .pdf version or a Kindle version that I could load into the Kindle reader?  Because it costs too much?  Because it opens the door to the magazine being shared with others or otherwise pirated?

I could think of many issues publishers might have, but since they are giving away subscriptions at roughly a dollar an issue, you’d think they would want to increase their circulation in a way that gets ads in front of people’s eyes.


Do you face the same frustration?  Have you found a solution to this or a similar issue?

Tagged: Linux Journalavailabilitye-magazinee-publishing

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28th July 2012

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The incredible tension in living (or life is much like a television, black and white just doesn’t cut it)

There are very few instances where things are black and white.  There is definite good and evil.  There are facts and opinions.  However, the big picture indicates a much stickier, much dirtier situation.  I hold no special insights into these areas, but I feel that we have a duty to speak out when prompted.  Each and every day there are talking heads on either side of wall proclaiming that the world is going to end because of the other side of the wall.  Republicans decry Democrats, Atheists decry Christians, corporations decry entrepreneurs, and so on and so forth.

I have to laugh.  If I don’t laugh I will only contribute to the noise in a way that does not honor the people I interact with or the God that I worship.  Today was a prime example.  This was the primary catalyst for this diatribe:  I saw two posting in a row on Facebook.  The first was anti-abortion and spoke to the sanctity of human life from the beginning.  The next was in support of the 2nd amendment in the vein of ‘you can take my gun when you can pry it from my cold, dead hand.’

Both were from the same person. 

And I have to laugh because I want to cry otherwise.  My first thought is to boil the attitude down to “We’ve kept you from dying in the womb so you can get shot later.”  It isn’t that simple, I know it isn’t, but that is the message that I see.  I am firmly anti-abortion, but don’t call me pro-life because I still struggle with the death penalty and the rights of gun ownership.  I cannot call myself pro-life in good conscience because of this dichotomy in my belief.

I see the debate on gun control among my friends, some of which are very much Christian and very much in support of guns.  I can’t say that I think guns should be completely banned.  There are legitimate reasons for gun ownership.  However, I have to question when as a Christian someone vehemently defends gun ownership across the board.  Let’s be clear:  a guns only purpose is pain either through wounding or killing.  Sure, they can be used for sport shooting, but that isn’t really their purpose. 

Note I am not saying guns are evil.  I’m not saying guns are the downfall of our society.  I’m only saying they have limited purpose.

So why are we defending them with so vigorously?  One response I’ve seen is the whole ‘self defense’ argument.  Well, true a gun can be used in that way.  To what end?  When you really study that, when you really think about it what does it say about your faith?  I’m not judging here, I’m asking that you take a deep look at the issue and your heart surround it.  If it is that important, is it more important than God?  Does the gun hold more power for you than God?  Is it possible the gun has become an idol for you?  That you are looking at the gun and away from God for protection?  Safety?  Security?

I can’t answer that for you.  I know this is a hot button topic and I am not writing this in an attempt to drive the number of readers up.  These are questions I’ve struggled with.  Why do I hold onto the death penalty?  Do I truly believe our system’s sense of justice is greater than God’s?  On the flipside, what is the solution when you are dealing with someone who is quite apparently seeped in evil.  We pray for them of course, but at the end of the day do we lock them up in an overcrowded system and hope they are changed by the power of God leaving the possibility they get free to hurt again?

God didn’t call me to sit in judgment; He called me to heal, to feed, to clothe, to care, to love, to disciple, and to baptize, and the list doesn’t end there.  I have, for many years, held the belief that if the Church was more committed to doing the work we were charged with and less committed to doing the work WE think we were charged with the world would be a much different place.   I believe that now more than ever and I will continue to strive towards that both here in my words and through my day-to-day actions.

(Note:  Comment if you would like, but please keep it respectful.  I reserve the right to delete and/or close down the comments thread if needed)

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27th July 2012

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Yo ho yo ho a writer’s life for me

If the last month does prove that God has a sense of humor than I don’t know what does.  I publically declare that I’m a writer and in short order the following events take place:

I’m contacted, out of the blue, about a job opening at a local company.

I interview for the job.

I’m offered the job(3 weeks from start to finish here).

I submit my two weeks’ notice.

I spend two weeks writing…ahem…WRITING technical documentation and generally training someone to do the job I’ve done for the past 7(of 14.5 with the company) years.

I start my new job with a new routine, plus a few other miscellaneous things that have pretty much kept me from wanting to do anything else for a bit.

So if you were following me on Twitter or Facebook it would appear as though I’ve fallen off of the face of the planet in the past month.  I am still alive and well.  The new job has had some challenges, but ultimately it has and will continue to stretch my knowledge and sanity.

In the past 14.5 years I’ve done a lot of complaining and a lot of growing.  For the longest time I could not see the end of the tunnel.  None of my situation made sense to me and it probably had negative impact on my faith, but God was spurring me to grow even when I did not realize it.   I remember the flipping of a ‘switch’ when I realized what I sought was not correct.  I was looking to money and recognition, which was pride at work even at a small scale.  When I embraced the idea of not looking to my job for satisfaction it was the beginning of the road.

I was fortunate enough to be taught to look outside of my job.  God has given me so much in the way of friends, family, and opportunity that working a 9 to 5 became more of a means and less of an end.  Even with this revelation I would not have been ready to handle the salary increase or job responsibility increase that I have with this new job.  I had to be taught so much about what matters most. 

My primary motivation in looking into this new job was not money.  I was getting restless.  It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my previous job, but I had this kind of painted myself into a corner feeling.  I was really good at what I did and I had a pretty comprehensive understanding of the system I worked with.  The problem is that the system is pretty specialized and it isn’t in wide use, at least not in the area where I live and prefer to keep living.  On the whole the opportunity looked good and the trade-off of accumulated non-monetary benefits for the additional monetary compensation and benefits seemed to be reasonable.

Not to say the whole process was easy peasy for me.  I don’t do change well, at least change on my exact terms, as many friends will more than happily verify.  While I’ve always been in the mindset that I would be willing to sacrifice the supposed comfort of a 9 to 5 to strike out on my own, the ‘on my own’ part made the whole idea bearable.  When faced with a similar situation, only doing so under someone else’s terms and not my own it is a different animal.  Though I may have had the same reservations if I quit my job to do whatever I wanted to do, I’d like to think I would be more willing to jump into my own net. 

Regardless it has been almost a month and I’ve already supercharged the brain cells taking on new tasks and learning new systems.  Maybe I’ll find this to be old hat someday, but until then I’ll strive for better understanding and a hope that by challenging myself in one area, I’ll find myself more apt to step up in other areas.

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6th June 2012

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I am a writer

Though when I say that in my head it comes out less a declaration and more an introduction at some kind of addiction recovery meeting.  If habit 1 of the 15 Habits of Great Writers is declaring it, I am there.

Even before today, though this stands as a definitive affirmation.  It was roughly 4 years ago on a Tuesday night during small group that I first put the idea out to someone other than my wife or myself.  In determining where I wanted to go in lieu of my current career path I proposed writing as an alternative.  I distinctly remember someone in the group affirming that they could picture me as a full-time writer.  That was when I started taking the first steps in a writing direction.

In the intervening time I’ve added writing process documentation to my day job, I’ve written sporadic reviews for a website that I didn’t start, done some blogging here, written a couple of half novels is NANOWRIMO related activities, and started my own podcast/webcast/review site.  

Through all of it I didn’t start seriously considering myself a writer until this year.  At some point the switched flipped and I went from ‘wanting to be a writer someday’ to ‘wanting to be a better writer.’  The difference in those two statements is slight, maybe even imperceptible to someone casually reading or listening, but it has made all of the difference to the way I view myself.

The second habit is to believe that declaration.  In making it, even in a subtle way, I have taken a great stride towards belief.  That’s not to say I’m there.  I’m not.  I still struggle with not writing as often as I would like to or should.  I still struggle with managing my time, now more than ever it seems and for no particular reason. I’ve said before that I just need to buckle down and do “it.” The truth is I won’t get good until I develop the habit, until I manage the time and stick with whatever plan I come up with.  All too often is it easier for me to lapse into surfing the web or playing a game or watching the TV.  

I can pray for the focus and strength all day, but until I actually start doing on a regular basis I am going to be stuck where I am. I can see on the horizon some potential shake ups in my life so I need to plan now to be ready for then.

For today, however, I will just believe.

Tagged: I am a writerJeff Goins15 Habits of Great WritersDestroythecyb.orgNANOWRIMOIdiosyncratic Transmissionsdeclarebelieve

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7th May 2012

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Arrrgggghhhhhh! or Thoughts on trying to Write(Part 2)

"Wives.  Great news!  God wants you to die and he has given you a husband to help you."

"Husbands.  Great news!  God wants you to die and he has given you a wife to help you."

     —Rough paraphrase of Heath Lambert preaching on Ephesians 5

Now where were we…Ah yes lessons in life that will help me become a better friend and a better writer.  I have to die. 

I’ll let that sink in.

I.  Have. To. Die.

I don’t mean breathe my last, heart stop beating, empty my bowels death.  That would just be silly, you can’t be a friend or write if you are dead.  Even if you somehow come back as a zombie you’re going to have an insatiable craving for living brains that will take up any writing time and will definitely put a dent in any friendships.

I have to die to myself.  As a Christian it is commanded to me.  My interests have to take a backseat to God’s interests.  The chief illustration here is serving others.  Spending time I could be using to buy and listen to a CD or read a book with others. 

In doing so on a consistent basis my life will be less about me and more about the people around me.  A simple truth that is not so simple to act on.  You see, if you choose to go this route you will face a struggle each and every day.  You will hit a wall and want to do whatever it is you want to do.  Some days you will fail.  Some(okay most) days you will give into your wants.  For me those days look like sitting at home and doing nothing or surfing the web doing nothing productive.

So how does this help me to become a better writer?  Most writers will acknowledge that if you want to be a writer you must read.  I would add an addendum to that, you have to live too.  By being around people, by serving those around me I automatically get to know people.  I get to find out what I can bring to people that can be translated into writing.

It also builds within me a greater capacity for reaching out regardless of the medium.  The catch, as there always is one, is my ultimate motivation.  You can’t die to yourself in order to make a better life on your terms.  Whatever gain comes out in my own life and writing should be a by-product of the service itself.  The real reward comes from serving and serving well.

So that is where I am.  For now it seems that the idea of services and dying to my selfish nature are the order of the day.  It has permeated what I’ve been reading, ‘Christianish’ by Mark Steele and ‘The Meaning of Marriage’ by Tim Keller, it has been in the Ephesians sermon series at church, and it’s been in other places.  It has been the underlying theme of what God has been speaking to me for years, I just tend to think I wasn’t ready to hear the bold type version of it until now.

Tagged: writingGoddyingservicepeoplelivingloving

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4th May 2012

Video

Off of their all instrumental album ‘The Mix-Up’ here are the Beastie Boys with ‘The Gala Event’  RIP MCA

Tagged: Beastie BoysThe Gala EventRIP MCA

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4th May 2012

Photo reblogged from laughterkey with 35,792 notes

laughterkey:

monday-friday:

Kids, back in 2012, your aunt Robin wanted to do something more with her life. So she took her love of guns to an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D and fought alongside the Avengers.
Now, your Uncle Barney and I took it pretty hard; she was getting to spend a lot of time with another billionaire playboy, this guy named Tony Stark. Your Uncle Barney almost went crazy when he found out the guy had a metal suit.
“It shoots fireballs, Ted! He looks like a freakin’ storm trooper!”

Then your uncle Barney decided to fight back.

laughterkey:

monday-friday:

Kids, back in 2012, your aunt Robin wanted to do something more with her life. So she took her love of guns to an organization called S.H.I.E.L.D and fought alongside the Avengers.

Now, your Uncle Barney and I took it pretty hard; she was getting to spend a lot of time with another billionaire playboy, this guy named Tony Stark. Your Uncle Barney almost went crazy when he found out the guy had a metal suit.

“It shoots fireballs, Ted! He looks like a freakin’ storm trooper!”

Then your uncle Barney decided to fight back.

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Source: monday-friday

30th April 2012

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"#tweetsmart" by J.S. McDougall O’reilly Media

Twitter stands out as a bit of an enigma in the social media world.  You are given 140 characters at a time to express yourself.  It isn’t about making business contacts.  It isn’t about catching up with high school classmates or college buddies.  It started as a simple question ‘What are you doing now?’, changed to ‘What’s happening?’, and now resides as small prompt ‘Compose New Tweet’ yet it captivates hundreds of millions of people.

But this book is not about that.  You won’t find a history of the company here.  There are no in-depth chapters covering how to gain more followers or how to have the wittiest of thoughts.  Some terminology is covered, but it really isn’t the point of the book either.  Simply put, this books gives you 25 easy to follow ideas and options that you can have fun with on Twitter.

To be fair most of these work better if you are working with some kind of base message, product or company.  They are ways to have fun with the system and get name recognition without being an annoying spammer.  It is a quick book to read.  The style is very easy to follow and the projects are something just about anyone familiar with Internet technology can follow.  The author also sprinkles in humorous anecdotes and a few cautionary warnings about how to go about doing things the wrong way.

If you are reading this as ideas for an individual, you may not find as much value in the book.  As I alluded to above this books is geared more for organizations to interact with and build an audience without causing too much pain for everyone involved.  In fact, these projects should be fun for everyone.  As the book states it is NOT a social media marketing guide, it is a guide to interacting with your audience.

Overall, keeping the intention of the book in mind, I give it 4.5 stars. It is concise as well as entertaining and it may even spark some creative ideas of your own.

You can purchase it here in paperback or e-book.

The book reviewed was provided as an e-book as part of the O’Reilly Blogger Review Program.

Tagged: O'reilly MediatweetsmartreviewJ.S.McDougall

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