Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Year Beckons

I have just about forgotten about this blog. No posts from Feb, certainly no reviews; but now I'm back... Gonna review, review and review some more....

This year so far I have read 39 books, way short of my personal 52 books target. Hmm... gonna reset the target again for next year....

The problem with having read more that 460 odd books is that new books don't catch your fancy soon, those that catch are far few in between.

Having grown on a staple diet of Grisham, Ludlum, Clancy & Puzo, some of the new books/authors don't catch fancy at all..

But still have read a couple of interesting authors in the past few months, Amish Tripathi, Ashok Banker come to mind for contemporary Indian authors with a twisting take on Indian Mythology.

Similarly books like "Joe is Online", authors like Will Adams have managed to keep my interest in books

Currently I'm busy catching up with the series of financial thrillers written by Stephen Frey, but again the theme seems to be the same, bad guys have numerous advantage over good guys and the good guy still being able to twist against the odds and win... Fairy tale like, but not real life...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

O'Reilly - Safari Books Online

I was conversing with my friend Zizou just the other day and he made me aware of a very nifty scheme developed by the O'Reilly & Safari publishing houses.

Now we all have run into trouble with our reference books getting outdated as the time flies by, well lets just say... No More...

O'Reilly & Safari are offering books online, not only limited to the titles from them; but also from major publications like Addison-Wesley, Adobe Press, John Wiley & Sons, Macromedia Press, Cisco Press, Oracle Press, Sams, Sun Microsystems Press, Microsoft Press, IBM Press, IBM Redbooks, MySQL Press to name a few..... The full listing is available on the website.

Now as any budget concious individual you may be wondering how much is this gonna cost me? Well for starters the site offers 2 choices:
  • A complete access to all the content every printed and lots of other stuff such as videos, rough cuts under the aegis of Safari Library costing $42.99 per month. Adjust for INR conversion @ 46 Rs. the complete access will cost us a little under 2000/- per month.
  • If you want a lesser option you can subscribe to a 10 book Safari Bookshelf (without the videos & rough cuts) which will cost you $22.99 per month and that works out to 1050 Rs.

You can have a trail run of 10 days for free by selecting any 1 of the above mentioned options. Incase you decide not to avail after 10 days your money will be reimbursed to you.

Now there are some riders built in for the bookshelf/library, once you select a book it remains in there for atleast 1 month.


Well my dear Watson for the simple reason of preventing you from running through their entire library in the course of a month. They also allow you 5 download tokens a month, valid for 3 months. That means you can dowload upto 5 chapters a month from any book you like. Since all the books are in PDF format, you can also copy paste, create notes and other stuff in your account.

For people who really need the latest revised books, this is a blessing, a one stop library where you can get all your reference needs met with. They also provide a review feature where you can browse through a book before selecting it for your library/shelf; just like you would do in a real library.

All in all I think it makes for a great asset in your pursuit for knowledge.

Ohh.... Did I mention they also allow mobile access too. So all those of you out there with a smartphone and lots of bandwidth, you can now put it to good use.

For more details check out the link below:
O'Reilly - Safari Books Online

Medusa - Clive Cussler

Read-athon: Book 3
Under the aegis of read-athon a review of my 3rd book read in the year 2011.

Are you a ocean lover? If so Clive Cussler is one author who should be on your book shelf. His books cover oceanography and what's more it does not contain only drab facts; but is set around a story. Sounds like a sales pitch right?? ;)

Medusa is no different from what you have come to expect out of Clive Cussler. The premise is a classic Cussler, bad guys threaten chaos (Chinese Triad) to profit from it, the good guys (NUMA) scramble around to prevent it. The good guys beat the bad guys and all's well in the world.....

Throw in some geopolitics like Sino-American goodwill; a global disease deadlier than SARS, a vaccine developed by using the toxin from Blue Medusa.. I think you get the idea.

I liked book, it did hold my interest even though I must say that I could predict every move being made by Kurt Austin & Joe Zavala.

Curiously even though this was my first Kurt Austin book, I didn't find him much different from the Dirk Pitt mould. Both men have charismatic personality, both are ruggedly handsome, both of them are blessed with dollops of luck, both have good, reliable people watching their backs (Zavala & Giordiano) & both have gorgeous girls throwing themselves at them.

It just makes me wonder if Cussler replaced Dirk Pitt with Kurt Austin just because the ageing sea horse couldn't do the tricks due to advancing age.

Now that it's off my chest, I'll rate this one from Clive Cussler as a 3/5.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kindle Review

Here is the Kindle review as I promised last week.

Kindle Wi-Fi Basic Model

The Kindle in review (featured above) belongs to my buddy Aki, who got it ordered from the US. The device is a basic model with wi-fi listed in the Amazon website as Kindle Wi-Fi.

I had a look around at the device and it appears quite a bundle for a bibliograph. The screen is big enough to have a decent read. The battery life is impressive. The reader supports native pdf format making porting your books to kindle easier.

While the e-ink technology delivers crisp and easy to read fonts, the toggle buttons on the side of the device allows for easy navigation through the pages.

Some of the features that make the device attractive are:

New, Built-In Wi-Fi
It automatically detects nearby Wi-Fi networks when enabled. Once you have installed a Wi-Fi Network Kindle will automatically connect to that network the next time you are near to the hot spot. 

The device has the capability to hold more than 3500+ books. Considering that an avid reader can go through a book in 2 days that’s more than 17-20 years worth of books that you carry around you. May I remind you in 8.5 ounces only? Impressive eh?  

The library can be organized into collections, categorizing them as per your convenience, say by author, by title, by genre...

Bookmarks and Annotations
Using the QWERTY keyboard, you can make notes on the margin of the books, and as they are digital notes, they can be edited, update or deleted any time you wish

Built-In Dictionary with Instant Lookup
Having trouble understanding a word or reference in the book, wait no more to resolve it, the built-in dictionary allows you instant look up.

Password Protection
You can choose to lock your Kindle automatically when you are not using it, thereby protecting your reading material from snoopers...

With so many good features in the device you might be wondering is there anything negative here?? This sounds too good to be true. Sorry to say there are a couple of flies in this ointment.

No back light
Granted there are not many players out there with back light, but Amazon being a pioneer in the field of ebook readers, I would like to have an option of buying a reader with back-lit feature

PDF Support Shaky
The support for native PDF being helpful, it does not help much when the font size is changed, the text doesn't change/align properly to fit the reader, thereby leaving the reader to scroll through the screen sideways which is a bit of a put down

Proprietary Amazon Format
That said about the PDF, the only format where the text wraps around the screen is Amazon's own AZW format, which means converting all the PDF's into this format before you have a easier time reading the content.

Overall the device is quite good, but that said, I would like to wait for a few more months for some more advancements to happen in the field of e-book readers to go out and buy my own. Till that time I'm afraid it's still paperbacks for me...

Some more pics of Kindle....

It fit's in the palm of your hand As compared with a mouse Small & Compact reader.
Technical Details

Included in the box
·         Kindle wireless reader
·         U.S. power adapter
(supports 100V-240V)
·         USB 2.0 cable
(for connection to the Kindle power adapter or to connect to a computer.)

Amazon's 6" diagonal electronic paper display, optimized with proprietary waveform and font technology, 600 x 800 pixel resolution at 167 ppi, 16-level gray scale.
Size (in inches)
7.5" x 4.8" x 0.335" (190 mm x 123 mm x 8.5 mm).
8.5 ounces (241 grams).
System Requirements
None, because it's wireless and doesn't require a computer.
4GB internal (approximately 3GB available for user content).
Battery Life
A single charge lasts for up to a month with wireless off. Keep wireless always on and it lasts for up to 3 weeks. Battery life will vary based on wireless usage, such as shopping the Kindle Store, web browsing, and downloading content.
Charge Time
Fully charges in approximately 4.5 hours via the included U.S. power adapter. Also supports charging from your computer via the included USB 2.0 cable.
Wi-Fi Connectivity
Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks or hotspots that use the 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n (in b or g compatibility mode) standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication; does not connect to WPA and WPA2 secured networks using 802.1X authentication methods; does not support connecting to ad-hoc (or peer-to-peer) Wi-Fi networks.
USB Port
USB 2.0 (micro-B connector) for connection to the Kindle U.S. power adapter or optionally to connect to a PC or Macintosh computer.
3.5 mm stereo audio jack, rear-mounted stereo speakers.
Content Formats Supported
Kindle (AZW), TXT, PDF, Audible (Audible Enhanced (AA, AAX)), MP3, unprotected MOBI, PRC natively; HTML, DOC, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP through conversion.
Included Accessories
U.S. power adapter (supports 110V-240V), USB 2.0 cable, and rechargeable battery.
Quick Start Guide (included in box) [PDF]; Kindle User's Guide (pre-installed on device) [PDF]. Additional information in multiple languages available online.
Warranty and Service
1-year limited warranty and service included. Optional 2-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Kindle is subject to the Kindle License Agreement and Terms of Use.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Coming Up:: Kindle Review

My friend recently brought Amazon Kindle and I was fortunate to take a look at this device up close.

Will post my impressions and experiences with the device soon.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Cult of Osiris - Andy McDermott

Read-athon: Book 2
Under the aegis of read-athon a review of my 2nd book read in the year 2011.

I was expecting big things from the author, while the action sequences in the book are good, even if a bit over the top, it seriously lacks the depth the author showed in his first book.

Egypt & mysteries revolving around the Pharaohs have always interested me, while the burb looked interesting the end product was not as good as promised.

This one had all the usual ingredients: female archaeologist needing to restore her reputation [Nina Wilde]; her ex-special services husband with a pechant for bad sex jokes [Eddie Chase]; a disfigured baddie [Sebak Shaban] ,a smooth baddie [Khalid Osir]; hundreds of disposable baddies; the Grinning Sadist baddie henchman [Bobby Diamondback]; secret society or cult [Osirian Temple]; buried treasure [The Tomb]; back stabbing baddies; clues, puzzles, pursuit, blowing things up, a sub-plot involving a bio-threat...etc.

While the concept was good it was not as throughly fleshed out as it could have been. The action was too predictable, the characters too poorly fleshed out, the plot was easily decipherable. While the start was intriguing the end product was way below my estimation.

I'll rate it 2/5

Skeleton Coast - Clive Cussler

Read-athon: Book 1
Under the aegis of read-athon a review of my first book read in the year 2011.

Skeleton Coast is Cussler's 4th book under The Oregon Files series. The Corporation lead by Juan Cabrillo find themselves this time in Africa this time as arms traders trading arms to the CAR in exchange for blood diamonds. Actually the Corporation are acting as conduits to the CIA/Congolese Government effort to capture Congolese Army of Revolution leader Samuel Makambo.

When the trade goes awry, the Corporation finds itself facing an rebel army equipped with the best of modern day armory. They also find themselves in a quest to a billionaire with a questionable product who has been captured by a fanatic environmentalists. 

As the Corporation races to save the billionaire & get the arms back from the CAR, it comes across a plot to unleash an environmental disaster ironically highlight environmental issues.

The action moves at the break neck pace as is Cussler's wont. He draws compelling insight to the environmental factor while tying, Africa's struggle against tyrannical dictators and the trade in blood diamonds.

A good read coming from a master who really is at the top of his game. 

Interesting fact: The book see all the characters of Clive Cussler in one stage, Juan Cabrillo calls Dirk Pitt, while he meets up with Kurt Austin  & Joe Zavala.

Read-athon - My books filled new year

Well, the new year has started and as always with my tardiness I'm late to put up things on my bookshelf.

My shelfari records show me that I read 13 books the previous year, well being an ambitious person I would like to better that record in the coming year. It's nice to say that I have got a good start to the year, by finishing off two books an in neck deep in my third.

There is nothing like a friendly competition to whet up your fading reading appetite. To that I must thank my new cube-mate and colleague who appears to be a reader of my caliber if not more.

Thank you for bringing back the appetite and fire to discovering new stuff and worlds in the pages of a book. It seemed lost for the past few months.

On shelfari I would like to increase my book shelf to around 450 by the time this year is done. It is currently on 379. Ambitious as most would say but then what's life if not a lot of ambition.

Anybody out there who reads my blog, bearing with my infrequent updates, I would thank you and would like to say that if you folks are on shelfari, then give me a buzz, lets read together and share. You can also express your views here.

New book updates coming up.....