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September 17, 2008

Advise & Consent

Filed under: Books,Rants/Musings — cangione @ 10:33 pm

It is very rare that a favorite book of mine passes muster as a movie. It is even rarer that the movie is better than the book!

My favorite Allen Drury book Advise & Consent (1962) was made into a movie that is now available on DVD. When I was in high school, I was part of Mock Congress debates. We followed Senate rules (parliamentary procedure) during those sessions. I wish I had read this book or watched the DVD before I was in some of those debates!

I don’t care if you are Liberal, Conservative, Democrat, or Republican. You can empathize with all points of view by the end of this movie.

I can’t think of a more perfect movie to watch in this political season.

C.

December 12, 2007

High Praise for 1421 – The Year China Discovered America

Filed under: Books — cangione @ 4:26 pm

Just got done reading Gavin Menzies book 1421 The Year China Discovered America. Gavin was in the Royal Navy and sailed the world from 1959 to 1970 as part of the Royal Navy. The exhaustively researched conclusions in the book have the potential to re-write the history of who discovered America, Australia, New Zealand and Central America!

The contention is that between 1421 and 1423 great Chinese treasure fleets sailed the worlds oceans. When the fleets returned home, they returned to find China changed forever. On may 9th 1421 lightning struck the Forbidden City and the resulting fire convinced the emperor that the gods demanded change. The resulting turmoil set China on an inward course. Too ensure that no more epic voyages took place, not only were the shipyards put out of commission but the plans and the accounts of the completed voyages were deliberately destroyed.

What did survive of Chinese cartography from the voyages effectively lead the Portuguese to the east. The descriptions of maps, charts and currents really bring this story to life like only a sailor could tell it. It also explains why other historians would have had a hard time following the chain of evidence about the 1421 voyages that Gavin did. I highly recommend this book. You will definitely question the history of Dias, Columbus, Magellan and Cook learned in school.

-Charles Angione

July 26, 2007

I’ve Become a Font Snob

Filed under: Books,CSS,Rants/Musings,XML,XSL — cangione @ 1:05 am

It’s two in the morning. I’ve been done with the content of the document I’m working on for two hours and I just finished selecting the fonts I’m going to use. This is kinda geeky even by my standards.

I blame “The NON-DESIGNER’S COLLECTION” by Robin Williams and John TOLLETT. After reading the three books I guarantee you will never look at serif and sans serif fonts the same way again. After a couple of arduous hours, I’ve finally selected “Franklin Gothic Medium” as my sans serif font and “Book Antiqua” as my serif font, although I would have preferred to use “RotisSemiSerif” but didn’t feel like paying 200 bucks for the font.

Charles Angione

April 11, 2007

Review of the Sony Reader

Filed under: Books,Rants/Musings,Uncategorized — cangione @ 7:46 pm

Way back in 2001 I bought my first e-book reader. It was about the size of a paperback book and was comfortable to hold in my hand. They went out of business at least in part because of the restrictions they put on the content you could upload to the device. They went out of business and I was devastated! I have to carry books and magazines again! Horrible.

Finally after years of waiting a new e-book reader has emerged from Sony. I went and played with a Sony Reader today. The reader is slim, sexy, and easy to hold in one’s hand. Definitely on my short list of must have tech toys.

Some observations:

  • Price: On the high side at $300 to $349. As a consultant and someone who travels all the time I think I fall into Sony’s ideal initial market. I’d be happy at something more like $200 to $250 which was the price of the 2001 reader.
  • Content: Sony at least hasn’t made the same mistake as others in this space and allows you to upload PDF, TXT, RTF and Word documents besides e-books. It will even play MP3s.
  • Additional Items: For 350 bucks you would think Sony could give you a nice book-like cover to protect your expensive device. Nope. Buy one on Amazon.
  • Back Light: I wish it had one. I really enjoyed reading in low light situations with my other reader. Just like a real book, the Sony Reader requires that you have a reading light. While not having a back light heps with battery life I think this was boneheaded.
  • Charles Angione

    April 7, 2005

    Reinventing the Wheel by Steve Kemper

    Filed under: Books — cangione @ 1:35 am




    “Reinventing the Wheel” by Steve Kemper. Describes the history of the Segway Human Transporter. Having worked with products from inception to manufacturing, it gave me a good laugh. Also gives good insight into the inventors mind.

    CA

    March 29, 2005

    In the Beginning was the Command Line by Neal Stephenson

    Filed under: Books — @ 4:36 pm

    




    Great book and a quick read. Talks about the operating system business of the past and the future. Still very relevant.


    http://www.cryptonomicon.com/beginning.html

    March 11, 2005

    Dynamic HTML The Definitive Reference O’Reilly

    Filed under: Books — @ 1:20 pm

    




     Covers HTML, CSS, DOM and JavaScript. No point in getting the CSS book also from O’Reilly if you get this one.

    Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson

    Filed under: Books — @ 1:20 pm

    




    Just finished a three book series by Neal Stephenson called the “Baroque Cycle” that I would highly recommend. I would not be surprised if you have never heard of him. He is a young author. I remember reading some of his first books which were only available in e-book format before he hit the big time. Probably his most famous book before this is “Snow Crash”.

     He pushes the boundaries of brilliance. An amazing tale taking place in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s right at the height of scientific discovery and a changing over to the “new system of the world”.


     C. Angione

    The Broker by John Grisham

    Filed under: Books — @ 1:20 pm

    





    Just finished “The Broker” by John Grisham. Probably his worst work to date. Not worth reading. Basically I suspect he used the advance for the book to finance his tour of Italy where a good portion of the book occurs. He tries to weave in the spy world from lots of different countries. Needless to say Tom Clancy is safe.



    C. Angione

    The Inmates Are Running the Asylum

    Filed under: Books — @ 1:20 pm

    




     I’m currently reading “The Inmates are Running the Asylum” by Alan Cooper. Alan was one of the original developers of the “Paper Port” software program. Of all the windows programs I’ve used it truly was the easiest to use. You stuck a piece of paper into the scanner and it produced a scanned image, already named, into the programs desktop. Sad to say, that my new HP :”All in One” scanner sucks in this aspect. You hit the scan button on the hardware and if your computer does anything at all, it produces a confirm dialog about what you want to do with the scan! — “Just put the freakin thing on the desktop and then I’ll decide!”

     If nothing else the book gives you a great insight into the developer mind…..if you are fluent in a programming language that produces a UI you too are guilty of some of what he talks about in the book. Reading it is kind of like visiting a shrink that gets how we think!


     Excerpt from the book about Amazons Jeff Bezos “1-Click” interface:



    The programmers went off and coded for a while, and then brought the finished work to Jeff for him to try. He found a book he wanted and pressed the 1-Click button, whereupon the program asked him a confirming question! The programmers had converted his one-click interface into a two-click interface. To the programmers, this was simply an additional click—what’s the big deal? To Jeff—and to every user—it is a 100% inflation rate!

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