Friday, February 26, 2010

Book Review Quickie: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods

The book was well written and very engaging. I enjoyed the world Gaiman created and hope he writes more books that take place there. The only thing really keeping this book from getting 5 stars was the ending. It kind of left me feeling...well unfulfilled. After such an epic adventure to have it end the way it did was anticlimactic. Really, it didn't make much sense. Makes me wish books had a "director's cut". They always say that the it's not the destination that matters, but the journey...and this book definitely follows that philosophy. I would highly recommend the book for any Gaiman fan, or anyone else that's a fan of a good tale. You will not gain any insight into the complexities of humanity or any other moral quandaries from this story. Gaiman's overall message seems to drift around. It never seems to settle in on a message. However, I did find it endearing and different, but you might not like the lack of focus. If you like your stories a bit more concrete I would recommend the semi-sequel to this book "Anansi Boys"'s the better book in my opinion, and more traditionally structured.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Review Quickie: Sandstorm by James Rollins


When I picked this book up on a whim, it was purely to serve as a break in my typically fantasy diet. It served that purpose well. The action starts immediately and never lets off. A fun and interesting book. I had never read anything by Rollins before, and after reading this I went out picked up the rest of the sigma series to read later. Think Indiana Jones meets Tom Clancy. A perfect action/adventure story with enough fantasy and scifi to satisfy my imagination. Some parts were a little hard to bite, but nothing major. I call these types of books candy because too many of them might not be good, but one once in awhile is great to have.

Deal of the week: Toshiba NB205-N325WH 10.1" Netbook $289

Who needs an ipad when you have this kind of thing available???

Toshiba NB205-N325WH 10.1 Netbook, Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz, 1GB, 160GB HDD, 802.11b/g, Webcam, Windows 7 Starter (Frost White)

Toshiba NB205-N325WH 10.1 Netbook, Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz, 1GB, 160GB HDD, 802.11b/g, Webcam, Windows 7 Starter (Frost White)

The NB205-N325WH Netbook redefines the computing experience available on a laptop. The new design with a generous 10.1 display is contemporary with enhanced protection and build quality fitting for a Toshiba brand. The near full-size keyboard instantly makes it much easier to use and broadens the appeal to a new generation of users. It is an ideal secondary laptop for web browsing. Webcam and Mic Built-in webcams and microphones let you chat face-to-face, collaborate with classmates, videoconference, and generally improve the way you interact with the world around you. USB Sleep-and-Charge Power up your smart phone and other favorite portable electronic devices, even when your Toshiba is asleep or off. Memory Card Reader Transfer files easily from our your digital camera, camcorder, MP3 player or smart phone, sharing home movies and playlists with SD cards, Memory Sticks and more. PC Health Monitor Toshiba's PC Health Monitor alerts you to issues before they become problems, constantly gauging your machine's temperature and power usage, while checking the hard drive to help protect against shocks. EPEAT Gold Compliant EPEAT Gold is the highest possible ranking of the acclaimed Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool which measures products across 51 different dimensions. LED Backlit Display Last longer, use less power, and warm up quicker with the unique LED backlit display. Energy Star Compliant Engineered with respect to our planet, 93% of Toshiba laptops, netbooks and Tablet PCs have met the ENERGY STAR 4.0 standard since it was established in 2007.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Geeks On Fire! Takes on EBook readers: Round 2 - The Samsung E6

This is my second entry into my on going series on Ebook Readers. You can read the first one I did on the Bookeen Opus HERE

Samsung E6

From Geeks On Fire! Collective blog for all things geek

Samsung weighed into the ebook market at CES in 2010. The initial hype looked promising. Due to release early this year. Here is what I found out:

Size: No specific details available other than the screen sizes detailed below.

Display: E101 model has 10-inch screen, and the E6 has 6-inch screen. No backlight, which means long battery life. According to Samsung a 4hr charge will last you 2 weeks...very nice. It uses a stylus pen and has the ability to "write" on the display. Meaning you can take notes, mark up pages, and keep calenders.

Connectivity: A category that is becoming more common in ebook readers. The Samsung readers have Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g for downloading books and newspapers. It also has Bluetooth 2.0.

Format it reads: ePub, PDF, TXT, and even Mp3. They also currently have a deal with google for their out of copyright database. No news yet as to what retail option they will have.

Storage: 2 GB of flash memory.

Cost: $399 for the E6 and $699 for the E101..$399? and $699??!! Samsung has lost their mind. The price for either of these is just dumb.

There really isn't much to say about this one. The price alone is enough to send me running in terror. I also don't like the fact that the storage appears not to be expandable. I'm thinking this will be used to store audiobooks, and 2gb isn't a lot these days. I do like the fact it plays MP3s and has an input option available with the stylus.

Chance of me requesting this reader from The Asian Overlord: NONE unless the price drops to below $300 then it's a possibility.

I found a very similar product with one of my sponsors (imagine that!). This is more in the price range of what I'm looking for. It doesn't support the Lit files, but everything else seems to match up fairly well. The memory is expandable also.


6" JC Planetary E-Book 100 E-Book Reader w/E-Ink Technology & SD Card Slot

Enjoy thousands of books within one handy device with this JC Planetary eBOOK100 6-inch E-Book reader!The JC-eBOOK100 features a 6-inch E-Ink screen with 4-level gray scale that lets you comfortably read electronic books for hours on end without tiring your eyes. It's powered by a Samsung S3C2440 400 MHz processor and includes 1 GB of internal flash memory, but you can add up to 8 GB with Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards!The thin and lightweight design feels like you're reading a thin pamphlet and includes a convenient carrying case that's perfect for travel. The JC-eBOOK100 supports PDF, TXT, JPG, BMP, and FB2 ebook files and even supports MP3 playback! Listen to music with the included stereo earbuds!Order now!

Book Review: Brooklyn Knight by CJ Henderson

Brooklyn Knight
Professor Piers Knight is the charming, handsome, and intelligent curator of the esteemed Brooklyn Museum. He has in possession the mysterious “Dream Stone” — an artifact that may hold the key to unraveling an ancient and dangerous mystery. But Knight is not the only person who is aware of its importance. With the help of his gorgeous assistant Bridget and his knowledge of magical items, Knight must protect the stone and solve the riddle in order to keep a global disaster from happening.

CJ Henderson‘s Brooklyn Knight proves to be a very entertaining read. Professor Knight is by the far the most developed character in the story. (The others tend to be left a little hollow, but I’m hoping they’ll get more depth in later books). The back cover describes him as “New York’s answer to Indiana Jones,” but that’s a bit of a stretch. Yeah, Knight and Jones are both charming male academics who moonlight as adventurers and solvers of ancient mysteries, but Indy’s abilities are much more mundane, whereas the things Piers Knight is capable of are anything but. Also, Knight never leaves New York, though the potential for future global adventures is definitely there.

Also providing potential for future fun is the magic system which is primarily based around ancient artifacts. Henderson gradually introduces these believable magical elements and, as curator of the museum and a descendent of a long line of adventurers, Piers Knight has almost unlimited access to a wide range of items that give him special abilities. This should provide many interesting plot devices for the stories to come!

Brooklyn Knight is essentially an action/mystery, with fantasy elements thrown in. I enjoy this style of urban fantasy more than any other. I like the adventure, mystery, humor, pseudo-historical aspects, and the limited magic — they combine to make a really fun story!

You can also learn more about CJ Henderson at the Fantasyliterature author page

Friday, February 19, 2010

Geeks On Fire! Takes on EBook readers: The Bookeen Opus

I've been contemplating buying an ebook reader for quite some time. I have found it very difficult to discern which product I should buy. Everyone seems to love the Kindle, or the Nook. However, I find it rather scary to limit my book buying ability to just one retailer. I want a device that does it all. I want the perfect device. With the number of devices that are coming out it's a daunting task to say the least. Instead of pondering to myself, I thought I would bring you along with me as I explore what's out there. A few times week I'm going to post an ebook reader and what I learned about it. This may take some time, so I hope you can join me as I plow through these readers in the coming weeks. The ultimate point of this journey is get me an ebook reader I can be happy with (you too for that matter). Once I have gathered enough info on a respectable number of devices I'll try and decide which one to buy. Once I have decided, I'll make my plea to The Asian Overlord (wife) and request it for my birthday.

So here we go. Today I've chosen one that I'd never heard of, but seems promising.

The Bookeen Opus

First one I'm going to talk about is the Bookeen Opus brought to by...ummm..Bookeen. Making ebook readers is apparently all they do. To start my research I went directly to the source and downloaded their "press kit". 81.8mb of pressy goodness, and it took an hour to My internet connection isn't that bad. Come on guys this is your one product, an hour for 80mb? Lets hope that every media outlet int he world is simultaneously writing an article on Bookeen and it's put a strain on their system. Anyway, besides the name making me think about is what I found out.

Size: 4.2" x 6" x 0.4" That's just about twice the size of an iphone. I have an ipod touch and I like the ability to put in my pocket, but if you are wanting a supplement for an actual book, this seems a bit small

Display: The Opus uses the E-Ink® screen. Which means black and white, but has massive battery life. 8,000 page turns to be exact. There is no backlight, but that's pretty common.

Format it reads: HTML, Txt, PDF, Epub(adobe drm). That's not too bad. I wish it read microsoft's Lit format. That is pretty much the only one that is missing.

Cost: $250..ouch. The only thing that would make this reader really enticing would be a price you can't refuse. $250 is not that price. I'll just use an ipod touch and deal with the size and battery life. Plus there are a million other things you can do with an ipod touch.

Chance of me requesting this reader from The Asian Overlord: none

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A World Builders Prize Winner is

ME! Yes my friends yesterday I received in the mail signed first edition printings of Book 1,2 and 4 of Tad Williams' Otherland series. I dontated to World Builders charity and was entered into a raffle, and it appears I got lucky. It's such a good cause, it felt good to help in a small way. The prize was a bonus to the warm a fuzzy feeling of supporting a great charity. I want to say Thank you to Pat Rothfuss for the prizes, thank you for doing this for Heifer International. Above and beyond...way above. It makes me proud to be your fan. Congratulations to you for a job well done.

WorldBuilders or rather Patrick Rothfuss's collection front for Heifer International

From Geeks On Fire! Collective blog for all things geek

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Vacation Report

Back from vacation and thought I would share a little about the trip. We went on a 5 day Carribean cruise with Carnival Cruise lines. We departed from Mobile Alabama of the Carnival Fantasy cruise ship. I'll break down my thoughts on each portion. If you are ever interested in taking a cruise you might find it interesting, otherwise you can bask in my pictures of sunshine and seethe in your jealousy.

Leaving for the trip/Arrival in Mobile:
We flew Delta because we had enough Miles accumulated over the years to get our tickets paid for. Though they weren't really free. Because it was "short notice" (less than 20 days in advance" we had to pay about $70 a piece for them, I also had to pay a $100 fee to transfer miles from my account to my wife's account so we would have enough total miles. We also had to pay for a baggage. We had three suitcases total, that was about $75. The planes were the tiny two row types. Horribly uncomfortable, but the flights weren't long, so no big deal. We spent the night in Mobile and boarded the ship the next morning. The boarding process was a little chaotic, but we were in our room by 1pm.

The first day and a half were "at sea" Basically we spent that time eating, sleeping and exploring the ship. Wednesday we stopped in Cazumel, Mexico and took and excursion ($80 a piece). Our excursion was a the Isla Pasion by Twister. A speed boat ride to a private island where we got free alcohol and small buffet for a few hours of relaxing on the beach. It was great. Most of our pictures are from this one 5 hour event.

This is the speed boat we took the island. It was 20min ride to the lagoon of the island. The boats are designed to do high speed 360 spins, which they did about 10 of before landing. Before getting off the boat were warned not to drink too much on the island cause there would be "more twisting" on our way back to port...they were telling the truth.

Heading home:
We were supposed to go on another excursion in Calica, but my wife got sun poisoning in Cazumel and had a swollen face all day we didn't go. Don't worry she is fine now, but was a doing a good impression of a chubby Inuit for a day or two. We had rough seas for the 24hr trip home. I never got sick, but the inability to walk in a straight line for a whole day did start to get to me. Once we got home it took a day or two for my head to understand the boat was no longer moving.

Had to share this photo. Carnical likes to leave you "towel animals" on your bed after they clean your room. It's a cool thing to do, but this animal made me laugh. it was supposed to be a dinosaur, but it looks more like a monkey mooning me instead.

A few more picture from the trip.
cruise blog

Monday, February 15, 2010

Book Review: Shadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov

fantasy book reviews Alexey Pehov The Chronicles of Siala 1. Shadow Prowlerfantasy book reviews Alexey Pehov The Chronicles of Siala 1. Shadow ProwlerShadow Prowler by Alexey Pehov

Shadow Prowler is classic epic high fantasy which uses common fantasy characters – elfin princesses, cantankerous dwarves, burly warriors, and even a selection of enigmatic wizards. This fact alone will be enough to turn off some readers. Add in the fact that they are on a quest for a unique magical item in order to stop a faceless evil wizard and his army, and that just might be all you need to know to give Shadow Prowler a pass (see Stefan’s review). I, however, enjoyed how Pehov turned these classic themes into an enjoyable story with its own unique personality... Read the rest.

Monday, February 8, 2010

On board

Heading out. Internet onboard is stupid expensive so updates will be few.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Morning we left for vacation

This week I'm on vacation. I'll be posting up random stuff from the trip. I took this picture as we left for the airport. Making this post iPod at the hotel in mobile alabama.