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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Balance of March

During the month of March, I read/watched and/or reviewed the following:

Books:
- "Life Promises for Couples" by Gary Chapman. Read my review.
- "The Genesis Code" by Abraham Lopian and Julie A.Snyder. Read my review.
- "Farsighted" by Emlyn Chand. Read my review.
- "Animated Realism" by Judith Kriger. Read my review.
- "Puerto Rico" by Nate Cavalieri and Beth Kohn. Read my review.
- "iOS5 Programming" by Rob Napier and Mugunth Kumar. Read my review.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Book "iOS5 Programming" by Rob Napier and Mugunth Kumar

About the Book: Pushing the Limits with iOS 5 Programming is an expert guide for developers aiming to create unique applications for Apple's iPad 2, iPhone, and the iPod Touch, which includes the latest version of the Apple iPhone SDK, iOS 5. This text goes beyond the basics to keep you ahead of the technology curve and spark your innovative nature to create seamless, functional, and fun apps. With a focus on advanced techniques for app development, you will learn to differentiate your apps from all the rest.
With this must-have book, you'll explore advanced coverage of a variety of development topics, such as developing with deep Objective-C, while you learn to create amazing applications for Apple's iPad 2, iPhone, and iPod touch. Veteran mobile developers and authors guide you through maximizing your programs as they delve into topics not commonly found elsewhere.
Provides a solid foundation in the patterns of iOS
Shares tips for running on multiple platforms and best using security services
Discusses topics such as controlling multitasking, advanced text layout and more
Demonstrates how to think differently with blocks and functional programming
Teaches table view, performance, and money-making optimization
Eliminates common challenges with memory management and iOS information flow
Pushing the Limits with iOS 5 Programming allows you to take on the future with confidence in your new, stand-out app design skills.

About the Authors:
Rob Napier - Rob is a builder of treehouses, hiker, proud father, and in his spare 50-60 hours a week, a Mac and iPhone developer. He's coauthor of iOS 5 Programming Pushing the Limits. Cocoaphony is where he pontificates on various issues fascinating to Cocoa developers, and occasionally other topics of technical interest. You can find more information about him on LinkedIn. Or mail him at robnapier on gmail. Now and then he tweets at @cocoaphony.
Mugunth Kumar - Mugunth is a independent iOS developer based in Singapore. He graduated in 2009 and holds a Masters degree from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, majoring in Information Systems. He blogs about mobile development, writing tutorials focusing mostly on iOS platform (blog.mugunthkumar.com).
Prior to iOS development he worked for top Fortune 500 companies consulting on Windows and .NET platforms. His core areas of interest includes programming methodologies (Object Oriented and Functional), Mobile Development and Usability Engineering.
If he is not coding, he would probably be found at some exotic place capturing scenic photos of Mother Nature. He can be reached at contact@mk.sg or skype (imk.sg) or on his mobile phone (65)-9727-4850

My Review: Having written an application for iPhone/iPad/iTouch called "Bible Names", I really appreciate this book for what it has to offer. The authors start describing the new features of iOS5 compared to iOS4 and giving some tips on how to better use Xcode4. Then they go in details over the new feature called ARC (Automatic Reference Counting). After that they discuss some of the most important concepts, including Properties, Accessors, Protocols, Model-View-Controller, Delegates, Table Views, Drawing Systems, Layout, Layers, User Interaction, Animation. They also mention how to deal with error handling, how to control multitasks and how to run on multiple iPlatforms and iDevices. They cover all things with code examples when possible, showing what to do and what to avoid, no only because of elegance, but for easier understanding the code as it runs behind the scenes. They also talk about internationalization and localization, as well as implementing of the so called In App Purchase, a model that allows you to sell things inside your application.
Definitely a book not destined for beginners, but really worthy to improve your coding techniques and reach the next level on programming for iOS line of products.


This book was written by Rob Napier and Mugunth Kumar and was published by John Wiley and sons in December 2011. Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this book for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not request to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, fell free to leave a comment!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Book "Puerto Rico" a Travel Guide by Lonely Planet - Nate Cavalieri and Beth Kohn

About the Book: “Welcome to Puerto Rico: endless sand, swashbuckling history lessons and wildly diverse tropical terrain. The sun-washed backyard of the United States is a place locals fittingly call the Island of Enchantment.” – Nate Cavalieri, Lonely Planet Writer
Our Promise
You can trust our travel information because Lonely Planet authors visit the places we write about, each and every edition. We never accept freebies for positive coverage, and you can rely on us to tell it like we see it.
Inside This Book…
2 expert authors. 84 days (and nights) of research. 110 stunning beaches explored. 53 legendary surf breaks Inspirational photos. Clear, easy-to-use maps. Pull-out city map. Puerto Rico Outdoors feature. Comprehensive planning tools. Easy-to-read layout.

About the Authors: Nate Cavalieri - Nate researched the previous edition of Puerto Rico entirely on bicycle, but didn't have the chutzpah to pedal over the Central Mountains this time around. The sting from this defeat was soothed by exploring the beguiling diversity of Puerto Rican pork dishes. His favorite experiences while researching this edition included scanning the waters for manatee from the lighthouse at Cabo Rojo, sharing a Medalla with an old-duty cop at a beach bonfire in Rincón and getting a high five from Sammy, the dancing bull mascot of the San Juan Senadores. Nate's authored a handful of titles for Lonely Planet on California, the western United States, Latin America and international volunteering. After a yearlong trip around the world in 2010, he gets a little taste of Puerto Rico every day while walking through his neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York.
Beth Kohn - Beth has loved Puerto Rico since her first trip here, when she catapulted into a shimmering bioluminescent bay and stayed up for hours listening to the coqui frogs. Her favorite experience this time was tramping up the south road of El Yunque until the jungle swallowed the pavement and her shoes were inundated with water. Next time she'll take some rubber boots and keep going. An author of many Lonely Planet guides, including Mexico and South America on a Shoestring, you can see more of her written and photographic work at www.bethkohn.com.

My Review: This is a travel guide that should be able to fulfill all your needs for information on what to do, how to do, where to go, etc... when you are visiting Puerto Rico. The authors did a magnificent job putting together this excellent travel guide.

The book is structured in four blocks. First one is called "Plan Your Trip". Second one is "On the Road", followed by "Understand Puerto Rico" and finally "Survival Guide". On "Plan Your Trip" the authors list 20 top experiences, facts that you need to know, main facts on the island month-by-month, some suggestions for itineraries if you have seven days (Essential Puerto Rico), two weeks (The Grand Tour), five to ten days (An Escape to Culabra & Vieques), five days (Exploring the Mountains), and seven days (Puerto Rico's North Coast). They also talk about outdoors and travelling with children.
After this initial introduction, the authors start describing places to visit, starting with San Juan, El Yunque & East Coast, Culebra & Vieques, Ponce & South Coast, West Coast, North Coast and Central Mountains. For each segment there is an introduction with the history, a map, highlights, where to eat, what to visit, where to stay, costs for attractions, hours of operations, etc.
The "Understand Puerto Rico" block brings information on history, dance, life in Puerto Rico, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, sports and art. Finally, the "Survival Guide" gives you general guidelines on climate, pets, insurance, visas, transportation and language.

This is an outstanding result for a combined effort from two different authors and it was published by Lonely Planet in November 2011. I recommend this book for those who are serious about planing their trips and also for those who want to remember details on previous travels, while wishing they can return to Puerto Rico some day in the future.

Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this book for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not request to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, fell free to leave a comment!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Book "Animated Realism" by Judith Kriger

About the Book: With the development and accessibility of animation tools and techniques, filmmakers are blurring the boundaries between documentary filmmaking and animation. The intimacy, imperfection and charm of the animated form is providing live-action and animation directors with unique ways to tell stories, humanize events and convey information not easily adapted for live-action media. Animated Realism presents animation techniques as they apply to the documentary genre with an inspirational behind-the-scenes look at award-winning animated documentaries. Animators and documentary filmmakers alike will learn how to develop a visual style with animation, translate a graphic novel into a documentary and use 3D animation as a storytelling tool, all in the context of creating animated documentaries.
With insight and inspiration, Animated Realism includes interviews from industry luminaries like John Canemaker, Oscar Winning Director of The Moon and the Son, Yoni Goodman, Animation Director of Oscar Nominated Waltz with Bashir and Chris Landreth, Oscan Winning creator of Ryan. Packed with beautiful, instructive illustrations and previously unpublished material (including storyboards, photos and hand-drawn sketches) and interspersed with interviews - this is an exceptional source of inspiration and knowledge for animators, students and fans alike. With a companion website featuring animated shorts from leading animated documentaries, animators, students and documentary filmmakers will be able to analyze and apply Oscar-winning animation techniques to their own films.

About the Author: Judith Kriger is a Los Angeles, CA-based independent filmmaker and animator. She has worked professionally in the entertainment industry for over twenty years on various projects for film, broadcast, video games and the web. Ms. Kriger's credits include: Cats and Dogs, Antz, A Simple Wish, Bebe's Kids, South Park, Ren and Stimpy, The Family Dog and various Doughboy commercials. Ms. Kriger produces, directs and animates her own independent films and is currently working on an animated project about the Hebrew alphabet. She is an Assistant Professor of Film and Television at the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University. Ms. Kriger teaches introductory and advanced courses in 3D animation and visual effects production.

My Review: If you are expecting to learn how to do animation, this is not the book for you. This is a superb book on why we should use animation on documentary film-making. The author brings to the book all her experience and through interviews with some masters on the subject, she was able to compose a very easy reading and enjoyable learning tool. It gives you so many ideas and sparkles the desire of starting a new project right after finishing reading the book.
She interviews Yoni Goodman and talks about "Finding Pleasure in the Imperfection. Then comes Bob Sabiston, on "The Halfway Point to Reality". Next we have John Canemaker, talking about "Personal Documentaries". Fourth is Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre, a French-Canada's Rising Star, followed by Dennis Tupicoff, that talks about "Documentary Filmmaking with an Animator's Sensibility". Chris Landreth is the next one and his theme is "Making Ordinary Human Experience Extraordinary". And the last interview is with Paul Fierlinger, "The Iconoclastic Animator".

I recommend this book to all those who have a passion for film-making and would enjoy playing with animation but are afraid to try. You might get a lot of incentive and ideas from reading this book.
This book was written by Judith Kriger and was published by Focal Press in December 2011. Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this book for me through their Vine Program for reviewing and I was not request to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own.

If you read this review, fell free to leave a comment!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Book "Farsighted" by Emlyn Chand


About the Book: Alex Kosmitoras's life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he's blind. Just when he thinks he'll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.
Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival--an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to "see" the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.

About the Author: Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she's not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don't forget to say "hi" to her sun conure Ducky!

My Review: This is a good book, written in a very easy language and the author did a superb job creating all the environment for the plot to develop.
The plot is simple: our main character is a blind young man named Alex. He attends a school where he is bullied and his relationship with his father is a complicated one. But suddenly things change, once he finds out he has some kind of special power, an ability to foresee the future. At school he befriends with two girls, and that is a new experience for him. One of the girls is Simmi, new to the school, and Alex starts liking her very much, but he foresee her death and now he wants to quickly develop his power so he can control it, in order to try to avoid that to happen. He tries to get help from the psychic lady that has a store next to his mother's flower shop. He is surprised to find out that Simmi also has special powers. She is able to manipulate the emotions of other people and she is also trained by this same lady. They start training together and Alex hopes he will be able to stop her death from happening and make her fall in love to him. An the reason of the difficult relationship with his father is well explained and understood during the development of the plot. There is a promised sequence for this book named Open Heart, to be released in 2012.

I would recommend this book to any reader who enjoys young adult novels with mystery, romance and psychic powers, to read during a rainy weekend and enjoy very much the story. It is an easy reading and it took me approximately eight hours to read this book (And I like this cover better than the first one).

This book was written by Emlyn Chand and was published by Blue Crown Press in October 2011 and Goddess Fish Promotions were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their blogger book review program.

If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.

The author will be giving away a $25 Amazon.com gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour and a $50 Amazon GC to the host whose post receives the most comments (excluding Emlyn’s and the hosts).

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book "The Genesis Code" by Abraham Lopian and Julie A.Snyder

About the Book: You live in an era of the 'great awakening' and something remarkable has happened. An ancient Biblical message has been discovered that will guide you through your transformation. God's message has risen to change your perception of reality. The Genesis Code: God Has Spoken is an untraveled path that leads to God’s giving of the Luchot Haedot—the “first and most profound” tablets Moses brought down the mountain. Most scholars assume God's first tablets of Sinai (the Luchot Haedot) held the same message as Sinai's second set of tablets (the Ten Commandments). Nothing could be further from the truth. The message of God's Luchot was of the highest order--its enlightenment unparalleled. Over 3000 years ago, at the depths of God's written word, another story and level of understanding was hidden in the Five Books of Moses--buried in the ancient Hebrew texts. Time would pass and the story of the Luchot, together with its profound enlightenment, would become lost in human awareness. At the core of the Five Books of Moses, God's ultimate truth would lay dormant for thousands of years--waiting for a future and advanced level of man to discover God's secrets of creation. That time has come. The Genesis Code: God Has Spoken is an ancient message for the 21st Century. We live in a time the prophets foresaw, and the vibration of the Luchot has risen to awaken a new level of male and female. With passion and intelligence, you are taken into the rabbit hole of advanced conceptions where a new and extraordinary perspective of God, man, nature, life, death, love, and reality emerges out of the shadows and into the light of human awareness.

About the Authors: Originating from London, England, Abraham Lopian is a new level of spiritual mastery. Born into traditional Orthodox Judaism, his family's lineage has produced leading rabbis and heads of Talmudic Academies throughout the world. Surrounded by philosophers and scholars, it was only natural that Abraham would delve into the depths of creation's mysteries. As a young boy he studied with his rabbinical uncles and, years later, with his Grandfather, Reb Elia Lopian, a famous and well-respected spiritual man known for his remarkable insight into the Torah (the Bible). Abraham's decades of Talmudic study span the oceans and include several Talmudic Academies throughout the world.
His enlightenment, however, would not be realized through scholastic studies, but through a metaphysical experience in 1988 that would forever change his perception of God and creation. Years later, Abraham was led to Julie Snyder--the woman he calls his "enlightenment." Julie understood it was vital for The Genesis Code to be revealed to humanity and, nearly a decade later, their insight, passion, and creativity has given birth to The Genesis Code book series.
The Genesis Code is a level of enlightenment that could only be activated through a joint perspective of male/female consciousness. Before this seed of enlightenment could flower in our world, it required the nourishment of a particular type of relationship--a union between a male and female that represents the "total" Adam on earth. What most have not yet realized is the true "Adam" is both male and female. The Torah specifically states in Genesis 5:2, "Male and female, he created them; and God blessed them and called their name, Adam, on the day they were created."
Abraham and Julie, through their diverse backgrounds, lifestyles, and experiences bring forth extraordinary revelations of enlightenment for today's consciously evolved male and female. With passion and intelligence, the reader is taken into the rabbit hole of advanced conceptions where a new and extraordinary perspective of God, man, nature, life, death, love, and reality emerges out of the shadows and into the light of human awareness.

My Review: This is quite an interesting book. We clearly see a lot of effort and research by the authors in producing this book. They provide with some very interesting ideas and new point of views of the Scriptures and their interpretation sometimes has its merits. There is a lot of learning you can take from their studies, but for me as a Christian, there are some buts and whats. If you are not strong in your believes, you might be tempted to think that what is said in this book is the new absolute truth, but if you think it as just an opinion from the authors, you should be entertained.
I could mention here dozens of different reasons why I was not thrilled by the contents of this book. For example, as a Christian I do not like to see Jesus compared at the same level as Muhammad and Buddha. The authors estate that "..., subsequent biblical writings, spiritual doctrines, and prophets, including Jesus, Muhammad, and Buddha - brought down enlightenment...". For Christians, the Torah is part of our believes. And there we read and it is crystal clear that the Jews are the chosen people of God. For the Gentiles (me included) our only hope of salvation is through Jesus. We also fear the same God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But for Christians, Jesus was not just another prophet, but the only Son of God.
And as a student of the Scriptures (I have a bachelor degree in Theology), I always learnt that the interpretation of the Scriptures is a difficult subject because of the many metaphors used in the text of the Bible. In many points the authors are trying to take what it is written in the literal way, and that might not necessarily be the right way. Don't take me wrong, but I am hard to be convinced of new ideas just because they are well described, if there is no biblical support. Remember how many people read the "DaVinci Code" and thought that everything in that book was true, just because the author was providing references supporting his views. They just forgot that the references provided were apocrypha. I am not here to judge the authors and tell that what they are saying is true or lie. Who am I to do that? I think this was an excellent book that triggered on me the desire to study more and try to understand better the Scriptures.

This book was written by Abraham Lupian and Julie A. Snyder and it was published in January 2012. The authors were kind enough to send me this book for reviewing.

If you read this post, feel free to leave a comment!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Book "Life Promises for Couples" by Gary Chapman

About the Book: Everybody wants a strong, loving, God-centered marriage. In Life Promises for Couples, New York Times bestselling relationship expert Dr. Gary Chapman provides trusted words of wisdom designed to encourage and inspire couples, alongside key Bible verses that illuminate God’s plan for marriage and for nurturing healthy, happy relationships. Whether you are a young couple just starting out or you’ve just celebrated your 50th wedding anniversary, your marriage is sure to benefit from the timeless wisdom contained in this beautifully designed two-color gift book.

About the Author: Married more than 45 years to Karolyn, Dr. Gary Chapman is just the man to turn to for help on improving or healing our most important relationships. His own life experiences, plus over thirty-five years of pastoring and marriage counseling, led him to publish his first book in the Love Language series, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. Millions of readers credit this continual New York Times bestseller with saving their marriages by showing them simple and practical ways to communicate their love to their partner.
Since the success of his first book, Dr. Chapman has expanded his Five Love Languages series to specifically reach out to teens, singles, men, and children (co-authored with Dr. Ross Campbell).
He is the author of numerous other books published by Moody Publishers/Northfield Publishing, including The World's Easiest Guide to Family Relationships, Anger, The Family You've Always Wanted, The Marriage You've Always Wanted, Desperate Marriages, God Speaks Your Love Language (Jan 09), Parenting Your Adult Child, and Hope for the Separated. He co-authored The Five Languages of Apology with Dr. Jennifer Thomas.
Chapman speaks to thousands of couples nationwide through his weekend marriage conferences. He hosts a nationally syndicated radio program, Love Language Minute, and a Saturday morning program, Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, that air on more than 100 stations. Dr. Chapman also serves as senior associate pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
Dr. Chapman holds BA and MA degrees in anthropology from Wheaton College and Wake Forest University, respectively, MRE and PhD degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has completed postgraduate work at the University of North Carolina and Duke University.
Dr. Chapman and his wife have two adult children and two grandchildren, and currently live in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

My Review: This is a very well presented hardcover book, with a ribbon attached to the spine that allows you to mark the current reading page without having to use anything that might damage the book. Dr. Chapman is a well-known authority in this field of marriage counselling. His advises based on his own experience and on the Scriptures are great. The format is quite easy to follow: on the left (even pages) there are usually 3 verses from the Scriptures on a predetermined theme, while on the right (odd pages, the author expose his point on that theme in question. Themes cover a variety of topics, like servitude, love, sex, and many others. The size of book is very convenient as it is small and easy to carry around.
This is a must have book in the permanent library of any Christian couple who wants to live a full and happy marriage.

This book was written by Gary Chapman and was published by Tyndale House Publishers in December 2011 and they were kind enough to send me a copy for reviewing through their blogger book review program.

If you are reading this review, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts.