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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Balance of October

During the month of October, I reviewed the following:

Books:
- "Center of the Universe" by Bill Johnson. Read my review.
- "November Echo" by James Houston Turner. Read my review.
Other Products:
- "SYNC Calorie Activity Tracker" by Sportline. Read my review.
- "NN-SN973S 1-Piece 2.2 cu.ft Inverter Technology Microwave Oven, 1250 watt" by Panasonic. Read my review.
- "WD832KEV Ultra Quiet and Strong 1/2 HP Belt Drive Garage Door Opener" by Chamberlain. Read my review.

Book "November Echo" by James Houston Turner

About the Book: Every spy has a beginning, and for Colonel Aleksandr Talanov of the KGB, that moment occurs one summery night in 1985 on the Costa del Sol, at the height of Cold War tensions between the Americans and Soviets.
As a signatory to the Biological Weapons Treaty of 1972, the United States had already destroyed its military stockpiles of weaponized pathogens. The Soviet Union, however, responded differently to the signing of that treaty. They created a network of forty-seven top-secret production facilities spread across Russia. Called Biopreparat, it was the largest biological weapons program in history.
So when a scientist from one of those facilities decides to defect, Talanov has the assigned task of bringing him back. But after tracking the scientist and his family to Spain, Talanov is betrayed and the scientist and his family are murdered.
The only survivor is their teenage daughter, Noya -- short for Noyabŕ -- in English, "November" -- and what happens in an impulsive moment changes the course of Talanov's life by placing him in a desperate race to save Noya from the deadliest and most vicious adversary he will ever encounter: the KGB.

About the author: James Houston Turner is the bestselling author of the Aleksandr Talanov thriller series, as well as numerous other books and articles. Talanov the fictional character was inspired by the actual KGB agent who leaked word out of Moscow back in the 1980s that James was on a KGB watchlist for his smuggling activities behind the old Iron Curtain.
James Houston Turner's debut thriller, Department Thirteen, was voted the Best Thriller of 2011 by USA Book News, after which it won gold medals in the 2012 Independent Publisher ("IPPY") Book Awards and the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
A cancer survivor and former journalist in Los Angeles, he holds a Bachelor's Degree from Baker University and a Master's Degree from the University of Houston (Clear Lake). After living in South Australia for nearly twenty years, he and his wife, Wendy, a former triathlon winner, now live in Austin, Texas. Visit his website at talanov.info.

My Review: James Turner did it again. When we thought that it would be impossible to get better, he delivered this masterpiece of espionage. Using his unique writing style, Turner goes back in time and shows us a young Colonel Talanov working for the KGB, trying to bring back to USSR a doctor (Gorev) who was trying to defect with his wife (Anna), daughter (Noya) and parents, seeking asylum in USA. Nobody knows where the doctor is, but Talanov thinks he is going to Spain to meet the Americans. When he gets permission to proceed and go to Spain, the condition is that he takes a designated partner with him, a young and beautiful lady named Sofia Dubinina. Americans suspect that Dr. Gorev was part of a team that was developing biological weapons in USSR. What Talanov does not know is that Sofia is a very well trained agent from Department Thirteen...
This is a story of romance, betrayal, loyalty, political intrigues and above all, the story of a man trained to kill and to feel no emotions, that is caught in his internal turmoil by a very young lady that reads his soul like nobody else ever did. Not even himself.
After things get completely out of course, he starts a desperate race trying to save Noya, at that point the only survivor of the family, from the grasps of KGB.
We are already in November and definitely this is one of the best stories I read this year, together with Greco's Game. This could be turned into an excellent thriller Hollywood movie!
I recommend this book to the permanent library of any serious reader who loves thrillers, espionage and a very well written book that will keep you entertained for hours. It took me around eleven hours to read the whole book.
James Houston Turner was kind enough to send me an electronic version of this book for reviewing and I was not requested to provide a positive review. Opinions expressed here are my own. 

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

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Product "WD832KEV Ultra Quiet and Strong 1/2 HP Belt Drive Garage Door Opener" by Chamberlain

About the Product: From the Manufacturer: The Chamberlain Whisper Drive Ultra-Quiet and Strong 1/2 HP Belt Drive garage door opener is our newest opener and is the ultimate blend of power and quiet. It features our exclusive Motor Vibration Isolation System (MVIS) – which eliminates power head vibration for reduced noise – making it the ideal choice if you have rooms positioned above the garage. As added convenience features the opener has a timer-to-close function that will automatically close the garage door in case you forget, and MyQ technology that allows your garage door opener to automatically control interior and/or exterior lights (with purchase of additional MyQ accessories) so you will never come home to a dark house again.

My Review: I am not a handy person, by far. And it took me only three hours to remove my old LiftMaster 1/3HP system that was not working properly (it was more than 30 years old) and put this new Chamberlain system in place. The material came very well packed and the instructions to assemble and wiring the system was very clear. Remotes for the car were already programmed. The keypad to open the door from outside was easy to program (I chose my own 4-digit code), following a detailed step by step procedure very well described in the manual. I tried to fool the system by not installing the sensors, but the door simply do not close if the sensors are not there... And that was what took me big part of the three hours of installation, going out and cutting two pieces of 2x4 wood  (not provided) to place the sensors. When I tried to install the sensors directly in the wall, the direct sight that is necessary for the two sensors to work properly was blocked by the frame where the door slides... Anyway, after everything was in place, I was very pleased with the final result. All controls were working properly (including the lights) and it is really a silent motor we are talking about. As I have a two door garage at home, I will place an order for an additional unit of the same model for the other door and I will be able to program the same remote control for the car to open the second door (the remote has three buttons, so it can hold up to three different doors).

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

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

Monday, October 21, 2013

Product "NN-SN973S 1-Piece 2.2 cu.ft Inverter Technology Microwave Oven, 1250 watt" by Panasonic

About the Product: 2.2-cubic-foot microwave oven with Inverter technology for true, variable microwave power. Attractively housed in fingerprint-resistant stainless steel, this 1250-watt microwave oven by Panasonic makes a stylish and convenient addition to any contemporary kitchen. The 2.2-cubic-foot unit with its 16-1/2-inch turntable perfectly cooks and evenly heats anything from breakfast foods and after-school snacks to dinnertime meals and appetizers when entertaining. Ideal for busy professionals and on-the-go families, the microwave oven provides quick and easy meal preparation while nicely accommodating surrounding decor. Create savory stews and other meals with ease. The countertop oven can be installed in the wall using an optional matching trim kit. Many people just use their microwaves for making popcorn or warming up soup because most microwaves just have one temperature setting--high. Conventional microwave ovens might have a low-power setting, but this is achieved by "pulsing" the high-power setting on and off rather than by emitting a steady stream of low-powered energy. Panasonic's trailblazing Inverter technology delivers true, variable microwave power, which means even temperatures and consistent textures throughout the food being cooked. The consistent delivery of microwave energy allows delicate foods to simmer without the edges and surfaces overcooking, so foods have the look and taste you expect--without the wait. The Inverter microwave oven perfects the art of cooking, taking microwave cooking to a whole new level. You'll experience delicious food that better retains its color, nutrients, and flavor and that's easier and faster to prepare. Oh, and you can still make great popcorn. Single, Compact Power Supply Furthermore, the Inverter power unit is smaller and lighter than conventional microwave circuitry (aka the heavy, enclosed side of the microwave), which allows for more interior space to fit that favorite casserole dish, without increasing the oven's overall exterior dimensions. Weighing just 37 pounds, the oven's roomy interior measures 18-1/2 inches long by 18-7/16 inches wide by 10-15/16 inches high, while its compact exterior measures 19-7/16 inches long by 23-7/8 inches wide by 14 inches high. 
Highlights: 
- One-Touch Genius Sensor Cook With the touch of Panasonic's Sensor Cooking button, the microwave takes the guesswork out of creating a great meal, by automatically setting power levels and adjusting cooking or defrosting time. The sensor measures the amount of steam produced during cooking, and signals the microprocessor to calculate the remaining cooking time at the appropriate power level automatically. 
- Embossed Tactile Control Panel Raised control panel buttons deliver a slight resistant and enhanced feedback when pressed for quicker, more intuitive touch-sensitive operation. 
- Inverter Turbo Defrost Panasonic evolved the Turbo Defrost feature, which allows you to defrost foods even faster than previous Panasonic Auto Defrost. Panasonic Inverter Turbo Defrost technology is an advanced microwave sequencing system using the inverter continuous-power delivery method. 
- Keep Warm Feature A pulsing delivery of very low microwave power keeps food temperatures at a constant level--without overcooking. So, foods like stew, gravy, and desserts remain warm in the oven until they're ready to be served. 
- Clock/Timer Time-of-day clock and versatile timer provide exceptional convenience. 
- Quick Minute - The one-touch button allows you to automatically set the time in one-minute increments.
- Child-Safety Lock - For safety, the oven's child safety lock prevents electronic operation (door still opens). Press Start three times to lock ("Lock" will display); press Stop/Reset three times to cancel.
Make Mealtime Marvelous Create all your favorite recipes, quickly and easily, with Panasonic's Inverter microwave oven. Eggs Appetizers Soups Casseroles Fish/seafood Meats Pasta/grains/cereals Poultry Sauces Vegetable side dishes Pies Desserts and breads. 

My Review: This is a state of the art microwaves. Interior space is huge (I bought the 2.2 cubic foot), allowing my wife to put a whole soup casserole inside it! But it would be just a regular microwave if not by its incredible feature called One Touch Genius Sensor. The microwave adjust its power levels based on the amount of steam produced during cooking and calculate the remaining cooking time. This is just perfect so you do not need to guess and overheat your meal. More than that, although the physics behind the scenes goes beyond my knowledge, the Inverter Technology seems to work fine, adjusting power level to intermediate levels without stay just pulsing high power on and off, heating your food uniformly. So, the problem of defrost foods with pieces of ice still there is over. This microwave also has a beautiful design, with stainless steel exterior, looks good in our kitchen. Panel is easy to understand and use. I highly recommend this product.  

Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this product 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, October 4, 2013

Book "Center of the Universe" by Bill Johnson



About the Book: Center of the Universe—A Look at Life From the Lighter Side are slices of life from a pastor to his congregation that mixes real concern with real humor. From tales about fly-fishing and an uncontrollable hunting dog to a revival in Africa and healing the homeless, this compilation of 93 stories brings smiles as well as profound insight. With a very casual style and voice, the author relates directly with the reader as a personal friend, committed to sharing valuable lessons he learned on the lighter side of life.

About the Author: BILL JOHNSON is a fifth-generation pastor with a rich heritage in the Holy Spirit. Bill and his wife, Beni, serve a growing number of churches through a leadership network that crosses denominational lines and builds relationships. The Johnsons are the senior pastors of Bethel Church in Redding, California. All three of their children and spouses are involved in full-time ministry. They have eight wonderful grandchildren.

My Review: This is a very light book to read that will make you feel good. Pastor Bill Johnson describes in a very colloquial way some experiences of his life and some situations that vary from comic to very serious. We have a total of 93 short stories or episodes of his life. This is a well written book, that will keep you entertained and also meditating for a while.

I recommend this book to the permanent library of all readers who like a well written book and needs a boost on his/her faith. It took me around 8 hours to read the whole book.

I bought this book from amazon.com in its electronic version. Opinions expressed here are my own.

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Product "SYNC Calorie Activity Tracker" by Sportline

About the Product:

  • Captures your daily calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and activity time.
  • Wear on your hip on in your pocket.
  • Quickly sync data to MapMyWalk app, the largest community of fitness walkers.
  • Use MapMyWalk tools to challenge and motivate.
  • 1 Year battery life.


My Review: This is a very compact toy that keeps track of your movements. It records steps, miles that it represents (based on your height it calculates the length of your step), calories consumed (kcal based on your weight) and total time of activity. The setup is simple, although the product did not come with a user manual. But pressing the setup button for a while (probably around 5 seconds), the device enters into setup mode and then you can set up the clock, calendar (day, month and year), height and weight (you select either in pounds or kilos). Although the device "per se" is nice, the possibility of syncing it with a free application named "MapMyWalk" is what it is most attractive. This application gives you the history of your workouts in a nice graphic but you could also go wild and set some routes and courses and set some goals, etc. 
Overall, this product is a very nice incentive for you to keep your resolution to lose weight or to keep exercising. I recommend this product to any person who wants to track his/her exercises.

Amazon.com was kind enough to provide this product 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!