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  • Denis Barnes "A N Alien" - The Artist's Way

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in any form of art (drawing, painting, dancing, photography, film making, etc), music or writing. Whether you have ever thought about, used to do it, or are now practicing any form of art, music or writing, this book will help you become better at it. If you are willing to follow the guidelines and stick to the path laid out in the book, you will become a better artist, musician and writer.

  • Liam Sargent - Simply the best Android tablet in existence.

    I pre-ordered my Prime 11/24 from TigerDirect and received it on 1/4.

    First impressions:
    Very nice packaging, just big enough to fit the tablet's surface area, with a very solid construction to it. I had no fear of shipping damage after I held the box in my hands. Inside was 10.1 inches of widescreen gadget glory, and a few accessories, (Charger, USB cable, microfiber cloth, manual)

    Tablet was heavier than I imagined, but had a GREAT feel to it. Mind-blowingly thin. The back of the device has a nice matte feel due to the anodized brushed aluminum surface. It is a pleasure to hold in both hands, and absolutely is nice to look at. It is a little bit heavy when holding with just one hand, but that is to be expected with 10.1 inch tablets. The edges are a little sharp, not annoyingly so, but definitely noticable. The finish on the back is a very dark grayish-purple. Yes, purple, but not immasculine. Its a great color for the device, absolutely no complaints on style.

    Screen:
    This thing is gorgeous. The pixel density is just right for this size device, and reading web pages is an easy process. The contrast is fantastic for an LCD, and the colors absolutely pop. I'm no display expert, but I know for certain this is the best display I have ever seen on a tablet, smartphone, netbook, and 99% of laptops. It can get obscenely bright in "Super IPS" mode, which is great for using outdoors, which was once no-mans-land for LCD displays.

    UI/Software
    It is running Android 3.2.1 Honeycomb. Just that sentence alone will give you some insight on the UI's look and feel and responsiveness. I like the look and layout of Honeycomb, but the optimization and snappyness is subpar. Of course I will attribute this purely to the sluggish mess that is Android Honeycomb, and not to the blazing fast quad-core monster inside of the deivce. The included Asus UI is great, I have no complaints about any of the menu layouts or widgets etc, in fact, it is very nice to look at. Props to Asus for making a smart, sensible UI layer that anyone can use. The included cloud storage, "Webshare" or something of the sort is nice to have, but I will probably stick to dropbox for my cloud storage. Asus includes remote desktop software that works flawlessly, and a DLNA streaming app that I find intuitive and well executed.
    Honestly, any software problems or sluggishness will be addressed with ICS on January 12th, so I am not worried about it for now.

    Hardware/performance
    Holy crap.
    This machine is fast. It absolutely slaughters every other device in EVERY benchmark. Well done, NVIDIA, this Tegra 3 chip is a phenom. The performance is most apparent in gaming, when all four cores are working to their full potential. Games have that extra layer of realism that really makes the difference between mobile gaming, and real, console quality stuff.
    One spec I did not realize was included in this machine is the ability to play games in real, stereoscopic 3d when connected to a 3DTV. I played Riptide GP in 3d, and Shadowgun in 3d as well on my 50 inch samsung plasma, and I was floored! Definitely a huge statement to the performance of this machine. Well done, everyone.
    Really no more needs to be said about this device's performance other than "its fast. really fast."

    Camera
    Cameras on tablets look ridiculous. This is true with any tablet. One cannot pull out a 10.1 tab and casually snap a few shots. The whole thing is a rather hilarious affair. Otherwise, the Cameras on the TF201 are absolutely top notch. Video is clear and smooth in 1080p, and still shots look better than my point'n'shoot. The webcam works great for skype. Good work team.

    Video playback
    Flawless with MX Video Player. 1080p30 on a 50 inch plasma is fantastic. No complaints, and no more needs to be said. It just works.

    And now for the bad.
    The GPS issue is a well documented problem. There are ons of explanations for why the GPS is not as accurate as one would hope. Basically, Asus missed a key design point here. The aluminum construction blocks radio waves in a big way. It is a simple fix that could have been prevented by Asus when designing the thing.
    Wifi performance is also affected, though less noticably. The range is not as good as my thinkpad's. Not a dealbreaker, but it is a rather glaring oversight.

    EDIT: (Lighthearted sarcasm alert)

    Who uses a tablet without 3G for GPS anyways? I mean cmon guys. Its a wifi tablet. Using this as a nav system in my car would give me a good chuckle, and really nothing else.
    Ignore the one-star whiners that don't even own the thing. It is hands-down, the best device on the market.

  • John Umland - another family's harrowing tale of injustice at the hands of FEMA

    A new friend this year, a Muslim international student, bought me Zeitoun for my birthday, and I am very grateful. The last time I read about post-Katrina New Orleans was Douglas Brinkley's book,The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2006. But this story did not start with equally destructive force called FEMA. Instead, the book starts with the young boy Abdulraham Zeitoun fishing off the coast of Syria. With frequent flashbacks we learn of his amazing life, his adventures around the world, and his settling down with his wife Kathy in New Orleans and the successful contracting business he founded there. Incidentally, they are Muslim, she an adult convert before meeting him. I appreciate so much how normally Eggers treats their faith. If only everyone's faith could be treated so respectfully, yet causally. Faith pervades so many Americans' lives, yet typically seems ignored or exagerrated, read the Get Religion journalism blog to see what I'm talking about.

    I really enjoy biographies. No fiction author can come up with the crazy twists and turns of real life, by our ultimate author. Zeitoun's oldest brother was a world champion open-water distance swimmer who made Syria proud, but died young and has a statue memorializing him in his hometown. Kathy is one of nine children, Zeitoun one of 10 or so. The incident that finally compelled her conversion to Islam, of embarassment by a pastor in front of a large congregation for investigating Islam is tragic. Why would a presumed representative of God think public humiliation would help someone who was honest as she struggled with her understanding of God? That does make me so mad, but that injustice is smaller to what Zeitoun faced as a consequence of riding out the storm and staying in his neighborhood which resulted in his ability to protect his properties, his tenants, his clients' properties, his elderly neighbors and some abandoned pets. A week after the storm, Zeitoun, a Muslim friend, a tenant, and a new friend were all picked up by a heavily armed police team, assumed to be looters, (we learn that even a lady in her 70's was arrested for the same charge, as well as contractors hired to do clean up), and treated like animals, under the auspices of FEMA. Why does this organization still exist? His story is just one of many whose constitutional rights as well as human rights were violated in the name of order. At some points, I couldn't tell the difference between Zeitoun's experience and Victor Herman's in Communist Russia in his book, Coming Out of the Ice: An Unexpected Life. These things are not supposed to happen in the USA, but they do, all too often. It was worse than the hurricane, according to his wife Kathy.

    Doctors have asked Kathy what she thinks the most traumatic part of the Katrina experience was. She surprised herself and the doctors when she realized that it was after she knew Zeitoun was alive, and had been told he was at Hunt Correctional Center, but wasn't allowed to see him or even know where a court hearing might be held. It was that moment, being told by the woman on the phone that the hearing's location was "private information," that did the most damage.
    "I felt cracked open," she says.
    That this woman, a stranger, could know her despair and desperation, and simply deny her. That there could be trials without witnesses that her government could make people disappear.
    "It broke me." p.319

    It breaks me too. For all the political clamoring about the Constitution in the news these days, it only matters when people with power care about it. That Bill of Rights is intended to protect us from the absolute power of those with better weapons and training, intended for out protection, that we employ through our taxes. All I can say is I am glad my hope is not in this world. One unnamed hero in the story is an anonymous prison minister who passed on word from Zeitoun to his wife that he had not died, but was not communicating with her due to incarceration. Mercy changes everything.

  • Zman "Zman" - Horrifying breakdown of our justice system

    Zeitoun is a book that will make readers angry. We think that incidents like this can't happen in America, but they did in New Orleans seven years ago. I found it disturbing that I knew so little of what really happened in the aftermath of Katrina and how so many innocent victims were caught up in a complete breakdown in our justice system. The book is well written and an absorbing read. You come to identify with the Zeitoun family and their quest of the American dream. At the same time you are confronted with the inherent racism in the United States not just toward people of color but of people of a faith different from Christians. Toward the end it is difficult to believe of the total breakdown of government at the local, state, and federal levels. The anger swells at the lack of accountiblility for what happened and the slowness of our government is owning up to what they did and there failure to compensate innocent families. If you think injustice can't happen in America, read this book.

  • srquhf - QuickBooks for Mac 2013 upgrade

    Love it! Did have an initial problem when first upgraded, but it turned out to be a problem with MY hard drive which had to be cloned, reformatted and re-installed. Don't be so hard on Intuit and the Mac version - it has been working perfectly for me. I have been using QB since the 2007 version and (sorry to all you nay-sayers) but Intuit has continued to improve the Mac product over the years. So many people comment on how much better the PC version is vs. the Mac version and I wondered all these years what I was missing by not ever having the PC version. Well, recently I had the opportunity to help out a friend who was on a PC and let me tell you - you can keep the PC version - Give me my Mac! The Mac version is way better. I have had absolutely no issues with crashing in 2013, no issues with performance and speed.

    I would have passed on the 2013 upgrade except for one new feature - the ability to group invoice. Working in a property management company, we invoice all the owners in an association the exact same amount - having the ability to do a "group" invoice saves me literally hours of work - Thank you Intuit for listening! I use the Community Forum regularly when I have questions or difficulty and I always get responses - it is a great resource.

    There are very few accounting packages out there for the Mac community and periodically, about every year and a half, I download a trial version of two or three of them and run them through the motions for our business and I always reject them and prefer to use QuickBooks. I'm happy.

    Don't listen to all those one-stars - most likely it's operator error.