Influx by Daniel Suarez

influx_iconInflux, the latest novel from Daniel Suarez is certain to be another smash hit.  Daniel’s first book, Daemon was a bestseller and foretold technologies that are only currently seeing the light of day.  Modern tech like Goole’s still-in-production Google Glass, and lesser altruistic advents such as the recently dismantled Silk Road.  Part two of Daemon was titled Freedom™, and was another massive success.  This was followed by Kill Decision which proved to be only moments ahead of its time since it dealt with drone warfare and posed a question that is becoming crucial at this very point in time: should automated systems or artificial intelligence be allowed to make critical life and death decisions?

Book number four from Mr. Suarez, Influx, deals with a fictional government agency who’s mandate is to police leaps in technology that are deemed disruptive.  The BTC, or Bureau of Technology Control, is proactive in its efforts, striking at scientist and innovators before they can bring key innovations to market— innovations that are certain to change the world in some profound way.  When such a technology comes to the attention of the BTC, the innovator behind the discovery is offered membership into the unique and secret organization.  But only if he or she agrees to keep their discovery from the world and continues development while working for the BTC.  But what happens when someone refuses?
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The Best Way to Blanket a Home in Wi-Fi

wireless_iconA recent Facebook post started me thinking that this was a subject worth covering.  Here’s the original question:

JR: Computer people, what is the absolute, most amazing and powerful wi-fi extender I can get? My current extender is slow and totally unreliable, needing to be reset frequently. I’ve read reviews online, but can’t seem to come up with an obvious choice.

It’s a great question with a few possible answers.  First, let’s make some assumptions about the environment.  Like most folks in this situation, I’m betting that this is a larger house with the router located at one end and that the wi-fi reception on the opposite end is the real problem.  Upstairs and downstairs variations are likely not the issue.  There could be obstructions in the middle of the house the interfere with the signal.  These are typically kitchen related.  The refrigerator and stove can really tank a wi-fi signal.

So what’s the best way to extend the range of the wi-fi router?  There are extenders, but as the question suggests, your mileage may vary.  What are the alternatives?

Option 1: Replace the Router
Replacing the main wireless router with an 802.11n or an 802.11ac version could be the ticket.  If the original router was 802.11a, 802.11b, or 802.11g, then these newer versions offer greater ranger in most situations.  But there’s a catch.  To take full advantage of that greater range, the wireless adapter that’s part of your computer should also be 802.11n or 802.11ac.  If it’s not, you’re not going to get the full range extension.  And upgrading the hardware at the computer could be impractical (adding a card of some kind) or impossible (some laptops, and all tablets).  At some point, the price becomes an issue and option 1 might not be the best route if you’re dealing with legacy hardware.

Also keep in mind that 802.11n and 802.11ac routers drop in performance to match the requirements of the oldest connecting device.  This means that, if you have an old device (only 802.11b 22Mb), your super fast 100+Mb wi-fi will down-step the performance of the entire network to accommodate that old device.  Some of the latest hardware circumvents this issue by putting the older hardware on a different frequency, but in far too many cases, having an old device on a modern network will cause the entire network to slow down.  Worse yet, depending on the router, it might also limit the range of your wi-fi network as it works to accommodate those older specifications.  Few people see that coming.  It’s difficult to anticipate and even more difficult to diagnose, so be aware.
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Refuge Omnibus Edition by Jeremy Bishop and Friends

refuge-omnibus-big-by-jeremy-bishopRefuge was a five book serialize release from Jeremy Bishop and a host of additional talented authors that is now available in an omnibus edition.  If you tuned in to the series as it was released on a weekly basis, you could buy the books as they were released.  But now that the five book series is complete, the omnibus version is available.  It contains the complete series in a single book, and at a reduced price.

Each book in the series was co-authored by Jeremy Bishop and another author.  Each guest is a talented and accomplished author in their own right, so the tag-team effort insures that each book is nothing short of spectacular.  Book one is written by Jeremy Bishop and Jeremy Robinson.  Fans of Robinson’s work will recognize Jeremy Bishop as the pen name that Robinson reserves for his horror work.  His collaboration with his alter ego is as fun as the book is chilling.  With book 2, Bishop teams up with Daniel S. Boucher.  Book 3 pairs Bishop with Robert Swartwood who wrote The Serial Killer’s Wife and The Calling, among numerous other thrillers.  Book 4 teamed Bishop with David McAfee of 33 A.D. and 61 A.D. fame.  And book 5 concludes the series by pairing Bishop with Kane Gilmour, author of ResurrectThe Crypt of Dracula, as well as co-author of several of the Jack Sigler books.
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Beyond Judgment By Richard Bard (Brainrush #3)

beyond_judgementI fell in love with the series when I read books 1 and 2 back to back. I had impossibly high expectations when I started reading book 3. To the point where I was nervous… worried that the third installment couldn’t possibly live up to my lofty expectations. Especially after waiting a year for the latest release.

All of my worries were for nothing. Book three was a smash hit that managed to surpass my expectations in every possible way. It was an action packed thrill-ride from beginning to end. But maybe even more impressively, the way book three ties into the events and characters from the earlier releases actually managed to pull at my heartstrings. While the book was an action thriller, it had more than a few touching moments that were brilliantly written.
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Sideloading eBooks Onto The Kindle Reader

kindle_paperwhiteThere are a couple of reasons why Amazon grew to dominate the e-book market early in the game.  First, the store’s selection is first-rate.  A ton of content is key.  But the real brilliance on the part of Amazon was the way the store tied into the Kindle Reader.  Buy a book online and the Amazon website makes it very easy to pop that new book onto a Kindle compatible reading device.  It doesn’t matter if that reading devices is a Kindle branded reader,  iPad, iPhone, Android device, or even a laptop/desktop Mac or PC.  Just click the buy button on Amazon.com and select your destination device (assuming you have more than one device registered in your Amazon account).  Amazon’s backend infrastructure takes care of the rest.  Just buy the book and start reading… very easy.

But what if you buy a book from Smashwords or you download it directly from an authors website?  If that book wasn’t purchased through the Amazon store, getting it onto your device suddenly becomes a lot less intuitive.  Actually, it can be a down right painful experience… Until you know the tricks.  But there is good news.  There are a number of ways to get those books onto your Kindle compatible device.
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Grey Lady, by Paul Kemprecos

paul_kemprecos_grey_lady_iconThere’s something about a detective story that’s told in the first person.  When it’s done right, it just works.  That is, hands down, the case with Grey Lady.  But it’s far more than you classic who done it? mystery.  It’s also a wild ride with a riveting plot that pulls you in at the start and keeps you locked locked within the pages for the duration.  Everything centers around a character named Aristotle Socarides, better know as “Soc” to his friends and adversaries alike.  And while this is book 7 in a series, that shouldn’t prevent anyone from jumping into the series right here.  I haven’t read the earlier books yet (Though they have all been added to my to-read list now).

This a tale of murder, a rich man’s mental break with reality, and the search for the great white whale immortalized by Herman Melville.  What do all of these things have in common?  Not a single thing, unless you’re Paul Kemprecos.  But for an author with his pedigree, they’re the base ingredients for a fantastic mystery thriller than involves lost American history, scrimshaw, hive based drone technology, and cannibalism.
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Omega by Jeremy Robinson and Kane Gilmour

omega_book_iconI have so many things that I want to say but I can’t because I don’t want to spoil this amazing novel for anyone.  So no spoilers here.  It’s enough to say that this book takes the team, and a couple of characters in particular, to some very interesting and unexpected places.  Adding to the fun, Omega takes what we know about the series so far— and some of the characters— and just turns all of that on its ear.  There’s some really brilliant stuff that you wouldn’t expect to see surface this far into a well-established series.

Of course we get the requisite gun toting, ass-kicking that we expect from our favorite special-ops team, and a few things are revealed that threaten to make us look back at the earlier books in an entirely different way.
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Mac OS X 10.9 Quick Tip: Terminal Command to Create a Bootable USB Install Drive

terminal_iconWhen Apple released Mac OS X 10.9 Mavericks (still hate that name, but I never cared for the cats either), they changed the workaround we were using to manually build bootable thumb drives.  But as it turns out, there is now a lengthy Terminal command will literally build a bootable USB drive for you.

In its simplest form, just copy and paste this command into your Mac’s Terminal window and hit return.  You will be prompted to enter your administrator password in order to write to the USB drive.  Please keep in mind that this command will erase the USB drive that is attached to your computer if it is named USB8GB.  If you’re using a USB drive with a different name, you will need to either rename the drive or modify this command.
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A Quick Test of a USB 3 Thumbdrive

benchmark_iconNewegg.com had a sale the other day, offering an ADATA 32GB USB thumbdrive (memory stick, flash drive, jump drive, call it what you want) for $17.99 after rebate (free shipping at the time).  Not a bad price given the capacity of the drive, so I figured I would give it a shot.  The drive is by ADATA and I don’t know much about the company, or their product line.  But it’s been my experience that, when it comes to flash memory, you get what you pay for.

For example, a year or two back, I picked up a 16GB drive from a company called PQI.  I forget what I paid for it but it wasn’t much.  And while the drive remains functional to this day, it has also proven to be the slowest damn memory stick I’ve ever seen in my life.  So, I figure I got what I paid for.  In other situations I’ve had thumbdrives that just outright failed after only a minimal amount of use.
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Warbirds of Mars: Stories of the Fight, by Kane Gilmour and Scott P. Vaughn

warbirds_iconI picked up Warbirds of Mars: Stories of the Fight without knowing exactly what to expect.  It’s a collection of short stories that are all set in the same world, each written by a different talented author.  Additionally, the book contains some outstanding original artwork that was inspired by each story.  Together they make for a unique and engaging experience.  And while I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I started reading this nearly 500 page novel, it was a book that surpassed even my wildest expectation.

Warbirds of Mars began as a web comic.  Stories of the Fight marks a substantial change in format for the content, but one that serves the story at least as well as any comic.  Warbirds of Mars takes place in a world where an alien force invaded Earth in the middle of World War II.  At that point, history as we know is shifts from all that we know to have been true.  Nazis side with the alien invading force while much of the free world struggles to remain free from enslavement or outright extermination.  Along the way, a resistance force rises up to bring the battle to both the Martians and the fascist regime.  They call themselves the Martian Killers— a larger than life, comic book like group of resistance fighters who champion mankind’s rebellion against an enemy equipped with superior technology and manpower.

What makes this book particularly interesting is the collaboration of a group of disparate and talented authors and artists.  Each one bringing his or her own style and flair to subject matter.  As a result, every chapter of the book is unique in content and tone.  For fans of genre fiction, this is nothing less than a unique and thrilling experience.  No single author could’ve created a story with such scope and diversity.  Some of the perspectives chosen by the authors border on brilliant.  Some stories offer seat of your pants action and thrills, others offer chills, while at least one will bring a smile to your face and a tear to your eye.
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