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 author’s 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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Kindle Automatic Book Update Feature

kindle_iconI just noticed something interesting in the Manage Your Kindle section of the Amazon Store:

Automatic Book Update
Opt in for automatic book updates to receive new versions of your books when we have confirmed that improvements were made. In order to retain your notes, highlights, bookmarks and furthest reading locations, ensure that all your Kindle devices and reading apps have the “Annotation Back Up” setting turned on.

This new feature (or feature that is new to me) would then automatically grab the latest updated copy of any book you have bought through the Kindle store. It’s an optional feature that is turned off by default. Still, you might be wondering why it is off by default when it seems like an amazing and useful feature.

First and foremost, some folks don’t like the idea that their precious books could be changing without their knowledge. So it’s best to let people opt into the feature. Secondly, and most important to me, is that any notes, highlights, or bookmarks I’ve made to the book can’t carry over to the updated copy when it downloads. It’s an understandable limitation of the technology. If the books were updating on their own, that novel you spent hours annotating for your thesis, or even this months Group Read could suddenly see all of your hard work literally disappear overnight.
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Amazon is Great, But is it Leading Us Toward an Economic Collapse?

Photo courtesy of fastcodesign.com

Photo courtesy of fastcodesign.com

Fastcodesign.com has a great post that takes a very interesting look inside an Amazon fulfillment center in the U.K.  The story includes a vivid pictorial showing the inside of an Amazon warehouse while the story goes on to describe working conditions and what Amazon brought to the defunct mining community.  The photos are fascinating.  The scope of Amazon’s operation is breathtaking.  But the questions I have concerning the future of Amazon have been mounting in recent years and they becoming alarming.

Take a look at fastcodesign.com’s look inside Amazon’s massive fulfillment center in the English Midlands.  Then consider this…

I’m strangely conflicted after reading Fastcodesign.com’s article.  The sterile, organized, refined nature of the facility and operation appeals to me on one level.  The dehumanizing quality troubles me at the same time.  Plus, Amazon operates on a shockingly small profit margin.  Especially for an entity its size.  With that in mind, on some level it still feels like a house of cards being built ever higher without a solid, maintainable business model to support it once the prevailing wind changes.  Certainly Amazon has done great things in the area of cloud computing with its web infrastructure development and, maybe even more amazing things for traditional publishing when it comes to proliferation of ebooks.  A solid case could be made to credit Amazon for bring ebooks to the main stream.  That’s no small feat.
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The Adventures of Dodge Dalton in the Shadow of Falcon’s Wings by Sean Ellis


dodge_dalton_1_iconThis book reads is if it were written by an author in the mid-1900’s. This is made all the more fun, knowing that Sean Ellis is a modern day thriller author who has effectively revived genre fiction from a nearly forgotten age.

Shadow the Falcon’s Wings was fun and unique in so many ways. First of all, it’s a period adventure taking place in an unspecified time, apparently circa 1930’s or 1940’s. Secondly, it’s clear that Mr. Ellis had a great deal of fun with the technology of that time period while playing with what would’ve been considered futuristic technology to the people of that time. All of this plays out in a thrilling and fun adventure that is steeped in extreme creativity that is nothing short of riveting.
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