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Shazzer (Dublin, Ireland)

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Fitness for Geeks: Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health
Fitness for Geeks: Real Science, Great Nutrition, and Good Health
by Bruce W. Perry
Edition: Paperback
Price: 26.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars For dedicated fitness geeks, 1 Jun 2012
My latest choice of book as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program was Fitness for Geeks by Bruce W Perry.
I was hoping for something light, fun and filled with recommendations of gadgets and apps that might entertain and motivate me to exercise. This book is not that. It is absolutely not a light or an easy read - it's a serious, detailed, in-depth treatment.

If you're into facts and figures, and evidence-based analysis and opinion on dietary fads, exercise, metabolism and the like, it's yer only man. I'm too much of a light-weight, I'm afraid.

There are gadget and app reviews, but they're almost secondary to the main focus of the text. The author does make recommendations of best uses of the tools available, and points to a number of excellent websites from which you can get more in depth information on the topics he covers.

Perry looks in some detail at exactly what diet and exercise do to the human body, what works and what doesn't. There's lots of science and technicality. There are also lifestyle tips, interviews and case studies. It's a thorough treatment, but a bit too thorough for me: in places I found myself glazing over as things got more technical and detailed than I could easily digest.

I'd recommend this as a great reference text to have at hand to dip in and out of when you have specific queries and want detailed information rather than a one-liner: for example, why do we need certain vitamins, and what happens if you exceed the RDA - and for that matter, what is an RDA, and how does someone decide what it should be? But it's not a fast-paced, cover-to-cover motivational read, so if that's what you're after, look elsewhere.

The Twitter Book
The Twitter Book
by Tim O'Reilly
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for anyone in to social media, 3 Feb 2012
This review is from: The Twitter Book (Paperback)
I chose this book to review as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program cos it looked lightweight and cute. Pretty pictures abound, and the Introduction is an ideal response to the questions of "So, what is this Twitter thing anyway, and why would you be bothered with it?"

Once it gets going, though, there's plenty of meat in this volume. I've been on Twitter for a few years now and manage a selection of personal and professional feeds, but I learned a lot from this book - both about Twitter itself and the various 3rd party products that enhance its usefulness.

At the trivial end of the scale, I've always assumed that HT and MT were typos of RT, but no, they actually mean something: HT is a "hat tip", MT is a "modified tweet".

At the pro-end, I discovered the TweetBackUp tool (, which backs up your tweets for free; Topsy (, which allows you to search for and track tweets linking to a particular website or page; Listorious (, which provides a directory of Twitter accounts by theme; and a multitude of other useful tools and resources. If you're after a product that will do X for your Twitter experience, chances are there's at least one reviewed in here.

If you're seriously into social media and Twitter in particular, this book is a must have.

Windows® 7 Inside Out
Windows® 7 Inside Out
by Ed Bott
Edition: Paperback
Price: 31.68

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Windows 7 - everything it should've said on the tin, 11 Nov 2011
This review is from: Windows® 7 Inside Out (Paperback)
I got a copy of this book from O'Reilly on their Blogger Review Program, and after months wading through it, I'm impressed.

I've owned a few Inside Out volumes over the years, so had high expectations, and I wasn't disappointed. Whatever you want to know about using Windows 7, you'll find it in here.

Novices can start with Part 1 which introduces the OS, goes through installation and basic configuration, explains how to find your way around, personalise your settings, add and remove programs and the like. The sections then delve progressively deeper into the nuts and bolts of Windows 7, all nicely divvied up according to what you might be trying to do in particular: organize your content, backup/restore, share media, set up a home network... Experts can skip towards the back of the book for the finer points of networking, security and tuning your system for optimised performance. Every section details the variations you can expect between different versions of Windows 7, so it really is a one-size-fits-all solution. If you're on Starter at home and Ultimate in the office, it's all covered here.

Even after more than a decade and a half using Windows, there was stuff in here for me to learn, and I might be kidding myself, but I'm almost positive my laptop has been more responsive and less badly behaved since I worked through some of the tuning tips.

Highly recommended to users of Windows at all levels.

Documents, Presentations, and Workbooks: Using Microsoft Office to Create Content that gets Noticed
Documents, Presentations, and Workbooks: Using Microsoft Office to Create Content that gets Noticed
by Stephanie Krieger
Edition: Paperback
Price: 36.20

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A useful read for producers of documentation, 21 July 2011
I recently joined the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program, and the first book I downloaded to review was this one: Documents, Presentations, and Workbooks: Using Microsoft Office to Create Content That Gets Noticed by Stephanie Krieger. For the most part, I really enjoyed it - it's a huge book with a vast amount of useful information, and it's made me more interested in working with Office than I have been in most of the past decade.

One particularly nice feature of the book is that it's written to cover both Microsoft Office 2010 on Windows and 2011 on Mac, each of which does things slightly differently. Each version also has some special platform-specific features you won't get in the other one, so it's useful to know when you can achieve something interesting by switching platforms (if you have that option). I think this may be the first book on Office I've read that's dual platform - I hope it won't be the last.

Another thing that appealed to me, as a Tech Writer, was that the author included plenty of pointers on documentation best practices, rather than making it all about the tools and features. I hate when tool advocates recommend doing something really fancy, just because you can, rather than because it adds anything to the doc.

A top tip from the author is her recommendation that if something is too hard to achieve in the software, maybe you shouldn't be doing it. She advises to investigate whether there's a more straightforward way to achieve the same thing, and to undo and start over when things get too complicated. "Always use the simplest option for any task." Wise advice. Especially if you're producing a document that will be maintained in the long term. She also goes into explaining how the software actually manages a document managing formats, objects and stories. Knowing all this is a great advantage when deciding how to structure a document and understand how and why Word does what it does to the content later.

She also has advice on identifying the most appropriate tool for the job, depending on what content you want to present (including when PowerPoint might be the best choice for producing a book, rather than Word), how to transfer/re-use data between programs (and from 3rd party programs) effectively, how to reinforce style and brand, and how to present information in the way that will maximize its value to the intended audience. It's not all "the tool lets you do X, so you should do X", it's more "the tool lets you do X, but you'd be mad to do that instead of Y, which is more straightforward and logical."

There are plenty of practical tips on using the tools too.

There were only two things about this book that I didn't like, and the first is half-praise, half-criticism:

- I found out about so many Office features I'd not used before, and that I just had to try out right away, that it took me forever to get through the book. In fact, at the time of writing this review, I have to admit I'm still not done.
- For the most part, I read the book on a Kindle, which wasn't an ideal format. It was frustrating to read a book on good presentation which wasn't ideally presented itself. I've found this to be a generic problem with technical texts, though. Graphics were indistinct, tables ran outside the screen area, and notes took up sufficient screen space that they distracted from the flow of the main text. It was also difficult to dip in to the text and pick out interesting items to look at in isolation.
The PDF is much prettier, and in traditional print I'm reckon it would've been a quicker, easier read.

All in all, it's a good read, and worth a look. While it wouldn't persuade me to discard FrameMaker as my tool of choice for technical documentation, I would feel happier and more confident using Office products for smaller projects and presentations now.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
by Mo Willems
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.03

4.0 out of 5 stars Cute, 25 Jan 2011
A cute little book. My almost-one-year-old is entertained by my story-telling voices, and is keen to get hands-on with the book to interact better, but it's not quite indestructible enough for that level of engagement. My four-year-old is too grown up to shout "no" at the pigeon in the book while I'm reading it with him, but has a glint in his eye that suggests that he might just go for it if he didn't have an audience. :-)
The pigeon's wheedling and tantrums as he tries to persuade the reader to let him drive the bus are exactly the kind of thing one could expect from a toddler/pre-schooler, and I think my older boy is getting that joke along with his parents as we read, which makes for some good bonding.
A cute book, but I don't expect to spend a whole lot of time reading and re-reading with my two.

Good Night, Gorilla (Picture Puffin)
Good Night, Gorilla (Picture Puffin)
by Peggy Rathmann
Edition: Paperback
Price: 3.67

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully illustrated simple tale, 25 Jan 2011
I *love* this book. I bought the board book for my oldest son when he was about two and it made great reading and discussion material for many happy afternoons and bedtimes. When he was three, we were given the paper edition, which let us zoom in even more on the details in the illustrations and rediscover it all over again.

There are so many little extras to find in the illustrations on subsequent readings: each of the animals has its own toy, each animal's cage is a different colour, and the key to open each cage is in the matching colour. A lot of care and detail has gone in to constructing this "simple" tale, which in itself is so much fun. There's a lot to talk about, comment on, imagine the back-story, and what not, so although the basic story can be read quite quickly, you can spend a lot of time with this book without getting bored or running out of things to say or do.

I can whole-heartedly recommend this book for children age 1-4 (and possibly beyond, as it's brought a silly amount of pleasure to this thirty-something year old! :-).

Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food
Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks, and Good Food
by Jeff Potter
Edition: Paperback
Price: 18.89

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My kind of cook book, 5 Sep 2010
Reminiscent of the "Good Eats" TV series, this book delves into the whys and wherefores of food and cooking rather than simply presenting instructions and a pretty picture (though there's a bit of that too). Armed with this knowledge, it's possible to then hack recipe "code" to suit your resources and tastes.
With geeky tips such as how to calibrate your oven with sugar and the Optimal Cake-Cutting Algorithm for N People, info on how much whipping will turn your cream to butter, and any amount of the science behind how foods react to the application of heat over time, this book really lives up to its name.
As for how good the recipes are: my fussy four year old declared the buttermilk pancakes the "most delicious things I've ever eaten" and asked for seconds and thirds.
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