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S. Dean "Stew Dean" (London UK)

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Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Price: 7.77

5.0 out of 5 stars A vital book for anyone involved in the creation of modern systems., 7 Jun 2014
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I had always considered myself to be a system thinker and had read many books on artificial life, chaos theory etc.

But until now there was no book that I had read that formed a basis of how systems, in general, tied together. This book provides that glue. It covers a lot of ground and provides solid examples of how system thinking can, quite literally, change the world. It covers areas such as oil production, politics, user of language and drug addiction in ways that are cohesive and informative. It never provides 'just so stories' that are unsupported and provide examples of simple systems (from the systems zoo) that explain why often those who influence systems end up pushing the wrong way and making things worse, even though they may have the best of intentions.

I have so far recommended this book to five people all from different backgrounds and will be folding in what I have learnt here into my User Experience work.

Logitech UE 6000 Headphones - White
Logitech UE 6000 Headphones - White
Price: 100.96

2.0 out of 5 stars Big and clumsy with a muddy sound., 4 Jan 2014
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It's rare I send things back but in this case the headphones failed to deliver anything near the sound quality I was expecting. The bass end was very messy regardless of volume. Also the build is not going to stand any real knocks and even new the lead to the headphones has a tendency to fall out. They are comfortable to wear but probably too heavy for long term use. The noise cancellation didn't do much for me.

Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
Lean UX: Applying Lean Principles to Improve User Experience
by Jeff Gothelf
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.26

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A view of Lean UX, not a final definition., 1 July 2013
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I work in UX and have done for over 15 years. This book attempt to summarise what is meant by 'Lean UX' and how it can be done. It manages to offer a view but is too sketch and patchy to be a definitive guide.

In a nut shell it was a rebranding of the practices I had taken part in for many years, but with a few new additions to bring the ideas up to date and inline with ideas like Agile and Lean Start Up. In a nut shell the book does not invent but rediscovers ideas. For example the close working of teams has been around since I've been working, with War Rooms bringing together developers, stakeholders and designers into a seamless team. The idea of hypothesis then test is also something that has been around in areas of product design and design in general for a long time. Ideas like using style guides that everyone can access have also been in place for the time I've been working, often evolving from brand guidelines. I was lucky enough to work with Disney in my early career and was always amazed at the style guides they had for their films.

Where the book is weakest is when it tries to tie too much into lean Start up. There are many things about lean start up that are developer orientated, much like Agile. One area it is weak is in the creation of concepts prior to focusing upon actual interfaces - that is testing out the whole idea of something and getting that right before delving into detail. Lean Start Up and Agile use an evolutionary model to improve the product, but the final destination of the product is dependent on the starting point - and that is where the book is weak. It labels the starting point as 'assumptions' and places research squarely after something has been built. Research during the project is fine but it does not indicate how projects start. The wrong starting point can mean that the evolutionary path never finds a good ultimate ending point, for more on this see the concept of fitness landscapes, it's possible for any project to get stuck on a low mountain if it starts on the wrong point on the landscape.

It does remain a good summation of many ideas that UX people have been using for a long time and whilst it does over state some ideas and is unclear about others it is still a book worth reading, if only to allow a continued conversation about how UX works in different environments. Ultimately there are too many no so good ideas (like Proto Personas) amongst the good ideas for me to see this as being the ultimate book on how to keep user experience light, quick and effective.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 8, 2014 4:29 PM BST

The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka (Rough Guide to...)
The Rough Guide to Sri Lanka (Rough Guide to...)
Price: 6.49

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy the physical book!, 18 Dec 2012
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The kindle version is good but I'd really recommend you get the physical version as on Kindle it's very fiddly to use. It's okay to read on the plane but if you want to advise as you travel then in this case the physical book is the best way to go. Oh and we nick named the author 'Grumpy Gavin' as he really doesn't like somethings that were really quite good, but otherwise very useful.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2013 12:44 AM GMT

Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
Halo 3 (Xbox 360)
Offered by Gameline GmbH.
Price: 10.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An average shooter., 3 Oct 2007
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Halo 3 (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
Having played this all the way through I will say this. It's not worth buying an XBOX 360 for and the single player game is, well, average.

Here are a list of major problems.

Unless you've played Halo 2 the game is confusing in terms of how you play it and in terms of plot, which I still don't understand now. Who is on who's side? Which aliens should I be shooting and whose space ships belong to who?

The ending is also pants, well it doesnt really have one as such. What happens to the main character at the end? Did I miss something?

The weapons are a weird collection that are scattered around randomly on the flaw and depend upon you guessing roughly where the are with your feet. Then they don't last that long and beep a lot in the process.

Most of the action revloves around you picking off as much stuff as possible form a distance then going in and killing what is left.

Once you work out you can kill enemy tanks by going up to them and standing on them the game also gets much easier.

The only two worthwhile bits in the whole game was the killing of the giant beetle tank the first time around (which was actualy fun) and having to hack through a mutating alien organic kind of set of tunnels with the aliens occasionaly chaning from one thing to another, and then it was a matter of keep on blasting till everything was dead.

The game is hard at the start and in the mutant alien bit and the rest is kinda easy, once you've got fed up with fiddling about with duel weild (a pain in the arse).

Music is bombastic but lacks suspence. The graphics lack any real sense of style, especially compared to games like Bioshock and even Resistance Fall of Man. Bioshock is a much better game than this and I would say Resistance is easily on par with this game (and is visualy prettier and has a much better plot and weapons).

Not a bad game but certainly not game of the year and, as I said, not worth buying a 360 for (which I did and was suprised how bloody noisy it is). My purchase was not wasted as Bioshock almost makes it worthwhile.

Heavenly Sword (PS3)
Heavenly Sword (PS3)
Price: 10.90

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty but only feels like half a game., 16 Sep 2007
= Fun:3.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Heavenly Sword (PS3) (Video Game)
On paper this game should work, but in reality it's a let down. Having played all the way through the game in one sitting on Friday I can't help think, well it's nice but where is all the epic game play?

If anyone has played God of War this game is half of that game and, despite being high definition and visualy pretty it lacks the 'awe' factor. The game play, the story and characters feel very flat. It's a game that's trying so hard not to be many things and trying to be a interactive movie it doesnt quite manage to pull any of these off.

Potentialy the female lead character is well conceived and the facial animation is superb, but that's not much good if the combat is essentialy about pressing two buttons in the right order and switching between three modes.

Without giving any spoilers it confuses long frustrating battles with epic battles, the story jumps around, you don't really get to know the characters at all until a bit later and the main point of the story is kinda lost and contradicts it's self.

Take away pretty backdrops and the sheer amount of guys running around during some the scenes (who really just get in the way an don't contribute to anything) and you're left with fairly average run, slash and throw game.

The PS3 is in desperate need of some great next generation games, this is not one of them.

Half-Life 2 (DVD ROM)
Half-Life 2 (DVD ROM)

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not the best game in the world., 20 Nov 2004
This review is from: Half-Life 2 (DVD ROM) (Video Game)
It was semi inevitable - this game was not going to live up to all expectations. Sure it has some nice touches but in terms of first person perspective games I enjoyed FarCry more. I have played all the way through the game (three evenings) and I was expecting more to be honest.
But let's look on the bright side. The game is, in places, visual stunning, in others very repetative. The audio is wonderful although the sound of the gravity gun, again, gets repetitive. The physics are a great additions but, I feel, underused. I wanted to see more obvious things to land on the top of my foe, maybe I missed something here and there in this case). I'm also waiting for a game where enemies can be dismantaled - that is blow off mechanical legs, arms etc.
Gameplay, though, I felt the game was often a bit limp. I have been playing Grand Theft Auto San Andrias on my Playstation and whilst it looks very basic compared to HL2 it has many times more gameplay variation. There are some nice touches - using the gravity gun is nearly always fun and launching tins of paint at enemies results in them being splattered with paint.
Without spoilers I felt the gameplay was essential a maze game where you shot a handful of different enemies with a few semi cinematic scenes thrown in (there are some nice ones near the end of the game). The care and boat physics I found not very rewarding, especially after riding the bikes of GTASA. It's also worth noting that earlier video trailers for the game don't actualy show you much from the game! No blue tentical like 'final fantasy - spirits within'.
The engine is wonderful and looks great. What I think Valve need to do is now deliver a game with better game play - something more innovative and simply more fun. We are getting used to the idea of games being a huge spectical and this only half delivers in that respect.
So my closing thoughts. 8/10 - the potential is there but I was expecting more game.

Price: 9.93

6 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not up but not really down., 7 Oct 2002
This review is from: Up (Audio CD)
As a fan of Gabriel at his most quirky and creative I listened to the new album with an increasing feeling of disapointment. The whole album is so overly produced any real flavour has been removed. It feels like gabriel by the numbers having heard the album for the first time it's like you've heard it before. The peter gabriel chord structures and piano sound is repeated throughout the album. The tamed down world music backing has no edge to it. The lyrical content is introspective and generaly uninteresting. It's called up but it's more of a downer, but without any saving irony or passion.

Too Late To Die Young
Too Late To Die Young
Price: 7.09

4.0 out of 5 stars Too much loco?, 5 Sep 2002
This review is from: Too Late To Die Young (Audio CD)
Out of here was a great collection of songs. Tim Keegan is a truely great song writer - yet I feel some of the production on this album is suspect. Some songs are overly self indulgent and just lack the hooks of Departure loungues earlier works. I personaly don't see the relevance of kid loco to their sound, the remix of disconnected he did is truely awful. The original is a multitude better.

by David Mitchell
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never the same book twice., 5 Sep 2002
This review is from: Number9dream (Paperback)
The layers in this book keep you wanting to read. The jumping between different times, different environments, different realities. It is a very visual book and sometimes very perplexing. The grim realities of cheap noodles are set against fantasy computer games, clearly removed from reality.
AS it states on the cover - yes you do wonder if it all was a dream but either way it doesn not disapoint. A more narrative book than ghostwriter.

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