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the great amphibian (Hampshire, UK)

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Fear the Friend of Exceptional People
Fear the Friend of Exceptional People
by Geoff Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and inspiring book showing that fear is not to be ashamed of but is a guide to growth., 30 Aug. 2015
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Thompson describes the nature of fear and makes constant references to his own life experience, where he was dragged down by fear and eventually decided to construct a 'fear pyramid' and confront his fears one by one. This adds credence to his advice as it is not just theoretical but based on experience.

The book addresses understanding your fears and the nature of fear, learning not to be ashamed of being afraid, and to use the fear in a positive way of growing rather than being bullied and held back by it. This positive approach to fear is very uplifting and has personally helped me to think about my fears objectively and in a constructive way.

The book is aimed at anyone struggling with fear, and definitely is not just for sports people or martial artists; I'm not sure why anyone would think that after reading the book. I would strongly recommend it to anyone, as anyone who claims not to have any fears is either deluded or lying, and I can imagine this will be helpful and uplifting for the majority of people who read it.


Simpsons - Season 11 - Complete [DVD]
Simpsons - Season 11 - Complete [DVD]
Dvd ~ The Simpsons
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Some funny moments but a sad feeling that the characters aren't as likeable and lacking the depth of earlier seasons., 30 Aug. 2015
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As thousands of people have stated before, season 10 was evidently the last one where the Simpsons was at its best. I decided to give this set a try anyway, and there were plenty of entertaining moments, but there is a feel that the show has lost its heart and many of the characters start acting like cardboard cut-outs, and acting out of character. I probably won't be buying any further seasons of the Simpsons as although it is still quite entertaining, it is slightly sad that the characters seem to have lost something from their personalities.


Darkness Descending
Darkness Descending
by (Mountaineer) Ken Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing and seemingly very honest account of endurance and recovery from the brink of death., 30 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Darkness Descending (Paperback)
An un-put-down-able account from an ex-SAS soldier on a solo training expedition in snowy and deserted Romanian mountains. I was pleasantly surprised with how likeable to the author is and how there is no sense of exaggeration; in fact a lot of the time I felt he underplayed how difficult his ordeal in the mountains must have been. One of the most interesting aspects of the book was the emphasis on his recovery, and how this was the most difficult part for him. Overall I'd highly recommend it.


Hubble: Window on the Universe
Hubble: Window on the Universe
by Giles Sparrow
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing images of the universe and an educational and interesting read., 30 Aug. 2015
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This book has a nice balance of great photographs from Hubble with explanations of the telescope and of the phenomena it is capturing. The chapters are nicely designed by starting with the closest celestial objects and gradually moving out to larger scales and more distant objects, and there are chapters on the history of the telescope itself interspersed between these. Because of this I found it very educational as well as an opportunity to see a collections of amazing photographs.

The books itself is a huge high quality hardback so it is also very good value for money.


Concrete Gardens
Concrete Gardens
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £12.67

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Varied and intricate compositions., 30 Aug. 2015
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This review is from: Concrete Gardens (Audio CD)
I had reservations when first hearing this, as my expectations were high from the live performances of some of the songs released on YouTube before the album release, and the album itself differs slightly in style from the live performances. There is sometimes a feeling of the songs being over-engineered, and I often prefer Macalpine's live performances. None the less, after listening to the album several times, the compositions have been growing on me a great deal and they are some of the most interesting and intricate instrumental guitar compositions I've heard.


Battle Of Leningrad
Battle Of Leningrad
Offered by MegamoviestoreNL
Price: £6.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Good in places but all of these artists have done much better stuff., 18 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Battle Of Leningrad (Audio CD)
I am a big fan of Tony Macalpine so that was one of the main drivers for me giving this album a try. Although I prefer instrumental music in general, Mark Boals is one of my favourite vocalists and I especially liked his work with Yngwie and found his album Seven the Hardway with Macalpine to also be pretty good.

Generally speaking the music on this album is of a high standard, particularly in the song written by Macalpine, but I found the lyrics to be painfully predictable. I know Boals is capable of some original and intelligent lyrics, such as on Ynwie's 'Alchemy', but even on the first hearing of 'Battle of Leningrad' I could predict a lot of the lyrics during the songs and they felt far too trite and predictable most of the time, sometimes to the point of being painful. I find it difficult to listen to the ballad style songs in particular, but a few of the higher paced and heavier songs are catchy.

To be more precise, I would give Boals five stars for his vocal delivery (as usual) but only one or two stars for his lyrics. Macalpine is excellent as usual, but is a little more inside the box than usual due to the album's neo-classical pigeonholing. Kuprij does a nice job on the album as well and avoids repetitive hack work, instead choosing his moments quite nicely.

Overall I was disappointed and won't be listening to album enough to justify the cost of the CD.


Big Data For Dummies
Big Data For Dummies
by Judith Hurwitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Buzzword rich and wordy but didn't actually teach me anything., 18 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Big Data For Dummies (Paperback)
The topic of big data is not exactly an elementary one, so you can't expect miracles from a For Dummies book, unlike with some other topics which the series lends itself to, (such as for picking up a particular programming language or software application). This book is very wordy with plenty of jargon and buzz words but seemingly without imparting any knowledge. I came away from reading the book cover to cover without feeling like I had learnt anything.

Perhaps it just isn't possible to explain 'big data' in anything more than a superficial way without the reader having a strong knowledge and understanding of prerequisite concepts such as relational databases, SQL, data storage, and networking etc. It's a bit like trying to teach calculus to someone just by using words and no mathematical notation. In this respect it seems a bit misleading to write a For Dummies book on the subject with the impression that the reader will learn something.

The book at least provides some kind of context for a lot of the jargon, explaining at least superficially what Hadoop, Hive, No-SQL, etc. are so it might be of some help if you are completely oblivious to what any of those things are, but I don't see any value in the book beyond that. It was somewhat useful to me in this respect about a year ago when I bought it, but I don't think it justified the cost of buying a new book; a pamphlet would probably have sufficed, and would have saved me a good few hours of reading quite repetitive prose.

I think I was partly suckered in to buying this because of the title and it being a recently published book on a hot topic, but overall I would find it hard to think of anyone who would benefit much from reading this book.


Excel VBA Programming For Dummies
Excel VBA Programming For Dummies
by John Walkenbach
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introductory course in VBA for Excel., 18 Nov. 2014
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This is an excellent introductory book on VBA and gave me a solid grounding in VBA in only a couple of weeks. The author writes in a generally entertaining way and his enthusiasm about VBA makes the book less dry to read than some titles.

The author is also honest about the pros and cons of VBA, and gives some context about when it is useful or when general purpose programming languages would be more appropriate.

Overall this book gives the reader a solid grounding in programming VBA macros on Excel and I'd strongly recommend it.


R For Dummies
R For Dummies
by Andrie De Vries
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A great hands-on introduction to R., 18 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: R For Dummies (Paperback)
'R for Dummies' is a great example of a useful For Dummies book, and gets you working hands-on with R from the start, building on practical examples which you can easily follow on your computer. The book can get a tad dry as concepts are introduced one after another, but the book does what it says on the tin and gives you what you need to have a solid grounding in R without any unnecessary waffle or verbosity.

Another plus is that the authors come across unbiased and professional, leaving their personal preferences about which functions are useful or un-useful aside and letting the reader decide for themselves, (unlike some books).

Some reviewers complained of typos in the code, but I have worked through the book literally cover to cover and don't recall there being any syntax errors when I tried the examples.

Highly recommended as a first book in R.


SQL All-in-One For Dummies
SQL All-in-One For Dummies
by Allen G. Taylor
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.02

2.0 out of 5 stars Go for a shorter book that is hands on and practical if you want to learn SQL., 18 Nov. 2014
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I am reviewing this book in the context of the title and the expectations I believe people have when buying a For Dummies book. Like some other reviewers I found the book very wordy and long winded, and ostensibly written as a history and theory of SQL rather than a practical hands-on guide. Even the 'practical' sections seem to be general theory and don't seem to give actual examples that you can follow on a DBMS. Other 'For Dummies' books that I bought which are great examples of actually teaching you practical skills without a lot of unnecessary waffle are 'R for Dummies' and 'Excel VBA Programming for Dummies'.

Another SQL book that I bought (which I will not name in case it makes the review seem biased) is about a third of the size and gets straight to the point, learning the syntax hands on with actual examples of creating, modifying, and querying databases that you can follow in your chosen DBMS, (and therefore learn SQL).

As a further indication of the book's un-usefulness (but I wouldn't say 'uselessness') is that I leant it to someone for about a year (after realising it was no use to me) and when I got it back from him he had bought another (smaller) SQL book and had only read a few chapters (of book 1 out of 8) of 'SQL all in one for dummies'.

If it were rebadged accordingly, such as "a general history and theory of SQL" then I'm confident it would be useful to some people, but I definitely wouldn't recommend it to someone hoping to pick up SQL in a practical and time-efficient way.

The blurb on the Amazon page says "You'll get the goods on relational database design, development, and maintenance, enabling you to start working with SQL right away!"; I take it whoever wrote that has not tried learning SQL from this book.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2015 4:08 PM BST


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