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Chris Of The OT (South West of England)

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Sony VAIO Z11WN/B:- Intel Core2 Duo Processor P8600 (2.4GHz) 4096Mb 250Gb DVD+-RW/+-R DL/RAM 13.1" WXGA++ X-Black VB w SP1
Sony VAIO Z11WN/B:- Intel Core2 Duo Processor P8600 (2.4GHz) 4096Mb 250Gb DVD+-RW/+-R DL/RAM 13.1" WXGA++ X-Black VB w SP1

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart design, very petite and capable machine (with Windows XP!), 21 Sep 2008
The Sony Vaio Z11-WN/B is a beautifully designed, fully functional modern gadget.

The initial impression upon delivery is, "It's tiny" - and it's still in the box! This minuteness is even further enhanced when you see the laptop in the flesh. The Z11 was bought to replace an aging Dell D400 (which itself was no monster) but the difference between a 12" 4:3 screen and the new Sony 13.1" 16:9 screen is immediately obvious: the Sony is so much narrower top-to-bottom. You wonder if the screen is going to be high enough to view anything properly, but it's okay (that is, we will get used to the marked reduction in screen height).

In spite of the good specification the Z11 seems a bit slow, surprisingly. Perhaps the low video memory detracts from overall performance, but with 4GB of system RAM, surely it shouldn't. Having said that, it still runs Vista easily enough, it's just booting and subsequent hard drive activity are slower or more prolonged than my new Toshiba (which has less RAM and a slower processor).

The screen is crystal clear and pin sharp but the very high resolution makes text size too small in some dialogue boxes and a great many websites need to be viewed at 125%+, which completely messes up the formatting. Fortunately, the new Internet Explorer 8 addresses the website issue so, overall, text size is not much of a worry. I'm writing this review in MS Word 2003, viewing at 105% and it's perfectly clear and comfortable (fonts are set to `Large' through Control Panel: 120 DPI).

The keyboard is a great looking thing. Like the whole laptop, it's neat and precise and comfortable to type with although I prefer larger keys - rather than small ones with large gaps - as some keys (like the right shift) are further away than I'm used to. The touchpad is a very good size and the buttons are plenty wide enough. With the laptop being so narrow (from top-to-bottom) it doesn't leave much room for the palm rest. This means that I can only rest my hands on the unit - not my wrists - and the mouse buttons are narrow too which will also take some getting used to.

One dreadful drawback is the lack of easy-access hard drive bay. Our old Dell has a handy drawer and my old Sony had a dedicated bay with `trap door' access. I have changed the drive in this Z11 to a Hitachi 7K320 and quite frankly, it was nightmare. You have to crack the case all around the edge and remove the keyboard. This is a dreadfully delicate operation requiring quite forceful prying of very sharp edges. And, of course, everything is shoe-horned into place with many very stiff, brittle parts... If I'd have known, I'd have paid the extra and got it configured at the Sony business website, if that's possible. (I might also note that the performance advantage seems negligible - but we do have 320GB of storage now.)

I had intended to uninstall Windows Vista and bought a new copy of Windows XP (the Sony website fully supports XP for this laptop and offers all the drivers). You can only imagine my surprise when I found a `Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2 Install Disc' included with this laptop. What a belter! The only disappointing aspect is that all the associated software is not included or supported (you can't download XP versions of Adobe Standard, Photoshop, etc.) So, since the Z11 handles Vista so well and because of the software thing, I won't bother to downgrade after all.

The key word here is: Neat. It's just such a smart and tidy packaging of technology. My wife's main requirement in a replacement laptop was portability - specifically, weight. The Dell was light at 1.6kg, but this is 1.5kg AND includes a dual-layer DVD drive. Superb. So, while this laptop is expensive, I still recommend it (as long as you don't need to upgrade the hard drive).

Peoples of the Old Testament World
Peoples of the Old Testament World
by Alfred J. Hoerth
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £28.28

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A surprising and wonderful title - very easy to read, well presented and completely fascinating, 13 Aug 2008
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'Peoples of the Old Testament World' is a marvellous compendium of information relating to the ancient races who inhabited the OT world - in other words, those nations which most influenced Israel's national development.

This title comprises three main parts with a single chapter for each national group:

Part 1: Mesopotamia
Sumerians - p19
Babylonians - 43
Assyrians - 77
Persian - 107

Part 2: Anatolia, Syria-Palestine, and Egypt
Hittites - 127
Canaanites and Amorites - 157
Phoenicians - 183
Arameans - 207
Philistines - 231
Egyptians - 251

Part 3: Transjordan
Ammonites - 293
Moabites - 317
Edomites - 335

Subject/Author/Scripture indexes - 349

Each chapter has been written by a different author, each an undisputed expert in their field (to PhD standard) but they all write in a pleasing, very accessible way: there is no danger here of `dry academia'.

Each contributor has put together a lively, interesting essay offering nicely balanced, fairly meaty but easily digestible introductions into each national group. A page or so ends each chapter with `Recommended Reading' for further investigation. The fifty pages of indexes - thirty-eight for `Subject' - are useful and fairly broad, but by no means exhaustive. Although there are a few very good quality illustrations, they are all black & white and most are fairly small.

I was stunned to find that this title has been on my Amazon `Wish List' since 2003, but I resisted until I found a cheap, second-hand copy from Amazon Marketplace. Though this book just about stretches to 400 pages, there are actually only a little over 300 for the body text. While this offers a well rounded introduction, I think I would have really appreciated another hundred pages or so - and more, improved, illustrations and charts too. I'm sure this would have increased the price even further so perhaps I should be grateful for what we have here - and I surely am. To find such a breadth of application in such an accessible *single* volume is stunning.

This fabulous volume really sheds light on the world into which ancient Israel emerged. While it is probably aimed at Bible college students, I am confident that anyone and everyone interested in biblical topics would really enjoy this: brevity not withstanding, I really feel I struck gold in finally finding this title. 4½ stars would be fully justified...

The Historical Jesus : A Comprehensive Guide
The Historical Jesus : A Comprehensive Guide
by Gerd Theissen
Edition: Paperback
Price: £25.00

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very thorough exploration of the historical reality (or not!) of Jesus' earthly life, 25 Jun 2008
Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz's `The Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide' is a huge book which examines thoroughly the whole issue of whether or not we can construct a `historically reliable picture of Jesus'. Although the book stretches to well over six hundred pages, it is the scope of the study which makes it `huge', not the physical size.

After a short Introduction summarising `The Quest[s] of the Historical Jesus', Theissen and Merz divide their work into four large parts:

Part One: The Sources and the Evaluation (p17-124)
Part Two: The Framework of the History of Jesus (p125-184)
Part Three: The Activity and Preaching of Jesus (p185-404)
Part Four: Passion and Easter (p405-567)
A succinct, incisive summary of the `Life of Jesus' (four pages) then precedes the indexes and answers sections

Each part is further divided into self-contained chapters, each with it's own introduction and much sub-divided body text. A useful summary ends each section, combined with a page or two describing the authors' interpretation of the evidence previously presented. A couple of these summaries are in the form of a table or chart which simplifies and clarifies the whole summary. (The foreword emphasises that the book aims to accommodate personal and/or group study.)

The whole area of Jesus' earthly life is, potentially at least, one of the most interesting, complicated and contentious in biblical investigation. Theissen and Merz certainly give the impression of leaving no theological stone unturned, giving good coverage to all sides of the various debates. They are happy to take sides but do so openly and fairly (thus leaving the reader free to disagree - but you've got to be some kind of smart to do that!).

As is to be expected, the authors explore all the relevant biblical texts, and also many non-biblical writings - and there are a surprising number of reliable or pertinent texts to investigate. Thus, there are several sections in the book where the reader is set tasks and often these relate directly to non-canonical writings.

Having read Theissen's excellent short novel 'The Shadow of the Galilean' (about the historical and sociological settings of Jesus life), I was hoping for a similarly accessible work here. While accepting that `The Historical Jesus' is a much more formal beast, I was still a tad disappointed at the enormous difference. I found this book to be very hard work to read. While the text layout is excellent - clear, bold titles, good indentation or text boxes, etc. - the writing style is often difficult to follow; it just doesn't flow as well as other theological books I've read. (Therefore, I fully agree with the next reviewer, `andrew eccentric', in his assessment of `The Historical Jesus'.)

In the end, this is an amazingly complete study of the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. Since it approaches the topic from an unashamedly Christian perspective, you wouldn't be surprised to find the conclusions to be generally positive; but be warned that that does not mean they cannot be deeply challenging too! While the writing style caused me to knot my eyebrows and re-read passages (many times), it's still a rewarding read. And because the authors' `aim... was to make each topic self-contained' (from the foreword) - and because of it's scope - this book is priceless as a work of reference. Highly recommended.

Book of Jeremiah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)
Book of Jeremiah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament)
by J.A. Thompson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £31.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A full, scholarly but very readable commentary, 24 Jun 2008
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[Please note that this review is taken from the first edition.]

J. A. Thompson's commentary `The Book of Jeremiah' is a huge (800 page), highly detailed and often very technical work which, nevertheless, offers `an evangelical perspective on this important... prophecy. [Dr. Thompson]... has woven his wide learning into an interesting and informative commentary' (quoting Dr. Leon Morris from the dust jacket).

Looking at Amazon's wonderful `Search Inside' feature will show that Thompson divides his work into three large sections:

Introduction: (ten chapters) to page 136
Text and Commentary: (eight chapters) to page 783
Indexes (& Maps)

That the introduction runs to 130+ pages emphasises the breadth of this commentary. In it Thompson considers: the biblical prophets and Jeremiah's place among them; Jeremiah's historical setting; Jeremiah's life; the text and it's forms (poetic, narrative, etc.), amongst other topics.

The second, and main part divides the book of Jeremiah into eight large sections, with each section then further divided in the actual body of the commentary; this helps create lots of manageable chunks to study. For instance, chapter II considers a massive portion of the book of Jeremiah (2:1-25:38), but this is comfortably divided into sections of perhaps half a chapter each. Thompson first introduces each section (after offering his own translation in italics, usually with extensive footnotes), sometimes with a paragraph, sometimes a couple of pages. Then he explores each verse (or two or three verses together) fully, often with copious footnotes again. Sometimes he includes a helpful section review (e.g. `Review of Chapters 1-6', p267-271) which sums up the previous lengthy material.

Short indexes of places or subjects, etc. follow, and two simple but adequate maps finish the work.

I read this commentary after I had read Bruggemann's commentary on Jeremiah and it has been useful and informative to compare the two. Bruggemann's is much shorter (but still `complete', as it were) and ten years more up-to-date than Thompson's. Bruggemann's may be a little bit fresher in writing style and presentation, but that does not make Thompson's offering difficult to read. Indeed, I found I preferred Thompson's commentary. Somehow Thompson avoids sounding so repetitive, which began to irritate me in Bruggemann's commentary. Some of that my be down to Thompson's more technical approach. He often explores the ins-and-outs of Hebrew syntax, but none of this technicality seemed superfluous or unnecessarily complex. For instance, I felt I got the issues of Hebrew root words and their derivatives, but `finite verbs' and `infinitive absolutes' are, frankly, way beyond me. But this does not mean that the commentary is just dry academia: it is not! Things like Hebrew verb constructions are usually confined to the footnotes, unless they offer very striking influences on critical interpretative issues.

The book of Jeremiah is probably the most difficult I have ever studied in the Bible. I have been careful to avoid it in the past because it's so depressing with its descriptions of undiluted misery, but taking the plunge, with two very good, reliable and well balance commentaries (Bruggemann and Thompson), was well worth the effort. Beginning to understand Jeremiah's plight and God's own pain and anguish (!) has actually helped alleviate my own misgivings about the judgements and curses which the book of Jeremiah describes. It has not been a comfortable journey, but it has been (and continues to be) spiritually beneficial. If I was going to make the journey again, I would probably use Thompson's commentary alone, if only because Thompson's translations offer an interesting comparison to the NIV.

Complete Guide to Writing and Selling the Christian Novel
Complete Guide to Writing and Selling the Christian Novel
by Penelope J. Stokes
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.13

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful, common sense guide - the sort only a sympathetic and sensitive expert could write, 24 Jun 2008
Penelope Stokes' `The Complete Guide to Writing & Selling the Christian Novel' is `not a rule book - it is a... handbook [that] will be of service to you in your own quest for ... continued growth in your writing'.

The whole is divided into six parts:

Part One: Prayer, Planning and Preparation
Part Two: Stories, Sermons and Sunday School
Part Three: Can These Bones Live?
Part Four: Can These Bones Speak?
Part Five: Truth in the Inward Parts
Part Six: Humility and Exaltation
Appendices A-C and short index follows

There are many excellent books about novel writing in general, but very few aimed at the Christian writer. As the contents list shows, there are several key areas where the needs and requirements for a Christian writer differ markedly from his or her secular cousin.

Stokes offers a surprisingly good guide to writing fiction which would be hugely useful in all areas of fiction writing, including: helps on plot & character development, market research, the ticklish problem of characters' point-of-view, manuscript preparation and submission, etc. I was also surprised to find, therefore, that it is so thorough (for a book of less than 250 pages).

The guide is written and formatted in a crisp, comfortable way making it very easy to read: Stokes' style is professional but quite informal and the use of clear, bold-type headings, etc. make it easy to navigate.

I found two parts of this book especially interesting: Part One, focusing on planning and motivation, was an eye-opener if only because the question of `why' the reader is considering writing a Christian novel is addressed. I hadn't imagined that anyone would seriously consider Christian fiction writing unless they felt a specific calling from God. Surely Christian fiction writers (especially in the UK) would be very clear that they'd earn almost no income at all and (presumably) precious little in the way of adulation? Perhaps I am just being naive...

Part Six focuses on the other end of the line - planning for and coping with success! I certainly had been naive here because I'd assumed that planning for success was presumptuous. But no! Stokes carefully and sensitively explores and expounds the issues that success brings without assuming that that is what God will grant. It is a beautifully balanced, common sense section!

The area where I continue to get hugely frustrated is assumption that the whole English speaking world lives in North America. Argh! For instance, `Every year the CBA [Christian Bookseller's Association] holds a national convention...' and `Christian publishers can be found in almost every area of the country...' Naturally, `national' and `country' mean `USA'. Sally Stuart's excellent `Christian Writer's Market Guide' (published annually, like the `Writer's and Artist's Yearbook', etc.) is similarly biased, though there international markets do at least get a (very brief) look-in.

In the end, Penelope Stokes' book on writing Christina fiction is a `must have' title for the aspiring Christian fiction writer. I continue to gain much useful advice from her, but those writers living in the USA are bound to get considerably more benefit. Still, English speakers among the `other' six-and-a-half billion people of the world should not avoid this title because of it's (annoying) American bias: it's still a gem!

Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Anglicised Cross-Reference edition (Bible Nrsv)
Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Anglicised Cross-Reference edition (Bible Nrsv)
by Bible English New Revised Standard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £13.59

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good quality translation, comparatively cheap & well presented (Softback!), 23 Jun 2008
I purchased this New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible because I wanted a cheap hard-copy version of the Apocrypha. (My preferred New International Version (NIV) does not include an Apocrypha.)

I've never reviewed a Bible but, at the risk of suffering delusions of grandeur, I couldn't resist this one. If you're not familiar with the NRSV translation, a quick search within Amazon will turn up three or four titles which include Amazon's excellent `Search Inside' feature...

First, I have always gripped about buying modern, quality translations of the Bible because they're often expensive (though justifiably so). I bought a Zondervan NIV some time ago for a fiver, brand new from Amazon. I was dreadfully disappointed because I felt it was not `cheap and cheerful', it was `cheap and nasty'. It has a horrid "leatherette" (cornflake box cardboard) cover and, more importantly, an unpleasantly small font which is very uncomfortable to read.

So spending a tenner on this (softback) one was a bit of a gamble... The overall presentation is much better than my other budget buy: the cover is still thin cardboard, but it's more flexible and doesn't pretend to be leather. The paper is much higher quality though - whiter, crisper, smoother and thinner - and the font is slightly larger. I tried to find which font it is but there is no information. I would still have preferred a larger font - if this NRSV is produced in 8 point, then 9 would be an improvement - but because the paper is whiter the text contrasts much better which makes for a more comfortable read. There is also a basic cross-referencing system in the centre margin.

I went for the NRSV over the Revised Standard Version (RSV) because the NRSV uses sub-headings within the text (like the NIV) which really helps divide the text into digestible chunks and helps enormously with the context of each passage. The Apocrypha section, set appropriately between the Old and New Testaments, follows the same layout as the rest of the Bible, but I would have preferred a much more informative information page than the current five-sentence offering.

Still, it was the cheapest new NRSV I could find and it's a good quality product.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 6, 2010 5:05 PM BST

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92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nice piece of kit; Canon's digital SLR is well worth the extra outlay, 23 Jun 2008
The Canon EOS 450D Digital SLR is a powerful, effective and nicely designed camera. My wife, Anna's, specific interest is macro photography (precise close-ups) of things like butterflies and flowers, so macro features and functionality will be the focus of this review.

Our previous purchases in the digital photography field have been Fuji: a FinePix S602 (my favourite), then the much more powerful FinePix S9500. This Canon EOS is our first digital SLR.

The first, massive, improvement (and, I believe, over the 400D too) is the screen: it's much larger, brighter and clearer. However, I prefer to frame my shots using the screen (`Live View') but then you can't have the camera in `Full Auto' mode: Not a devastating restriction, but still significant.

For pukka macro photography there will always be the need to get at least one specific macro lens. We went for a cheap (£65) Tamron AF 55-200mm Macro Zoom which offers a workable compromise: but this lens still requires the purchase of a quality close-up lens (another £45-£50) because filling a frame with a bumble bee, for instance, needs the extra help & power of a close-up lens.

This is even more true of the supplied 18-55mm lens. The gent in our local photography shop described the standard lens supplied by Canon as `very basic' - but it is still a really good lens. Macro shooting is obviously much more restricted because, to fill the whole frame with a butterfly, for instance, you have to get, literally, right on top of it and the lens is unable to focus when you get that close to a subject. Therefore, a good close-up lens is essential. (The Canon 500D Close-up Lens we bought for the Fuji S9500 works perfectly as it's also a 58mm thread. Unfortunately, the Tamron Macro Zoom uses a 52mm thread. Such is life!) But some basic macro work is still possible with the standard Canon lens (if you're clever and very patient), but a close-up lens is a necessity... And the basic 18-55mm lens even includes very effective integral image stabilisation.

Anna says that `the big bonus is the clarity & sharpness of the images if you're comparing a standard digital with a digital SLR'.

In the end, the extra investment is more than justified in the move to digital SLR. Photography becomes more intuitive (something like it used to be on old 35mm SLRs) but still benefits from the digital age. A friend who has owned a Canon 35mm SLR for more than a decade said that the buttons and dials are much the same, so those who liked the old Canon SLR system may feel at home right away. For us, the Canon 450D represents a significant improvement over our previous digitals (and Fuji's over-complex menu systems) but note that `significant' improvement also comes at a `significant' cost: a half-grand camera may well require another half-grand on lenses - or more. However, if you have the cash, I think you'll be happy with your purchase.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 9, 2009 2:46 PM BST

A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming
A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming
by Walter Brueggemann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.65

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good, clear explanation of Jeremiah & the prophetic ministry - and fairly easy to read, 11 April 2008
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Walter Brueggemann's `A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile & Homecoming' is an excellent work; large, scholarly, (reasonably) modern and conservative while still being a comfortable enough read.

Amazon's `Search Inside' feature will reveal how Brueggemann divides his work (and the `other' front cover), but since Jeremiah is such a complicated book of the Bible, the divisions are not universally followed: For instance, J. A. Thompson's huge commentary (part of the New International Commentary series) sees Jer. 2.1-25:38 as one massive section, but Bruggemann divides the same text into eight (much more manageable) sections.

Brueggemann strikes a useful balance between the Hebrew and historical technicalities and a more superficial offering. And since it's fairly up-to-date compared to other great Jeremiah commentaries (e.g. Thompson/Holladay), it benefits from them all whilst using more modern theological viewpoints. Thus, the commentary notes that many editorial processes helped develop the book of Jeremiah into its final form, but it also recognises that this final form is `as it is supposed to be' (so to speak).

On the whole, then, I like Brueggemann's commentary. Criticisms would be a) the repetition and b) the occasionally `flowery' articulation:

a) The repetition is part-and-parcel of the job of commentating on this biblical work. Jeremiah says the same thing (sometimes verbatim) repeatedly. Indeed, his prophetic ministry is said to have lasted forty years and the basic message never changed so some repetition is inevitable. Brueggemann emphasises that `there will be a temptation in interpretation to summarise and reduce, and one must have patience to stay with the poetic nuance and detail' (p32). How right he is! Even so, I began to feel that he over-stretched the point on several occasions: `See previous' might have been warranted after all...

b) His frequently describing the text as `subversive', `daring' or `destabilising', and even more frequent use of exclamation marks, makes the commentary seem a little `flowery' sometimes. Perhaps Brueggemann is struggling to emphasise the impact of the text because much of Jeremiah `comes close to the edge of language, beyond which nothing dare be uttered' (p450).

In the end, however, Brueggemann's apparent aim of offering a scholarly interpretation while avoiding `dense academic' complexity is successful. That said, the biblical book of Jeremiah, and so this commentary also, require a huge effort of will to read in their entirety. I persevered with both because, as an unintentional pessimist, I felt I needed to understand `God at his worst' (so to speak). The biblical book of Jeremiah is hard - it's supposed to be - but Brueggemann's commentary is helping me understand the love, and extraordinary pain, of God which the prophet describes.

Lewis Hamilton: My Story
Lewis Hamilton: My Story
by Lewis Hamilton
Edition: Hardcover

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Much too sanitised and selective, though still readable (just about), 27 Feb 2008
Content wise, Lewis Hamilton's `My Story' is pretty much what you'd expect from a twenty-two year old's autobiography (who happens to be a Formula 1 ace). As such, approximately two-thirds relates directly to 2007 - not unreasonable, and since he looks at each race in turn, it's actually quite welcome.

`My Story' is divided into seventeen (short) chapters with such informative one-word titles as: `Inspirations', `Unbelievable!', `Adversity' (as well as `Strife') or `Fame'. These are followed by an index and a `Career Statistics' section - which comprises a single page for 1995-2006 and twenty-odd pages for 2007 (with one F1 race per page). Unfortunately, the first four of five chapters are mostly waffle.

The above illustrates one of the major short-comings: there is far too little about Lewis' early life and, especially, his early career. For instance, his stellar 2006 GP2 championship winning year barely warrants a mention. I'd love to read accounts of those races as some are already the stuff of legend:

`... like Istanbul. I had a great GP2 race there in 2006 when, after spinning early on, I worked my way up from last to second' (p206).

But that's it! Lewis says he wants `My Story' to be `an inspirational book' but what's inspirational about collapsing the most important and incredible race of his career up to that point to just a single sentence?

We might also criticise the extreme care taken to follow the party (McLaren/Mercedes) line but while it's a little tedious, you can't blame him. But I really didn't like the way the first half of the book (in particular) jumps all over the place chronologically, making everything feel very disjointed.

In the end we are left with an informative picture of the young man who is Lewis Hamilton and a useful look (just) under the skin of the 2007 F1 season. But this is just half a book and I bet the other half would be fantastic: `My Story' is a million miles behind `Mansell', and even trails a long way behind Coulthard's `It Is What It Is.' (Maybe 2½ stars would be fairer.)

Running Access 97 for Windows Select Edition
Running Access 97 for Windows Select Edition
by John L. Viescas
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Showing its age, perhaps, but still an essential resource for Access 97 users, 27 Feb 2008
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John Viescas' `Running Microsoft Access 97' bills itself as a `one-stop... in depth reference' guide. It comprises six parts, moving from an interesting general database introduction all the way to macro and Visual Basic (VBA) usage (see Amazon's very useful `Search Inside' feature). It follows the well established Microsoft Press presentation style and although it's not as `pretty' as more modern titles, it's still clear and easy to follow. Since second-hand copies of `Running Access 97' are cheap nowadays, and MS Press are usually top quality, I plumped for this.

Viescas' aims to teach the reader how to build a database, rather than offering a reference book for Access 97. Thus, he uses many sample databases and encourages users to modify various aspects after explaining each process. Many dislike this approach but databases are so complicated that this approach is perfectly valid. The disadvantage here is that if you're trying to sort out a problem with a database you've designed from scratch, it can be tricky to find the answers sometimes.

The CD offers the whole book in elecronic format - accessed via Internet Explorer - as well as the many database examples, Word dcouments, graphics links, etc.

In the end, a more modern publication my offer a better structure but users of this program will likely have financial concerns, so this offers a very usable alternative. Despite some very negative reviews here, there isn't anything actually wrong with this title - but much that is right. If you want help with Access 97, this will give it to you.

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