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Norberto Amaral (Aveiro, Portugal)
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The Art Of Innovation: Success Through Innovation the IDEO Way
The Art Of Innovation: Success Through Innovation the IDEO Way
by Tom Kelley
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring innovation, 9 May 2010
This is a great book, telling IDEO's story about how to innovate. In a sense, it is like the biography of a company. Because of that, it is very helpful if you want to make your contribution toward making your own company innovative too: it is full of ideas, how-to's and real-life examples of how to be innovative.
And these are more than hints, for they are not implicit in a "be like us" way. Instead, this reads almost like a recipe.
Since I read this in 2006 I have helped implement many of this book's examples in my own company: in innovation management, in innovation projects themselves, in brainstorming sessions and in training courses on the subject.
This is definitely the best book to read if you want to know how the best guys do it and how you can do it yourself.


Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street
Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street
by Andrew Ross Sorkin
Edition: Paperback
Price: 14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Clear, detailed, thorough, 9 May 2010
I just finished reading this book and really had to share my views with everyone. I am still speechless at the events described in this book and it just begs to be read by anyone who is interested in knowing exactly what events led Lehman Brothers, eventually leading to the current recession.

There is no single event responsible for this. Instead, the author makes the reader go through the whole story, based on the accounts of many people who were directly involved in those few weeks of September to October 2008, when the world's financial systems was on the verge of self-annihilation.

Although the story starts with Bear Sterns' imminent collapse and eventual acquisition by JP Morgan Chase, to complete some strands of the story a lot more in depth information is included from the past, making it easier to understand the context and background of the major players, such as former US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, chairman of US Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke, and even the CEOs of some of the companies involved.
The story reads like a novel, never gets boring and is so enticing that you actually feel you are amidst all those bankers, going through the situation with them, sweating at the twists and turns and, I would almost say, feel for their plight - even though it was self-induced.

Many things are made clear in this book. I list a few, the ones I remember at a moments' notice, after going through 538 pages filled with facts:
1. Hank Paulson and his staff worked themselves to exhaustion doing their best. Their best was good in some situations, lacking to say the least in others.
2. There is no single explanation for Lehman Brothers' failure. Many events converged though: a depressed bad real estate market, extreme exposure to toxic financial investments, lack of confidence from the financial market, shorts overselling LB's shares, LB's CEO Dick Fuld's utter stupidity throughout the whole crisis, lack of dialog between the US government and Federal Reserve with the British government (in the person of Alistair Darling) and financial regulator, FSA. And yet some others.
3. There is no explanation whatsoever for why LB was allowed to fail by the US government but literally hours later AIG was saved with federal money and days later the Treasury was trying to save the skins of Morgan Stanley, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs by having them merging either with another institution within this group or with others such as Wachovia, the Chinese Investment Corporation, Wells Fargo, and others yet.
4. George W. Bush didn't do zit to save the situation. Hank Paulson was fully involved, called Bush here and there, mostly to tell him what he was doing but not getting advice, clearing or any help whatsoever from the former president.
5. Hundreds of billions of TARP dollars ("Troubled Asset Relief Program") were literally shoved down these and other institutions' throats. Although some welcomed this much needed oxygen, most were livid at this interference and would have said 'no' if they had the chance. As it were, they had no other option. No wonder these institutions still show contempt at the bailout and don't feel they have anything to give back after having been saved.
6. Tim Geithner, the current US Treasury Secretary, was involved in the bailout as much as Hank Paulson. He worked just as hard, had as much sucesses and unsuccess as Paulson.

Now a word about style. The first thing to say about it is that throughout all the book except the epilogue the author only writes about facts: meetings, phone calls, who said what, to and about whom. You could count the number of adjectives in the whole book by the fingers of your hands - meaning: hardly any! All this means that the book is very factual and the author does not, ever, implicitly or explicitly, let the reader know his opinion about the events. These speak for themselves. That may mean that the author tried to be as dispassionate and neutral about those events, but it also may mean that a lot of information could have been included that would help the reader understand the full implications of unfolding events or even if some of the things being written about could even be considered as normal by Wall Street standards.
The epilogue is different because in it the author put the events described in the book in the context of the current situation and doesn't mince his words.
Although the book is very interesting and a great read, the author doesn't help the reader because of his almost total lack of placing in time the described events. It would be better if the author had included more hints about when events were happening as the chapters proceeded because with no such information in most of the book you have to be so full of attention that you worry more about trying to understand when something happened than what exactly happened. That needn't be like that...

All in all, these style shortcomings are the only reason why I can't give this book five stars. Having been warned of these littlest of glitches, I'm absolutely sure you will enjoy reading this!


Creative Vado HD 4GB High Definition Pocket Camcorder with 2 inch LCD and HDMI Cable - 3rd Generation - Black
Creative Vado HD 4GB High Definition Pocket Camcorder with 2 inch LCD and HDMI Cable - 3rd Generation - Black

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect camera for its size and price!, 5 May 2010
I bought the 2nd gen model a couple of months ago and after shooting dozens of videos I can say for sure that this is a spectacular little camera. It shoots well in all kinds of situations as long as it's not too dark. The colour and sound quality are amazing, especially for a camera this size. This is way better than a Sony MiniDV camera I bought a few years ago.

Its small size - actually, its micro size - makes this a wonderful gadget. It is a small as a small mobile phone and you can have it ready in 2 seconds. It's also non-obtrusive so you may use it in plenty of situations where a large camera would be frowned upon, such as a concert or a museum.
Of course, you can't expect the best image and sound quality on the market from a thing of this size and price: this is a very simple camera, without all the nice things that come with the bigger ones: no optical zoom, hardly any options, no video effects (then again, you can later edit them on a computer) and a very short battery life. In two words: no frills.
Battery life is typically under 2 hours. However, unlike other cameras in the market, you may buy an extra battery and replace the main one in case it runs out. Unfortunately, I found that, at least in my camera, the back cover isn't very easy to put back so I only use one battery.
I don't use the software that comes with it as the camera will set itself up as a USB drive and you can get the videos directly. However, you may be able to the software to carry out basic edit functions as well as upload videos to YouTube, etc.

There isn't much difference between this camera (third generation) and the second generation. It's basically a few aesthetic touches here and there (meaning that the surface is now shinier and the units is a bit larger than before), soft touch buttons and takes photos - though at a measly 1280x720 resolution you won't be very satisfied with it I'm sure.

I also found that 8GB, or about two hours of video, is just right for my needs. 4GB would probably be too little though.

In the end, if you are looking for a video camera, you have to ask yourself what really matters to you. If you are looking for a camera that you may use for extensive periods without being able to charge it or one that has all the possible video effects and options, this definitely isn't for you. However, if what you are looking for is a very small camera that is always ready to shoot, is simple to use and very very cheap, go no further!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 2, 2010 10:19 AM BST


Creative Vado HD 8GB High Definition Pocket Camcorder with 2" LCD and integral HDMI Cable
Creative Vado HD 8GB High Definition Pocket Camcorder with 2" LCD and integral HDMI Cable

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect camera for its size and price!, 5 May 2010
I bought this a couple of months ago and after shooting dozens of videos I can say for sure that this is a spectacular little camera. It shoots well in all kinds of situations as long as it's not too dark. The colour and sound quality are amazing, especially for a camera this size. This is way better than a Sony MiniDV camera I bought a few years ago.

Its small size - actually, its micro size - makes this a wonderful gadget. It is a small as a small mobile phone and you can have it ready in 2 seconds. It's also non-obtrusive so you may use it in plenty of situations where a large camera would be frowned upon, such as a concert or a museum.
Of course, you can't expect the best image and sound quality on the market from a thing of this size and price: this is a very simple camera, without all the nice things that come with the bigger ones: no optical zoom, hardly any options, no video effects (then again, you can later edit them on a computer) and a very short battery life. In two words: no frills.
Battery life is typically under 2 hours. However, unlike other cameras in the market, you may buy an extra battery and replace the main one in case it runs out. Unfortunately, I found that, at least in my camera, the back cover isn't very easy to put back so I only use one battery.
I don't use the software that comes with it as the camera will set itself up as a USB drive and you can get the videos directly. However, you may be able to the software to carry out basic edit functions as well as upload videos to YouTube, etc.

In the end, if you are looking for a video camera, you have to ask yourself what really matters to you. If you are looking for a camera that you may use for extensive periods without being able to charge it or one that has all the possible video effects and options, this definitely isn't for you. However, if what you are looking for is a very small camera that is always ready to shoot, is simple to use and very very cheap, go no further!


Head First
Head First
Price: 5.11

1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've only heard three tracks..., 22 Mar 2010
This review is from: Head First (Audio CD)
... and it was enough for me to go buy the CD. I just love it!
As other users here say, this album sounds a lot from the 1980s, and with very different influences. I hope the rest of the album will be as good but the first three songs were enough to make me go get this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 26, 2010 9:40 PM GMT


Love 2
Love 2
Offered by Side Two
Price: 6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful new album, 20 Oct 2009
This review is from: Love 2 (Audio CD)
If you forget for a moment that these are the same guys who gave the world 'Moon Safari' almost 12 years ago you will have little to hold against this new album.
Comparisons are difficult, and perhaps unfair, because Air have moved on a lot since then. Their sound is more mature, more 'retro', even more electronic and, at least most of the time, a bit more formal. 'Moon Safari' will probably never be equalled but that isn't necessarily bad - and you can't hope for a repeat every time Air edits a new album.

So what can you expect from Love 2? I tell you what: lounge, 60s and 70s, contrast, variety, minimal beats. I would say that Air is still trying new sounds, finding some new ones and still exploring older ones.

The synth on track one reminds me of a time when Pink Floyd were doing experimental music, but then with a slow beat that could only be recent.
Track two - "Love" - has minimal beats and lyrics - if you can call lyrics to the few words that are sung.
Track three - "So Light is Her Footfall" - has that Air 'trademark' that you remind you of 10.000 Hz, Moon Safari and Talkie Walkie.
Track four - "Be a Bee" - has a really strong and fast beat (75 bpm if you count only the main beat, 4 times that if you count the 'minor' beats) and a guitar that is reminiscent of 1960s and 1970s European movies. Probably the strongest track.
Track five - "Missing the Light of Day" - actually reminds me of early Royksopp, and of me 1980s pop, like Depeche Mode and early The Cure.
Track six - "Tropical Disease" - is a small pearl. It sounds silly, with a whimsical flute (some would say silly, I disagree) playing over and over with a synth background. And yet, like "Be a Bee", it could be part of a soundtrack of a 60s or 70s European movie.
"Heaven's Light" is the song that probably has more lyrics. Obviously nothing too much, but a great melody, very light and loungy, very 70s, but not poppy at all.
"Night Hunter" also reminisces about "Moon Safari", but only in very small parts. The rest is a lot like "Pocket Symphony", their previous album. The oriental influence, even though a bit faded, can definitely be felt.
Track 9 - "Sing Sang Sung" - is funny, light hearted, very, very poppy. A true pleasure, though also very commercial. I haven't gotten tired of it yet though, so I'm hoping it won't grate against my ears too soon...
Track 10 - "Eat my Beat" - again goes back to a guitar sound that goes back many years, with a complex beat. In fact I can hear at least three different guitars, whose sounds are all probably made by synths (but who cares, it just sounds great!)
Track 11 - "You Can Tell it to Eevrybody" - mixes oriental, lounge and soft beat lounge music. There are parts that I don't like particularly, others are okay. Probably the weakest track in the album...
Finally, "African Velvet", is again a bit weak. There's a saxophone that makes it sound a bit jazzy but the overall effect is only of a very poor, badly-put together song. It reminds me of saxophone on the Blade Runner soundtrack except that on that soundtrack it sounded great.

So there you are. Were it not for those two last weak tracks and this album would get a five star rating from me. It is outstanding and just what you would expect from Air in terms of quality, though the sound itself is always evolving and being developed. Definitely a good addition to my music collection!


The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon)
The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon)
by Dan Brown
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hugely entertaining - until you read the final chapters, 2 Oct 2009
Having read all other Dan Brown's books I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised at first. This novel also has all the right ingredients that we've been used to in novels like the Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons and others: a mysterious plot with undertones of a huge conspiracy, an even more mysterious background story (this time: Freemasonry in the USA), interesting and varied characters (scientists, mystics, the usual bad guy) and plenty of action and 'alternative' information about common places many of us have either visited or at least seen in documentaries and other movies.

In a 509-page novel, I would say that the first 400-odd pages were crackingly good. Regardless of what other fellow reviewers have said, this part won't let you down - I'm sure that some of the less favourable aspects of Dan Brown's writing won't be enough to cut down the excitement. And thus, during the few days I took to read this, I could only put down the book to fulfil my professional obligations. That included cutting down sleep time and giving my relatives less attention than they deserved.

However, it is by the last 100-odd pages that it all falls apart. Just as when I was expecting a huge crescendo, the plot all but disappears, as though someone, the author, suddenly pulled the rug from under it. I won't include here any spoilers, but just be alerted that what the bad guy finds may not be exactly what he - and the readers! - was expecting. Apart from a huge turn of events concerning the bad guy and one of the main characters, the last pages are lifeless and uninteresting.

In the very last few pages it gets even worse during a conversation between Robert Langdon and the leading female character, which is the conversation that serves to finish the book. In this conversation the author throws back at the reader just about any hodge-podge, mash, porridge, sticky gum and stained piece of new-age/religious/myth/bible-esque gooey fact that he could find about them. By the way of an explanation, and again I don't want to reveal too much just in case you want to read this yourself, the book turns into a stupid sounding lecture containing all sorts of meaningless facts mainly about Christianity that could be found only to give the idea that religions are really the way that human kind will "find its way", blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. For a while I though I was reading 'The Celestine Prophecy'. Some people will probably find this appealing but I would rather it had more substance and credibility than what sounds like fairy-tales. One thing is to claim that it is Maria Magdalene who sits by Jesus' side in the Last Supper as painted by Leonardo da Vinci, another completely different thing is to claim that the bible and other religious beliefs have some kind of inter-connecteness with particle physics and other ground-breaking, "serious" sciences and that the "soul", whatever it is, has mass - if it did, it would be great, for it meant that religion and mysticism has nothing to do with it.

Frankly, I expected a wrap-up that sounded more credible. It just ruined the 5-star recommendation I otherwise would have given it.


The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power
by Joel Bakan
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

4 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Myopic, misguided, unhelpful and ultimately misleading, 1 Sep 2009
I'm afraid this book is seriously flawed. The author conveys the idea that all the evil in this world is caused directly or is the ultimate responsibility of (large) corporations. There isn't anything they don't do for money, power, to grow and to quash their competitors. The many examples given provide indisputable evidence of that. However there's a lot left untold that could tilt the scales in the opposite direction.

Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, small companies could be even worse? They don't have as much reputation to maintain. There are a lot more of them and therefore more difficult to keep track of their activity. Whatever little 'evil' they can do becomes very large when multiplied by their sheer number. Also, they're not 'sexy targets' - nothing like Nike, Dupont, McDonalds or The Gap.
Have you ever tried to peer into the workings of any specific small organisations? Aren't they - maybe not all, but at least a great majority - totally opaque to their clients/customers? If so, would the author of this book even care?

Allow me an example: I once knew how a local, trusted, butcher gave a "good, wholesome, quick colour" to what I thought were delicious, traditional sausages: she hanged them above burning plastic. She thought it was okay and had never even heard of dioxines...

Perhaps you don't know if you should believe what a large corporation says. Just in case, you may think that it may be better to start by not believing anything and only accept anything when fully vouched by an external organisation, a watchdog of sorts. Of course, that never happens! Once an aura of evil surrounds a large corporation it will keep attracting bad press long after proper explanations may have been given.
How about a small company? What about an NGO? What about any other kind of organisations? How about your own neighbour or a relative, who you vouch for but you have nothing on them but their word to count on? Or is something true just because a 'nice' NGO says so? Shouldn't some external validation be required? Maybe a NGO-watchdog (a meta-NGO!) should exist?

It seems to me that the author doesn't grant any credit for much of good that large corporations indeed do, but is quick on the trigger when news of bad things erupt.

Again, note that I'm not disputing the facts in this book. What I am concerned about it the focus. There are plenty of cases of 'pathological pursuit of power' in all kinds of organisations, be it corporations, small companies, governments, NGOs, or whatever. They are all made up of humans and humans can do good things and bad things. Focusing only on a part of the problem (large corporations are very sexy targets) is myopic, misguided, unhelpful and ultimately misleading.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 20, 2009 5:20 AM BST


The Halo Effect: .and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers
The Halo Effect: .and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers
by Phil Rosenzweig
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection itself!, 1 Sep 2009
What an immensely liberating book! I hadn't read such a good business book in ages!
I won't go into as much detail as other fellow reviewers have done so well here but I should definitely say this: make this the next business book you read because after that you will be able to better navigate the other load of wallop out there. I can honestly say that reading other business books will never be the same again!
By the way, two other books that are extremely well related to this one are 'Fooled by Randomness' and 'The Black Swan', both by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Reading these three will make you more skeptic and cynic - and more immune to other stuff mindless people write - and many read...


The Rules of Parenting (The Rules Series)
The Rules of Parenting (The Rules Series)
by Richard Templar
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent though not perfect, 1 Sep 2009
The job of being a parent is of such difficulty and novelty that when we have our first child all we ask for is a manual. First, one for the baby, then for the toddler, the child, the teenager, and beyond... This book is definitely on the right track and it is a considerable effort by an author who has already given us other similarly titled books on other subjects, such as work and being a (good) manager.
This book is very, very, very good. It consists on 100 rules that parents should (if they agree) follow in order to have better relationships with their children. Most of the rules are easy to understand (having been briefly but convincingly explained by the author always in less than two pages each). Of those, most are simple to enact. Hopefully, the results will be easy to see.
I have some qualms with this book though. The main one is that most rules are actually too obvious - or at least to me. Reading through it I couldn't stop thinking 'I could have written that'. Some rules are not so obvious, though, hence my four-star rating.
On the other hand, I also heartily disagree with a few of the rules. For example, the author explains that, and I'm quoting loosely, 'it's more important [for parents] to agree [on what to say to their children when being requested for something] than whatever is being agreed on'. I'm afraid I can't agree with this, as it may lead to profound injustices as seen from the perspective of a child. My alternative is that if both parents agree on something that turns out to be wrong, they should instead recognise the mistake, apologise to their child/ren and fix it. In fact, there's another rule that says it's okay for parents to apologise. I definitely agree with that one. So it's not just important for parents to agree, but mostly to agree on the right things.
Also, given the way that the book is structured in sections with a fixed number of rules each, it led to some imperfections such as some rules that seem to be repeated in slightly different terms elsewhere, rules that overlap other, etc. Those small things should be fixed but are perfectly forgivable.
One thing that this book is one hundred percent on the mark is that it doesn't lecture you on the specifics of WHAT to do or WHAT NOT not to do, but actually on HOW to do or HOW NOT to do things. This is of crucial importance, otherwise you'd end up disagreeing with a lot more and wouldn't take the rules seriously at all. For example, imagine that the author is in favour of a religious education but you aren't - or vice-versa. Would you continue reading the book after an advice in this area?
All in all, this is an excellent, solid book. Even if it isn't perfect, or if you don't agree with any of the rules, it does makes you think and evaluate what you have been doing or what you shall be doing when such a situation arises.


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