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Julian Onions

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DOES GOD BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS
DOES GOD BELIEVE IN ATHEISTS
by BLANCHARD JOHN
Edition: Hardcover

31 of 50 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not well balanced, 25 Oct. 2005
I tried to read this book with an open mind. Its is certainly a weighty tomb. He covers a large amount of ground and and large number of topics and is obviously well read.
That said, his arguments are not well presented or done correctly. He uses a number of well known techniques for getting his point of view across, and I find some of them dishonest.
He has a habit of introducing a topic with a pun or off hand remark that immediately shows which way the conclusion is going, sometimes even the title of the section gives away what his view will be. THis is pretty much the "poisoning the well" argument technique. It is not the way to present a balanced argument.
I'm not able to judge all the arguments he presents, some of the philosophical stuff is not familiar to me. However the "scientific" ground he fights on it is clear he picks and chooses the evidence to present. His arguments against evolution for instance focus on Neaderthals (who he dismisses as not ancestors of humans anyway), Java man - focusing mainly on the gibbon remarks, Lucy (who he suggests the evidence for erect stature is thin) piltdown man and Nebraska man. So principally on two well know problems and a gibbon remark taken out of context. He fails to mention the vast quantity of other homonids like Cro-Magnon, Australopithecus, Homo Erectus and about 40 other examples.
It appears he has severe issues with Richard Dawkins views of the world - one wonders at times if there is a personal vendetta!
Similar problems are given against the age of the earth, implying that geologists only use fossils to date rocks, and archeologists use rocks to date fossils. Has he not read about Argon dating and any number of other techniques!
This is a shame as some of his arguments do make sense, but after reading a number badly argued cases you feel tainted.
If you already believe, I'm sure you will find comfort in the arguments presented here.
As a balanced work, I feel it is severely lacking in balance.


Who Wrote the Bible?
Who Wrote the Bible?
by Richard Elliott Friedman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.50

64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a whodunnit!, 25 Oct. 2005
This review is from: Who Wrote the Bible? (Paperback)
What a marvellous book. I was vaguely interested in the history of the Bible, after seeing a TV documentary touching on the subject.
I mean - there it is, a perennial bestseller - but someone had to have actually written it down at some point, in fact probably more than one person.
This book takes you through the life and times of the early biblical history setting the scene, showing the concerns and the point of view of some of the people associated with it. Then takes you on to suggest who might have been responsible for what parts and why. What axe they had to grind, what their reasons were and the clues used. Its like digging an archeological site. Uncovering layers within layers.
One slight criticism I have of it is the title. Its really only concerned with the first 5 books of the Bible, which is quite a small percentage. Certainly nothing on the new testament, which you might not realise from the title.
However - that said, once I picked it up I found it hard to put down again! I since gone on to purchase several other of his books.


Real Time Rendering Tricks and Techniques in DirectX 8 (Premier Press Game Development (Software))
Real Time Rendering Tricks and Techniques in DirectX 8 (Premier Press Game Development (Software))
by Dempski
Edition: Paperback

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great introduction, 4 July 2003
This book works for me!
I wanted to learn about vertex and pixel shaders, but I'm a bit of a novice on the whole directx/graphics scene. A lot of books are a little scary in getting to grips with this topic.
This book I found very readable, and it introduced the concepts in an understandable way, with plenty of description about the whys and wherefors of each decision.
There is a fairly brief introduction to getting a window onto the screen, a very small section on the fixed function pipeline, and then full bore into VS/PS. It also covers lots of other topics, including a chapter on 2-d in 3-d, rendering to surfaces, rendering video, stencil buffer and 3-d fonts.
Several techniques for rendering water, and shadows and other effects together with discussion about pros and cons, or each technique.
Its based on directx8, but the differences between it and directx9 are not really much of an issue.
In summary, a well written book that covers a lot of ground.


Microsoft® DirectX® 9 Programmable Graphics Pipeline (Pro-Developer)
Microsoft® DirectX® 9 Programmable Graphics Pipeline (Pro-Developer)
by Kris Gray
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather dissapointed, 4 July 2003
I had high hopes for this book, having some experience with directx but by no means being an expert. I was hoping to learn some new information about directx 9 graphics. I did learn some things, but not as much as I'd hoped.
This book can be described basically as a summary of whats in the directx SDK.
It covers
Vertex/pixel shaders, being a reference without very much extra detail.
High Level Shader Language (HLSL) - mostly reference material with a brief description of some of the SDK examples.
Then the effects framework, which is basically the HLSL chapters redone in effects language, and the differences aren't that much really.
Whilst there is some explanation, I found it all rather patchy. Sometimes equations were explained, often they were assumed you would know what was happening. I also had a feeling of deja vu reading certain sections, where it was clear bits had been copied from earlier in the book, and changed a little. It is by no means a tutorial to directx9.
I think I spotted a number of errors in the examples. Often the whole code for an effect is presented, then stepped through in some more detail, and the copied fragments are sometimes different to the original (additional or deleted lines), which sows the seeds of doubt about reliability somewhat.
I guess I was hoping for something more. How can I use the effects framework with real models, where more than a single effect might be required. When drawing meshes it always sets a material, why? How might I have several techniques to achieve the same result on different graphics cards (it tells you this can be done, but doesn't show how you might do it).
For me, although its targeted at directx8, the book "Real-time Rendering Tricks and Techniques in DirectX" by Dempski is light years ahead if you are trying to learn how to use VS/PS.
A better title for this book might have been "A reference guide to pixel shaders, vertex shaders, HLSL and effects framework" although admittedly not as catchy.
Who is it aimed at? I'm not sure - not me I guess:-)
I would guess experienced graphics programmers who don't know about, but want to learn about VS/PS/HLSL and effects.


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