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EFMOL "eugeneol" (Dublin)

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A Short History Of Nearly Everything (Bryson)
A Short History Of Nearly Everything (Bryson)
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars A new view on History of Science, 22 May 2005
History books don't appeal to everybody, and history books about science even less so. However, this book by travel writer Bill Bryson provides a very different way of examining history of science that will definitely appeal to non-scientist and non-historian alike - it has something for all.
What struck me most was how much science I had forgotten from my school and college days. The best parts for me were the histories of the forgotten scientists who didn't get the credit they deserved in their day that the likes of Newton and Darwin got.
As a travel writer, Bryson actually goes to the locations and museums where history was made and recorded - he also talks to interesting people along the way. While this book is not a travel book - Bryson's descriptions of each location are expertly recorded.
Also very interesting were Bryson's (successful) attempts to explain complex things in an easy to understand way and his expert comparisons of how small things like electrons are, and how far away Pluto really is, with every day things that we can appreciate.
You don't have to have a PhD in Nuclear Physics to read this book. It is very enjoyable, witty, concise, informative, and easy to read. If you have even a passing interest in history of science, you will not be disappointed.

From Dun Sion to Croke Park: The Autobiography
From Dun Sion to Croke Park: The Autobiography
by MicheŠl ” Muircheartaigh
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for GAA fans, 22 April 2005
Micheal's voice is almost part of being Irish. Those of us who love GAA sport and tune into our radios on a Sunday to hear Hurling and Football commentaries always hope that Micheal is the man who's behind the mike. He's as GAA as a sod of turf from Croke Park.
Micheal is one of those lucky guys who gets paid for watching and talking about sport - his love of GAA in particular, but also his golf and greyhound racing exploits shines through from every page of this book. I would have liked some more stories about his commentary - maybe awkward moments or gaffes.
If you love GAA than you absolutely have to read this book. If you're not a GAA fan, then you'll get less out of this book.
It is written in a pleasant style and is easy to read. Very enjoyable.

iRiver H10 (5GB) Mini HDD type MP3 player with FM tuner and colour screen - Grey
iRiver H10 (5GB) Mini HDD type MP3 player with FM tuner and colour screen - Grey

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Top class MP3 player, radio, and more, but........., 9 April 2005
The H10 is my first MP3 player, though there are two other members of my family who have mini iPods, so I'm reasonably familiar with MP3 players in general. For me, the H10 wins by a mile when compared to the mini iPod. It operates mostly in the same way as the iPod in terms of the ways it displays menus and music files. However its the extras that win out. The FM Tuner radio is excellent and I'm astonished that all MP3 players do not have this feature. As an avid radio listener, this alone persuaded me to buy the H10 - it is worth the slighty higher price (about 20 euro) when compared to the iPod.

The colour screen is excellent quality, though not really necessary for navigating around files and menus. The menus and touch scrolling are very easy to use and should pose no problems to anyone who dislikes too many buttons on gadgets.

As the screen is so small adding photos for viewing on the H10 means that viewing anything other than close ups or portraits is a waste of time. I have snapshots of my family and that's about it. The panoramic view from your hotel window on your last holiday will be lost on this small screen.

The voice recording and the ability to use it as an external hard drive make this an excellent tool. I have 553 songs on the H10 and there's still over 2GB left - lots of room for files etc. Note that the USB connector is not the standard one that you will find on memory keys or on computers - therefore you will need to carry around the connector or get a converter is if you want to use this to carry files from home to office.

Overall, an excellent device well worth the 299 euro spent on it. I understand that a 10GB version is due - if your have a lots of songs (I have 9GB on my PC which will not all fit on the H10), or you intend to use it for recording long meetings, consider waiting for the 10GB version.

Now the buts.........

I am tormented by the fact that songs are not listed in albums in their original order. Try listening to the Beatles medley from Abbey Road and you'll understand this frustration. I'm told the iPod does this too, so it is not a disadvantage when you compare both. Songs are listed alphabetically and of course you could add A, B, C..... to the names of each song on your PC, but that's a chore for over 500 songs. I've done this for Abbey Road and other key albums. Maybe updates to the software will fix this.

A H10 Firmware v2.0 upgrade is "available" but I continually get errors messages when trying to download it. I've searched disscussion boards and this seems to be a common problem. If you are intending the buy a H10 you should ask about this.

The iRiver Plus player on my PC could be better. I prefer iTunes or Real Player to this interface, but I am getting used to it.

Overall the huge plus's and the small minus's make this gadget a "must". You should definitely investigate the H10 if you are thinking of buying an MP3 player that has more features than its rivals.

Happy listening!!!

Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic
Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic
by Tom Holland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.09

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Roman History for the non-Latin scholar, 30 Aug. 2004
I bought this book without having ever heard anything about it purely because I love History books and was very surprised to see this one in the top ten bestseller list in a Dublin Book Shop. I took a chance, but was rewarded by a great read written in excellent style by Tom Holland.
As a schoolboy who in a boarding school where the study of Latin was compulsory for my class, I was fascinated by the Roman Republic and later Empire. In fact this was the only part of the subject of Latin that I liked! The good news for Latin haters is that there is very little latin used in this book.
Holland's description of the Roman Republic, its main characters, lesser characters, and the politics of the time is well done - though at times a little more detail would have been useful (some sections gloss over events and people very quickly). For me, two characters (Caeser and Cicero) dominated the book and could easily form the basis of separate books. Cicero in particular would fit in today's political world with ease. He is known as a great orater, but this ability is only briefly covered in his earlier speeches at court trials. As political schemer, he has been seldom matched over the centuries since. Caeser would just be another dictator, though not in the savage mould of Hitler, Stalin or Saddam. In fact he gets sympathetic treatment from Holland for his several episodes of clemency to his enemies.
Jealously and power struggles are what the last century BC was about. However, it still seems incredible that a republic with democratically elected Consuls existed over 2000 years ago. Holland attempts to paint a "true" picture of the times and does not attempt to hide the savagery, rivalries and corruption that ravaged the Republic in its last days. Most of the main characters in this book end up suffering violent deaths.
Many of the photographs of busts and statues add little to the book and could have been left out without harming it (and lowering the price too). I also found that the number of characters is huge and sometimes hard to follow (no fault of Holland) - for example many names are similar (Catiline, Catulus, Crassus, Caelius). The timeline at the end of the book is a useful guide to events as a lot happens during this period of history.
As I write this there is a 20% discount with Amazon - excellent value. If you are new to Roman history, then this is an excellent place to start learning more. If you are an existing student of Roman History, then I think that more consistent application of detail would have been an advantage.
Thoroughly recommended.

by John Grisham
Edition: Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Different, but good!, 22 July 2004
This review is from: Bleachers (Paperback)
It's been a while since I read any of John Grisham's books. The familiar theme of Southern US lawyers bucking the system was beginning too run a bit dry for me, so when I saw this book on holiday, I thought I'd give it a try.
The book is short - I read it in less than four hours in one session. There are no lawyers! The central theme involves the relationship between players and their dying coach (Eddie Rake) over several years of High School American football. While this type "football" is not that popular in Europe, many Europeans will feel the same parallel relationship with rugby, soccer, tennis, etc, coaches that occur in this book. The actual sport doesn't matter.
The descriptions of the town of Messina are good, but not quite to the depth of atmosphere in (say) Death Row in "The Chamber" - this is a completely different novel from what has come before from Grisham.
Grisham the story teller shines through, though in a very diiferent way from the thrillers that we are used to. Fans of Grisham will be surprised with this book.
The book is very short, so look for bargain copies - I bought for 7 euro in a book sale. Read it in one or two sessions and you will not be disappointed.

1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World
1759: The Year Britain Became Master of the World
by Frank McLynn
Edition: Hardcover

21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mine's a pint of the black stuff..., 22 July 2004
1759 was the year Arthur Guinness first started brewing stout and porter in Dublin - for many Irish people (like me) this is the most important event of 1759 (it does get a mention in McLynn's book). I was fascinated to see what were people talking about in 1759 in the pubs while they were sampling this new brew when I bought this book.
First, may I say that I did enjoy this book, but perhaps not as much as I expected.
Let's deal with the good points first. I haven't read McLynn's 1066 book so the author's effort at a defining book on a particular year was a new idea for me. While many parts of the book are quite brilliant in my view, McLynn doesn't quite pull off a "great" or "masterpiece" with this book. The descriptions of Quebec, Minden, and Quiberon Bay are brilliant. The detail and the description of the principle characters on both sides of each conflict are well described as is the relationship with Native American/Canadians in the Quebec siege. Wolfe and Montcalm are fascinating characters and you will get a well written account of the year 1759 for its part in what is often called the "French and Indian Wars". Minden and especially Quiberon Bay are described in fine detail for the amateur historian - McLynn has a knack with keeping the drama up in each event. The book is worth the purchase price for this alone.
However, there are some negative points that I wish to mention. First, it is inexcusable in this age of spell-checkers that elementary grammer and spelling mistakes still make it to the printed version of the book. If I can spot them, how tough can it be for the editor of the book to do so. There are only 5 or 6 - but annoying nonetheless.
The author also breaks up events - for example the Quebec siege is described over several chapters but are interupted by other events. I personally would have preferred if each item was described in its entirety. Bonnie Prince Charlie, an almost insignificant player in 1759, gets a prominant role - not in proportion to the rest of the event of 1759. Also, the raid by Roger's Rangers (less than 200 men) to kill a few Native Indians gets a whole chapter to itself - again I question McLynn's balance of combining these events with the more defining events mentioned above. I also found that some of the introductions to several chapters, which were presented in italics, to be rather off the point (eg Voltaire) until McLynn somehow ties them in to events of the day with almost the last sentence of each introduction. One gets the impression that while 1759 was indeed a significant year, McLynn needed to fill the book out a bit more with lesser events.
Nevertheless, the book is a good read written in a very popular historical style that the amateur historian will like. It will be interesting to see if McLynn tries another year, though I doubt that any particular year (1848 excepted) would contain enough material for a popular history book.
A few distractions apart, this book is well worth reading for students of the 18th century.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 15, 2009 5:39 PM GMT

The Cryptographer
The Cryptographer
by Tobias Hill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Moore's Law..., 11 July 2004
This review is from: The Cryptographer (Paperback)
I found this book difficult to judge - I read both previous reviews on Amazon which were positive, to gauge the views of others. I've never read anything by Hill before - I hadn't even heard of him until I spotted this book which looked interesting on Dublin Airport's bookshelf - I was looking forward to a novel about codes and cryptography, but the book is not about this.

The main characters Anna Moore and John Law dominate ( I couldn't resist the title for my review - apologies to all for poor pun). I'm the type of reader who likes things to happen at a fast pace - you won't get this in Hill's book. It's more about character and description. No doubt it is well written - the prose is easy for me (an infrequent reader of novels) and will appeal to those who look for style as well as substance in books.

I still don't know whether I liked this book or not. I didn't dislike it, but was not impressed by it either. One item that left an impression on me - I turned over the last page to read on expecting more, only to find that the book had ended and I was reading the acknowledgements. It left me with an "un-finished" feel.

Palm Tungsten W GSM/GPRS SIM Free Mobile Phone
Palm Tungsten W GSM/GPRS SIM Free Mobile Phone

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great gadget - but not all the time, 19 May 2004
Like a previous reviewer - I thought that the Tungsten W is a missed opportunity.
It is a fantastic PDA - but then again so many cheaper PDAs do the same thing. My previous PDA was a Palm III. Documents to Go is a huge plus. Edit and create MS Office documents as if you're using a PC - not many other PDAs can do this. Ability to read Acrobat files is fantastic. Use of SD cards is a great help - no need for Flash card memory sticks with this baby.
As a mobile phone, it is not as handy as a Nokia in terms of size and "fit-in-your-pocket" ability, but is is not bad either. SIM card manager and linking to address book is easy and very useful. I have had no problems with connections and quality - I'm with Vodafone Ireland. This is a good phone.
Now for the down side. The hands free earpiece is a drag if you're not used to it - wires everywhere. For this reason I recommend purchasing an Expansys flipcover which incorporates the wires, mic, and earpiece into the leather cover - very clever, but not cheap (55 STG). Now I can hold my TW up to my ear and use it as a normal phone.
I use WebPro and VersaMail for Internet and email - excellent tools. WebPro does not come with the TW - I'd recommend this ahead of the WAP tool that's bundled with the TW.
There's something weird about the battery. It is not consistant. Sometimes it lasts 4-5 days with low usage - other times it lasts less than 24 hours with no usage. Check this out before you purchase a TW.
Finally - as with all PDAs back up your data regularly. AND I MEAN MORE THAN ONCE A DAY! This little baby crashes/freezes frequently. A soft reset sorts this out quickly, but it is easy to lose data. I can't stress enough sync'ing with your PC - this goes for all PDAs, but especially the TW.
Overall, a fantastic gadget that has annoying features that should not occur with something as expensive as this. Look for the next generation at a lower cost.

Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660
Civil War: The War of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660
by Trevor Royle
Edition: Hardcover

58 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just an English Civil War, 2 May 2004
The mid 17th century is a well researched and well documented time in history. This of course is mainly due to several interesting things happening during this period.
If you're Irish (as I am) you are taught in school that during the English civil war Cromwell came over to Ireland and killed as many people as he could (just because they were Catholic and Irish) - we were taught very little else about this period.
I haven't read anything by Trevor Royle before, but after this I will certainly look him up again. When I saw this book in my local bookshop I thought that it was a devious marketing ploy to get people in Ireland and Scotland to buy this book about the English Civil War. This war truely involved all three countries and Royle expertly combines the this theme with his narrative.
Cromwell is treated sympathetically, while the Charles I is treated as a stubborn monarch unable to come to terms with the fact that he did not have a divine right to rule all his subjects as he saw fit.
The writing style is very easy for the amateur historian/reader to read. Some of the quotations from writers of the time are obviously difficult, but Royle adds useful explanations where necessary.
Though the book is about three kingdoms, Ireland features less than the other two. From an Irish viewpoint, there could be more about the Confederation of Kilkenny, the Plantations, Owen Roe O'Neill, etc - but overall no complaints about balance.
Irish, Scots, and English will all enjoy this book (Welsh too!). My only criticisim is that while the book is about the period 1638-1660, it does not end in 1660. Rather it continues up until 1690 and even describes the opening shots of the American War of Independence.
For me, the book should have stopped with the restoration of Charles II. Royle is such a superb writer and researcher that another book covering the period 1661-1715 would have been better. The post 1660 material in the current book is dealt with rapidly and less satisfactorily than what went before. I have deducted a star for this.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 23, 2013 12:54 AM GMT

John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life 1917-1963
John F. Kennedy: An Unfinished Life 1917-1963
by Robert Dallek
Edition: Hardcover

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent conspiracy free account of JFK, 9 Mar. 2004
Robert Dallek gets the formula right in an excellent biography of JFK. This book concentrates on JFK's life and deliberately avoids controversy about who shot him and all the conspiracy theories that have arisen since November 22nd 1963.
Like millions of others, I remember the day well that JFK was assassinated. I was only four years old at the time, but the memory of "a bad man" coming out of the clouds to get him still lingers to this day. I have had a fascination about JFK and what he could have achieved. I have visited the 6th Floor museum in Dallas, collect US coins with his portrait, and now I have read a brilliant biography of him.
The book largely concludes that JFK had a mostly uneventful life as a Senator and that his Presidency was all to short to really describe him as a great President. However, his role in the Cuban missile crisis where he played brinkmanship with Kruschev is brilliantly described - we can all be thankful that he was a powerful diplomat who saw military action as a last straw.
Vietnam, Berlin, Bay of Pigs, Civil Rights - they all described magnificently. Once criticism that I would have it that the author states that he was able to use new information in this biography not found in others from material released by Russian government in particular. It would have been useful to know which pieces of information are new.
JFK's early life gets a lot of detail - one wonders what he would have done if his brother Joe had survived the war. In fact, JFK's unfinished life asks a lot of "What ifs?"
What if he had been exposed in the press as a womanizer of libidinous proportions?
What if Kruschev called his bluff over Cuban missiles?
What if he lived to get elected to a second term?
Those looking for gory details about the assassination and answers to "Who shot JFK" will be disappointed - this is not the thrust of this book.
Read it and enjoy.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 26, 2011 6:17 PM BST

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