Saturday, 28 December 2013

I Spy With My Little Eye A Phobia Starting With A

To help kick off another year I though I would start having a look at some phobias. I will be doing this in alphabetical order picking out some traditional ones as well as some of the stranger phobias about.


Fear of bathing, is a relative uncommon but serious phobia. It appears to be more prevalent in women and children. It is important to note that many children dislike baths, so ablutophobia is generally not diagnosed in children unless it persists for more than six months. The phobia can manifest in many ways, from a fear of showering to a complete phobia of all washing.
Fear of darkness. This phobia is known by a variety of other names, including nyctophobia and scotophobia, and it is pervasive in both children and adults. Some people find coping techniques for their achluophobia, finding a way to live with it, while others actively seek treatment.

Fear of chickens. It is a fear mostly of flying birds and other feathered birds. Other persons who suffer this phobia also tend to hate any products of chicken including feathers, meat and even eggs.
The fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth. Eating a peanut butter sandwich is challenging for people with aracibutyrophobia.
Fear of flutes. It is also called flute phobia. The word aulophobia is of Greek origin from aulo which means flute or tube.
Fear of gold. It may sound weird but some people develop extreme anxiety or panic when they are exposed to anything appertaining to gold.
Fear of one having a vile odor. It is but human for people to emit a human body smell. Different individuals have different body odors because of chemical reactions in the body, food that’s eaten and exercise on the part of the person. There are some people who feel embarrassed of the human physique odor that they emit.
Fear of ventriloquist's dummies, animatronic creatures, wax statues or any inanimate object that simulates a sentient being.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Bit Of A Let Down

This book was my first foray into the history of the bible and it read like a novel. The authors have delivered history that is accessible to everyone. They paint a picture of what it was like to live in the time of Jesus. While the author's go to great length to separate myth from fact I found that not much time was spent on the main man himself.

This is what let the book down in my opinion. It would have been a much fuller and richer read if more time was spent on Jesus. That is something I never thought I would be typing. Not being a big fan of religion this book has left me wanting to explore the subject more and that can’t be a bad thing.

3 Stars

Sunday, 22 December 2013

The History Of The Calculator

Once upon a time, far, far away, a man found he didn't have enough fingers on which to count his bean crop. So he invented the abacus.

Ok, I've been a little creative with my 'historical facts'. The first mechanism widely recognised as a calculator, the abacus, appeared in Greece.

Invented long before numbers were actually invented, the abacus was used in various forms in order to keep track of the cost of goods. The earliest surviving example of this technological leap dates back to about 300 B.C.

Now, considering the pace at which mankind evolves and fashions new tools to solve new problems you'd be forgiven for thinking the abacus followed a meteoric path to improving the dark art of mathematical calculations. In fact, the next stride forward in calculator technology didn't take place for another 1900 years.

The Pascal

The next giant leap forward came in 1642. The Pascaline adding and subtracting machine was built by French inventor Blaise Pascal. Ironically, Pascal created the machine in order to help his father deal with the tax affairs of Haute-Normandie!

Fast forward another 350 years and we enter an age of evolutionary leaps and bounds for the calculator. The rapidly advancing technological capabilities and reliable, mass production helped drive the development of the calculator to ever greater heights.

Between 1820 and 1914, a mere 94 years, the calculator went from being a curiosity available to only the rich to being heavily used in commercial environments. In fact, it was only as recently as 1885 that the calculator started to feature the push button keys that we're all accustomed to today. The early 1900's saw a smaller, yet no less significant, number of enhancements. The standard two rows of five buttons layout arrived in 1901. 10 years later, the United States imported the Swedish 10 digit layout that we're familiar with into the design.

It was at this point that the calculator's development was hindered by the limits of technology. The 1960's was the decade that saw the calculator move from being a cumbersome, lever operated device to something truly portable.

The process of miniaturising components such as transistors took development into overdrive. Between 1961 and 1964, calculator development leapt from the 170 vacuum tube-based Anita Mk8 to the very first transistor commercial calculator, the Sharp Compet CS 10A. Only four years later, Sharp unleashed the first commercial electronic calculator designed exclusively for the desk top market: the Compet 22.

In 1969, Sharp launched the first battery powered calculator, the QT-8D. One of the most impressive

aspects of the QT-8D was its size: only 5.2 inches by 9.6 inches by 2.75 inches (WxHxD). One year later, Texas Instruments launched an even smaller calculator, the Pocketronic.
The Sharp QT-8D
As technology improved, calculators became ever smaller yet more complex and capable. The one major drawback to its adoption by the consumer market was the high price. The HP-35, launched by HP in 1972, retailed for $395 - a price most ordinary families simply couldn't justify.

Following a brief, yet bloody, bout of technological warfare in the 1970's, only four manufacturers were left standing. Amongst this group of survivors were well known names such as Sharp and HP.

The 1990's saw an explosion of new devices hitting the market. The basic model spawned a whole new range of calculators designed to meet the ever growing needs of the consumer. From scientific to graphing; the list went on and on and then went online.

The age of the internet saw webmasters creating calculating tools for just about every conceivable use possible. Personal finance sites created compound interest calculators, frugal webmasters created calculators to work out power usage for home utilities... the list goes on and on.

There you have it, over 2,000 years old and still going strong. Where do you think the calculator will be in 2,000 years time?

Written by James Redden


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The First Ever "Lazy" Awards

Welcome to the inaugural "Lazy" awards. This is where I chose my favourite fiction and non-fiction read of the year. Also I name my favourite new author, short story, worst read and audiobook for 2013.


It was a tough choice this year for my favourite Fiction book, with it being a toss-up of two books. These being:

Ultimately the first ever Lazy goes to Tim 2 by Mark Tufo just for the plain hilarious wrongness of this book. It is so anti politically correct that it should come with a warning. For those of you who missed the review please read on.

Tim 2 Review

This book is so twisted and wrong that is so so so right. Mark Tufo reigns supreme yet again delivering another spectacular book in his unique style. Tim the clown is back with his side kick Hugh the zombie, and what's this they have a fat geek called Clarence coming along for the ride as well. The only problem is they all occupy the same body, or should I say their consciousness do. As you can imagine there is not much room in there and Tim and Hugh do not play well with others.

Tim makes the clown from IT look like a Granny in a knitting circle. He is more than happy to help Hugh find food, that is people, and eat them. Tim is one of the most deranged and psychotic characters ever to be put on paper. What do I like so much about Tim? Tim is so politically incorrect that it is hilarious; he is so sick and demented that you cannot help but love him. This book is not for the squeamish but if you can get past the gore you will be rewarded by one the most awesome characters ever. That's right trend setters I said awesome and I make no apologies for it. Mr. Tufo I take my hat off to you yet again.

Non Fiction                                                                             

The non-fiction Lazy goes to Stiff by Mary Roach:


Stiff Review

This book was a fascinating and educational look at the history of human cadavers and how the livings have used them. This book is one of those rare reads and is the reason I love reading. It gives me a great insight on a subject matter where I had none before, and leaves me with a thirst to find out more. The author takes the rather macabre and serious subject of our mortal remains and looks at how they have been used to better society and save lives. I found Mary Roach strikes a nice balance of respect and humour in dealing with this socially taboo subject. From organ donations to human composting this book covers a wide subject matter and left me with a new outlook and thoughts and how best my corpse might help others.

Best New Author

I have been very spoiled this year in offerings from new authors. No longer are we restricted to the whims of major publishing houses. The self-publishing boom has uncovered some very impressive talent. For me this year I cannot go pass Nicholas Sansbury Smith for a Lazy. He has delivered not one but two novels and three short stories for the year. He is in my opinion an exciting new author who I think has a big writing future in front of him.


Biomass Revolution Review:
The author has bought to life on the pages of this novel a compelling and frightening vision of a dystopian world. A society that has risen out of the ashes of nuclear winter whose leaders rule through fear and misinformation and oppress the freedom of its citizens. The state is monopolising the near endless fuel source known as Biomass, that if shared could bring relief from the agonizing deaths and suffering of the banished masses.

A small band of revolutionaries struggle to bring the government down and to free the citizens. This book has all the ingredients for a great read and does not disappoint. A sumptuous novel of epic proportions that left me wanting seconds. Nicholas Smith has delivered a fresh vision in a well-worn genre.
Orbs Review:
ORBS is a fast moving captivating Sc-Fi thriller. The science of the book has obviously been well researched and this adds to the enjoyment of the read. This book makes the Green House effect look like a storm in a tea cup. The characters are well developed and this pulls you into the story even more. I especially love the "blue orbs" they are one of the most bad ass and scariest things around. ORBS delivers yet another enthralling read from this major new talent and has me salivating for more. This book has received my vote in the Goodreads Best of 2013 for best Sci-Fi book.
Worst Read Of The Year:
This was a tough Lazy to award as I did not read any real clunkers this year. But after giving it much thought the award goes to Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick. The authors ego gets in the way of a great story. As we say at my work place "Go on about it" and that he did.

Ghost In The Wires Review:

Ghost in the wire is the tell all memoirs of the World’s best known Hacker Kevin Mitnick. While the subject matter of the book is fascinating as well as frightening the author loves to let you know how good he is. I lost count of how many times he comes out with” who else but Mitnick would”.... Seriously get over yourself. Yes you are clever, yes you did outrun the Feds for years and yes you are famous. But I knew all this before I picked up the book. Ego aside this is as mentioned before a fascinating read, you just have to push the authors big head aside to get to the essence of the book.
Best Audiobook
One of the ways I can chew through so many books is to listen to the unabridged audio formats. Some of these books take some serious commitment as the run over 30 hours. The average though is a manageable eleven hours. I listen to them while driving back and forward from work. I listen while doing the dishes, vacuuming, mowing the lawns or walking the dogs. As you can see from the previous sentence I am a highly trained domestic male. Audiobooks are one of the ways I quell my reading addiction.

The Lazy for best Audiobook goes to Redshirts by John Scalzi. The combination of a great story and great narrator, that being Wil Wheaton of Star Trek fame, combined for a memorable listen.

Redshirts Review:
I loved this book it was such a refreshing and highly entertaining read. What would you do if the world you lived in was an average Sci-fi TV show and you were only an extra on said show? Well for one thing you would avoid like the plague being a member of any team that involved one of the main charters and a trip to a unfamiliar planet. This is exactly what the crew of the Intrepid do frequently, they don't know exactly why but it seems like a good plan if you want to stay alive.

This is in a nutshell the mechanics of this book and it delivers a great story that will have any Sci-fi fan in stitches. The author has crafted a wonderful tale that I am sure will surface every time I watch some Sci-fi. A tale of love lost and friends killed that will tug at your heart string.......sorry the narrative must have taken over. Anyway do yourself a favour and give this book a read.

The Lazy Book Reviewer Jr Award:
After managing to pull Jr. away from Skyrim he had no hesitation in giving his Lazy to Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. This came as no surprise to me as since introducing my son to this book in Audio format as it is all he listens to. This book has launched a fascination with him in all things "Old School Geek". This ranges from Atari 2600 games to movie classics like WarGames.

Ready Player One Review:

This book rocks it never stopped surprising and entertaining me from the opening chapter to the end. The author spins a tale that had me staying up late many a night just to read a little bit more. As well as creating a world that is not much of a stretch to believe is around the corner. He pays homage to the history of the humble computer game as well as to their forefathers the never forgotten book driven RPG games such as Dungeon & Dragons. I was like a kid in a candy shop as I was taken for a stroll along memory lane as games, films and TV shows are bought up in the story.

The story is where the book hits a home run. A world where fossil fuel and real jobs are rare. Most of humanity lives in a virtual world called Oasis the ultimate social networking and MMO all rolled into one. It is in the Oasis the story runs rampart, we have our hero, a quest and an evil corporation trying to change and corrupt the Oasis forever. This book is for anyone who was bought up in the 80's or has a passing interest in gaming or anything geeky. Even if you do not fit these categories give this book a try and prepare to be entertained.



The Lazy Book Reviewer One Year On

The Lazy Book Reviewer is celebrating one year of blogging. I would like to thank everyone for helping us reach over 19,000 page hits for the year. It is truly humbling to think that this blog is seen in over 30 Countries. 

I started this blog to help me through a difficult time in my life and I am pleased to say that it worked. I would like to give a special thanks to my wife who has put up with my obsessive reading and to my son for contributing with some reviews. Also I would like to thank all the authors that have given me their books  in return for a fair and honest review. My biggest thanks go to you the reader. Without you my blog would have disappeared into the web wasteland.  I hope that I have helped point you towards some great reads.

As the year comes to a close I turn my eyes onto what the next well bring. With 90 books so far read for the year I hope to crack the magic 100 next year. So I hope you can join me for another year of reviews  and interesting tit-bits. I am looking at being able to offer some more give away as well next year, as my way of thanking you the reader. Stay along for the ride as next year is sure to be a blast.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Life & Death At Over 28,000 ft

This is my first book on Mountain Climbing so I have no base for comparison. Overall I enjoyed this book and it gave me great insight and background to Mt Everest and the quest to climb it. I was quite surprised by how commercial it has become and found the line ups to summit quite comical and surreal.

The book focuses on the climbing season of 2006 which resulted in 11 deaths. The author looks at these deaths and how some where left to die. It highlights the difficulties of rescue at high altitude and the hard choices that need to be made. To me the book seems to skim over some issues that should have been looked at in more depth. Life and death at Everest is full of decisions based on survival that often fly in the face of morality. Why this book goes a long way to opening up the secretive world at the top of the world it left me with more questions than answers.
3 Stars

Friday, 13 December 2013

Lawrence of Arabia Warts and All

If you only read one book on the life of Lawrence of Arabia then this book should be the one. The author delivers a well-researched book that peels back the myths surrounding the man. It also gives us a great insight into the time and the world in which he lived.

Lawrence is one of those rare people that have played a big part of the world we live in. Korda covers a lot of issues that are still relevant today, especially concerning the Middle East. This book goes beyond the Lawrence of Arabia and shines a light on some of the other impressive contributions that he made throughout his life. What stopped this book being a 5 star rating for me was the authors need to constantly compare what Lawrence went through to that of Princess Diana. We got this comparison from his relationship to the media right through to the motorcycle accident that claimed his life. Hero is one of those books that will stay with you long after you finish it.

3.5 Stars

Monday, 9 December 2013

Zombies..... But Not As We Know Them

An old and established terrorist organisation attempts to deliver a killer blow to the Western world. They unleash a devilish plot to destabilise the world’s political stability and plunge it into anarchy.
Gnash delivers a refreshingly different take on the well-worn Zombie Genre. There are plenty of the undead but not as you know them. A brilliant plot that twists and turns delivers a memorable book that has the reader on the edge of their collective seats. My only complaint about this book is that the plot is not fully explored and the finish seemed a little bit to rushed to me. Apart from these minor quibbles this book is a great example of the indie author movement and all that it offers.

3.5 Stars

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Rise Of The Fuzzy Nation

This is my second John Scalzi novel and I am in danger of becoming a huge fan. In this book delivers a tale of the destructive nature of man's greed. This is all packaged in homage to H. Beam Pipers Fuzzy series.

The Fuzzy's planet is being torn apart in the search for minerals and their very existence is in danger. Helps comes from an obnoxious, self-centred arrogant miner with a nice dog. It's the downtrodden versus the ‘MAN’ and the resulting showdown is worthy of any Vegas title fight.

This book delivers a highly entertaining character driven narrative. The world we are thrown into is a bright and vibrant one in which the exploitation of other worlds is running rife. Many current day issues are explored in this book such as native title and good corporate citizenship. I look forward to reading my next Scalzi novel.

4.5 Stars

Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Origins Of Humpty Dumpty

Time to introduce a new thread to the Lazy Book Reviewer. This one will be taking a look at the origins of some classic Nursery Ryhmes. The story behind a lot of these are far from friendly. So to kick it off we will have a look at Humpty Dumpty.
The imagery of Humpty Dumpty
Humpty Dumpty was a colloquial term used in fifteenth century England describing someone who was obese. This has given rise to various, but inaccurate, theories surrounding the identity of Humpty Dumpty. The image of Humpty Dumpty was made famous by the illustrations included in the 'Alice through the looking glass' novel by Lewis Carroll. However, Humpty Dumpty was not a person pilloried in the famous rhyme!
 The History and Origins of the Rhyme
Humpty Dumpty was in fact believed to be a large cannon! It was used during the English Civil War (1642 - 1649) in the Siege of Colchester (13 Jun 1648 - 27 Aug 1648). Colchester was strongly fortified by the Royalists and was laid to siege by the Parliamentarians (Roundheads). In 1648 the town of Colchester was a walled town with a castle and several churches and was protected by the city wall. Standing immediately adjacent the city wall, was St Mary's Church. A huge cannon, colloquially called Humpty Dumpty, was strategically placed on the wall next to St Mary's Church. The historical events detailing the siege of Colchester are well documented - references to the cannon (Humpty Dumpty) are as follows:
  • June 15th 1648 - St Mary's Church is fortified and a large cannon is placed on the roof which was fired by ‘One-Eyed Jack Thompson'
  • July 14th / July 15th 1648 - The Royalist fort within the walls at St Mary's church is blown to pieces and their main cannon battery ( Humpty Dumpty) is destroyed.
  • August 28th 1648 - The Royalists lay down their arms, open the gates of Colchester and surrender to the Parliamentarians
A shot from a Parliamentary cannon succeeded in damaging the wall beneath Humpty Dumpty which caused the cannon to tumble to the ground. The Royalists, or Cavaliers, 'all the King's men' attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall. However, because the cannon , or Humpty Dumpty, was so heavy ' All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again!' This had a drastic consequence for the Royalists as the strategically important town of Colchester fell to the Parliamentarians after a siege lasting eleven weeks. Earliest traceable publication 1810.

Sourced at Nursery Rhymes Origins and Lyrics

Friday, 29 November 2013

A Bit Disappointed

I have been hanging out to read this novel for ages and have to say I was a tad disappointed. The Remaining is a decent enough novel but does not stand out in the crowded market of Post-Apocalypse novels.
The plot shows a lot of promise that was never fully explored. The characters are likable and believable but it is in the details that the book disappointed. For example when the characters are suffering from dehydration they go to a creek and wash some gore off them. The question I ask is why no one bothered to drink from this water if they were so thirsty. This may be me nit-picking but it is the little thing that makes a good story great.
This series has got a lot of positive hype and reviews. With this in mind I am willing to give the series the benefit of doubt and give the next book a read. Fingers crossed the little things are all good.
3 Stars

Monday, 25 November 2013

A Promosing New Series

There is lot to like about the Technomancer. It's one of those books that keep you guessing what is just over on the next page. As a first book in a series it does a great job in introducing the reader to the characters and the nature of the story. I loved how the story developed and changed your perspective on things as it moved along.
For me though it took a little bit longer than I liked to be pulled into the story. The opening of the book and the introduction main character made it a bit hard for me to bond with him. But once I did I was rewarded with a great piece of Science Fiction writing. I definitely will be back for more.
3 Stars


Friday, 22 November 2013

One For The Comic Book Geeks

Villan's Sidekick by Stephen T Brophy

As a former comic boy geek I loved this book. The author puts a human face to the faceless goons always getting smashed by the good guys. This is no mean feat since this particular goon is huge with a Gatling gun for an arm and a metal jaw. As novella's go this one is up there with some of the best, as it packs a lot of plot in only 77 pages.

The author does a great job bringing the excitement of comics onto the pages of a novella. The characters are vibrant and the plot ticks along at a furious pace.

3.5 Stars

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Published in 1932 Still Relevant Today

Age has not taken the shine of this classic dystopian novel. I was very surprised when half way through reading this book I found it was first published in 1932. The book reads like a modern day novel with many of the concepts raised by this book still very relevant. His foresight is astounding I mean there is not much a jump from his bottle babies to that of "Test Tube" babied of today. I found myself wondering what Aldous would think of the designer baby debate going on at the moment. 

Apart from the timeliness of this book he delivers a captivating story. There is no skull skulduggery, romance of mystery to drive along the narrative. What we get instead is a great study of the human condition and what happens when two separate ways of living come together.  A fantastic reality that is brought to life within the pages of this book.  I for one would not mind living in this reality, only if I was an Alpha or a Beta at least. How have I made it to this point in my life without hearing of this book before, I hang my head in shame.

4.5 Stars

About the Author

Aldous Leonard Huxley was an English writer and one of the most prominent members of the famous Huxley family. He spent the latter part of his life in the United States, living in Los Angeles from 1937 until his death in 1963. Best known for his novels and wide-ranging output of essays, he also published short stories, poetry, travel writing, and film stories and scripts. Through his novels and essays Huxley functioned as an examiner and sometimes critic of social mores, norms and ideals. Huxley was a humanist but was also interested towards the end of his life in spiritual subjects such as parapsychology and philosophical mysticism. By the end of his life Huxley was considered, in some academic circles, a leader of modern thought and an intellectual of the highest rank.

Monday, 18 November 2013

History of the MP3

Growing up as a teenager I always used to carry around heaps of tapes and numerous batteries in my backpack, to ensure I was always wired for sound. As an adult I am always amazed at how much music I can now carry around in a small device. I mean it is ridiculous amount have music I carry with me and all without having to worry about changing batteries. What do I have to thank me or this? The good old MP3.

How Invented the MP3

The German company Fraunhofer-Gesellshaft developed MP3 technology and now licenses the patent rights to the audio compression technology - United States Patent 5,579,430 for a "digital encoding process". The inventors named on the MP3 patent are Bernhard Grill, Karl-Heinz Brandenburg, Thomas Sporer, Bernd Kurten, and Ernst Eberlein.

In 1987, the prestigious Fraunhofer Institut Integrierte Schaltungen research center (part of Fraunhofer Gesellschaft) began researching high quality, low bit-rate audio coding, a project named EUREKA project EU147, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB).

Dieter Seitzer and Karlheinz Brandenburg
Two names are mentioned most frequently in connection with the development of MP3. The Fraunhofer Institut was helped with their audio coding by Dieter Seitzer, a professor at the University of Erlangen. Dieter Seitzer had been working on the quality transfer of music over a standard phone line. The Fraunhofer research was led by Karlheinz Brandenburg often called the "father of MP3". Karlheinz Brandenburg was a specialist in mathematics and electronics and had been researching methods of compressing music since 1977. In an interview with Intel, Karlheinz Brandenburg described how MP3 took several years to fully develop and almost failed. Brandenburg stated "In 1991, the project almost died. During modification tests, the encoding simply did not want to work properly. Two days before submission of the first version of the MP3 codec, we found the compiler error."

What is MP3
MP3 stands for MPEG Audio Layer III and it is a standard for audio compression that makes any music file smaller with little or no loss of sound quality. MP3 is part of MPEG, an acronym for Motion Pictures Expert Group, a family of standards for displaying video and audio using lossy compression. Standards set by the Industry Standards Organization or ISO, beginning in 1992 with the MPEG-1 standard. MPEG-1 is a video compression standard with low bandwidth. The high bandwidth audio and video compression standard of MPEG-2 followed and was good enough to use with DVD technology. MPEG Layer III or MP3 involves only audio compression.

Timeline - History of MP3
1987 - The Fraunhofer Institut in Germany began research code-named EUREKA project EU147, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB).
January 1988 - Moving Picture Experts Group or MPEG was established as a subcommittee of the International Standards Organization/International Electrotechnical Commission or ISO/IEC.
April 1989 - Fraunhofer received a German patent for MP3.
1992 - Fraunhofer's and Dieter Seitzer’s audio coding algorithm was integrated into MPEG-1.
1993 - MPEG-1 standard published.
1994 - MPEG-2 developed and published a year later.
November 26, 1996 - United States patent issued for MP3.
September 1998 - Fraunhofer started to enforce their patent rights. All developers of MP3 encoders or rippers and decoders/players now have to pay a licensing fee to Fraunhofer.
February 1999 - A record company called SubPop is the first to distribute music tracks in the MP3 format.
1999 - Portable MP3 players appear.

What Can MP3 Do
Fraunhofer Gesellschaft has this to say about MP3:"Without Data reduction, digital audio signals typically consist of 16 bit samples recorded at a sampling rate more than twice the actual audio bandwidth (e.g. 44.1 kHz for Compact Discs). So you end up with more than 1.400 Mbit to represent just one second of stereo music in CD quality. By using MPEG audio coding, you may shrink down the original sound data from a CD by a factor of 12, without losing sound quality."

MP3 Players
In the early 1990s, Frauenhofer developed the first, however, unsuccessful MP3 player. In 1997, developer Tomislav Uzelac of Advanced Multimedia Products invented the AMP MP3 Playback Engine, the first successful MP3 player. Two university students, Justin Frankel and Dmitry Boldyrev ported AMP to Windows and created Winamp. In 1998, Winamp became a free MP3 music player boosting the success of MP3. No licensing fees are required to use an MP3 player.

Sourced at

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Masterfully Delivered Epic

This book is a sweeping epic tale that comes on relentlessly like waves crashing against the base of a cliff. The authors apocalyptic vision is masterfully delivered and at times left me gasping for air. The story is well structured and covers a large period of time and change extremely well.

Not normally a lover of the vampire genre the author has delivered a well thought out and different slant on this genre. There is so much that I love about this book that it is hard to convey how much I enjoyed this book in a review. As I sit here thinking about the book more and more scenes and characters keep popping into my head. This in itself is a great reflection of the power of this story.

5 BIG Stars

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Safran Delivers a Different Kind of True Crime Book

It is fair to say John Safran likes stirring the pot. So it was with excited anticipation I opened his book. Instead of Safrans usual style he has delivered a surprisingly mature book. This book delivers two stories in one and this makes for some interesting reading. The first story is that of a White Supremacist that the author had some fun with in of his documentary series. This guy has been murdered so Safron travels to Mississippi to follow up the story. The other part of this book is about what he goes through in order to get the information to write the book.

I loved his interaction with the murderer and his method to do so, but this probably has a lot to do with the fact that I work in a prison. This book gives a great snapshot into what goes on in the big Sippi and I found myself captivated by the stories of the main players in this real life saga. This book does seem to get bogged down in too much detail at times and this is why I have given it the 3 stars. Overall though I strongly suggest anyone with a passing interest to give this book a read. It is a refreshingly new style of crime writing.

3.5 Stars

Sunday, 10 November 2013

ORBS Ticks All The Boxes

ORBS is a fast moving captivating Sc-Fi thriller. The science of the book has obviously been well researched and this adds to the enjoyment of the read. This book makes the Green House effect look like a storm in a tea cup. The characters are well developed and this pulls you into the story even more. I especially love the "blue orbs" they are one of the most bad ass and scariest things around. ORBS delivers yet another enthralling read from this major new talent and has me salivating for more. This book has received my vote in the Goodreads Best of 2013  for best Sci-Fi book.

5 Stars

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

A Great Series

Mark Tufo delivers another memorable book in his Zombie Fallout series. But for me this book did not pack the punch of the first two in the series. Saying the author still had me laughing out loud as a hero Michael Talbot battles his way through yet more hoards of Zombie. All the cast of characters are there from Henry the flatulent dog to his arch nemesis Eliza.

Why there is a lot to like about this book it just missed the mark with me. I still remain a loyal Tufo fan and look forward to devouring the next book in the series. I hope he can forgive me for this 3 star review.

3 Stars

Monday, 4 November 2013

The History of the Yo-Yo

It is believed that the yo-yo most likely originated in China. The first historical mention of the yo-yo, however, was from Greece in the year 500 B.C. These ancient toys were made out of wood, metal, or painted terra cotta disks and called just that, a disc. It was customary, when a child turned of age, to offer toys of their youth to certain gods. Due to the fragile nature of the material, it is presumed that the disks made of terra cotta (clay) were used for this purpose rather than for actual play. A vase painting from this time period shows a Greek youth playing with a yo-yo. Such vases, as well as an actual terra cotta disk can be found in the National Museum of Athens, Greece.  Even in ancient Egyptian temples, drawings of objects have been seen in the shape of yo-yos.

Historical records indicate that 16th century hunters in the Philippines hid up in trees and used a rock tied to a long cord, up to 20 feet in length, to throw at wild animals beneath them. The weapon was able to be pulled up and thrown back down for multiple attempts at the prey. This gave rise to the widespread idea that the practice was the true forerunner of the yo-yo, but this is a stretch of imagination and has no real basis in fact. It is extremely likely, however, that the yo-yo did travel from China not only to Greece, but also to the Philippines, where the yo-yo is known to have been a popular toy for children over a very long period of time.

The next historically dated mention of the yo-yo is a box from India made in the year 1765. This miniature box was hand-painted with the picture of a girl in a red dress playing with her yo-yo. Within the next 25 years, the yo-yo traveled from the Orient to Europe, specifically to the aristocracy (upper class) of Scotland and France and on to England. As it traveled, it became known by a variety of names.

In France, a painting dated to 1789 shows the 4 year-old, future King Louis XVII holding his l’emigrette. It was during this time of the French Revolution and the “Reign of Terror,” that many of the French aristocracy were forced to flee to Paris, Germany and across other borders when their style of life was threatened by the peasant uprisings, taking their popular yo-yos made of glass and ivory with them. L’emigrette is a French term meaning to ‘leave the country.’ Another nickname for the yo-yo at this time was de Coblenz, which was a city to which many French fled. These names reflect an important historical connection between the toy and the French Revolution.

The yo-yo’s value as a stress reliever is also seen through history. While being a fashionable toy for the French nobility, those less fortunate are said to have played with their emigrettes to reduce the understandable tension of their one-way trip to the guillotine. Dating through the 1780’s, there are drawings of General Lafayette and others with their troops flinging their yo-yos. The yo-yo arrived in Paris in 1791 as it spread through France and was called the “joujou de Normandie.” Some believe that this term may reflect possible roots for the modern American name of “yo-yo.” High interest in the toy continued as evidenced by the famous French playwright, Beaumarchais, in his treatment of “The Marriage of Figaro” in 1792. There is a scene where the nervous Figaro enters and conveys his tension, not by the conventional wringing of his hands, but playing with his emigrette! When asked what the emigrette is good for, Figaro responds, “It is a noble toy, which dispels the fatigue of thinking.” Even on June 18, 1815, at the famous Battle of Waterloo, Napoleon and his army are known to have been seen relaxing with their yo-yos before battle.

The yo-yo craze traveled throughout Europe to England by way of Scotland and France. The English used the French word bandalore and the term quiz to identify the toy. In 1791, a print was circulated of the Prince of Wales, future George IV, whirling his bandalore. Because of the toy’s popularity as well as the prince’s power to sell, the toy also became known as the Prince of Wales’ toy and soon became a toy that any person of fashion had to own. The toy’s ongoing popularity in England is shown as late as 1862 when an illustration appeared showing two young lads terrifying an older woman with their quizzes.

The first recorded reference to any type of yo-yo in the United States was in 1866 when two men from Ohio received a patent for an invention called “an improved bandalore,” in that it was rim weighted. One year later, a German immigrant named Charles Kirchof patented and manufactured the return wheel. From then until 1911, although various patents were awarded in the United States related to the yo-yo, nothing notable occurred. In 1916, the Scientific American Supplement published an article titled “Filipino Toys” which showed it and named it a yo-yo. This was explained by some as the Filipino word for “come-come” or “to return.” Significant events were soon to happen in the United States. Meanwhile, back in the Philippines, the natives were becoming experts at making and using the toy. They became excellent wood carvers of the yo-yo and playing with a yo-yo, beginning early in childhood, became a national pastime. Not surprisingly, it was from here that the yo-yo as we know it today was truly introduced into the United States. In the 1920s, a man named Pedro Flores brought the first Filipino yo-yo to the U.S. and in 1928, began a yo-yo company by the same name in California.

These yo-yos were hand-carved from a single piece of wood. The yo-yo was unique because it was the first yo-yo that did not have the string tied to the axle. Instead, the string was looped around the axle, allowing the yo-yo to spin or “sleep” at the end of the string. This concept is at the heart of yo-yoing today. Rather than being able to only go up and down, the yo-yo was now capable of doing an infinite number of tricks.

In 1928 or 1929, a businessman named Donald F. Duncan Sr. saw his first Flores yo-yo while he was in San Francisco. He saw the potential of the toy as he witnessed the crowd that Pedro was able to draw by doing a few tricks. He purchased not only the idea of the yo-yo, but the Pedro Flores company itself. And, as they say, “the rest is history.”

Donald Duncan was an excellent businessman. He developed advertising campaigns and had demonstrators working for him in the U.S., as well as Western Europe. “Duncan Yo-Yo Professionals” traveled throughout the United States teaching and demonstrating yo-yo tricks and conducting contests in an effort to promote sales. Competition grew as other companies began to see the toy’s potential. In 1932, in an effort to protect his interest, Duncan filed for and was assigned a trademark for the word “yo-yo.” Not able to use the term “yo-yo,” competitors were forced to use terms like “come-back”, “return”, “returning top”, “whirl-a-gig”, and “twirler” for their versions of the toy.

In 1946, the Duncan Company moved to Luck, Wisconsin, which quickly became known as the “Yo-Yo Capital of the World” producing 3,600 yo-yos per hour. They produced the original maple wooden yo-yos using 1,000,000 board feet per year. In 1960, plastic yo-yos that we still see today began to be manufactured. Sales grew and grew. By 1962, the Duncan Company alone sold a record 45 million yo-yos in a country with only 40 million kids, and still could not keep up with the demand. High television advertising expenses and excessive expenses in overtime wages and materials to keep up with the demand hurt profits. There was also the continual legal expense in trying to hold onto the trademarked word “yo-yo.” Competitors fought hard to use it in describing their products. Finally, in 1965, the Federal Court of Appeals ruled that Duncan’s trademark for the word “yo-yo” was no good. The term yo-yo had become so widespread that it was now a permanent part of the language and it no longer only described the toy. It, in fact, WAS the toy.

Tragically, in November of 1965, the Duncan Company could hold on no longer and was forced into bankruptcy. Although pieces of equipment were auctioned off to various buyers, Flambeau Plastics Company purchased the most valuable asset, the “Duncan” name and the goodwill that came along with it. It is the Flambeau Plastics Company that manufactures and sells the eleven different models of Duncan yo-yos today. June 6 has been deemed National Yo-Yo Day in honor of Donald Duncan Sr.’s birthday and the phenomenal influence he had in the world of yo.

Trivia enthusiasts will enjoy noting that in 1968, Abbie Hoffman was cited for contempt of Congress for “walking the dog” in an effort to entertain the House Subcommittee on Un-American Activities that was investigating him and Richard Nixon made headlines when he yo-yoed on stage at the opening of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville in 1974. The yo-yo is, indeed, universal.

In recent years, technology has affected a multitude of the products we use, and the seemingly simple yo-yo has been no exception. Beginning in the 1970s, yo-yo manufacturers, seeing the benefit of periphery weight distribution, began rim-weighting their products for a longer spin. In 1978, Tom Kuhn patented the “No Jive 3-in-1” yo-yo, the first take-apart by hand yo-yo and the first having a replaceable axle. In 1980, Michael Caffrey patented “The yo-yo with a Brain.” In addition to a free-spinning sleeve bearing for long spin times, “The Brain” has a centrifugal spring loaded clutch mechanism that causes an automatic return of the yo-yo to the hand when the rotational spin slows to a pre-determined rate. And by the 1990s, transaxle yo-yos were available with ball-bearing axles, increasing spin times once again.

But this is not quite the end of the story. On April 12, 1985, the yo-yo was first taken into space by NASA on the Space Shuttle Discovery as part of the Toys in Space project. A basic spinning yo-yo was used to see what effect microgravity would have on it. What they discovered was that a yo-yo could be released at slow speeds and gracefully move along the string. However, the yo-yo refused to “sleep.” Without the downward force of gravity, the yo-yo could not spin against the loop at the end of the string and so, rebounded up the string. It was also found that the yo-yo must be thrown, not dropped, as there was no gravity to pull it down. And on July 31, 1992, the yo-yo (an SB-2) again made its way into space, on the Space Shuttle Atlantis, this time for an educational video including slow-motion yo-ing.

Whether the yo-yo was a Chinese, Greek or Filipino invention or some combination is difficult to prove. By the same token, it is also difficult to say with certainty whether the toy spread from country to country or whether the same basic pattern for the toy appeared in completely different parts of the world for no obvious reason. We do know that its use as a toy around the world and throughout history is unmatched. And, although the yo-yo has gone through periods of hibernation in its trek through the ages, its popularity, just like the toy itself, always comes back.

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Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Death By Black Hole...No Thank You.

Learning about the space has never been such fun. The author's enthusiasm for all things cosmic comes shining through in this book. As a person that has a passing interest in black holes, quasar and other stuff like that. This book provides a great crash course in all things spacey. I now feel a little bit smarter but I am also now in awe of the scientist t past and present that seek to unravel the secrets of our universe. 

The book is cut up nicely into sections dealing with individual subjects. I did find it a tad annoying that the authors amusing explanations of certain things repeated throughout the book. This to me tarnished this otherwise great read. I particularly liked how he pulled apart common misconceptions like the sun rises in the east and set in the west. Overall this is science delivered in a way us commoners can understand without dumbing it down too much. As for the title I for one am not in favour of meeting my end this way.

3.5 Stars

Friday, 25 October 2013

A Solid Debut


A great debut novel by J.J Marshall that delivers one hell of a punch. He paints a world that is dying as the ozone is depleted. Humanity has reached to the stars for its salvation as the refugees of earth clamber for the limited spaces in various space stations and moon bases. A group called the board control the fate of humanity and they are planning to cut their losses and abandoned earth and all that remain on it to their fate.

Here is where the story picks up pace as a small home grown terrorist group get wind of the boards plans and set about exposing it as well as trying to wipe out the board. The story builds up into an ending fitting of any Hollywood blockbuster. Throughout the story the main characters of the book are expertly fleshed out by the author. Their strengths and weakness suck you into the story and hold your hand tightly right through to the end.

Like all good openers to a series this book promises so much more in its next instalment. Let’s hope it delivers because it is shaping up as a fantastic serious.

4.5 Stars

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Ready Player One....Hell Yeah!!!!!

Before I start this book review I have a confession to make, it is a secret my wife would like to remain hidden.  I am an avid gamer and have been since I can remember. When I first met her I was in the midst of a World of Warcraft addiction and my favourite t-shirt had /AFK plastered on the front of it. With her help I am now over 5 years free of WOW and going strong. So please keep that in mind as I start this review... now where the hell has my PS3 controller gone to.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This book rocks it never stopped surprising and entertaining me from the opening chapter to the end. The author spins a tale that had me staying up late many a night just to read a little bit more. As well as creating a world that is not much of a stretch to believe is around the corner. He pays homage to the history of the humble computer game as well as to their forefathers the never forgotten book driven RPG games such as Dungeon & Dragons. I was like a kid in a candy shop as I was taken for a stroll along memory lane as games, films and TV shows are bought up in the story.

The story is where the book hits a home run. A world where fossil fuel and real jobs are rare. Most of humanity lives in a virtual world called Oasis the ultimate social networking and MMO all rolled into one. It is in the Oasis the story runs rampart, we have our hero, a quest and an evil corporation trying to change and corrupt the Oasis forever. This book is for anyone who was bought up in the 80's or has a passing interest in gaming or anything geeky. Even if you do not fit these categories give this book a try and prepare to be entertained.

5 BIG Stars and the LBR Tick of Approval

Saturday, 19 October 2013

The History Of Goody Two Shoes


Someone who is virtuous in a coy, smug or sentimental manner.


This phrase derives from the title of the nursery tale The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes, which was published in 1765. The authorship of this is disputed. Oliver Goldsmith is the name most commonly associated with it, although the evidence that claim is largely circumstantial and is based on the fact it is considered to be in Goldsmith's style and that he had previously undertaken the ghost-writing of somewhat similar stories for cash rather than as a named author. 'Anonymous' is probably the wisest choice when naming an author of this book.

The story itself is a re-telling of the Cinderella story, which itself is an example of the Christian teaching that diligence reaps its reward in Heaven - what later came to be called 'jam tomorrow'.

'Goody Two-Shoes' is the name given to a poor orphan - Margery Meanwell. She is so poor as to possess only one shoe and is so delighted when given a pair of shoes by a rich gentleman that she keeps repeating that she has 'two shoes':

"She ran out to Mrs. Smith as soon as they were put on, and stroking down her ragged Apron thus, cried out, 'Two Shoes, Mame, see two Shoes'. And so she behaved to all the People she met, and by that Means obtained the Name of 'Goody Two-Shoes,

By virtue of hard work she makes good and marries a wealthy widower - thus mimicking the Cinderella theme of virtue being finally rewarded.

People who were considered self-righteously or piously virtuous began to be called 'goody-goodies' from around the turn of the 20th century. There are a few examples of people's behaviour being called 'goody-goody' from 1896 onwards. The first example that I've found of someone being described as 'a goody-goody' comes from 1911 - in the Wisconsin newspaper The Racine Daily Journal, July 1911, in a piece with the heading A Goody-Goody:

"Philadelphia Press: Senator Lorimer according to his friends, is such a paragon of innocence and true goodness that what seems to be needed is a place where he can retire, safe from the world - and the world safe from him."

The childish exclamation of delight 'goody, goody' may derive from Goody Two-Shoes, although it could just as easily just be a form of 'oh good'.