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2007 - a (readable) year in review

posted in Media on December 27th, 2007

Another year has come (and gone) and as such, it is, once again, time to do a quick recap of the hottest things I came across this year. Unlike previous years, however, this year’s listing will also include a recap of events.

Similar to last year, the first part of this series will discuss printed / written media, followed by an article on the hottest series / movies and a summary of great music after which the series is concluded by an entry on the best events this year, so let’s get to it.

Brad Thor - The First Commandment:

The book that I looked forward to the most this year, must have been the latest release from the Scott Harvath universe

The best description I could come up with last year, for Brad Thor’s Takedown, was to call it an action movie for your mind and frankly, that is just what The First Commandment is, too. This title is so adrenaline packed that it is hard not to overdose on all the conspiracy, flying lead and twisted plots that you will come across.

Brad Thor, once again, manages to deliver a high-quality piece d’art that will rock your socks off - there is really nothing more to say, without spoiling the experience.

John Milton - Paradise Lost:

Discovered by way of The Unit, Paradise Lost turned out to be one of the more difficult, yet very inspiring books I have read in the past five years. It took me quite some time to fully understand the poem and its implications, but for anyone interested in expanding their horizon, this is hands-down, a great choice.

Tim Sanders - Love is the killer app:

Last July, I came across Love is the Killer app, thanks to Patrick de Laive and I have to say that Patrick’s book list rocks. I was very tempted to list a few other suggestions here too, but the one that made the most impression on me was Love is the Killer app, not only because of the whole concept of “sharing love” with (business) associates, but also because the book reminded me of what many people seem to forget; the things that should be the core value of every single transaction, no matter if it ends in a monetary exchange too or not.

And that was the year in books - audio and visual media is coming up shortly

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The First Commandment

posted in Media on July 31st, 2007

Since January 2005, I have read some 80 eBooks. I love all the advantages those books have and I have no immediate plans to go back to reading “dead trees”, as Richard Scoble called it so appropriately, but all of that is secondary.

The real reason for this post is that my favourite suspense author, Brad Thor, recently released his newest book from the Scott Harvath series, called The First Commandement.

Fictionwise, luckily, was very quick in picking it up for digital distribution, with a turnaround time of about a week after the paperback was released and thanks to Josef, who gifted me with a copy, I can actually immerse myself in the book right now.

That said, if you are looking for a great thriller / action movie for your mind, head on over here and get yourself a copy, I’m outta here, time for some quality time with the other Scot in my life ;-)

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The Pursuit of Happyness

posted in Media, personal stuff on February 25th, 2007

I just came back from spending some quality time with a good friend of mine and I somehow had the urge to blog about tonight. We went to see “The Pursuit of Happyness“, a reflection on the life of Christopher Gardner, the guy who didn’t just live the American dream, no, he rewrote it.

The movie tells the story of the struggle and difficulties Gardner, who is portrayed by Will Smith, has to overcome in order to succeed. I must admit, the beginning of the movie was rather … shall we say, uninteresting, it was strange to see Will Smith use bad language, ’cause he barely ever does that and while I’m able to handle bad language, it didn’t seem fitting.

After half an hour though, the story had gotten to me. Smith is a great actor and he has portrayed some great characters, but this one, was, hands down, the best thing I’ve ever seen him do. Now, I’m no big shot movie critic but this movie has all it needs:

Smith and his (real life) son are portrayed in a great array of situations, you can see them having fun together and you can literally read Gardner’s mind, the thoughts that are crossing through it, the problems and challenges he is facing. It’s surreal.

The movie makes you feel bad, just looking at those pictures, the fight Smith has to put up to with in order to reach his final goal, to succeed in getting a job at Dean Witter Reynolds, a stock brokerage firm. The ordeals Gardner went through are … amazing.

Now, the movie portrays the whole internship thing as an unpaid training, while Gardner actually received $1,000 and there are some other things that aren’t told in the same way it happened back in 1981, but still, this movie touched me on a level that no movie ever did until now.

I may not have faced the hardships that Chris Gardner has faced and I may never face them, but his story and most of all, the way he solved the problems he was thrown at inspires me. Gardner doesn’t know the concept of “giving up” and for what it’s worth, he is a better man for that.

If you’re looking to spend a few bucks on a great story, I can more than recommend checking out this movie. No matter if you watch it on a DVD, in a cinema or just grab the book, the story will get to you.

For what it’s worth, this year might only be a couple of weeks old, but I have found my favorite movie of the year already.

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2006 - a (readable) year in review

posted in Media, personal stuff on December 27th, 2006

Based on a series I started back in 2004 and didn’t continue in 2005, I’d like to post some thoughts on media in 2006.

Let’s start out with readable media - printed books, eBooks, magazines, anything non-digital really. I managed to continue my stream of eBooks this year, even though I didn’t succeed in reading as much as I did in 2005. Nearly two years after I bought my first eBooks, I still believe that this is the future, at least for me and a few more people who are openminded enough to accept a new form of content delivery.

I read about 30 books this year (which is 40% less than last year) and the three that made my charts are, in no specific order:

Steven Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner - Freakonomics:
Freakonomics talks about the hidden side just about everyone has and gives plenty of examples to elaborate on the special view of the world the authors craft. While at first you might think that it’s just rambling, the authors are actually on to something…

James Surowiecki - The Wisdom of Crowds:
Surowiecki uses “The Wisdom of Crowds” to explain how great masses of people can be and actually are smarter than a small flock of higly intelligent, business driven people. With easy to understand examples, the author explains the various types of wisdom found in a crowd and then analyzes the elements that are “required” for a crowd to be considered smart. The book also contains a good explanation why sometimes “crowd wisdom” fails and how we can prevent it from failing. Funnily enough, Surowiecki recommends people to keep their ties loose and expose oneself to as many different sources of information as possible - his statements link up nicely with a recent blog post

Brad Thor - Takedown:
Thor once again delivers a kick-ass (excuse my excitement) thriller. I-clean-up-and-get-things-done-agent Scott Harvath once again is tapped to solve the problems that arise when a group of terrorists decide to cut off Manhattan from the outside world in any way possible. It’s a great read and other than a handful of references to previous adventures, you won’t miss anything if you haven’t read the other books. Certainly worth buying if you’re looking for a good action movie for your mind (yes, Thor is capable of writing THAT vividly).

Other than great reads, I also picked up my new favorite magazine, BRIGHT - a mix of technology, lifestyle, gadgets and high quality journalism. No it’s not FHM, it’s better and less sexist. Worth checking out if you live in the Netherlands or Belgium and speak Dutch and feel like staying on top of the information flow.

Read part 2 of this series here and part 3 right here.

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eBooks Goodness - the verdict

posted in Media, Tech Talk on February 26th, 2005

As discussed earlier, I ordered quite a few eBooks recently. Here’s the verdict:

eBooks are awesome. I love the way you can carry them with you all the time (on your Pocket PC) and read when it suits you best - in the train, while you’re waiting for a teacher …

But that’s not the only thing, after all - you could carry your average paperback with you as well, what you can’t do though is carry 15 paperbacks with you, not if you care about your back at least. You can however carry 15 eBooks with you. Since the books are just files on a storage card, you don’t add any weight to your package.

You’ll also experience trouble when trying to read a paperback in the dark, you will however be able to read any eBook in the darkest cave, since eBook reading devices have a back lit display.

Not enough to convince you? Let’s focus on some other aspects then:
eBooks are cheaper than paperbacks most of them time and you don’t need half a tree to print 100 books. Ever lost your bookmark and cursed about not being able to find the right page? You won’t experience that with eBooks - digital bookmarks don’t get lost.

Naturally, like everything, there are two sides to it:
eBooks don’t stack up nicely in your shelf, so you can’t show off your library and reading an eBook depends on a battery needed to power your reading device, you don’t have those problems with paperbacks.

All in all, reading eBooks is awesome. I’m certain that I’ll be reading a lot more in the future.

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