There & Back Again To See How Far It Is by Tim Watson

I think a review in CycleWorld led me to buy this hardcover book; it tuned out to be the most disappointing “motorcycle” book I have ever read.

The full title is “There & Back Again To See How Far It Is: Cultural Observations of an Englishman Aboard a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Across Small-Town America”

Just a really boring read with lots of semi-interesting tid-bits pulled from Wikipedia and Google Maps. I found very few “Cultural Observations”, information about a “Harley Davidson Motorcycle”, or feel that the author and his wife had travelled very far throughout the book.

Take a pass on this one.

I rate this book a 1 out of 10 and do not recommend it to anyone.

Call of Duty: Black Ops by Activision

Call of Duty: Black Ops Cover ArtI bought this game from Steam and played it in Windows 8 on a MacBook Pro.

I love me some Call of Duty. Most of the games in this franchise have been very good even if a little bit mindless. Solid shoot-em-up entertainment. I am sorry to say that Black Ops does not rise up to that level, in fact it falls WAY short.

I finished the entire game in 7 hours and feel very ripped off.

COD has always been a "rails" driven game, meaning that you cannot wander about freely but must follow a prescribed path to complete each mission, but in Black Ops that rail is ridiculously thin allowing no thought and very little tactics by the player. Most missions have to be completed in very specific ways. That gets old very fast.

I should have read the reviews on Amazon before buying this game, and you can bet before I buy another COD title I will be reading those reviews closely. I think the only reason it currently has 2.5 stars at Amazon is because someone paid for positive reviews at some point.

From the publisher:

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a first-person shooter with stealth and tactical play aspect that puts players in the role of a shadow soldier fighting in a variety of historically representative fictional Black Ops missions of the Cold War era. Created with the input of actual Black Ops soldiers from the time, the game mixes traditional Call of Duty tactical shooter gameplay with new gameplay options designed to expand the players’ experience. Additional features include extensive multiplayer options, along with new vehicles and explosive new weapons.

I rate this game a 1 out of 10 and do not recommend it. If you can pick it up for $5.00 and are a fan of the COD series then give it a try.

Concatenate and Optimize Your JavaScript & CSS

Just how important is it to concatenate and optimize your javascript? In reading this article about the healthcare.gov article "Analysis: IT experts question architecture of Obamacare website" it is apparently extremely important.

Among other problems it was found that a large number of JavaScript files were being requested and then parsed by the customer’s web browsers causing an overload of requests from the server and an overtaxing of the web browser.

"Of the 92 he found, 56 were JavaScript files, including plug-ins that make it easier for code to work on multiple browsers (such as Microsoft Corp’s Internet Explorer and Google Inc’s Chrome) and let users upload files to HealthCare.gov."

I bet that the majority of the other 36 files are CSS files.

At a minimum those 56 JavaScript files should have been optimized and concatenated in such a way as there would only be 1 request to the server followed by 1 response.

There are many ways to do this, I really like the idea of doing it during the build process but it could also be more dynamic and done as required by the server. Whichever way you choose it will always be better than serving a huge number of separate files.

Here is a screencast walking you through how to set up a build process for JavaScript and CSS files using Ant.

Another option is to use "minify" instead of optimizing during the build process.

No matter how you do it, if you build web sites you have no excuse not to use some method to optimize your JavaScript and CSS to improve your customer’s experience.

Maximum Ride: Books 1, 2, and 3 by James Patterson

The “Maximum Ride” series from James Patterson is a “Young Adult” series that is intended for grades 7 through 9.

From the James Patterson web site about the first book:
“Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel. Six kids who are pretty normal in most ways—except that they’re 98 percent human, 2 percent bird. They grew up in a lab, living like rats in cages, but now they’re free. Aside, of course, from the fact that they’re prime prey for Erasers – wicked wolflike creatures with a taste for flying humans.”

The defacto leader and namesake of the series is 14-year-old Max. She is the narrator for much of the story and spends a lot of time addressing the reader directly, I find this tedious and it may be what I dislike most about the series.

I struggled through the first book, The Angel Experiment. The writing is far from inspiring and a little condescending, but I found many of the ideas in the story interesting and felt that it could really go somewhere.

In the second book, School’s Out, the writing is a bit better and the flock’s desire for family is touching.

In the third book, Saving the World, the story is getting repetitive. It feels like there are multiple voices writing the book and they have diverging ideas. I like the action but I am growing a bored with the series. But I would like to continue reading and learn the fate of the flock.

I have been buying these books from Fictionwise, the eBook seller now owned by Barnes & Noble and all of the Maximum Ride books have been pulled from their catalog. In a response to an email they have said, “Due to industry changes, our content suppliers are currently unable to offer certain titles from several large publishers. We are working with our content partners to resolve this.” So no more James Patterson for me. I guess I will never know what becomes of the Flock. To the credit of Fictionwise, the James Patterson books I have previously purchased are still available in my library.

To all you book publishers out there, get over yourselves and remember that some money is better than no money.

To the authors out there, I am sorry you feel the need to use publishers that force terrible contracts on you that give away your rights to get your material into the hands of those who want to buy it.

Photography is not a Crime

Please do not let this happen to you. If you have the time and stubbornness please push the issue of Photographer’s rights as far as you can.

Trey Ratcliff of Stuck in Customs was harassed recently in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park trying to take photos of the World of Coca-Cola museum and told that he was not allowed to take photos of the building.

I will be getting in contact with management of the museum and see if I can find out what their policy actually is.

Here is a link to Trey’s blog post: http://www.stuckincustoms.com/2009/08/09/nearly-getting-arrested-in-downtown-atlanta/

War on Photography

There is a new war being waged, at a time when more people have access to more cameras of all types there is wave a fear, hysteria, and doubt washing over the world. It is only in the last couple of months that this war has come to light, more and more people are being affected by it and getting thier voices heard on TV and the internet.

You can begin reading with this article and video about a New Mexico photographer who is detained by police for trying to do his job. His claim is that the police did not make it clear to him where he could safely work and then attacked him AFTER he left the area.

Then this photographer who regularly visits Coney Island who had an unreasonable mother get the police involved because she believes he may have taken photos of her child.

Bruce Schneier of The Guardian has written a great piece that points out the fact that no known terrorists have photographed thier intended targets.

Union Station in Washington D. C. has become a beacon highlighting the issues at hand, during a video interview with the Chief Spokesperson for Union Station who was in the middle of explaining that photography was indeed allowed in Union Station a security guard interrupts to tell them they cannot photograph there.

As a follow up Joel Lawson has written a posts about “The Union Station Flap” and a follow-up “She’s Serious About Those Hearings” about how Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) is getting involved to ensure that photographers will have the right to take photos in Union Station.

In Seattle it appears that after several incidents something has been done and the police have been given clearer instruction about photographers rights.

I hope that as photographers we can respect the people around us and get the photos we want without upsetting anyone. But we must also stand up to the people that are trying to take away our rights. There is a great document that you can use that outlines your right at Bert P. Krages web site known as “The Photographers Rights.” Keeping a copy of it handy may help answer questions for law enforcement and security guards.

The First Post is a Sad Post

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, Yang the Nauseating, has passed away. I will miss him dearly. The Mythadventures web site has a very nice eulogy and the Everything New Orleans web site has an obituary.

Wikipedia has a nice entry for Robert along with a bibliography of his work.

Posted in Sad.