Friday, November 26, 2010

Sony DSC-T-99 Cyber-shot (green)

My first Sony camera was a Mavica (loved it and still have it). My second camera was a 8.1 MP DSC-N1 (BEST camera I have EVER owned and have had it for five years). This one is my third. I wish I could say that I was excited and pleased about this one as I’ve been about the other two, but I’m not. Not even close. Since I was so pleased with the first two cameras I had NO problem being brand-loyal and staying with Sony. I did look at other digital cameras to see what they had and basically no one had everything I was looking for in one camera like Sony. 14.1 MP, HD video recording, different shooting modes, and a compact size. I’m no pro but I know about my digital cameras. Since my DSC-N1 broke (sniff) I immediately compared this camera to that one. It had to be better right?

Wrong. Glaringly wrong! For starters the touch screen isn’t as nearly clear as the DSC and the picture quality is FAR from what I expected. Going from an 8.1 MP to a 14.1 MP, I should have seen a dramatic change in picture quality. Actually… I did. But in the opposite direction. How can an 8.1 produce clearer shots than a 14.1? And they both have the Carl Zeiss lens! When I download the pictures to my computer and blow them up there is a definite and quite obvious difference in the picture quality. Not cool. The other thing that is very frustrating is the “fishbowl” effect on the edge of the pictures. The middle of the picture is OK but the outer edges look like I gave this camera to Aqua-Man and told him to go for it. Having my pictures look like that is unforgivable. I have tried different settings, mixing and matching but nothing seems to get rid of that “fishbowl” effect.

I was trying to be “smart” and not get the camera I wanted because of the money. Next time I’ll know better. This was an expensive lesson to learn but I’ve learned it. I’m so frustrated with this camera I threw it up on Craigslist barely two weeks after I got it to try and get rid of it. Unfortunately the only takers I’ve had have been the “I’ll send you a money order” scammers. This camera comes with all the bells and whistles but unfortunately the important ones, pictures and picture quality, fall way way short.

Monday, November 22, 2010

'The Athena Project' by Brad Thor

For me, there’s nothing like a woman that drives a Jeep. For others, there’s nothing like a woman that collects teddy bears. Some guys like women who can strap on a parachute and jump out of a plane. Still others are drawn to woman who can shoot out the tires on that Jeep, plant tiny cameras in those teddy bears, and blow up the plane she just jumped out of. If you are the latter, then this book has your name AND social security number written ALL over it. We got a tiny glimpse of the Athena group in ‘Foreign Influence’, not a lot, just enough to whet the appetite. This time around we get to savor all four of these ladies in their entire explosive, Kevlar bra wearing, HALO jumping glory.

Alex, Megan, Julie, and Gretchen are the four angels that are part of the covert group called the ‘Athena Project’. Quiet, deadly, dark, and sexy. The phrase “use what you go to get what you want” takes on a whole new meaning when dealing with world Mob bosses, terrorists, and double agents. Taunt and firm they may be, but don’t underestimate them because you will pay with great pain… or your life. But this isn’t some fake feminist, affirmative action, equal rights, useless N.O.W. whining type of operation. Oh no. The only difference between them and our boy Scot Harvath; when I think of them in a thong I don’t dry heave.

‘The Athena Project’ seemed to be written in the same spirit as ‘The Last Patriot’. While not as politically heavy as his other books, ‘Athena Project’ does have that mystery/ancient secret/suspense/butt-kicking thing going on and it’s extremely entertaining. No matter how many people our brave Black OPS soldiers quietly eliminate, there is always some idiot waiting in the wings, under a rock, or hiding in the mountains who think they can do a better job of helping the evil forces bring about the end of the world. This time you have the never-seem-to-go-away Nazis who have created a sort of sci-fi type weapon that is biblical in its power. At one time it was thought to be gone, but it’s back and in the worst hands you could possibly imagine. Brad Thor takes a number of different story lines, weaves them to create their own tale, all the while giving us clues to a much larger and extremely chilling puzzle of a terror plot.

The ladies are tasked with a couple missions ordered and a few they couldn’t help BUT get mixed up in. The opening mission is classic, especially with the way they escape and bring their hostage with them. They have a unique violent way about them and you have to love the bantering humor. Seriously. These women are about to do some incredibly insane Black OPS thing and they’re talking about dating guys with no teeth or who is more likely to kiss a married man! But make no mistake; one second they are laughing about a Georgia good-ole-boy and the next second they have double-tapped a terrorist. Boil this entire review down to a few words, “heck-yes-I-enjoyed-this-book-and-having-Brad-Thor-put-out-two-books-in-one-year-and-having-to-read-about-FOUR-sexy-women-that-pack-heat-is-an-absolute-thrill”. And one more quick thing: While the name ‘Brad Thor’ is enough to get me to read, he goes one step further when he writes, on one page at the beginning, “all the science in this novel is based on reality”. I have NEVER read a book that has started as such, and had it suck. That streak continues.


'The Strain' by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

This book was the slowest, fastest book I’ve read in quite a while. Written by two guys; one an author the other a screenwriter, you really feel both strengths in this book. Since they started out writing this a trilogy they paced themselves. I call is “slow” because it takes them forever for this vampire plague to get its bloody appendage in the city of New York. I call it “fast” because there is very little down time in getting there. If I’m not making sense… I would partially agree with you. It’s almost like writing a story about crossing a street in your neighborhood. Shouldn’t take you long and should be uneventful right? But what if you were to witness a murder, get hit by a car, and break your leg in the gutter in your quest to cross the street? That’s what this book was like. Going from Point A to Point B takes on a whole new bloody slaughterous meaning.

The way things are now with vampires every author takes extreme liberty in the myth, the truth, and the legend of vampires. This one is no different. They introduce two totally disgusting and skin squirming appendages. There are your traditional vampires, your sexy vampires, your funny vampires, and THESE vampires. If you are easily nauseated then you don’t need to read this book. We get graphic detail on Nazi atrocities, organ-decimating viruses, and the repulsive feeding habits of these New York vampires. Oh wait… did I mention the rats? Big, nasty f-ers too! I love my vampire reads gory, fast, bloody, mean, and gross. ‘The Strain’ is all that. And more; because this is only book one in the trilogy. “End of the world” novels are my thing too and this one seems to be shaping up to be just that. I was just hoping that the end would come a bit faster.

This book is fun. It’s not a classic. English literary classes won’t use it for their curriculum. IT’S FUN. Kanye West won’t read it (but that fool doesn’t read anything), but his fans will. Critic will bash it (already have), but the average Joe (me) will stop writing this review now and go buy book #2.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

'The Lost Symbol - Illustrated Version'

Right now there are 2601 reviews for the original (non-illustrated) version of this book, so I’ll spare you the whole “what is this about” mantra because you probably already know. This book is another in the “Let’s Illustrate Dan Brown” series and is easily the best one yet. How they fit in the number of pictures they did while not taking away from the story is beyond me. It’s not a secret as to why this book is coming out around the beginning of the Christmas shopping season; this will make an awesome gift for those who have and have not read this book. I have each and every one of the illustrated versions AND in a word, they’re worth it. The pictures are colorful and bright and are in perfect concert with the story. The calligraphy is beautiful, and when you wrap it around a larger, more gorgeous book frame… marvelous.