Book Review of “Stuart Duffelmeyer and the Masters of Plagues”

“Stuart Duffelmeyer and the Masters of Plagues” was published in 2014 and was written by Dewey B. Reynolds. Mr. Reynolds has published four novels, this being the first of the “Stuart Duffelmeyer” series.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as barely ‘R’ as there are some Mature Situations and Violence. The novel is written in the first person and is set in contemporary New York, New York. The primary character is Stuart Duffelmeyer.

Stuart is in his mid 20’s and is about to graduate from NYU with is Dr. of Veterinary Medicine degree. He is set up by eight of his fellow NYU students for a humiliating prank. Stuart vows revenge on the eight after they thoroughly embarrass him.

Stuart has been given a medallion by his Rabbi that has Hebrew inscriptions on it. The Rabbi has passed, but his spirit visits Stuart and tells him that he has been selected by the Almighty to help right wrongs. Stuart is given powers over animals and the earth to carry out his will.

Stuart uses his powers to right many wrongs he encounters. He also makes a special effort to find each of the eight that had embarrassed him and take his revenge upon them. He will see them plagued until they apologize for what they put him through.

I spent a little over 6 hours reading this book and I am not sure how I feel about it. If the main character had been younger it could easily have been a Young Adult book and I would have accepted the plot easier. But Stuart as well as the eight who embarrassed him are in their twenties when the story begins. By the time that most of the story takes place, Stuart is in his early 30’s. The characters all seemed rather one dimensional, the plot very simple, and the dialog far from realistic. I give this novel a 2 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Book Review of “Spectrum”

“Spectrum” was published in 2014 and was written by Alan Jacobson (http://alanjacobson.com). This is the sixth book of the ‘Karen Vail’ mystery series and Mr. Jacobson’s ninth book.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘R’ as there is Mature Language and Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is set in contemporary New York, New York. The primary characters are Karen Vail and Livana Harris.

In 1995 Karen is young woman who has just graduated from the NY Police Academy. She gets a temporary assignment to homicide her first day on the job and sees the crime scene for one of the first victims of the Hades Slasher. Karen follows the Hades serial killer for nearly 20 years as she advances to NYPD Detective and then as an FBI Profiler.

Livana has immigrated to the US from Greece with her husband, Basil, and her son and daughter, Dmitri and Cassandra. Their story picks up in the mid 60’s as Basil is drawn into a fight and injures a man he later finds out is connected to the mob. Basil is killed when a group of men attack him. Livana and her family, along with close friends Fedor and his son Nicklaus, eek out a life but are constantly threatened by the mob. They finally sneak off to Ellis Island to avoid the mob, but their life there is hard. They live there for almost 10 years, and their hardships are described.

The story bounces around time wise: mid 60’s, mid 90’s, early 2000’s and present day; but each segment is well identified so that there is no confusion. Needless to say Livana’s family is connected to the Hades Slasher, but Karen does not make the connection until the story is almost over.

I enjoyed the 10.5 hours I spent reading the novel. The characters were all different and believable. The plot was a little predictable, but I enjoyed the overall story. This story was not so much “who done it” as it was “what made them do it”. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

Tuneup Your OS X Mac – Part 3

In Part 2 of this series I identified some ways to reduce the space being used on your boot disk by removing files. Some of the largest disk usage comes from the standard Apple applications like iTunes, iPhoto and Safari.  The focus of this segment of the series will address Safari. 

Safari

Users often have problems with Safari bogging down and/or exhibiting the spinning beach ball. When this starts to be a problem, there are several things that you can do to speed Safari back up [1].

Close Tabs and Windows – If your Safari starts to slow down, the first thing to do is to close unnecessary tabs and windows. Every open tab/window takes ups system memory. You will notice that Safari becomes more responsive as you reduce the number of open tabs/windows. Not only will closing tabs/windows improve Safari’s performance, but it will improve the performance of other running apps by freeing system resources.

Relaunch Safari – The next thing to do is to quit the application and launch it again. Before doing that though, close all of the browser windows that you are no longer needing. Every browser window you have open takes up system memory. In particular having the Twitter or Facebook pages open ties up substantial system resources. It is best to close all but the browser windows that you currently need, bookmarking or adding to the reading list those pages you want to come back to later. This will give you a leaner application when it is restarted.

Top Sites
– Safari maintains a Top Sites feature.  To do this, Safari caches almost every site that you visit.  This can easily degrade Safari performance and take up disk space.  Unfortunately, simply emptying the cache will not clear these files.

You can “turn off” this feature by: Opening the Finder >> Option-click the Go menu >> choose the Library folder >> Caches >>com.apple.Safari>> Webpage Previews. Move all of the contents of that folder to the trash.  That will clear out the .png files for the recent pages.

To disable the Top Sites feature entirely once you have emptied the cache, select the Webpage Previews folder >> File >> Get Info. In the Get Info window, check the Locked checkbox.  This will prevent any further files being written to the folder.

When I checked this on my Mac Mini I had almost 400 files in the folder taking up nearly 200MB of disk space. I only switched to using Safari as the default browser this past spring so you can see how quickly this folder fills up. I have seen where other users found this to be in the multi GB range on their Macs.

Safari Extensions – We all often hear about extensions we want to try and add them to our browser. These can add functionality to the browser, but they do cost resources. How many extensions have you added to Safari?  To see, click on Safari >> Preferences >> then click on the Extensions tab. All of the Extensions you have installed will be listed. To improve Safari performance, Uninstall or disable those that you are not using.

To see what Extensions are available, click on Safari >> Safari Extensions. That will take you to the Apple Extensions site where you can look through the extensions that are available.

Restore Safari
– A simple and usually effective thing to do is to restore Safari to reset it. This will clear out Safari’s cache and all of the other stuff that has been accumulating. To do this open Safari >> Choose “Reset Safari” from the Safari menu >> Uncheck the ‘Remove saved names and passwords’ and ‘Remove other autofill form data’ boxes >> click on the Reset button.

Do you have Flash installed? – I do not install Flash as it simply has had too many security vulnerabilities in the past. When I need Flash to view a site, I use the Chrome browser which has a Flash reader built into it. However, if you do have Flash installed you need to make sure that it is up to date. This will mitigate any known security issues and out dated Flash is known to cause stability and speed problems [1]. You can get the latest Flash player directly from Adobe at http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/.

In addition to the web cookies that most are familiar with, Flash has it’s own set of cookies. Safari’s built-in security features don’t block and can’t purge Flash Cookies. Accumulating Flash cookies can cause the browser to slow down. To delete your Flash cookies open the Finder >> Option-click the Go menu >> Your ~/Library will appear in the menu; choose it >> Trash all of the files in the folder at: /Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/#SharedObjects. – Then open the Finder again >> Option-click the Go menu >> Your ~/Library will appear in the menu; choose it >> Trash all of the files in the folder at: /Preferences/Macromedia/Flash Player/macromedia.com/support/flashplayer/sys. If you don’t want to receive Flash cookies in the future, do a Get Info on each of these folders and lock them (using the “Locked” checkbox, not the little lock icon in the Get Info window).

References

1 – Macintosh OS X
Routine Maintenance


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Book Review of “Citizen Sim”

“Citizen Sim” was published in 2014 and was written by Michael Solana. This is Mr. Solana’s first book.

I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. “Citizen Sim” is a Young Adult Science Fiction novel and I would rate it as ‘G’. The novel is set in the New York area and it is written in the third person with the primary characters being Johnny Clark, Layla Storm, Citizen Sim and Mary.

Johnny Clark is 15 when the story opens. He is drifting through High School until he is suddenly driven to build a machine. He has no idea what the machine does or how it works. He quickly finds himself pursued by police/assassins. He escapes a close encounter when he finds that the device he has created renders him invisible.

Layla Storm is a strange teenage girl that rescues Johnny. Johnny is attracted to her, and trusts her after just having met her. She is able to shed light on some of the mysterious events Johnny is experiencing, including that they are working against a rapidly approaching deadline.

Citizen Sim is a hacker who has suddenly popped up and is leaving his mark everywhere. Johnny is guided from time to time by Citizen Sim, though to his knowledge they have never met.

Mary is 17 and a key to what is going on, but will Johnny be able to reach her in time.

I enjoyed the six hours I spent reading the novel. The plot kept twisting, throughout the book. I also liked the principal characters. The book did seem to end abruptly. I give this novel a 4 out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com).

FOSS Under OS X: SeaMonkey

One FOSS program that I recently came across is SeaMonkey. I
originally looked at SeaMonkey as an HTML editor, but I found that
SeaMonkey is far more than that. It is, as it’s web site says, a
“web-browser, advanced e-mail, newsgroup and feed client, IRC chat, and HTML editing made simple—all your Internet needs in one
application”.

SeaMonkey is built on the open source Mozilla Gecko engine, the same code which underlies the highly successful siblings Firefox and
Thunderbird. SeaMonkey benefits from the cross-fertilization with
these other projects, by gaining (and contributing) new features and
the ongoing security updates which are a modern necessity.

SeaMonkey features include:

  • Browser – all of the common features: sync across devices,
    tabbed browsing, session restore, add-ons, themes, popup blocker
    and a safe mode
  • Mail & Newsgroups – tabbed mail, junk mail controls,
    multiple mail accounts, subscription to RSS and Atom feeds
  • Composer – WYSIWYG HTML editing, as well as HTML tag level
    editing
  • IRC chat – Multiple networks and channels are easy to keep
    track of in a tabbed interface
  • Web Development – DOM Inspector, JavaScript debugger

SeaMonkey is available for Windows, OS X and Linux. I have been
using SeaMonkey for a few weeks on my OS X Mac Mini, using it to
write articles on OS X for my blog. So far I have found it to be very user friendly in editing HTML documents.

I have tried SeaMonkey as an RSS client, and it works well. However
since I often want to bookmark full articles in my browser of choice
(Safari) for later use, SeaMonkey does not work well in my work flow
as SeaMonkey opens articles using the included browser. I still prefer the previously covered Vienna as my RSS client.

Since I am trying to stay with the OS X infrastructure to take
advantage of it’s integration, the only feature of SeaMonkey that I
am finding useful is the HTML editor.


Previously-Calibre

To see all of my Mac OS X related posts visit my MAC OS X page