Review of “The Golden Gate”

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Book Reviews – “The Golden Gate” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by Robert Buettner (http://www.robertbuettner.com). Mr. Buettner has published nine novels.

I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘PG’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in contemporary California. The main characters are retired Lieutenant Ben Sheppard who is now on the staff of a senior Senator just appointed as head of Homeland Security. The other primary character is veteran reporter Kate Boyle.

The two are brought together when Manuel Colibri, the world’s richest man is attacked while driving home across the Golden Gate Bridge. At first it is thought to be an act of terrorism, which is how Sheppard gets involved. Boyle gets involved when her father, a retired lawyer, is asked to investigate the incident. The more information that is gathered, the stranger the case becomes.

I enjoyed the just shy of 6 hours I spent reading this Science Fiction Mystery. It is mostly a Mystery with a touch of Romance. I liked the characters and the plot. The cover art is good and implies a ‘James Bond’ like character, which Sheppard turns out to be in a way. I give this novel a 4.4 (rounded down to a 4) out of 5.

My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).

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Trailer for “It Came from the Desert”

Trailers – This movie reminds me of those I used to watch when I was a kid in the early days of Science Fiction movies. I guess that it should make me feel that ways since it was inspired by the films of the 50s.

This is actually a indie movie that was inspired by a video game that was released in 1989 for the Amiga, PC, Sega Genesis and TurboGrafx-16. It is billed as a ‘Horror Comedy’. I’m not sure if it will have theater release or just DVD, though it is schedule for release sometime in 2017.

Would I spend much to purchase it? Probably not.

macOS New App Release – Phenomena 3.1.1

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Product Announcement – einstein’s legacy v2.0, LLC of Charlotte, North Carolina has released Phenomena 3.1.1, the update to their popular quartz composition player for macOS. Phenomena gives you access to your composition’s parameters without needing an editor to update your compositions for different playback situations. Phenomena is an essential application for VJs, kiosk builders and digital signage designers. The 3.1.1 Update features enhanced social media connectivity.

Phenomena 3.1.1 Includes the following key features:

  • Simple Playback
    Play your Quartz Compositions directly without having to compile them in Xcode.
  • Customization
    Change your composition’s input parameters without the need to re-edit in Quartz Composer.
  • Render Rate Control
    Limit the maximum number of frames when rendering to achieve smoother playback.
  • 32-bit & 64-bit
    Works equally well with plug-ins built using either 64-bit or (legacy) 32-bit mode.
  • Event Handling
    Control whether keyboard and mouse events are sent directly to the currently rendering composition.
  • Easy Integration
    Use auto-started documents with iCal, AppleScript or as a Login Item to control scheduled playback.

System Requirements:

  • OS X 10.11 (El Capitan) or later
  • 64-bit processor
  • 2.1 MB

Phenomena 3.1.1 is available for $9.99 USD (or an equivalent amount in other currencies) and is available worldwide exclusively from the Mac App Store in the Video category.

USA, Texas, Round Rock – Star Coffee

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While it has been open for a while, this is my first visit to Star Coffee, I have seen it several times while in downtown Round Rock, but decided to try it this morning as I was in need of free Wi-Fi (and breakfast). Star Coffee is located at 201 E. Main Street in Round Rock, TX. They have an extensive menu including breakfast, lunch and dinner – all served all day. They also have a large array of drinks – coffee, expresso, smoothies, etc.

As you may notice in the photo above, the building is an historical landmark. When I moved here in 1975, this building housed the local Farmer’s Co-Op. I used to go in there to buy ‘chicken scratch’ to feed the birds in my back yard. Over the years the location has hosted several businesses. I hope that Star Coffee is here to stay.

I went in this morning and had an omelette that was pretty good. Maybe not the best I ever had, but certainly a good omelette. The coffee was descent too. As they say on their website:

Before Star Coffee Texas opened in 2009, we had a vision to be the place where locals and visitors wanted to come to get an amazing cup coffee and some great food! We know that quality trumps everything, especially when it comes to creating a place where everyone wants to be. By 20015, our café was relocated to the building we are in now in order to provide our customers with a quaint atmosphere, supurb coffee, baked goods and of course the great food menu people have come to know and love.

 

At Star Coffee Texas, our mission is to serve our customers with the finest coffee beans, and beverages as well as a wonderfully diverse menu with breakfast, lunch, dinner and baked goods to satisfy every craving at any time of the day. Our aim is to become “the” local cafe that people love and want to come back to time and time agin due to our great customer service, wonderful coffee beverages, and menu items created with all the love and care that our amazing customers deserve.

The setting is simple, but comfortable. The staff has been courteous and helpful. All-in-all it is a place I intend to come back to. An added service is that they take Apple Pay so I could buy breakfast using my Apple Watch.


See my other food and location articles


Living Without Cable

Sadly, a large storm moved through the area on Sunday evening. It came with a great deal of lightning and that took out my home cable modem. We have been living since then without any connection to the world other than our cell phones.

Hopefully, the service call scheduled for tomorrow morning will get us back on the internet and I can then resume my regular posts. This morning I visited Star Coffee in downtown Round Rock for breakfast and their free Wi-Fi.

Other than being unable to post, read email, and see Tweets on my computer the experience has not been too bad. I could have used my iPhone for those, but I am not a fan of the small screen. I have plenty of books already downloaded to my Kindle App on may iPad to occupy me for months. I have plenty of media on my Mac Mini that I can access through iTunes or Plex, so not having TV for a few days is no problem either.

I am looking forward to being back on line tomorrow afternoon though.

macOS New App Release – Camera Guard Professional

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Product Announcement – ProtectStar Inc. of Miami, Florida has released Camera Guard Professional 2017, the company’s new safety software solution for macOS. Camera Guard Professional ensures that no hacker, spy or malware can observe you or listen in on you. With just one single click, not only the camera, but also the microphone will be completely protected.

The app brings back privacy at the work place and in the children’s room at home with a single click. It is an uncompromising, unprecedented solution, specifically protecting the webcam and microphone of iMacs and MacBooks.

When Camera Guard is installed, a single click is enough in order to secure the camera and microphone. This safety tool from then on reports all applications and processes that try to gain access to the camera and microphone. The user then decides if they wish to allow access to the eyes and ears of the Mac Computer. Or alternatively, not allow access. All accesses and warnings are protocolled in a log file.

The personal settings of the Camera Guard are also protected by a PIN number which is equipped with special hacker protection in order to prevent the software itself from being manipulated.

At the core of Camera Guard is the intelligent Deep Detective. This detective not only recognizes well known malware (for example the Backdoor.MAC.Eleanor, which specifically takes over the control of the integrated webcam), it also identifies attacks of previously unknown malware. Just like an alarm system or personal firewall, all attacks from hackers, spies and trojans are detected and blocked using heuristic methods. At the same time the software uses minimal system resources.

After the NSA documents from the archive of the whistleblower Edward Snowden became public, it was clear: Not only data thieves and computer scammers are interested in invading the privacy of the user. Also secret services use every possibility at their disposal to gain access. Taking over the computer webcam or the built in microphone from afar is no longer just science fiction.

Supported Languages: German and English

System Requirements

  • Mac OS 10.11 or higher (OS X El Capitan, macOS Sierra)
  • 30 MB free hard drive space
  • Internet connection for updates and activation

Camera Guard Professional 2017 offers protection of the microphone, the Deep Detective, protection against well-known and unknown access attempts, a protocol in a log file, password protection and a 24/7 support via email. The pro-version costs just $29.90 (USD) and is available from the website. There is also a free version of Camera Guard available that offers protection of the webcam and safety information over accesses.

macOS New App Release – ChapterWork 2.0.1

Product Announcement – einstein’s legacy v2.0, LLC too Charlotte, North Carolina has released ChapterWork 2.0.1 for macOS, a modern utility for working with chapter tracks. ChapterWork replaces labor-intensive text-based tools with simple, effective methods for creating, updating and internationalizing your movie’s chapter tracks. The 2.0.1 Update introduces numerous user interface enhancements, an expanded range of valid movie types, and enhanced connectivity via social media.

What’s new in this version?

  • New Vibrant Dark user interface
  • Works with movie files that do not have a video track
  • Improved (but minimal) support for movies in legacy formats
  • In-preview movie information display
  • Enhanced social media connectivity
  • Improved support when drawing high-resolution images

This version fixes the following high-visibility bugs:

  • Spurious seeks during marker adding process
  • Scrubber playheads not drawing correctly
  • Toolbar issues related to chapter mark selection

ChapterWork 2.0.1 includes the following key features:

  • Unlimited Chapters
    Create and position an unlimited number of markers within any chapter track.
  • Multiple Tracks
    Create any number of chapter tracks to handle a variety of playback situations.
  • Track Thinning
    Limit the output movie to include only the video and audio tracks from each segment.
  • Marker Preview
    Display a collection of thumbnail images representing the markers for a chapter track.
  • Modern Codecs
    Create new movies in a variety of formats for a range of devices and playback situations.
  • Background Exports
    New movies are created in the background, enabling you to continue working without waiting.
  • Internationalization
    Select from almost 40 languages to assign as the default when displaying your new chapter tracks.
  • Sharing
    Share your output directly to Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter and other popular internet services.

System Requirements:

  • OS X 10.11 or later
  • 64-bit processor
  • 1.8 MB

ChapterWork 2.0.1 is $19.99 USD (or an equivalent amount in other currencies) and is available worldwide from the Mac App Store in the Video category.

macOS New App Release – Project Planning Pro 2.7.6

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Product Announcement – I2E Consulting of Waterford, Connecticut has released Project Planning Pro 2.7.6, an important update to their award-winning app for visualizing, planning, and managing projects on macOS. The app offers the flexibility to manage project plans in or out of the office, via its availability on the macOS, iOS, and Android platforms.

Project Planning Pro allows anyone to easily create project plans, create and edit tasks, manage projects, and more. Planners can make use of the app’s interactive Gantt chart feature to easily edit and update tasks. Version 2.7.6 of the app brings the ability to sync projects between macOS and iOS devices via its iCloud syncing feature. Projects are automatically synced between devices that are logged into the same iCloud account.

“Project management for Mac users just got that much easier with our new version of Project Planning Pro, Mac users can quickly create a project plan by entering tasks, duration and start dates,” says Jay Vyas, Head of Digital Marketing for I2E Consulting. “Sharing plans with other users is easier than ever, due to app also being available on the iOS and Android platforms. Plus, plans can even be shared with Windows users, thanks to the app’s handy Microsoft Project Plan Import/Export features!”

Project Planning Pro offers numerous key features that make creating and managing a project plan easier than ever. The app offers flexibility for users who need to access their project plans, no matter where they’re located.

Project Planning Pro’s interactive user interface is designed to make project management a simpler, easier, and less time-consuming task, so users have plenty of time to focus on important tasks. The app offers three critical views of each project, designed to bring a unique perspective to each project and its tasks.

The app’s Gantt View displays the project’s task dependencies, milestones, task start and completion dates, the cost of the project and its associated tasks, and the percentage complete of the project at a single glance.

Meanwhile, Critical Path View highlights the most critical tasks that need to be completed on time, ensuring the project moves according to schedule. By displaying the proper critical path for a project, managers can more easily make informed decisions as the project moves forward.

Resource View offers a complete view of all project resources, along with the tasks they are involved with. The information includes the cost and total number of hours worked, and can easily be exported for reporting.

The app’s Task Linkage feature offers the ability to create four type of dependencies, easily displaying which tasks are dependent on other tasks, and how they are related. Dependency types include Finish to Start (FS), Start to Start (SS), Finish to Finish (FF) and Start to Finish (SF).

Project Planning Pro also allows importing and exporting plans in XML and PPP formats for use in either Microsoft Project, or the Project Planning Pro app on the iPhone, iPad, or on Android devices. It also offers sharing options that allow exporting project plans as PDF, XML, or CSV file formats, making it easy to share information with almost anyone.

What’s New in Version 2.7.6:
* Now Sync Projects between iOS and macOS devices signed into the same iCloud account
* No more blank pages while printing projects
* Fixed an issue where some users were not able to import .mpp files created in Microsoft Project 2016
* Bug and crash fixes

The iOS version of Project Planning Pro was nominated for the BestApp Ever Awards “Best Business App” Award for three years in a row, winning second place each year. It was also nominated for the Appsters Award 2014, Tabby Award 2014, and BestApp Ever Awards in 2012 and 2013.

“Project Planning Pro offers a simple, yet complete, tool to manage any type of project,” continues Jay. “The app allows users to easily create and manage any size project. Plus, with the availability of macOS, iOS, and Android version of the app, as well as the ability to export in Microsoft Project format, users can share project information with anyone, no matter what computing platform they’re on!”

System Requirements:
* OS X 10.10 or later (macOS Sierra Compatible)
* 64-bit processor
* 11.6 MB

Pricing and Availability:
Project Planning Pro 2.7.6 is only $34.99 USD (or an equivalent amount in other currencies) and is available worldwide through the Mac App Store in the Business category. Redeem codes are available to reviewers upon request. An iOS version of the app is also available through iTunes in the Business category.

macOS New App Release – Timing 2

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Product Announcement – Independent software developer, Daniel Alm of Munich, Germany has released Timing 2, his popular time tracking application for OS X. Timing 2 keeps track of one’s time – all by itself. The Mac app records meticulously how much time the user has spent on apps, documents and websites. This data can then be used to analyze one’s productivity, but is also essential for billing hours. Timing 2 introduces a completely new interface, automatic productivity score estimation, and the ability to automatically detect blocks of time that belong together, for even more accurate time sheets.

Professional Mac users need to know how they spend time on their Mac – otherwise, keeping track of which projects consume too much time is a nearly impossible task. Timing 2 answers this question by automatically tracking time spent in each app, document and website. The user can then later inspect this data using Timing’s extensive analytics features and assign activities to projects. Rules let the user further automate those assignments.

For those who need to bill their hours as accurately as possible, Timing 2 also supports classic start/stop timers and lets the user create tasks retroactively. Timing 2’s detailed timeline even shows when the user did what, and automatically suggests tasks for blocks of time that belong together. This automatic grouping feature lets the user assign a whole day’s worth of time in just a few seconds. The app can even automatically ask users what they did as soon as they return to their Mac.

Timing 2 also supports creating exhaustive reports over the tracked data, including timesheets or “weekly snippet” summaries. These reports can then exported in Excel, CSV, PDF and HTML formats for further processing or forwarding them to a client. Even though it collects sensitive data like the currently used document, Timing will not compromise the privacy of its users. Recorded data stays safe on the users’ computer and any entry can be erased retroactively. In addition, tracking can automatically be disabled outside working hours.

System Requirements:

  • Mac OS X 10.11.0 or later
  • 100 MB disk space

Timing 2 is offered in three variants on the developer’s website. The “Productivity” edition ($29 USD) tracks all details on how apps are used. The “Professional” edition adds support for creating tasks, manual start/stop timers and has reporting functionality. The “Expert” edition comes with more filtering options, customized reports, and AppleScript support.