Trailer for “Avengers: Infinity War”

Trailers – The next installment of the Avengers comes to theaters in May 2018. This trailer is short (2:24) but this looks to be another good addition to the Marvel franchise. The synopsis (per IMDB):

The Avengers and their Super Hero allies must be willing to sacrifice all in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe.

Something to look forward to in 2018.

Review of “Space Agent and the Isles of Fire”

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Book Reviews – “Space Agent and the Isles of Fire” eBook was published in 2017 (original paper edition was published in 1963) and was written by Angus MacVicar (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?111388). Mr. MacVicar was the author of a dozen 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 ‘G’. The story is set in the far future where mankind is expanding to the stars. The primary character is U.N.O Department for Space Investigation agent Jeremy Grant.

A space craft has fallen to Earth on one of the Isles of Fire and the impact has caused an earthquake and the eruption of the volcano the island surrounds. The fear is that the craft has been illegally returning samples of Martian vegetation. The crash is feared to have spread the vegetation across the island.

Grant, along with a few close colleagues, travel to the island to investigate. Once they approach the island, they encounter a overwhelming urge to turn back and flee from the island. They fear that the Martian plants are responsible. Their attempts to investigate leave them stranded on one of the islands.

Will help arrive in time” Will the volcano erupt again? Will the vegetation from Mars take them?

This was a mediocre read of 5.5 hours. This vintage science fiction tale reads like the plot from a 50s era ‘B’ movie. While it might have been great in the 60s, I don’t think that it has aged well. I also do not think that the cover art is consistent with the story. I give this novel a 2.8 (rounded up to a 3) out of 5.

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

macOS New App Release – ChronoAgent 1.8.0

Product Announcements – Econ Technologies of Casselberry, Florida has updated the indispensable companion app, ChronoAgent, to ChronoSync to fully support macOS 10.13, High Sierra! ChronoAgent 1.8.0 now recognizes APFS volumes while offering improved file backup and sync performance. Local network-based syncs run up to 20% faster!

Use ChronoAgent on your Mac to accept secure, reliable and higher performance connections from ChronoSync Macs than using standard file sharing. The ChronoSync/ChronoAgent combination allows you to synchronize files between two Macs, back up Macs to a Mac server, or even maintain a bootable backup over a network.

In addition to a few bug fixes, ChronoAgent 1.8.0 also includes more reliable startup, better statistics reporting and an updated manual. ChronoAgent 1.8.0 works on macOS 10.8 or newer and is available for $14.99.

ChronoSync, the multipurpose app for local and cloud backup, bootable clone, and folder synchronizing, is designed to work on macOS version 10.10 and newer. Full working trial licenses are available, or purchase ChronoSync for $49.99 (USD). ChronoAgent allows any Mac to accept direct, secure connections from any ChronoSync Mac or any InterConneX iOS device so you can access or transfer your data! Full working trial licenses are available, or purchase ChronoAgent for $14.99. ChronoMonitor is an iPhone app that monitors Macs running ChronoSync or ChronoAgent. ChronoMonitor is available in the Apple App Store for $3.99.

Review of “Traitors Gait”

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Book Reviews – “Traitor’s Gate” eBook was published in 2017 (original paper edition was published in 1969) and was written by Geoffrey Osborne. Mr. Osborne published six 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 during the late 60s during the height of the cold war. The primary character is British secret agent James Dingle.

Dingle, along with long time friend and partner Glyn Jones are sent to the Soviet Union to obtain copies of plans for a space based bombardment system. The mission seems to be going well until Dingle is captured by the Russians. he soon learns that he was betrayed by one of his team.

Will he be able to escape? Will he be able to bring justice to the turncoat?

I enjoyed the 2.5 hours I spent reading this Thriller novella. The story was clearly dated, but it still was a good read. I do not think the cover art adds much as the story had nothing to do with tanks. I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

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

The World of Sci-fi during WWII – Intermission Story (29)

WWII – I thought that this was an interesting look at Science Fiction during the years of World War II.

Pacific Paratrooper

Alex Schomburg artwork

The goings-on at the home front!!

The first Golden Age of Science Fiction—often recognized in the United States as the period from 1938 to 1946—was an era during which the science fiction genre gained wide public attention and many classic science fiction stories were published. In the history of science fiction, the Golden Age follows the “pulp era” of the 1920s and 1930s, and precedes New Wave science fiction of the 1960s and 1970s. The 1950s are a transitional period in this scheme.

One leading influence on the creation of the Golden age was John W. Campbell, who became legendary in the genre as an editor and publisher of science fiction magazines, including Astounding Science Fiction, to the point where Isaac Asimov stated that “…in the 1940s, (Campbell) dominated the field to the point where to many seemed all of science fiction.” Under Campbell’s editorship, science fiction developed more realism and psychological depth to characterization. The focus…

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macOS New App Release – Snagit 2018

Product Announcements – In today’s world of information overload, the need to grab attention and communicate quickly and efficiently has never been more important. TechSmith Corporation of Okemos, Michigan, the go-to company for visual communications, today launched TechSmith Snagit 2018, the latest version of its industry-leading screen capture and image editing software. The newest version of Snagit offers users even more powerful and easy-to-use tools to quickly communicate complex ideas and processes – making your communications more effective and easy to understand.

“After nearly 30 years as the market leader in screen capture, this is the most powerful version of Snagit we’ve ever created,” Wendy Hamilton, CEO, TechSmith Corp. said. “Snagit 2018 allows you to quickly and easily create compelling, easy-to-understand visual content that clearly demonstrates processes, how-tos, and other information so that everyone can get more done in less time.”
New features in Snagit 2018 include:

  • Grab Text: Snagit captures way more than just images. Grab Text magically pulls out the text from a screen capture or file. And since you can paste it into another document for edits, you’ll work faster, rather than wasting time with endless typing.
  • Smart Move: With the flip of a switch, automatically make objects in your screen captures movable. Rearrange buttons, delete text, or edit other elements in your screenshots.
  • Text Replace: Snagit recognizes the text in your screenshots for quick editing. Change the font, colors, and size of the text in your screenshots without affecting the look and feel.

Other improvements include updates to the desktop video recording feature. Snagit 2018 allows for higher frame rate desktop recording for smoother, more professional recordings, as well as better quality webcam capture and better stability. And, it does it all using fewer CPU resources than ever before.

Snagit 2018 also marks the first release where the date designates the version number. Now, it’s easier than ever for users to know which version they use because Snagit for Windows and Mac will be designated by the year rather than a separate version number.

TechSmith Snagit 2018 is available today for Windows and Mac for $49.99 (USD) from the website. Users with previous versions of Snagit can upgrade for $24.99.

Review of “Found in Time”

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Book Reviews – “Found in Time” eBook was published in 2017 and was written by J. K. Kelly (http://jkkelly.com). This is Mr. Kelly’s first novel.

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 ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence and Mature Language. The story is based on today, but the team travels to various places and times on their missions. The primary character is US Marine Major JJ Jackson.

Jackson has been a covert operator for some time, but is now asked to lead a new, even more secret unit. The unit’s mission is to test out a time travel device, then to eventually use it to fight the terrorists they have been confronted with. Their missions back in time are filled with danger and they meet several historical figures. Their most severe challenge comes from an unexpected quarter.

I really enjoyed the 8 hours I spent reading this science fiction thriller. It does have a bit of a religious twist. I liked the characters developed in the novel, and the plot. I did have a feeling in the first half or so that it was a collection of short stories stitched together. I do hope that there are more books to follow with the same characters. The cover art is OK, but I don’t think that it relates well to the story. I give this novel a 4.5 (rounded up to a 5) out of 5.

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

 

macOS New App Release – Panorama X

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Product Announcements – ProVUE Development of Huntington Beach, California has released Panorama X, the latest version of their high performance general purpose database system for Macintosh computers. This major upgrade is a complete rewrite from the ground up, the result of almost six years in development. It includes an all-new 64-bit RAM based database engine, universal multi-level Undo (never before available in any general purpose database program), and a completely modernized user interface.

ProVUE Development founder James Rea says that “the goal of the Panorama X project was to take all the great concepts of Panorama that users have loved over the past three decades: incredible RAM based speed, flexibility and programmability, and re-implement those concepts from scratch using the latest Apple technologies and with completely modern user interface design. We went back to the drawing board and re-thought every aspect of Panorama from a clean slate, much like Apple did when transitioning from Mac OS 9 to OS X, and when transitioning from Final Cut 7 to Final Cut X.”

Notable features of Panorama X include:

  • Data Sheet: The Panorama X data sheet displays rows and columns like a spreadsheet, but has special functions optimized for working with structured database information.
  • Graphical Layout: Panorama X includes a complete application builder that enables the user to build almost any custom interface, including custom windows, dialogs, forms, labels and custom reports. The user/developer has complete control over the layout, and if necessary, any programming needed. Layouts can be fixed or responsive to window size. Programming code can be embedded into any element, much like HyperCard(TM).
  • Bulk Data Modification And Restructuring: Panorama allows huge data sets to be bent, reshaped or refactored at will. Fields can be added, removed, rearranged, hidden, merged or split at any time. Entire datasets can be rapidly altered based on parsing/manipulation rules set up from pop-up menus (advanced users can also use arbitrary formulas and regular expressions).
  • Multi-Level Undo: Panorama X is the first database program ever to support universal, multi-level undo. Well known Macintosh book author Matt Neuburg says that Panorama X’s “brilliant Undo stack, shows how a properly implemented Cocoa app can provide total freedom from fear as you perform sweeping changes on huge amounts of data.”
  • Flexible Searching And Sorting: Panorama X can quickly search and sort data by any field or combination of fields. Advanced search options include phonetic searches, regular expressions, and formula based searches.
  • Automation: Every aspect of Panorama X operation can be automated – database manipulation, modifying database structure, even graphical layout tasks can be automated. Basic automation doesn’t require any programming at all – the Panorama X program recorder can watch the user’s action and automatically write the corresponding code. For developers, Panorama’s programming language includes conditional logic, variables, subroutines, and a complete IDE (integrated development environment). Joe Kissell, owner of Take Control Books, says that he “especially appreciates Panorama X’s Multi-Level Undo, extensive automation capabilities, and support for regular expressions and Unicode, all of which have made my work vastly simpler.”
  • Data Analysis: Collecting and manipulating raw data is one thing, comprehension is another. To facilitate true comprehension, Panorama X includes unique analysis tools that transform raw data into an easily digestible, interactive outline. Users can quickly shift their vantage point in the outline – zooming out to grasp key overall trends, or drilling down to focus in on important details and chase down loose ends that they might otherwise never have noticed.
  • Regular Expressions: Panorama X includes full support for industry standard regular expressions, enabling powerful and lightning fast pattern match based searches and search/replace. There are literally thousands of regular expression pattern matching examples online (as well as in books) that can be plugged directly into Panorama X.
  • Relational: Panorama X’s relational model supports one record-to-one record links, range-to-one record (shipping and tax tables, for example), and one record-to-many records. Relational keys are not limited to a single field, and can even be defined with a formula.
  • Data Import/Export: Panorama X can import text files in comma separated (csv), tab separated (tsv), or json format. Export supports the same formats as well as HTML and PDF. Data can be restructured as it is imported or exported to match up with external programs (for example re-arranging, merging or splitting fields as the data is imported or exported).

System Requirements: macOS 10.9 or later (including macOS 10.13 High Sierra)

Panorama X introduces a revolutionary new flexible approach to software subscriptions. Unlike a traditional subscription, a user only pays for months when he or she actually uses the software. If they don’t use it every month, they don’t pay every month. The initial expense can be as low as $15, and ongoing usage can be as low as $5 per month.

Subscriptions are purchased from within the application. A user can install Panorama X on as many computers as he or she likes. As long as they use it on only one computer at a time, they pay nothing extra. Organizations pay for each computer in use during a month, but without any serial numbers or activation hassles. An organization can scale up or down the number of computers in use at any time – it’s all taken care of automatically within the app itself.

Free Trial:
Panorama X can be downloaded directly from the ProVUE Development web site. When Panorama X is first installed, the user is offered a 7 day free trial. Trial days don’t have to be consecutive, they can be spread out over an extended time period. When the trial is complete, the user can simply purchase their subscription from within the application.

macOS App Release – Camera Guard 2

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Product Announcements – ProtectStar of Miami, Florida has released Camera Guard 2 Professional for Mac, an important update to their popular security solution. The app protects any Mac’s built-in webcam and microphone from being accessed by hackers, malware, and spyware. Version 2 brings improved protection against unauthorized access to the Mac microphone and camera, as well as added protection against Mac ransomware.

Camera Guard 2 Professional sits quietly in the background, monitoring the Mac’s built-in microphone and webcam for any unauthorized access attempts. The app efficiently blocks any detected attempts, while also alerting the Mac user to the attempts. The utility blocks both known and unknown attacks methods, thanks to its exclusive “Deep Detective” feature.

“When we discovered that illegal monitoring of Mac users via their computer’s microphone and camera was on the rise we created Camera Guard 2016, which offered complete protection against unauthorized access of your Mac’s camera and microphone,” says Chris Bohn, CEO of ProtectStar. “Now that Mac ransomware is on the rise, holding users’ data hostage until the bad guys are paid, we knew we had to offer our users comprehensive protection against ransomware attacks, keeping their data safe from harm.”

The new version of the app offers numerous new features, including improved access detection, protection against Mac ransomware, a whitelist for allowed apps and processes, and support for the Apple’s Touch ID sensor that’s found on the latest models of the MacBook Pro.

Camera Guard 2 Professional’s malware protection monitors the data stored on a Mac’s hard drive. The app detects changes to monitored files and folders, or when ransomware attempts to encrypt the protected data, and immediately notifies the user.

Features:

  • Web camera protection
  • Pop-Up notifications regarding security breaches
  • Logfile protocol
  • Microphone protection
  • Deep Detective(TM)
  • Protection against known and unknown attack attempts
  • Protection against Mac ransomware
  • File and folder monitoring
  • Whitelist
  • Passcode protection
  • Supports Touch ID on compatible MacBook Pro models
  • 24/7 Support by e-Mail

Camera Guard 2 Professional still includes ProtectStar’s better than ever exclusive “Deep Detective” feature, which monitors all attempted access to any protected Mac. While offering proactive protection that is similar to other companies’ firewall or intrusion detection utilities, Deep Detective also reports and protects against both known and unknown attacks, via its modern heuristic methods.

While offering comprehensive protection against monitoring and malware, Camera Guard 2 Professional has been built from the ground up to be a lightweight yet powerful solution, which places minimal demands on any Mac’s available resources. Use of the computer’s processing power, battery power, available memory, and disk space are kept to a minimum. The app will never slow the performance of any Mac it is installed on.

“We’re excited about the new protection abilities we’ve included in the latest version of Camera Guard,” says Niklas Mayle, Security Manager of the Development Team at ProtectStar. “Not only can our users rest easy that they aren’t being monitored by the bad guys via their own Mac, they can also prevent ransomware attacks by those same bad guys with just a few clicks of their mouse!”

Device Requirements:

  • Mac OS 10.11 or higher (Supports macOS High Sierra)
  • 64-bit Processor
  • 50 MB
  • Internet connection for activation and updates

Camera Guard 2 Professional for Mac is $29.90 USD from the website (or an equivalent amount in other currencies) and includes 12-months of updates/upgrades and technical support. A Care Plan is also available for $59.90 USD, and includes 3-years of updates/upgrades and premium technical support.

Review of “Nightmare Planet”

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Book Reviews – “Nighmare Planet” eBook was published in 2017 (original paper edition was published in 1976) and was written by Donald S. Rowland (http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?116971). Mr. Rowland published 19 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 ‘R’ because it contains scenes of Violence. The story is set in the far future. The spacecraft Voyager from Earth is in route to the Brontus Major Constellation when it discovers an uncharted planetary system. The primary character is Ship Captain Kyle Barlor.

The planetary system was completely unknown and did not at first show up on their instruments. As they approach the system, things begin failing on their ship and they are fired upon from one of the planets. A party is landed on the planet showing signs of habitation, but soon after they land contact is lost. Barlor leads a rescue mission, but they too are soon set upon by hostile creatures. It soon becomes apparent that leaving the planet and surviving will be a challenge.

I spent only 5 hours to read this 191 page vintage science fiction novel. The writing had the distinct feel of an older work. It really does not hold up very well for today’s reader. I don’t think the cover art is very representative of the story. I give this novel a 3 out of 5.

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