Book Review: “Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War”

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(See all of my Book Reviews) – “Fighting the People’s War: The British and Commonwealth Armies and the Second World War” eBook was published in 2019 and was written by Jonathan Fennell. This is Mr. Fennell’s second published book.

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 book covers the British and Commonwealth Armies in both theaters during the course of World War II.

Considerable time is spent with the British, Canadian, South African, Australian, New Zealand, and Indian forces. While the book is full of numbers and facts, it is very readable, though long. I was surprised to see repeated references to the sick numbers and censor reports. The censors made monthly reports of the general feelings and attitudes of the soldiers in their letters to friends and loved ones back home. These reports were able to provide the higher echelons of the army with feedback on the morale of their troops.

I had not known about the manpower resource problems, that is a reluctance to volunteer for overseas duty, that plagued the Commonwealth military. Nor had I been aware of the growing shortage of replacements for the British in Europe following the D-Day invasion. I can see why the story of WWII told D-Day forward is mostly an American story.

I found the 25.5 hours I spent reading this 966-page history very interesting. I like the chosen cover art. 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).


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 320 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

The “About WWII” page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

Nuclear Rockets, ​the Future of Space Propulsion?

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(See my other Space and Propulsion related posts) – I came across the article “Earth To Mars In 100 Days? The Power Of Nuclear Rockets” today and wanted to share it.

 

 

The idea of a nuclear rocket engine was developed in the 1960s for NASA. The research was led by Werner von Braun and successfully tested in Nevada.

What is a nuclear thermal rocket?

A conventional chemical rocket carries combustible chemicals which are ignited, then the resulting gases flow out of a nozzle propelling the vehicle. In a nuclear rocket, a small marble size chunk of Uranium fuel undergoes fission. This energy released heats hydrogen to very high temperatures (nearly 2500 C). The hydrogen is then expelled from the vehicle in a nozzle like on chemical rockets. The difference is that nuclear propulsion is two to three times as efficient.  Tests were carried out starting in 1955 that have proven that this technique will work. Testing was discontinued in 1973.

Where are we Now? 

The original design required highly-enriched uranium. Current designs will most likely rely on low-enriched uranium.  This would make nuclear propulsion systems safer to work with. On May 22, 2019, the US Congress approved $125 million to fund new nuclear thermal propulsion development.

Another alternative being researched is using fusion instead of fission for propulsion. The Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is working on what they call the Direct Fusion Drive. Applied Fusion Systems is also at work on a fusion alternative.

Whether it is fission in the short term or fusion in the long term, the prospects for nuclear-powered rockets looks very positive. Read the full article for more details.

Friday WWII Flix: “World War​ II in Colour”​

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(See my other WWII related posts) – I came across this series on NetFlix a short time ago and have been enjoying the 13 episodes of the mini-series. The series has an 8.7/10 rating on IMDB. The series was released in 2009 and the synopsis per IMDB:

Recounts the events of World War II in color.

That is a very brief but direct statement. NetFlix says:

Rare footage, state-of-the-art colorization and newly uncovered documents are used in this examination of the strategies and battles of World War II.

 The episodes are each 51 minutes long and are titled:

  1. The Gathering Storm
  2. Lightning War
  3. Britain at Bay
  4. Hitler Strikes East Red Sun Rampant
  5. The Mediterranean and North Africa
  6. Turning the Tide
  7. The Soviet Steamroller
  8. Overlord
  9. Closing the Ring
  10. The Island War
  11. Victory in Europe
  12. Victory in the Pacific

If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these two pages of mine of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 320 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

The “About WWII” page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

macOS New app Release – GraphicConverter 11

Product Announcements – Independent developer, Lemke Software GmbH of Peine, Germany has released GraphicConverter 11, an important update to their popular image editing utility for macOS. The utility, popularly known as the “Swiss Army Knife” of image editing applications, can convert any of over 200 graphic file formats into any of over 90 other graphic formats.

The 1.5 million global users of GraphicConverter will find exciting new features in version 11, including a useful macro recording function, a RAW developer feature, the ability to view and unpack archive files, the ability to create gradients and duo-tone images, and more.

“GraphicConverter 11 has arrived and comes with important new functions that many users will surely have been waiting for,” says Thorsten Lemke, founder of Lemke Software GmbH. “Of course, it still features simple usage and a wealth of functions that no other program can offer.”

New Features Include:
* Record Macros: Save time by recording steps and applying them to other files
* RAW Developer: A full-screen dialog is now available when opening RAW files
* Unpack Archives: View or unpack archive files
* Wide Equalization: Reduce distortion present in wide-angle shots
* Gradients: Easily create color gradients with up to 10 colors
* Duo-Tone: Color shots with two colors to duo-tone images
* Apple Finder Tags: Use the context menu to directly display and change Finder tags

GraphicConverter 11 continues to be the most efficient way available on the Mac to capture, import, convert, and export images. The app offers users powerful yet easy to use image editing and slideshow capabilities, providing color management profiles, 3D image support and so much more.

Features Include:
* Ability to open files in 200 graphics formats
* Ability to export to over 90 different formats
* Graphical file and picture browser
* Slide show functions
* Powerful batch processor feature
* Import directly from camera (also RAW)
* Catalog generation (web, print, picture)
* TWAIN and image capture interface for scanners
* Direct support of the photo services Flickr and locr
* Support for Applescript
* Express picture enhancement function
* Powerful functions for editing pictures
* Advanced effects and filters
* Plug-in architecture
* Color management with ColorSync and ICC profiles
* 3D image support
* Supports the latest technologies of the different macOS versions
* Multilingual (12 available languages)
* Image verifier
* Ability to browse local copies on cloud services like Dropbox, SkyDrive, Amazon Cloud and Google Drive

GraphicConverter 11’s Record Macros function allows users to record functions they use repeatedly in the same order to apply to other files. The new function saves time, making it easier to apply functions to multiple images.

The new RAW Developer feature makes it easier to edit RAW images, thanks to its full-screen dialog when opening RAW files, which offers controls for Exposure, Contrast, and Color Corrections. Picture noise can be reduced, even with 6 controllers.

GraphicConverter’s Unpack Archives feature allows users to view the pictures and documents inside an archive file and unpack them if so desired. The function works with ZIP, TAR, TGZ, and more formats, 13 in all. Plus, editors that organize their work using Apple’s Finder Tags will appreciate the browser context menu’s ability to directly display and change these tags.

Wide-angle photography always has a tendency to distort faces and objects on each end of an image. GraphicConverter 11’s new Wide Equalization feature reduces the distortion, making the shots look more natural.

New functionality in the app now means creating a gradient as a background for a collage or other use is as simple as a few clicks of the mouse. Easily create color gradients with up to 10 colors. The new Duo-Tone feature allows photographers to color their shots with two colors. The darker shades use color 1, while the lighter tones use color two.

“GraphicConverter 11 is a better value than ever, thanks to the new tools we’ve added to the utility,” continues Thorsten. “If you’d like to try GraphicConverter to make sure it fits your needs, you can download the trial version and give it a try.”

Language Support:
English, Germany, French, Japanese, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Portuguese, Spanish, Danish, Swedish and Italian

System Requirements:
* Requires OS X 10.9 or higher
* 64-bit processor
* 153.5 MB

Pricing/Availability:
GraphicConverter 11 is only $39.95 USD (or an equivalent amount in other currencies) and is available worldwide through the Mac App Store in the Photography category. It can also be directly purchased online from the Lemkesoft website. Upgrades from older versions of GraphicConverter are available for $25.95 USD.

Coffee: Which type of filter do you use? There is a difference!

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(See my other Coffee and Food  related posts) – The University of California, Davis Coffee Center has been investigating the best ways to brew coffee. In March of 2019 the article “Flat vs. Cone: Basket Shape is as Important as Grind Size in Drip Brew Coffee” was published in 25 Magazine.

A very well designed [see the article for details] experiment was designed to evaluate flat versus cone shaped filters. The quick take from the article:

  1. filter shape does affect the taste of coffee
  2. grind size does not affect the taste of coffee
  3. there is a taste difference between light and dark roasts

With light roast:

  1. flat bottom filters “yielded flavor attributes with more dried fruit, sweet, and floral flavor intensities
  2. cone filters “yielded more citrus, berry, and sour

With dark roast:

  1. flat bottom filters “yield more pronounced chocolate, cocoa, and woody flavors
  2. cone filters “yield much more intense bitterness

Which filter type is best? That is really up to the consumer because we each have our own taste preferences.

Music of WWII: “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”

(See my other Music and WWII related posts) – “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” is one of the most recognizable songs from the WWII era. There have been several recordings made over the years, but this one is by The Andrew Sisters and was made in 1941. This recording reached the 6th place spot on the US music charts in 1941.


If you are interested in the WWII era of history, you may find these two pages of mine of interest. 

The  World War II Sources” page is a collection of more than 310 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.

The “World War II Timeline” page shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.

The “About WWII” page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.

macOS New App Release – MacDraft 7

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Product Announcements  – Microspot Ltd of Kent, United Kingdom had updated its 2D CAD application, MacDraft Pro & PE 7 64 bit. MacDraft 7 has been rewritten from the ground up to create a new, powerful, and feature-rich application designed to give you a more intuitive and easy to use drawing program. Boasting a large number of new features and improvements including a completely new interface, tool enhancements, new text system, 64-bit compatibility and much more.

Based in Kent, United Kingdom, Microspot prides itself on its easy to use yet professional design applications and MacDraft 7 is right up there as their best yet. MacDraft 7 is now 64 bit meaning it will work seamlessly with Mac OS 10.11 or higher including the upcoming new Mac OS 10.15 and has exciting improvements to text, walls, its library system, and DWG support.

Managing Director Phil Bunker states that “it has been a long process but a rewarding one too, we have liaised with customers new and old to build this beautiful, new and powerful CAD app that we hope is everything you need to keep creating detailed, informative designs on your Mac”

The new interface is built for retina displays and replaces floating palettes with a single screen layout to bring all the tools and options you need right in front of you. The sleek, stylish, intuitive app comes with the option of dark or light mode to switch between if you are running OS Mojave or later. These new features, plus much more, combined with a free 14-day trial and free technical support make it a simple transition for both new and existing customers. MacDraft can be purchased through their website.

macOS New App Release – fmESignature Link

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Product Announcements Databuzz of Sydney, Australia has released fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition), a FileMaker solution that integrates with the DocuSign eSignature platform. fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) is a FileMaker solution that integrates between FileMaker Pro and DocuSign. DocuSign is one of the most popular electronic signature platforms and helps organizations connect and automate how they prepare, sign, act-on, and manage agreements and allows users to sign electronically on practically any device, from almost anywhere, at any time.

fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) allows you to quickly send electronic signature requests and download the signed version of the document into FileMaker at the click of a button. fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) is completely unlocked allowing you to integrate it into your existing FileMaker solutions. You can copy and paste examples showing you how to authenticate with the DocuSign API and send signing requests and more at the click of a button.

fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) features include:
* Works with FileMaker Pro 16 or later
* Uses all native FileMaker scripts and functions (no plug-ins required)
* Completely unlocked for you to integrate into your own FileMaker solution
* Can be hosted by FileMaker Pro or FileMaker Server
* Works with Macintosh and Windows

“Many of our customers use the FileMaker Platform to run their business and DocuSign for electronic document signing,” said Andrew Duncan, CEO of Databuzz. “With fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) you can send document signing requests and downloaded completed documents from DocuSign at the click of a button, without having to give users direct access to your DocuSign account.”

fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) includes examples for the following DocuSign features:
* Send Document Signing Requests: you can use fmESignature Link to send documents that are generated dynamically from a FileMaker layout, from a PDF file stored in a FileMaker container field, or using a DocuSign Template (including support for multiple recipients and roles)
* Check Status: check the Status of Sent Requests at the click of a button
* Download Completed/Signed PDFs: download the completed PDF file into FileMaker at the click of a button
* Download Form Data: download any associated Form Data back into FileMaker at the click of a button
* Support for Webhooks: have completed PDFs pushed automatically to FileMaker within seconds of being completed (requires FileMaker Server and PHP Custom Web Publishing)
* Support for FileMaker Server Schedules: setup schedules to poll DocuSign every 20 minutes for any newly completed agreements (requires FileMaker Server and PHP Custom Web Publishing)
* Testing Sandbox support: dynamically switch between the DocuSign Sandbox test environment and the live production environment. You can perform all required tests in the free Sandbox account before switching to your live production account

Availability, Pricing, and Compatibility
fmESignature Link is available in a number of licenses: Company, Product (Vertical Solution) and Developer. It is available now from the Databuzz website. Company Licenses start at AUD $795.00. fmESignature Link (DocuSign Edition) requires FileMaker Pro v16 or later and a DocuSign account with API access.

Mac and iPad Accessories – Developer’s Gear Case

Product Announcements WaterField Designs of San Francisco, California, an innovative leader in custom laptop sleeves, bags, and device-specific cases, introduces the Developer’s Gear Case, a semi-rigid, fully-padded organizational case to protect tech accessories of all shapes and sizes in transit. An innovative design feature allows users to connect their phone in the front pocket to their battery inside the case for on-the-go charging. Developers, digital editors, and others who regularly carry significant electronic gear can now carry bulkier items like battery chargers, hard drives, headphones and such, along with cords, adapters, and dongles all in one beautiful, handcrafted leather and ballistic nylon accessory case.

“Our customers who carry a lot of tech told us they must often check several places before locating a specific accessory. They asked us to design one efficient case to organize all their gear in one place,” explained Gary Waterfield, company founder. “We designed this structured gear case to hold odd-shaped items along with basic cords and smaller items. The sumptuous leather panel and an innovative feature that facilitates in-case phone charging really set this case apart from others.”

Developer’s Gear Case Features:
* Zippers on three sides allow the case to open like a book
* Two interior compartments are separated by a padded middle divider
* Upper slim compartment with six mesh pockets – two larger zippered and four smaller open-topped – organizes cords, dongles, and other small items
* Gold lining behind mesh pockets makes items inside easy to spot
* Deep, plushly-padded lower compartment stows bulky items: hard drive, mouse, battery charger, international power adapter, camera lens, etc.
* Stretch bands secure bulky items in place or lie flat making way for large items like headphones
* Matching, travel-sized, leather mouse pad attaches to the middle divider and provides an extra layer of protection
* Ultra-soft, padded front pocket holds quick-access items like iPhone and AirPods
* Pass-through charging port allows the wire to connect an iPhone in the front pocket to a charging battery when stored inside the case
* Pen/Apple Pencil holder keeps these handy
* YKK waterproof zippers repel moisture
* Two quick-grab handles enhance convenience

The Developer’s Gear Case can be used on its own as a small satchel by attaching an (optional) shoulder strap, or it can be inserted into any of WaterField’s larger bags, like the Bolt or Executive Pro backpacks. The sumptuous leather is available in four color choices. The elegant materials and clean design lend the case a professional look befitting any work environment. The new gear organizer’s smartly-executed features address specific customer input gathered from WaterField’s 2018 Gear Case community-design project.

Colors and Materials:
* Black ballistic nylon with Black, Blue, Chocolate or Crimson premium, full-grain leather
* Dimensions: 9.75 x 6.75 x 3.25 inches
* Weight: .75 lb.

Pricing and Availability:
Developer’s Gear Case is priced at only $129 (USD).