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Facial Feminization Surgery: A Guide for the Transgendered Woman
Facial Feminization Surgery: A Guide for the Transgendered Woman
von Douglas K. Ousterhout
Preis: EUR 37,20

5.0 von 5 Sternen If you are interested in FFS, this book is a must., 18. Oktober 2010
As far as I am aware, this book is the only one on the market which deals comprehensively with Facial Feminization Surgery. FFS can be a very important issue for male-to-female transsexuals, and undertaking is is a huge step in your life. Considering the importance of this step, and the scarcity of publicly available information on the topic, this book attempts to fill a huge gaping hole in the market.

It does the job well. Ousterhout is one, if not THE, pioneer of FFS. He has performed thousands of procedures and knows all the issues. He shares his knowledge in language that is understandable for laypersons, without trivializing it. The procedures which are available for trans women are explained in depth, with illustrations and photos. I came away with the feeling of having fully understood what can be done, what is interesting for me, and also which procedures I don't need. I also understand the risks and dangers. And this book can give a transgendered person the confidence, that it really is possible to fully "pass" as a woman.

This is a technical book on a very specialized topic. If you are looking for entertainment, don't look here. The prose is dry and repetitive. I personally found annoying, that the author manages to be very pleased with himself on practically every page - but after all, he IS a surgeon. Also, if you are afraid of color pictures of surgical procedures, this may not be a book for you.

Anybody who seriously considers Facial Feminization Surgery, read this book. You won't find that much information on the topic anywhere else.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship (Robert C. Martin)
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship (Robert C. Martin)
von Robert C. Martin
Preis: EUR 32,95

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5.0 von 5 Sternen This book changed my life and made me healthy, rich and popular..., 18. Oktober 2010
... well, not seriously.

But when I look at code now I wrote only a year ago, I often feel a strong impulse to bang my head on the desk. I was trying to deliver clean code, but my programs were rambling, full of long functions and even longer classes with multiple responsibilities, smart but difficult to understand ideas, and above all, lots of comments...

What was I thinking? Well, in fact I thought I was doing a pretty good job. And I'm not saying I was a bad developer then, but this book showed me a lot of ways to do it better. It is no academic tome, but full of practical advice. And the value of the advice is clear on the first read. The authors speak from experience. They have spent decades in the software industry. They know what works in the long run, and what just won't fly.

The advice here is nothing new. In fact you'll here most of it during your education, if you're a formally trained developer. Only, nobody tells you why. This book does.

And now for the criticism. I don't have anything new to add - the dogmatism and inflexibility of the author has been criticized in other reviews, and I agree that he sometimes takes the decomposition too far. You have to credit professional developers with the ability to understand functions with two or even three lines - there is no need to break every piece of code down to the smallest atoms. But then, this book is not written for robots, but for thinking, professional, humans. You don't have to slavishly follow every bit of advice. Take your picks.

I use a lot of the techniques from this book in my daily work. I especially love and apply the "Boy Scout Rule": Leave every piece of code you touch in a better state than you found it in. I dare say, it has made me a better programmer. I'm still working on the rich and popular part, though...

Wolf Hall
Wolf Hall
von Hilary Mantel
Preis: EUR 6,90

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4.0 von 5 Sternen A solid, although not stellar, historical novel, 13. Oktober 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Wolf Hall (Taschenbuch)
I'll admit first thing, that I had very high expectations for this book - I am currently very interested in pre-Elizabethan British history, and the Man Booker Prize is about the biggest recommendation any book in English can get. If the rest of my review concentrates on being critical, keep in mind that I am holding it to a very high standard. Overall it is a good book and I highly recommend it.

The blurb announced Wolf Hall as a page turner, a book you cannot put down once you start it. That did not happen for me. In fact, I put it down a bit too often. As a result I often got confused about who is who - as is pretty common in historical novels, there are characters aplenty and in this book, about 50% of them are named "Thomas". These characters come and go, and in many cases the author fails to make them really recognizable.

This flatness of character is also present in the protagonist. My biggest problem with the novel was that Thomas Cromwell, the central figure, comes across as almost superhuman in his abilities and talents, as well as in his compassion to both friends and enemies. His abilities made the protagonist less credible. I cannot recall any scene in the book where the protagonist was stretched to the limit of his abilities, he always had an answer ready in every situation. In novels, I find that operating outside of the characters' "comfort zone" is what really makes them captivating. Wolf Hall was lacking in that respect.

I learned a lot about British history in the early 16th century, as well as the roots of Protestantism. While the factual circumstances are very well described, I failed to get the "feel" of the time. Similar to the characters, the setting did not come alive. At no time, I felt I as really "in" the novel.

If I had not been so pumped up with expectations, I think this book would have been a pleasurable surprise. I'd still label it a good read, if not a great one.

Cosmonaut Keep
Cosmonaut Keep
von Ken MacLeod

1.0 von 5 Sternen Boilerplate SciFi, 8. Juli 2010
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Cosmonaut Keep (Taschenbuch)
Maybe I had set my hopes too high after reading "Newton's Wake" by Ken MacLeod. But even without great expectations this book is a disappointment.

The story alternates between a pre-singularity Earth and a post-singularity galactic empire. While the idea that technological advance accelerates to a pace that makes civilization unrecognizable from our primitive point of view is great stuff for a science fiction novel, MacLeod makes little literary use of it. The post-singularity civilization is hardly different from the one we know. But that is not the weakest part of the novel.

MacLeod appears to be one of those "Hard SF" writers who think that a neat idea for a plot makes an entire book interesting. Well, it doesn't. What makes a book worth reading is its plot, driven by its characters. And the characters in "Cosmonaut Keep" are too two-dimensional, too cliche, too boilerplate for me to even remember their names. MacLeod was not able to interest me in their development, and in fact they hardly develop at all over the course of the book.

The plot, even though it revolves around an interesting idea, is rather weak too. Too often the author pulls another idea, another concept, another deus ex machina out of his trick top hat. I prefer plot that is consistent in itself, that does not need miracles that the author comes up with just as they are needed.

In the author's defense, this book is not meant to stand on its own, it's the first of a (I think) trilogy. Sorry to say though, I am not interested in the least to learn how the story continues.

I am inclined to give Ken MacLeod another chance, though. I will try one of his later books for that.

Walking With Beasts - The Complete Series [2 DVDs] [UK Import]
Walking With Beasts - The Complete Series [2 DVDs] [UK Import]
DVD ~ Kenneth Branagh
Wird angeboten von comedyfactory
Preis: EUR 29,99

5.0 von 5 Sternen Great docudrama, 17. September 2009
Another one of the BBC's "Walking with..." series, this DVD covers the time from the extinction of the dinosaurs to the last ice age. In six episodes, the predominant animals (mostly mammals) of their era are presented.

Again, high standards are met. The animals' shapes and motions are animated with high, life-like quality, the programs are full of information not only about the portrayed species but also their environment, the pictures are beautiful and the episodes are not only pieced-together pictures, but have actual stories which never fail to grip and touch. We feel the pain of the little (only over 1 ton) Indricotherium calf sent away by its mother, we triumph with the Smilodon over its kill, we fever with the Australopithecus clan in ther fight with a Dinofelis predator...

Maybe the science behind this series is not always flawless and accuracy is sacrificed in favor of a good narrative, and of the illusion of actually being there. Giving the viewer the illusion of partaking in events that have happened millions of years ago is the great achievement of "Walking With Beasts" though (and also of the related DVDs, "Walking With Monsters" and "Walking With Dinosaurs"). Highly recommended.

Walking With Monsters [UK Import]
Walking With Monsters [UK Import]
Wird angeboten von ___THE_BEST_ON_DVD___
Preis: EUR 20,19

5.0 von 5 Sternen A natural history of the world before the dinosaurs, 17. September 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Walking With Monsters [UK Import] (DVD)
Everybody knows and loves dinosaurs, but little is known about the three hundred million years of evolution that took place before the first dinosaurs appeared on Earth. "Walking With Monsters" steps in to fill this knowledge gap with breathtaking images and instructive commentary.

Starting during the Cambrian Explosion, this movie introduces the most prominent animals from the eras leading up to the appearance of the first dinosaurs. Huge sea scorpions and tiny fish, the first plants, insects ruling the Earth, over the first amphibians and reptiles to the huge reptiles that populated Earth before the dinosaurs. (Did you know that reptiles ruled the Earth long before the dinosaurs? I didn't!)

All these animals are rendered in admirable naturality and there is a lot of background information about both the species that are presented and the evolutionary processes that shaped them. But the movie is not boggled down in boring science-talk. All animals are presented with a story, often exciting - you hold your breath when the tiny fish (our ancestor) tries to escape from the villainous sea scorpion, and you feel sad for the amphibian who fails to get a mate...

"Walking With Beasts" displays a fascinating world from long ago. It tells the history of how our world became the way it is and does so in an entertaining way. Absolutely recommended.

Walking With Dinosaurs [2 DVDs] [UK Import]
Walking With Dinosaurs [2 DVDs] [UK Import]
DVD ~ Kenneth Branagh

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Show me someone who's not fascinated by dinosaurs and I'll show you a liar, 17. September 2009
Dinosaurs are awesome. Everybody knows that.

If you are fascinated by dinosaurs, traditionally you had two options: Either read about them in scientific (or popular-scientific) books, picking up a lot of knowledge about them but limited to a lot of text and a few still images, leaving most of what dinosaurs are like to your imagination. Or watch movies like "Jurassic Park" or IMAX features, with impressive animated dinosaurs but a lot of artistic freedom and sensationalism, and little in the line of actual information.

"Walking With Dinosaurs" combines both: Scientific soundness and breathtaking imagery. A lot of work has gone into rendering the dinosaurs as lifelike as possible, their forms, their textures and their movements. The backgrounds have been chosen carefully and beautifully too. This series is suitable to be played back on a big screen on loop, just for the images. We get a lot of close-ups, majestic, cute or scary. Three hours of eye candy, if you are so inclined.

The scientific angle is well represented too. Not only do you learn a lot about how dinosaurs lived and behaved, you also get extensive background information about climate, botany and evolution. If I have one criticism about the series, I would have liked even more of those background informations: charts of plate tectonics maybe, temperature diagrams, and occasionally a word on how scientists know what they know about dinosaurs. But I suppose a conscious decision has been made to structure "Walking With Dinosaurs" just like a documentary on contemporary animals.

In short, I recommend this DVD to anyone who is interested in dinosaurs. Which, as I said, should be just anyone.

von Peter Watts
Preis: EUR 11,60

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Science Fiction like I haven't read before, 16. September 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Blindsight (Taschenbuch)
The "alien contact" angle has been done and overdone to exhaustion. Yet it remains one of the central topics of Science Fiction. Watts manages to put a new spin on it.

In the late 21st century, a great number of alien spy probes visits Earth. Their mothership remains outside of the Solar System. Humanity first sends a number of robot probes to find that ship, and when they fail, a manned expedition is sent on their way. The crew is pretty much non-human itself, but after all during the 21st century views on what it means to be human have changed a lot. Cyborgs and genetically altered beings are the new humanity. Unenhanced human beings could never carry out a mission that leads them beyond Pluto's orbit. Still, what the crew discovers is weird beyond their comprehension.

Not only does Watts paint a plausible picture of future human development and a kind of aliens I have never seen before, he also raises questions about the nature of consciousness and what it means to be human. Not only does he base his book on solid science, he also manages to take the liberties an artist needs and deserves to make his writing gripping, and presents his profound thoughts in an entertaining way. Not only does he paint three-dimensional characters and a convincing plot, he also has a dark writing style and a talent to write a thriller that kept me turning the pages and staying up late. Not to mention the humor.

If some aspects of the book are not entirely convincing (the aliens' physiology, or his obsession with vampires), I can gladly attribute them to artistic liberties.

I emerged from this book with a lot of new thoughts and ideas in my head. And I was thoroughly entertained reading it. Awesome!

A Talent For War (An Alex Benedict Novel, Band 1)
A Talent For War (An Alex Benedict Novel, Band 1)
von Jack McDevitt
Preis: EUR 5,49

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2.0 von 5 Sternen Nice space opera, nothing special, 16. September 2009
My reception of this book is somewhat lukewarm, and that shows in my review.

Alex Benedict, an antiques trader who gets space sickness easily, is posthumously sent on a quest to uncharted parts of the galaxy by his now-deceased uncle. What he discovers on his quest threatens the founding myth of the galactic empire he lives in, interspecies relations to the only alien empire that is known to man, and the way space flight is done these days.

While this might be called a "galaxy-shattering plot" in the blurb on the book the publisher wrote, my own reaction to the book was more like: "Meh". The plot is nothing we haven't read before (again and again), the characters remain shallow and unconvincing, and the mysteries on the quest fail to intrigue me. In science fiction, the author can make up any mystery he pleases, and the reader is helpless in anticipating what alien races or technologies the author will invent to advance his plot. And that is fine as long as the author does not abuse this power to hide the fact that there is not really a plot but the protagonist just stumbles from one confrontation to the next.

I like space opera as much as every other nerd, but I also like some ideas, characters and plot development. "A Talent For War" seems as if it has been written according to a standard recipe. Unconvincing.
Kommentar Kommentar (1) | Kommentar als Link | Neuester Kommentar: Nov 3, 2009 2:02 PM CET

von Richard K. Morgan
Preis: EUR 11,90

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5.0 von 5 Sternen As pleasant a surprise as a kick in the face can be!, 15. September 2009
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Thirteen (Taschenbuch)
When this book arrived in the mail, I had already forgotten why I'd ordered it. From the impression the cover made, I expected a simple horror story, Stephen King style, with some SciFi elements. I'm happy to say I was wrong!

Yes, this book is fast-paced and brutal, with graphic descriptions of sex and death in imaginative ways. It's the hero against the rest of the world, in an unending struggle for survival, from one enemy to the next. The protagonist is a genetically altered "monster" (that's how society views him) who only manages to stay out of jail by turning in, or, more often, killing, others of his kind. And all the time there's this sinister plot by powers too high to see or touch, which unravels over the course of the book...

But "Thirteen" is not only solid, gripping action and a simple good-cowboy-versus-evil-bandits story, but it also asks questions about what it means to be human. More specifically, what it means to be male. And while I don't subscribe to the views and opinions Morgan presents in his book, the author presents them in such a detached way, that they don't seem like his opinions either. The characters have come to life, and they have their own opinions. Morgan even sneaks in dark yet profound humor (watch out for male-pattern baldness references). The characters are not lifelike all the time, but then, who's perfect?

"Thirteen" is a gruesome book, and it is uncomfortable on many levels. I found myself protesting the violence and the neo-darwinian world view it endorses a lot of times, while i read it. Yet I remained in its grip until I finished, and I have come out of the experience with new thoughts, new ideas. What else can I ask of a book?

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