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  • Rebecca Carpenter - Sympathy with the Devil

    Bring Up the Bodies is a richly textured and nuanced character study and historical fiction, a fascinating sequel to Hilary Mantel's Booker Prize-winning Wolf Hall. Thomas Cromwell is now in his prime, having helped Henry rid himself of one queen, Catherine of Aragon, in order that he might replace her with another, Anne Boleyn. Extraordinarily intelligent and skilled, Cromwell is deeply loyal and serves his master the king with unflappable competence. His power and his titles have multiplied, yet he still must routinely put up with jibes about his low birth from his enemies. Mantel's Cromwell is a sympathetic figure because of this snobbery, his mentoring of a host of younger men (including his son Gregory Cromwell, his nephew Richard Cromwell, and Rafe Sadler), and his forbearance. He has a highly insightful view of life at court, knowing that some who find him convenient to consider him a friend for the time being would willingly put a knife in his back (or an axe to his neck) should his situation change.

    Mantel's Cromwell is also a borderline psychopath. Pragmatic and politic to a fault, he will serve the king's will even if that requires executing the innocent. When the time comes and Anne Boleyn in her turn must be replaced because she has failed to give Henry a son and he has become smitten with Jane Seymour, Cromwell's deliberation about who will pay the ultimate price and be beheaded for alleged adultery with the queen shows a blithe disregard for the value of human life. He is also not above settling some scores of his own. Watching him deftly manages the king's business and also his own is deeply satisfying, even though one is quite aware of how twisted his actions are.

    This fascinating, multi-dimensional character study is one of the must-reads of 2012!

  • Norberto Feliberty "Norberto" - Windows 8 Pro Upgrade

    Windows 8 is the best operating system that Microsoft has come up with. While I understand why many people do not like Windows 8, to me it is very innovative. With Windows 8, Microsoft took a bold step in unifying the operating system both for PCs and tablets and while many people do not like the fact the Windows 8 is different because it geared more towards tablets, tablets are the trend today. Windows 8 introduces a new interface called Metro in addition to the current desktop interface found in previous versions of Windows. The Metro interface has two windows which are the main start screen and the all apps screen. Navigating through Windows 8 is quite different than what is used to. For starters, there is no longer a start button and to access settings a user must move the mouse to the upper or lower right corner of the screen which is the equivalent of swiping in this direction on a tablet or touchscreen. To close an open window that is running on the metro interface, one must move the mouse to the upper left or lower left corner of the screen and right click the window that they want to close and click close. To get to the Apps screen in the Metro interface, one must right click in the start screen and click on the all apps icon which appears in the lower right hand side of the screen. To get back to the Start Screen from the Apps screen, one needs to right click in the Apps screen and click on the all apps icon found in the lower right hand side of the screen.

    I like many things about Windows 8. To start with, I like the idea of having a Windows Store where everything is located.and because of this set up, I feel like I now have everything that I am interested in right at my fingertips. I have my news, sports, weather and pretty much anything else that interests me right at my fingertips without having to open up a browser and go searching for things. Now all I have to do is just open up the app that has what I am looking for and read about it. Also equally as important if not the most important thing to me since I am visually impaired, are the improvements made to the Narrator screen reader in Windows 8 over Windows 7. Narrator is a basic screen reader for Windows that works via text to speech. In Windows 8, Narrator reads text on web pages aloud which is something that just did not work well in Windows 7. Narrator works quite well with many of the apps that use the Metro interface so I can have things such as my news read to me instead of having to read them. While Narrator is not an ideal solution for a person with little to no sight, it is nice to see that it has improved.

    The upgrade process from Windows 7 to Windows 8 was a very easy one though not entirely smooth. The user is guided step by step through the entire process and once the upgrade was complete for me, I had some issues with playing flash content. Installing windows updates fixed the issue but not before an update for my graphics card driver crashed my PC and made the magnifier not work anymore which lead me to having to reinstall everything. Thankfully I do backups on a regular basis and did not lose anything. Second time around everything is working just fine.

    I give Windows 8 5 stars because it makes using the computer more enjoyable and accessible than the previous editions of Windows. I would recommend Windows 8 to anyone who likes to learn new ways on how to use computers and anyone who would like to really have everything at their fingertips and who would be willing to take the time to learn how to use Windows 8. It is a great operating system regardless of whether it's running on a PC or a tablet.