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Peter

peterb_sanfran

San Francisco, CA, United States | Member Since 2011

26
HELPFUL VOTES
  • 28 reviews
  • 29 ratings
  • 137 titles in library
  • 4 purchased in 2014
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  • The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 28 mins)
    • By Jon Gertner
    • Narrated By Chris Sorensen
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (156)
    Performance
    (135)
    Story
    (133)

    In The Idea Factory, New York Times Magazine writer Jon Gertner reveals how Bell Labs served as an incubator for scientific innovation from the 1920s through the1980s. In its heyday, Bell Labs boasted nearly 15,000 employees, 1200 of whom held PhDs and 13 of whom won Nobel Prizes. Thriving in a work environment that embraced new ideas, Bell Labs scientists introduced concepts that still propel many of today’s most exciting technologies.

    Clement says: "Long Pauses"
    "Good history, but a little slow"
    Overall
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    I'm an engineer, so reading about Bell Labs and some of the most exciting discoveries and technological breakthroughs of the 20th century is of natural interest to me. This book covers all the great breakthroughs at Bell Labs, through the eyes of the executives of the labs and the Nobel Prize winners who did most of the discovering. Although this is a natural vantage point, I kept feeling like I was missing the basic intensity and passion of the individual inventor and discoverer, which is what most interests me.

    I never finished the book, because I'm afraid there are other works I'm more interested in, and are really more interesting to read. I wonder how the author holds other people's attention for the whole book, when an electrical engineer like me can't maintain interest.

    The narrator of this book is painfully slow. He reads so deliberately, as if he's recounting some incredibly exciting event like a political assassination, as he recounts the researcher pushing a probe into a device to measure a current. My audible.com software allows me to change the narration speed, and I highly recommend "2x" or 2 times normal speed, so you don't fall asleep, or punch the dashboard in frustration.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Circle

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 42 mins)
    • By Dave Eggers
    • Narrated By Dion Graham
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (622)
    Performance
    (570)
    Story
    (577)

    When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company's modernity and activity.

    Darwin8u says: "A solid, just not great social network dystopia"
    "Good apocryphal tale of "Big Brother""
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    As a member of the silicon valley tech culture, I really enjoyed this book showing the extreme of a company that pushes it's invasive software to the total extremes. I thought the NY Times criticism of the book complaining that the author seemed to have an incomplete understanding of the differences between an OS and a social website missed the mark. I understand the difference, but I still really enjoyed the story of this company (which I think sounds remarkably like Google) that went from being a social site to essentially taking over every aspect of people's lives. The only flaw, in this story as well as others that paint a picture of the all-threatening "Big Brother", is that even the most pernicious organizations show massive incompetence when it comes down to the details, but "the Circle" Incorporated seems to have mastered every level of expertise, never making a mistake. Not on this planet....

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • FREE: Deadlocked 1

    • UNABRIDGED (2 hrs and 13 mins)
    • By A. R. Wise
    • Narrated By Brian Sutherland
    Overall
    (667)
    Performance
    (617)
    Story
    (621)

    David was caught in the middle of the city when the zombie outbreak started. His wife and daughters were at home, stranded on the roof as zombies waited below. He would have to fight through hordes of undead, merciless other survivors, and a series of death defying stunts to get home. However, even if he makes it there, how can he be sure they're safe?

    Amanda says: "WOW ZOMBIE CHAOS AND MAYHEM"
    "Bottom of the barrel"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This free book was really awful. If you've ever perused book titles looking for a book that promised scenes of children eating other children, then this book is for you. If that description sounds like "horse manure", then you agree with me and will pass on this one.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Inferno: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 12 mins)
    • By Dan Brown
    • Narrated By Paul Michael
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (8489)
    Performance
    (7720)
    Story
    (7779)

    In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces: Dante’s Inferno. Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust...before the world is irrevocably altered.

    Livia says: "Formulaic and Hard to Finish...."
    "Interesting Art History, not exciting"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I rate this book 3 stars out of 5. I wouldn't recommend it highly. The formula here is: repeat the same phrases over and over and over to build tension. Unfortunately, instead of tension it makes you want to hit "fast forward".


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    To make it more exciting, a lot less description of ancient art and literature. In one section, the protagonists are on the run for their lives, and we have page after page of historical description of their surroundings. Hello?


    What does Paul Michael bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    It was well-performed, clear and with good expression.


    Do you think Inferno needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. The author needs to consider breaking out of his (very profitable) mold and try something different.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Beethoven's Shadow

    • UNABRIDGED (1 hr and 57 mins)
    • By Jonathan Biss
    • Narrated By Jeff Woodman
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (469)
    Performance
    (411)
    Story
    (408)

    The American pianist Jonathan Biss is known to audiences throughout the world for his artistry, musical intelligence, and deeply felt interpretations. What is less known until now is that Jonathan Biss writes about music in a most compelling and engaging way. For anyone who has ever enjoyed a Beethoven concert or a Beethoven recording, or one of the many films about Beethoven, this audiobook is an inspiring listening experience.

    Carol C. Buchalter says: "An amazing glimpse into musical interpretation"
    "Love Beethoven, couldn't finish this book"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    What would have made Beethoven's Shadow better?

    I love Beethoven, and as an amateur pianist I expected to love this book, but I couldn't finish it. The author makes points that are perfectly reasonable, just not very entertaining. The premise, that he went crazy performing Opus 109, could lead to all kinds of interesting conclusions, but instead he just meanders through the sonatas and piano greats without engaging the reader.


    If you’ve listened to books by Jonathan Biss before, how does this one compare?

    First, and last book by Biss.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    It wasn't bad, but it just couldn't keep me awake.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Beethoven's Shadow?

    i think this book wasn't clearly thought out in terms of a real message and point of view.


    Any additional comments?

    Beethoven is my personal hero, so if I can't even finish a short work about him, I blame the author, not the subject.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The God Delusion

    • UNABRIDGED (13 hrs and 52 mins)
    • By Richard Dawkins
    • Narrated By Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (4182)
    Performance
    (1599)
    Story
    (1581)

    Discover magazine recently called Richard Dawkins "Darwin's Rottweiler" for his fierce and effective defense of evolution. Prospect magazine voted him among the top three public intellectuals in the world (along with Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky). Now Dawkins turns his considerable intellect on religion, denouncing its faulty logic and the suffering it causes.

    Rick Just says: "Dangerous Religion"
    "Thanks Richard Dawkins for such intelligence!"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Would you listen to The God Delusion again? Why?

    It would definitely be worth listening to again. There are so many cogent arguments and counter-arguments that it is hard to remember them all. The thought-provoking ideas combined with humor and personal experiences lecturing about atheism makes this a must-read for atheists and agnostics, as well as any religious people with serious doubts.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Dawkins seemed to be speaking to me when he accuses agnostics as being atheists with no backbone. My logic in being an agnostic was that there is no way to prove a negative: you can't "prove there is no god". But Dawkins chides that it isn't up to us to prove there is no god, it is up to theists to prove there IS a god. If we honestly feel the arguments supporting the existence of god are fatuous and transparent lies, then we should stand up and declare ourselves atheists, and not worry about stepping on toes or being thought unsympathetic.


    Have you listened to any of Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    This is my first.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I prefer listening to this in doses, so I can go off and think about what was said, and dive into the next chapter with a fresh mind.


    Any additional comments?

    I especially like Dawkins comments about the complete ostracism of atheists in US culture and politics. He notes a poll asking people "would you vote for a for president?" For being "Irish" it was "99%", "Catholic" it was 95%, "Mormon" it was about 80% (this was before Romney), and for "Atheist" it was something like 40%.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Shadow of Night

    • UNABRIDGED (24 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Deborah Harkness
    • Narrated By Jennifer Ikeda
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (5123)
    Performance
    (4593)
    Story
    (4586)

    Now, picking up from A Discovery of Witches' cliff-hanger ending, Shadow of Night plunges Diana Bishop and Matthew Clairmont into Elizabethan London, a world of spies, subterfuge, and a coterie of Matthew's old friends, the mysterious School of Night that includes Christopher Marlowe and Walter Raleigh. Here, Diana must locate a witch to tutor her in magic, Matthew is forced to confront a past he thought he had put to rest, and the mystery of Ashmole 782 deepens. Deborah Harkness has crafted a gripping journey through a world of alchemy, time travel, and magical discoveries.

    Hallie says: "Even better than A Discovery of Witches"
    "Good continuation from Book 1"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Shadow of Night rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This was a good read, and I enjoyed listening to it. I'd say about 1/3 of the audiobooks I've listened to are better than this one. The supernatural parts are a real draw for readers who enjoy that. The vampire characters are pretty 2-dimensional - yes, they can be very nasty, and yes, they can be romantic and sexy, but that's about it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    My favorite character is Mathew's father, Philippe. He is so commanding, yet understanding, you can really feel why he's the head of family of vampires.


    Have you listened to any of Jennifer Ikeda’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The same narrator did book 1, so it was a smooth transition to this book. Her narration of the main characters is quite good. Her narration of the Latin and foreign language passages is wooden and stilted.


    If you could rename Shadow of Night, what would you call it?

    "A New World Long Gone."


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend this book for people who've read book 1. I really disagree with reviewers who thought there were too many historical details. The historical characters (Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Elizabeth) really flesh out this novel and make it more interesting, without overdoing the historical references. I'd say that is the high point of this work. After 40 hours, the character of Mathew is beginning to really annoy me. I mean, I understand he's devoted to Dianne, but every sentence, every gesture, is female fantasy of the perfect attentive mate: dangerous but pathologically devoted. There is a 3rd dimension to real people that means they don't just behave towards and away from another person - they need to have their own independent thoughts and values. Yeah I know: if I'm so good at this, why don't I write my own novel?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steve Jobs

    • UNABRIDGED (25 hrs and 19 mins)
    • By Walter Isaacson
    • Narrated By Dylan Baker
    Overall
    (10533)
    Performance
    (9085)
    Story
    (9047)

    Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

    Chris says: "Good Biography, Fine narrator"
    "Great biography - honest & thoughtful"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    Where does Steve Jobs rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is in the top few non-fiction books I've read.


    What other book might you compare Steve Jobs to and why?

    I've read other biographies that either try to turn the subject into a saint, or add so much detail they drag on, but this was a winner in both departments. Jobs comes across as the genius and jerk that he really was, and the details really tie everything together. I am computer engineer, but I've read non-fiction about technology that bored me to tears. This goes way beyond technology, and really gets into the fundamental question: what is the difference between a CEO who leads a company into failure, and a CEO which turns a nearly-bankrupt company into the largest company in the world?


    Have you listened to any of Dylan Baker’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Good narration.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This book is best enjoyed over multiple sittings, because there is much to absorb and digest. Jobs is presented in all his complexity, leading his employees to absolute brilliance, and driving them out of the company with his temper and whimsical opinions.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (9 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Rachel Joyce
    • Narrated By Jim Broadbent
    Overall
    (2645)
    Performance
    (2350)
    Story
    (2352)

    Meet Harold Fry, recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack is a letter addressed to Harold from a woman he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years. Queenie Hennessy is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye. Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person.

    FanB14 says: "Wonderful Walkabout"
    "Excellent story, frustrating character"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I found this book to be excellent, in the spirit of the highest level of literature. The story is far from predictable, and yet the characters are so predictable in ways that we can't help but see our own behavior in them. Despite the message about sometimes changing one's life despite all the obstacles, I still found watching Harold's decisions frustrating to watch. I sympathize with his sad life, retired with an unloving/unforgiving wife, and I think it's noble he decided on his walk on the spur of the moment. But his decisions are too unthinking: refusing to buy decent shoes and developing huge blisters, hooking up with people who are clearly not good, refusing to pause his walk despite terrible pain and miserable weather, etc. I know the author is intelligent and deliberately wants us to see all these contradictions in his life, but when the character's lack of self-awareness swamps the plot, I think it distracts from the author's good yet complicated message to the reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Last Man: A Novel

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 57 mins)
    • By Vince Flynn
    • Narrated By George Guidall
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3125)
    Performance
    (2724)
    Story
    (2705)

    The four dead guards didn’t concern Mitch Rapp as much as the absence of the man they’d been paid to protect. Joe Rickman wasn’t just another foot soldier. For the last eight years Rickman had ran the CIA’s clandestine operations in Afghanistan. It was a murky job that involved working with virtually every disreputable figure in the Islamic Republic. More than a quarter billion dollars in cash had passed through Rickman’s hands during his tenure as the master of black ops and no one with a shred of sense wanted to know the details of how that money had been spent.

    K says: "Couldn't be better...except"
    "A real cliffhanger - can't wait to read more"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    This is the first in the Mitch Rapp series that I've read, and I was spellbound. Although the level of violence is higher than I like, I think it goes along with this genre (spy thriller). I think it says a lot about a novel when the first thing you want to do when you finish is read another one by the the same author, which is what I'm doing now.

    I researched the author a bit. Although he remains cagey about his own politics, it turns out Flynn is a regular on Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, so there is no question where his opinions lie. I didn't realize this when I read "Last Man", and I enjoyed it more because of my ignorance. Now I'm on to another Rapp series, and I now notice the ranting against Democrats and liberals (sort of Ayn Rand, but subtler and in pants), and it greatly reduces my interest in the series, being a Democrat and liberal myself.

    I've heard this narrator doing more books than I can count, but he's good, and keeps the tenor and pace of the book nicely.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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