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M

Burlingame, CA, United States
  • 13
  • reviews
  • 59
  • helpful votes
  • 26
  • ratings
  • Algorithms to Live By

  • The Computer Science of Human Decisions
  • By: Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths
  • Narrated by: Brian Christian
  • Length: 11 hrs and 50 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,875
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,560
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 8,491

All our lives are constrained by limited space and time, limits that give rise to a particular set of problems. What should we do, or leave undone, in a day or a lifetime? How much messiness should we accept? What balance of new activities and familiar favorites is the most fulfilling? These may seem like uniquely human quandaries, but they are not: computers, too, face the same constraints, so computer scientists have been grappling with their version of such problems for decades.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Beware non-techies

  • By Amazon Customer on 10-11-16

Not Just Computer Science

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-10-16

This fascinating and entertaining book discusses several famous decision problems that I would not necessarily call computer science problems: “The Secretary Problem” (optimal stopping), “The Multi-Armed Bandit Problem”, “Bayes’s Lottery/Laplace’s Sunrise Problem”, "The Prisoner's Dilemma". and “The Traveling Salesman Problem". It also discusses merge-sort, caching, and the Least-Recently-Used (LRU) principle, which do seem more like computer science. This may sound dry, but it isn't! The authors sprinkle in anecdotes, short biographical sketches, and quotations that keep things fresh and interesting. I also own the Kindle edition, which has some useful figures, tables, and notes, but this works fine as an audiobook. Any equations are relegated to the notes. One of the authors, Brian Christian, reads it well.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • To Explain the World

  • The Discovery of Modern Science
  • By: Steven Weinberg
  • Narrated by: Tom Perkins
  • Length: 10 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 202
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 171
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 171

In this rich, irreverent, and compelling history, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg takes us across centuries, from ancient Miletus to medieval Baghdad and Oxford, from Plato's Academy and the Museum of Alexandria to the cathedral school of Chartres and the Royal Society of London. He shows that the scientists of ancient and medieval times not only did not understand what we understand about the world--they did not understand what there is to understand or how to understand it.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • How the world created a Newton

  • By Gary on 03-02-15

Audio is nice, but no Technical Notes

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
1 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-29-15

This is an excellent history of physics and astronomy from Thales through Newton with a final chapter summarizing everything since. It is peppered with Steven Weinberg's comments and opinions (e.g., the contributions of Francis Bacon and Descartes are overrated). The Technical Notes are an important part of the book which the audio cannot include, so you still need a text version.

Even though most equations are relegated to the Technical Notes, the text includes a few, which the reader botches.

"Suppose we know the distance D ( t ) traveled in any time t."

"D(t)" should be read "D of t", not "D times t".

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Cryptonomicon

  • By: Neal Stephenson
  • Narrated by: William Dufris
  • Length: 42 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,944
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,885
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5,910

Neal Stephenson hacks into the secret histories of nations and the private obsessions of men, decrypting with dazzling virtuosity the forces that shaped this century.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Fixed!

  • By Rob J. on 04-16-17

Chapters Are Out of Order: 2 and 3 switched.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-21-15

The audio chapters do not correspond to the book chapters, and they are out of order.

Listen to Chapter 1, then Chapter 3, then Chapter 2, then Chapter 4.

1, 3, 2, 4.

I don't know if this pattern continues, because I haven't finished Chapter 4.

My ratings are based on the first 3 1/2 chapters, plus "The Baroque Cycle."

Note to William Dufris:

I think the Filipino language Tagolog is pronounced with the emphasis on the second syllable.

  • Hidden Harmonies

  • The Lives and Times of the Pythagorean Theorem
  • By: Robert Kaplan, Ellen Kaplan
  • Narrated by: Piers Gibbon
  • Length: 7 hrs and 1 min
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10

A squared plus b squared equals c squared. It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet this familiar expression opens a gateway into the riotous garden of mathematics, and sends us on a journey of exploration in the company of two inspired guides, Robert and Ellen Kaplan. With wit, verve, and clarity, they trace the life of the Pythagorean theorem, from ancient Babylon to the present, visiting along the way Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, President James Garfield, and the Freemasons - not to mention the elusive Pythagoras himself.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Warning: Illustrations and Equations

  • By M on 03-31-14

Warning: Illustrations and Equations

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-31-14

The text version of this book probably contains three equations and two illustrations per page. The stalwart narrator is constantly reading some text and then saying, "Illustration." He also has to plod through hundreds of equations which he clearly doesn't understand. Whoever chose this as an audiobook probably didn't read it or even look at it. However, I'm glad to have it in this format. While I can't be more than about five minutes from consulting the text version on Kindle, or better yet, in the paper book, the audiobook allows me to take my eyes off the text for short periods of time while I'm shaving, waiting for the train, etc. It is an eclectic history and discussion of the Pythagorean theorem written in an off-the-wall style that I, for one, enjoyed, e.g., "… we needn't carry rigor as far as mortis in order to satisfy our legal longings and understand better what we want of a proof."

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Ready Player One

  • By: Ernest Cline
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 15 hrs and 40 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 201,328
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 188,007
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 187,601

At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I’m sorry I waited so long to read this book.

  • By Julie W. Capell on 05-27-14

Virtual Fun - Even for the Wrong Demographic Group

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-30-13

This is a virtual reality adventure set in the year 2040 with a teenaged protagonist/narrator and nice readable prose that suggests a target audience of young adults. On the other hand, it is full of 1980s nostalgia and trivia that should appeal primarily to 40-somethings, especially early gamers who played "Dungeons and Dragons" with their friends, "Pacman" and "Joust" at the arcade, and "Zork" on the PC. While I watched my share of "Family Ties" episodes, heard Devo songs, saw "Heathers," and played an occasional game of "Pacman" (after all, I have been in a pizza parlor), I am not in the same demographic as the recently deceased character, Bill Halliday, who created the book's virtual world, the OASIS (Ontologically Anthropocentric Sensory Immersive Simulation). I'm not too young, I'm too old. (You can stop reading now.) Even so, I still loved the book, and I've shared it with friends from my generation who are loving it too.

  • The Laws of Thermodynamics

  • A Very Short Introduction
  • By: Peter Atkins
  • Narrated by: Nick Sullivan
  • Length: 3 hrs and 31 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 194
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 165
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 165

The laws of thermodynamics drive everything that happens in the universe. From the sudden expansion of a cloud of gas to the cooling of hot metal - everything is moved or restrained by four simple laws. Written by Peter Atkins, one of the world's leading authorities on thermodynamics, this powerful and compact introduction explains what these four laws are and how they work, using accessible language and virtually no mathematics.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Accessible, but needs the figures

  • By Diane Walter on 08-09-11

Exactly What I Was Looking For

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-30-12

This entertaining discussion of the laws of thermodynamics was originally published in hardback as "Four Laws that Drive the Universe." The author, Peter Atkins, is a famous chemist and the author of textbooks on physical chemistry and popular science books like "Galileo's Finger: The Ten Great Ideas of Science." Atkins is also a famous atheist in the Richard Dawkins "God Delusion" mold, but his atheism does not figure into this book, which I downloaded because I was interested in a moderately rigorous review of thermodynamics. This was partially because of the relationship between the 2nd Law and Information Theory (see Gleick's "The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood), partially because of CP Snow's famous essay on "The Two Cultures" in which he compares ignorance of the 2nd Law to ignorance of Shakespeare's "Hamlet", and partially because it has been 35 years since I took physical chemistry in college. This met my needs perfectly. Atkins manages to balance readability/listenability with scientific rigor. I do own the print version of this Very Short Introduction and referred to it periodically as I listened. For example, I would look at the figures in a chapter before listening to it while jogging. I doubt it would work well without the print copy. I have downloaded several of these Very Short Introductions as audiobooks, and this is one of the better ones.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Short Stories of William Somerset Maugham, Volume 1

  • By: W. Somerset Maugham
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 3 hrs and 42 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 216
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 59

Winner of the 2001 Audie Award for Classic Fiction, this is an unparalleled presentation of Maugham's stories, complete with sound effects and music.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Jewels!

  • By Jacko45 on 07-05-04

Excellent stories, excellently read, but ???

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-25-11

Having read ???Of Human Bondage??? and ???Cakes and Ale,??? I already knew that I like Maugham???s writing and storytelling. I also enjoyed the Charlton Griffin productions of the Sherlock Holmes oeuvre. Unlike two of the other reviewers, I like the music and sound effects, all apparently chosen by Griffin himself. He both reads and produces these recordings. However, I am surprised and dismayed by the mispronunciations. Come on Charlton. You are a great reader, but if you take the time to choose and add music and sound effects, you should also take the time to learn how to pronounce ???antipodes.???

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • The Cater Street Hangman

  • By: Anne Perry
  • Narrated by: Davina Porter
  • Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 926
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 764
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 764

When a maid in the upper class Ellison household is strangled, Inspector Pitt is called in to investigate. He finds a world ruled by strict manners and social customs, where the inhabitants of the Ellison's neighborhood appear to be more outraged by the thought of scandal than they are by murder. Inspector Pitt finds a most unlikely ally in Charlotte, the Ellison's spirited daughter. But as the murders continue, Charlotte and Pitt find themselves drawn together by more than the investigation.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent

  • By Nancy on 05-12-12

19th Century Murder Tale by 20th Century Murderer

Overall
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-22-11

Take Jane Austen???s ???Pride and Prejudice,??? set it in London 75 years later, and add a serial killer; then you have ???The Cater Street Hangman??? by Anne Perry. It is a good novel that stood well on its own when it was released in 1979, something like 15 years before it was discovered that the author Anne Perry is also the convicted murderer Juliet Hulme. Reading (listening to) it now with that knowledge adds a distinct creepiness to the story.

As per a previous review, the reader is Davina Porter, and she does a great job.

  • The Meaning of Night

  • A Confession
  • By: Michael Cox
  • Narrated by: David Timson
  • Length: 22 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 300
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 112
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 111

"After killing the red-haired man, I took myself off to Quinn's for an oyster supper." So begins the extraordinary story of Edward Glyver - booklover, scholar, and murderer. As a young boy, Glyver always believed he was destined for greatness, and a chance discovery convinces him that he was right. Greatness does await him, along with immense wealth and influence. Overwhelmed by his discovery, he will stop at nothing to win back a prize that he knows is rightfully his.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Almost but not quite....

  • By Booksmith on 10-13-06

First Read "The Woman in White"

Overall
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-20-10

The writing, the period detail, and the narration are all excellent, but why read a novel by a modern writer set in Victorian London and written in the style of Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins when you could read Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins instead? One answer could be that the modern writer is able to treat some subjects, such as sex and violence, more openly than Victorian writers. "The Meaning of Night" is somewhat more explicit in these areas, but not much more. Another answer is that you have already read every good contemporary thriller set in and around Victorian London. If you are such a connoisseur of Victorian literature, you will love this book. If not, just read the originals. Start with "Great Expectations," "Bleak House," or "The Woman in White."

My other problem with this book (and this is not a spoiler) is that it starts with the narrator's random murder of an innocent stranger. This was unnecessary to an otherwise well-plotted story. Maybe the author was trying to suck the reader in, but it turned this reader (listener) off to the point that I almost gave up on the whole book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • On the Origin of Species

  • By: Charles Darwin
  • Narrated by: Richard Dawkins
  • Length: 5 hrs and 53 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 996
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 772
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 759

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and a life-long committed Darwinist, abridges and reads this special audio version of Charles Darwin's famous book. A literally world-changing book, Darwin put forward the anti-religious and scientific idea that humans in fact evolved over millions of generations from animals, starting with fish, all the way up through the ranks to apes, then to our current form.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A Perfect Abridgement

  • By M on 05-28-09

A Perfect Abridgement

Overall
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-28-09

"On the Origin of Species" is one of the most important books ever written. It is the most accessible of revolutionary original scientific works. Galileo's "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" is next closest. One might try reading Faraday, but not Newton, Copernicus, Boltzmann, or even Einstein. Darwin intended it as an "Abstract" for a much longer work, but in fact, this abstract needs abridgement. Darwin justifies each assertion with too many detailed examples, complaining all the while about having to omit so much. This interferes with the coherence of his argument for descent with modification by means of natural selection. Thankfully, Richard Dawkins, a celebrated polemicist and author in his own right ("The Selfish Gene," "The God Delusion") has selected out the most important chapters and the most important passages in those chapters, and then he reads them beautifully. One of the most striking revelations is how many of the arguments against his theory Darwin himself anticipated. This is a great way to "read" a book with which every educated person should be familiar.

27 of 27 people found this review helpful