Friday, November 27, 2020

Scratch Programming for Beginners by Raina Burditt MS MA

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Scratch Programming for Beginners
by Raina Burditt MS MA

ISBN-13: 978-1647396381
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Released: September 1, 2020

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Fun guide to Scratch programming for ages 8-12. Scratch is a visual computer language designed especially for kids, and Scratch Programming for Beginners is the perfect book to introduce kids to coding! It explains the fundamental concepts of Scratch in a kid-friendly way, and comes jam-packed with fun, creative activities.

This book starts with the scratch programming basics, teaching kids what coding is, and all about the different tools they can use to build their own programs and games. Each chapter teaches a different aspect of coding, with exercises that get more challenging as they go, so kids can test their abilities and unleash their imagination. They’ll even build their own game where they’ll fight off a fire-breathing dragon!

This book is designed for coding beginners, with kid-friendly explanations, step-by-step instructions, and lots of pictures. Kids will build their own toolbox of skills, learning how to install and use Scratch, how to troubleshoot any pesky coding bugs with the Bug-Hunting Guide, and practice their Scratch programming lingo with a glossary of computer terms. Scratch uses blocks of code that fit together like puzzle pieces, so kids can watch how their code affects the program as they’re building it. The fundamentals they’ll learn in this book apply to other coding languages, too!

My Review:
Scratch Programming for Beginners teaches the process of coding, specifically how to code in Scratch. It's targeted at ages 8 through 12 and should be easily understood by them, but it's also useful for adults who want to learn the basic concepts of coding. The author did a good job of showing how to think through what needs to be in the code and identifying potential bugs based on understanding how a computer reads code. She taught how to get set up with Scratch and how to use the different coding blocks as well as setting up the stage, getting sprites and sound, etc. For each section, she explained what the code did and then showed step-by-step how to use it by showing the process of coding a simple animation or game. She then provided several more advanced projects as well as suggested some changes that the reader might try by themselves. By the end, I felt fully confident in using Scratch to create my own unique projects, though obviously there will still be some trial and error. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Beginner's Guide to Aquaponics by Seth Connell

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Beginner's Guide to Aquaponics
by Seth Connell

ISBN-13: 978-1647397487
Paperback: 154 pages
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Released: September 15th 2020

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Amazon Vine.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
A complete guide for aquaponics beginners. Discover a sustainable way to grow your food—while using a fraction of the water, land, and labor conventional gardens require. The Beginner’s Guide to Aquaponics makes starting your first system simple with easy-to-follow instructions that teach you the basics and offer clear step-by-step instructions.

Combine the benefits of fish farming with hydroponics to grow food in new and efficient ways. Whether it’s understanding how to balance water chemistry, pick your optimal fish and plants, or assemble aquaponic setups, you’ll find tables, blueprints, and practical tips to walk you through each part of the process.

This guide breaks down the most essential aquaponics information with checklists, system design plans, fish/plant charts, and more. Use price estimates and approximate timelines to help you stay on budget and effectively plan out the proper build for your needs. Get expert advice for dealing with any trouble spots you might encounter while building or maintaining your systems.

My Review:
Beginner's Guide to Aquaponics instructs on how to combine fish farming with hydroponics to grow food. The do-it-yourself instructions for the various systems are all for 100 square-foot units. Depending on the system, this could take up something like 5' x 20' or 10' x 10' of floor space, so they take up a lot of room. They generally cost between $3,000 and $6,000 for materials to make your own or about $10,000 if you buy a turnkey system. You will only be able to grow about 10 fish (trout, cod, bass, perch, catfish, etc.) at a time and it will take about 12 months or more for those fish to grow to 1 pound size. You also have to decide if you're going to do cold or warm water fish as this limits what type of plants you can grow. If you're interested in a system like this, then this book contains a lot of useful information.

The book covers everything I think you'd need to know and takes you step-by-step through the process of putting the systems together in general as well as specific step-by-step instructions for building your own systems. Part of my problem with the book, though, is that each aspect was initially covered separately, making it more difficult to see how it all worked together. You look at a chart showing which fish are warm water and which are cold water, then later there's a chart showing which plants can be grown in warm or cold water. It would've been helpful to have these charts on the same page rather than having to search back and flip between them. We're told how tricky it is to keep all the aspects in balance (fish, bacteria, plants) before I even had a clear idea of what the finished systems would look like. So I felt very discouraged even before finding out how expensive and big these systems would be. I'll just stick to small-scale hydroponics, but I do think this book would be helpful for someone already strongly interested in doing this size of aquaponic system.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

KitchenWise by Shirley O. Corriher

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by Shirley O. Corriher

ISBN-13: 9781982140687
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Scribner
Released: November 17th 2020

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Want to cook fluffier scrambled eggs and more flavorful sauces, keep your greens brilliantly green, and make everything taste more delicious? KitchenWise combines beloved cooking expert Shirley Corriher’s down-to-earth advice with scientific expertise to address everyday cooking issues. Whether you are a beginning cook or a professional chef, Shirley will let you know exactly what to do behind the stove. A gifted teacher with a degree in chemistry, Shirley takes readers through the hows and whys of what she does in the kitchen, explaining the science behind common problems and offering solutions for how to fix them. (For example, salt has an amazing ability to suppress bitterness and allow other flavors to emerge.) Filled with more than 30 of Shirley’s favorite time-tested recipes, in KitchenWise readers learn how to cook more successfully, why certain ingredients work well together, and what makes good food great.

Packed with proven techniques, KitchenWise serves up new ways to get the most from your cooking.

My Review:
KitchenWise explains some of the chemical reactions in cooking and some troubleshooting tips based on this information. The author also included recipes that demonstrated the points she was making in the chapter. She talked about flavor and things that can be done to increase flavor in food. Then she talked about meat, eggs, and other animal products, with much of the focus on using eggs in cooking and troubleshooting possible problems. The next section was on fruits and vegetables, and much of the focus was on potatoes (baked potatoes, French fries, potato salads, etc.) and troubleshooting problems with potatoes. The next section was on beans and grains. The next was on making the perfect sauce, and many of these seemed to involve cream or chocolate. She talked about which foods freeze well and which don't. She finished with a section on baking (mainly cookies, cakes, and baguettes) and a section on chocolate, ice cream, and other desserts.

Apparently, getting the "perfect" dish very often involves a lot of butter, cream, egg, or sugar. No wonder most commercial cakes taste so extremely sweet since they use more sugar than flour (by weight)...and that's not including the icing. Since I'm more interested in healthy (but still tasty) eating, much of her advice wasn't helpful for me. Overall, I'd recommend this book to people with an interest in science and cooking who are most interested in how food tastes.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The Fabric of Civilization by Virginia Postrel

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The Fabric of Civilization
by Virginia Postrel

ISBN-13: 9781541617605
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Basic Books
Released: November 10th 2020

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In The Fabric of Civilization, Virginia Postrel synthesizes groundbreaking research from archaeology, economics, and science to reveal a surprising history. From Minoans exporting wool colored with precious purple dye to Egypt, to Romans arrayed in costly Chinese silk, the cloth trade paved the crossroads of the ancient world. Textiles funded the Renaissance and the Mughal Empire; they gave us banks and bookkeeping, Michelangelo's David and the Taj Mahal. The cloth business spread the alphabet and arithmetic, propelled chemical research, and taught people to think in binary code.

My Review:
The Fabric of Civilization is a history about the far-reaching influence that textiles have had on the world. The author looked into aspects of fabric production, selling, and use that I have not seen covered in other histories about textiles. Overall, this was an interesting read, and I'd recommend it to those interested in this topic.

The author talked about how cotton, silk, wool, and flax were used to make fabrics very early on and how people improved the plants' and animals' production and quality of fiber through selective breeding and other practices. The first person to come up with the germ theory did so because he was working on curing a disease affecting silkworms. The next chapter covered spinning technologies, starting with the drop spindle and moving on to the spindle wheel, spinning jenny, and other factory machines. The third chapter covered weaving and how advanced math may have been developed by weavers creating complicated patterns, how physical codes for patterns were created in different cultures, the history of weaving patterns like brocade, and information about knitting machines.

The fourth chapter covered dying fabric and the developments in chemistry created by the demand for certain colors, from the original plant- and animal-based dyes to the synthetic dye development. The fifth chapter covered fabric merchants and how they developed things like accounting, using cloth as money, bills of exchange, and more. The sixth chapter covered how the demand for various fabrics influenced what was made and how some countries forbade certain fabrics or fashions. The last chapter covered modern innovations, from new types of synthetic thread to coatings that can be put on cloth to prevent stains and such.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Tuning into Frequency by Sputnik Futures

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Tuning into Frequency
by Sputnik Futures

ISBN-13: 9781982147945
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Tiller Press
Released: November 3rd 2020

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Energy is Everywhere. From the light, sound, and electromagnetic waves that flow all around us to the intricate electrical networks that flow through us, energy is a frontier as exciting as it is uncharted. Every year new science suggests that harnessing the extraordinary power of these invisible frequencies may be the key to a variety of innovations to improve our health and wellbeing, and to repair our struggling ecosystems.

In Tuning into Frequency, the minds of Sputnik Futures explore cutting-edge discoveries from doctors, physicists, healers, ecologists, technologists, and thought leaders and explore how we can employ frequency to improve not only our physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing, but the health of the planet.

For example, did you know:
-That your heart and your brain share an electromagnetic field?
-That trees can talk to each other?
-That sound can heal the body?
-That color affects your mood?
-That the sun can help fight depression?

My Review:
Tuning into Frequency is a collection of information about present and future applications of our growing understanding that everything is basically energy. They covered topics like acupuncture, reiki, PEMF and some of the scientific studies about how they work. They talked about how whales communicate through song, flowers react to the wing beats of bees, and other nature-related communication. They explored the science behind using light therapy and color therapy for healing and some information about biophotons. They talked about using music and chanting for healing (including white noise, pink noise, binaural beats, ultrasound, etc.) and about electroceuticals for drug delivery and mood enhancement. They also got into things like cold fusion and other alternative energy sources, lucid dreaming, psychic abilities like remote viewing, and mystical experiences.

They explained the theory about how these things work and mentioned scientific studies when they're available. I've been hearing a lot lately about "we are all energy beings" but I did not understand what some of that was based on. This book helped answer my questions about these ideas even though some of them are still very speculative. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and informative book to those interested in these topics.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.