Reading Review of 2022

This is a list of the books I read or listened to in 2022. Each has a small, hopefully non-spoilery review. This is to share what I read and also to help me keep track of what I have read and enjoyed!

Patriot Games

Tom Clancy, 1987

This is the first Jack Ryan novel I’ve ever read, and I loved it. I never saw the movie and had no idea what to expect. It was a wild ride. Jack Ryan is almost too perfect a protagonist, but it’s okay. It was a great political thriller and kept me wanting more the whole way through.


George Orwell, 1949

I don’t know how I made it through life without reading this before. It’s such a part of our culture that everyone knows “Big Brother” or knows about “new speak”. It was a great book, and was not AT ALL what I expected. The ending was a completely different from what I anticipated. I thoroughly enjoyed it and wish I had read it sooner.

Every Tool is a Hammer

Adam Savage, 2019

I love Adam Savage. This book takes you through some of his methods and philosophies and sprinkles in anecdotes along the way. As an avid viewer of his YouTube channel, a lot of this was stuff I had heard, but there was a lot that was new. For the Mythbusters fans, I don’t think you’d find that there are as many Mythbusters stories as you might expect or want. I enjoyed it though and would recommend it.

Dune Chapterhouse

Frank Herbert, 1985

The final installment in the (original) Dune franchise. I don’t think I could have read through this one, but listening forces me to march forward. I found it a slog with too much intrigue and I just never felt invested in the story. I’m glad I can say I finished them all, but honestly they just aren’t my type of book.

Jesus the Christ

James E Talmage, 1915

I pulled this out to do some research for a talk I had to give at church and decided to read the whole thing since it has been 20 years since the last time. The book is super dense and dry, but interesting. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I really retained a whole lot into my long-term memory, but at the time, I felt like I was receiving some good insight into the ministry and life of Jesus Christ. I think it’s a great resource.

Dragon Teeth

Michael Crichton, 2017

This book was released posthumously, but was written in the 70’s apparently. It follows the fossil wars in the 1800’s and I thought it was quite gripping. It’s shorter than some of his other works, but I really liked the characters and the adventure. I would recommend it!


Michael Crichton, 1996

This was a great story about an “incident” with an airplane made by a fictitious company, and the ensuing investigation about where things went wrong. I got to learn a lot about flaps, and autopilots. It turned out to be quite the adventure, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Highly recommend!

If Chins Could Kill

Bruce Campbell, 2002

Who doesn’t love Bruce Campbell? He narrated this and it was a hoot. He touched on nearly all the things he’s done in his career, and had great anecdotes. It felt like it gave a good sense of who he is and how he views the industry. He’s a funny guy and I would recommend this book to any of his fans.

Red Rabbit

Tom Clancy, 2002

The next Jack Ryan novel (I don’t think I’m reading them in order…), this one involves an assassination plot, and a Russian informant who needs to escape the country. It was a good political thriller and I enjoyed it a lot. Not sure I liked it as much as Patriot Games, but it was a good ride. I’d recommend it.

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury, 1953

Another classic that somehow I have failed to read until this point in my life. Once again, we all know about this dystopia where books are burned. But once again, I didn’t know anything about the actual plot. It was a wild ride, and a quick read. It was interesting seeing all the people being pacified with their “parlor walls” and not having any real interest in the world around them. It was a good read and once again it didn’t go in the direction I anticipated. Highly recommend!

The Saints Volume 3

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2022

This volume of The Saints covers the early 20th century which includes the World Wars, and expansion to other countries, as well as interesting information about getting temples onto foreign soil. It is shorter than the previous entries, but still had some really interesting parts.

The World According to Star Wars

Cass R, Sunstein, 2019

This was a bit of an impulse. I ran out of things on my list, and this was available at the library. I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but it was actually a hoot. The author explores things like the economy, religion, philosophy and relates them to Star Wars. I enjoyed it a lot.

The Never Ending Story

Michael Ende, 1979

I have been familiar with the movie for most of my life, and have always liked it. My son read this book and was loving it so much, I decided to as well. It is a fun story. The movie follows the plot pretty well, but only covers the first half of the book (with some notable exceptions). The second half is a completely different story that I didn’t expect, but it was really good. There was also a lot of nuance in the themes that are more evident in the book than the movie. It was great, and I recommend it.

Moby Dick

Herman Melville, 1851

I decided to pursue this book after watching a video of Adam Savage talking about reading it, and making a diorama of a whale tale. The book is ingrained into our cultural knowledge on some level, however I was surprised while listening to it how much I really didn’t know about it. The ending wasn’t what I expected. The book for me went back and forth between immensely interesting and a bit dull. Some of it is the narrative about his voyage, then other chapters are philosophical, others are about the minutia of whaling. All in all, a worthwhile read, but some parts were more tedious than others.

A Princess of Mars

Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1912

This was an interesting book. I’ve read quite a few Edgar Rice Burroughs books in my day, and this narrative felt very much the same. The story was interesting, and I like his imagination and description of the foreign world. One thing I noticed while reading his Pellucidar series that I noticed is that he at times goes into great detail about how something works as a way to make it more credible. The problem is that here 100 years after it was written, it can come off as gibberish. The Martians use what he calls 8 and 9th rays (the first 7 being the 7 colors of the rainbow) and these rays are used for propulsion and some other feats of technology, and that part broke the immersion for me. But all in all, I enjoyed the story.

Alcatraz Vs. The Evil Librarians

Brandon Sanderson, 2007

My son got introduced to this from his cousins, and ready the whole series in a couple weeks. He begged me to read it as well. I’m glad I did. It’s a very witty book, full of what I would class as clever sarcasm. I like that as the narrator, Alcatraz frequently points out the tropes he is employing while narrating the story. The story is imaginative and made me laugh out loud more than any other book I’ve read in recent memory. It’s clearly a young adult novel, but I found it extremely funny and engaging.

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back – So You Want To Be A Jedi

Adam Gidwitz, 2017

This book was very much geared towards young children. It’s a retelling of the Empire Strikes Back intertwined with meditation tips for honing your burgeoning Jedi skills. On the positive side, it extended the training scenes with Yoda, and gave more teachings, etc., which was fun. On the negative side, many of the scenes that could have been directly quoted from the movie were not, which annoyed someone like me who has the entire film memorized. Also an odd thing I noticed, the author moved Darth Vader’s scene with the Emperor to before the Falcon chase in the asteroid field, but Vader still ordered them to leave the Asteroid field to get a better signal.

The Land the Time Forgot

Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1918

I definitely know this book by reputation. I went in thinking “Dinosaurs!” But it actually starts with a WW2 sub story filled with intrigue before getting to the aforementioned prehistoric creatures. Edgar Rice Burroughs has a style of narrating that is very familiar to me at this point, and the story is very reminiscent of the Pellucidar series, and even follows a similar narrative of finding an unexpected land, and survival in the new environment. Most of the story revolves around the proto-human civilization that lives there. It was interesting, and pretty short. Overall, I enjoyed it.

The Last Wish

Andrzej Sapkowski, 2007

A friend recommended this one, and I went in pretty blind. I have heard of The Witcher in terms of TV and video games, but am wholly unfamiliar with them. The book is like 5 shortish stories all stuck together. There are interesting characters that the protagonist meets who are clearly allusions to classic fairy tales, like the beast, Snow White, etc. Overall it was interesting. Not sure I liked it enough to continue with the subsequent books, but I’m not discounting it entirely.


Blake Crouch, 2019

This was picked as the book for the book club at work. I had never heard of it, and went in completely blind. I didn’t even know what genre it was. I’d classify it as techno thriller I think. I really enjoyed this book. It started off with good mystery, and surprisingly revealed the main mechanism of the story about half-way through. The second half was more on the thriller side of things, and was very exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.


Michael Crichton, 1999

This book caught my eye randomly. It was really enjoyable. There’s an A plot and a B plot, not to mention an opening mystery to kick everything off. The initial characters you meet end up not coming back into the story which was a little disappointing. As the book went on, I was more invested in one of the plots than the other, but I enjoyed both and felt the tension as the plots continued. It was a relief when things finally got resolved. I like how Michael Crichton does a lot of research and drops in factual tidbits along the way. I felt like I learned some things somewhat passively while enjoying the story. I would recommend this book; I thought it was great.

Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones

Brandon Sanderson, 2008

I really enjoy the tone of these books. There is so much sarcasm, self effacing humor, and off-the-wall humor. The book seemed like it was going to drop us into a side quest at the beginning, but it ended up being the whole book which I wasn’t expecting. We got to learn a lot more about the lore/tech of the free kingdoms. We got to learn about new talents from Smedry relatives which is always amusing. I enjoyed it immensely. Read it!

Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia

Brandon Sanderson, 2009

Another fun installment of the Alcatraz adventure. I feel like each book does a good job at filling in the gaps to help us understand the world but not making the reader feel like gaps are being left open to be answered later, if that makes sense. It continues the ludicrous and sarcastic humor that I find so charming. A great read, and I’m looking forward to the next one!

The Fellowship of the Ring

J. R. R. Tolkien, 1954

I’ve seen the movies, but never read the books. They’ve always intimidated me somewhat, and people have told me that they are difficult. A friend recommended listening to the audiobook which is narrated by Andy Serkis, and they were absolutely right to do so. It was a wonderful way to listen to the story. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also rewatched the movie so I could make some comparisons, and I was actually surprised by how well the movie portrayed the main elements of the story. The main difference I saw was in the time compression. The movie feels like it takes place over a few days, and in the book, it’s evident that everything takes a lot longer. Also, I was surprised the Frodo is 50! I really came to appreciate this world so much more and just adored the book. Looking forward to the next one as soon as I can get my hands on the next audiobook!


There were lots of good books this year. There were a few that stood out above the rest. 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are both classics that I’ve known through reputation, but they were really great interesting and felt relatable to issues we face in society today.

I really enjoyed the thrillers, Patriot Games, Airframe. They are well written and very engaging. Chrichton in particular has a way of teaching you about a subject while also telling a thrilling story. Timeline was similar, and I really enjoyed it as well.

The Alcatraz series was a really fun surprise. I didn’t go into it expecting to enjoy it a lot, and I was wrong. It was great, and a very different pace from the other books this year.

So many great stories. I’m looking forward to 2023. If you have any recommendations, please let me know below.

Reading Review of 2021

In this post, I list and briefly review all the books I read or listened to in 2021. These are in order of how they were consumed. Since I’m doing this retrospectively, some of my recollection about the books may be hazy, but my only real goal is to vaguely convey how much I enjoyed each work.

Resistance Reborn

This book fills in the void between Episodes 8 and 9 where Poe, Leia, and the other surviving rebels rally around the galaxy looking for allies to help fight in the resistance.

I enjoyed it at the time. In retrospective, it was a little forgettable compared to other books I read this year. It’s nice that it revisits some characters we’ve met in both the movies and the other books. I’d recommend it for any Star Wars fan.

Thrawn: Treason

Thrawn starts off with an interesting mystery. Using his keen intellect, it leads to a bigger conspiracy. We get to see more Chiss, and we revisit Eli, which was nice. I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was a great read. Highly recommended.


Tarkin gives us a look at what shaped Tarkin into the character we meet in Episode 4. It gives us back story about where he grew up, and how his childhood shaped his story. I thought it was reasonably interesting, and think any Star Wars fan would enjoy it.

A Boy and His Horse

I read the Narnia novels in the now current order which is in-universe chronologically, and not in the order of when they were written, which in retrospect, I think is wrong. This book follows a story that takes place entirely while the children are ruling Narnia in the first book. While it was a fine story, I was disappointed to not get the next part of the story with Peter, Susan, or Lucy. I’d recommend it, but would also recommend reading it in publication order which puts it after the Silver Chair.

Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia

This book was very enjoyable, and was the revisit to Narnia I wanted/expected after reading the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I found it very enjoyable and would recommend it to any one who enjoyed the first installment.

Darth Plagueis

It makes me sad that this is “legends” as it, in my opinion, works very well with canonical Star Wars. This was a longer book, and at times is really more about Shiiv Palpatine than it is about Darth Plagueis. I found the entire thing very gripping and loved all that it added to the Star Wars universe. Highly recommended to any Star Wars fans.

Rebel Rising

Rebel Rising follows the story of Jyn Erso during her time living with Saw Gerrera. It takes place before and up to the main events seen in Rogue One. I honestly don’t remember a lot of details now, but I remember it being enjoyable at the time.

From a Certain Point of View

For the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, 40 short stories were commissioned showing key parts of the saga from the point of view of other characters. It was entertaining for the most parts. Some stories stood out more and stuck with me more than others. In particular, I loved one of the first stories about why the gunners didn’t fire on the escape pod because they’d have to file paper work, and also since there were no life signs, their kill ratio would go down, which would look bad. I’ll consider that canon. Some of the stories are a bit of a stretch. It’s not a necessary read, but it was mostly entertaining.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The next installment in the Chronicles of Narnia was again an enjoyable tale. This time, Edmund and Lucy are accompanied by their cousin Eustace and get transported to Narnia aboard Caspian’s ship, the Dawn Treader. Caspian is looking for the lost lords of Narnia, and they have many magnificent adventures. I really enjoyed this installment, and highly recommend it.

The High Republic: Into the Dark

This is, so far, the only High Republic book I’ve read. There is an interesting plot about a seemingly abandoned space station, mysterious transportation pods, and sentient plant life, and a Sith shrine which is exuding dark side energy. It was an interesting, new adventure in the Star Wars universe. I’m curious to see how fleshed out Disney will make the High Republic era eventually.

Star Wars Last Shot

This book is about Lando and Han in two different time periods interacting with the same crime boss, attempting to get a device/weapon/mcguffin, the Phylanx. It takes place mostly after the battle of Jakku, before episode 7. It was another novel that I thought was enjoyable while reading, but not very memorable once finishing. I still would recommend it to any Star Wars fan.

Humble Pi

I listened to this narrated by the author, Matt Parker. It was a fascinating book with many anecdotes about times when people got the maths (that’s a British term) wrong and the interesting or even devastating consequences that arose. I just loved this book and couldn’t recommend it enough.

The Princess Diarist

I listened to this one narrated by the princess herself, Carrie Fisher. She is hilarious. This book was a bit risque at times, but was fascinating. I thought it would be more about her life, but it really was mostly about her life around Star Wars. It was an enjoyable book, and made me sad that she is gone.

Children of Dune

This novel follows the story of Paul’s children. Leto II and Ghanima. It was an okay read. Dune hasn’t been my favorite franchise as it leans so heavily into the constructed lore. I realize that some people love that. For me, it makes it a little harder to get into it.

God Emperor of Dune

Of all the Dune books, this was probably my favorite. Leto the second is living as the God Emperor of Dune and is taking us down the Golden Path. I thought it had an interesting plot and I really enjoyed Leto as a character. Recommended!

The Saints Volume 1

The Saints is a book presenting the history of the early LDS saints. The content is comprised of primary sources as much as possible with secondary sources when no primary is available. I don’t usually consider myself a fan of history, but I found this very fascinating. It filled in a lot of the gaps between the stuff I did already know. It’s more a book about presenting the history and therefore isn’t preachy so it could be an interesting read for anyone interested in the history of the LDS church, even if they themselves are not members.

Heretics of Dune

I didn’t love it. I read it out of my desire for being a completionist, and because I know my brother really likes the books, but I didn’t find the narrative super compelling.


I listened to this narrated by the author, Tina Fey. It was a short book, but very humorous and engaging. She’s a very funny lady, and had some great anecdotes, and insights inter her life and career. I’d recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of 30 Rock.

The Silver Chair

This book reunites us with Eustace and an old King Caspian. Eustace and a friend from the Human realm embark on a journey to rescue Caspian’s son. I rather enjoyed this entry into the Narnia saga, and would recommend it.

The Last Battle

This was a fun one. We are reunited with Eustace, and his school mate Jill once again. In Narnia, there is a false Aslan who has been doing questionable things. Eventually the charade is revealed. It presents a nice final ending to the saga, and was a fun book. Recommended!

The Saints Volume 2

The Saints Volume 2 continues where Volume 1 left off and brings us to the cusp of the 20th century. Another interesting insight into the events and people who were integral to the early church.


All in all, I don’t regret reading any of them and enjoyed most of them. The standouts this year were:

  • Humble Pi
  • Darth Plagueis
  • Voyage of the Dawn Treader


Bill & Ted

I’m a big fan of Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure. I grew up watching the original movie frequently, and will always have a fondness for it. I recently purchased the trilogy on BluRay and watched all three films back-to-back.

While I feel that often sequels are money-grabs that try to copy the beats of a successful film in order to duplicate the former’s success (I’m looking at you Ghost Buster’s II), I feel that Bill & Ted successfully avoided this pitfall and produced sequels that are both unique and interesting. They also continue telling the over-arching story of how Bill and Ted save the world through music, making them cohesive.

In my estimation, the sequels are both successful because:

  1. They are not rehashes of the first movie (Different beats)
  2. They tell a new story while building on what came before (New plots)
  3. They are tied together because they are all part of a larger theme (Saving the world through music)

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey is a very different movie from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. While the first is full of gags about time travel and a race to save their grades in their history class, the second does not focus on Bill and Ted time traveling at all. Instead the film focuses on them going to the afterlife, visiting heaven and hell, and becoming successful musicians. It uses new gags, has a new villains, and some pretty good special effects that I think still hold up pretty well.

Bill & Ted Face the Music pays homage to both previous films while not retreading them completely. It doesn’t follow the same beats, but does revisit elements of the first two films. First, Billie and Theodora go on a time travel mission to gather famous musicians, much akin to Bill and Ted gathering historical figures in the first movie. Secondly, they revisits hell, and reunite the cast with the Grim Reaper. It also has a new scenario of Bill and Ted going forward in time and visiting themselves to try to find the ultimate song.

I liked that the third film was able to take the story and prophecy into a new direction without being disrespectful to the previous films. I thought they did a great job with casting. I felt like it really nailed the tone of the previous films while also being contemporary.

In summary, I think this is a great trilogy which each film being unique, enjoyable, and not a mere copy of it’s predecessors.

Reception of the new MacBooks

I’m always excited for new products being announced by Apple. Yesterday, Apple announced new laptops and a new external monitor. I was excited to see some change. It’s been a while since something completely new has emerged, and I was excited. Although, there are things I definitely don’t like, it was still fun to see something new come out.

I love the new MacBooks. I think they are just wonderful for non-pro users. All of my major issues were addressed in this update (not that I didn’t already love my MacBook…) First of all, the aluminum enclosure. I love it. It’s much more durable and less scratch prone than the plastic. It looks nice. The back-lit keyboard is a welcomed addition to the pack of features. That is something I have wanted for quite a while. The glossy display? I’m not so keen on it, but since I rarely use my MacBook for work, and it’s already got a glossy display, I don’t mind. The battery indicator on the side is a nice addition as well. One thing that does make me sad however is the lack of FireWire 400 or 800. For me, FireWire is a necessity. I don’t care much for USB, and I enjoy being able to use Target Disk Mode to connect my laptop up as an external disk. This lack of FireWire wouldn’t be too devastating if Target Disk Mode could be achievable through USB… But alas… a tragedy.

MacBook Pro
I was not a pleased with the direction the new MacBook Pros are taking. I certainly enjoy the new manufacturing process and overall look of the new MacBook Pros. Additionally, the ability to easily replace the HDD without removing 32 screws, and removing the top-case is a welcomed change. However, I am deeply disappointed that there is not an alternative for the glossy display. As a professional computer, and as a computer that is known for being a standard in the graphic-arts industry, I feel glossy display’s are the wrong choice. I feel that the over-saturated and untrue colors are more of an appeal to the trendy-college-student types rather than the working professionals.

LED Desktop Display
So good, and so bad, all rolled up into one. I love the methodology for using this display as a secondary display on a laptop. The screen acting as another power adapter for the laptop is just clean and brilliant. No clutter, no fuss, just sweet convenience. And finally, a screen with a built in iSight, just like the iMacs. I’ve been wishing for that for quite some time. But then, there is the glossy problem. To reiterate, I don’t like the glossy displays. Colors become different as they transition from one part of the screen to another. Angles combined with the gloss make it impossible to tell exactly what you are getting. I use a glossy iMac at work, and I love the computer, and it’s great for most things, but it is lacking when it comes to fine tuning colors.

All in all, there were some very neat new things introduced, but in my own opinion, there was nothing that made me want to jump up and buy a new computer… Maybe once they give me the option for a non glossy display…

Iron Man

I finally got around to seeing Iron Man at the 3 Dollar theater. I wanted to see it before it came out on DVD, and I do think that It was worth it.

I am not as familiar with the origins of Iron Man as I am with other comics, but fortunately the movie did not require any fore-knowledge to be enjoyable. I’m sure die-hard fans caught things which I did not, but that’s to be expected. The visual effects were pretty dang good, and it had some good one liners. I also thought that the casting was well done.

The story built from Iron Man’s beginnings and continued to build through the end. After all the build up of how he becomes Iron Man, there wasn’t much time in the movie where he was Iron Man. He fights the Iron Monger, which is a good action sequence, but not too long. I’m looking forward to a movie where we get to see him in action for a longer amount of time.

Overall, it was a good movie, and I was entertained. I can’t wait to see the sequel.

The Dark Knight

Well, I managed to wait two weeks before seeing this movie in theaters. I liked it a lot, but it still could have been better.

The reason I say that this film could have been better is because I didn’t care for the story as much as I did for Batman Begins. In Batman Begins, I enjoyed how they showed his becoming Batman. The technology was somewhat explained and made it feel plausible. Now, he just has new toys and technology without any real explanation. For example, he has the new echo-location system which seemed to far-fetched for my taste. The change of environment also bothered me a little. In Batman Begins, Gotham is a dark city with many high rise buildings, and the giant train infrastructure etc. It felt foreign and different, and dirty. In the Dark Knight the same city felt more familiar, almost like Chicago; Big, but generally clean. The big train infrastructure and thousands of giant high rise buildings from the first film were all gone.

I thought that the performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker lived to the hype. He wasn’t a crazy Jack Nickleson type Joker, but rather and anarchist Joker who wasn’t doing it for the money, just for the kicks. Heath Ledger delivered big time. Over-all, i really think the casting in both this and Batman Begins is fantastic. The visual effect were amazing, the sound and music and also the timing of scenes were all to perfection. Overall, this was an amazing movie.


Wow. Can I just say wow? This movie was right up my alley.

One of the things I have always loved about Pixar movies/shorts is the ability to exude humanistic qualities from very non-human objects. (ie: Luxo) Most of their shorts are able to do this without even any dialogue, which is one of the things I really liked about Wall•E. The first portion of the movie was sans-dialogue, or at least very minimalistic dialogue. The humor was accessible to people of all ages, ranging from physical humor, to niche humor especially for the nerds (like me). the movie was a little preachy about saving the planet, but I think it wasn’t too over-the-top.

I liked this movie absolutely. It was amazing, and I can’t wait to go see it again!

I Am Legend

I liked this movie in some ways, but in others it just didn’t quite do it for me. The overall storyline was good for me. It did what any good movie does. It made me sympathize with the protagonist, it made me contemplate living in that reality, it made me think. It also was scary when appropriate and wasn’t too lame.

The problem I had was that the infected humans didn’t look real enough to take seriously. In scenes where they swarmed, or were in the dark, it looked good. Or at least unnoticeable. In the ending scene however, the graphics kept me from being able to believe the story.

There are two different endings on the DVD. The original ending, which is more of a crowd-pleaser, and the alternate ending, which was more of a contemplative ending which caused me to think and rehash the contents of the movie. I must admit that psychologically, I preferred the alternate ending, and all of its implications. It was much harder to take seriously though because there was more screen time with the infected humans, and it just didn’t look realistic.

Over-all, it was a really good film, and pretty well done. I was thoroughly entertained.


For those of you who aren’t familiar with the game, Portal is a puzzle/first person shooter where your only weapon is a gun which can make portals on surfaces through which you can travel. The game-play is pretty straight forward and simple, which is one of the things that appeals to me in a game. I don’t like convoluted controls. Throughout the entire game, there is much humor in various fashions ranging from the GlaDos computer and her whimsical lines to the hidden writing on the wall about the cake and the lovable companion cube. There is a lot of detail that one should appreciate when playing the game.

The concept is fresh. Instead of using a gun with bullets or lasers as in most games, your only means of surviving is finding creative uses for the portal gun. It keeps you thinking and trying. The puzzles are challenging, but at the same time not overwhelming. I felt like it was the perfect balance.

The game did have two shortcomings as far as I’m concerned though; it wasn’t long enough, and it isn’t available on the mac (and probably never will be. Bummer) I passed it in a day. I think just over a couple hours. At any rate, it kept me riveted throughout and had a delightful surprise at the end.


I have always had a battle between Firefox and Safari. Ask anyone who knows me. About every month I switch from one to the other. I love the usability, look, and interface of Safari. It’s clean, uncluttered, and simple. It appeals to my Apple-lover side too. Firefox though is much faster, and seemingly more multi-threaded. Often in Safari, I find myself unable to use other tabs because one page is loading (and taking its sweet time) rendering the entire browser unusable. I never have this problem with Firefox. It is so stable and so fast, but I do find the interface to be somewhat cluttered and lacking in niceties. I decided to compile a list of the tweaks that I find make Firefox usable.

    About:Config tweaks

  • browser.urlbar.autoFill;True
    This allows for the address bar to auto-complete, enabling the user to press enter for a given URL without having to type the whole thing, or down-arrow in order to select the URL guess.

  • extensions.checkCompatibility;false
    This setting allows the user to utilize add-ons which may not be compatible with the currently installed copy of firefox.

  • browser.tabs.closeButtons;3
    This places a single close button for your tabs at the right. I’m not sure if I like it better than having close buttons on each tab, but I do like knowing where to find it each time I’m looking for it.

  • Adblock Plus
    Most people are already aware of this add-on. It blocks advertisements on websites. I hate visiting a website and having the whole thing cluttered with ads.

  • Flashblock
    Similar to adblock, Flashblock replaces flash elements with a play button. This gets rid of annoying auto playing music and flash elements that can be so annoying.

  • Stop-or-Reload
    This is just a simple UI tweak which makes the stop and reload buttons function as in Safari where the buttons are combined, thus if the page is loading, a stop button is displayed, and if it is loaded, then the reload button is displayed. It makes for a less cluttered UI, and I just like it.

  • Fission
    Fission merges the progress bar with the address bar, like Safari. This is once again an aesthetic tweak. I don’t like having the progress bar at the bottom of the window where my attention is usually not. In the address bar, it is more prominent and in my opinion less cluttered. PS: I like putting this picture as the background of the progress bar.

© 2007-2015 Michael Caldwell