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Andre Lawrence (Miami, Florida)
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The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Edition / Trilogie le seigneur des anneaux [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy: Extended Edition / Trilogie le seigneur des anneaux [Blu-ray] (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Elijah Wood
Price: CDN$ 52.35
12 used & new from CDN$ 52.35

5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning! LOTR-Extended on Bluray: A Critical Review, June 29 2013
The Extended Version of The Lord Of The Rings is the ONLY way to go. Period.

***
I, like you, own all of the dvd versions of the Lord Of The Rings. In fact, since I bought the Ext versions of the films, I have not watched the theatrical version (why would anyone?) But, I didn't buy a Blu-ray player until recently.

The Blu-ray version of LOTR (Ext. vers.) is absolutely phenomenal. It is, as everyone before me said, the picture is so much better. And, comparing the two side by side really makes one believe that the days of dvds are over.

***
Everything else about the Blu-ray boxed set is exemplary.
* Beautiful, tri-fold hardcover case accentuated in gold and a map of Middle Earth.
* Fellowship... 5-discs. 2 for the film in HD; 3 of documentaries in dvd format. (All of the collective documentaries from the ext. versions and by one Costa Botes filmming the cast and crew as they're working on the film.
* Two Towers... 5-disc. 2 in HD and 3 in dvd. (Same as the ext. vers doc's and the last disc is Costa Botes' personal raw footage documentary)
* Return... 5-disc set. 2 in HD and 3in dvd. (same description as above.)

***
Now that I have the Blu-ray version, I'll probably play the dvd versions only on rare occasions.

LOTR Extended on Blu-ray----5 stars!

The Secret Cries of a Woman's Soul
The Secret Cries of a Woman's Soul
by Zonya Maraet
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.15
17 used & new from CDN$ 14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Book That Should Become A Play. THE SECRET CRIES OF A WOMAN’S SOUL. A Critical Review., June 12 2013
Length:: 1:57 Mins

"She'd had attacks in the past... but never for this long. Chill bumps began forming on her forearm. By the time, she entered the bedroom, her vision began to blur...every step was slow and heavy like sinking in cement...

She reached the foot of the bed and fell..."
***
If you remember the great play, A RAISIN IN THE SUN, by Lorraine Hansberry, you'll definitely feel that this remarkable debut by Zonya Maraet is a sign that a star is born.

THE SECRET CRIES OF A WOMAN'S SOUL is, perhaps, best described as a contemporary look (albeit, a "G"--rated version) of the life of a minister, his family and congregation and the community they live in.

This is a dialog-driven novel and as such (as opposed to a plot-driven novel), the conversations and the un-spoken sentiments carry you through the chapters. And, although, the pastor, ("Pastor Duke") is the head of the congregation, it is actually the women around him whom are the focus of this story. And, it's their conversations around him that gives you the fuller view of what really happening. (Keep an eye out for "Mother Duke"--she sort of reminded you of "Mama" on that late 70's show, "What's Happening!")

Yes, as some other readers have mentioned, the allusion to the Biblical book of Ruth is transparently evident, and, in truth the Hebrew rendition of Ruth is a lot more explicit in it's conversations among the women--I would have liked to seen Ms. Maraet take a chance and allow the characters, especially the women characters who have so much space in the book, to be more authentic, or I should say, they should have been "keeping it real" with regards to the men in their lives. But, I take it that Ms. Maraet's a "PK" and we don't want her getting in trouble with dad!

Below was the interview, I had with her several months ago, immediately after the book was first released.

***

What inspired you, Zonya?

That's a great question Andre. I would have to say my personal life experiences inspired me to write this novel. In my lifetime, I have gone through so many hurts and pains. I have had to deal with molestation, depression, lack of identity, bitterness, abandonment, hatred, unforgiveness, brokenness, people going in and out of my life, being mistreated, verbal and mental abuse, betrayal, being lied on, slander...you name it, it's happened to me. In addition, at the time that I first learned I was going to write a novel, I was dealing with the pain from my ex-fiancé and I breaking up, and the fact that I was nearly thirty, single, and still alone. I had just finished 7 months of anger management and counseling and found myself at a very pivotal point in my life. It was as if I was standing at a crossroad between my future and my past. Do I continue the road I've been going that led me to where I am emotionally, or do I take control of my actions so that my thirties will not be an exact reflection of the last decade of my life? I had to take responsibility for my life being the way it was, as shattered and empty as it seemed. What did I do to contribute to my being here? Once I figured that out, the next step was to change. I had a moment of facing the mirror and accepting all that I was and not, and vowed to continue in a different path; a healthy path, a path of healing, wholeness, and liberation above all. In order for me to write a novel about women being liberated and breaking the cycle of negativity in their life, I had to have done it first. My life is so relatable to each woman in this novel and to women abroad.
I dedicated this novel to hurting, broken and bound women because I understand how carrying your past and hidden pain can stunt your growth mentally and spiritually. On the other hand, while my novel focuses in on each woman's pain, it also highlights their strength. Women are amazing creatures Andre. We have the ability to carry hurt, burdens, and pain from tumultuous experiences in our life and still function. Why? Why do you think that is Andre? It is because we are responsible for so many others and not just ourselves. We can't afford to breakdown and actually take the time to heal because the family suffers, our job suffers, all those who depend on us suffer and if we don't stay strong then everyone around us will fall apart. So we are forced to just put a Band-Aid on it and move forward so that we can keep things together. All the while we are slowly deteriorating on the inside for years, never realizing how much more of a help we can be for our families, loved ones, job, et cetera, if we were whole. There are countless women out there who live the life of Super Woman to everyone else except herself and we are subconsciously teaching the next generation to operate with the same dysfunction.
My inspiration came from my own personal "awakening". I was able to break the chains of all those things I listed earlier by facing the mirror and being honest with myself. With self-will and God, I was able to do so. It inspired me to reach everyone woman globally and let them know, you are not alone. You're not the only one. More so, it's not the end for you. Uncover the intimate parts of your heart that you've had hidden for so long and deal with the root of the issue. Don't worry about being embarrassed or looking weak, by succumbing to vulnerability and opening yourself. There is NOTHING weak about healing. You never know how doing so will help someone else.

What is the deepest meaning of your novel?

I would have to say the deepest meaning is liberation; learning to live a life of freedom. Freedom from what, you may ask. If people, not just women, but people in general were honest about their motives for doing things, you will begin to unfold their fears. You'd be surprised how many people are imprisoned by something that was done or said in their past, what they saw someone else go through, or something as simple as holding a grudge or unforgiveness. Living life trapped in a cell of fear and never realizing it, and continuously allowing that "thing", whatever it is, whether a person, circumstance, or unforgettable experience that left a negative impression on your life, to control how you live and alter your decision making in life. Looking at every character in the novel, each one of them is forced to deal with the "why" of their actions, feelings, beliefs, behaviors, et cetera. Finding out the why helps one to gain a deeper understanding of who they are as an individual so they can begin the journey of finding their own way to freedom. How can you be liberated from something or somebody if you won't face the very thing or person that is oppressing and entrapping you? How can you live a free life if you are still being enslaved by the very thing or person that has set up dictatorship in your life? It's time to take that power back, get the healing you need, so you too can be liberated.

What are your future plans? Do you plan to write a sequel?

Future plans. Well, I am currently working on Volume 2 of "The Secret Cries Of A Woman's Soul" and I must say it has me more excited than the first one, which is a good thing. You always want to progress in whatever it is that you do, so I'm really ecstatic. Secret Cries, as of right now, is a four book series. So, there are three more novels to come. My ultimate goal is to turn my novels into feature films. This message needs to reach the masses and I won't stop until it does. God has so much in store for me and women as a whole so don't sleep on me. Great things are to come!

Satechi LockDown USB 3.0 Super-Speed 256-bit Encrypted Portable External 2.5" SATA Hard Drive Enclosure
Satechi LockDown USB 3.0 Super-Speed 256-bit Encrypted Portable External 2.5" SATA Hard Drive Enclosure
Offered by dealkings
Price: CDN$ 224.99

5.0 out of 5 stars The Importance of and the Problem with Encryption. Satechi's "Lockdown" encrypted Enclosure Case: A Critical Review., June 11 2013
Length:: 3:50 Mins

Several years ago, I received a phone call from the manager of the accounting staffing company I work for during the week.

A multi-national corp. needed someone to help with the transition from one payroll system to another. When I got there, I soon discovered they were primarily interested in going in a direction other than the one their Human Resources department was taking.

The problem of change was difficult because no one other than the payroll manager had access to the years of payroll files, which he alone encrypted on "his" [the company's] laptop.

It took a new accounting system and new corp. director of HR to circumvent his monopoly on the company's privileged information.

The mistake they made, made it very clear to me the benefits and the consequences of encryption.

With encryption, you should have three things in place before you encrypt any information:

1. You have a solid, concrete reason for encrypting information. (i.e. what would be lost if this information were to be exposed to the wrong people?)

2. You must have a conspicuous place where the encrypted information is kept. (And, this can be anything like a locked file room in an executive's office, or it is stored online in a email account that alone a few know exists.)

3. You should have at least three (3) responsible people with knowledge of the password.

The danger is if any information is encrypted and the password (sometimes, called the "Network Key") is not known, then the data is lost.

***
The enclosure turns an internal harddrive into an external one. So, if a computer's motherboard is damaged but the harddrive is salvageable, the enclosure case theoretically allows you to see and edit the files if it is connected to another computer via the usb drive.

This is precisely what happened to one of our company's laptops. (The enclosure drive that I bought to house the HDD is shown in the video.)

*** Inspection ***

The Satechi "Lockdown" system comes with:

* The enclosure case. The case has a numeric touchpad on the front panel. USB 3.0 Y-cable to dual usb heads.

* Screws and a 0-point Philips head screwdriver.

* Vinyl case and a cleaning cloth.

* Measures approximately 4.75" x 3" x '"

This is only slightly bigger than an older enclosure case we had been using for the past several years ago.

*** Installation ***

We had a spare internal harddrive that we removed from a 5- year old MacBook Pro --160 GB/ 7200 rpm drive--

After I slid off the metal backing, turned the harddrive over and matched up the connectors, it was roughly 1 minute after I screwed in the two small screws at the top.

*** Results ***

This drive by Satechi called "The Lockdown" is a nice improvement over the current generation of harddrive enclosure cases. The material is better and it certainly is more rugged than the model by StarTech that we've been using for years.

It's my professional opinion that the option to encrypt be taken after careful consideration because the danger of not being able to access your information once the drive has been encrypted.

But, I like the idea that if I needed to encrypt, that the option is there.

This drive by Satechi is an excellent buy nonetheless.

BlueRigger High Speed Mini HDMI to HDMI cable with Ethernet (10 Feet)
BlueRigger High Speed Mini HDMI to HDMI cable with Ethernet (10 Feet)
Offered by BlueRigger Canada
Price: CDN$ 18.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Battle of the HDMI cables! BlueRigger vs. Amazon Basics vs. The Sharper Image! A Critical Review., June 9 2013
Length:: 3:33 Mins

Are there really differences in HDMI cables? Is a $7 cable as good as a $20 one?

***
We recently upgraded our home theatre system, including a new Blu-ray player from Samsung.

Because the lion’s share of our movie collection is on dvd, the new player has some kind of image upgrade. I wanted to see just how good a new set of plugs were.

I initially bought two right here from Amazon, the Amazon Basics and the BlueRigger. The BlueRigger was on sale and about the same price as the Basics. But, for some reason Amazon took a week just to ship it, so I while I was shopping in Ross, I found a gold plated, 6’ cable from the Sharper Image.

***
In the video, you’ll see that the differences are more or less cosmetic. But, the nice thing (if you’re bargain hunting) is that there’s no real difference in image or sound quality between the three, this despite the fact that shorter cables (3’) are typically better because the information travels a shorter distance.

Each has a gold-plate head and all support 3D and all are very well built.

*** The Sharper Image ***

+ $6.99 (Ross Dress For Less)
+ Gold-plated head
+ 6’
+ Good construction, but noticeably thinner cable than the BlueRigger and Basics
+ Very good image transfer.
+ Supports 3D and ethernet

*** Amazon Basics ***

+ $5.09
+ Gold-plated head
+ 3’ cable
+ Better construction than The Sharper Image
+ Support 3D and Ethernet
+ Very good image transfer

*** BlueRigger ***

+ $6.99 (on sale)
+ Gold-plated head
+ 3’ cable
+ Best construction, thick woven construction
+ Very good image transfer
+ Supports 3D and Ethernet

*** Conclusion ***

The BlueRigger, which retails for almost $18, is usually selling for $7. The quality and the construction of the BlueRigger is much better than the Amazon Basics and the Sharper Image, but where it counts the most—image quality is negligible between the three. But, since all three are under $10, I would jump at the BlueRigger. But, if the BlueRigger is not on sale, the Amazon Basics is definitely a great choice.

Panasonic 21-Watt 2.1 Channel Bluetooth Wireless Speaker System, Black (SC-NP10)
Panasonic 21-Watt 2.1 Channel Bluetooth Wireless Speaker System, Black (SC-NP10)
Price: CDN$ 152.99
2 used & new from CDN$ 142.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tablet + Netflix + 2.1 Surround= Terrific, Theater-like Sound! Panasonic “SC-NP10”: A Critical Review., June 9 2013
Length:: 1:16 Mins

There’s a huge difference when listening to audio from a standard stereo (left + right) channel soundbar and theater, surround speaker system, this is especially true with tablet speakers. And, there is a significant difference in sound quality in surround system and a good surround system.

Panasonic’s 2.1 surround speaker system is nothing short of a personal (and portable) theater experience. And, it is most evident when watching a multi-channel (HD audio) film from a site like Netflix.

***
The “SC-NP10” is about 3 lbs, measuring 10.5” x 2.5” x 7.” The piece features a front stereo panel that produces 7 watts per channel and there’s also a subwoofer that also produces sound at a maximum level of 7 watts.

***
The real test for me is movies, because it doesn’t make sense to invest $200 in a speaker system to only listen to mp3 audio from an internet radio source.

Watching Terminator 2 really demonstrated the power and the clarity of this system. As you turn up the volume, you’re also increasing the distortion that comes out because of the speaker components. But, as someone who owns several different soundbars, NOTHING comes close (at this price point) to me than the sound from this system.

The median price for a halfway decent soundbar is about $75, and the top of the line for digital speakers, in my opinion, is Yamaha’s YHT-S401BL, which on sale runs for about $400. The SC-NP10, I feel, is worth the almost $200 price because it is significantly better the “good” soundbars but no where near the excellence of the Yamaha’s.

And, like all of the “better” soundbars (or Bluetooth, “digital speakers” which I prefer to call it), the Panasonic runs on ac current. It also has a single 1/8 audio in outlet and, two (2) USB ports for charging your tablet.

The tablet, coincidentally, sits squarely on top of the unit. The unit balances the tablet with a lift that can angle the viewing area from three different degrees.

It’s encased in a titanium grey aluminum body, a faux wood/ plastic top and a nice, gun-metal grey, grill front. This is a strikingly handsome piece just to look at. (The image on the site doesn’t do it any justice.).

***
If you love watch movies from your tablet and/or treasure high definition audio fidelity, you can go wrong with this unit.

COFFEE MAKER 12 CUP SWITCH PAUSE
COFFEE MAKER 12 CUP SWITCH PAUSE
Offered by Urban Inspirations
Price: CDN$ 46.28
3 used & new from CDN$ 46.28

5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Basic Coffeemaker., June 8 2013
I just bought this coffee maker from Target who had it on sale for $16.

We have a deluxe coffee maker with all of the bells & whistles from grounding coffee to telling you how much coffee ground is in the container to how much coffee is left in the glass coffee pot. But, that is a hassle to clean up, we're talking 15-minutes easily.

So, we decided to buy and "everyday" coffee maker and this one, model "DW13" fit the bill.

The coffee comes out hot and the warmer plate keeps the remainder hot for hours.

For $16, you can't beat it. The only thing that you have to be careful of is remembering that there's no auto-shut, so if there's only a little bit of coffee left in the container and the plate is left on, you run the risk of having caramelized coffee at the bottom of the container.

Jarden DW13-NP Mr.Coffee 12-Cup Switch Coffee Maker - Black
Jarden DW13-NP Mr.Coffee 12-Cup Switch Coffee Maker - Black
Offered by Urban Inspirations
Price: CDN$ 74.53
3 used & new from CDN$ 74.53

5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent, Basic Coffeemaker., June 8 2013
I just bought this coffee maker from Target who had it on sale for $16.

We have a deluxe coffee maker with all of the bells & whistles from grounding coffee to telling you how much coffee ground is in the container to how much coffee is left in the glass coffee pot. But, that is a hassle to clean up, we're talking 15-minutes easily.

So, we decided to buy and "everyday" coffee maker and this one, model "DW13" fit the bill.

The coffee comes out hot and the warmer plate keeps the remainder hot for hours.

For $16, you can't beat it. The only thing that you have to be careful of is remembering that there's no auto-shut, so if there's only a little bit of coffee left in the container and the plate is left on, you run the risk of having caramelized coffee at the bottom of the container.

Tax Savvy for Small Business
Tax Savvy for Small Business
by Frederick W. Daily
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 44.23
9 used & new from CDN$ 44.23

5.0 out of 5 stars A Comprehensive Overview of Forming a Business and Its Taxable Responsibilities. Nolo’s TAX SAVVY for SMALL BUSINESS: A Critica, June 5 2013
If you’ve never heard of Nolo or have come across any of their publications, you’re in for a treat.

Nolo is a long-time provider of inexpensive, yet thorough legal advice for individuals and small businesses. They offer many, many free services in certain jurisdictions for free. Their publications run the gamut of legal advice, to grant proposals information, to Not-For-Profit service to tax advice for businesses of all stripes.

***
TAX SAVVY for SMALL BUSINESS, which is in its 16th edition, is a 350+ page, large print book that discusses tax issues for home-based businesses to S Corporations.

This book is comprehensive. It goes into great depth about the various different kinds of formalized companies. It also shows various forms that are necessary to file as well as a brief explanation of what the benefits and the drawbacks of different kinds of business from a tax standpoint.

The chapter sections are as follows:

Ch. 1--Tax Basics
Ch. 2--Deductible Business Expenses
Ch. 3--Writing Off Long-Term Business Assets
Ch. 4--Bookkeeping and Accounting
Ch. 5—Business Losses and Failures
Ch. 6—Tax Concerns of Employers
Ch. 7—Sole Proprietorships [and dealing with] Solos, Freelancers and Independent Contractors
Ch. 8—C Corporations
Ch. 9—S Corporations
Ch. 10—Partnerships
Ch. 11—Limited Liability Companies [LLC]
Ch. 12—Qualified Personal Service Corporations
Ch. 13—Family Business
Ch. 14—Home-Based Business
Ch. 15—Fringe Benefits
Ch. 16—Retirement Plans
Ch. 17—Buying a Business
Ch. 18—Selling or Closing a Sole Proprietorship
Ch. 19—When You Can’t Pay Your Taxes
Ch. 20—Audits
Ch. 21—Appealing IRS Audits
Ch. 22—Penalties and Interest
Ch. 23—Help Beyond The Book
Ch. 24—Answers to Frequently Asked Tax Questions

***
This is an invaluable, reference book that any business owner needs to have.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car
by Ian Fleming
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.60
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars The Story and The Film. CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (The Reprint) A Critical Review., June 4 2013
“There are a lot of things in the film that’s not in the book. In most cases, they’re an improvement…[Because] these are things that must be seen.”
--Christopher Lee (on the difference between the book and the film adaptation of The Lord Of The Rings.)

***
Mr. Lee’s observation certainly applies to CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

I have owned all of Ian Fleming’s other books, including a rare, forgotten travel book that he wrote in the midst of his James Bond chronicles.

If you love the film (the way I do) and you’re introduced to the book YEARS later after the film, the music, the faces and the various characters have been embedded in your mind and soul, reading the book presents a bit of a challenge because there are different people and different relationships throughout the various chapters.

The book is still wonderful but the only thing that I don’t like is the illustrations.

The illustration look childlike and the “Line” drawing style just is just passé considering that you have the image of the car from the film constantly playing in your mind as you read through the book. The book and the film give you so much room to experiment with that the artist had carte blanche to create. The artist didn’t have to re-create the wheel, just start from where the film left off and tweak it. After 40 years of seeing and loving that car, you’d expect the artist to make some modifications and attempt to excite our imagination. Even the Potts family illustrations were mediocre.

***
But, it’s the story that counts. And, what a wonderful story it is.

Satechi LockDown USB 3.0 Super-Speed 256-bit Encrypted Portable External 2.5" SATA Hard Drive Enclosure
Satechi LockDown USB 3.0 Super-Speed 256-bit Encrypted Portable External 2.5" SATA Hard Drive Enclosure
Offered by Satechi CA
Price: CDN$ 129.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Importance of and the Problem with Encryption. Satechi’s “Lockdown” encrypted Enclosure Case: A Critical Review., May 27 2013
Length:: 3:50 Mins

Several years ago, I received a phone call from the manager of the accounting staffing company I work for during the week.

A multi-national corp. needed someone to help with the transition from one payroll system to another. When I got there, I soon discovered they were primarily interested in going in a direction other than the one their Human Resources department was taking.

The problem of change was difficult because no one other than the payroll manager had access to the years of payroll files, which he alone encrypted on “his” [the company’s] laptop.

It took a new accounting system and new corp. director of HR to circumvent his monopoly on the company’s privileged information.

The mistake they made, made it very clear to me the benefits and the consequences of encryption.

With encryption, you should have three things in place before you encrypt any information:

1. You have a solid, concrete reason for encrypting information. (i.e. what would be lost if this information were to be exposed to the wrong people?)

2. You must have a conspicuous place where the encrypted information is kept. (And, this can be anything like a locked file room in an executive’s office, or it is stored online in a email account that alone a few know exists.)

3. You should have at least three (3) responsible people with knowledge of the password.

The danger is if any information is encrypted and the password (sometimes, called the “Network Key”) is not known, then the data is lost.

***
The enclosure turns an internal harddrive into an external one. So, if a computer’s motherboard is damaged but the harddrive is salvageable, the enclosure case theoretically allows you to see and edit the files if it is connected to another computer via the usb drive.

This is precisely what happened to one of our company’s laptops. (The enclosure drive that I bought to house the HDD is shown in the video.)

*** Inspection ***

The Satechi “Lockdown” system comes with:

* The enclosure case. The case has a numeric touchpad on the front panel. USB 3.0 Y-cable to dual usb heads.

* Screws and a 0-point Philips head screwdriver.

* Vinyl case and a cleaning cloth.

* Measures approximately 4.75” x 3” x 1/2”

This is only slightly bigger than an older enclosure case we had been using for the past several years ago.

*** Installation ***

We had a spare internal harddrive that we removed from a 5- year old MacBook Pro --160 GB/ 7200 rpm drive—

After I slid off the metal backing, turned the harddrive over and matched up the connectors, it was roughly 1 minute after I screwed in the two small screws at the top.

*** Results ***

This drive by Satechi called “The Lockdown” is a nice improvement over the current generation of harddrive enclosure cases. The material is better and it certainly is more rugged than the model by StarTech that we’ve been using for years.

It’s my professional opinion that the option to encrypt be taken after careful consideration because the danger of not being able to access your information once the drive has been encrypted.

But, I like the idea that if I needed to encrypt, that the option is there.

This drive by Satechi is an excellent buy nonetheless.

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