Friday, August 29, 2014

If you are resting on your laurels - you are a prime target for being passed by!

By Doug Lescoe    Amazon Link
After producing superb software, most companies fail to give adequate attention to making a User Interface (UI) of equal quality for their products, leaving the end-users to play annoying guessing games. Thus, a competitor with a similar product but with a higher quality UI can quickly decimate its rivals before they can react.

When Google was incorporated in September 1998, it was operating from a two-car garage; four months later, PC Magazine named Google as the best search engine. In the US, Google is used about 67 percent of the time for on-line searches.

Within two months after its release, Apple sold 125,000 iPods, in less than two years one million, and by Christmas season 2005 a million units a week. The iPod seized 65 percent of the market and became the generic name for a MP3 player. Among the most important reasons for Google’s and Apple’s impressive surge to the status of market leaders was their better quality UI.

Good to GREAT by Jim Collins contains case studies about good companies that became great. He said those companies that achieved the “great” status put the right people “on the bus and in the right seats.” By following his advice, other companies can possibly reach the status of “great.” A company in each market could create high quality UI and capture most of that market. Will it be yours or someone else’s?

(Not a review - Paid Advertisement)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cat stuffs itself into a bowl.

OK - I know this isn't a review - but it's just too funny not to put on here.  This is my daughter's kitten.  It seems to have a few issues.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Author Interview with "Connecting Happiness and Success" author Ray White

Amazon Link

(M&M Blog)  First, I would like to thank you for writing such a wonderful and helpful book – “Connecting Happiness and Success”.  I really had quite a few “a-ha” moments while reading it.  Who would you say had the most influence on you in regards to research for the subject matter? 

(Ray White)  My employees and team members had the most influence.  I started out only teaching them how to be leaders and how to be successful.  It soon became clear that they were very interested in learning how to be happy as well.  Most of them worked way too many hours and really wanted to be successful.  But they were giving up opportunities for happiness to get there and that was causing them to become disenchanted with their goals and dreams.  Teaching them to focus on happiness instead and have that lead to success was very fulfilling and made me want to share the concepts with others.

(M&M Blog) A thought popped into my head while reading the book.  Technology is a tool that can bring us closer and in contact with more people than ever, but it seems that same technology can also create an emptiness when you are around actual people.  How would you advise people on the best use of technology to keep in contact?

(Ray White)  That is a great point. The challenge is to strike a balance.  You need human contact and positive relationships to be happy.  It is one of the strongest findings in the research.  If you use technology to augment those relationships rather than replace them then you improve your relationships and become happier.  When you replace that contact with technology then you become less happy.   In other words a few good friends that you keep in contact with on Facebook is good.  1000 friends on Facebook and no time for real life personal interaction is bad.   As a side note:  studies show that using Facebook actually makes you less happy because people usually post their best moments.  So you are comparing your average life to their best moments and it doesn’t measure up. 

   (M&M Blog)  What are some of your favorite things to do when you start to feel that you are not quite as happy as you could be?  

(Ray White)  I have a list of about 50 things.  But my go to actions are:
1.       Think about my kids
2.       Think about what I am grateful for
3.       Think about our vacations - past or future.
4.       Think of something good that happened today or yesterday
5.       And of course – use the MyHappiness app.

(M&M Blog)  What was your favorite part of writing this book?  What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome to finish it? 

(Ray White)  I really enjoyed the process of working on happiness and success every day.  It was a great way to start the day and it became a habit.  I still get up every morning and write about or work on something to do with happiness and success.    

(M&M  Blog)   What are the two “happiest and successful” moments of your life so far?   

(Ray White)  Getting married and having kids are at the top.  I have now been married 25 years and have 3 great teenagers.  Publishing the book and hitting #1 on an Amazon best-seller list were recent big events.  But I try to be happy and successful every day.  If I can find one reason to be happy and one action to take that will make me successful each day, then when I look back, I will see a very happy and successful day, year, and life.
(M&M Blog)   If you could go back in time and have a discussion with yourself when you were just starting to think about writing this book, what advice would you give yourself? 

(Ray White)  Believe in yourself.   I started with low expectations of one person reading my book and hopefully being helped.  But as I have gone through the process, I have met hundreds of interested and more importantly, interesting people, and thousands of people have listened to my speeches or read my book.  I found people with common beliefs and values and it is great working with all of them. 

(M&M Blog)  You did a fabulous job in the book laying out actions that can be taken by the reader, along with worksheets.  What other resources would you recommend your readers look into that fit the theme and teachings from your book? 

(Ray White) Thanks for your kind words.  We also have the MyHappiness App which can be downloaded on iphone or Android by searching for MyHappiness (one word) in your app store.   You can also visit
We also have tons of information, happiness quotes, videos, etc. on our web site at Connecting Happiness and

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

There is a lot of meat in "The Yanks are Starving" - Glen Craney's epic novel of the Bonus Army

Amazon Link
There are moments in time that truly are "pivot points" that affect not just individuals, but entire countries.  The governments handling of "The Bonus Army" veterans is one such pivot point.  This incident is usually glossed over in schools, but it was truly a watershed moment that has been proven to repeat itself in various ways even to this day.  For those of you, who like myself, just had a passing knowledge of this event - it occurs in the middle of the Great Depression on July 28, 1932.  Veterans of World War I marched on Washington to try and convince the government and President Hoover to forward the Bonus that they were to be given in 1945 (when many of the World War I vets would have passed away).  Close to 17,000 veterans, many homeless and with families, made a trek to Washington DC to protest, only to be met by overzealous generals with infantry and calvary.  

In the end, 4 Bonus Army soldiers lay dead and their "shanty town" was burned to the ground.  Their leader, Walter Waters, who lead veterans all the way from Oregon to the nations capital - was run out of town unceremoniously.  Amazingly, Waters re-enlisted in the Navy to fight for his country again in World War II.

Craney covers this incident in such detail that I wish to grant him an honorary doctorate from Movies and Manuscripts University - which will get him about as much as the Bonus Army Veterans got at the end of their "adventure" - which is to say - nothing. 

 "The Yanks are Starving" starts well before the incident and follows many different "characters" of the era and gives you a birds eye view of how all of their different paths all came together on that fateful day.  I am very interested in history, but must admit I knew little about World War I.  There are so many famous people in this book that it would make Forrest Gump seem like he never met anyone of import. 

Some of the characters off the top of my head - Ty Cobb, George Patton, Douglas McArthur, Walter Johnson, Smedley Butler, Herbert Hoover, Winston Churchill, and Carnegie Mellon all make appearances.  Looking at that list, you would assume that this has to be a total work of fiction - but what is more amazing is that it is not.  It is "historical fiction", but the events are real.  The author did add two "composite characters" to help move the story along, but gives very solid reasons for doing so at the end of the book - and I believe that they only add to the story.

A few of the reviews state that the book is too long and started too far in advance of the main event.  At first I felt the same, but by doing this Carney really brought to life all of the different personalities involved.  Also, by starting the novel with events that preceded World War I and taking you through the trenches with the characters the reader can really understand what these men sacrificed.  When put into contrast to what they were asking for, you may come to the same conclusion that the government has been in the business of screwing veterans for many decades and generations now.  There would have been so much lost if Carney would have solely focused on the actual event that this would have been an average book at best instead of a book that stands out as one of the best and most memorable that I have ever read.

I can't tell you how many times I had to stop reading and look up on the internet to see if what was in the book actually happened.  After the first 15 times of finding that the research was spot on, I just quit looking and enjoyed the book knowing that this was the result of a huge amount of research.

The amount of detail and interactions between the characters is truly amazing.  It almost had the feel of "Game of Thrones" with the complexity of the different factions, characters, and settings involved - but much easier to follow.  It always amazes me when an author tackles a subject that a person already knows how it ends, but still is hoping that someway - somehow - that it ends in a kind of weird parallel universe with a different ending.  Even knowing the inevitable ending - my attention was held until the end.

If there is anyone involved with producing television mini-series - this is one that I feel would be a sure fire hit.

I give this book my highest recommendation.  If you are into history - this is a "must read" book that you need to add to your library.  Thank you, Mr. Craney, for the effort that you put into this fabulous book!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Let Your Guard Down - Go See Guardians of the Galaxy!

Marvel's seemingly endless string of hits will not get derailed with "Guardians of the Galaxy."  In a move that made some scratch their heads, Marvel decided to flex it's movie muscle and see how it would do with a group of misfits that didn't have a huge fan base in place.  Guess what Marvel (& Disney - by extension) found out - the formula that made Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America works just fine for "new" superhero's.

Guardians of the Galaxy brings together a misfit band of outlaws who manage to get past their initial impulse to kill each other five seconds after meeting.  Peter Quill - an outlaw cut out of the Han Solo mold, befriends Rocket (a bioengineered racoon - but don't tell him that), Groot (a treeman for lack of better description), blue strongman Drax (who can only take things literally), and gorgeous green Gamora.  Well, befriend might be too strong of a word.

Circumstances dictate that they all work together to save the very same people who locked them up together in prison.  Throw in a supercool bad guy, awesome dialogue, plenty of inside jokes, and some awesome mix tapes - and BAM - you have a new franchise for Marvel.

I won't go into the plot except to say that to me the plot was almost secondary.  I could have watched this group of characters just sitting around a bar betting on some alien version of a cock fight and been happy.  Oh wait - I did watch that.

There were times while watching this movie that I thought - "this is what Han Solo would have been like if a movie was done on just him and without all the stuffiness of Luke and Obi Wan."  And I loved it!  You see, Han did shoot first - and that's what we loved about that character.  This was before Lucas went all crazy and felt that Greedo HAD to shoot first, because Han Solo would never do such a thing.

I have a feeling that Stan Lee is not going to reshoot this movie and try and tone done the "scoundrel" that Peter Quill is.  People love the good guy who really isn't that good and is a huge believer of situational ethics.  It works for Peter Quill's gang - and it worked for me!

The best thing about this movie?  Original.  Sure good guy / bad guy action films aren't exactly groundbreaking - but in a Hollywood that seems hellbent to remake everything from "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Escape from New York" because the younger generation never heard of them and you can make an easy buck with no creativity - originality is a dying concept. 

The other thing I really appreciated was that the film didn't feel the need to delve into everyone's background and explain every alien race and world.  In spite of this, you really did find the characters fun to follow and root for.

I remember thinking when "Iron Man" first came out - "this is really a stretch and I can't see myself liking this at all."  I left the theater in amazed that I not only loved the film, but a fan all things Marvel.  Same with Thor.  Same with Captain America.

Guardians of the Galaxy has just pushed the already "can't miss" Marvel Studios into a whole new stratosphere.  It's Stan Lee's world - and we are all just living in it right now.   

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Don't Worry - Be Happy AND Successful!

"Connecting Happiness and Success:  A Guide to Creating Success through Happiness" by Ray White is one of those books you wish you would have read when you were a freshman in high school.  Not that I would have understood the importance of the wisdom that was being shared, but even if I could have picked up a few of the golden nuggets shared by White it could have possibly changed many different paths I found myself taking to get me to where I am today.

"Connecting Happiness and Success" is broken down into seven concepts - any one of which probably deserve a book on their own:  Pleasure vs Happiness (my favorite!), Take Control of Your Life (next favorite!), Positive Relationships, Higher Purpose and Meaning, Defining Success, Clarify and Prioritize, and Implement with Discipline.

If none of those chapters would have any use to you in your present life - congratulations.  Buy the book and give it to someone less fortunate.  In all seriousness, buy two books and keep one for yourself because you aren't being completely honest with yourself.

I have read quite a few books this past year for this blog - and none have been covered in highlight even half as much as this one.  I lost count of the times that I thought "That's really good!  I  need to write that down!"  Some examples:

     -  "(Don't miss) positive moments in life because (you) are busy trying to build a life that will be full of positive moments."

     -  "Think about work and vacation.  How many people plan and think about their vacations while they are at work, then go on the vacations and think about work?'

     -  "Another part of the problem is not loving or appreciating ourselves.  We know all our flaws.  We see the same flaws in other people; and because we hate them in ourselves, we judge and hate them in others."

If I put all of the highlighted quotes - I would probably get in trouble for reprinting a quarter of the book.  It's just that good.

I appreciate that White kept the book very readable.  Books like this many times can get so technical to the point that they are useless, but this book does not have that affliction.

White also does a tremendous job supporting his book with a "Happiness App" that can be downloaded for free, a very nice website (, and backs up his credentials by serving on the board of  Seeing all of this makes me want to quit my job and work with all of these happy people instead!

In conclusion, I would like to thank Ray White for the effort and work that went into this book.  You created something that you can be proud of, that has changed the way that I look at some situations, and is truly a gift that you have given to anyone who invests the time to read it.

Amazon Link                                                Goodreads

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Fantasy that goes to the core - Innerearth by SM Coan

Amazon Link
"I'm on the other side of the incident." Christian W. Falconer's recurring dreams are becoming more frequent and disturbing. He meets himself as a nine year old child, and the subsequent conversation only reinforces his feeling that something about his past doesn't quite add up. Chris attributes this to the lingering effects of a coma suffered as the result of viral encephalitis during his second tour as an enlisted man in the Air Force. When he is approached by four members of a covert government agency known as the Red File Council, Christian W. Falconer knows his quiet life as a surveyor is about to abruptly change.

From the seemingly endless corridors of the Pentagon to the metamorphic passageways of Innerearth, Chris learns the disturbing truth of the vanished, the answers to the mysteries which have long fascinated humankind, and ultimately the secret to the survival of the planet itself.

By revealing the secret of the Physical to the Neuxe, the personification of the psychic realm of the planet, Chris is returned to his proper place in time, and the two opposing forces are balanced - but for how long?

I have a promotional code going through September for Smashwords. The coupon gets the book for 99 cents. FE78D is the code.   Enjoy!

 Amazon Link                      Barnes & Nobles                 Goodreads

(Not a review - Paid Ad)

Author interview with "The Labyrinth's" Dorian Zari

Amazon Link
Movies & Manuscripts (Question) - “The Labryrinth” seemed to have quite a few moving pieces throughout the story.  How did you keep track of everything and make sure that all loose ends were tied up?

Dorian - Think of your favorite show. The characters, the plot over the seasons. You remember it as if you were a part of it. That's how it was with the Labyrinth. After living in it for a while, I knew all the moving pieces by heart. Rewrites also helped. 

Movies & Manuscripts (Question) - The guardian isn't a real nice guy.  Where in the world did the inspiration come from for his character?

Dorian - I guess I wanted to make a unique monster. A utilitarian monster in the sense that every detail about him/it or whatever, was meticulously constructed. From his sunglasses, to how he looks and acts. The main quality of any antagonist - especially a monstrous one -  is mystery, but the challenge is, when the curtain is drawn (if the author has the courage to explain their monster) for the bad guy to be even more interesting.
I guess I can say Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King's IT inspired me a bit, because I loved (and was scared to death) by the idea that the monster was masquerading as a clown because it used that disguise as bait for children. The reveal at the end though... Damn it Stephen!

Movies & Manuscripts (Question) - Which character in the book did you find yourself becoming “best friends” with?  Which one is most like you?

Dorian - I have parts of each of them I guess. For instance I can do a mean pole dance, I played the cello in a previous life (that means years ago, not an actual previous life), I have a lewd sense of humor like Zack but mostly I guess I know Dan's isolation the best. And that's enough of that.

(Movies & Manuscripts was intrigued by the "mean pole dance" response, but was too afraid to ask.  LOL)

Movies & Manuscripts (Question) - What authors do you read and did their work have any influence on your writing?

Dorian - Dead ones. One of the perks of growing up in communist Romania was the literature. I read them all, and then read them again. Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov all the way to Balzac, Proust and finally, Asimove, Lovecraft, Poe and Tolkien when I got my first library card. One of the biggest drawbacks to communism though, was no modern literature. So my favorite authors are mostly 6 feet under. But I'm trying to catch up on modern literature.

Movies & Manuscripts (Question) - Do you plan on writing other books in this genre?

Dorion - Yes, definitely.

Movies & Manuscripts (Question) - What would you do differently now that you had this experience if you could go back and give yourself some advice.

Dorian - One thing that I'm trying to learn is "Know when to stop." Anything you make can be made better. And then better. And then better until you lose track of whether you're improving or ruining it. It's a great feeling being passionate about your work until you veer off into obsession.