I am reviewing the new album Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar by Robert Plant which is a very good album. Robert of course is famous for being the frontman for Led Zeppelin. They are one of the all time great rock bands who did the classic Stairway to Heaven. He was born in West Bromwich, West Midlands. His dad was a qualified civil engineer who had worked in the RAF during World War 2. Robert initially lived in Kidderminster, Worcestershire and went to college in Stourbridge, West Midlands. He got into blues music around that time and says a lot of what he learnt about music and life he picked up whilst touring. Led Zeppelin are famous for not releasing singles because they thought fans spent enough on albums. In 2007 Robert did an album with Alison Krauss which won the Billboard Award for Best Album. It was well received. His latest album features his new band The Sensational Shape shifters although they aren’t credited on the front cover. The album did get to number 2 on the UK Album Chart. He is unlikely to reform Led Zeppeling for the time being but has said may do a duet unplugged album with one of its other members. I think think this album would be right at home in the early 70’s and is very reminiscent of artist’s work around that period. It is quite psychedic. He is a vice president of Wolverhampton Wanderers football club which is traditionally one of the great British clubs with an impressive history. I think he currently lives in Shropshire. He also has a CBE for services to music.

I am reviewing the album V by Maroon 5 which is a very good album. Maroon 5 were formed in Los Angeles in 1984 when the members were at high school and had a record deal in 1997 and a very unsuccessful album. Not to be put off they continued working together and an additional member joined the group. In 2002 they hit the big time. V is their 5th album and they are doing a world tour to promote it next year. It has been a number 1 album in the States and made number 4 in Britain. There best single ever was probably Moves Like Jagger with Christine Aguilera which is also one of the most successful singles worldwide of this century. This album is good but has nothing to rival it. It does feature Sia Furler & Gwen Stefani. Apparently they have been friends with Sia for quite some time. Their music is often nice but a bit forgettable. They have done a lot of work with charities in particular the Haiti Earthquake. They did write and presumably record a song in 24 hours for a charity. They also played at Live 8.

 

The book I read to research this post was Lean Six Sigma Quickstart Guide by Ed Stark which is a very good book that I downloaded for free from kindle. This book is only short around 70 pages and I think is only an introduction. Lean Six Sigma in it’s first phase was developed by Motorola as part of developing and manufacturing one of their products and was so successful other companies took an interest. In it’s 2nd phase constant improvement became the main goal and the most recent 3rd phase employees maximizing their value to the company became an additional goal. This constant improvement of processes is often called kaizen a Japanese word and lean six sigma is hugely popular among Japanese companies. Sigma is a letter of the Greek alphabet but is also used in mathematics to denote 3.4 and the idea is a tolerance of 3.4 defective products in every one million which is what they aim for. In some industries like nuclear power which do implement lean six sigma the tolerance of errors has to be zero and many companies even in less safety conscious matters do aim for this. Companies need long term as well as short term goals which is something that in the past was often neglected by Western companies. If they manufacture something they need to test a sample amount at random to determine their processes are working. If you are considering implementing this you probably want a more in depth book but I think this book does a good job of explaining the basics. I did quite enjoy reading this book and would recommend it.

The book I read to research this post was Agile Project Management Quickstart Guide by Ed Stark which is a very good book that I downloaded for free from kindle. This is only a short book around 70 pages and is only an introduction to this subject. Project management as something people do has been around for a long time. You only have to look at things like Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids to see that. It is making sure there is enough money to the project is done and managing things like the labor, skills, materials and machinery needed. As an academic subject it has been around only since the 1950’s. Agile project management is much more recent and encompasses things like extreme programming and is managing a team creating software. One of the crucial things is working what skills are needed and when they will be required to be done and making sure the necessary people with those skills do their jobs at the appointed times. Success in this is measured by having a working version of the software by the deadline. Many companies release a most functions working version of the software with patches for any glitches at later dates. Of course this is often the result of extensive testing which can’t be done by the deadline. If you are interested in learning more about extreme programming which I have mentioned there is information at http://xprogramming.org and there is also software like scrinch. Scrum is a common sub group type of agile and the name comes from the scrums in rugby football where a team has to work as a pack to get the ball. There is also a kick off meeting which is the initial meeting for the team. They will normally have to incorporate technology advances in to the software as and when they become available. Direct X and the advances supported by Windows solve a lot of this headache. The customer’s needs have to be paramount in designing the software. It is also normal practice to get the workers to do long hours both at the place of employment and at their homes in getting the project completed on time. I did quite enjoy this book and it is quite interesting to read.

 

The book I read to research this post was Kindle Unlimited by J M Parker which is a very good book that I downloaded for free from kindle. This book is only around 20 pages but is on a fascinating subject and is quite informative. Kindle unlimited is run by Amazon and allows you to download up to 10 e-books at a time out of over 600,000 on a borrow and read basis. It has far more books available than other similar services like Oyster & Scribd. You can download upto 10 in any single day and can only have 10 at any one time. How many you actually read is unlimited. There is another service called Amazon Prime where you can borrow 1 e-book a month but this is much better. Many of the books are on an exclusive contract to Amazon especially home published efforts. If you like non-fiction the selection is fantastic but unfortunately the big 6 publishing houses responsible for many fiction bestsellers aren’t enrolled. There is also a great selection of books out of copyright. It works with anything that will work with the kindle apps even PC’s & Macs as well as most smartphones and tablets. Most people read on the various kindle devices. This service was initially launched in America for $9.99 per month but is now being launched elsewhere. You can use one account for an entire family although you are limited to 10 books and 6 devices at any one time. You have to read at least 10% of an e-book for an author to get paid. I did really enjoy this book and am very much considering subscribing. I definitely recommend this book.

The book I read to research this post was Pinterest For Photographers by Gabriela Taylor which is a very good book that I downloaded from kindle. I think this book was free and it is quite short at around 30 pages. This book is for both photographers just wanting to display their work as a hobby and those who do it for a living and want to market their business. There is also fans of photography from both categories who may want to re-pin as they put it photos from other pages onto their virtual pinboard. Pinterest is a social media site and the 3rd biggest currently and the most rapidly expanding. It tries not to be commercial and the idea is to share information via your pinboard where you can put links called pins to stuff and others you find you interesting can follow you. Photography tends to be a very popular medium on this site. If you publish you own photos they suggest watermarking them and using a private pin board which limits how others can share it. Also state that you own the copyright to that photo. This book is a little bit of a disappointment in that it doesn’t contain that much information. If you are running a photography business clients can give you an idea of what appeals to them via their pin board for example if you are preparing to shoot a wedding. Also consider hosting a competition something that involves lots of interaction and encourages people to visit your pin board and especially if you are in business should have a website. Despite this book being a bit limited it is interesting and I’d suggest if it’s still free on a site like kindle is probably worth reading. Actually if you are a photographer you might want to check out Google+ which is a social media site that is also popular for that.

The book I read to research this post was The Ultimate Guide to Building and Marketing Your Online Business With Free Tools by Gabriela Taylor which is an excellent book that I bought from kindle. This book is around a 150 pages so is a decent size. It is about marketing your business which can be a local business as many people search for these on the internet and what free tools and services are available in marketing this. There are loads and loads of online free tools mentioned in this book obviously too many to mention all of them. There is Kuler owned by Adobe that gives you the ability to try out different colors and themes for your website. Just go to http://kuler.com for this. You can use Google Alerts which notifies you by e-mail when your business or any other criteria you specify is mentioned on the internet. There is http://alexa.com & http://url.com where you can enter your site URL or that of a competitor and it will give you marketing and online information about that site. If you are a Twitter user there is Twitter Meme which lets you add up to 100 follows to accounts on similar subjects to what you tweet about. This is owned by Twitter. If you decide to use WordPress as your website tool you can get WP E-Commerce which lets you do online transactions and is a plug-in although you do have to pay for that. A lot of websites also use Paypal for which a basic account is free and lets you pay for things without having to divulge your credit card information. I did thoroughly enjoy this book and would emphatically recommend it. I’m not sure if this book was free or not on kindle. Apparently also Gabriela says in the About Author section that she is fluent in 7 languages and has helped businesses all around the world as a consultant.