Book Review: The Return

The ReturnThe Return by Victoria Hislop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gripping account of the Spanish Civil War

The body of this book consists the story of the Ramirez family of Granada during the Spanish Republic, the Civil War and the ensuing years. It is a tremendously powerful narrative and cannot fail to stir the emotions. The detail reflects the huge effort that the author must have put into her research.

The vehicle for the main story, which is the journey of Sonia, as she tries to fill the gap left in her life by her empty marriage with an adventure into flamenco dancing in Andalucía in the company of her old school friend, is just too improbable to be believable. It is even more incredible that the reader is expected to believe that Sonia hears the whole story of the Ramirez family from the waiter of a back-street Grenadine café in a SINGLE day. As if this weren’t enough of an integrity challenge, we are further asked to believe the strong connections between the Ramirez family and Sonia, which are inevitably revealed towards the end.

Despite all of this, The Return, is just such a wonderfully moving story, and every single atom of the trials and tribulations of the Ramirez family is totally believable. In fact, it was so believable that I could almost feel the pain and passion that I imagined the members of that family must have felt. I have always been a big fan of historical fiction as it really brings the past to life in a way that dry school books could never do. This story, with all of its sadness and joy, is just SO moving.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone I know, as I am sure that they will not be disappointed. To those of you reading this review who are unknown to me, I say, PLEASE read it! If my review sent you the wrong way, just add a comment to that effect.

View all my reviews

Posted in Book review | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, #1)The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A book within a book

There are so many layers, and levels, and intertwining stories within this book. The main story is begins in 1945 with a ten-year-old Barcelona boy, Daniel Sempere, being taken to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, by his bookseller father, to choose a book, which he must keep alive.

Daniel chooses The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. The book and the mystery surrounding its author, who appears to have suffered his fate in a duel in Paris, soon infatuate him.

Against the background of post-war Europe, and the fascist [Franco] state of Spain, Daniel grows up and discovers more and is horrified to find that somebody is seeking all of the writings of Carax, and burning them.

The tension builds throughout the book, and the ending is far from disappointing. There are powerful messages, which have frightening echoes in the modern world. Political censorship is one of the intriguing threads. It can be as subtle as it can be obvious. There are also threads of evil, eroticism, psychic control, politics, real and fake friendships, and so much more. Apart from all of that, it is original.

The book is so well written and translated. I wish that my Spanish was up to being able to read the original.

Recommended to everyone, and it is one of those rare books that I would put on a pile to read again!

View all my reviews

Posted in Book review, Personal | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

ASG Technologies Launch Exciting New Version of Workspaces

ASG Technologies Empowers Enterprises to Enable Digital Transformation with Launch of Workspace 10.0

Single-point solution aggregates applications and services, letting employees optimize how they access job-critical material, while ensuring the enterprise stays in control


ASG logo blockPress Release – Date & Location

  • Date: Tuesday, August 1, 2017
  • Location: Naples, Florida

View original press release here


ASG Technologies today unveiled Workspaces 10.0, an end-to-end enterprise platform that delivers applications anywhere, bringing users a virtual desktop whenever and wherever they need it. The new Workspaces functionality is designed to meet the needs of today’s hybrid enterprises where employees are using a wider variety of applications, services and data sources on more devices and from more locations than ever before.  By delivering flexible, IT-sanctioned access to information, services and applications, Workspaces 10.0 transforms the digital workspace by enabling employee flexibility with IT control. The digital work environment is not static. As new services, applications, content and data sources grow, there is a critical need to incorporate these streams of information effectively. The ability to quickly build, deploy and manage web components to create custom workspaces is a key enabler of an organizations’ digital transformation and essential to business agility.  Workspaces 10.0 allows enterprises to do this in a custom way – aggregating streams of information for custom cross-application functionality.

“Every day, huge volumes of information flow into and out of hybrid enterprises, making the task of understanding and controlling it a challenge. Despite its complexity, however, extracting value from information, and making it easily accessible as it moves through the organization, is critical to business success,” said Swamy Viswanathan, EVP and Chief Product Officer, ASG Technologies. “ASG Workspaces enables an all-in-one approach that delivers not only a more user-friendly experience when accessing critical business information, but also increases employee productivity and engagement while reducing costs.”

Workspaces 10.0 offers:

Flexible and customizable UX

  • Customization and flexibility of technology solutions within the hybrid enterprise is critical to drive business results, enable the mobile workforce and engage employees.  ASG Workspaces 10.0 allows organizations to customize, both with branded material and in setting user access rights. Employees can also personalize their own view by choosing the applications and services featured. With built-in app delivery, and a flexible API, the UX stays the same across any device or access point and is open to integrate with existing infrastructure to leverage prior investments
  • A highly adaptable portal design enables customization and flexibility, allowing enterprises and partners to easily deploy technology and services.  ASG Workspaces 10.0 allows organizations to create custom widgets that pull data from multiple sources without opening applications, effortlessly integrating content and supporting workflows.

Context-aware, policy-driven information management

  • In order to keep control of information as it flows through the digital enterprise, it’s critical to have solutions that are able to identify who is accessing what from where. ASG Workspaces 10.0 lets enterprises effectively control employee access to content  and uses policy to cost-effectively meet compliance, privacy and security requirements

A single point of access and authentication

  • Employees can work anywhere, anytime, on any device with just a URL. Instead of having to go to multiple applications and sign-on screens, this one-stop location through SSO allows secure access to all the information they need to do their job, no matter where it lives within the enterprise. At the same time, enterprises can use this single channel to communicate and engage with their digitally-enabled workforce – a key factor in successfully managing mobile employees

Cost savings for the enterprise

  • Workspaces 10.0 is designed to be fully customizable by end-users and service providers, allowing for workspaces tailored to job role, enterprise or industry.  This flexibility gives organizations the freedom to leverage the technology best for each use case at the right cost, while ensuring updates and modifications will not impact end-user productivity
  • Multitenancy delivery method allows organizations to reduce the costs of investing in several deployments and maintaining agents on end-users devices. This not only removes the need for end-point software distribution and security, but also allows for connections to any third party technology to save on current investments.

Available Resources on Workspaces 10.0

  • Learn more about how Workspaces 10.0 can transform your business here
  • Contact us to arrange a meeting or learn more about how Workspaces 10.0 can improve your business.

Event Notification

ASG will be hosting its inaugural customer event on September 18-20 in Washington D.C. Learn more about EVOLVE here.
Posted in Technology, Workspaces | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ASG Technologies Empowers Business Users

Launch of Data Intelligence 9.0

Extends governance capability and introduces the data catalog


Press Release – Date & Location

  • Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2017
  • Location: Naples, Florida

View original press release here


ASG Technologies today announced Enterprise Data Intelligence 9.0.  The solution’s new functionality solves a growing business challenge as organizations are increasingly tasked with allowing business users to access, prepare and analyze their own data. By delivering secure self-service, Enterprise Data Intelligence empowers business users to find and use data to inform decisions, while ensuring the organization retains visibility, control and compliance.

“Enterprises are increasingly faced with regulations that require them to understand and manage their data no matter where it lives or who interacts with it across the organization,” said Swamy Viswanathan, EVP and Chief Product Officer, ASG Technologies. “Enterprise Data Intelligence 9.0 adds value to the business by allowing users to make better and faster data-driven decisions. It also removes risk by enabling compliance and improving the understanding of private information. We see this release as mission critical for enterprises that need to control data while empowering business users with instant visibility into all the facts of the information they are interacting with.”

Benefits of Using ASG Enterprise Data Intelligence 9.0 Include:

Timely GDPR Compliance: Automatic Personal Data Marking provides fast and reliable identification of data. With this feature, personal data is identified throughout the entire data lineage providing organizations with discovery capabilities, oversight and visibility to that information wherever it exists.

  • Cascading function automates the identification and visual representation of personal data in the data lineage to ensure compliance throughout workflows
  • GDPR dashboards, reports and governance processes help enterprises facilitate management of privacy compliance
  • Manual and automatic tagging enable fast and easy curation of personal data

Updated Regulatory Compliance: Growing need for proper data management with increased regulatory requirements in the highly regulated financial and healthcare industries, particularly around attaining BCBS239, CCAR, IDMP and CGMP compliance.

  • BCBS 2399 and CCAR both require an ability to demonstrate a detailed understanding of data derivation. ASG’s “Zero-Gap” lineage provides the necessary visualization of data movement and transformation to prove data traceability
  • IDMP requires data to be collected and harmonized across multiple systems. The ASG Data Intelligence Data Inventory supports identification of data relevant to any product as changes are made
  • FDA guidance on current goods manufacturing  practice (CGMP) for drugs requires data to be kept throughout its retention period with associated metadata required

Business User Empowerment: Ability to “like” valuable information lets users bring their unique knowledge to exploit the best data and make the most informed decisions across the business.

  • Self-service subscription capability lets users request notifications of actions or changes to data that will notify them if governance activities affect the sources they’re interested in
  • Data Quality Metrics allows inaccurate data to be identified before it is used to make business decisions

Support for the Complete Data Estate with “Find My Data”: Visibility into the most useful data in traditional and legacy data stores, relational databases, and the data lake provides for an enterprise-wide view of information. It also allows for more streamlined governance while enabling enterprises to discover and leverage the most valuable data across their entire business.

  • Intelligent Data Catalogue (IDC) enables fast, comprehensive full-text and faceted search across data stores
  • Ability for users to comment, reply to others’ comments and tag data directly as belonging to a common area of interest helps others quickly get on the path of finding the most valuable, relevant information

ASG’s open, API-first approach enables a flexible ecosystem and expands on partner capabilities to deliver more value to business users.

“The combination of ASG’s Data Lineage and Syncsort’s market-leading Trillium Software System presents data quality information in context, enabling users to pinpoint where data is not within policy,” said David Hodgson, Chief Product Officer, Syncsort. “Leveraging these capabilities, users can quickly locate and fix problems to improve critical data so they can make better business decisions and meet compliance and regulatory obligations as part of their governance programs.”

ASG’s Data Intelligence 9.0 allows enterprises to modernize and leverage data that enables business users to make smart, informed decisions without risking compliance or control. The product is now available at www.asg.com/intelligence.

Available Resources on Data Intelligence 9.0

ASG will be hosting its inaugural customer event on September 18-20 in Washington D.C. Learn more about EVOLVE here.


Posted in Data Intelligence, Governance, Regulatory Compliance, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Parkrunner Abroad

Good to see three friends from Perth parkrunning in Florida, and four from Elgin too. My friend, Kim Holmes (fitforfunstudentmum), who was formerly a Run Director at the Andover parkrun, has emigrated to the area and also runs in the Clermont Waterfront parkrun.

The Running Princess

One of the brilliant things about parkrun is that when you travel, certainly within the UK, you should be able to find an event near you and be welcomed to run. There aren’t so many events in the US (yet) but there is a well-established parkrun in Clermont, Florida and this year we finally got a chance to head down there and join a run.

Untitled
Originally the event took place on near enough the same route as the Cool Summer Mornings 5k that we have taken part in so many times at Clermont Waterfront Park, however they recently made a slight move within the park (about a mile or so further along the path) to avoid further cancellations due to the frequent other events in the park and some construction work that’s happening.

Untitled
We set off around 6:30am so we would have plenty of time to get there, with a…

View original post 806 more words

Posted in parkrun | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: A Little Course in Yoga

A Little Course in YogaA Little Course in Yoga by Nita Patel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really excellent book for yoga beginners.

So far, I have been to two sessions of Yoga with Stacey in Andover. I have to admit that I have been stretched. However, practice will lead to improvement.

This little book quickly explains the principles and benefits and when and how to practice safely. Then it shows, with the aid of excellent photographs, around 30 of the basic poses and how to flow through them. There are suggestions for 15, 30 and 45 minute sequences.

I have spoken with my yoga teacher, Stacey, about this and she has convinced me that if I practice for just 15 minutes each day, probably after my daily run, I will quickly improve in my ability to keep up with her weekly “flow” classes. I’ll soon be bending and breathing with the best of them!

Great book! Easy to follow. I thoroughly recommend it.

View all my reviews

Posted in Book review | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Furies of Calderon

Furies of Calderon (Codex Alera, #1)Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was just about to start reading the Game of Thrones series, when a friend in Denver asked me if I had read the Codex Alera series. I must be easily distracted, because I picked up this first volume of the series and started reading. Although I am sure that Game of Thrones makes for excellent reading, I am quite happy that I got my nose into the land of Alera.

The book starts with Amara, who is a young “Cursor” and a leading character in this excellent story, riding atop a gargant bull into enemy territory. She is accompanied by her wise coach and mentor, Fidelias. They are on a dangerous spying mission to find out who is making treasonous plans to overthrow their lord and master, the “First Lord.” Events rapidly turn ugly and life-threatening. The tension builds from the early pages of the book and maintains itself all the way through.

Cursors, along with most of the people of Alera, possess magical powers, which are aligned to earth, air, water, fire, wood and metal. These magical powers are called “Furies”, hence the title of the book. I have no idea why Jim Butcher chose to call them “Furies”, but one gets used to it after a while, and being baffled by this quandary is longer a distraction.

Meanwhile, young Tavi is setting off from the Valley of Calderon, with his uncle, to find a small flock of sheep which he was supposed to have been tending but has let roam free. Tavi is unusual in the land of Alera, in that he has grown into adolescence with no sign of development of his own fury. This makes him a bit of a freak, and the object of ridicule for teenage bullies. But this boy becomes the second leading character in this book.

Tavi and his uncle also find themselves in great danger, when they are attacked by a strange beast and its owner. They fight, but Tavi eventually has to flee, abandoning his uncle, in order to save his own skin.

Butcher does a great job of developing the many characters and their relationships throughout the book. There is much sinister and malevolent background activity, which adds to the excitement. The twists and turns mean that it is sometimes difficult to discern the good from the bad, which I loved.

The creativity and inventiveness, which one would expect from a good fantasy novel, is there in bucket-loads.

I can’t tell you much more without starting to give the plot away, but I do highly recommend this book.

The foundations are laid here for a cracking series, and I will definitely read on. I will also thank my friend for her splendid recommendation.

View all my reviews

Posted in Book review | Tagged , , | Leave a comment