Friday, December 24, 2021

Book Report: "The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome"


The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of RomeThe History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Setting out to encapsulate thousands of years of foggy, fuzzy human history into a relatable, relevant and cohesive narrative is no simple task.

Susan Wise Bauer accomplishes her goal with ease and simplicity, parsing mythology, conflicting records into a rough stab at what actually happened is a juggling act, and the author is up to the challenge.

I learned a lot from the book, which provided some illuminating insights about human nature and its tendency to organize, unite and divide over the eons. Bauer also lends a feminist perspective to many well-worn stories, offering insight that sheds new interpretations on the boy's club of history.

John Lee's narration in the Audible edition lends a sense of importance and authority to the prose, granting it something of a real-life "Game of Thrones" feel.

A couple significant flaws stifle Bauer's work. Her attention to the Chinese empires seems uninspired and obligatory, and there is no mention whatsoever of what was going on in Africa or the Americas during the rise and falls of the Western empires on which she spends most of her focus. "The ancient world" didn't only exist in Eurasia. A simple retitling to something like "The History of the Western World" would have fixed the issue.

As a whole, the book thrives. The writing is solid and lively, the sourcing is commendable and the momentum rarely wanes. Bauer's book is an empiric conquest worthy of Alexander.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 20, 2021

Google Pixel 6 Pro flexes its 5G muscles on T-Mobile network

If "New Year, New Phone, Who Dis?" is your 2022 game plan, Android aficionados will be hard-pressed to find much more attractive or durable options than the Google Pixel 6 Pro.

As 5G capabilities and technology continues to come into its own, with app developers scurrying to keep pace while maintaining fidelity with 4G devices, it becomes increasingly crucial to latch onto a reliable network. 

T-Mobile's infrastructure is up to the task, pumping in the gigabytes without any noticable interruption in an impressive array of circumstances. I found the network holding up just as well on rural highway slogs as it did in congested urban environments. Google's slick, slender tech works as a silk-smooth conduit to keep your video and downloads flowing at scorching speeds no matter where you find yourself.

The Google Pixel 6 Pro flies on the network as though it were a magic carpet.

The 6.7-inch device boasts a camera system that can hang with the likes of the latest high-end smartphones, a sharp glass-and-metal form factor and a smooth, easy-to-grasp interface geared to streamline your workflow. It may take some practice to get used to swipe commands rather than traditional back and forward button taps, but the Android 12 interface feels more natural the more time you spend with it. It all hums along on a Tensor processor geared to highlight the phone's strengths while minimizing its weaknesses.

At the top of the list of the phone's features is its gorgeous screen, which displays video, pictures and games with stunning clarity that can rival the iPhones and Galaxies of the world. 

The three-camera sytem, too, is devastatingly edgy, able to snag immaculate detail from distance with a 48-megapixel telelphoto lens and a 1.3-inch sensor that sucks in ambient light to produce stunning imagery in less-than-ideal circumstances. Also aiding the photographically-challenged: a Magic Eraser that wipes out photobombers with precision,

The battery life is a drawback, wilting a little in comparison against the likes of the OnePlus 8T+5G. Somewhat slow to charge and quick to deplete its battery -- especially while multitasking -- the device still easily lasts through an intensive work day, but don't expect it to carry you for long into the night without a little boost.

A case with grip is a must, because the phone is too slick for its own good, with a camera bar that makes for an awkward grip unless counteracted with a cover.

On balance, Google's Pixel line of devices continues to swing a heavy axe in the smartphone arms race. Phones are finally catching up to 5G networks, rather than struggling to catch up. The Pixel 6 Pro is geared to lead the charge instead of following along.

 Review unit provided by T-Mobile.