5 Book Reviews

first_imgTop Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… Tags:#Blogging#E-Books#web richard macmanuscenter_img It’s been a while since I’ve published a book review on R/WW, so I’m going to brieflyreview 5 books that I’ve read during the past few months. Four of them are WebTechnology-related and the other was an eBook that I bought.The Nudist on the Late Shift : And Other True Tales of Silicon Valley by Po Bronsonis a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages. I read his latest, What Should I DoWith My Life?, last year and that was an inspiring read. He’s one of the ‘newjournalism’ type writers that I so admire – Tom Wolfe and Micheal Lewis are my twofavourites in that genre (more on Wolfe below).Po Bronson started out with two novels and Nudist on the Late Shift was his thirdpublished book. He callsit “literary nonfiction” and it tells the tale of various Silicon Valley workers andcompanies. He covers some of the successful people – e.g. the guy who invented Hotmailand sold it for a heap of money to Microsoft. But he also writes about the strugglers –those who dream big but haven’t yet hit the jackpot. The chapter about Silicon Valleysalesmen best exemplified the strugglers.One of the most compelling parts of the book was his description of meeting Danny Hillis, the genuis computerprogrammer who created The Clock of the Long Now. [According to Wikipedia: “A clock builtto last 10,000 years or more, powered by seasonal climactic fluctuations. The clock isnot yet built, but a piece of land in rural Nevada has been purchased, the design iscompleted in detail, and construction of the components is underway.”]I also enjoyed Bronson’s descriptions of the Valley, because it’s my own personaldream to live and work there one day. Bronson described it as a hot and scenically unspectacular place. However it attracts a certain type of creative and ambitious person –and it’s this that drives the narrative of the book.My rating: 9/10. Nudist is a fantastic read and despite the cautionary tales, it onlymakes me want to visit Silicon Valley even more!amazon.com – Get Big Fast : Inside the Revolutionary Business Model That Changed theWorld, by Robert Spector is a biography of Jeff Bezos. It’s a nice business-orientedread, complete with “takeaways” at the end of each chapter (generic business lessons like“Always brace for competition and be ready to strike back”). I don’t think I learned muchnew about Bezos or Amazon. Spector had access to a couple of early employees, but notBezos himself – discounting an early interview he did with him.My rating: 6/10. It was a pleasant read but nothing to get too excited about.Movable Type 3.0 Bible Desktop Edition, by Rogers Cadenhead. I won a free copy ofthis from Rogers’weblog. I’ve leafed through it and it’s a comprehensive how-to for the latest versionof Movable Type. A lot of the early chapters are aimed at new bloggers, e.g. Ch 5 ‘Writinga weblog entry’, but there’s some meaty stuff for more experienced users later in thebook. I plan to test out some of the XML-RPC material in the coming weeks.My rating: 8/10. This is a very handy reference for me to have around (I’m an MT user)and the technical content in the second half of the book is something for me to get stuckinto when I get some time to tinker.Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age, by Paul Graham. This is a bookthat seems to polarize people. Paul Graham writes opinionated essays and he gets under the wick of many programmers for his dismissal of languages like Java and… wellpretty much any programming language except for his beloved Lisp. Having said that, as anon-programmer I enjoyed the parts of Hackers and Painters that I could understand! (Igot through everything but a couple of chapters at the end about spam filtering and heavyduty programming).He wrote some interesting things about web-based applications, which is Web 2.0territory. e.g. on pg 58 he wrote: “The whole idea of ‘your computer’ is going away, andbeing replaced with ‘your data’.” Also on pgs 79-80 he wrote an excellent explanation ofthe transition from mainframes to desktops to the server – I highly recommend thatpassage.My rating: 7. An enjoyable read, but you’re likely to disagree with some parts ofit.I Am Charlotte Simmons, by Tom Wolfe. I read this via eBook and I promised I’d let youknow how the reading experience went. It was mostly good, but with some minor hassles readingvia a small PDA screen. The convenience of having the book always with me, as opposed to aheavy hardcover book, was a big plus. But it was a bit awkward sometimes reading thislong novel via my PDA – it’s summer over here in New Zealand right now, so the sunglinting on the screen was a problem sometimes. And that old issue of curling up in bedwith a good book – well, at times I did miss the comfort of a paper book. But those areminor quibbles. All in all, I was pleased with the ebook experience and I will buy moreebooks.As for the story itself, well as I mentioned above Tom Wolfe is one of my favouriteauthors. He pioneered ‘new journalism’ and is still one of the best Literary Non-fiction (and fiction) writers around. ‘I am Charlotte Simmons’ was a highly ambitious book for Wolfe. It is setin a university and the main character is a young very intelligent but socially naivesouthern girl. Other major characters include a white basketball star in a college teamdominated by black players, a frat boy involved in a scandel involving a senator, and anerdy college kid called Adam. About as far away from the life of Tom Wolfe, a man in his70’s who wears cream-coloured suits, as you can imagine. At times the dialogue seemed to get the better ofhim – e.g. he was ‘awarded’ the LiteraryReview’s annual Bad Sex award! – but to be fair at other times the dialogue andcharacters were utterly compelling. Tom Wolfe is a great writer, very strong on socialand moral themes, and overall I think he managed to do justice to this ambitiousproject.My rating: 8/10. If you’re a Tom Wolfe fan, this book won’t disappoint. Flawed in somerespects, but there’s more than enough evidence of Wolfe’s genius in this lengthynovel. Related Posts Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…last_img

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