Book Review

Reviews of publications which are of interest, beneficial to life, work, or beyond.

Outliers (Book Review)

Mon Apr 26, 2010 3:33:58 am by Dustin
Filed under Book Review, Fun, General

Full Title: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
ISBN: 978-0-316-01792-3
Get it cheap.

Summary: Malcolm answers the questions of how truly successful become that way. Ben Franklin rose from virtually nothing, for instance, to sit with kings. Outliers explains how people in Franklin’s position do work hard but also get very lucky, come from the right family, and in some cases born in to ‘correct’ month.

What I thought: After reading The Tipping Point, I was a bit reluctant to grab another Gladwell book but I tried anyway. I found this text quite interesting though. The examples used clearly construed how a person not only truly needs to work their butt off to get ahead but also needs to get really really lucky.


Refactoring (Book Review)

Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:35:20 pm by Dustin
Filed under Book Review, General, Software

*This is a technical post. Ye be warned.*

Full Title: Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code by Martin Fowler
ISBN: 978-0-201-48567-7
Get it cheap.

Summary:

As people change code – changes to realize short-term goals or changes made without a full comprehension of the design of the code – the code loses its structure… Refactoring is rather like tidying up the code.

As this quote explains, refactoring code is necessary. A single feature may disregard high level architecture. The sales department may set a deadline rushing implementation while ignoring long-term development issues. For these reasons, we occasionally (or continuously) clean our code.

This book was kind enough to outline a couple dozen quick refactoring types (name this, move that, etc). When these tips are combined, they create a more solid code base.

What I thought: My career has put me in a position where I have seen many types of projects. Good architecture, bad architecture, good architecture with bad code, etc. In all cases, an occasional clean-up is helpful. I enjoyed this book because it put the examples out there for ‘Spring Clean’ partaking. There were a couple of ‘well duh’ instances, but a nice reference indeed.

Good enough to make the migration to my desk at work.


The Next 100 Years (Book Review)

Tue Feb 2, 2010 9:25:23 am by Dustin
Filed under Book Review, Defending the Flag, General

Full Title: The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman
ISBN: 978-0-385-51705-8
Get it cheap.

Summary: This book projects the economical and geopolitical future of the next 100 years. Friedman’s goal is demonstrate who will dominate this realm and where the USA will fit into the picture.

Domination in this area comes down to who will control world trade. Achieving trade supremacy can happen in two ways: 1) being so impeccably awesome everybody needs to trade with you (unlikely to be sustainable in the short or long terms) or 2) control the world oceans militarily and thus pressuring other countries (very possible).

A world power needs control over the Pacific and the Atlantic. The other oceans will fall into place thereafter. Both oceans must be controlled, otherwise the said state only has regional power. Think Japan in the Pacific or Britain in the Atlantic before World War II.

Additionally, no state or combination of states will be able to dominate these oceans without physical borders on both oceans. Not just ports here. The nation need to border these waters. This is not only to launch new ships but to deploy armies, participate in trade, and transfer goods by land from one ocean to the other.

The US is currently in this position. The US Navy is larger than all other navies combined. It controls world trade. Its navy can be used to pressure foreign policy.

If a country were to challenge the US’s dominance, it would need to obviously challenge the US Navy. The key to navy dominance starts will land dominance. Friedman spends most of the book explaining how events in Eurasia will play out as countries either unite or invade to have shores on both oceans or increase their resources. Couple the need to expand their boundaries with the US’s history of keeping unstable regions remain unstable and no true leader will emerge. If these regions are continually unstable, they cannot further stabilize themselves and unite with their neighbors, building even larger controls. Germany and Afghanistan are good examples here. Afghanistan was part of the Ottoman Empire in our recent history. A power like that could put pressure on the US.

So the question arises, if Eurasia cannot unite, who in North America can catch up to America?

What I thought: I found this book interesting but not amazing. I would suggest it to others though. I already have plans to loan it to a friend. At times, it was a bit science fiction like, but it is a projection. Satellite producing solar power and sending electromagnetic waves to power stations on land…


The Tipping Point (Book Review)

Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:26:14 pm by Dustin
Filed under Book Review, General

Full Title: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
ISBN: 0-316-34662-4
Get it cheap.

Summary: The tipping point is that moment when a trend or idea goes from just that to spreading like wild fire. It could be a marketing event, virus epidemic, or crime rates. Frankly it comes down to getting the information in the hands of well connected people and paying attention to the details within the situation.

What I thought: If the short summary did not give it away, I thought this book was mediocre. I had a math professor in college, Ron Smit, who had a saying when we said the answer was ‘big’:

That’s a social science answer.

This book could use more concrete evidence.


The 4-Hour Workweek (Book Review)

Mon Sep 3, 2007 9:07:11 am by Dustin
Filed under Book Review, Finance, Fun, General, Payroll, Tools and Tricks, a little about life

Full Title: The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
ISBN: 978-0-307-35313-9
Get it cheap.

Summary: This book is all about DEAL.

  • Definition: figure out what it is you would do if you did not have to go to work. This can be anything from spend more time with the kids to backpack around the globe.
  • Elimination: Tim explains most people are stuck going to work each day for eight hours but can do the work must faster. Figure out how.
  • Automation: how much of your day to day tasks could be automated? Tim even outsources making up with his wife after a fight to somebody in India for $4/hr.
  • Liberation: now that you aren’t at work, go do whatever it is you have always wanted to.

Once you have accomplished DEAL you would no longer have to wait until your Golden Years to truly enjoy life.

What I thought: I heard a ton of chatter about this book, so I thought I would pick it up. Turns out it was an interesting read. Tim has some very radical ideas portrayed which would undo most of corporate America if enacted. He even explains telecommuting from the other side of the world is not for everybody because 1) most people would not what to live on the other side of the world and 2) we call not all do the DEAL system otherwise we would not have an economy.

So you are probably asking if DEAL for me? I would say parts of this might work for me. Such as finding secondary forms of income to fund ‘mini-retirements’. There are also parts which do not really sit well with me. Telling your boss you are telecommuting while you are at Oktoberfest seems a little unethical to me.

I also do not think I am waiting to have an exciting life when I am old just because I working everyday. Hell last week I was hit by a car – exciting.

You might also be interested to see The 4-Hour Workweek website or Tim’s blog.