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Book reviews for December 2016

The End is Now by John Joseph Adams

The End is Now by John Joseph Adams

4/5

Review coming with book 3...

 

The End is Nigh by John Joseph Adams

The End is Nigh by John Joseph Adams

4/5

Review coming with book 3...

 

Night School (Jack Reacher, #21) by Lee Child

Night School (Jack Reacher, #21) by Lee Child

4/5

I much prefer flashback Reacher to modern day midwest town trauma Reacher. This is one of the best.

 

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Book reviews for November 2016

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

5/5

Far future space pirates. Awesome.

 

Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra

Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra

3/5

The overall message is good - focus on making your users actually awesome rather than you looking awesome with some concrete strategies to find out what that is and how to get there. A central theme is removing barriers to effective usage. The product here is a book. It was hell to read on my phone. Now if the graphics were large and central to the message and couldn't be done other than in some weird non-standard way I might forgive this. But all I needed to on every page was zoom in to get rid of the needless massive borders. That's all it took. Hundreds of times. So I'd recommend this if you still like paper books or are some sort of tablet toting throwback but on phone? No.

 

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Book reviews for October 2016

The Hurricane by Hugh Howey

The Hurricane by Hugh Howey

4/5

Affecting story of a boy (and family) who are forced to disconnect thanks to a category five storm. First non sci-fi Howey that I've read and it's one of his best.

 

Presence by Richard MacManus

Presence by Richard MacManus

2/5

Plodding retread of VR tropes.

 

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

3/5

 

The Elephant in the Room by Jon Ronson

The Elephant in the Room by Jon Ronson

3/5

Jon Ronson visits with the Alt Right. It's good but not a revelation.

 

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman

3/5

Everything is getting more complicated. This book suggests we abandon the physics based approach of trying to understand systems in a reductionist way and switch to biological thinking - sample, study the ecology, embrace a glimpse of understanding and forget knowing everything. Gulp.

 

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Book reviews for September 2016

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans

Matchmakers: The New Economics of Multisided Platforms by David S. Evans

2/5

Given that matchmaker businesses include stock exchanges, newspapers and shopping malls the claim that the field of economics only 'discovered' them in 2000 is the most interesting fact in this book. It doesn't sound like it can possibly true and either casts serious doubt on the credibility of the authors or on the entire field (including the authors).

Looking past the amazing recent discovery of multi-sided platforms the book is very light on any actual theory beyond the trivial - for example pricing may include a subsidy to one side and platform ignition is hard. Really. There are some good anecdotal accounts of specific businesses and there is a small amount of insight to be gained here. Overall I'd say avoid though.

 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

4/5

 

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

3/5

 

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

3/5

Solid thriller based on the multiple universe interpretation of quantum physics.

 

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Book reviews for August 2016

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

Company Town by Madeline Ashby

4/5

I've been occasionally checking in for the third part of Ashby's Machine Dynasty series and discovered that instead of finishing that off she wrote Company Town instead. Which is a good thing. This is fast paced and feels effortless. It's the story of a future town bought by a family dynasty and the bodyguard to the heir apparent. Hard to say too much more but I loved it.

 

Patriot (Alexander Hawke, #9) by Ted Bell

Patriot (Alexander Hawke, #9) by Ted Bell

2/5

 

Warriors (Alexander Hawke, #8) by Ted Bell

Warriors (Alexander Hawke, #8) by Ted Bell

1/5

Bell has a remarkable ability to fatally self-contradict himself in the space of a single sentence.

 

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Book reviews for July 2016

The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7) by Charles Stross

The Nightmare Stacks (Laundry Files, #7) by Charles Stross

4/5

 

The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls by Emma Cline

3/5

OK, but lots of foreshadowing, not much shadow.

 

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Book reviews for June 2016

The Night Stalker (DCI Erika Foster, #2) by Robert Bryndza

The Night Stalker (DCI Erika Foster, #2) by Robert Bryndza

4/5

Decent police thriller, a notch up from the first in the series I thought. I'll buy the next one.

 

Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers by Ian Stewart

Professor Stewart's Incredible Numbers by Ian Stewart

4/5

A tour of mathematics through the device of looking at what's interesting about different numbers. Brought back all sorts of things I learned in school and university that are now slowly fading again.

 

The Girl In The Ice (DCI Erika Foster, #1) by Robert Bryndza

The Girl In The Ice (DCI Erika Foster, #1) by Robert Bryndza

3/5

Bit linear but fun.

 

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Book reviews for May 2016

When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt

When to Rob a Bank by Steven D. Levitt

3/5

I didn't realize this was just a collection of blog posts! There are some good ones for sure (my favorite is the evisceration of Good to Great for the exact same reasons that I hate that book). But it's just some blog posts and they're mostly too short and not fleshed out.

 

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

2/5

I'm not really sure what the point of this book is. I guess Dawkins is trying to bring people round to believing in science and so the main device used in the book is to mock religions and myths for a while before sketching in a light summary (very light for the non-Biology sections) of some area of science. If you're in it for the science then you're going to be mostly disappointing. If you're not of a scientific bent then you're going to be alienated by the heavy handed myth bashing and so I don't think you're going to be in a positive frame of mind to listen to what Dawkins has to say when you get the science bit. Not recommended for either audience.

 

Three Tales from the Laundry Files by Charles Stross

Three Tales from the Laundry Files by Charles Stross

3/5

 

The Mind Club by Daniel M. Wegner

The Mind Club by Daniel M. Wegner

3/5

The central theme of this book is some research about how people feel about different kinds of minds. At it's heart it's a Harvard Business Review style quadrant analysis with the two dimensions being doing and feeling (and doers doing things to feelers). This isn't nearly as interesting (or difficult) as actually trying to understand different minds. This is touched on briefly and mainly via that experiment where people report that they made a decision half a second after their body started doing the thing that they decided to do. Which is fascinating and hard to explain but it's only really a detour here. The meat of the book is how people feel about dogs and dead people and gods. There are some interesting anecdotes and the book is saved by the good humor and gentle snarkiness of at least one of the authors.

 

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Book reviews for April 2016

The Phoenix Descent by Chuck Grossart

The Phoenix Descent by Chuck Grossart

3/5

It's billed as a bit of a scifi time travel adventure but really it's more of a zombie apocalypse variant. Not really my thing so I initially hated it but that hatred turned to respect and finally, love. Well maybe not quite love but it's a decent read.

 

Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad

Farthest Field: An Indian Story of the Second World War by Raghu Karnad

4/5

Very personal and sometimes florid but deeply fascinating story of the Indian Army in World War 2.

 

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Book reviews for March 2016

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

2/5

I found it hard to care for anyone in this book. Pedestrian mystery.

 

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

Half Way Home by Hugh Howey

3/5

Getting into diminishing returns here. Good, but not Silo/Sand good.

 

Beacon 23: The Complete Novel (Beacon 23 #1-5) by Hugh Howey

Beacon 23: The Complete Novel (Beacon 23 #1-5) by Hugh Howey

3/5

 

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Book reviews for February 2016

Sand (Sand, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

Sand (Sand, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

4/5

Very good, I was rather hoping Howey was a one hit wonder but now I see that I'm going to have to read the whole cannon.

 

Cockroaches (Harry Hole, #2) by Jo Nesbø

Cockroaches (Harry Hole, #2) by Jo Nesbø

4/5

Finally the #2 Hole has been translated. It's a good one. Sad because it's saying goodbye all over again.

 

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

The Sellout by Paul Beatty

4/5

Starts with a black guy called Me in the Supreme Court for slavery and gets progressively more weird and funny from there. Excellent.

 

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson

5/5

Stonking collection of perfect short stories. After I finished each one I was gutted that it wasn't turned into a whole book.

 

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Book reviews for January 2016

Starhawk (The Academy, #7) by Jack McDevitt

Starhawk (The Academy, #7) by Jack McDevitt

3/5

It's a prequel - how Hutch became Hutch - and because of that it's a bit limited in scope. Comfortable filler with a few good moments - worth reading for completeists.

 

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Book reviews for December 2015

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

3/5

I always want to like Kim Stanley Robinson more than i do, this time was no different. It's a generation ship colonization story with a pretty decent if depressing twist and I really enjoyed the fist half of the book. After that it gets pretty slow and repetitive and then ends in a pretty unsatisfying and trite way.

 

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Book reviews for November 2015

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

The Children Act by Ian McEwan

3/5

 

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson

4/5

 

Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker

Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker

4/5

 

The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files, #6) by Charles Stross

The Annihilation Score (Laundry Files, #6) by Charles Stross

3/5

Too much flat pack furniture assembly, not enough slaying of eldrich horrors. Also I miss Bob.

 

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Book reviews for October 2015

The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files, #5) by Charles Stross

The Rhesus Chart (Laundry Files, #5) by Charles Stross

4/5

 

Follow You Home by Mark  Edwards

Follow You Home by Mark Edwards

4/5

 

Make Me (Jack Reacher #20) by Lee Child

Make Me (Jack Reacher #20) by Lee Child

3/5

Everything you need in a Reacher book, and nothing you don't. Too well oiled.

 

The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files, #3) by Charles Stross

The Fuller Memorandum (Laundry Files, #3) by Charles Stross

3/5

 

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium, #4) by David Lagercrantz

The Girl in the Spider's Web (Millennium, #4) by David Lagercrantz

3/5

 

The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files, #4) by Charles Stross

The Apocalypse Codex (Laundry Files, #4) by Charles Stross

4/5

 

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Book reviews for September 2015

The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2) by Charles Stross

The Jennifer Morgue (Laundry Files, #2) by Charles Stross

5/5

I wanted to like The Atrocity Archives more than I did (which is still quite a bit)... I'm glad I pressed on to The Jennifer Morgue which is a tight spy thriller, a send up of spy thrillers and manages to be funny and moving in turns. I'm stuck in for the duration of the Laundry Files at this point.

 

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

4/5

 

Armada by Ernest Cline

Armada by Ernest Cline

3/5

 

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Book reviews for July 2015

The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1) by Charles Stross

The Atrocity Archives (Laundry Files, #1) by Charles Stross

4/5

 

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

4/5

I really enjoyed it but the timescale is so long and so much happens that it feels a bit rushed until the last section of the book. I wish this had been teased out into a trilogy.

 

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Book reviews for June 2015

The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again) by P.J. O'Rourke

The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again) by P.J. O'Rourke

2/5

 

Advanced Google Adwords by Brad Geddes

Advanced Google Adwords by Brad Geddes

4/5

 

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Book reviews for April 2015

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

3/5

 

Successful Analytics ebook 2: Gain Business Insights By Managing Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

Successful Analytics ebook 2: Gain Business Insights By Managing Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

4/5

This is now the book I'd recommend to anyone implementing Google Analytics (and wish had been available when I started). It spends a lot of useful time on how to get data to be trustworthy, how to keep it that way and how to make sure that analysts have the right context when trying to use the data. Great stuff because this is the hard part. Getting data in is easy, being convinced that it's right and useful is complicated. My only real ding is that for some inexplicable reason you have to buy two ebooks instead of one. But that's minor, it's worth it.

 

World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3) by Ben H. Winters

World of Trouble (The Last Policeman, #3) by Ben H. Winters

4/5

Fitting end to a brilliant and disturbing trilogy.

 

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

5/5

 

Successful Analytics ebook 1: Gain Business Insights By Managing Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

Successful Analytics ebook 1: Gain Business Insights By Managing Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

4/5

I don't know why this comes as two ebooks... will review at the end of ebook 2.

 

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Book reviews for March 2015

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

The Forever War by Dexter Filkins

4/5

A barrage of Iraq and Afghanistan vignettes. No narrative, few conclusions. Depressing but illuminating.

 

The Fire Seekers (The Babel Trilogy #1) by Richard Farr

The Fire Seekers (The Babel Trilogy #1) by Richard Farr

3/5

Decent thriller.

 

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Book reviews for February 2015

Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Pääbo

Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes by Svante Pääbo

4/5

Fascinating story about sequencing the Neanderthal genome with a lot of frank insights into the scientific process - both highs of clever breakthroughs and lows of petty rivalries. Excellent.

 

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Book reviews for January 2015

Odyssey One (Odyssey One, #1) by Evan C. Currie

Odyssey One (Odyssey One, #1) by Evan C. Currie

1/5

Stopped reading after a couple of chapters. It's excruciable. Cliched, lazy, boring and self-contradictory. The most charitable thing I can say is that it might get better after I gave up (but I doubt it).

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

3/5

Depressing novel about a dead girl. It's very well written but left me a bit cold. Unhappy families may be unhappy in their own way but that doesn't necessarily make them interesting.

 

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

4/5

Not particularly into zombie fiction but this is great - different perspective, interesting plot and a stunning ending.

 

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Book reviews for December 2014

The Peripheral by William Gibson

The Peripheral by William Gibson

5/5

William Gibson does time travel with a twist. Gripping and weird and wonderful.

 

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

4/5

A very quick (and helpful) read....

 

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Book reviews for November 2014

You're Not Much Use to Anyone by David Shapiro

You're Not Much Use to Anyone by David Shapiro

2/5

Maybe I missed something but a character I didn't particularly care for got a blog which got fairly popular and then ran out of steam. If it wasn't short I don't think I'd have finished it.

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

4/5

A World War Two yarn of intersecting French and German lives - bit players dragged into the war. Affecting and very well written.

 

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Book reviews for October 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir

5/5

Outstanding thriller about a man left behind on a Mars mission. Almost all of the tension is sucked out by geeky humor but the leftovers are more than enough. The movie version will probably switch the geek out and install Sandra Bullock.

 

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19) by Lee Child

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19) by Lee Child

4/5

If you're a Reacher fan this is a solid installment, by the numbers. If not then don't start here.

 

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Book reviews for September 2014

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

4/5

Interesting thriller. Very different start in Myanmar which was super promising. Bond like villainy and a trans-human resistance then ensue.

 

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Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

4/5

It's a living the same life over and over again type of story, a literary groundhog day. Very well done.

 

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Book reviews for July 2014

Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity [With CDROM] by Avinash Kaushik

Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability & Science of Customer Centricity [With CDROM] by Avinash Kaushik

5/5

Deep, evergreen advice on web analytics. This book is grounded in the trenches and is full of practical advice and reality. Works well to read all the way through and to dip into for specific topics.

 

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi

The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi

5/5

Barnstorming tirade against injustice in the US law enforcement and legal systems. Nothing in here was news to me, but laid out story after story it's breathtaking. Minor welfare infractions leading to jail time, institutionalized fraud ignored. Banks get away with money laundering and theft while in some places standing on the street is a crime. Once you've worked up a full head of rage you realize that Obama is as bad as Bush is nearly as bad as Clinton. The failure is in politics and this book is a depressing catalog of the symptoms.

 

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Book reviews for June 2014

Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics by Brian Clifton

4/5

Very helpful book, but a generation out of date. Does not cover universal analytics or the new user ID collection but is a great foundation as long as you know this. I'll buy the next edition when/if it becomes available.

 

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Book reviews for May 2014

The Quarry by Iain Banks

The Quarry by Iain Banks

4/5

This was a hard book to start because it's so sad to know that there will never be another Iain [M] Banks novel. I fell in love with his work after picking up The Wasp Factory with some birthday money in Guildford. I had (and loaned and lost) one signed book, Feersum Endjinn, which was the only really awful one. The Quarry was short, better than I thought it would be, not as good as his best. He'll be missed.

 

A Short Gentleman by Jon Canter

A Short Gentleman by Jon Canter

4/5

Unbearably British. Very funny.

 

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Book reviews for April 2014

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

5/5

Took a while to start because The Secret History is one of my favorite books and I was pretty disappointed by The Little Friend - I can't really even remember it. The Goldfinch on the other hand will stick with me for a long time. It's a book where you inhabit someone else's life so deeply that it's disorienting to finish. Outstanding.

 

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Book reviews for March 2014

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday

Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday

2/5

Very short. Not as grubby as I was expecting. You'd be better off just reading The Lean Startup.

 

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd

5/5

Outstanding WW1 spy/psychological literary thriller.

 

Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson

Constellation Games by Leonard Richardson

3/5

Engaging romp of an alien first contact mission to Earth as experienced by a video game developer.

 

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Book reviews for February 2014

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings

4/5

Epic book about the origins, frequency and long term outlook of life in the universe.

 

Countdown City (The Last Policeman, #2) by Ben H. Winters

Countdown City (The Last Policeman, #2) by Ben H. Winters

4/5

A search for a missing person is the backdrop for watching society start to collapse and the plot begin to thicken in the sequel to The Last Policeman. Here's hoping that the third book will be worth the wait.

 

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Book reviews for January 2014

Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox

Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?) by Brian Cox

4/5

Has some new (to me) angles to help you try and understand relativity and quantum mechanics so I enjoyed it. I can feel that clarity starting to slip away again two days later though...

 

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey

The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey

3/5

Not as religious as your typical business self help book, still wildly repetitive though. Important goal -> focus on leading rather than lagging metrics -> simple scoreboard -> peer accountability on a weekly basis -> win. It's pretty much scrum for the non-development crowd (assuming that having a captive customer can be counted as a leading metric which I think it does).

 

A Good and Useful Hurt by Aric Davis

A Good and Useful Hurt by Aric Davis

4/5

Well paced and strange book about catching a serial killer via unexpectedly powerful tattoos.

 

Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga

3/5

It's like an episode of the A Team with two important differences - the book is set in India and the A Team don't show up. This means that it doesn't end well.

 

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Book reviews for October 2013

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18) by Lee Child

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18) by Lee Child

4/5

Exactly what you'd expect from Reacher. It's a solid thriller and totally on form.

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

4/5

The fascinating, troubling and ultimately morally ambiguous story of how a ubiquitous and storied cell line (HeLa) came to be, and the impact this had on the family of Henrietta Lacks (whose cells became HeLa).

 

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

3/5

The central idea of the book - better to construct small experiments and learn faster - seems right, but for a book about validated learning there is precious little data to support the hypothesis. Do Lean Startups return more money to investors or do they just pivot between slightly different ways to share photos before entering the deadpool at the same rate as Fat Startups? I want to believe Lean is better but a stack of anecdotes about IMVU just isn't enough to convince me.

Also, I hate all business books that start out by explaining how their profound ideas are applicable to all people at all times in all industries before stretching out a paragraph of insight over hundreds of turgid pages.

Lastly always read business books a few years after the peak of their popularity so you get the benefit of hindsight and a chuckle at the companies that are held up as shining examples of the author's methodology at the time but are now dead, festering or mostly incarcerated.

Having said all that I think that the approach is generally right and I appreciate that at several points in the book Ries states that there are no easy answers and no substitute for good judgement.

 

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Book reviews for October 2013

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18) by Lee Child

Never Go Back (Jack Reacher, #18) by Lee Child

4/5

Exactly what you'd expect from Reacher. It's a solid thriller and totally on form.

 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

4/5

The fascinating, troubling and ultimately morally ambiguous story of how a ubiquitous and storied cell line (HeLa) came to be, and the impact this had on the family of Henrietta Lacks (whose cells became HeLa).

 

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

3/5

The central idea of the book - better to construct small experiments and learn faster - seems right, but for a book about validated learning there is precious little data to support the hypothesis. Do Lean Startups return more money to investors or do they just pivot between slightly different ways to share photos before entering the deadpool at the same rate as Fat Startups? I want to believe Lean is better but a stack of anecdotes about IMVU just isn't enough to convince me.

Also, I hate all business books that start out by explaining how their profound ideas are applicable to all people at all times in all industries before stretching out a paragraph of insight over hundreds of turgid pages.

Lastly always read business books a few years after the peak of their popularity so you get the benefit of hindsight and a chuckle at the companies that are held up as shining examples of the author's methodology at the time but are now dead, festering or mostly incarcerated.

Having said all that I think that the approach is generally right and I appreciate that at several points in the book Ries states that there are no easy answers and no substitute for good judgement.

 

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Book reviews for September 2013

Dust (Silo, #3) by Hugh Howey

Dust (Silo, #3) by Hugh Howey

5/5

The best new SF series in quite some time draws to an end. Sad to see it go, can't wait to see what Hugh Howey comes up with next.

 

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

4/5

Understated X-Men shenanigans in thriller format.

 

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Book reviews for September 2013

Dust (Silo, #3) by Hugh Howey

Dust (Silo, #3) by Hugh Howey

5/5

The best new SF series in quite some time draws to an end. Sad to see it go, can't wait to see what Hugh Howey comes up with next.

 

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

Brilliance by Marcus Sakey

4/5

Understated X-Men shenanigans in thriller format.

 

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Book reviews for August 2013

iD (The Machine Dynasty, #2) by Madeline Ashby

iD (The Machine Dynasty, #2) by Madeline Ashby

3/5

Very much a middle book in a series. vN was outstanding, iD picks up where it left off and it's good if you read vN but probably doesn't stand alone. I'm looking forward to a third installment.

 

Flaggermusmannen (Harry Hole, #1) by Jo Nesbø

Flaggermusmannen (Harry Hole, #1) by Jo Nesbø

4/5

The Bat - recently translated into English. This is the first in the Harry Hole series and it's a very good one. Most of the rest were translated some time ago and it's a little odd that it's taken so long for the initial installment. I was expecting it to some sort of rubbish embarrassment but Nesbo is on top form here. My guess is that the problem was that it's set in Sydney which is probably a hard sell for fans of Scandinavian crime.

 

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Book reviews for July 2013

Doctor Who: Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds

Doctor Who: Harvest of Time by Alastair Reynolds

5/5

I don't normally do SciFi series books... but this is Alastair Reynolds doing Doctor Who. Jon Pertwee era with UNIT and The Master. If the BBC had a 300 million Pound budget for a Doctor Who story line in the 70's this is what they would have made.

 

Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing by Po Bronson

Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing by Po Bronson

4/5

I always enjoy Po Bronson and he's typically on form here with fascinating research and anecdotes around the topic of competition. There is a lot of new evidence on how hormones work that I'd never seen before and an interesting theory that competitive sports are a precursor to democracy. Much of this book is about how competition brings out creativity and drive. I wonder it it's missing a trick here and that the real factor is operating under constraint with competition being just one of many possible forms of constraint. In addition to the studies showing that art was better when a competition was involved I'd like to see how this worked out when one set of artists was limited to using just brown and silver... I'd bet the results would look pretty similar.

 

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4) by Dan Brown

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4) by Dan Brown

2/5

By the numbers. OK, but not great.

 

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Book reviews for June 2013

Letters by Kurt Vonnegut

Letters by Kurt Vonnegut

4/5

Engrossing collection of letters, helpfully sprinkled with context.

 

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Book reviews for May 2013

Troika by Alastair Reynolds

Troika by Alastair Reynolds

4/5

Stonking little novella.

 

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Book reviews for May 2013

Troika by Alastair Reynolds

Troika by Alastair Reynolds

4/5

Stonking little novella.

 

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Book reviews for April 2013

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

4/5

Makes sense...

 

 
The Mirage by Matt Ruff

The Mirage by Matt Ruff

4/5

A brilliant and detailed transposition of 9/11 in America to 11/9 in Arabia. I thought it was going to be a one trick pony but Mirage also delivers a solid thriller.

 

 
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Reviews and Links for March 2013

The Land of Later on by Anthony Weller

The Land of Later on by Anthony Weller

4/5

Probably not what happens when you die... but you never know.

 

Even Faster Web Sites by Steve Souders

Even Faster Web Sites by Steve Souders

4/5

Plenty of solid advice backed up by data and sample code. I picked up a few new optimizations to try and a couple to revisit from reading this book. Well recommended if you want to make a site faster.

 

The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset (The Hunger Games, #1-3) by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset (The Hunger Games, #1-3) by Suzanne Collins

3/5

The first book is very well done, but in the genre of forcing kids to kill each other I have to say I prefer Battle Royale. Battle Royale is more of a horror story, The Hunger Games has this element but it's also a fantasy about escaping poverty to makeovers and banquets as well. The second book sags a little and then the third book really picks up the pace and ends very strongly. Quick and worthwhile read.

 

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Reviews and Links for February 2013

Shift Omnibus Edition (Wool, #6-8) by Hugh Howey

Shift Omnibus Edition (Wool, #6-8) by Hugh Howey

3/5

I read this straight after the Wool series. The Shift trilogy fills in the back story of how the silos were created and then starts to overlap with the events from Wool. Shift didn't have quite the same tension as Wool and I didn't care about the characters as much. Still hooked though and can't wait for Dust later this year...

 

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

Wool Omnibus (Wool, #1-5) by Hugh Howey

4/5

Collection of five novellas set in a mysterious silo. A little more is revealed with each chapter and the series gets more compelling and ambiguous as we learn more about what's really going on. Didn't know what to expect (got this as a Christmas Present) but very enjoyable and I've gone straight on to the next omnibus with a final tranche due later this year.

 

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Reviews and Links for January 2013

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

2/5

I always want to like Kim Stanley Robinson a lot more than I do. The setup here is an interesting mystery set in a fascinating fully populated Solar System and if 2312 delivered on this premise it could have been a great book. But it's bogged down with exposition and a lengthy middle section on randomly repopulating extinct mammals and ended up just being a slog for me.

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Reviews and Links for December 2012

Phantom (Alexander Hawke, #7) by Ted Bell

Phantom (Alexander Hawke, #7) by Ted Bell

2/5

Sigh. The man can contradict himself in the space of a single sentence. Must stop...

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Reviews and Links for November 2012

Tsar (Alexander Hawke, #5) by Ted Bell

Tsar (Alexander Hawke, #5) by Ted Bell

2/5

Good yarn, poorly spun.

 

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Reviews and Links for October 2012

Skios by Michael Frayn

Skios by Michael Frayn

4/5

Perfectly well oiled comedy of errors.

 

The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture, #10) by Iain M. Banks

The Hydrogen Sonata (Culture, #10) by Iain M. Banks

3/5

Solid but somewhat routine Culture installment.

 

A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, #17) by Lee Child

A Wanted Man (Jack Reacher, #17) by Lee Child

3/5

Solid Reacher installment.

 

Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson

Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson

4/5

Excellent collection of articles and a couple of short stories. Worth reading just for the Wired article on the technology and politics of submarine cables.

 

Links

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Reviews and Links for September 2012

1Q84  by Haruki Murakami

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

5/5

Epic Murakami, set in a maybe-alternate-universe version of 1984. There is a definite change in tone in the third book, hard to tell if this is the story of the change in translator but the story sags slightly before picking up the pace again at the end. Even without this it's a long and sprawling book which you'll love if you like Murakami's tone and unique characterization. I'm in the love camp.

 

Links

Check out Field Trip on Google Play! https://t.co/EVGELuBe -- looks cool, automatically tells you when something interesting is near

Missing kids plan for 404 pages http://t.co/Z3B3v1QZ -- kind of creepy

Field Papers - http://t.co/QHIyzvPn - looks very cool. Via @RavenEllison #todo @myEN

Kids App Maker Duck Duck Moose Raises $7M Series A From Sequoia, Lightspeed & Others http://t.co/SaeXuzop -- well deserved

Crow Gyre http://t.co/jjLn3PtQ -- testing card approval

This Mind Blowing Video Does NOT Use Green Screen http://t.co/RkiyqmR3

San Francisco playground report card: http://t.co/shGKggA5 Precita Park gets an F :( #fb

Announcing Source Code Pro http://t.co/QpUUSO18 -- nice code font @myEN

ITHCWY: Crow Gyre http://t.co/kAM89GHF

Updated with more Endeavor pics: http://t.co/UIXy2xj5 #OV105 #spottheshuttle

Vernal Equinox 2012 in Catfood Earth http://t.co/UOHqwK3V via @CatfoodSoftware #equinox

ITHCWY: #OV105 http://t.co/m7Th3xMp

BBC News - Tom Daley 'abuse' tweet: Legal rethink on online rules http://t.co/ItA6wYFM -- only correct boundary is no boundary

Ridiculous / awesome: http://t.co/9Muup4tA

ITHCWY: Worst special TiVo offer ever http://t.co/rfTaeXn7

via @TheOnion - No One Murdered Because Of This Image http://t.co/Vilv9166

Check out Viva Fund Summer Campaign: http://t.co/XXwB9P1d via @razoo

5 of 5 stars to 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami http://t.co/T5u5ZiOB

ITHCWY: Earthquake Supply Co.: The last time we refreshed our earthquake supply kit was because of a smell. It… http://t.co/SlvpmlFO

ITHCWY: Like Debate?: I’ve just started work on a new project called Like Debate. It’s going to be a new type of… http://t.co/6Bj0YPxa

RT @LikeDebate: Getting Started - Like Debate is my attempt to build a new type of debate web site. The teaser page launched … http://t. ...

Ticked off: How stock market decimalization killed IPOs and ruined our economy http://t.co/P0CzpSQ2

Star Sighting: Invisible Obamas Seen Relaxing in Bernal Heights http://t.co/yLJkubYL #fb

Earth and WebCams announcement from http://t.co/YG0xtwCc: http://t.co/KlJfVs9j

ITHCWY: Catfood: Earth for Android: I’ve just released Catfood Earth for Android. It’s my second app created with… http://t.co/YGjxSkcb

ITHCWY: Guess? http://t.co/0hz03251

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Reviews and Links for August 2012

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

5/5

Stonking police procedural set in the months leading up to a global catastrophe.

 

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez

5/5

Excellent techno-thriller. A little more serious and focused than Daemon and Freedom (TM). It's about a worst case drone scenario, ants, extra-special forces and some smart birds. Very good.

 

Links

Windows 8, Users 0? http://t.co/966Cuwjz

Bill Nye declares Todd Akin "fucking idiot"; issues debate challenge http://t.co/AZ3k55Y4 #fb

ITHCWY: Fight Facebook with Email: I was a little saddened to read today that Diaspora is transitioning over to… http://t.co/2G0pDdu0

Diaspora Founders To Move On, Handing Over Decentralized Social Network ‘To The Community’ http://t.co/KQGb2kpv -- sad, but not the future

RT @MargaretAtwood: Just used http://t.co/Nhna2CGO for gruesome printer problem: excellent, done in 10 mins! Tks to S H E F I N. Website ...

Check out Catfood Earth Live Wallpaper on Google Play! https://t.co/NTJQ1sYL

ITHCWY: Twenty-Four Hours with Twilio: I've wanted to play with Twilio's voice and SMS service for a while and… http://t.co/KOK0PG2M

Tuesdays http://t.co/BLNiCP3H

Twitter Cuts Off Tumblr's Ability to Find Friends http://t.co/1g3ZcClf

5 of 5 stars to The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters http://t.co/9NF2nviH

XML: http://t.co/VadVt321 #rofl

Windows 8 Is Now Available For Developers (And For Everybody Else, There’s A 90-Day Free Trial, Too) http://t.co/iu1li6BV

Gotye's YouTube orchestra remix of "Somebody That I Used to Know" http://t.co/OUEXXltQ

ITHCWY: City by the Bay: View from Bernal Hill this afternoon. http://t.co/11cI3ctk

Nice panorama! Curiosity rover: Martian solar day 2 #360pano http://t.co/w1H2ocUm via @360cities

ITHCWY: Share a picture in MonoDroid: Here’s how to share a picture to Facebook, Twitter and so forth from… http://t.co/pByzvjmx

5 of 5 stars to Kill Decision by Daniel Suarez http://t.co/TKgUMNW0

BBC News - Mars rover makes first colour panorama http://t.co/fZ7u8smZ

How Apple and Amazon Security Flaws Led to My Epic Hacking http://t.co/BDmRAbm3

Via KQED Guides: Guide to Bay Area Tidepools: Where to Explore Amazing Marine Life | http://t.co/TDBRDnTD #todo @myEN

ITHCWY: Catfood: WebCams for Android: I’ve just released a WebCam app for Android. It’s based on WebCamSaver but… http://t.co/azZUwkkz

Pay for a new social network with no ads? https://t.co/2tox3c2y Anyone I know going to be on there? #fb

Curiosity http://t.co/D2cyWE66

BBC News - Photo shows Mars rover descent http://t.co/KfOv1qOF

Catfood WebCams for Android - Catfood Software http://t.co/VzeySq90 via @CatfoodSoftware

Check out Catfood WebCams on Google Play! https://t.co/VTU8YiBd

ITHCWY: Not a Private Key: When jarsigner says "Key Associated with [alias] not a private key" it almost certainly… http://t.co/3sk89ENV

ITHCWY: Sending email via GMail in C#/.NET using SmtpClient: I’ve stubbed my toe on this a couple of times, so here… http://t.co/QJ7YjcjI

Help end patent litigation insanity and tell your congress person to back SHIELD. http://t.co/27anadBt

ITHCWY: Support SHIELD–a small measure of patent sanity: A friend pointed me at the SHIELD (PDF) act today. This… http://t.co/ArXHgZ0e

ITHCWY: Thank you for choosing HSA Bank!: No, thank you HSA Bank for not giving me a choice and then cheekily… http://t.co/9torSXCq

Bill would force patent trolls to pay defendants’ legal bills | Ars Technica http://t.co/poB3zzlX +1, via @sr00t

What a happy coincidence. As well as #IPAday it's also goof off at work day: http://t.co/7AItItWq

Apparently it's #IPADay - luckily there's some @21stAmendment in the fridge. http://t.co/jyYPSePC

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Reviews and Links for July 2012

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

4/5

A personal anti-adventure, gripping and poignant and pedestrian.

 

The Children of the Sky (Zones of Thought, #3) by Vernor Vinge

The Children of the Sky (Zones of Thought, #3) by Vernor Vinge

0/5

Solid, unexpected third installment. Don't read if you haven't read the first two.

 

Links

'robot revolution would end quickly, because the robots would all break down or get stuck against walls' - http://t.co/X4AFepMI

RT @GeoCollective: Daniel @RavenEllison speaking at National Geographic on the importance of #geography and #guerrillageography http://t ...

Aspam, Aomori, Japan - looks like Blade Runner. http://t.co/UePboKyJ

Cloud Atlas trailer http://t.co/etJealdX (on the plus side, lots of reasons for this to be great, on the minus side... Tom Hanks :( ) #fb

[text: “what the fuck, it worked the first time”,... http://t.co/chCeMv8M

Chow Down (at Chick-fil-A): http://t.co/cOuZViuC via @youtube

4 of 5 stars to The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes http://t.co/lV8ZrNHL

I side 90% with Jill Stein... http://t.co/zCNzugqD

Naples, Florida, USA snapshot from Catfood WebCams on Android. http://t.co/HACOmEhr

Testing a webcam share from Android... http://t.co/Ha94fZoW

Photo http://t.co/GnDGvPPZ

Rolling up social APIs: https://t.co/qrXnqX7T #todo @myEN

Thanks for the Cash Mr. Bubble Man: http://t.co/ZonD58yD

With More Original Programming On The Way, Netflix TV Viewing Is On The Rise http://t.co/Q8oCNZUv -- missing the point, lack of content

Hubble discovers new Pluto moon http://t.co/kRB95fLu -- Promote Pluto back to a planet immediately!

Amanda Palmer's awesome stop-motion music video [NSFW]: http://t.co/XfGBC9NY

ITHCWY: Hummingbird http://t.co/CHtA5fV3

Clegg: House of Lords is 'flawed' http://t.co/qp6MuKPO -- yes, do this: http://t.co/QNPyzu8X

ITHCWY: Twitter's API has got too painful for me: I've developed a bunch of stupid, niche and vaguely promising… http://t.co/J6Y0EZ62

IT class warfare — It’s not just IBM http://t.co/bK0Nr2lG

Naming Pets http://t.co/syC0kgWa

BBC News - Brian Cox: bank bailout costlier than UK science 'since Jesus' http://t.co/1RSN5g5Z -- amaaaaazzzziiiinnnnngg

"A conversation with my 12 year old self" (video) http://t.co/zYOEKDnN -- freaky

ITHCWY: Shrubbery: A missed opportunity to demand that violators shall provide... another shrubbery! (At the Old… http://t.co/lBSQaDmI

Probably the Higgs: http://t.co/yspWoQlv

Spring cleaning in summer http://t.co/269vRG1O - Google kills iGoogle. It was naff, but it drove a lot of @CatfoodSoftware business. Sad.

Cisco's cloud vision: Mandatory, monetized, and killed at their discretion http://t.co/OkBkKAsA via @extremetech @CiscoSystems

A better idea for House of Lords reform: http://t.co/WXhNgHF4 Agree? vote for http://t.co/svIg4nuG #lordsreform

ITHCWY: House of Lords - time for Legislative Service?: I've mulled the idea of having an upper chamber randomly… http://t.co/6C5cQjz2

You Might Be A Smanker If… http://t.co/L91rDvqV

Cisco locks customers out of their own routers, only lets them back in if they agree to being spied upon and monetized http://t.co/2QIdw42P

Bouncy, bouncy druids, not available outside the UK: http://t.co/mw7XcKth

Division http://t.co/2tIh8IXM via @RavenEllison

Patent troll http://t.co/AY3FIg8W

Operated by the knights who say NI! http://t.co/TkMndo7c

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Reviews and Links for June 2012

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

3/5

A love triangle set in the turmoil of post-graduation. Well written but left me a little cold, I just didn't care for the characters or the sudden resolution.

 

Links

An important update from the International Earth Rotation Service http://t.co/n5VcLNH3 <- warning, subculture

Seeing Beyond the Human Eye: Video of beautiful scientific and artistic photography http://t.co/aZsFEfh1

ITHCWY: Mission:Explore Food - Get It Now: I posted a few months ago about my brother's crowd funded book, Mission… http://t.co/1A2FEkHN

Kate's #MEF151 looks hard! http://t.co/Qo4N4weY #fb

Pyura Chilensis, the living rock http://t.co/54moGgML

Ghosts With Shit Jobs: http://t.co/CjDH5mz6 #fb

Google's Nexus 7 tablet image leaks onto the Web http://t.co/nuLji4zz via @CNET - holy crap that's a big bezel #io12

Robot Hand beats you at Rock-Paper-Scissors every time. http://t.co/W4K1zAeq (Robot hand crushes rock, robot hand crushes scissors...)

Moon Landing http://t.co/oHFSCowO

Patent 'trolls cost $29bn a year' http://t.co/VQRiKFtb

Facebook Just Changed Your Email Without Asking http://t.co/z9QRi3qP

#Bernal now has a Solar Pump http://t.co/e40lcNLY

House of Lords reform: Nick Clegg's crazy plan is a pay day for has-beens and never-wozzers via @Telegraph http://t.co/kDjbqTFh

Future of ATA = more dishes. Not that expensive. What about it @NancyPelosi ? #SETIcon http://t.co/uobbZ065

Meeting moons at #SETIcon http://t.co/MXykt1QK

RT @erinbiba: http://t.co/Ahh0IhXq - a directory of ways for YOU to participate in space exploration. (Build a rover, get your name on a ...

Is Jupiter helpful to life on Earth? In some ways yes, in some ways no. #SETIcon http://t.co/pG1U3mf3

http://t.co/mZWx5FIr Turing Suicide in doubt?

Gaia corollary: http://t.co/9lPllPbT #SETIcon (re global organism)

Intelligent life: it's all about the unknown unknowns #SETIcon http://t.co/Goo7ngUq

Gorgeous start to the second full day of #SETIcon 2. http://t.co/f0bbwW4V

Was God required for the Big Bang panel rather unfairly stacked 100% against God #SETIcon http://t.co/Keg164Vo

How to find aliens: advice from NASA, SETI and the EMH. #SETIcon http://t.co/HAHZrbv6

ITHCWY: SETIcon 2: I'm at SETIcon 2 this weekend. It's a mix of science, sci-fi, religion and general speculation… http://t.co/jifR8Ang

http://t.co/FZo6GzxJ #todo #SETIcon @myEN Kepler archives opening in October

Success of Kepler Mission is staggering. Discovering water worlds, planets everywhere. #SETIcon http://t.co/4EytfDks

On the cusp of routine spaceflight - at #SETIcon http://t.co/iUU6GgEz

I'm reading Mission:Explore Food on @graphicly! http://t.co/z0iqfQKJ

Far-Fetched Scams Separate the Gullible from Everyone Else http://t.co/M8SyoAvH

Scout: get notified every time Congress proposes legislation with keywords you care about http://t.co/OlU04P45

Exoplanets http://t.co/CAu4C9v9 #fb

Falsehoods programmers believe about time - riff on the malleability of computer time http://t.co/sznLoFlH

JustAnswer Becomes http://t.co/U0xZtr5Z, Raises $25 Million Series A http://t.co/r5IQzmFZ via @techcrunch #PearldotcomLaunch

VatorNews - JustAnswer rebrands as Pearl, raises $25M http://t.co/MTveL1qB via @po_st #PearldotcomLaunch

http://t.co/U0xZtr5Z Has Professional Advice, for a Price http://t.co/RnyqID2G via @mashable #PearldotcomLaunch

Andy Kurtzig Raises $25M To Take Expert Services Online With http://t.co/U0xZtr5Z - http://t.co/PPFhu3q8 #PearldotcomLaunch

JustAnswer Becomes Pearl, Comes Out From Under the Radar http://t.co/5l3UTZ1M #PearldotcomLaunch

A Pearl (.com) Comes Out of http://t.co/LZa65dD3 http://t.co/tUhBuEhe via @HuffPostTech #PearldotcomLaunch

Customer Story - Dr. David Helps Nick Recover from Brain Hemorrhage: http://t.co/HK59IUw2 via @pearl.com #PearldotcomLaunch

RT @Pearldotcom: http://t.co/x1sGSaBc is now in beta, come check us out at http://t.co/ePbqZPiU! #PearldotcomLaunch

RT @MissionExplore: Mission:Explore Food – Video yourself doing one of the missions from the book and get a free copy http://t.co/TpkoBOaY

ITHCWY: Near-plurality of idiocy: "In the 30 years since Gallup started asking people whether they believe humans… http://t.co/9f5FoX9Z

BBC News - Alan Turing: why the tech world's hero should be a household name http://t.co/5eqmNyXY

ITHCWY: Petrol & Marks & Spencer: I recently got back from a trip back to the UK. Every time I go back these days… http://t.co/cV0N8tY7

+1 Error Code 451: an HTTP error for censorship http://t.co/OoA942o8

#todo @myEN Mobile-Friendly Pet Locator PetHub Closes $1.3 Million Seed Round http://t.co/DtkMMSoj

Bridge birthday thing... http://t.co/bBEc7TiC

Brrrr-earnal http://t.co/dD4FiXrv

Defensive Patent License: judo for patent-trolls http://t.co/h6Eq82kr

3 of 5 stars to The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides http://t.co/aJwE7cIz

Check out this presentation : How to stop sucking and be awesome instead http://t.co/fqW1ZTG5 via @slideshare

Transit of Venus AND Sutro Tower Serendipitously Photographed from Bernal Hill http://t.co/bZAogCf8

Office has laid on EURO 2012 coverage. http://t.co/8dDStstW

Ridiculously nice walk with Rudy. http://t.co/u6E9H1Gg

ITHCWY: Playmobil http://t.co/bIuMirqh

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Mission:Explore Food - Get It Now

I posted a few months ago about my brother's crowd funded book, Mission:Explore Food. The funding was successful, and the ebook version is available now.

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Reviews and Links for May 2012

No book reviews this month.

Links

#boarding SFO http://t.co/YLDFpmwF

Penn Jillette's rant against Obama's drug policy http://t.co/Ri5HAqxH

Congratulations @SpaceX -- Dragon arrives at space station in historic 1st http://t.co/91suk4ZV via @sfgate

Why your camera's GPS won't work in China (maybe) http://t.co/FQIFN8wI

Sigh, obvious, invalid, bullshit -- BBC News - Microsoft wins patent fight with Google's Motorola unit http://t.co/0PENWTCV

BBC News the secret links between Star Wars and Wales http://t.co/T8yEulCu (is there any tenuous link with Wales you won't publish?)

:) Hot weather to continue next week http://t.co/izAc2yA1

Not Skip's Tavern any more... http://t.co/dPx1NIj8

Reality rocks in San Francisco earthquake exhibit http://t.co/yo82B38b (Looking forward to this!)

BBC News - In pictures: Annular eclipse http://t.co/YA5F6or2 (Check out the Lemurs checking out the eclipse)

ITHCWY: Annular Eclipse at SFO: The only solar observatory outside the international terminal at SFO (some… http://t.co/ZqMXm8Ec

Beer was near, sadly earlier. http://t.co/2BeMAJZj

America's great divergence - American History - http://t.co/zQcVJIcQ http://t.co/fSdtXSvl

"Why won't you answer me?" - Parenting - http://t.co/zQcVJIcQ http://t.co/Ljzg6vpG (I should stop telling Kate about her 'milk head')

1906 earthquake refugee cottage at The Presidio. http://t.co/pof5LotA

+1 Judge suspends US law that provided for indefinite detention without trial - Boing Boing http://t.co/xsBuLyYb via @BoingBoing

Daniel Raven-Ellison, Guerrilla Geographer Information, Facts, News, Photos -- National Geographic http://t.co/DjgJdvMJ via @NatGeo

ITHCWY: Gopher Snake: Bernal Heights Park http://t.co/OoHYDU0y

Turned out nice... http://t.co/G2pHtgbd

RT @CatfoodSoftware: Blog: Catfood Software on Google+ and a Hangout Pledge: Catfood is now on Google+. Once 50… http://t.co/ZC84h8AN

ITHCWY: Open Immigration: I'm increasingly in favor of opening up immigration. Partly it's a general sense that a… http://t.co/cBLQT2rI

ITHCWY: Snake rests on Toad: At the California Academy of Sciences. http://t.co/YTQh682A

New Golden Gate Visitor center - lots of tat, no food :( http://t.co/vXmZn099

Obama sighting on morning dog walk. #fb http://t.co/wZdwN2Mj

President Obama: 'I Think Same-Sex Couples Should Be Able to Get Married'; http://t.co/CtC6k2A8 (shameful that it has taken this long)

Gaia revisited: http://t.co/sHSeFph7 - I'm still in the extreme camp: http://t.co/6dzIjBy7

Post Doyle Drive detour quite pleasant on the way home tonight. http://t.co/fSK8e4v9

THINKWALKS: http://t.co/ToOZo3KQ #todo in San Francisco @myEN

ITHCWY: Bottled Water: A company called Evive launched this week to battle the evil of bottled water with reusable… http://t.co/5X9e3emO

ITHCWY: Pelicans http://t.co/0xoup7z5

It's @KQED pledge yet again. Throw them a bone public radio freeloaders: http://t.co/00UvTamT

Illegal dumping can now be voted to fix at http://t.co/SsliF12n #bernal-heights!

Yet Another Awful Dumping Incident on Bernal Hill http://t.co/35kLDRdn via @bernalwood

+1 AllClear ID Rolls Out First-Ever Social Security Number Blocking Service For Children's IDs http://t.co/wnRILNzQ via @techcrunch

Rejected and controversial New Yorker cover art (the mentos one is very good) http://t.co/afo9AxZd via @BoingBoing #fb

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Reviews and Links for April 2012

APIs: A Strategy Guide by Dan Woods

APIs: A Strategy Guide by Dan Woods

3/5

Works as a good checklist of the various business, legal, technical, marketing and strategic considerations you should think of when launching an API. Not a huge amount of depth in any one area though.

 

Pharmacology by Christopher Herz

Pharmacology by Christopher Herz

4/5

A tale of legal and illegal drugs in San Francisco from the perspective of Sarah, a transplant from the mid-west in town to make money to send back to her sick father and expose the evils of the pharmaceutical industry. Reads like Sarah sat down next to you in a cafe and poured out her entire life story before you even knew what hit you.

 

Links

Interesting, but the first book I tried was wrong: http://t.co/gUPyhpjM (The Interpreter in Look to Windward)

ITHCWY: Go-arounds: LEGO and Legislative Service: LEGO: I wrote in January about LEGO's[1] misogynistic latest LEGO… http://t.co/s2PlMzGn

ITHCWY: Kindle: Figure out sorting!: I love my Kindle. Loved it since seeing the screen for the first time after… http://t.co/zimbDLpz

ITHCWY: Catfood: Cleat 1.10: I've just released an updated version of Cleat that supports geolocation and… http://t.co/SESV9VH7

4 of 5 stars to Pharmacology by Christopher Herz http://t.co/SgGZR4Lz

I still don't like the Oxford Comma, but... http://t.co/oJB50wGw

ITHCWY: Prophylactic: Absolutely no chance of scurvy tonight. http://t.co/RpX1z78M

Artist Captures Dog vs. Gopher Confrontation on Bernal Hill http://t.co/OlUgGHOG - It could be Rudy...

Graffiti - Public - Other_enter_additional_details_below/101 Elsie St San Francisco, CA 94110, USA http://t.co/c9P7xkjx #bernal-heights!

Lego tries to get less sexist http://t.co/WD9lmRuK - and previously: http://t.co/Psc5ZNua

"It’s the product development version of the Hunger Games" - http://t.co/wNA0DHWy via @uservoice

SciFi in HiFi! - Sean Young's video of the making of Dune - Boing Boing http://t.co/BXTACFpj via @BoingBoing

Shocking, but need to distinguish between standardized tests and shit standardized tests: Florida standardized... http://t.co/c8488XDw

+1: Introducing the Innovator's Patent Agreement http://t.co/naK9hYxw via @twitter

Extraordinary: The real criminals in the Tarek Mehanna case http://t.co/GOqxgIJ2

They are deadly serious about not taking photos at @#spamalotsf http://t.co/5di7viuy

JSON Formatter & Validator: http://t.co/L220TCHf

ITHCWY: California Slender Salamander http://t.co/EvNlFOnS

Patent Law 101: What’s Wrong And Ways To Make It Right http://t.co/6QnLLHL7 via @techcrunch

ITHCWY: Even Shitier - Citibank Remortgage Scam: Citibank contacted us in December offering to remortgage our house… http://t.co/mxGi3j6K

ITHCWY: Baby Yellow Spiders: A chair in our garden has produced a bumper crop of baby Cross Orbweaver spiders. Very… http://t.co/0VBjSvPq

Wow: http://t.co/N4tbm77Y Rear Window loop via @jwz

Final Plan for Bernal Hill Trail Restoration Unveiled: http://t.co/bp3uFOZu - from @bernalwood

RT @Pearldotcom: Our new site is coming soon! Get on the list to be notified about launch details: http://t.co/75ddUi63

ITHCWY: Sod Searle And Sod His Sodding Room: Marcus du Sautoy, writing on BBC News, brings up Searle's Chinese Room… http://t.co/FmcVPbzC

ITHCWY: California, I can save you billions with a small and reasonably priced computer program...: California just… http://t.co/Ro96lk3J

California, I can save you billions with a small and reasonably priced computer program... http://t.co/iDZEbAQ9 -> @JerryBrownGov

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Reviews and Links for March 2012

No books this month.

Links

RT @drclue: "drclue: #pearlhunt making progress... http://t.co/FAgLQ2UH" --http://www.twitter.com/drclue/status/185829093244280832

We won #pearlhunt and all we won was this... http://t.co/vUBgLWeK

Bald eagle, fox, and cat are porch friends - Boing Boing http://t.co/5WGciNLD via @BoingBoing

ITHCWY: Agua: Little known fact, geologists would tell you that Bernal Hill is made of chert, actually it's mostly… http://t.co/xMRm2J9n

ITHCWY: Mangler: I don't know what the machine attached to our office does but it's giving me nightmares. http://t.co/BSbvoshq

ITHCWY: It was where he left it: Not to bang on about the BBC and their horrible headlines but 'lost' is a bit… http://t.co/bDKjUbl4

ITHCWY: Executive Clubbing: I used to really love British Airways. I even got over their silly new livery and… http://t.co/NC2Bt9bM

ITHCWY: Sand Ladder at Fort Funston http://t.co/5aeQjoti

ITHCWY: SFO http://t.co/sB1QdXCt

BBC News - The Spanish link in cracking the Enigma code http://t.co/Qv6qYqqQ #fb

ITHCWY: Robot Ahead http://t.co/tn7mHTI8

ITHCWY: Goldilocks: Israel just banned models with a BMI under 18.5. That's not severely underweight, it's the… http://t.co/G5HCE5Ey

External impact report for @IDEX at http://t.co/BsMp8ADa

RT @CatfoodSoftware: Blog: Vernal (Spring) #Equinox 2012 in Catfood #Earth: Spring starts right now in the… http://t.co/xxnASTMp

Good weekend to skip Fort Funston: http://t.co/UE8blE4c

ITHCWY: Catfood: PdfScan 1.40: Catfood PdfScan 1.40 is a small bug fix release. PdfScan converts documents to PDFs… http://t.co/YXdMn6ux

RT @CatfoodSoftware: Blog: Catfood #PdfScan 1.40: I’ve just released Catfood PdfScan 1.40. This is a minor update… http://t.co/6bzjCdfi

Shamed... http://t.co/AlSwTzzY

ITHCWY: Three reasons the dream of a robot companion isn't over: David Lee reports from the Innorobo 2012… http://t.co/JndJZahn

ITHCWY: Fixing dropped wireless connection for Linksys E4200: I've been going quietly mad trying to fix a constant… http://t.co/VVZ2dl2m

Why is this firefighting robot familiar: http://t.co/rqXLfCdC vs. http://t.co/wCL3Hu2d US Navy, call Cybernetics #fb

RT @CatfoodSoftware: Blog: To Follow or Not To Follow: The Third Way: Mashable published an article by Christine… http://t.co/MEzWlryS

ITHCWY: Sweeney Ridge: Sweeney Ridge, starting from Skyline College and walking up to the Portola Expedition… http://t.co/g1HIms1F

ITHCWY: Upgrading to http://t.co/0gDd7HHJ 2.5: Today I upgraded this blog to the latest and greatest version of… http://t.co/HHDj7VdM

"not a threat to the penguins, we don't suspect" - http://t.co/oIrzQOEj - it wasn't a dream!

http://t.co/qRCS8Qhb (new #SF data portal) #todo @myEN

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Reviews and Links for February 2012

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

The Snowman by Jo Nesbø

4/5

Very good, enjoying the entire Harry Hole series. Wishing for translations of the first two now!

 

The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbø

The Devil's Star by Jo Nesbø

3/5

Slightly weaker than the others in the series I've read so far but still knocked it back quickly.

 

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø

The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø

4/5

Best so far on my quest to read through Nesbo...

 

Nemesis by Jo Nesbø

Nemesis by Jo Nesbø

4/5

On a Jo Nesbo binge...

 

The Leopard by Jo Nesbø

The Leopard by Jo Nesbø

4/5

Compelling crime thriller, rather worryingly one of series featuring Harry Hole so I'm going to have to go back to the beginning and read all of them.

 

Links

Catfood.Shapefile 1.51: http://t.co/BKtkx9Zq (ESRI Shapefile Parser, fixed release binary issue).

4 of 5 stars to The Snowman by Jo Nesbø http://t.co/IrvdrDBf

Breaking Good: how to synthesize Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) From N-Methylamphetamine (crystal meth): http://t.co/fviYaj5P

ITHCWY: Catfood.Shapefile 1.50: I've just released a small update to my C# Shapefile library on Codeplex. Catfood… http://t.co/lXoGoBsY

4 of 5 stars to The Redbreast by Jo Nesbø http://t.co/PqrOQnQL

Epic #Bernal Panorama: http://t.co/zVqZYosG - via @bernalwood

Neal Stephenson on getting big stuff done http://t.co/6PHS1VD1 #todo @myEN

Stop Colbert: http://t.co/kBtSC7NV via @NancyPelosi

Wolfram|Alpha Pro: http://t.co/G88eWq6Y #tools @myEN

A History of the Sky for One Year: http://t.co/UKMjosCK (very cool)

+1: A U.S. appeals court rules Prop. 8 unconstitutional: http://t.co/TZgdKU9k #fb

ITHCWY: Badge Driven Development: Microsoft has released Visual Studio Achievements, an extension that brings… http://t.co/5BOyNF03

ITHCWY: GGNRA Dog Management Plan Update: I love it when making some noise works. The NPS is pushing its dog… http://t.co/fzqaJWM2

Unicode Character 'PILE OF POO' (U+1F4A9): http://t.co/LkGffsvW

http://t.co/NA6TOdQk #todo @myEN

BBC News - Can the US Army embrace atheists? http://t.co/5ubkKT7r

Running an API at HUGE Scale - Webinar: http://t.co/tEnxdRBM #API

4 of 5 stars to The Leopard by Jo Nesbø http://t.co/tIIPs1M5

ITHCWY: Reviews and Links for January 2012: Damned by Chuck Palahniuk 3/5 Very much a vehicle for Palahniuk to rant… http://t.co/6kvApyf1

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Reviews and Links for January 2012

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

3/5

Very much a vehicle for Palahniuk to rant about this and that through the voice of a 13 year old girl condemned to hell, supposedly for overdosing on pot. Entertaining, but felt that the plot served the ranting rather than the other way round.

 

Links

Shit Programmers Say: http://t.co/0rYyXWM5

Best explanation of software estimation failure ever: http://t.co/jC5hmQ3g

I've just funded Mission:Explore Food on Pleasefund.Us: http://t.co/ysLyDOZ6

Another comedy amendment: http://t.co/sWAqflbO

Shit Bernalites Say: http://t.co/O8AY0sgs from @bernalwood

San Francisco's rubbish - why everyone wants a share: http://t.co/kHzC6mgf

Own a color: http://t.co/5jKpfvJO (for Unicef)

Just say terrorist enough times Panetta: http://t.co/07tmXDEO

Applause: VA state senator attaches rectal exam amendment tacked on to anti-abortion bill http://t.co/Neezj7n6

ITHCWY: Has France Cracked Fixing Education?: The French are close to making it illegal to deny a second genocide… http://t.co/koOkE02M

Arrrrgggghhhh, it's pledge. Go throw @KQED a bone radio-chavving-freeloaders: http://t.co/ur7fBVGx

ITHCWY: But does it get you in the HOV lane?: Interesting but highly disturbing alternative fuel source... http://t.co/IOUVbIPD

Shit San Franciscans Say: http://t.co/vVfiI5yJ via @youtube

IANAL, but it certainly seems a bit crazy: http://t.co/iVW4I4ZR

Discover London With Mission:Explore! http://t.co/T0ZVGGr4

Load Testing with @CloudAssault http://t.co/PkwYNOh1 #API @myEN

Shit Silicon Valley Says: http://t.co/YK1Hlbws via @youtube

On the subject of deadly pork, MRSA found on 7% of samples in a University of Iowa test: http://t.co/1wIK1uqE

Thanks SCOTUS for making us eat sick pigs: http://t.co/scTowXXI

+1: http://t.co/V7QW1hi0 "I sent you a truck, a boat, and a helicopter! What the hell more did you want from me?"

Yay! Precita Park Upgrade: http://t.co/f4JOcNS7

Mission:Explore Food - PleaseFund.Us http://t.co/ysLyDOZ6 via @pleasefundus

ITHCWY: Mission:Explore Food - Crowd Fund It!: My brother is part of the Geography Collective, the team that make… http://t.co/jg6s9FKK

The word 'sustainable' is unsustainable: http://t.co/Iw8e9P2Q (XKCD)

Next step, jail for incorrect maths answers: http://t.co/US35YW2v (more illegal history in France...)

Chilling Effects: http://t.co/dXUSwGOQ (post Megaupload, file sharing sites disabling sharing)

http://t.co/jU4AeOdh

Visual Studio Gamification: http://t.co/kgHvGtsi

Shut down the Interstate highway system because a few people are speeding? Then don't do this: http://t.co/gvSaucwu

My new favorite word: semithermonuclear: http://t.co/zV8u067w (what Google will be doing tomorrow).

3 of 5 stars to Damned by Chuck Palahniuk http://t.co/CcmlNPqL

ITHCWY: Carr is Wrong: Costolo is Wrong: Wikipedia’s SOPA Blackout is a Great Idea: I was very happy to see… http://t.co/6rlFNgut

ITHCWY: Yet more on breaking the Internet: January 18th is Internet blackout day to protest against SOPA and PIPA… http://t.co/RH5bhObW

Web Goes On Strike: Jan 18th! All-out blackout 2 stop #SOPA #PIPA. Petition @twitter and other sites to join us. http://t.co/UNird4iF

ITHCWY: Better Paperless: I've just spent several hours scanning and then shredding tedious statements, medical… http://t.co/J7GBWJsb

ITHCWY: Misplaced Outrage: The video of US Marines urinating on corpses is shocking and counterproductive. But it's… http://t.co/E4jWRVcI

Worked on this idea in 2004, didn't get funded: http://t.co/CFuCTblk (Cloud-Based Video Editor WeVideo Launches To Public)

ITHCWY: Farallon Islands: A rare clear day where you can see the Farallon Islands from Fort Funston. http://t.co/hkvR1zYp

http://t.co/lPfzZesz

ITHCWY: More on breaking the Internet: I finally got round to actually reading SOPA and PIPA. I make my living from… http://t.co/WW8wIKou

Stop Internet #Censorship! Sign the global petition @Avaaz urging the US Congress to reject the #Blacklist Bill #SOPA http://t.co/MfsrnrBy

Illegal dumping on Bernal Hill: http://t.co/lR4GemC0 - Vote to get this cleaned up!

Office dog... #fb http://t.co/aOlinLwD

A Bird’s Eye View of Bernal Heights in 1938: http://t.co/XluPCJjW from @Bernalwood

AT&T LTE lights up in San Francisco: http://t.co/CzlJuUYo

ITHCWY: Installation: Early and Often: Jiri Novotny at Dextronet wrote a great post this week on improving… http://t.co/Q1rvrAWm

ITHCWY: Moon on a Wire: Testing posting by email with a picture of the moon from last night... I've extended… http://t.co/MQvLSeBj

William Gibson Essays: http://t.co/9AD9jQmo (How much do I need a parallel universe reading day?)

ITHCWY: LEGO, now for Girls: LEGO Friends is “The new LEGO theme – for girls!” So I guess the current sets not for… http://t.co/yVtN7awL

The Commodore 64 is 30 http://t.co/bBslFoVF via @reghardware

ITHCWY: Catfood.Shapefile 1.40: I’ve just released a small update to Catfood.Shapefile. Stephan Stapel, who… http://t.co/qindsQBw

Looking forward to seeing the restored Battery Townsley: http://t.co/jDPvI3jU #todo @myEN

Is Obama doomed in 2012? http://t.co/aGKoq2Nw

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Reviews and Links for December 2011

REST API Design Rulebook by Mark Masse

REST API Design Rulebook by Mark Masse

2/5

Two huge problems with this book. It's short and very repetitive so the information content is about a couple of blog posts. The 'rules' are highly subjective, and much of the book is pushing the author's WRML 'standard' which I've never seen in the wild. The only real positive is that it's a comprehensive survey of the issues you need to think about when designing a REST API: just don't take the rules as gospel and research best practice from major APIs so you understand the context.

 

Links

What are the 1865 stickers on Bernal Hill about? http://t.co/0CGOmRYe

ITHCWY: Congress: instead of breaking the Internet how about fixing child identity theft?: According the the… http://t.co/4eBrdCPI

Penn Jillette: An Atheist's Guide to the 2012 Election - Boing Boing http://t.co/oA8XEYzP via @BoingBoing

Shouldn't hackers be _taking over_ a network of satellites? http://t.co/QmOcn8oy

ITHCWY: Shiti: Citigroup sent me a nice notice saying they are going to share my information in about four thousand… http://t.co/DQLR5DlV

The coming war on general computation http://t.co/yl9vNJHc (Cory Doctorow)

Zeno's Advent Calendar: http://t.co/EyGf4vBY #fb

“we couldn’t as a company be in a position of acknowledging ... hidden people.” - http://t.co/K7aSceFm

Check this video out -- IDEX: Connecting You to Grassroots Solutions to Poverty http://t.co/kiq32ThR via @IDEX

Catfood Software Blog | Winter Solstice 2011 in Catfood Earth http://t.co/O0x5TngH via @CatfoodSoftware

For Christmas, Your Government Will Explain Why It's Legal to Kill You: http://t.co/rrMIrELV

Arch druid ... said it was a "good omen for the year ahead" that the sun had come up after the ceremony. http://t.co/UxK0BQlf

Looking forward to: Build better web applications with "Get Some REST" http://t.co/DGxCp9uN via @getsomerestbook

Why is @VisualStudio so busy? http://t.co/y9TLULLk

Sphero http://t.co/VCM5rvhK #todo @myEN

HTTP status cats by GirlieMac: classic server error codes, now with cats: http://t.co/1bJc3tgt

Land of the free taken nearly taken care of: http://t.co/uNlYAzoJ just need to do something about home of the brave. #fb

Trillion-frame-per-second video: http://t.co/JLsK5GDm

ITHCWY: Reviews and Links for November 2011: Reamde by Neal Stephenson 5/5 Intelligent and humorous if highly… http://t.co/ysKotKbY

Yet more on http://t.co/Dk1bJ0Ve: http://t.co/OTViMYQW (BoingBoing)

Check this video out -- Cello Wars (Star Wars Parody) Lightsaber Duel - Steven Sharp Nelson http://t.co/8xzzZh6E via @youtube

Stop marketers from being able to call your cellphone! http://t.co/wJd12VzP @CREDOMobile #p2

More on http://t.co/p0AhRSIl hijacking shareware to install crap: http://t.co/lDsXNB2g #fail

RT @justanswer: Want to know how old Santa is or what he gets Mrs. Claus for Xmas? Ask Santa your questions for free! http://t.co/i9WIce ...

You're doing it wrong: on toast, with butter: http://t.co/sTHvdHY6 (Sandwich Monday: The Marmite Sandwich)

Too hot? Switch Google off: http://t.co/ZRLIpH12

2 of 5 stars to REST API Design Rulebook by Mark Masse http://t.co/U6A4yQNk

Aliens on Ice: http://t.co/FmLdlfZ3

There, we fixed it: http://t.co/gEhPi3Z8 (The woman... must marry her rapist as a condition of the release.)

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Reviews and Links for November 2011

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

Reamde by Neal Stephenson

5/5

Intelligent and humorous if highly contrived thriller set loosely around an MMORPG. Loved it.

 

Embassytown by China Miéville

Embassytown by China Miéville

4/5

Highly original tale of colonists cohabiting with some very unusual aliens with a very unusual language. It reads like J.G. Ballard and Nicholson Baker decided to collaborate on some SciFi.

 

The Affair (Jack Reacher, #16) by Lee Child

The Affair (Jack Reacher, #16) by Lee Child

3/5

Not bad, returns to when Reacher was in uniform and tells the story of how he left the Army (the answer may surprise you). As with the last few in the series it all comes a little too easily and you wish there was at least one worthy opponent. I'm hooked though so as long as Child keeps writing them I'll keep reading.

 

Professional Android 2 Application Development by Reto Meier

Professional Android 2 Application Development by Reto Meier

3/5

Solid foundation and covers the platform you need to target to reach the majority of Android devices.

 

Links

RE: Feel free to use the code, no attribution required.  http://t.co/IJTcOz3p

BBC News - 7 questions on computer programmes http://t.co/XKylU7WT (more of a history / pop culture quiz)

Scooby-Doo and Secular Humanism: http://t.co/4h8M8kkK

4 of 5 stars to Embassytown by China Miéville http://t.co/kPwIrmDF

ITHCWY: Occupy Intellectual Ventures: Send them a troll. Now. http://t.co/VorWmZpz

Wow, My Flout score is -7 on @floutdotme! Get yours at http://t.co/1Sl8ei72

troll the troll! send a troll doll to intellectual ventures. http://t.co/S09ML14T via @nathtone

Walking through doorways causes forgetting, new research shows: http://t.co/JBbJXAaD

+1: Why Software Projects are Terrible and How Not To Fix Them: http://t.co/kE7WWix5

Hilarious, I had to Google how to power off Windows 8. Didn't figure it our until the third link: http://t.co/X1wrkh7R #fail

Building a Useful Task Board: http://t.co/icc8y4cU - only this should be a large monitor and an #API

#API Design Webinar http://t.co/rbDwus37 from @theamiableapi - some very valuable nuggets

Wow. Going to have to get this as a poster just to fully grok it: http://t.co/Z6iie3K5

ITHCWY: PolyLineM support in Catfood.Shapefile: I’ve just updated Catfood.Shapefile, my ESRI Shapefile parser for… http://t.co/ll50wcEi

Cal band at justanswer http://t.co/QOLcbe7e (missed this while at lunch)

Citogenesis: http://t.co/EH5K2xLg

Extensive document dump on Microsoft's shallow anti-Android bullying: http://t.co/tdEhMNLh #patents from @groklaw

Toast sandwich is UK's 'cheapest meal' http://t.co/0LG9zNOl (can't possibly be true - not factoring in cost of electricity!)

Analysis: The Darwin Economy: http://t.co/pSDkxupL

So True: What Your Favorite Map Projection Says About You: http://t.co/dW8pl2uK

Bootstrapped Company Behind iDrive, iBackup Is Fed Up With Patent Trolls: http://t.co/DP6KFLxH

The Real Cost of Patent Trolls: http://t.co/1Cu4C6cV via @bfeld

Flying rhinoceros: http://t.co/MIhWtT3L

Cool: 1% Of Nothing Launches To Get Startups Donating Equity: http://t.co/ZNy7HcZl

3 of 5 stars to Professional Android 2 Application De... by Reto Meier http://t.co/UqCtaJ3Z

'Have the people who designed this protocol really never made the twenty mile drive to San Francisco?' - http://t.co/wWk77ZpQ

Explaining 'Jobs' to Rudy Giuliani: http://t.co/ek78XEe9

ITHCWY: Catfood: Klout and Follower: Klout is building PageRank for people. You get a score between 0-100 based on… http://t.co/rGyYkY9q

Catfood Follower 1.40: http://t.co/79xDac4F via @CatfoodSoftware

Old friends... No CDTV though! At #CHM http://t.co/WGw6VOOL

How much did I used to want one of these! http://t.co/lHhnY0AG

At #CHM for Norvig v Horvitz. Will punch anyone who mentions Searle's Room. http://t.co/wPRO8tYa

Don't do it, like defining π as 4: BBC News - Changes to the world's time scale debated http://t.co/hFkrZi4g

RESTful API Design, Second Edition http://t.co/uZthmj9c #API from @landlessness

Rudy wishes I hadn't just shown him: "Saber-toothed squirrel" from the dinosaur days - Boing Boing http://t.co/Wf7Y0ttH

Marked as to-read: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries http://t.co/MC9M0Iti

Ex-Google Reader Product Manager Posts Scathing Review Of Reader Redesign | TechCrunch http://t.co/DscEAHTw

Google indexing via POST: http://t.co/oM2JmHqI (P.S. may not grok your robots.txt, suggests bending over)

Writing helpful API documentation « The Amiable API http://t.co/rx9QdKyk #API

Oakland PD confused: An Open Letter to the Citizens of Oakland From the Oakland Police Officers Association http://t.co/W5LIBY7D (me too)!

Study: why parents help their underage kids pretend to be 13 in order to use Internet sites - Boing Boing http://t.co/aoUSw5wu

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Reviews and links for October 2011

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

4/5

It's a homage to the 80s and early computer games set in the ultimate MMORPG of the future. What's not to love?

 

Links

- The Important Field from xkcd.com (Snort).

- Girls equal in throne succession from BBC News - Home (Not really the main inequality of a monarchy...).

- Delta-P from xkcd.com (:)).

- On Tea from Boing Boing (Damned right).

- New Data API Around NASA Data Sets from API Evangelist - Blog (NASA data #API :) #todo @myEN).

- (title unknown) from riot right clit click (The only #SF residents who follow the MUNI front door only rule).

- Royal succession changes proposed from BBC News - Home (Simon Cowell to have final say).

- Ben & Jerry's taste for protest from BBC News - Home (Brave Brand Stand).

- Subscription Service For Kids Activities Kiwi Crate Raises $2 Million from TechCrunch (If they're still going in a couple of years...).

- Eternal Flame from xkcd.com (Nice Jobs tribute from XKCD).

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Reviews and links for September 2011

Neutrino by Frank Close

Neutrino by Frank Close

3/5

Narrow topic, but an interesting book, especially the frustratingly long effort to reconcile observed electron neutrinos from the Sun with reality. Has a rather repetitive recap at the end that ends up recapping some of the recap which rather bogged things down. I definitely know more about neutrinos than I did before though.

 

Links

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Reviews and links for August 2011

RESTful .NET by Jon Flanders

RESTful .NET by Jon Flanders

4/5

Great coverage of exposing and consuming a RESTful service using WCF. Note that you'll need the services of a good WCF book, this builds on existing WCF expertise and doesn't try that hard to bring you up to speed. Which isn't a bad thing, it keeps the book relatively short and focused. I'll be referring back to this one often.

 

Rule 34 by Charles Stross

Rule 34 by Charles Stross

4/5

Stross flips out concepts in a sentence that many SciFi authors would build an entire book around. It's a near-future police procedural set in Edinburgh. Twisted, tongue-in-cheek, profane and most excellent. The only miss is the assumption that people will use Wave in the near-future, let alone now. It's the first book of his that I've read... will be seeking out more soon.

 

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick

The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood by James Gleick

4/5

Epic. A must read for cybernauts who may have forgotten their roots. Good for anyone else interested in what information actually is, and how pervasive information theory has become.

 

Links

- Password Strength from xkcd.com (Read this now, then change your passwords!).

- Baby sex blood tests 'accurate' from BBC News - Home (Bad news for girls...).

- Are your genes somebody else's property? from All Salon (More patent stupidity, this time genes (@myEV)).

- IE users have lower IQ says study from BBC News - Home (Highest IQ? Telnet to port 80 directly).

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Reviews and links for July 2011

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

4/5

Jon Ronson just has an incredible knack of getting crazy people to talk to him. In The Psychopath Test he mixes with Scientologists, CEOs, psychopaths and psychopath hunters. The book is both funny and very disturbing. There's the theory that a significant proportion of CEOs and politicians are successful because they are psychopaths. There's the somewhat arbitrary checklist that is used to diagnose a psychopath and the impossible situation of trying to prove that you're sane once you've been committed. And there's the profit seeking alliance between drug companies and psychologists that Ronson claims has led to over *three million* children being diagnosed as bipolar in the US when quite possibly none of them are.

 

One Day by David Nicholls

One Day by David Nicholls

3/5

A sharply observed romance spanning the 80s, 90s and 00s. Initial lust turns to friendship, hatred, some more friendship and finally love. Decent enough read.

 

Links

- Why do so many people online hate "The Smurfs"? from All Salon (Because so many people IRL do).

- Spotify sued over music streaming from BBC News - Home (Trolls with a feeble looking patent. Sigh.).

- Judge blocks circumcision ban bid from BBC News - Home (Then under what theory is female circumcision banned?).

- Is monogamy essential to democracy? from All Salon (No, you're thinking of mahogany).

- We could have had the Moon, instead we get Afghanistan from jwz (Actually nearly three moons...).

- Medical Examiner: Bullet That Killed Kenneth Harding Not From Police from KQED News Fix (Will the protesters turn out for some community service this weekend then?).

- Standards from xkcd.com (Guilty).

- Government 'to back badger cull' from BBC News - Home ('badger' is a British euphemism for 'tabloid journalist').

- The Brain on Trial from jwz (Not guilty by reason of finely tuned initial conditions).

- Unusual toilets from Boing Boing (They missed the pop up toilets from Reading.).

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Reviews and links for June 2011

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

5/5

A new must have parenting book. The giant pangolins of Madagascar are inspired, move over Eric Carle. The only problem with the book is that as soon as Kate can read I'm going to have to permanently worry about where this is hidden...

 

Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie, #4) by Kate Atkinson

Started Early, Took My Dog (Jackson Brodie, #4) by Kate Atkinson

4/5

Better than When Will There Be Good News although no less depressing. Jackson Brodie (curiously now on Twitter as @JacksonBrodie) is back at the center of the action, investigating the origins of a woman in New Zealand who was adopted under mysterious circumstances. Needless to say it wasn't a harmless mix up. Typically discursive and character rich. Humorous with a black, black heart.

 

Links

- Robot Armpit Prototype from jwz (At last!).

- Scottish domain name bid launched from BBC News - Home (.scot is silly though, should nab .off which could power the economy post independence...).

- Parents 'influence teen drinking' from BBC News - Home (Funny how that works both ways ;)).

- Heat and light from BBC News - Home (Will a drop in solar activity counter global warming? Apparently not enough).

- High court spurns atheist's 'under God' challenge from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Pretty feeble arguments for why the phrase isn't discriminatory...).

- Sarah Palin on Paul Revere from Boing Boing (Got to love the Paul Revere head slap).

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Reviews and links for May 2011

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

3/5

The first couple of chapters are hilarious and then it's a solid, sprawling family drama with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. I just couldn't click with any of the characters and ultimately didn't care how things turned out for any of them.

 

Links

- S.F. bus driver marks 40 years behind the wheel from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (A career spanning nearly three blocks of Mission ;)).

- Obama, in Europe, signs Patriot Act extension from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Need to stage an addiction to emergency powers intervention...).

- Sarkozy questions 'neutral' net from BBC News - Home (Right, because someone might see a photo of someone in a burqa).

- Many baby items found to contain toxic chemicals from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Goes up to 100% once baby has actually used them.).

- Preview Coming Bay Bridge Road Change With New App from KQED News Fix (Android users smart enough to drive without an app preview...).

- In 3D - ants as you have never seen them before from BBC News - Home (Um, no. Unless you're a cyclops this is exactly how you see ants.).

- Magna Carta: Live! from KQED News Fix (Should really go and see this...).

- Police called as dog bites voters from BBC News - Home (It's a case of 'first past the pug').

- Photo: Obama and National Security team during Osama kill operation from Boing Boing (That looks like one lame situation room.).

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Reviews and links for April 2011

Zero Day by Mark Russinovich

Zero Day by Mark Russinovich

2/5

Promising start, Mark 'system internals' Russinovich certainly knows his stuff and the initial computer forensics are bang on. Sadly it descends into a pedestrian chase thriller and the malware takes a back seat to cookie cutter Arab terrorists.

 

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

5/5

An education on many different species of parallel universes: in space, in time, in dimensions, in simulations and more. Interesting detours into the current state of cosmology and quantum theory and much discussion on the nature of science when exploring realms that may forever be closed to observation (although it's surprising how many of the parallel universes may leave some detectable footprint in ours, or be conclusively ruled out by future experiments). Fascinating and very well written.

 

Links

- SF Chronicle video prompts White House threat from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Petty. What did you just say about having more important things to do? #Obama).

- Mayor Ed Lee Opposed to Shark Fin Ban from KQED News Fix (Boo temporary Mayor!).

- Reserve marine life 'flourishing' from BBC News - Home (Are scallops in some sense not wildlife?).

- Homes' solar panels often boost values from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Yippee! That was my theory when we did it...).

- Bernalwood’s Wild Kingdom, or How To Deal Unwanted Guests from Bernalwood (It's like Cloverfield in a garage!).

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Reviews and links for March 2011

The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids by Tom Hodgkinson

The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids by Tom Hodgkinson

3/5

It could have been a great one page idle book - leave the kids alone more. But I guess that wouldn't fly with the publisher so it's more of a manifesto for a more traditional childhood - four hour school day, build things from wood, raise and eat your own pigs. Possibly idyllic but far from idle. Also, Hodgkinson denounces computers yet the book wants you to visit its blog. Entertaining and occasionally inspirational nonetheless.

 

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle

The Very Quiet Cricket by Eric Carle

2/5

Derivative, and requires batteries which is the last thing you need with a book. I think Carle phoned this one in. Actually, it's like when thriller writers get too famous and farm the hard work out. It reads like an "Eric Carle's" or "Eric Carle with Grant Blackwood" kind of book. Introduces a small range of insects but manages to use "whirred" twice. Has Mosquitoes out at night rather than being a dawn/dusk phenomenon. The only saving grace is the unexpected twist with the Luna Moth.

 

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

4/5

It's a geeky, Hispanic coming of age / family history epic. To read it you need some Spanish, some knowledge of the Dominican Republic (rather distractingly sketched in via footnotes - I wish Díaz had included an appendix instead) and to have read a lot of SciFi.

 

Links

- EU envoy defends Bahrain police from BBC News - Home (How do we fire Robert Cooper? Seriously, how is a sniper and 'accident'?).

- Obama's war tent from BBC News - Home (Surely he's just doing that to screw with Gaddafi?).

- Radiation Chart from xkcd (Radiation perspective...).

- Are cloth seats a public health hazard? Possibly. from Boing Boing (Of course. And which Muppet decided to carpet BART?).

- Chrysler Tells It How It Is from Failblog After Dark (It looks real - someone got fired for tweeting this).

- VIDEO: Murakami's book on silver screen from BBC News - Home (I hope they didn't screw it up...).

- Facebook adds suicide help system from BBC News - Home (Also needed, a 'net' underneath the wall.).

- What should you do if a cash machine overpays? from BBC News - Home (Really BBC, you needed to crowd source this one?).

- Herpetology from xkcd.com ('herpetology is a silly field').

- Dear Oprah: Some thoughts on your credibility. from Boing Boing (In her defense, she has a lot more hours to fill these days...).

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Reviews and links for February 2011

Agents of Treachery: Never Before Published Spy Fiction from Today's Most Exciting Writers by Otto Penzler

Agents of Treachery: Never Before Published Spy Fiction from Today's Most Exciting Writers by Otto Penzler

3/5

A good mix of spy stories set everywhere from WWII to Somali pirates.

 

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro

3/5

Five short stories, all lightly interconnected and all about music and some sort of personal transition. Engaging characters, sharp prose and a very funny turkey scene.

 

Terminal World (Gollancz S.F.) by Alastair Reynolds

Terminal World (Gollancz S.F.) by Alastair Reynolds

2/5

Promising start, but then sags badly and ends inconclusively. Which makes me concerned that there might be a sequel or even a trilogy in the works. It's the first Reynolds book that I haven't liked - more blimp opera than space opera with a passive, repetitive protagonist.

 

The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

4/5

An interesting mediation on belief, that boils down to how normal it seems for a minister to not believe in God, and then how extraordinary for the same minister to believe to have met The Devil.

 

Links

- What happens when you stick your head in a particle accelerator from Boing Boing (I used to have nightmares about this while commuting on 280).

- Rolls-Royce to show electric car from BBC News - Home (It can travel a foot between recharges...).

- England reading test to include non-words from BBC News - Home (This really seems very silly).

- What do you put in nine bins? from BBC News - Home (One of them is just for cats.).

- Fan held over 'air crash mockery' from BBC News - Home (Bad taste, but should you really be arrested for causing 'alarm or distress'?).

- Keen On… MIT Professor Says Robotic Moment Has Arrived, And We Are Toast (TCTV) from TechCrunch (Bollocks. Or rather, replace robot with dog or cat and get the same result.).

- Tarmac lorry sheds its load on M3 from BBC News - Home (Sounds like one hell of a speed bump.).

- Playmobil Stop Motion Joy Division from Boing Boing (I'm hoping this is a whole YouTube genre...).

- After Failing To Get Hacked Last Year, Google Paying For Chrome To Be In Pwn2Own 2011 from TechCrunch (If you're still not using Chrome this should provide some inspiration to make the switch. There's really nothing better, other than telneting to port 80.).

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Reviews and links for January 2011

My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big City Backyard into a Farm by Manny Howard

My Empire of Dirt: How One Man Turned His Big City Backyard into a Farm by Manny Howard

4/5

Alternatively funny and painful. Manny Howard is clearly not cut out to be a farmer but he battles through problems that seem to be mostly of his creation and manages to feed himself briefly from his back garden. Given he's doing this with a largish plot of land and an expense account it's a warning to anyone with urban agriculture ambitions. The death toll on the farm is pretty extreme - not the necessary slaughter of chickens for food but the number of avoidable accidents that border on abuse. Am now even more inspired to leave farming to the professionals...

 

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris

4/5

Wind in the Willows Gone Wild.

It's nothing like his normal experience-mining, but hilarious none the less. Dark, grotesque fairy tails mixing the worst of animal and human behavior together.

 

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

Hull Zero Three by Greg Bear

5/5

After the mediocre FBI books this is a breath of fresh air. A man wakes up on a mysterious ship, supposedly on a slower than light mission to colonize a far off planet. But something has gone horribly wrong. Bear is channeling J.G. Ballard here, Hull Zero Three is mysterious and surreal and eventually haunting. It's hard SciFi with just enough horror (reminiscent of Pandorum and Moon, but much richer than either film). I think it's probably the best novel he's written, and I nearly missed it after assuming he'd gone soft with Quantico.

 

When Will There Be Good News? (Jackson Brodie #3) by Kate Atkinson

When Will There Be Good News? (Jackson Brodie #3) by Kate Atkinson

4/5

Bit of a rhetorical question in the title, good news is pretty thin on the ground in this brooding third outing for Jackson Brodie. Very good, but need something light now...

 

Worth Dying For (Jack Reacher Series #15) by Lee Child

Worth Dying For (Jack Reacher Series #15) by Lee Child

3/5

The biggest hobo is back, and faced with by far the nastiest baddies in the series so far. It's the typical small town with a dark shadow setup and you know there's only one man for the job. Reacher has it a bit too easy in this installment. Child sets up some fearsome opponents but then knocks them down almost as an afterthought. While billed as a sequel to 61 Hours (also published in 2010) Worth Dying For stands alone with only a small nod to the bind Reacher found himself in at the end of the last book.

 

Zero History (Bigend, #3) by William Gibson

Zero History (Bigend, #3) by William Gibson

5/5

Excellent.

 

Links

- Microsoft warns on browser flaw from BBC News - Home (Main flaw would be still using IE...).

- Turning body heat into energy from BBC News - Home (Isn't it already energy?).

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Reviews and links for December 2010

Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards by P.J. O'Rourke

Don't Vote It Just Encourages the Bastards by P.J. O'Rourke

2/5

P.J. O'Rourke is hilarious when given something to react against. His Driving Like Crazy anthology last year was superb. Sadly this latest tome is closer to the dire CEO of the Sofa... It's just conservative talking points and cheap shots at the lefties. Not even funny cheap shots or it would be worth reading. Ironically in one chapter O'Rourke reviews recent left and right wing books and chides them for the same mindless behavior. Disappointing.

 

Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

Surface Detail by Iain M. Banks

5/5

Back to a classic, grand-scale Culture novel and I think one of the best yet. Banks manages to zoom from funny to tragic, from space opera to personal vendetta. It makes me want to go back and read all the Culture novels again to freshen up the various references. Must read if you like Banks or SciFi.

 

Links

- Microsoft warns on IE browser bug from BBC News - Home (Microsoft recommends using the 'Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit 2.0' ... I'd suggest switching to Chrome.).

- Microsoft Allen's case dismissed from BBC News - Home (It's a temporary win, but please patent terrorists everywhere fuck off and find something productive to do with your life.).

- Dirk Gently BBC trailer from Boing Boing (Yes, please BBC America!).

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Reviews and links for November 2010

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker

4/5

A first person account of a procrastinating poet who just can't get the introduction to an anthology started. It's filled with fascinating nuggets of information like a Bill Bryson book, a lesson in poetry and a manifesto for a return to poems that rhyme. Short, sweet and beautifully written.

 

The Evolutionary Void (Void, #3) by Peter F. Hamilton

The Evolutionary Void (Void, #3) by Peter F. Hamilton

4/5

Some science fiction takes you to the future through new ideas or technology. Peter F. Hamilton physically drags you there through actual time. I started reading him last century and have just surfaced from the conclusion of the Void trilogy in actual honest to goodness 2010. I hope he takes some time off. I could use couple of years to catch up on some other books.

The Void trilogy is set in the same universe as his Commonwealth Saga and Misspent Youth, set over a millennium later although there are many recurring characters. We finally discover the true nature of the mysterious void at the heart of the universe introduced in The Dreaming Void, several thousand pages ago.

It's epic space opera combined with a thread of fantasy that eventually resolve into a single story. His dialog is often leaden but the plot and scope of the story more than make up for it. If you like this sort of thing then you're going to love it.

 

Links

- Guest Week: Zach Weiner (SMBC) from xkcd.com (Interactive guest XKCD goodness).

- Vitamin D from Information Is Beautiful (Need more sunshine!).

- Palin says she could beat Obama from BBC News - Home (McCain, your legacy is thoroughly fucked.).

- Obama vows to improve Muslim ties from BBC News - Home (Tip: stop killing Muslims).

- Flash vs. Batteries from Boing Boing (Because it has to check for updates every five seconds?).

- Electric current 'boosts maths' from BBC News - Home (Yes, every time you answer incorrectly...).

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Reviews and links for October 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

5/5

Stonking. It tells the tale of a Dutch clerk (de Zoet) at a trading post with the xenophobic Japan of 1799. It has the swashbuckling panache and anal research of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle with just a dash of 'Big Trouble in Little China'. I hoped it was going to end with a 'to be continued...' but alas, Mitchell managed to wrap it up. Loved it.

 

Links

- Everest climbers get 3G network from BBC News - Home (Coming soon: escalators).

- Dream recording device 'is possible' from BBC News - Home (Life channels 'Until the End of the World').

- Pope urges migrants to integrate from BBC News - Home (How about getting priests to respect the laws of host countries and then start worrying about immigrants.).

- How Google understands language like a 10-year-old from San Francisco Bay Area News — — SFGate (Statistical analysis is Searle's Chineese Room, not AI.).

- Malcolm Gladwell is wrong about the revolution from All Salon (He's completely right. I joined a group to help the monks in Burma and they're still totally screwed.).

- Man used hosepipe to punish son from BBC News - Home (That's not what I was expecting the hosepipe to be used for. I think the son got off lightly and the father is lucky not to be facing a hosepipe ban related death sentence.).

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Reviews and links for September 2010

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson

4/5

I'm a big fan of Bronson and I became a father last Thursday, finishing this book the day after. NurtureShock is packed full of the latest research on child development from infants (I can't believe how happy I am that Baby Einstein doesn't work) to teenagers. If you're unwilling to vaccinate you can probably skip this, otherwise I'd say a must read for parents. But do check back - will update this review in eighteen years or so...

 

WAR by Sebastian Junger

WAR by Sebastian Junger

3/5

WAR consists of Junger embedding with infantry trying to hold a valley in Afghanistan. He visits several times over the course of their deployment and gets caught up in a frightening amount of action. It's as much a book about dealing with this personally as it is about the soldiers he's there to cover. There's very little context about why the valley might be important, or about the war in general, just an account of the hard pointy end of warfare and the psychology of the troops before, during and after.

 

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

3/5

It's a passionate manifesto for focusing on new media for marketing and PR, and a reasonable guide as to how to go about it. I found repeated chapters on the same topic to be a bit grating but if you're completely new to blogging I guess it could be helpful. Readers would be better served by including more on SEO basics and less on Second Life. Worth a read if you're not even blogging yet, probably a pass otherwise.

 

Links

- Star Trek pizza cutter from Boing Boing (Need this!).

- The coming BlackBerry row from BBC - American Frei (Those who don't remember the Clipper Chip are doomed to repeat it...).

- David Miliband: This is Ed's day from BBC News - Home (And it will probably make for a really crappy Miliband Christmas.).

- Timelapse Footage of San Francisco and its Fog at Night from Spots Unknown (Often the fog here looks like a time lapse.).

- Ewan McGregor in a Spitfire from BBC News - Home (A Spitfire 'jet', really?).

- Pope aide in 'Third World' jibe from BBC News - Home (Criticizing Heathrow and BA is hardly the same as criticizing the UK. Also, he's right.).

- Clinton endorses Jerry Brown for Calif. governor from SFGate: Top News Stories (Wow. Probably says more about Meg than Brown.).

- Young 'exposed to unsuitable TV' from BBC News - Home (Right, so send them to bed early so they can watch porn on their laptops...).

- Turtles Eating Things from Boing Boing (Except... they're tortoises! One might expect Blade Runner savvy BB to spot the difference. Sigh.).

- Why patent lawsuits and hot tubs don't mix from All Salon (From the headlines you never thought you'd read department...).

- WTF stamp from Boing Boing (Want).

- Top Gear's 'The Stig': Revealed? from BBC News - Home (It's all a decoy to prevent the real identity from leaking out (Julian Assange)).

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Reviews and links for August 2010

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach

4/5

It's Mary Roach, so no surprise that her book on space focused on how hard it is to take a crap (in space), how much engineering goes into disposing of crap (in space), and practical uses for crap on a Mars mission (including making it into radiation shielding tiles and reprocessing it into crap burgers). You'd think this book would be NASA's worst nightmare, but it's actually humanizing as well as fascinating. If you're a Roach fan you'll love it. If you haven't had the pleasure then this is a great place to start.

 

The Lion by Nelson DeMille

The Lion by Nelson DeMille

2/5

This sequel to The Lion's Game is disappointingly flat - Corey and Assad are fated to meet for a final confrontation and they do but after an initial sky diving sequence nothing really happens. There's very little tension, no plot, no struggles or setbacks for the hero or villain. DeMille really phoned this one in.

 

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3) by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3) by Stieg Larsson

3/5

The second and third books could be just one (very) long book. Nest kicks off where Fire ended and slows the tempo down a bit, although not to the glacial pace of Tattoo. It's a fitting ending to the tale of Salandar, if a bit drawn out in the final sequence. Of course, a must read if you've ploughed through the first two.

 

Links

- What do new passports say about the UK? from BBC News - Home (At least it still "requires" other countries to let us pass without let or hindrance, unlike the less forceful US passport...).

- General Motors in huge share sale from BBC News - Home (It really doesn't seem quite right to call it an 'initial' public offering.).

- Record broken for number of 'pirates' in one place from BBC News - Home (Um, is that just because the Guinness people are afraid of going to Somalia?).

- Sandwich Monday: 'The Breakfast Club' Edition from NPR Blogs: Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! (Sandwich Monday is now funnier than the actual show.).

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Reviews and links for July 2010

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis

4/5

Returns to the characters of Less Than Zero twenty five years later. I don't think it's a plot spoiler to say that they're not happy and well adjusted people. I found Glamorama to be pretty tedious and Lunar Park only marginally better. It was a huge relief that Imperial Bedrooms just flows. It's a welcome return to his earlier narrative style. Dread and paranoia are visceral presences from the start and then layers of fear and horror build until it can't get any worse and then somehow does. Brilliant.

 

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim

Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim

2/5

Given its pedigree it's missing two segments - the yellow ocean (no competition, no customers) and the purple ocean (high competition, no customers). They must be saving those for a sequel. I read this because a few people had recommended it and if you think the ideal market to play in is one with no differentiation and high competition then it's a must read. Otherwise the only real value is being conversant with the buzz word. Evaluating past successes with 20/20 hindsight and talking about their 'blue ocean strategy' is a classic business book selection bias. If you learn anything from the case studies it should be that breakout innovation doesn't come from your ocean, hedgehog principle or current cheese location.

 

61 Hours (Jack Reacher Series, #14) by Lee Child

61 Hours (Jack Reacher Series, #14) by Lee Child

3/5

Well constructed if average plot. This is the Empire Strikes Back of Reacher novels and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger - the next in the series is out later this year and hopefully picks up the pace a bit.

 

Professional C# 4 and .NET 4 by Christian Nagel

Professional C# 4 and .NET 4 by Christian Nagel

4/5

I own the 2005 and 2008 flavors of this book as well. It's the best overall C# reference I've found and this 2010 version is a welcome update. As with the 2008 book it could use a better guide to new features, but still very highly recommended.

 

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

Ina May's Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin

3/5

It's a somewhat troublesome mix of advice and propaganda. The advice seems mostly solid, practical and grounded in a great deal of experience. The book ends with the most important - don't think that your body is a lemon, pregnancy isn't a disease, you can do it. Ina May's statistics from "The Farm" are compelling as well, but the birth stories are a bit far out. They typically sound like: 'Sunflower, hanging from the birthing gallows while member of the Farm suck her nipples and I bring her to repeated orgasm, didn't even notice that her baby had been born'. For most people there's probably a middle ground between technocratic doctors and hippie midwives. When the book veers into propaganda it seems there's no anecdotal story too weird to make the case for natural childbirth and no study rigorous enough to suggest that there might be nothing to this modern medicine fad. Some suggestions - like that obstetricians don't believe that nutrition has a role in healthy pregnancy - are just so ridiculous that they case doubt on the rest of the book. And yet, her statistics are so very good while US hospitals force you into a caesarean section to prevent lawsuits and not miss happy hour. I guess the only conclusion to reach is to give birth in The Netherlands and then move to Sweden to take advantage of their twenty year maternity leave...

 

Links

- Frogger from xkcd.com (don't miss the alt text).

- Say fat not obese, urges minister from BBC News - Home (also 'a bit poorly' rather than 'cancerous').

- MoD 'must not live beyond means' from BBC News - Home (Easy fix... bring troops home and send National Audit Office to scold Iraq and Afghanistan into submission.).

- Vatican mulls sex abuse of impaired adults from All Salon (Hint: if you don't know the number for your local police department 112 will work on most mobile phones.).

- Call for school rugby scrum ban from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Where was Professor Pollock when I was at school?).

- Grandmothers link orcas to humans from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Could it be that the mothers also have mothers? Like necessarily?).

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Reviews and links for June 2010

Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

2/5

A barely reheated Glamorama (celebrities and brands in bold face) about star-fucking in the form of a movie script. Enough Palahniukisms to make it worth finishing (for me), but only because it was mercifully short.

 

Links

- BP 'trusted partner' of Olympics from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Appropriate given that much of the Olympic site is toxic sludge covered in a thin layer of plastic wrap...).

- Falls cost NHS millions each day from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Are they falling on expensive scanners or something?).

- Should nuts be banned on commercial flights? from All Salon (Ban them? I can't remember the last time I was served anything as luxurious as a peanut on a US flight...).

- Call to regulate artificial life from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Public should have studied harder at school then.).

- City of Smarty Pantses from Spots Unknown (Says more about cost of living maybe?).

- "A hundred mile oil lake at the bottom of the Gulf that's 500 feet deep." from jwz (Hopefully this guy doesn't know what he's talking about...).

- Dolphin uses iPad as way to communicate with humans from Boing Boing ("S_ l_*g *nd th*nks !or *ll the !ish" - but what can it mean?).

- Feds meet with film director Cameron on oil spill from SFGate: Top News Stories (They can get rid of it in post-production?).

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Reviews and links for May 2010

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston

4/5

Over 30 interviews with tech company founders ranging from Ray Ozzie and Mitch Kapor to James Hong of "Hot or Not". The interview with Philip Greenspun of ArsDigital is very raw and very amusing. Joel Spolsky's advice is "So quit your day job. Have one other founder, at least. I'd sat that's the minimum bar to getting anywhere." - well, that plus have a hit blog read by developers and then sell tools for developers. Diverse, inconclusive but fascinating.

 

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) by Stieg Larsson

4/5

Picks up the pace from the first book in the trilogy. Looking forward to the third, which comes out in the US in a couple of weeks.

 

Links

- Let’s Get Small from I, Cringely (Way to kick Zuckerberg while he's down...).

- Fewer women get mammograms after program cuts from SFGate: Top News Stories (Nice one CA. I bet treating undetected and uninsured breast cancer will be a bunch cheaper :().

- Church warns cell scientists not to play God from All Salon (Surprise surprise. Correction, so far we have Evolution and Venter...).

- Cordoba scandal from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Really, shocked? Not been reading the news much then...).

- Toddlers who lie will do better, research suggests from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Fair disclosure - the research was conducted by lying toddlers...).

- Calif sea lion shot in face has new home from SFGate: Top News Stories (Getting shot is bad enough... Six Flags is torture.).

- Fresh BA strike dates announced from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Hopefully they'll correspond with large plumes of ash.).

- Fan updating David Lynch's "Dune" with modern FX from Boing Boing (You're making it worse. Stop.).

- Neanderthal genes 'survive in us' from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Um, the surprise would be if this wasn't the case.).

- Terry Pratchett: Doctor Who isn't science fiction from Boing Boing (Shouldn't think of it as one show. It's more of a framework for different authors to create plot around - some are very hard SciFi and some are very silly.).

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Reviews and links for April 2010

The Spire by Richard North Patterson

The Spire by Richard North Patterson

3/5

A good enough holiday read and nice to see Patterson return to a straight psychological thriller rather than the last few OpEds loosely wrapped with some plot.

 

Advanced .NET Debugging (Addison-Wesley Microsoft Technology Series) by Mario Hewardt

Advanced .NET Debugging (Addison-Wesley Microsoft Technology Series) by Mario Hewardt

5/5

Comprehensive introduction to low level .NET debugging - when you need to fire up WinDbg to check out the state of the managed heap, or debug a crash dump from the field you'll find this book invaluable. I wish it had been available when I started figuring out how to use SOS.

 

The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard by J.G. Ballard

The Complete Stories of J. G. Ballard by J.G. Ballard

5/5

Wonderful collection of all of Ballard's short stories. It's a huge book with surprisingly few duds. My favorites include The Illuminated Man, clearly the inspiration for The Crystal World, which includes meaning bombs like "It's almost as if a sequence of displaced but identical images were being produced by refraction through a prism, but with the element of time replacing the role of light." and The Ultimate City (which isn't using ultimate in the sense of being good...). I've read most of Ballard's novels but not many of the short stories before. They're well worth the time.

 

Links

- Microsoft Agrees With Apple And Google: “The Future Of The Web Is HTML5″ from TechCrunch (Which makes it all the more tragic that a huge number of clients will still be running IE6 :().

- Comedian criticises BBC 'rebuke' from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (The problem isn't that it was anti-Semitic, it's that it wasn't funny.).

- UK 'has a high early death rate' from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (That'll be the deep fried mars bars and chips.).

- Oklahoma, where women's rights are swept away from All Salon (Competing with AZ to be the most fucked up state? Sigh :().

- Cameras capture 'Highland tiger' from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Tabbs was bigger than that (a house cat)).

- MI5 dumps staff lacking IT skills from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (MI5 has staff without computer skills?).

- The Internet Provides. from jwz (Disturbing).

- Who Really Spends The Most On Their Military? from Information Is Beautiful (Click through to the Guardian blog post, interesting reading.).

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Reviews and links for March 2010

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

3/5

Classic Hornby. It's fairly close to High Fidelity with it's themes of love and music obsession-ism and so feels slightly too comfortable but certainly worth a read if you're a fan. 3/24/2010 2:00:00 AM

 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) by Stieg Larsson

3/5

Slow, but highly atmospheric mystery. The first half of the book is dedicated to setting the scene and then the pieces start to fit into place like a glacier melting. The pace makes the occasional punctuation of extreme sexual violence all the more shocking. Fun enough, so I'll probably read the rest of the trilogy and try to catch the film (which has to be a profoundly truncated version).3/22/2010 2:00:00 AM

 

Practical WPF Charts and Graphics by Jack Xu

Practical WPF Charts and Graphics by Jack Xu

4/5

Be aware that this book is 90% code, 5% mathematics and 5% explanation. This isn't a criticism, Dr. Xu builds up a complete charting library that includes 2D, WPF 3D and manual 3D methods. The mathematics covers the theory and practice of 2D and 3D transforms as well as techniques for smoothing, interpolating and trending data. It's a fast read to get a sense of the content and then a great reference work to dip back into as needed. 3/14/2010 3:00:00 AM

 

C# Design and Development: Expert One on One by John Paul Mueller

C# Design and Development: Expert One on One by John Paul Mueller

1/5

This book is just atrocious. Each section sells itself as providing all the information you need about a certain topic, then provides trivial and often incorrect or at least highly subjective details. A couple of examples:

The chapter on error handling makes the point that you should catch the most specific Exception possible, but then goes on to demonstrate catching a FormatException, a DivideByZero exception and then just System.Exception. The whole point is to avoid catching Exceptions that you can't handle. There's a legitimate debate here between trying to plaster up the cracks with general catches and letting the application die with a useful stack, however this book doesn't discuss it. There's also very brief coverage of creating your own derived Exception but it doesn't touch on serialization.

Serializing an XML file is somehow included in the section on "Special Coding Methodologies", and labors over calling both .Flush() and .Close() on a StreamWriter. Despite the fact that you only need to call Close(), and that StreamWriter is IDisposable and so a using statement is really the way forward for this example.

I could go on, but won't. Avoid. 3/8/2010 2:00:00 AM

 

Links

- Dorothy Erskine Park Exists from Spots Unknown (Must go find this park.).

- Casttoo from jwz (I want to break my arm again...).

- Woman murdered over Facebook photo from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Somehow I don't think the photo being on Facebook was the important part of the story...).

- Petition against Pope's UK visit from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (A better petition would be to get the Pope and Dawkins together on Question Time.).

- 'Heart risk' at football stadiums from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Surprisingly few are equipped to remove gall stones as well.).

- Postal Service's emerging model: Never on Saturday from SFGate: Top News Stories (How about once a week. While you're at it recycle the junk at the post office and don't bother hauling it out for delivery.).

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Reviews and links for February 2010

Programming WPF by Chris Sells

Programming WPF by Chris Sells

4/5

A highly detailed and well written reference to WPF. Note that this second edition is still based on Visual Studio 2005 / .NET 3.0 so a little out of date now. I still found the book to be very useful and would recommend it both for picking up WPF basics and to refer back to for more advanced topics when needed.2/26/2010 2:00:00 AM

 

Professional C# 2008 by Christian Nagel

Professional C# 2008 by Christian Nagel

4/5

I'm in the process of upgrading to VS2008 and loved the 2005 version of this book so picked up the 2008 update. It's a broad language and framework reference, perfect for understanding what's available in .NET 3.5 and how to get started. My only complaint is that it could have used a "what's new" section or guide to separate out completely new technologies from those familiar from .NET 2.0. Not a big problem though, it's easy to skim through the old stuff and then pay attention when you reach something new. I'll probably pick up the 2010 version in 2015 or so ;)2/15/2010 2:00:00 AM

 

Links

- UK NHS urged to buy Fairtrade tools from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (Fair enough, but what about having developing countries pay to train doctors and nurses and then poaching them to work for the NHS?).

- Brown 'upset' by bullying claims from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (And when he finds those responsible he's going to turn purple, squint and twat them.).

- CBS runs free ad for "magic" energy box from Boing Boing (A slightly more skeptical take. Magic box plus natural gas...).

- French halal burger sparks appeal from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (So eat somewhere else. You're in France and not about to starve.).

- One inch equals $30,000 in online dating world from Boing Boing (I'm worth $2.2 million :)).

- Video: Mantis vs. Cursor from Boing Boing (OK, I need a Preying Mantis to entertain me like this while I work...).

- Toyota recalls 8,000 US vehicles from BBC News | News Front Page | World Edition (And they're not even real propellers. They're just the joke ones you can attach to your tow hitch.).

- Britain reveals how U.S. treated detainee from SFGate: Top News Stories (Miliband against the "principle of their disclosure by an English court against U.S. wishes"!).

- Mariposaaah!!! from Spots Unknown (Feels steeper walking up it.).

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