Kurzweil's book from about a decade ago stands up to the test of time good in some ways and not-so-good in other ways. I think we will always be surpr...moreKurzweil's book from about a decade ago stands up to the test of time good in some ways and not-so-good in other ways. I think we will always be surprised by how technology evolves. One thing that is more true now than it was then is that the speed at which new technological innovations are occurring is increasing. (less)
This was a strong first book by author Rysa Walker. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel the most. Her characterization of an invented religi...moreThis was a strong first book by author Rysa Walker. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel the most. Her characterization of an invented religion designed to horde power and control its followers was chilling. I had trouble with some of the relationships, especially the romantic ones. They seemed a bit shallow and contrived.
I would probably read a subsequent installment in this series.(less)
Hey, everyone, it's the latest book from Glenn Beck! Of course, it wasn't written BY Beck, except for maybe the author's introduction and a few paragr...moreHey, everyone, it's the latest book from Glenn Beck! Of course, it wasn't written BY Beck, except for maybe the author's introduction and a few paragraphs here and there. His name is only on the book to boost sales. That being said, this is a great piece of work.
Contained within are twelve stories you've probably never heard of or read before. Considering this is a book from Glenn Beck, maybe you're inclined to think each of the stories in this collection shines a nice, flattering light on some Tea Party activist or Founding Father. No, not really. The individuals in this stories have been mostly forgotten by history despite their significant contributions to our country's past.
This book will leave you with equal parts awe and disappointment because that's where the truth lies. America and Americans have done some really amazing things and some really lousy things. The important thing is that we can learn from our history and this book assists with that. (less)
I took my daughter to the hospital today so she could get an medicine infusion that she needs every eight weeks because of a chronic condition. These...moreI took my daughter to the hospital today so she could get an medicine infusion that she needs every eight weeks because of a chronic condition. These infusion sessions usually last about three hours of so, so I decided to read something while I waited. Looking the "recommended titles" the Kindle Store provided, I came across this book by Srinivas Rao. I had heard a little about it from the ravings of Glenn Beck on his radio show. Apparently, Glenn was so impressed with Rao's book (which Glenn just accidentally stumbled upon) he had him on his TV show. I'm sure Rao is enjoying lots of success as a result of this entirely unexpected publicity.
I found Rao's book to be insightful and inspiring. I hope his next book takes the concepts established in this small piece and explores them further so that it can be a more substantial piece. I read "The Art of Being Unmistakable" in less than two hours, so it's definitely a quick read.
Why not give a five star review? Because I'm stingy with my five-star accolades. And I felt Rao's book suffered from one flaw: He's single and, as far as I can tell, childless. I think his perspective on life would change somewhat if he was married and had spent some time in the role of a parent. There's a lot more pressure upon you when you're supporting a family to get into a position of relative success and then take what life gives you.
I think Rao's suggestions are still entirely relevant for those of us who live the family life. For reasons that should be obvious, I can't decide I dislike my job and go spend all my time fishing while I ponder what I really want to do with my life. While that's an overgeneralization of Rao's prescription, I think it just requires some tweaks to stay true to your responsibilities while still growing into a person that Rao would call "being unmistakable."(less)
I loved the imagined and speculated future Robinson gave us in the Mars trilogy along with the personal, political, geological, and moral dramas that...moreI loved the imagined and speculated future Robinson gave us in the Mars trilogy along with the personal, political, geological, and moral dramas that accompanied the narratives. This book, in comparison, fell flat for me. I was terribly disappointed with the main character Swan Er Hong. She never felt the least bit believable to me as a 130+ year old human with a long list of notable accomplishments. Instead, she came off as an arrogant 20-something who was really lost for any real direction in her life.
The book includes intermittent chapters that are labeled "Lists" or "Extracts" and these just felt like cop outs for an author who couldn't figure out a good way to weave important information into the story.
I was also irritated by the forefront narrative that humans had all but destroyed Earth through haphazard ignorance of climate change. My complaint here may just be because I am an ardent skeptic of anthropogenic climate change.
Where Robinson really shines in 2312 is in his imagination of how several remote places are colonized like Mercury, Venus, Titan, and Io.
I was very impressed by the descriptions of the innovative use of hollowed out asteroids as interplanetary vessels within the solar system.(less)
I actually read Where Wizards Stay Up Late several years ago, shortly after it was published, but decided to re-read it as I remembered it being very...moreI actually read Where Wizards Stay Up Late several years ago, shortly after it was published, but decided to re-read it as I remembered it being very good but had forgotten many details.
For the time it was published (1996), Hafner and Lyon did a remarkable job of including great swaths of computing and networking history into a readable and manageable volume that chronicles an era from the 1960s until the mid-1990s during which time the ARPANET was created and later spawned other networks which would comprehensively become what we know today as the Internet.
For the less-technical reader, some more interesting points in the book include the history of e-mail, why the '@' symbol became a critical piece of e-mail addresses, and the history of free speech on the early ARPANET.
For more technical readers, understanding the hurdles the men involved with the ARPANET project (there were absolutely no women involved) had to overcome. Even the idea of connecting computers together for the purpose of communication and resource sharing was not contemplated in the early to mid-1960s, but men like J.C.R. Licklider could see a future where people using computers could benefit immensely by being able to access other computers through an electronic network.
Making the argument to funding bureaucrats wasn't that difficult either because if computer users could access and use another computer located at a remote site to do their work then money would not have to be spent purchasing an identical computer for them to use locally.
Bob Metcalfe, Vint Cerf, and Bob Kahn are three of the men involved in ARPANET's history that went on to positions of fame. Metcalfe worked at Xerox PARC where he created Ethernet networking and later founded the company 3Com which sold networking hardware. Vint Cerf was the face of Internet networking and did more than anyone else to publicize the merits of TCP/IP networking. Bob Kahn worked alongside Cerf in the early days of the propagation of the ARPANET and came up with foundational concepts for TCP. He has continued to be involved in computing research.
There were dozens of other individuals involved, of course, and this book doesn't leave them all out. Will Crowther, for example, worked on the early ARPANET software at BBN and later wrote a spelunking computer game called Adventure that gained cult-notoriety on the early Internet. Young Ben Barker was the hardware engineer employed by BBN to assemble the Internet Message Processors (IMPs) from Honeywell computers for ARPANET sites. Honeywell didn't deliver hardware to BBN's specifications for the first few sites and Barker had to personally fix everything, debugging and re-wire-wrapping things correctly.
I had my first exposure to Internet networking in 1990 when I was enrolled at a local university. There, I was able to make use of services on the NSFNET, WESTNET, BITNET, and DECNET, separate networks discussed in this book. Eventually, these all gave way to the Internet. (less)
This was a terribly fascinating book about hardware and software hackers from the late 1950s on the East Coast of the US (in and around MIT and Harvar...moreThis was a terribly fascinating book about hardware and software hackers from the late 1950s on the East Coast of the US (in and around MIT and Harvard) to the early 1980s on the West Coast. The edition I read was the 25th Anniversary Edition which included an afterword from 2010. It's fascinating the author Steven Levy mentioned that when he was working on the book in the mid 1980s, many with the publisher encouraged him to change the title of the book either because it was so obscure or because "hackers" were starting to get a bad reputation for being malicious lawbreakers. Fortunately, he stuck to the title.
I didn't relate too well to the early MIT hackers. I can't imagine working on computers that didn't even have a text-based terminal. I can't imagine using Teletype machines to enter code.
My first experience using computers was with the Commodore VIC20 and, later, the Atari 800. So, I really enjoyed reading about John Harris, Sierra On-Line's game developer who developed the Frogger game for the Atari 800 at the age of 19 or 20 in the early 1980s and became wealthy beyond his dreams.
After using the Atari 800 to connect to bulletin board systems (at a paltry 300 baud) during the late 1980s, I finally moved on to more mature multiprocess systems like VMS and Unix. It was then I learned of open source software and the legacy of Richard Stallman. The short afterword tries to cover his influence on the explosion of open source software (or "free" software, as he would insist it be called) in the years since Hackers was originally published.
There are a lot of characters to keep track of in this nearly 500-page tome, but Levy does a good job of reminding the reader who each person was and what they did. People have said they read this when they were younger and it inspired them to do various types of hacking themselves. I believe it. If I wasn't already in my early 40s, married, and the father of children, I'd probably be inspired to execute a few 30-hour hacking sessions too. It certainly is more difficult to live that kind of life when life serves up responsibilities, no matter what they may be.
In addition to the histories of many of the major players who defined hardware and software hacking in these early days, Levy does a good job of defining the hacker mindset as well as the hacker ethics and principles. These can be valuable for business people who need to be able to relate to hacker types in their employ or how to attract them.(less)
Beck's book on gun control does a commendable job of highlighting the plethora of logical fallacies in the arguments made in favor of gun control, but...moreBeck's book on gun control does a commendable job of highlighting the plethora of logical fallacies in the arguments made in favor of gun control, but it spends a little too much time rebutting statements made by the same tired group of liberal talking heads.
The second part of the book is Beck's proposed solution: personal responsibility and a return of teaching moral absolutes in society. While Beck makes a stirring argument for why this is a better solution than video game ratings and limiting violence in media, he falls short in explaining how the reader is supposed to go about this endeavor.(less)
I purchased Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution because I was giving a presentation at a local technical conference on the history of ope...moreI purchased Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution because I was giving a presentation at a local technical conference on the history of open source software. I chose to present this topic because I realized many up-and-coming technical workers and enthusiasts either weren't alive when many milestone events occurred or weren't cognizant of them or their significance.
This book far exceeded my expectations. I was an early adopter of Linux and open source software in the early 1990s, so I was witness to some of the innovations and big events that took place, but I had no idea about the details. Moody's book delves deep into the evolution of the early Linux kernel, how it lacked any networking capability at all, the controversy surrounding adding a network stack to the kernel, and other issues that came up that ultimately shaped Linux, its maintainer Linus Torvalds, and his lieutenants.
While the bulk of Moody's story explores the roots of Linux and its early history, it also explores other relevant open source projects that have made a significant mark such as GNU, Apache, Sendmail, Samba, and BIND. I learned several things about these projects and those involved that I hadn't known before.
Telling the history of the open source movement would not be complete without coverage of the companies that made open source their business or changed their business because of open source. It's disappointing how many of them are gone now, but when this book was published (2002) most were still ticking. Gone now are organizations like Netscape Communications, Caldera, Pacific Hi-Tech, and VA Linux/VA Research, but their roles in the movement can not be forgotten.
The only downside of this book is that Moody hasn't prepared an updated revision in the decade or so since it was published. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, much of the open source movement saw Microsoft as the enemy, the obstacle to the movement's success, and Moody covers this well. In the years since, however, I think the movement has started to recognize that Microsoft is not the roadblock they saw it as. It seems like every year for the last fifteen years, someone has declared it to be "the year of Linux on the desktop," but while Linux has gained more desktop users, it's still nowhere near that kind of a conquest... And that's okay.
In summary, I highly recommend this book as a way of gaining critical insight into the landmark years of the 1990s that defined the open source movement.(less)
I picked up this book at a local Costco when I saw the author, Greg Park, at a table offering to sign books. I took up a conversation with Mr. Park and learned more about the book and decided it was worth $9 to give it a try.
I read about 40 pages of the book that evening and finished it the next day. It was an easy read and I think it would be easy for any one over the age of 11 to read. The romance in the book is fairly subdued as well. This is not a mushy book. The plot took a few unexpected twists and turns and I liked the use of science and psuedo-science to explain things.
The setting is a familiar one (to me, anyway.): Sividious is an 8th grade science geek in Utah who gets pummelled regularly by the local bully but he manages to retaliate with creative pranks using his advanced knowledge of science. Sividious runs into an alien named Aya in the wilderness outside the city who is on the run from "the stadium between worlds," where an evil alien race forces others to fight in their barbaric games. Before Sividious can find out much more, Aya is recaptured and taken back to the stadium. Sividious discovers how to use a portal to go there himself and he and his best friend set off to rescue Aya from the evil aliens.
Amity Schlaes biography of Calvin Coolidge is a dense, dense book. There can be no argument this is a well-researched and fact-filled book. There is u...moreAmity Schlaes biography of Calvin Coolidge is a dense, dense book. There can be no argument this is a well-researched and fact-filled book. There is undoubtedly a significant challenge presented to any author who attempts to write about "Silent Cal" because he was, well, so silent. Schlaes does an exemplary job of drilling down through the letters, notes, articles, journals, speeches, and more to help the reader discover just who Calvin Coolidge is.
So, who did I discover he was? A true statesman who evolved to be a stringent fiscal conservative. Like many northeasterners around the turn of the twentieth century, Coolidge was enamored by the Progressive movement. He didn't excel at much until his last year of college at Amherst, when his perseverance began to pay off.
He may have been just-another unknown politician except for the Boston police strike of 1919. The way Coolidge, then governor of Massachusetts, handled the strike would later guide President Ronald Reagan when he dealt with striking air traffic controllers. The public raved, Coolidge was nominated for vice-president in 1920, and won.
As Coolidge served public office, his affinity for the progressive agenda slowly began to fade. By the time he was elected to national office, he was clearly anti-progressive and was guided by his trademark frugality that the government should not provide what the people could provide for themselves. This angered many Americans who felt President Coolidge could have done more for struggling farmers and those who suffered from devastating floods along the Mississippi River and in his home state of Vermont. He dug in his heels and insisted that states and charities could and should provide the bulk of the relief. In the end, it worked and should have set the example for presidents to come. Unfortunately, Hoover and Roosevelt failed to pay any attention and the Great Depression dragged on seemingly indefinitely. (less)
Ben Taylor's tome summarizing the disasters that plagued the production of nine films that eventually went on to completion is well written and fascin...moreBen Taylor's tome summarizing the disasters that plagued the production of nine films that eventually went on to completion is well written and fascinating. Each chapter plucks a similar story from human history, whether it be the famous falsifying escapades of Stephen Glass who plagerized for The New Republic as a prelude to the spectacular mess that was the making of The Adventures of Baron Munchausen or executed Romanian despot Nicolae Ceausescu's building of what would become known as the Palace of the Parliament, a sprawling thousand-room palace as an introduction to Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate film.(less)
The world is full of cowards and cowardly ideas. While this book does a great job of highlighting those, it also does a good job of pointing out plent...moreThe world is full of cowards and cowardly ideas. While this book does a great job of highlighting those, it also does a good job of pointing out plenty of brave alternatives.(less)
A fair and open-minded biography of the founder and prophet of the Mormon church.
As a Mormon, I found this book extremely eye-opening. I'm going to w...moreA fair and open-minded biography of the founder and prophet of the Mormon church.
As a Mormon, I found this book extremely eye-opening. I'm going to want to offer to buy a copy for each member that I run into that claims Joseph Smith was the most perfect person next to Jesus Christ. Uh... I wouldn't say that. He was a deeply flawed, deeply human person. Whether you believe the LDS gospel or not, after you read this book there will be no doubt in your mind that Joseph Smith believed what he preached. (less)