Having read Sandman and seen Stardust, I was a bit underwhelmed by this book. I think I am too old for it, for one. I started reading it alone at nigh...moreHaving read Sandman and seen Stardust, I was a bit underwhelmed by this book. I think I am too old for it, for one. I started reading it alone at night before sleeping, and I was impressed by the subtlety of the spookiness. I finished it poolside in the sun, and it just wasn't the same. I never really felt any peril, something I expect the movie will better convey.(less)
The strength of this book was introducing me to the basics of iPhone development without a lot of confusion. Objective-C, Cocoa Touch, Xcode, views an...moreThe strength of this book was introducing me to the basics of iPhone development without a lot of confusion. Objective-C, Cocoa Touch, Xcode, views and controllers, and Navigation and TabBar controllers are all covered in a way that provided me with the confidence that I can do this stuff.
Then I try to write my first application that is on par with the examples from the book, fall flat on my face, and realize that copying-and-pasting code into my editor (or worse transcribing from the book) has taught me nothing. The bulk of the book is taken up by code which belongs in a download living on the net, and this code is then repeated amongst explanations. This is a nice example of literate programming, but that the literate part isn't in the code in comments. At this point, I realized that the true value of this book is the code examples themselves, not the explanations. The explanations are too simple to be very useful. This is truly a book for beginners.
This text was very useful as a launchpad, but very quickly I found myself getting more out of the official Apple docs.
Once past the chapters on controllers, some of the chapters seem phoned in. For example, some of the gesture-recognition code is broken while the text claims otherwise.(less)
DMZ is a real favorite of mine with the current political climate.
I appreciated the deepening of the character/background of the Free States movement....moreDMZ is a real favorite of mine with the current political climate.
I appreciated the deepening of the character/background of the Free States movement. Around the same time I saw Jesse Ventura's speech (parts one and two) from Ron Paul's RNC-alternative Rally for the Republic convention, when I noticed a few connections. (less)
This was my introduction to Cory Doctorow. I am guessing something significant was lost in translation of his stories to these comics. They feel a bit...moreThis was my introduction to Cory Doctorow. I am guessing something significant was lost in translation of his stories to these comics. They feel a bit too abridged. I don't feel these comics hold up to other sci-fi comics like Transmetropolitan or DMZ, but then that's probably an unfair comparison. These stories are refreshingly (or eerily) poignant, but then I can't tell if that's truly special considering Asimov and Neal Stephenson make up 90% of the sci-fi I've read. That said, I think Doctorow is different in having a firm grasp on social issues and the ability to speak to those issues through sci-fi. Indeed, Doctorow says he doesn't write about the future but about the present. This is a quick read, worth it for his alternative take on Asimov's three laws of robotics alone, and impossible not to recommend since it is freely available. I'm looking forward to reading Doctorow's Little Brother.
I first used the internet sometime around 1993, when it seemed gopher was still where all the good information was, or maybe I just wasn't in the know...moreI first used the internet sometime around 1993, when it seemed gopher was still where all the good information was, or maybe I just wasn't in the know since most of my direction was from a deadtree book of listings. I quickly grew to love the internet in college, and Altavista was the clear best choice for search until someone introduced me to Google and I saw it was clearly better. I have been paying attention to things technical and their social ramifications since 2000.
Thus there was not a great deal of material I hadn't already been exposed to, though I did enjoy history up to 2000--that was the best part of the book IMO. Battelle is a journalist covering the business side of technology, so there was nothing to be found where I was hoping for some insights into Google's technical development. Of course, Battelle has a slant toward financial matters, and that tinged the book an ugly color for me.
Battelle claims the book is really about search and not Google. Please--the book is a history of Google with Battelle's speculations about future technology, and it's rather schizophrenic in that respect. I can't put my finger on it exactly, but there is something missing, and I think it stems from Battelle's bias towards things financial. What is missing is that Battelle cannot see past the culture of consumption, of corporations controlling their customers. His examples seem to be based on an underlying assumption that it is always a customer searching for something to consume. Even if the thing to consume is information, Battelle seems to have a complete lack of understanding of the concept of free. One example is a pregnant couple being offered a coupon for a stroller as a result of having given up their search/browsing/viewing history and watching ads in return for free tv/internet. Battelle portrays the wife as pestering the husband, causing marital friction, and along comes the corporate internet to save the day--disgusting.
Another of Battelle's examples turns the situation on its head. In a situation right around the corner, a shopper at Whole Foods uses a device to scan a wine label and the internet provides him with the information that the price is nicer at a shop on the way home. The trouble is that this is a bubble, supporting only the techno-elite. Surely something would be done if such devices became mainstream. Whole Foods would preemptively present such a user with a digital coupon in an attempt to keep the sale. Worse yet, it becomes valuable for the store to know you are a shopper with such a device--if you'll only divulge the information, perhaps let your device interface with the store's sensor network, you will get significantly different prices. This is like a technologically advanced Randall's card. Randall's in Texas have a card whereby you divulge your information and allow your shopping history to be tracked in exchange for significant dollars off your bill--but actually the situation is that the prices are simply unreasonable unless you participate in their system. Will we see a future where shopping without allowing access to your gizmo results in unreasonable prices? Will it become necessary to have such a device? Combine this scenario with Jonathan Zittrain's thoughts in his book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It. Battelle's scenario becomes bleaker as corporations use pricing to make it increasingly painful to shop without granting access to information from whatever gizmo they have produced and locked down such that you don't really have control over its functionality. And if that gizmo is produced by Apple, the masses will say "thank you sir, may I have another?" Perhaps corporate greed actually saves us in the end as no single corporation can put all the pieces of the puzzle together, or else, so help us, our government is capable of doing the right thing. Bleak indeed.
Indeed, the cover of this book indicates that it has won several awards for best business book. Battelle has single-handedly turned me off from business books. It is my opinion that Battelle's treatment of the societal impact and issues of search would easily be blown away by any author writing from a non-money-grubbing point of view and his treatment takes away from his coverage of Google which is not what it could be for lack of focus. Furthermore, the book grew out-of-date from the time Battelle finished it to the time it was published, as Battelle recognizes with a 15-page diving-catch update attempt at the end of the book. The downside of writing from a business perspective is that all but the most general predictions will go sour, and that is another reason I lament Battelle's insistence on trying to make the book more than a biography of Google.
Other notes: * I was surprised I couldn't remember ever having run across the Overture search engine. * Battelle mentions the effects of 9/11 on Google, largely referencing a paper by Richard Wiggins, which is an interesting read on its own. * Battelle briefly touches on the closed nature of Google's algorithms protecting its results from being spammy. He mentions Doug Cutting and Nutch. Nutch was pulled into Hadoop, which basically provides Google clone technology (obviously missing a bunch of proprietary stuff) with an Apache license. * American Blinds sued Google over their trademark being sold as AdWords. After four years of litigation American Blinds settled worse off than it started: Google conceded nothing and paid nothing, while American Blinds had two of its trademarks thrown out as unenforcable and paid sanctions to Google for mismanaging the discovery process. * Geico brought suit with a similar claim which was thrown out, but Geico also objected to the use of Geico in an ad's text. It appears Google settled on the minor claim. American Airlines sued on the same grounds, and also settled the case. No legal precedent has been set. Selling trademarks as AdWords is similar to putting Coke and Pepsi on the grocery store shelf next to each other. There is potential for shadiness including a trademark in the text of an ad, but I would expect the advertiser and not Google to be held responsible. * I was curious what Google's ad deal with the Da Vinci Code movie was. It is still up here.(less)
Thanks for another self-help book, Mom--I love these things. This is the first of the most recent trilogy bestowed upon me. Why did I read this? The b...moreThanks for another self-help book, Mom--I love these things. This is the first of the most recent trilogy bestowed upon me. Why did I read this? The book successfully provoked its intended change in me by making me feel so worthless I had to do something.
The reader is assumed to be a woman. I thought for a while that Felton's use of "she" and "her" when referring to the prototypical "messie" person was perhaps a feminist thing, that perhaps this is what it is like to be female and always reading "he" and "his". But no, there are plenty of points that make it obvious Felton's intended reader is a woman. Appendix B about messiness and makeup removed all doubt from my mind.
The reader is also assumed to be religious. I felt this was the case for purposes of increased sales.
The first part of any self-help book is the author convincing the reader of his/her authority on the subject. Some people have degrees or have done extensive research. Others have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps or have talked to a million people with whatever condition. Felton is the latter. She self-describes as "The Organizer Lady" and has written no fewer than 10 volumes on the subject! She continually advertises those volumes you are not currently reading throughout the book, including a complete listing before the last two chapters.
She knows the problem of messiness and lack of organization well enough, but there is something annoying about the sort of person she has in mind for me to become. She is correct that most of my chronic disorganization is self-imposed by my own mindset. An exploration of the various mindsets that lead to disorganization is the subject of Part I. None of it was really enlightening; I never thought, oh, I didn't realize I was thinking that way and it was manifesting as this or that. It was just extraordinarily soul-crushing to read page after page of anecdotes about dysfunctional people realizing all the while that she is just talking about me in a veiled manner and all the while reading about change rather than being change/doing something. Felton was successful in embarrassing me in front of myself and provoking me to some action.
Part II is her tips on how to change. She seems not satisfied in changing enough to cure dysfunctionality. I get the idea that I should not stop changing until I achieve some level of normalcy, and with that I disagree. Thus, the second half of the book was rather unbearable, especially considering that it is all rather obvious conclusions following from Part I, plus the female audience, religion, and advertising angles all get worse.
The worst part about it is that the book itself is an overflowing disorganization of material that could be boiled down to the length of a long magazine article. Has the author truly conquered her messiness to the point of authority?(less)
For me, Zittrain is, for the most part, preaching to the choir. With electrical engineering and computer science education and years of reading slashdot/digg/reddit, for the most part I know my geek history and the score on most of the legal issues pertaining to the internet. Still, Zittrain told some gems that I didn't know about, and most of his analyses are poignant and clearer or more fully thought-out than my own. I'd estimate a quarter to a third of the book was new to me.
Some have criticized his analysis as being black and white, but how else do you communicate to someone the nature of a spectrum but by describing each comprising end and the defining variable?
I would recommend this book to everyone I know if only because it is impossible for me to effectively summarize these 250 pages into a few minutes if I can even hold the floor that long in a conversation. On top of that, the amount of information consolidated in this book is incredible--after the text of 250 pages comes 80 pages of references to the full stories, about a quarter of the book's length.
To Zittrain's credit, he does not attempt a sci-fi vision of the future, though he considers potentials that are possible from the current situation. The title of the book may be misleading for that reason and that the book deals more with the past and present than the future. I think everyone should know at least the base histories provided herein and agree with Zittrain that historical knowledge is key to avoiding mistakes as we move into the future.
One of the most intriguing ideas in the book is "verkeersbordvrij", Dutch for free of traffic signs, and how the philosophy plays out online. Experiments in several European towns have shown "dramatic improvements" in vehicular safety when nearly all traffic signs are removed. In an unsafe environment, drivers can no longer pay little mind to their actions assuming other drivers will follow rules.(less)