Those who know me will not be surprised that I consider this book pretty important (I've been flogging the "scripts to automate humans" approach to boThose who know me will not be surprised that I consider this book pretty important (I've been flogging the "scripts to automate humans" approach to boring software tasks for over a decade, though I've kept it tanged up with "Lab Notebook" discipline.) What may surprise you is that it's an *interesting read*, with a mix of "real life" medical drama, aviation history and drama, and 21st century politics.
It is unsurprising that Boeing, for example, has people who are experts in checklist design, what to leave out, what timings are worthwhile; what *is* surprising is the emphasis on how effective (even necessary!) checklists can be for getting people to perform together as teams. (Most of my focus has been on supporting individuals who *don't* have teams to keep an eye on them.)
So, if you do something repetitive and yet difficult to completely automate, read this - even if you *are* already using these techniques, there are some interesting refinements - and it's an entertaining read....more
I picked up the kindle sample out of polite curiosity; I generally prefer science fiction to outright fantasy. Before I knew it, I'd lost half the weeI picked up the kindle sample out of polite curiosity; I generally prefer science fiction to outright fantasy. Before I knew it, I'd lost half the weekend to finishing it! The ultimately glorious worldbuilding snuck up on me - with nicely indirect revelations that tie character's personal experience with tales of legend, blurred by physical, cultural, and chronological distance - amidst direct tales of adventure, heroism, and misunderstood evil.
I was also particular pleased that characters in the world were, not specifically genre-savvy, but convincingly *suspicious* of reappearing chance-met characters and inconsistency in levels of divine power, and at least attempted to draw logical conclusions and act on them. This did a good job of eliminating my usual throw-the-book-against-the-wall frustation with the genre.
I also enjoyed the *physical* world-building - the scenery and geography and the visual descriptions of vistas were inspiring without getting in the way of the action. I look forward to more of it! ...more
Picked this up right when it came out, but only just got around to actually reading it (since even without it being a Miles book, it was likely that sPicked this up right when it came out, but only just got around to actually reading it (since even without it being a Miles book, it was likely that starting it would mean finishing it in one sitting...) Sure enough, it was up to her usual standards as far as page-turning adventure goes.
The main weakness was that there were a lot of little side details stuffed in every corner - resolving things that didn't really need to be resolved, from the main series. Gave it a sort of "fanfic" feel; having a few "callbacks" to tie unexpectedly related things together is something I adore, but too many makes it feel like a bunch of writer's scraps stuffed in. (And some of the details about Ilyan's chip... maybe didn't need to be resolved at all.)
That said, it does show that there are interesting points of view that aren't Miles' that still make for good world-scale story-telling....more
I picked this up at the Bear Valley Visitor Center after half a day of photography at the start of what turned out to be a 4k-picture photo-vacation.I picked this up at the Bear Valley Visitor Center after half a day of photography at the start of what turned out to be a 4k-picture photo-vacation. It has a good number of real pictures of local wildlife with identifications; not the detail you'd find in a Sibley's guide, but I find these more useful in terms of "oh, I was *there* and saw something that looked exactly like *that* so it really was a Surf Scoter." More areas could use books of "the critters that the locals all know already" :-)
It's also not limited to birds, though that's certainly the main emphasis - it includes pictures of plenty of "things you'll probably also notice" like lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, Elk, and bobcats.
The book was entirely worth it for me simply in letting me identify most of the animals I got pictures of that day; when I go back, I'll actually use it to *plan* my sightseeing instead of just going "Huh, there's a big green area on gmaps on the other side of the golden gate bridge, maybe I'll drive up there and follow the signs". The book includes detail of conservation and naturalist activities you can participate in, and URLs for *current* information about them (no reason to assume the mist-net bird-banding project is still at the same time of day 4 years after publication, after all.)
If you're a visitor to the San Francisco area, *definitely* take a day and go see Point Reyes, and *absolutely* use this book as a reference when you do....more
One of the most accessible bits of font-geekery I've ever seen; bite-sized chapters dive into individual corners of our obsession with type, and helpsOne of the most accessible bits of font-geekery I've ever seen; bite-sized chapters dive into individual corners of our obsession with type, and helps put names to faces - names of designers, to typefaces, that is. One of the few modern books that is important to get on paper - someday Amazon will step up their game, and producing a Kindle edition of Just My Type that accurately captures the extensive use of obscure fonts as example and illustration would be a good indicator, but in the meantime, it's not a serious option.
Excellent book for anyone who already has even the slightest interest in typography, even if it's just "Saw Helvetica-the-movie and looking for more". Not, mind you, a *useful* book - though I made about a page of notes of things to look up online, they were things like "see if anyone's done a monospace version of the ClearView or Interstate traffic-sign fonts" and "find Font Fight and Font Conference on youtube" (cute, but entirely composed of font-name in-jokes, not so funny for beginners.) If you need a book about doing better design with typography... this isn't the book you're looking for; on the other hand, if you want to *love* type and how it got that way, you'll get a lot out of Just My Type....more
An entertaining read for any Bond movie fan, "License to Fail" presents a different perspective - case studies of various "entrepreneurs" and how theiAn entertaining read for any Bond movie fan, "License to Fail" presents a different perspective - case studies of various "entrepreneurs" and how their actions led to a "government operative" performing "extra-judicial inquiries"... and how in many cases, their cover stories would have been plausible business plans, and how a competent Advisory Board would have had valuable and sensible contributions towards avoiding their ultimate (and unprofitable) downfall. In particular, the author points out many cases where the "operative" would have been entirely harmless, but for key betrayals (often caused by poor HR choices) or unnecessary shortcuts; Zorin (View to a Kill) is credited particularly for treating Bond as irrelevant to his plans, and having the most sound *actual business* - indeed, his act of villiany is shown as likely to be *less* successful than simply sticking to his cover business. You're likely to either laugh and nod, or want to argue - but either way it is engaging.
(Goes all the way to QoS, doesn't include Skyfall.)
Doesn't shy away from (admittedly obvious) comparisons with specific modern-day entrepreneurs - of course, these days, they've gone way beyond yachts, having your own private space program and robot army are now part of the territory for the billionaire set....more
This has been on my list to read since it came out - having had both personal and professional interest in maps and geography for decades (crowned byThis has been on my list to read since it came out - having had both personal and professional interest in maps and geography for decades (crowned by spending the last 10 years working directly on Map Search, for MetaCarta and then Nokia.) Yes, I have the laminated world and europe maps on the wall, with wet-erase markers clipped to them to "keep score" (thick line for "been there", little airplane icon-sketch for "flew through, never really left the airport".)
Turns out that there really *are* a lot of "us" - a very broad spectrum of geographic obsession, including the geocachers and the Century Club (> 100 countries), those that collect maps-as-art, and the kids at the Geography Bee who know (not just trivia, but can reason about) vast quantities of information about the world and what's in it.
Jennings (famously obsessive himself) brings a wealth of both well-footnoted facts and very human stories to the table, including Alex Trebek's enthusiasm for the Geography Bee, and how turning off GPS Selective Availability led *directly* to the invention of the hobby/sport of GeoCaching.
If you're the sort to browse map stores, or accumulate gas station maps, or even to think "hey, google maps is pretty cool, where did it come from?" you'll enjoy MapHead; it's also easy to read in bits and pieces - while there are interesting cross-connections, it's an exploration, not a novel....more
"Dearie" covers Julia Child's *entire* life, accomplishments, and relationships, to a degree I would not have previously thought to be interesting - t"Dearie" covers Julia Child's *entire* life, accomplishments, and relationships, to a degree I would not have previously thought to be interesting - the author is clearly a big fan, without being fawning, and covers some fairly dark topics in a respectful manner. I grew up with Julia Child being part of what TV *was* and it was fascinating to see how much that impression was sheer force of will on her part - and how much of an outright *troublemaker* she was :-) It also gets across the ludicrous amount of work that went into producing those "effortless" presentations, balanced with the self confidence to be able to carry off "disasters" on live TV - "Never apologize for the food!"
I would also recommend the book to any fan of modern cooking shows, there's a great deal of information on how we got where we are today. But primarily, if you "grew up with Julia" and haven't dug in to her life before, I found this book to be an excellent place to start.
A very good bit of "universe building", and some glorious extrapolation the internet and human nature in the face of the lightspeed limit. Doesn't havA very good bit of "universe building", and some glorious extrapolation the internet and human nature in the face of the lightspeed limit. Doesn't have the forced anti-privacy elements some of Brin's earlier works have - they're just woven in as convincing inevitabilities of taking today's social-connected-everything forward a few steps. I'll leave it at that - don't want to spoil any of the intertwined setups for entertaining reveals (the book has a number of startling reveals that on further thought, "huh, I really *should* have seen that coming...") which I very much enjoyed. The story, and the universe, were both "well constructed"....more
This book was written for me and my high-school "computer friends", who grew up on the TRS-80 computers; the authors dug up (or simply *remembered*) aThis book was written for me and my high-school "computer friends", who grew up on the TRS-80 computers; the authors dug up (or simply *remembered*) a great wealth of industry gossip about what was, in the end, a groundbreaking dead-end of computing. If you actually had a model I/III/4/4p, subscribed to 80 micro, and knew what LDOS was (even if you didn't get to actually *buy* it) then this book is aimed at you, pretty directly - and really, noone else. I don't actually think it will be of interest to anyone with a later entry to computing; we're talking about a period when "proportional spacing" was a *heavily bragged about feature* in a word processor - running on hardware that couldn't actually display lower case letters. (To be fair, the authors do get across some of these ideas in modern terms; it's just that if you don't have the touchstone of experience with that era, you can wonder, not unreasonably, why we even bothered :-)
(In particular, Bruce B and Jon L may find this book interesting. I don't think I'd recommend it to *anyone* else - it's well done for what it is, but it's *very* narrow.)
If you still think you might want to read about this period as an outsider - watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Prl6D... instead - @eevblog's Model 100 teardown, where he just *adores* the extent to which such a useful and novel machine is built with actual *chips* and not custom parts. That's going to be more satisfying anyway......more
A good starting point if you've only recently heard about accessibility and are wondering if (or were just told) it's something you need to worry abouA good starting point if you've only recently heard about accessibility and are wondering if (or were just told) it's something you need to worry about. Does a good job showing that (1) yes, you do (2) there isn't *that* much you need to do (3) everything involved will improve your website anyway. Convinces without overwhelming, and has good pointers to more specific resources if you have trouble in a particular area....more
More of a "personal tale of discovery" than actual research, but I think it mostly turned out more readable that way (barring a few glaringly forced cMore of a "personal tale of discovery" than actual research, but I think it mostly turned out more readable that way (barring a few glaringly forced cliffhangers.) If you've ever been fascinated by the idea of learning lots of languages, and the people who do so... it's a great book for shredding illusions, and making clear just how much *work* is involved even for the people for whom it comes easily. The book also goes interesting *places* (fitting, as an interest in foreign languages often - though as the author discovers, *not* universally - ties to an interest in the foreign places that go with them) as it follows the author's research journey and historical explorations.
There is a little neuroscience, but it's mostly a source of things to look up elsewhere, and the author deserves credit for not spinning wild theories on top of it....more
While it's got basically none of the sophistication of Fire upon the Deep, and perhaps my time would have been better spent re-reading that, I still tWhile it's got basically none of the sophistication of Fire upon the Deep, and perhaps my time would have been better spent re-reading that, I still think it's a reasonable (if *narrow*) sequel, as a stepping stone to a future work in which the galaxy pulls itself back together somehow, which moves the characters around (and introduces some major new ones) in mostly convincing ways to set the stage for a real second act. ...more
While I typically read Stephenson for the world-building (and I enjoyed Diamond Age even though it basically blue-screens rather than finishing) thisWhile I typically read Stephenson for the world-building (and I enjoyed Diamond Age even though it basically blue-screens rather than finishing) this time he's embedded a freshly-built virtual world in a richly described real modern world, and this works well. Even concludes decently, wraps up nicely at the end.
My one problem with the book is that I read it on the kindle... and didn't realize (until I checked after losing most of three solid days to it) that the paperback edition is *1100 pages* and I *really* should have gone out of my way to pace myself....more