Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review Day

There are no spoilers in these reviews.

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card:
This is the second book in the neverending selection of novels from the Ender's Game universe, but I found that I enjoyed it more than the more plot-driven "Shadow" series which I read a few months ago. The connection to the Ender universe was almost unnecessary, and I think the book would have been just as strong with alternate characters involved. Reading this also helped to make sense of the final chapter of Ender's Game which I found to be jarring and tone-shifted. It actually turns out to be more like a first chapter to this book. $8 was a good price for this e-book.

Final Grade: B+

Hackers & Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age by Paul Graham:
Most (or maybe all) of these essays are already available for free online, but I purchased this on the Kindle for some in-flight reading material. It contains a selection of essays ranging on topics from programming to startups, and while all of the essays are well-written and engrossing, some of the conclusions and assumptions in the essays feel unsupported, as if the author came up with an intriguing hypothesis on the way to work and scribbled it down. For the most part, this is fine, since the intent of the essays seems to be provoking deep thoughts, rather than convincing anyone of a specific viewpoint. A couple essays seemed a little long-winded, and $10 is pricey for the e-version (I would have been happy at $8).

Final Grade: B-

Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity by Joel Spolsky:
I had never read or heard of Joel Spolsky's blog before reading this book with an obnoxiously long title, but this came up as a recommendation when I purchased Hackers and Painters. Like that book, this is a collection of already published online articles, but it's not as polished. Several articles contain verbatim pasted content which would have made sense when reading a standalone essay on a website, but which just looks careless when the two essays are placed into consecutive chapters in book form. However, I did enjoy reading the book, and found that it brought a fresh perspective to my daily work in the programming field. Again, $10 is pricey, and I would have pegged the actual value around $7.

Final Grade: B-

Walls of fat removed from London sewers
Workmen ignore badger when painting lines
Candwich: Quick, Tasty, and Grounds for a Lawsuit

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