Books (for lack of a better topic)
So, I need to contribute something to our blog post December, and given that it's late on Sunday night and I am running low on time I'll write something simple. Our post-a-day december has two main goals. The first is to get us writing more on a regular basis. The second, which will hopefully follow from the first, is improving our communication and writing skills. That said, another goal I have to help expand my mind and improve my writing is to simply read more. On that note I'm going to list out a couple of books I have read and a couple I hope to get to soon.
Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am, and always have been a bit of an Apple fan boy. The first computer I used at school was an Apple II and the first computer my family owned was a Macintosh LCIII. I've pretty much been in love ever since. Because of this I have always been a fan of Steve Jobs, I think its fair to say that he made an incredible mark on the world, and his products have certainly played a huge role in my life.
I had already read several other accounts of Steve Jobs' life and Apple's history, so I wasn't going into this book completely fresh. That said this book has all the classic stories, Woz helping Steve build the Breakout game for Atari, Steve asking John Scully if he wants to "Sell sugared water to kids...", etc. However this book dives in much deeper to Steve's personal life and tries to give you a sense of the man.
Steve Jobs was certainly not the best person, he often mistreated his family and friends, he berated his employees, and he was very manipulative and not quick to share credit. However he also had an unflinching drive and passion for his craft. He pushed and pushed to be sure every detail was correct, sometimes to a fault.
I found the book very interesting and worth the time. I think there is a lot we can learn from Steve Jobs, both from his good traits and bad. I know some have dismissed the book as being to light on the technical aspect, but I think that book will come later, the book we have now is simply a look at the man, his life, and his relationships.
I picked up this book to try and brush up on my basic algorithm skills again. In my day job I write code and design systems, however most of the hard parts are learning the systems, formulating the business rules, and all the other high level tasks. It is far less common that I have to delve deep and work on low level complex problems. Frankly I've gotten a little rusty.
This book has helped a lot. It dives in and gives a good overview of common algorithms and gives you tools to design and analyze algorithms. It avoids going too deep into the mathematics, but its deep enough for most purposes. If you make it through this book and want a little more MIT offers a free class on iTunes U that I think can be a good complement to this book.
I am a fan of most of Stephen King's books, however I have always had a special place in my heart for his short stories. In my opinion his short stories may be his best work, they are wide ranging in style, length, and subject, but they are almost always interesting and enjoyable.
His newest, Full Dark, No Stars, is one of his most intense and graphic. The book consists of four novellas. The first, 1922, is a first person account of how a man plans and executes the murder of his wife while dragging along his son. The second involves an author who is driving home and gets brutally assaulted, she then plots her revenge. The third is about a man who stops by a road side stand and ends up making a deal with the devil. The last is about a wife who discovers her husband has a shocking and horrifying secret.
I enjoyed reading this book, its hard to say that it was fun though. This book deals with very difficult subjects and has a significant amount of graphic detail. That said, these stories are not to be missed for any Stephen King fan.
I always have a huge backlog on my reading list, here are a couple I'm hoping to get through soon:
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin
- Functional Programming for Java Developers by Dean Wampler
- Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) by Caroll Tavris
Feel free to leave comments about the books you've been into lately. Thanks for stopping by and have a good night.