Friday, May 22, 2009
posted 12:56am
"Socrates Café"
Driven by his love of philosophy, Chirstopher Phillips started Socrates Café. A place where people can come together to discuss philosophy openly using the Socratic method, whether it's hosted in a café, library, or senior center. Phillips relates a lot of the questions that came up durning these meetings, writing a series of short essays that make up the book.

I started this book last year, but due to the IF Comp and few other things I had trouble getting back to it. When I did, it was refreshing to once again hear the voice of reason. Philosophy is so important, it teaches us the 4th R. There's been the basic reading, writing, and arithmetic, but we need reason to propel us into this new century. We need people to question the world they live in and the ideals they cling to. If they stand the test of reason, then they might be good ideals, but if they don't we must be willing to let go of preconceptions and learn to further ourselves for the betterment of all.

This book conveys all of that and encourages us to seek out Socrates within. It's a quick read but packs a punch with clear ideas that cut to the chase. With new questions and ideas to chew on, this one will get you thinking before it's over.

Great job - D

Currently Studying: Ruby on Rails

Saturday, May 9, 2009
posted 11:32pm
"Accidental Empires"
Before we had all these desktops connected to the internet, with gigabyte video cards powering photo-realistic games, we had micro computers, and text adventures, and we wrote our own games in BASIC or Assembly Language. This early era of computing, everything from the Altair 8800 and Apple II to the IBM PC and Mac, was a wonderful time where one or two people could create a game or a business application. Not like today, having to rely on a 30 man team or more to handle all the code. Look how big Microsoft is.

Robert Cringely has covered the early Micro in Accidental Empires, from the stuff that happened at Xerox PARC to the rise of Microsoft, which started with just Bill Gates and Paul Allen. His unique approach is that of a gossip columist, having the inside dirt on the industry. He wrote for InfoWorld back when this book was written, it was published in 1992, but you feel like it all happened yesturday, not like you're looking back on it years later. The tone of the whole book is awesome, like this section right here:

The two programmer subspecies that are worthy of note are the hippies and the nerds. Nearly all great programmers are one type or the other. Hippie programmers have long hair and deliberately, even pridefully, ignore the seasons in their choice of clothing. They wear shorts and sandals in the winter and T-shirts all the time. Nerds are neat little anal-retentive men with penchants for short-sleeved shirts and pocket protectors. Nerds carry calculators; hippies borrow calculators. Nerds use decongestant nasal sprays; hippies snort cocaine. Nerds typically know fourty-six different ways to make love but don't know any women. Hippies know women.

The book also went on to become a PBS Special, Triumph of the Nerds, which came out in 1996 along with a re-release of the book and two more chapters. The Special was also hosted by Cringely. This second release of the book is the one that's in circulation, and it made for a great read. Going on about little things that would have been lost over time. I'm glad I had a chance to get through it, it was a breeze to read.

- D

Currently Playing: Legends of Zork