Book review: Losing My Virginity

Losing My Virginity – Sir Richard Branson

It’s well written and it’s hard to stop reading once you start. The second half of the book feels a bit slower as each chapter covers less time. Richard has done an incredible amount of things in a relatively short time. When he puts his mind to something he’ll find a way, and it’s really interesting how he was able to pull some of the things off (like buying Necker Island for a tenth of what the real estate agent wanted). Inspiring in a lot of ways.

Conclusion: Read it.

Book review: Free

Free – Chris Anderson

(Note: I read this book in 2009, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

As with The Long Tail that I reviewed about last week, Chris does a wide and deep search on the topic. One can read the introductory chapter and feel that’s all there is to say on the subject, but they’d be wrong. Chris has a nice writing style and uses a lot of examples. There are some very interesting examples on how “free” has been applied, such as popularizing Jell-O in the USA and music bands in Brazil.

Conclusion: Read it, if you like the economic side of software development.

Book review: The Long Tail

The (Longer) Long Tail – Chris Anderson

(Note: I read this book in 2007, and back then it didn’t have “Longer” in the title. This is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook.)

When this was written, back in 2006, I can imagine it being highly interesting. Today I don’t think most people would raise an eyebrow as the concept is so common: digital distribution is so cheap you can have an almost infinite amount of products in your catalog. So many in fact that even if you only sell one copy of each one the total sales from these “long tale products” adds up to a considerable increase in revenue for the company. Still it’s very interesting. He still has some valid points that most business hasn’t quite handled that well: by having an almost infinite variety of products, how do the customers find what they want?

Conclusion: Read it, if you have some extra time. Definitely a must-read for anyone starting or running an online service with a very large product catalogue. (2011 update: Today his new book Free might be more interesting.)

Book review: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team – Patrick M. Lencioni

(Note: I read this book in 2009, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

A definitive read for anyone working in, or leading a, team. It lays out the common problems and solutions through an entertaining story. Which will most likely bring up some of your own memories of situations and people, which (for me) makes it easier to relate to and try to imagine what the proposed changes would’ve actually done had you applied them.

The last part of the book where it goes into more facts about the dysfunctions and what to do about them was well written as well. Although I’d like that part to be a bit more extensive, I’m sure it is in all the extra workshops and games and book editions.

Conclusion: Read it, even if you’re not a manager.

Book review: The E-myth Revisited

E-myth Revisited – Michael E. Gerber

The information of this book could’ve been told in less than 100 pages. He puts too many words to describe something and repeats himself over and over. He’ll write the same sentence three times or more after each other, with slight differences, and since he pretends to be having a conversation with “Sara” she’ll repeat what he just said.

Conclusion: Skip it. The message is good and I’d recommend it if it wasn’t for the repetitiveness, but there are better books out there.

Idea: Christmas gifting

This year me and a friend were Cyber Santas. I checked out his wishlist on Steam, and he checked out my wishlist on Amazon. Then we bought each others gift, on Christmas Eve, online, from home, delivered instantly. It felt great! Gifting is one thing, but giving someone a present has a few more subtletess I’d like introduced.

  1. Schedule delivery for a specific date. Since the gifting is instantanous, giving a Christmas gift or birthday present means you have to buy it on the actual date. Most blogs and email-clients have delayed or scheduled functions, so why not just let me choose what date the person gets the gift? Or even better, let them know right away but don’t let them open it until my given date.
  2. Gift “wrap” it. It was nice getting that e-mail from Amazon telling me Karl had “gifted me” the book Superfreakonomics, but it would’ve been a bit more fun with that feeling of wrapped gifts you get when you know you’ve got something but don’t know what it is.

Idea: Version control Achievements

One of the greatest gaming inventions of recent time is Achievements, IMHO. Wikipedia describes it as “a meta-goal defined outside of a game’s parameters”.

My friend Karl showed me the git achievements project. You are awarded “Achievements” based on what you do in the version control system. Some examples:

“Apprentice Seamstress: amended a commit with git-commit –amend.”
“Apprentice Socialite: pushed a branch to a remote repository using git-push”
“Apprentice Stone Mason: Added files to the index area for inclusion in the next commit with git-add”

That’s a great idea! It can be used to incourage best practices and company policies. It could even teaching fundamentals of version control management in a fun way.

I do prefer SVN though, and there can probably be some money made on MS Team Foundation Service.

The achievements of each employee could be shown in the company intranet, or even on it’s public website.