Book review: Rich Dad Poor Dad 2: Cashflow Quadrant

Rich Dad Poor Dad Part II – Cash Flow Quadrant – Robert T. Kiyosaki

(Note: I read this book in 2008, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

It’s an alright book. Gives you a bit to think about but nothing revolutionizing. The last 40 pages or so are just blatant propaganda for his first book, Rich Dad Poor Dad, and his CASHFLOW games. If you’re going to read one of Kiyosaki’s books then you might as well read the original: Rich Dad, Poor Dad (and be aware that Kiyosaki’s only successful venture is the Rich Dad franchise).

Conclusion: Skip it.

Book review: Making Globalization Work

Making Globalization Work – Joseph Stiglitz

(Note: I read this book in 2008, and this is a repost of a review I did then in Visual Bookshelf on my Facebook)

Joseph presents the harsh reality of globalization, especially trade and IP management and how the industrialized rich countries has used their size and influence to tip the global market their way – making the developing and poorer countries suffer unnecesserely. He details how and why the global market is broken, but also how it can be fixed. One of the most eye opening and enlighting books I’ve read.

Conclusion: Read it. I highly recommend everyone to read this book.

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 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.

Book review: Superfreakonomics

A few years ago I read Freakonomics. I loved the stats and conclusions so much I started considering studying behavioral economics. Not long ago they released a sequel, SuperFreakonomics. It’s my first book for Kindle and it was gifted to my by a friend on Christmas Eve. (If you don’t have an e-reader I highly recommend it!)

Like the first book, its common theme is finding out the real reason for why people do the things they do – usually by following the money. The most memorable person from the first book, Sudhir Venkatesh studying the economics of street gangs, makes a comeback with the economics behind prostitution. (I just noticed he’s got his own book now!) I usually read a little every night, but SuperFreakonomics was so fun I almost read the whole thing in two days. Almost.

It really goes down in the last chapter. The last chapter is a lot longer than the previous ones, and instead of backing up conclusions with statistics and describing the mathematical and economical reasoning behind it they simple quote the owners of a company called Intellectual Ventures. It really crosses the border of interesting stats to promotional material. Instead of being about why people (or animals!) do the things they do, it’s about how IV will save the world. It’s also about how IV are the only ones that truly understand the global warming crisis and their inventions are the only choice for our salvation.

Conclusion: Read it, and pretend that last chapter isn’t there.

Creating the rules for static code analysis of HTML and CSS

One of my ideas is checking the markup and style code to find potential render bugs in various browsers. But creating all the rules needed is a huge task.

The approach I’ve chosen is based on using humans to detect errors. The reason being that it’s most likely cheaper, and an automated system that analyzes browser screenshots feels like a pipe dream. By permutating partitions of different HTML tags and CSS styles a tester is shown the HTML/CSS on the left side, the rendered result on the right side, and a simple question: Does it look correct? Yes or No. Some knowledge of webdesign is needed, of course. The answer is stored with the permutation and browser information as a rule.

Rules can be weighted and various machine learning techniques could be used to “train” the system. But I won’t go into that today. Instead I’m proposing two ways of amassing this huge number of inputs that’s required:
1) Crowdsourcing. Let the testsite be public and generate needed tests based on the browser the visitor is using.
2) Outsourcing. Uses the same system but in a controlled environment that guarantees that all browsers are tested. Needs funding though.

The biggest hurdle is getting up to speed with current browsers, then a continous work to keep the rules updated for new browsers and versions.

Another way would be to have trained professionals, or just an active online community that write the rules directly from memory. But I don’t think that’s practical or even feasible in reality.