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Robert Lawrence (Brooklyn, NY USA)

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Learning Perl (Nutshell Handbook)
Learning Perl (Nutshell Handbook)
von Randal L Schwartz
  Taschenbuch

3.0 von 5 Sternen Four stars if you know UNIX or are already a developer, 5. Mai 2000
This is not a bad book, but I'm still surprised by the generosity of the reader reviews. Perl is something of a cult, so I think in a lot of cases a positive review means "I like Perl" more than it means "I like 'Learning Perl.'" People hesitate (understandably, I think) to insult a book that's closely associated with a great open-source language.
I myself think Perl is great, but I have some serious problems with the way this book was written and edited. The authors can't seem to decide whether this should be an easy book for programmers, a difficult book for non-programmers, or even (at times) an easy book for non-programmers. That is to say, the tone, style, and assumptions about the audience change throughout, sometimes from page to page. Key concepts are glossed over with a minimum of explanation (the chapter on hashes, particularly, is a disgrace); then, defying all reason, very simple concepts are overexplained for two or three pages. The authors have been too close to their subject for too long, and they seem to have forgotten what they learned and the order in which they learned it. Maybe a newbie co-author might have helped.
If you are an experienced developer or are comfortable with UNIX, you'll get a lot of benefit from "llama." Otherwise, though, start with another book, or learn something about UNIX first. Then return to this book, and you should have an easier time of it.


After the Goldrush: Essays on the Profession of Software Engineering (Best Practices)
After the Goldrush: Essays on the Profession of Software Engineering (Best Practices)
von Steve McConnell
  Taschenbuch

5.0 von 5 Sternen Concise excellence, 5. November 1999
Steve McConnell comes through again. In this short collection of essays, he argues convincingly that the software industry can and must change drastically. The industry's "code-and-fix" practices, which have over and over proved ineffective and even dangerous, have to go. The image of the heroic programming genius, saving the dysfunctional organization over and over from behind a wall of empty pizza boxes and soda cans, must go as well. Empty and foolish heroism must be replaced by good processes, patient planning, and good engineering practice.
McConnell argues that in order for this change to occur, a proper "profession" of software engineering must be created. Such a profession would, above all, aid the diffusion of effective software engineering practices. In addition, a profession backed by universities, professional guilds, and a system of certification would make developers accountable for the software they create, and would allow them to take a stand against clueless management who want systems "done yesterday"--whatever the ultimate cost or detrimental effect on quality.
My only complaint is that McConnell ignores one important factor in software: the impatience of contemporary investors and financial professionals. The short-term focus of these parties is hurting quality in every industry, including software. Perhaps the only way new companies will be able to battle their influence will be to remain private--a difficult sacrifice that will require character verging on stubbornness.
For an interesting pairing, you may want to read this book alongside Mark Minasi's "The Software Conspriracy."


The Software Conspiracy: Why Software Companies Put Out Faulty Products, How They Can Hurt You, and What You Can Do About It: What You Don't Know ... and How It's Taking Control of Your Life
The Software Conspiracy: Why Software Companies Put Out Faulty Products, How They Can Hurt You, and What You Can Do About It: What You Don't Know ... and How It's Taking Control of Your Life
von Mark Minasi
  Gebundene Ausgabe

4.0 von 5 Sternen Well-written and good for the general reader, 25. Oktober 1999
This is a very important book. I'm somewhat worried that it's not getting enough attention, and though I'm hardly a conspiracy theorist, I wouldn't be surprised if certain powerful forces were doing their best to keep people from reading it.
Minasi correctly argues that companies could (and should) produce much better software than they do. Quality goes out the window because industry dynamics favor big liars--companies that continually promise new and better features, but instead ship bug-ridden monstrosities.
As Minasi realizes, this pattern will continue unless consumers and/or legislators act to stop it. Companies will only act to improve their software if they are given sufficient motivation to do so. Such "motivation" might include lawsuits, consumer boycotts, or what have you. But for the moment, the odds are stacked very much in the industry's favor.
My only real complaint is with the title. The word "conspiracy" suggests that the book was written by some kind of flake or crank. That is definitely not the case. I hope the title doesn't give Microsoft, Sun, et. al. a good excuse to dismiss the book and its author.


Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library)
Managing Your Documentation Projects (Wiley Technical Communication Library)
von Joann T. Hackos
  Taschenbuch
Preis: EUR 54,46

3.0 von 5 Sternen Should have been shorter, 30. Juni 1999
I have very mixed feelings about this book. Clearly Hackos has a tremendous amount of experience and has seen many successful projects from start to finish. Nonetheless, I'm troubled by the length of the book and the heavy reliance on project management methodologies from other disciplines. Hackos has correctly recognized that a documentation project has to be broken into stages, and the stages she suggests are (pretty) good. But the sheer number of deliverables produced in each phase is overwhelming. By bombarding developers with doc deliverables (information plans, content specifications, etc.) during the development cycle, you risk becoming the ninny on your software project--or more precisely, the schoolmarm. And that, I think, is what bothers me about this book in general: the schoolmarmish tone that resurfaces throughout. There is just too much detail.
Hackos is correct to suggest that writers must establish better rapport with developers. I think the way to do that, however, is to get closer to real development methodologies (rather than writing methodologies) that are gaining steam today. (Best example: Rational Software's Unified Process.) If the profession is ever to get the respect it deserves, technical writers will have to become more like programmers, and less like English teachers.


Minima Moralia: Reflections From Damaged Life
Minima Moralia: Reflections From Damaged Life
von Theodor Adorno
  Taschenbuch

2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen An underrated and under-discussed masterpiece, 17. Juni 1999
Although the Frankfurt School enjoyed some popularity in the US during the 1960s, its greatest writer never gained a following. Read this book and you may understand why: Adorno's thought is dense, allusive, and difficult to assimilate. It assumes quite some background in European, and especially German, intellectual history.
The right reader, however, will find Minima Moralia a tightly written, polished masterpiece. It is essentially a series of aphorisms in the style of Nietzsche. Adorno blends sharp observations about daily life in the 20th century with choice gleanings from philosophy, literature and history. The result is a unique work of cultural criticism that defies characterization or summary.
Almost every sentence of Minima Moralia contains a devastating insight into modern culture. Must reading for anyone who cares about Hegel, Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, and all related strands of thought.


Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America
Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America
von Robert Hughes
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Good cultural critique from a smart outsider, 14. Juni 1999
It's strange that, during the 1990s, the two people who have thought most clearly about American culture and politics aren't American. One is the British journalist Christopher Hitchens; the other is the Australian art critic Robert Hughes.
Why should a Hughes have such an advantage over the native literati? In a sentence, he comes from a culture that is brutally direct. Australians, in print and otherwise, don't care much for euphemism. Hughes writes without the stream of caveats, pre-emptive apologies, and other bad-faith gestures that fill most books on the "culture wars." This most un-American way of writing sheds considerable light on this overdone subject, and at his best Hughes verges on Tocquevillean.
It's a shame that some clown at a publishing house rewrote the subtitle as "A Passionate Look into the Ailing Heart of America." The new subtitle represents just the type of therapeutic pap Hughes is out to squash. The original ("The Fraying of America") said it much better, and with fewer words.


Arco Making Money in Technical Writing
Arco Making Money in Technical Writing
von Peter Kent
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Good advice . . . for the right type of person, 8. Juni 1999
I found this book outstanding and completely to my taste. But I am an aggressive entrepreneur and (in business matters) generally an optimist. That seems to be Peter Kent's personal style, so everything he said made perfect sense to me.
The mixed reviews given here may reflect different personalities, differing degrees of luck, or maybe just differing job markets (the two most negative reviews are from the Pacific Northwest--coincidence?).
In any case: (a) there are nowhere near enough technical writers; (b) there are a ton of outstanding opportunities for people who are bright and well-organized; and (c) if you want to take up the profession, this book can take you from zero to 60 in a couple of years.
But I reiterate: you've got to have the contractor's personality. Kent says that in his book, so (you negative reviewers) don't fault him if you see things differently.


Wage Slave No More: Law and Taxes for the Self-Employed
Wage Slave No More: Law and Taxes for the Self-Employed
von Stephen Fishman
  Taschenbuch

4.0 von 5 Sternen Very solid and informative, 29. Mai 1999
This is my first Nolo Press book. Fishman has written an excellent, concise guide for the self-employed. The book clearly explains legal issues and, when the going gets too complicated for this midlength book, refers the reader to other sources. I think it paid for itself in about 30 seconds. Ultimately it should save me thousands, or maybe I should say, thousands of hours of rummaging around.
This is far better than "Inc. Yourself" and some other books I've seen on the subject. Fishman is very sharp, and he must have character as well--otherwise why would he spend his time writing law books for the small entrepreneur? I hope he's flourishing wherever he is.
Why not five stars? I'm just fighting rating inflation . . . five stars ought to be for "War and Peace."


For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports
For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports
von Christopher Hitchens
  Gebundene Ausgabe

1 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Best living political essayist in US/UK, 27. Mai 1999
Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I naturally learned a contempt for journalism as it is currently practiced. The great problem with journalists today, seems to me, is not their slavish conformity, their scandal-mongering, or even their sales-and-marketing obsession with the bottom line. It is their LACK OF IDEAS. They have little or no training in logic, history, aesthetics, or any of the other arts that are necessary if one is to continually shed light on the present.
Christopher Hitchens, by contrast, has all of these things. I bought this book three years ago and have read it through more times than I can remember. It makes intelligible sense of almost every major event that occurred during the late 80s and early 90s. To boot, it is witty and entertaining. If you feel suffocated by the evening news, NPR, the New York Times, and other demographically-tailored drivel, buy this book and everything else Hitchens has published.


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