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2007 June
From the monthly archives: June 2007

In Search Of Stupidity: Over 20 Years Of High-Tech Marketing Disasters, by Merrill R. Chapman, 2nd edition

ISOS looks at the last 25 years of computing and provides an interesting look at what went wrong for some companies: how Wordstar lost the word processor market, the failure of the IBM PC Junior, what happened at Ashton-Tate with dBase, etc.

Positives: The writing is really engaging. Once you start the book, you will not put it down. All the stories are very interesting and well written.

Negatives: There isn’t a lot of analysis of what went wrong. It’s mostly the facts, plus a “they made a positioning mistake” sentence and that’s it. I do not understand how the in fighting between two groups of developers at a company can be considered a marketing mistake. Sometimes the author likes to be clever and his humor might annoy some people.

Conclusion: Well worth your time if you like reading about the history of the computer industry and if you would like to avoid some of these mistakes yourself.

Popularity: 6% [?]

 

Analyzing the Facebook Platform, three weeks in by Marc Andreesen gives a very good explanation of an application versus a platform and the advantages it provides. It also gives an overview of how Facebook chose to handle its API. If you have any interest in web application and social networks, it’s a must read.

Popularity: 5% [?]

 

La├»ka hosted the first Montreal Web Development Book Club this past Monday. There wasn’t as much people as expected, probably because of the long weekend. It was still loads of fun and packed with great discussions. I presented In Search of Stupidity by Merrill Chapman. I’m going to post a review soon, but the book generated some good discussions about the industry in general.

The next book was Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger, which is about ways to organize information, such as hierarchies and tags. Evan Promodou, who started wikitravel (which recently won a Webby award), is obviously very interested in the subject. This led to a discussion about RDF. I never understood the interest in RDF (I think XML is good for almost everything except what people actually uses it for), but I’ll definitely have to check out how he uses it on wikitravel. Anyway, the book seems very interesting as it also presents a historical perspective on the subject, such as the Dewey system.

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web was the last book of the night. Heri mentioned that he read the book 3 times. The way he said it, I’m not sure if it was because it was such a good book or because it was hard to understand. It seems to be very academic, but still the book to get if you’re interested in information architecture. Anyway, this lead to a great conversation about how to evaluate if your site has a good architecture, especially in the case of a wiki as big as wikitravel.

For those interested, all meetings will be held last monday of the month. The next one should be on July 30 at 7pm, at Laika. You can read Heri’s report here and Evan’s here.

Popularity: 6% [?]

 

People who know me thinks Amazon.ca survives because of the “few” orders I make from them. Here what’s in my last, in case you’re wondering what I’ll be reading in the next few weeks:

Popularity: 5% [?]

 

The number of lines of code in the application is a common measure of the importance of the application, and the number of lines a programmer can produce in a day, week, or month is a useful metric for project planning and resource allocation. Abject-oriented programming is one of the best ways to get the most lines of code in the shortest time.

Inheritance is a way to retain features of old code in newer code. The programmer derives from an existing function or block of code by making a copy of the code, then making changes to the copy.

A modular program is one that is divided into separate files that share a common header comment block.

Introduction to Abject-Oriented Programming

Tonight is the night for funny links!

Popularity: 7% [?]

 

Can you guarantee to us that we’ll get as many lines of code from you as we would if we hired a professional company to build this?

Top 20 Stupid Client Quotes at Clientcopia.

Popularity: 7% [?]

 

Nebula and Hugo award winner in 1972 and 1973. Humanity finds an unlimited source of energy, but it will destroy the sun. The book is divided in three parts, each presenting a different viewpoint: a young scientist trying to convince of the danger, the aliens responsible for the energy source and a scientist on the moon with the help of a female intuitionist.

If you like Asimov’s style, you will like this book. If you don’t, the book has the same flaws as most of his writings. Character development is limited. Most of the book deals with side stories. The first part ridicules the ego and lust for fame of scientists. Asimov then describes a strange alien society where they live in groups of 3 (a Rational, an Emotional and a Parenting), how they make love and evolve to another form after they have 3 children. The last part is about the difficulties involved living on the moon. The “real” story occupies a tenth of the book and there isn’t much development, other than finding a solution.

I personally love Asimov’s imagination and I couldn’t stop reading once I started, always a sign of a great book. 4.5/5 stars.

Popularity: 9% [?]