Archive for: January, 2013

Friday Fun: A Software Engineer, a Hardware Engineer and a Departmental Manager were on their way to a meeting...

Jan 04 2013 Published by under engineering, friday fun

Nothing like a little engineering humour to get the year off to a good start!

This is one of my favourite engineer jokes, one that's been kicking around the web for quite a while. I'm not sure the original source, but this is there I found it for today's post.

If you know the original source, please let me know in the comments.

Here goes:

A Software Engineer, a Hardware Engineer and a Departmental Manager were on their way to a meeting in Switzerland. They were driving down a steep mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed. The car careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt scraping along the mountainside. The car's occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem: they were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What were they to do?

"I know", said the Departmental Manager, "Let's have a meeting, propose a Vision, formulate a Mission Statement, define some Goals, and by a process of Continuous Improvement find a solution to the Critical Problems, and we can be on our way."

"No, no", said the Hardware Engineer, "That will take far too long, and besides, that method has never worked before. I've got my Swiss Army knife with me, and in no time at all I can strip down the car's braking system, isolate the fault, fix it, and we can be on our way."

"Well", said the Software Engineer, "Before we do anything, I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again."

(And BTW, I do hope to be a little more consistent with the Friday Fun posts going forward than I was in the latter part of 2012.)

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Best Science Books 2012: Largehearted Boy, OUPBlog, Michael Brand and more

Jan 04 2013 Published by under best science books 2012, science books

Another bunch of lists for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure.

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following:

Largehearted Boy Favorite Nonfiction of 2012

  • Things That Are by Amy Leach

 

OUPBlog: Abby Gross’s top books of 2012

  • Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature by David Barash

 

Michael Brand The 5 Best Nonfiction Books of 2012

  • Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe by George Dyson

 

TDN.com: Library Corner: Best books of 2012

  • Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

 

Village Books Picks Their 2012 Favorites

  • The Math Book: From Pythagoras to the 57th Dimension, 250 Milestones in the History of Mathematicsby Clifford A. Pickover
  • Why Does the World Exist?: An Existential Detective Story by Jim Holt

 


Big Data Big Analytics: Our Favorite Reads of 2012

  • The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don’tby Nate Silver
  • C# 5.0 in a Nutshell, 5th Edition: The Definitive Reference by Joseph Albahari, Ben Albahari

 

Once More With Geekery: Nat's Best of Books 2012 Edition!

  • Quiet by Susan Cain

 

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

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A year of books: 2012

Jan 03 2013 Published by under personal, reading diary, science books

I'm including here a list of all the books I've read in 2012, as well as some commentary my year in reading. I always enjoy when people post these sorts of lists online and actually rather enjoy doing so myself.

I've been doing this for a few years now: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007.

If you've posted such a list online somewhere, please post a link in the comments. I'd love to see it!

The list of books I'm posting below includes all the books I started and finished in 2012, with the exception of books that I'm currently reading. As it happens this past year I only abandoned one or two books so I haven't bothered recording them. I've been recording every book I've read since 1983 in a little booklet and have been mostly transcribing those lists on my other (mostly lapsed) blog I've been occasionally transcribing the list on a year by year basis. I've stalled a bit the last couple of years, and I keep saying I'll resume but haven't yet.

Trends in my reading this year?

  • My book reading time has decreased a quite a bit again this year for a number of reasons, from 70ish two years ago to 60ish last year to 50ish. First of all, I haven't read as many really good page-turner novels as in past years, so this slowed me down as I tend to get bogged down when I'm not really gripped. As well, the iPad and iPhone are reading time-sinks. In a sense, I'm not reading less, just reading more that's online. That's neither good nor bad, automatically, it just is. I do see a tendency in myself to just mindlessly surf and graze and look for the next twitter endorphin hit on my iDevices when I could be focused on something more useful or engaging.
  • And a way I've counteracted that mindless surfing trend this year is to start reading ebooks on my iPhone during my rather long comute to and from work every day. Seven books in 2012 and I imagine a bunch more in 2013. Discovering the joy of my particular ebook reading niche is the highlight f the year for me. All the other books on my list are good old fashioned print books.
  • My genre tastes continue the shift I've noted these last couple of years. I find I'm reading more mystery and crime fiction as the years go by and this year is no exception. As you might be able to tell from the list below, I tend towards the hardboiled & noir.
  • My science fiction reading this year has decreased again. It's not that I love SFFH any less, but somehow in 2012 I didn't seem to get charged by many SF books. I'm going to have to be a lot more intentional about the sf books I chose to read this year, maybe being a little less experimental in a way and following my favourite authors and genres a bit more closely. I think I'm still suffering a bit of SF burnout after judging the Sunburst Award a few years ago.
  • And the graphic novel love continues apace, if a little less than last year. Comics were my first reading love and I'm always happy to read a great one. Fiction, non-fiction, science, superheroes, all across the spectrum of graphicy goodness. And it helped prop up the numbers in a slowish reading year, in particular a couple in the last two days of the year.
  • I've continued updating my reading on Good Reads, which has been very fun this year. If you're on the service yourself, add me as a friend.

Reading resolutions?

  • Like last year, be more intentional about my leisure iConnected time, wasting and wandering less and spending more time engaged with useful and enjoyable texts, be they e- or p-, book or ebook. This is especially something I want to maintain for my commuting time.
  • More novels, more science fiction, and I'd still like to get back to more short story collections for my commute. I also want to get back to reading more of the annual science writing collections.
  • I've committed to the Goodreads Reading Challenge for the year, trying to get back to the 60 book level. Join me!
  • It was a slow reviewing year as well, so I'm going to try and get closer to one review per month -- which means reading one science/tech/cyberculture book per month. I've got two reviews pending: The Best Science Writing Online 2012 and Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb, both of which are excellent so the reviews should flow nicely. The books I'm reading in preparation for reviewing are Book: A Futurist's Manifesto: A Collection of Essays from the Bleeding Edge of Publishing which I'm 60% through and Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family which I've just started.

So, here goes.

  1. The Quants: How a New Breed of Math Whizzes Conquered Wall Street and Nearly Destroyed It by Scott Patterson
  2. Our Game by John LeCarre
  3. Resistance by Carla Jablonski, Leland Purvis, Hilary Sycamore
  4. Defiance by Carla Jablonski, Leland Purvis
  5. End of Days by Max Turner
  6. WWW: Watch by Robert J. Sawyer
  7. Tumor by Joshua Hale Fialkov, Noel Tuazon
  8. Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness by Frank Brady
  9. At the Mountains of Madness: A Graphic Novel by I.N.J. Culbard, H.P. Lovecraft
  10. Choke Hold by Christa Faust
  11. Almuric by Robert E. Howard
  12. The Annotated Northwest Passage by Scott Chantler
  13. Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times by Marc J. Kuchner (review)
  14. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
  15. The Moon Moth by Jack Vance, Humayoun Ibrahim
  16. Gotham Central Book Two: Jokers and Madmen by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark
  17. Gotham Central Book Three: On the Freak Beat by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark
  18. School Days by Robert B. Parker
  19. Friends with Boys by Faith Eric Hicks
  20. Welcome to the Real World by Angela Melick
  21. Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers by John MacCormick (review)
  22. The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard
  23. Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living by The Union of Concerned Scientists (review)
  24. Shadows Bend: A Novel of the Fantastic and Unspeakable by David Barbour, Richard Raleigh
  25. Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis
  26. Cold Service by Robert B. Parker
  27. How to Cook Like a Man: A Memoir of Cookbook Obsession by Daniel Duane
  28. Monte Casino by Sven Hassel
  29. Assassin's Code by Jonathan Maberry
  30. White Line Fever: The Autobiography by Lemmy Kilmister, Janiss Garza
  31. For the Win by Cory Doctorow
  32. The Greatest Game: The Montreal Canadiens, the Red Army, and the Night That Saved Hockey by Todd Denault
  33. My Mother's Lover by David Dobbs
  34. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 1: Freefall by Joss Whedon, Andrew Chambliss, Sierra Hahn and Scott Allie
  35. Angel & Faith, Vol. 1: Live Through Thisby Christos Gage, Scott Allie and Rebekah Isaacs
  36. Ignorance: How it drives science by Stuart Firestein (review)
  37. Wolverine: Lifeblood by Matthew Hughes
  38. The Gift of Ford by Ivor Tossell
  39. Finding Karla: How I Tracked Down an Elusive Serial Child Killer and Discovered a Mother of Three by Paula Todd
  40. Betterness: Economics for Humans by Umair Haque
  41. Rebooting the Academy by Tim McCormick, Jeffrey Young
  42. Deep Water: As Polar Ice Melts, Scientists Debate How High Our Oceans Will Rise by Daniel Grossman (review)
  43. A Critic at Large in the Multiverse by Norman Spinrad
  44. Open Access by Peter Suber (review)
  45. Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
  46. Dirty Sweet: A Mystery by John McFetridge
  47. A Dry Spell by Susie Moloney
  48. Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 Volume 2: On Your Own by Andrew Chambliss, Scott Allie, Sierra Hahn and Georges Jeanty
  49. Angel & Faith Volume 2: Daddy Issues by Christos Gage, Sierra Hahn, Scott Allie and Rebekah Isaacs
  50. The Best Science Writing Online 2012 edited by Bora Zivkovic, Jennifer Ouellette
  51. The Second World War by Antony Beevor
  52. The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard
  53. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

Notable Fiction

  1. Choke Hold by Christa Faust
  2. Gotham Central, Book 2: Jokers and Madmen by Ed Brubaker, Greg Rucka, Michael Lark and Gotham Central, Book 3: On the Freak Beatby Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark
  3. The Walking Dead Volume 17 TP: Something to Fear by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard
  4. Sandman Slimby Richard Kadrey
  5. Cold Service by Robert B. Parker
  6. Assassin's Code: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry

Notable Non-Fiction

  1. The Greatest Game: The Montreal Canadiens, the Red Army, and the Night That Saved Hockey by Todd Denault
  2. My Mother's Lover by David Dobbs
  3. A Critic at Large in the Multiverse by Norman Spinrad
  4. The Second World War by Antony Beevor
  5. Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm
  6. Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness by Frank Brady

I hope this list provides a little inspiration to all my readers to compile their own reading list for the year. I've seen a few already around the web and have really enjoyed them. I look forward to seeing a bunch more —- feel free to drop a link in the comments.

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Best Science Books 2012: The Birdbooker Report

Jan 02 2013 Published by under best science books 2012, science books

Another list for your reading, gift-giving and collection development pleasure.

Every year for the last bunch of years I’ve been linking to and posting about all the “year’s best sciencey books” lists that appear in various media outlets and shining a bit of light on the best of the year.

All the previous 2012 lists are here.

This post includes the following: The Birdbooker Report Best Bird Books of 2012.

  • Cuckoos of the World by Erritzoe, Johannes, Clive F. Mann, Frederik P. Brammer and Richard A. Fuller
  • Petrels, Albatrosses & Storm-Petrels of North America: A Photographic Guide by Howell, Steve N.G.
  • Extinct Birds by Hume, Julian P. and Michael Walters
  • Hawks in Flight by Dunne, Pete, David Sibley, and Clay Sutton
  • The Dodo and the Solitaire: A Natural History by Parish, Jolyon C.

I'm always looking for recommendations and notifications of book lists as they appear in various media outlets. If you see one that I haven't covered, please let me know at jdupuis at yorku dot ca or in the comments.

I am picking up most of my lists from Largehearted Boy.

For my purposes, I define science books pretty broadly to include science, engineering, computing, history & philosophy of science & technology, environment, social aspects of science and even business books about technology trends or technology innovation. Deciding what is and isn’t a science book is squishy at best, especially at the margins, but in the end I pick books that seem broadly about science and technology rather than something else completely. Lists of business, history or nature books are among the tricky ones.

And if you wish to support my humble list-making efforts, run on over to Amazon, take a look at Steve Jobs or The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or maybe even something else from today's list.

One response so far

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