Books, one up, one down

Thumbs up goes to Paul Graham for Hackers & Painters. He’s a hacker and a painter, and although most of his essays printed in the book are available online, I really recommend buying this book.

Sample essays:
1. Why Nerds Are Unpopular
Their minds are not on the game.
2. Hackers and Painters
Hackers are makers, like painters or architects or writers.
3. What You Can’t Say
How to think heretical thoughts and what to do with them.
4. Good Bad Attitude
Like Americans, hackers win by breaking rules.
5. The Other Road Ahead
Web-based software offers the biggest opportunity since the arrival of the microcomputer.
6. How to Make Wealth
The best way to get rich is to create wealth. And startups are the best way to do that.
7. Mind the Gap
Could “unequal income distribution” be less of a problem than we think?
8. A Plan for Spam
Till recently most experts thought spam filtering wouldn’t work. This proposal changed their minds.
9. Taste for Makers
How do you make great things?
10. Programming Languages Explained
What a programming language is and why they are a hot topic now.
11. The Hundred-Year Language
How will we program in a hundred years? Why not start now?
12. Beating the Averages
For web-based applications you can use whatever language you want. So can your competitors.
13. Revenge of the Nerds
In technology, “industry best practice” is a recipe for losing.
14. The Dream Language
A good programming language is one that lets hackers have their way with it.
15. Design and Research
Research has to be original. Design has to be good.

Thumbs down goes to Donald A. Norman for The Design of Everyday Things. Wanderings of a non-structured mind, does not live up to the hype, no wonder he works with Jakob Nielsen, same thinking “structures”, erm. Nice idea seeds, would fit into a four pager, even with examples.

book starts

“- Make everything visible, or at least try to. This is the part of the book that was somewhat vague, because although it might work on simple products it would fail on the more complex ones. It is considered a bad idea, from a design and usability perspective, to put every option of complex software in front of the user. Thankfully the author does describe two solutions; hiding and grouping. Hiding, while still making every option readily accessible.
– Use natural mapping. We naturally map certain actions; push means forward, while pull means backwards. The author urges designers to use natural mapping whenever possible, and avoid using some unnatural mappings.
– Accordance. The material of an object could convey the function of a product or how it should be used.
– Shape of objects. Shapes could convey the handling, purpose, or operation of a product.
– Constraints. Constraints could make users less likely to make errors
– Design for error and make everything reversible
– When all else fails try to adhere to a standard (or make your own)”

book ends

Don’t buy this book, the seven bullet items summarize all included. Much awrite about nothing. Congratulations for selling more than 100.000 copies of some pages of common sense.


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