Posts Tagged 'Book'

Hello, Android

Hello, Android

By Ed Burnette

Regarding books, one of the things I appreciate the most is an honest relationship between title and contents. Unfortunately it’s quite common to find books out there promising things they don’t fullfill.

“Hello, Android” meets perfectly the commitment of its title. Don’t buy it expecting a reference manual of Android because it’ just an introduction to this platform, and I must admit that it does the work gracefully. It’s quick and brief so it tells you the essential and gives you resources for further research such as the sample projects that can be free downloaded from the book website.  A nice aspect to highlight is the hands-on approach, throughout the book concepts are illustrated with lots of code. Furthermore a Sudoku game is parcially developed during a couple of chapters.

So I basically recommend this book for beginners mainly for two reasons:

  1. Starts from the Scratch: Nothing is assumed so it’s a good point to start out as Android developer.
  2. Brevity: I don’t have time for an eight-hundred-pages book to start to develop. I’ll deal with the ins and outs as I go, not before.

Of course, like any book about Android, Java (or C++, C#, etc) basic understanding is recommended.

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¿Por qué las cebras no tienen úlcera?

¿Por qué las cebras no tienen úlcera?

De Robert M. Sapolsky

Tengo por costumbre de leer de cuando en cuando algún libro científico que no tiene nada que ver con aquello que me da de comer. Creo que es bueno saber bastante de una materia (básicamente para poder comer de ella) pero también hay que conocer un poco de todo lo demás. En este caso me ha parecido que no era mala idea saber algo del Estrés que todos mejor o peor sobrellevamos. Aunque parece haber miles de libros sobre el asunto en cuestión, fue fácil encontrar el libro adecuado porque no me interesaba un manual de autoayuda sino algo que explicase el porqué desde el punto de vista físico… y de estos últimos hay pocos.

Principalmente este libro se divide en dos partes: por un lado se explican las causas y consecuencias fisiológicas del estrés en lo relativo a las diferentes funciones del cuerpo (circulación, digestión, sexo, memoria, sueño, etc) para finalmente tratar los factores psicológicos y socioeconómicos.  Este último muy interesante explicando la relación entre estrés y desigualdades económicas, exponiendo  que no sólo ser pobre es un factor estresante (quizás el mayor de todos) sino también sentirse como tal. El libro se remata con un capítulo dedicado a las estrategias de control y mitigación del estrés…sin recetas mágicas pero científicamente demostradas.

Uno de los aspectos más memorables es el estilo divulgativo e informal del Robert Sapolsky. Se menciona una gran cantidad de estudios citados (y explicados con sorprendente sencillez) que avalan cada una de las afirmaciones, lo cual es más o menos normal en cualquier ensayo científico…pero lo novedoso es que cuando las cosas no están claras, también se explica por qué no están claras. Para alguien no-científico como yo, hay que decir que las 500 págs. se hacen duras por momentos (debido a toda la terminología científica: hormonas, neurotransmisores, receptores, etc) pero sólo por momentos porque es casi siempre interesante y está aderezado con partes hilarantes (por ejemplo las dedicadas a los babuinos).

Tras su lectura, realmente uno llega a entender la razón de que alguna decisión importante te altere el sueño o el apetito, mientras que irte a correr media hora por el parque o una cerveza con los amigos te haga olvidarte por completo de un estresante día de trabajo.

Robert Sapolsky fue entrevistado por Eduardo Punset para el programa Redes, este es el vídeo emitido:

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Manual Del Buen Bolsista

ManualBuenBolsista_CoverManual Del Buen Bolsista

De José Antonio Fernández Hodar

¿Quién no ha fantaseado con la idea de hacerse millonario?  Como no soy la excepción y dado que no se me ocurría ninguna idea digna de atraer ingentes volúmenes de capital,  decidí  probar con la Bolsa.  Tras unas semanas haciendo compras y ventas ficticias llegué a dos conclusiones:

  • No sé nada de Bolsa.
  • Me va a costar caro.

Así que he replegado las tropas y le estoy intentando poner remedio al primer punto. Luego de rebuscar en foros y blogs algo de literatura para profanos, me decidí por el Manual del Buen Bolsista (11ª edición). El libro empieza de cero y tiene un estilo bastante entretenido para aquel que no sabe y quiere aprender. Abstenerse todo el que sólo está interesado en Bolsa por el mero juego de azar que supone, ya que terminará con este libro (y con cualquier otro) en el estante más abandonado de la habitación.

El Manual de Fernández Hodar tiene capítulos a mi parecer infumables (por ejemplo los dedicados a Análisis Fundamental, Futuros y Opciones) pero tiene verdaderas perlas como los de Análisis Técnico,  Comportamiento de los Inversores y Gestión de la Cartera. Creo que tiene un perfil conservador que es adecuado para los que no sabemos (casi) nada de Bolsa, albergando consejos de sentido común para no perder hasta los pantalones. Bien es cierto que es bastante criticado entre los entendidos (basta bucear por alguno de los numerosos foros dedicados al asunto).

En general, para ser un libro sobre el Mercado de Valores es entretenido a la vez que riguroso. No se deben esperar grandes recetas pero sí lo necesario para conocer un poco las bondades y miserias del negocio.  Al menos una cosa he aprendido: la Bolsa no me va a hacer rico, a mi pesar.

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Getting Things Done

getthingsdone_cover Getting Things Done: The Art Of Stress-Free Productivity

by David Allen

Taking Back Control


I have to confess I started GTD with the same scepticism I read any self-help manual. As you may imagine, I’m not a big fan of this genre. Throughout the book, the author describes with agile and enthusiastic prose every aspect of this method (by the way named GTD). In a nutshell, the main goal of GTD is basically to be relaxed and focus on what you’re doing at a moment. The way to get there involves following up a precise methodology based on writing everything down. Most of the book explains the structure and maintenance of the equipment (baskets, lists, cabinets and so forth) needed to keep the system working efficiently. If you’re a good guy and fulfill the rules, all your stuff will be under control so your mind will be empy and you’ll ultimately feel better.

I think the GTD implementation requires a lot of self-control so I seriously doub that It goes well with most of the population. Although I’ve got a remarkable tendency to chaos and disorder, I’ve been working with a partial implementation of GTD for four months with good results. Gradually (against the book advice) I am implementing the whole methodology. My reason to try GTD is that it’s simple and based on common sense. Till now I’ve noticed I’m more conscious of how much stuff I have to deal with on my daily basis. In short, for me GTD has actually meant more control.

Back to the book, I must criticise the excessive enthusiasm that covers this type of books although I´ve been through worse times. The second negative aspect I have to mention is the length of the book. In my opinion is a bit lengthy and redundant mainly because it tries to emphasize over and over the key concepts. I actually prefer those books that get straight to the point…no offense, but life is short.:)

To sum up, I recomend GTD to all of those who have lost control over their lifes and don’t know how to manage so many projects and commitments. Either as a way of life or as “Tips and Tricks”, I sincerely believe that GTD can help with all that stuff.
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The Pragmatic Programmer

The Pragmatic Programmer

The Pragmatic Programmer: from journeyman to master

By Andrew Hunt and David Thomas

Too ambitious

This is one of those books with a title that sparks your curiosity and eventually makes you get it. From the beginning, It seemed to me a bit weird because it’s a kind of self-help manual for programmers. The book is well-written, easy to read and sometimes funny. However, the theme is too ambitious and that’s why you feel a bit disapointed in the end. Its biggest mistake is that it promises more than it can deliver.

In a nutshell, “The Pragmatic Programmer” is a rundown of best practices that must command any software construction process. Eight chapters dedicated to common mistakes you must avoid, handy tools you should use in your daily-basis, testing policies, automatic builds, source-code control and so forth. It’s plenty of quotes and truths such as: “Prototype to Learn”, “Design with Contracts”, “Work with a User to Think Like a User”, etc.

In short, the book is a compilation of rules, patterns, practices, tips and tricks and lot of common sense. It could be useful for junior programmers, project managers that have never written a line of code and for all of those, so-called, “seniors” who have never read a book about software construction.

Pretty handy… but it’s far away from The Holy Bible.

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Peopleware

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams

By Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister

Outstanding

It’s hard to find at Amazon a book rated with deserved 5-stars. Even harder if it’s got a good review by Joel Spolsky. Peopleware is one of them.Simple language, short chapters with plain ideas inside and a touch of psychology, altogether produces a confusing feeling. It seems as if the book tells you nothing you didn’t already know but there is where its power lies: you end up thinking that you could have written this book.

I’ve got the second edition which is splitted in six parts. The first one, it’s a general and enjoyable review of what the hell managing people is and why it’s so hard. After that, we’re explained how our noisy office environment sometimes makes our productivity plummet. Don’t worry! Low-cost solutions are also included. Next two chapters are both about people: how to hire the best and how to bring them up within productive jelled teams. Watch out, you must keep teamicide away from teams. It also talks us about CMM and what it calls “The Big M’s”, explaining its influence over creativity.Last but not least, this second edition adds several chapters dedicated to topics like chaos control, organization learning, process improvement…all of them from the corporation-level perspective.

All that stuff just to conclude that people is the most valuable resource in any organization. This book doesn’t taste like one of those stale books about business emotional intelligence …it just shows plain concepts and applicable daily ideas. What turns this outstanding book into a classic is that its principles can be applied to almost any project or business (related to IT or not). My piece of advice would be “if you manage people, read this as soon as possible”.

So…bosses, Peopleware is waiting for you!

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