I’m back from my summer vacation. I try to take a long holiday every year and stay away from computers, be with my family, visit interesting places and, of course, read books. Summer is the time of year when I take my reading habits away from the toilet out to the hammock. Time is still scarce but this year I managed to finish five books, mostly in a horizontal position.
As you may know I keep personal logs for almost everything, including notes on the books I’ve read. Now I decided to take that habit and make it public, something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time. For that reason I’ve set up a new sub domain, reviews.hans-eric.com, where I’ll publish such notes. It won’t be fully fledged reviews, but short posts that primarily reflects how I found the book (or the movie, or whatever.)
Here are four of the books I read during my holiday:
If you’re interested in following what books I read (and what movies I watch,) subscribe to my reviews feed.
I sometimes come across a blog post that makes me want to reward the author a little more than the normal Digg, Reddit or Stumble voting. This is usually the case for content that enlightens or inspires me, or just makes me feel good.
I wouldn’t go so far as to pay the blogger, but since I’m willing to spend a little time there is another way. Here’s how I do it:
When I decide to reward the author, I scan the post for an ad that catches my attention. If (and only if) I find an ad that is worth spending at least 30 seconds on, I go ahead and click it. In that way the author gets a little money (usually a fraction of a dollar), I accomplish my goal of rewarding him or her, and the advertiser gets the chance to present his offer to someone who is suffering from severe ad blindness.
Please note that this is not some kind of click fraud. I only click on ads that interest me, and I do spend time to investigate the offer. In fact, my habit of rewarding good posts is every advertisers dream. Since I use Firefox with the Adblock Plus extension, I need to turn that off in order to see the advertising on the page. Nothing but the wish to reward the blogger could make me go through that procedure.
I just finished reading The Google Story, by David A. Vise. I can’t say it’s a great book. Some parts are terribly boring, stuffed with uninteresting facts and examples. But there were chapters that made me long for my next visit to the toilet. Here is the list of things that caught my attention:
- Larry and Sergey built their product first and raised money later. It’s so much easier to sell your idea if you can back it up with a real and functioning implementation.
- The two founders didn’t start with their eyes on the money. In fact, they had no idea how to monetize their search engine in the beginning. Instead they were focusing on providing the best search experience they could. The focus on usefulness is what laid the foundation to their success. People noticed, trust was built.
- A Google employee (a Googler) are free to spend one fifth of his time at work on a private project of his own pick. One day each week, free to spend on anything that interest you. You’re not just free to do it; you are supposed to do it. It’s your job.
To me that sounds just like employee heaven, but the employee is not the only winner. Some of these private projects grow and end up in valuable products for the company. Just look at the wide range of services that Google provides, many of them started out as private projects.
- Google takes care of it’s employees. Free healthy food and day care for my children would make my life so much easier. That’s another win – win deal between you and your company.
If I ever get to build my own start-up, I will use Google as my template.
I am a very busy man. I have a full time job as a project manager and software developer. In my spare time I am an freelance journalist, writing articles for a Swedish computer magazine. On top of that I am a caring father of two lovely children. Needless to say, spare time is scarce.
Both my job and my writing, as well as my wellbeing, require constant learning. The most convenient way for me to accomplish this is by reading. I love reading books. Tech-, popular science and fiction books – I devour them all.
The only problem is when to do it. I am always busy, either with work or with my family. But the optimizer in me has found a solution: I read while in the toilet. Tech-books are especially well suited for toilet-reading. They are usually well structured and have relatively short chapters. I tend to keep at least a couple of them lying within range.
Of course, I sometimes take unnecessary long time doing my needs, and sometimes my wife complains about it. But you know what they’re saying: a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.