Saturday, June 10, 2006

Three book reviews

A Feast for Crows

Just recently finished this book and found this to not be as good as the others in the series. The pacing of this Crows is much slower but still has a few high tension chapters. This book continues the stories of the ruling families of Westeros but the focus this time is primarily around Oldtowne, King's Landing, Braavos, and the Vale. We see a brief bit with Jon Snow but none of Dany or Tyrion, but then again, this book was much longer but cut into two books by the author.

Again Mr. Martin is able to continue to craft a story where everyone gets punished and shaped by the strife and conflict. Pain and punishment is a central theme throughout his books, but this leads to hope with certain characters and justice for others. The most attractive part of his works centers around the different characters and how they are going to fit into the whole picture. Mr. Martin is able to obscure his direction, yet leave little tantalizing clues. Is the Hound really dead? Who will be the three heads of the dragon? Who was Jon Snow's parents? All these things are finely woven into a beautifully crafted story that you hate to take the journey through because it is fraught with suffering, but cannot deny for the climax may be worth that trip.

Joel on Software

I finished Joel Spolsky's book on software practices. This book is a collection of blog entries from Joel's site that talk about various software "war stories" and various rants on software practices and processes. I don't think I would recommend this book to anyone looking for the answer to the problems involved with software design, project management or development. But I definitely would recommend this book to anyone working in the software industry. Joel presents various topics that are often brought up along the lines of design time, testing, agile methodologies, and politics and is able to distill them into many of the main issues and talk about them. The book really is able to help one think about the little things we do when we create. But above all else, the writing in this book is very engaging and is just a sheer joy to read.

The Art of Project Management

I recently finished "The Art of Project Management" by Scott Berkun. The book tries to create a basic set of guidelines for project management based on Scott's learnings from working at Microsoft creating boxed software. I feel this book does a good job in creating a broad overview of the principles and problems that will be faced over the entire cycle of creating product that can be sold (software, stereo equipment, cars, appliances, etc). However, it really does not cover one vital important topic which is handling problems after launch. But overall Scott is able to cover the rest of the roles of project management and it's responsibility to creating project and maintaining that focus.

The book's chapters are centered around a good set of chapters so that you can easily flip to the chapter that you currently are interested in or if you are reading through, will maintain an easy flow from one to the other. Each chapter has a summary, but I didn't find the summary particularly helpful. Felt is was more of a teaser for the chapter put at the end and that it didn't contain enough of the meat that really described the point. The book's writing is a little dry but is able to cover alot of topics thoroughly.

If you have gone through PMI certification or have a great deal of PM experience, this book is not for you. But it will give a good set of ideas about the role that is project management and setup a good ethical stake as to how it can be used effectively.

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