Tag Archives: lists

15 use cases comparing e-books to traditional books: an illustrated list

I’ve now been reading e-books for more than 2-1/2 years. For the 37 years prior to that, I read paper books exclusively. For a while now, I’ve been meaning to compare the two forms of book in some reasonable and understandable way, but I was hard pressed to come up with a format for such a comparison. Then it dawned on me: use cases!

By day, I am a software developer and creating use cases is an important part of the construction and testing process. A use case is used to describe a real-world use of how the product in question might be used. So I came up with a number of use cases for e-books to see how they compare with traditional books. 10 of these use cases demonstrate (I think) how e-books are superior to traditional books. The remaining use cases demonstrate areas in which traditional books still have an edge over e-books.

My e-book reader, for the purposes of this exercise is my iPad 2, using the Kindle App for iPad. I’m sure I didn’t capture every possible use case, but these are the ones I seem to deal with most frequently.

1. Finding a book on the bookshelf

Depending on how many books you have, and how organized you are, this can be a fairly daunting task for traditional books. Here is an picture of me illustrating the use case by searching for a book on my shelves:

IMAGE_86E3BC4E-A4AB-4B42-BBEC-7FF6CD2AACC5.JPG

I used to have my books organized alphabetically by author, and then chronologically within the author. That fell by the wayside the last time I moved. While they are arranged alphabetically by author, they are completely random within a given author. That may not sound like trouble, but for someone who has several hundred Isaac Asimov books, for instance, it can make any one book tricky to find.

Continue reading 15 use cases comparing e-books to traditional books: an illustrated list

Goodreads, LibraryThing and my official reading list

I’ve gotten an unusual number of friend requests on Goodreads recently and so I thought I’d take a moment to clarify a few things about my various book and reading lists in the social networks arena.

Yes, I am on Goodreads, and the list of books that I have read can be found there. I am also a Goodreads author. However, I am generally behind in updating Goodreads and so there are some gaps. Still, most of what I have read can be found there and so it might be useful, especially if you are using some of its “similar to” functionality. I’ll try to be better about keeping it up-to-date. If you are on Goodreads, feel free to friend me there.

Yes, I am also on LibraryThing, but my library is more than a year out-of-date at this point, and I don’t foresee any time in the immediate future where I will be able to remedy that. Keep that in mind if you are browsing my books there.

Here is the official list of books I’ve read since 1996. This list is always up-to-date within a day or two of completing a book. There are some things you should know about this list:

  • Only books which I actually finish end up on this list. There are many book in which I don’t finish and if I don’t finish them, they don’t get a number and don’t go on the list.
  • If I read a book more than once it will appear on the list more than once and get a second (or third, or fourth) number. This is because the list is a historical reference for me, not just a listing of the unique books that I have read.
  • Short stories, and magazine reading does not go on the list, EXCEPT:
  • Recently, I have been adding issues of Astounding Science Fiction that I have been reading for my Vacation in the Golden Age to the list. This is because I read the entire issue cover-to-cover and because each issue is about as long as a typical novel. Besides, its my list and my rules.
  • Bold items on the list are particular favorites of mine.
  • Blue items on the list are books that I read in e-book format, most often either on my Kindle, or the Kindle app for the iPad.
In any case, if you are looking for the official list of what I have read, this is the list you should be looking at.

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Life on Mars

I’ve been enjoying Life on Mars on ABC.  I may have mentioned somewhere that I was puzzled by a few things–like why Sam doesn’t "prove" he’s from the future by making a specific prediction.  But it seems that, for now, the writers are avoiding the issue.  Nevertheless, I enjoy the show.  One thing I really like about the show is the music.  Unlike most shows these days, Life on Mars is not making use of the latest hits by Dido or The Fray (or any other CW-like music).  Instead, because the events take place in 1973, they are using some good classic rock from that time period.  In other words, the music has been great!

I’ve been working on putting together a playlist of the songs that they’ve used so far.  Here’s my list:

  • Everything I Own (Bread)
  • Reeling in the Years (Steely Dan)
  • Life on Mars (David Bowie)
  • Spaceman (Harry Nilsson)
  • Sweet Lucy (The Propositions)
  • We’re an American Band (Grand Funk Railroad)
  • Going to Make a Time Machine (The Majestic Arrows)
  • Tuesday’s Dead (Cat Stevens)
  • Wild in the Streets (Garland Jefferys)
  • I’m Gonna Keep on Loving You (Kool Blues)
  • He Keeps You (Boscoe)
  • Anywhere In Glory (The Mighty Indiana Travelers)
  • Everybody is a Star (Sly & the Family Stone)
  • Black and White (Three Dog Night)
  • Mother and Child Reunion (Paul Simon)
  • Rock and Roll (The Velvet Underground)
  • Bang a Gong (T. Rex)
  • Lucky Lady (Jones Brothers)
  • 20th Century Man (The Kinks)
  • Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress (The Hollies)
  • Long Promised Road (Beach Boys)
  • Sweet Cherry Wine (Tommy James and the Shondells)
  • I’m Chief Kamanawanalea (The Turtles)
  • Just a Little Lovin’ (Dusty Springfield) 
  • Reflections of My Life (Marmalade)
  • All the Way to Memphis (Mott the Hoopie)
  • Get Down (Gilbert O’Sullivan)
  • I am a Rock (Simon and Garfunkel)
  • Ground Zero (Chris Cornell)
  • Signs (Five Man Electric Band)
  • Baba O’Reily (The Who)
  • Little Willy (The Sweet)
  • Out of Time (The Rolling Stones)

There you have it.  Now isn’t that a cool play list?

Roll out the barrel

What’s on tap today:

  • Produce massive list of reports for 3 PM meeting
  • Adding logging to the Visitor application
  • Try, try try to finish up Rainbows End
  • Read part one of Rob Sawyer’s "Wake" in ANALOG
  • Read Paul Levinson’s story in ANALOG
  • Begin work on week 4 assignment for the writer’s workshop
  • Take suits to cleaners
  • Pick up stuff from Kelly’s cleaner
  • Narrow our "first dance" song down to five possibles
  • Switch payment account for Bally’s
  • Mail off voter registration for Virginia

Otherwise, it’s just your usual, quite and dull Monday morning here in the Nation’s Capital.

My highest rated authors

Since I’m talking about books so much this morning, I figured I post something I’ve been meaning to look at for some time now: my highest rated authors. The data comes from my reading lists, which I have kept since January 1, 1996. In order to generate the following data, I filtered it for fiction only, and only those authors for which I had read, and rated 5 or more books.

For fellow database nerds, my exact SQL query was:

SELECT Author1, COUNT(Rating), AVG(Rating)
FROM ReadingList
WHERE Fiction = ‘y’
GROUP BY Author1
HAVING COUNT(Rating) >= 5
ORDER BY 3 DESC

I rate the books I read on a scale of 1-5 stars.

Here are the (relatively unsurprising) results for fiction authors:

Author Books Read Avg Rating
Asimov, Isaac 43 3.7907
Sawyer, Robert J. 7 3.7143
Haldeman, Joe 10 3.5000
Bear, Greg 5 3.4000
Bradbury, Ray 9 3.3333
Anthony, Piers 10 3.3000
Malzberg, Barry N. 23 3.2609
Clarke, Arthur C. 7 3.1429
Clancy, Tom. 7 3.1429
Heinlein, Robert A. 8 3.0000

It’s a little embarrassing to find Clarke and Clancy tied for 8th place. I feel like I enjoy Clarke’s stuff more than Clancy. I read Clancy’s "Jack Ryan" novels in a whirlwind vacation week in the summer of 2000 and haven’t returned to them since. I keep reading Clarke, but at least one of his books, The Fountains of Paradise, underwhelmed me. As for Piers Anthony: I read a lot of PA growing up, before I ever kept my lists. At one point, I went back and reread the first 10 books of the Xanth series. I think this was late 1999. That’s why he shows up on the list. His score might have been higher if I included stuff from before the list like Macroscope or Tarot.

It would seem that I can’t produce a list of highest rated fiction authors without showing the list of highest-rated non-fiction authors. If we go based on the same criteria, the list looks like this:

Author Books Read Avg Rating
Asimov, Isaac 71 3.8028
Sagan, Carl 6 3.6667
Rooney, Andy 5 3.6000
Ambrose, Stephen E. 6 3.3333

So there you have it.  Isaac Asimov takes top position for both categories.  In the fiction category, most of my favorite authors make the list.  A few are missing, probably because I’ve read less than 5 books each (Bester and Kornbluth, for instance.)

Anyone else have similar data?

10 places to eat before you die

I came across this list today. Of the ten places, I’ve only eaten at one of them,Cantler’s near Annapolis, Maryland. I did eat in Naples, Italy, but never tried the pizza.

Why isn’t In-n-Out on the list?

Issues resolved with Goodreads

I finally got my reading list fixed on Goodreads. My profile is available here.

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If you were stuck on a desert island…

…for twenty years and all you had for entertainment were the complete works of ten authors, who would those authors be. (I came across this interesting question on Phil Farmer’s website.)

My answers, in alphabetical order:

  1. Isaac Asimov
  2. Alfred Bester
  3. Ray Bradbury
  4. Arthur C. Clarke
  5. Will Durant
  6. Harlan Ellison
  7. Barry N. Malzberg
  8. Carl Sagan
  9. John Steinbeck
  10. Mark Twain

Fortunately, for me, this list would prove to be on the order of 800-900 books, ranging the gamut from literature, science fiction, history, science, etc.

What would your list be?

Back to basics!

Back in January 1996, I had a simple goal of reading 1 book per week, or 52 books a year. It’s funny how simple things evolve. Not long after I set my goal, I decided I needed a way to capture the list of books that I read. I started, naturally enough, using an Excel file, which worked fine, but it had it’s limits. For one thing, at least back in 1996, it was not easy to post my Excel file on the web and I wanted to share my progress. So I switched to HTML. Of course, that led to ever more creative ways for managing the list. My HTML evolved into delimited list files, processed by a set of perl scripts. There was still quite a bit of manual work involved, but this worked well for a while. Years later, it seemed that the thing to do was to convert all of the perl scripts to PHP and store the lists in a relational database–which I did on my local machine. I then wrote scripts to upload changes to my website each night. This worked pretty well, too. Finally, I evolved an elaborate SQL database and a collection of massive PHP scripts all of which was hosted at my ISP.

But there was always a problem: I never had the time to fully develop the interfaces to these applications to make them easy to update and maintain. So while I had the scripts and the pretty HTML lists, I still was essentially typing SQL commands to update the database.

Over the last several months, I haven’t been updating my reading list the way I used to and it occurred to me that if after 11 years, I could not come up with an easy system for maintaining the list, I would never come up with it. These days, I have neither the time nor the inclination to do it, so today, I gave up and went back to basics on a number of levels.

First, I went back to a slightly more elaborate (and better designed) version of my original excel spreadsheet from back in 1996. It’s more elaborate only in that I know a lot more about Excel now than I did then and am able to do some things more elegantly. But it is incredibly easy to maintain. It takes me less than a minute to add a book to my list!

Second, I have fought a constant battle of page design, trying to keep up with various trends in look and feel, RSS, AJAX and all of the rest of the stuff that makes the web look so good these day. It’s a losing battle for me. I do this stuff constantly at work and I simply don’t want to do it at home anymore. So I decided to eschew all ornamentation and go back to basic, circa 1996 HTML. No style sheets. No fancy formatting. But it’s clear, easy to read, and presents the information without an effort on my part.

I’ve consolidated my new reading list into one single page, rather than a page for each year.

To make up for this retro look and feel, I’ve added some new things. First, I’ve reinstated my favorite books page, which went away several years back. This is a page that lists my all-time favorite books, books which I have given 5 out of 5 stars. Second, I update the FAQ for the list. Last, but not least, I developed a consolidated statistics page and packed it with all kinds of new information that I’ve never posted before. For people who are interested in that kind of stuff, it’s pretty cool.

These pages are easy to update from my master spreadsheet and so I don’t anticipate them getting stale again. I also don’t anticipate any fancy interface updates. It’s plain vanilla, but it works. And best of all, I feel as though a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

Top 10 albums for writing code

Today is a code-writing day at work. There is also construction going on outside the building and there is intermittent bone-jarring noise that has already developed into a headache. Headaches are rare for me so you get the idea. I was about to put on my iPod to block out the sound when it occurred to me that I have been meaning to post what are, for me, the top 10 albums for writing code. Keep in mind that I personally feel more productive when I listening to these albums while casting out spells of C# or Transact-SQL or PHP or Perl. The downside is that I am so focused, I usually don’t hear the songs. The list is alphabetcial by album title.

The list