I finally got to read the book “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I have read quite several books on time management and related topics, so I was almost surprised that it took me so long to get to this particular one, which is considered by many as a classic. I got to this book more or less by mistake. A while back I started using a command-line task management tool called TaskWarrior, another old Linux tool that has been known to anyone but myself for decades. This tool referred to the “Getting Things Done” methodology that was taught in the book, so I ended up reading the book as well, out of appreciation for some of the features that were inspired by this book.
I am not going to summarize this book now, nor the GTD methodology. There are dozens of write-ups about it by now. I am also not going to describe that TaskWarrior program, because this would not be the best use of your time or mine. Instead, I will discuss my most important findings: those relatively novel ideas of task management that I adopted from either the book or the software, or even just from my own experience with the two (even if not directly taught by any of these). So it’s not really a book review, but just my own takeaways that were either written in the book or were somehow inspired by the book, or by the software that I am using.
I recently read the book Decisive by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. This is one of the better growth books I’ve read lately, because it nicely combines scientific truths with actionable guidelines. Most growth books are either purely motivational, repeating shallow inspirational mantras with small tweaks, or they present solid logic that explains how things could be better, just without much hints on how one can put this logic into practical use. This book, on the other hand, explains well-substantiated pitfalls in our decision-making logic and also offers simple mental hacks to help us overcome those pitfalls. I also liked that each chapter concludes with a single-page summary that makes it easy to recap what was taught and the conclusions of each chapter. I find this immensely useful because I’m the type of person who reads very little each day, and not every day, so reading a single chapter can sometimes take me weeks.
The rest of this post lists my key takeaways from this book.
The book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown, carries a very important message: you shall not seek to do more, but rather to do less things, but do the ‘right’ ones. When people succeed in life (even moderate success), they are encouraged to do more and hence de-focus. In general, our society promotes the concept of doing more and more, which makes it hard for us to just say ‘no’ to additional commitments, even if those commitments invoke activities are not within our priorities. As Greg McKeown nicely puts it: if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
The book “Think Like a Rocket Scientist” by Ozan Varol (a real rocket scientist, actually), has nothing to do with Security. However, I do have the habit of sharing recommendations on such resources as well, and this piece is certainly worthy of such a recommendation.
The text promotes the deployment of thought processes that are often used in engineering and science (primarily in rocket science, where mistakes are costly), by everyone. The motivation of this book is probably a quote brought by Carl Sagan: “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge”; a statement with which I could not agree more.
The book covers a few principles and delves into each one of them with excellent examples and historic facts, all written in an engaging style. Some of the topics that the author discusses are:
The book “Permanent Record” is best known for its author, Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who released enormous amounts of secret NSA documents to the press, alleging that the intelligence community in the US violates the rights of citizens for privacy by implementing wide-reaching programs of wholesale surveillance. This is the second book I review that discusses Ed Snowden and his revelations; the previous book I reviewed was “No Place to Hide” by journalist Glenn Greenwald.
After sitting in my reading list for years, I finally got to read “Data and Goliath” by Bruce Schneier. Overall, this book is as well written as all of Schneier’s books, and is just as scientifically accurate (to the best that I could tell). However, whoever the audience for his book is, they may find it missing essential parts that make it not just a pleasant read, but also a useful one.
This is an untypical management book. Aside of the fact that it is very well written, it is full of insights that you can actually relate to and use. It makes sense, and unlike other management books that “make sense” because they preach obvious trivialities, this one brings up points that are truly insightful.
I just finished reading the book “No Place to Hide“, by the journalist Glenn Greenwald. The book talks about the revelations from Edward Snowden on the actions taken by the NSA, as well as about their implications. It is not the book you can’t take your hands off, but it is certainly a worthy read and conveys a very well elaborated message.
I have just finished reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. This book presents the story of a typical but tech savvy teenager who falls victim to harassment by the Department of Homeland Security and the police state, where every citizen is constantly tracked and monitored as a potential terrorist. The story is fictitious, of course, but those who follow the reaction of some nations to the terrorism threat and the ever increasing amplitude and sophistication of wholesale surveillance, cannot miss that while the story is factually fictitious, it is not at all implausible.
I finally got to read Bruce Schneier’s new book: “Liars and Outliers". The book is pleasant to read, but truth be told, I was slightly, just slightly, disappointed.
The book is written in Bruce’s style, which I like and appreciate. Like all of his books and essays, it is crystal clear, and is extremely well-written. It is written in a way that makes it comprehensible by absolutely everyone. Not too many people with Bruce’s knowledge can write in such clear style.
What I less liked about this book is its overall triviality. Bruce Schneier is excellent in using trivial down-to-earth facts and notions to get his point across. This is one of the best features of his texts. However, in “Liars and Outliers” I feel it went a bit too far. The book does not take you from the trivial to the “Wow!” but mostly repeats the discussion of trivial phenomenons that bring to trivial conclusions. The discussions are interesting, and the points made are valid and worthy, but I cannot avoid suspecting that the book could be cut down to half of its length without losing much of its substance.