Archive for the ‘Book Recommendations’ Category

What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

What The Dog Saw

It’s been a while since I last did a book recommendation post and that’s partly because I seem to be reading less books and reading more online.

Anyway, on the way back from GDC last week I picked up What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve read his other excellent books and this one doesn’t disappoint. It’s a collection of various articles from the New Yorker and they are fascinating reading covering a wide range of topics such as: how the birth control pill was affected by its inventor’s religious beliefs, why fixing homelessness may costs less than managing it, plagarism, The Dog Whisperer, and why the Challenger disaster is no one’s fault, plus a bunch of other really interesting ideas. Well worth checking out.

I’ve also been slowly reading The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life. It starts off going into the history of Game Theory and explaining some “basic” concepts (although I still had to concentrate to understand them), and then going into the applications of game theory in everyday life. It’s a pretty interesting book and I’ve already used some of the techniques in business negotiations.

Finally, on the way to GDC in San Francisco from Vancouver I had enough to time to quickly read Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It was a good little story that I think is supposed to be for kids although it would probably scare the crap out of them. If you’ve never read Neil Gaman’s American Gods: A Novel then I seriously suggest you do so, it’s a fantastic book. Years ago my girlfriend (now wife) suggested I read The Sandman series of graphic novels, and after reading the first one I bought all the rest because they were like nothing I’d read before. Gaiman is a fantastic storyteller; he seems to bring some of his English heritage, steeped in history, legend and fairy tales, into his writing in a way that greatly appeals to me.


3D Graphics with XNA Game Studio 4.0

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

3D Graphics XNA
(click to enlarge)

I have just obtained a review copy of 3D Graphics with XNA Game Studio 4.0 from

I started programming 3D graphics when I was about 12. In those days it was all wireframe graphics on BBC Micros :-) Then I moved up to filled 3D shapes on my Amiga. After a brief return to some 3D stuff in Delphi over 10 years ago, I haven’t touched 3D stuff since. I love 2D games (and they are simpler to make), but I have been getting that 3D itch again. So when I was offered a review copy of this book which is about 3D graphics in my favourite language (XNA), I was naturally pleased.

I’ve skimmed the book and it seems very comprehensive. It starts with the basics and goes though shaders, lighting, shadows, particle effects, environmental effects and more! It also covers animation. There are tons of code samples and nifty diagrams that should help an out of touch dude like me get back into it. It’s available as a book or ebook.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Been reading some big ass books

Saturday, September 19th, 2009

No not books about big asses, but very large books.

First a couple of smaller books I read a couple of months back:

Personal Development for Smart People: The Conscious Pursuit of Personal Growth

I finally got round to buying and reading this book (it’s not that old or anything but despite being an avid follower of I didn’t get the book straight away due to already having a large pile of books to read.)

Anyway, it started off almost a bit dry and technical (very logical, but Steve was a computer programmer, so maybe this is to be expected), then it got really good after the first chapter. Steve’s 7 Universal principles make a lot of sense and he is good at explaining how they relate to every area of your life. So in the end I found it to be a great book that I whizzed through, although it could have done with more real-life examples, which is what makes Dale Carnegie’s books so great. If you are into personal development in any shape or form, get it and see what you think of it.

Zen Bow, Zen Arrow: The Life and Teachings of Awa Kenzo, the Archery Master from “Zen in the Art of Archery”

My mum got me this and it turns out to have been a great choice. It’s both the story of a great Japanese archery master called Awa Kenzo, and his teachings in handy quote form. It’s a very quick read, but inspiring and motivational. Highly recommended.

Outliers: The Story of Success

This was really good fun. Malcolm Gladwell writes really great easy-to-read intriguing books. This one was about successful people that fall outside of the norm and why that might be – such as successful Canadian hockey players mostly having birthdays that fall in Jan and Feb because it meant they were the biggest boys in their year at school. There’s some good stuff about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs too. He also talks about the 10,000 hours required to become an expert theory which I blogged about a while back.

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

This is the first of the big books I’ve been reading. It’s friggin’ awesome. A colleague recommended the original to me and then I discovered that there was a new edition that covers OOP stuff (which the original did not). It’s jam packed with great advice. Much of it I actually know already, and that is reassuring! But it’s a good kick up the arse to put it into action. It caused me to go back to my game and refactor lots of the code and make it easier to read etc. I’m still only 1/3rd into it because it’s huge. Anyway, 100% recommended!!

The Intelligent Investor

I wanted to find out more about the stock market and bonds and this book looked like it fitted the bill. Warren Buffet said it was “the best book on investing ever written”, and seeing as he is a billionaire though investing, I trust his judgement. This book was actually written ages ago in the 1950s or something by Benjamin Graham and then revised many times. The last revision was in 1973 I think, and then the author passed away. However, the revision I bought has a very insightful commentary by a Jason Zweig (a financial journalist) written in 2003 that brings it almost up-to-date (obviously since then we’ve had a global recession).

The original author’s writing is mostly dry and technical and I often have to re-read it to make sure I understand it, but the commentary is really well written and funny (I look forward to the commentary chapters). The advice in here seems very solid, it’s all about NOT taking risks and being literally an “intelligent investor” and not a “speculator”, which is in reality what a lot of people who call themselves investors really are!

Anyway, it’s long, and hard work in places, but sound, and it comes highly recommend on Amazon and by me.