Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Wikipedia Revolution, by Andrew Lih

Wow, what an eye-opener. I rarely can say this about a non-fiction book, because fiction is more my speed, but this most definitely an awesome book that I highly recommend. Why? Because of the enormous subject it covers: Wikipedia. ^_^

I use this site on a regular basis, and I'm sure many of you have used it for one purpose or another. But until I read this book, I pretty much took it for granted. Not anymore. I learned many facts and have gained a new respect and appreciation for the people behind this fabulous site, including the people who invented it, developed the software for it, and add to it every minute of every day!!!

Did you know that Wikipedia was first put up in 2001? How about that today, over 14 million articles exist on the site in hundreds of language, about a 5th of which is written in English (3.2 million). Do the names Jimmy Wales or Larry Sanger strike any awe in you? They will when you read this book. The first couple chapters were a little hard to get through, because it talked about the history of the regular encyclopedia and some brief history on the people behind Wikipedia, but trust me, when you get to the middle part, where it starts detailing Wikipedia's fascinating evolution, watch out! It will blow your mind!

I kind of wish I could have been involved with the early Wikipedia, as it was still growing and all. It must have been so exciting to be part of such a community, when the number of articles was more than doubling every year. Nowadays, I can imagine how tough it is to upkeep all the articles out there, to keep everything up to date so that Wikipedia keeps it's reputation as an accurate and current online encyclopedia. It must be hard to create a new article, since probably almost every subject has been covered. You type anything in the search box, and chances are good that it's there.

Bottom line is, no matter how often you use Wikipedia, whether for looking up a celebrity's birthday or learning about what E=MC2 means, or even the many uses for the number 11 (I came upon this the other day by clicking the recent changes link. Funny stuff, actually ^_^), I think this is a highly educational book for everyone to pick up. It's a must-read. It's part of our very history! Learn about the greatest encyclopedia in the world!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Bar Code Rebellion, by Suzanne Weyn

Well, it looks like I had more of an opportunity for reading fiction on the side than I thought I would have. ^_^ Yay! And this was a good book. I mentioned it in my latest review. It's the sequel to Suzanne Weyn's The Bar Code Tattoo and I think it gave a pretty nice conclusion to the story.

The Bar Code Rebellion continues the tale of Kayla, the girl who refused to get a bar code tattooed to her wrist. There seems to be a lot more people who sympathize with her here, and think that the bar code is bad news. It makes most of the general publics' lives more miserable and even drives most to attempt suicide. Is there more to the tattoo than appearances? Kayla and her friends go on a quest to find out more, which is a bit of an improvement from the previous book, in which Kayla's goal was basically to escape and avoid detection from the system.

In addition, Kayla learns a lot of strangeness about her past. For example, how many people there are out there who are almost exactly like her. Literally. If you don't have any idea what I'm talking about, you haven't read the book, in which case I highly recommend that you do. ^_^

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Bar Code Tattoo, by Suzanne Weyn

I chose to take this book off the library shelf pretty much for 3 reasons:
  1. It was written by Suzanne Weyn, and I absolutely loved Reincarnation, so why should this be any different?
  2. I'd had my eye on it even before Reincarnation, since the cover and synopsis were both highly fascinating.
  3. It came from the Treasure Trove.
So obviously, what was not to like? ^_^

Wow, what a story. It takes place about 15 years in the future, and not too much seems different. Oh, except for the fact that people are being required to wear a bar code tattoo in order to be a part of society. Hey, it makes life easier, doesn't it? You don't have to carry a driver's license or a credit card that you can lose. All your information is right there on your wrist to be scanned.

But is it really so wise to wear your identity PERMANENTLY on your skin?

Mostly the story follows Kayla (another teenage heroine whose name starts with a K. Isn't it interesting how many of those there are in fiction these days?), a 17 year old who, despite all the pressure from her peers and general society, is rebelling against the bar code tattoo. She has some help from her friends, as well as from helpful strangers who also know that the code is no good. She has a little romantic interest, she adapts to the wilderness, and somehow she develops psychic-like powers. (What? How on earth does Kayla do that? Bettina's not telling us enough! Well yeah, that's the point. I'm keeping stuff from you in order to get you guys to read it. ^_^)

The ending is very open, ready to be most likely concluded by the sequel, The Bar Code Rebellion. Eventually I will pick this book from the library, but for now, like I said in a couple posts previously, if I succeed in staying away from fiction, this will be my last post for perhaps a few days. Happy reading!

The Small Business Millionaire, by Steve Chandler and Sam Beckford

Since this book was such a short one, I'll keep my review of it short. I thought the story was pretty good, but the way it was written left something to be desired. It's about a man and his grown-up daughter who run a restaurant together, but the restaurant doesn't bring many customers in, even though the man's food is top notch. They spend lots of money on advertising (and go into deep debt this way), but nothing seems to work until a successful young man decides to help them. He seems to know everything about how one should handle a small business, and gives both the owner and the daughter huge life lessons. By the book's end, (need I say more?) the restaurant is hugely successful and everyone lives happily ever after.

I don't think it had enough action in it for me, or enough mystery. Yeah, it's supposed to teach readers what attitudes they should have towards business, but it was told in a fictional manner so I thought it might be a bit more riveting. I didn't like the dialogue very much at times. Mostly, I think if you asked me my end reaction towards this book, it would be, "Meh."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Book news #4

Alright, this time I'm going to be quite serious about laying off the fiction for a while. I've got a bunch of books that are important for me to read, most of which I am studying with my sister. Oh yeah, and I'm going to try reading them all AT THE SAME TIME! Maybe I've tried to juggle a couple fiction books at once, but that's different. Anyway, I look forward to all the learning I'm going to be doing. I'm going to read these books very carefully and slowly, so that I get the most out of them, so I think it'll be a while before I blog here again.

The only post that I might put up soon is for Suzanne Weyn's Bar Code Tattoo, which I'm reading by myself (I don't know if Annette would go for this). I absolutely loved Reincarnation, and I'm liking this book so far. The only thing is that with all the other books I have to read, I only have time to read this at night, when I'm winding down and getting ready for bed. Luckily I'm okay with that. I get to take it very slowly this way. But it's really awesome so far. It takes place in the future. ^_^

I'm not really sure whether this counts as fiction, but it's very thin book about a man and his daughter who own a small restaurant that is going out of business, and a successful millionaire who is a regular customer takes pity on them and teaches them the principles that made him wealthy. It's pretty good so far. My mom read it in just one sitting. I'd read it quickly too, but I have so much else on my plate.

Okay, this one is pretty awesome so far. I'm studying it very carefully with Annette, because this book teaches you all about the Adobe program Illustrator CS4 and how to use it. Annette and I are really great at learning computer programs through reading. We became experts on Flash and Photoshop and lots of other programs this way. My favorite chapter was about drawing shapes, because through experimentation we had so much fun creating awesome graphics! ^_^

This book is a nice read. My sister and I are taking it one chapter a day though. Since it has 14 chapters, we'll most likely finish it in a fortnight. If we don't skip a day, that is. It's pretty interesting, because it addresses why some people may not be getting the best out of life because of self-deprecating behaviors and thoughts, uncontrollable emotions (that one actually can control), procrastination and lots of other stuff.

We're also taking this book very seriously. Tom Hopkins is one of the most successful salesmen around, so he shares what a salesperson is supposed to do and how to be the best you could possibly be. We haven't gotten very far, so I can't say I've learned anything yet. But I'm sure I will eventually.

I actually sort of had to give up reading this book, with all the other stuff, but maybe when I'm done with the couple books at the top I'll have time to keep at it. I absolutely love Wikipedia. I like that site almost better than Google sometimes. From what I read, it was very fascinating to learn about the history of Wikipedia, and it makes me appreciate it even more.

That's it. Yes, I am trying to read all of these books at the same time. Hey, with non-fiction books it's pretty easy, I think. Some of the books are like taking college classes or something, so that's cool. I don't know how long it will be before I post again on here again, but hopefully it will be sooner rather than later. Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Dull Boy, by Sarah Cross

Originally I'd intended for this book to be a very light read, but I went ahead and sped through it just like I'm usually prone to do. Once again, I dug up another little treasure. ^_^ Mostly the book reminded me of the movie Sky High, because it's about kids with super-powers and the main guy has super-strength and flight. But there are a lot of things that makes this book stand out in my mind as unique, and I really enjoyed myself. The characters "performed" quite well and the humor was pretty clever. A bit of bad language pops up occasionally, but I didn't mind it.

So the first thing that separates Dull Boy from Sky High is that there's no high school busting with super-kids. It's about a few rare teens who discover they have powers (who knows how or where they got them. It's not genetic) and strive to keep them a secret from their parents and society in general, while also trying to figure out how to use their powers for good. The boy, Avery, knows that he has to be very careful with how he uses his power. While strength is great for rescuing a kid from under a heavy car, it's not so cool to break your wrestling opponent's arm. Besides, you can only pass these incidents off as extreme adrenaline for so long. He also has to hide from his parents the fact that most every night he goes out and flies on patrol, on the lookout for crime, or some way he can do good and make himself useful, just like he imagines a real super-hero would. I mean, why would he have those powers if he wasn't meant to use them in some way?

This is where the story really picks up. He discovers that there are others just like him. There's Catherine, a moody cafe waitress with incredibly sharp nails, perfect balance and an affinity with cats, Darla, the proud genius who is the brains behind a modest club of super-friends, Sophie, who can will her body to stick to any flat service (yeah, a little weird, but useful) and Nicholas, whose power seems to be a bit more on the dark side, though he desperately wants to control his power and be good and not just cause destruction. Then there's this icy woman named Cherchette (saying it reminds me of Georgette) who offers to take Avery somewhere where he doesn't have to hide what he is. Better keep your eye on her. Also look out for Jacque, Cherchette's somewhat equally cold son, who seems to infiltrate Darla's super-group by being Sophie's boyfriend. Who knows what he's all about...

And that's pretty much all you need to know. Oh, except for the fact that as Dull Boy draws to a close, it suddenly turns out that the ending is very open-ended, so it very much appears that there will be a sequel. Awesome. Well, it'll probably take a while for the next book to come out, since this one came out just last year, but if I'm looking for another quick entertaining read sometime in the future, and the sequel is available, I'll have my eye on it. In the meantime, enjoy Dull Boy.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Send, by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe

While I wouldn't exactly rave about this book, it was pretty educational. Since it was all about emails, I wish I could have used this when I was giving my second ever Toastmaster speech, which was about how people communicate with each other through letters, phones and email. Oh well, I still learned a lot from this book.

I love using email. It's about the most convenient way that I can connect with people I've never even met but know that I like. But like anything, emailing has it's upsides and it's downsides. This book answers questions like, when is it appropriate to email and when is it be more appropriate to use other modes of communication? What should you include in an email and what should you not include? Do you understand your relationship with the person you're sending an email to or do you not? Is it possible that instead of replying, silence would be a better response?

Email has been with us for around a dozen years, yet there are still many things that one can learn about it. In any case, I think this book will make you think twice about hitting Send.