hankrules2011

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Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

A Review of From Counterculture to Cyberculture

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 10, 2015

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital UtopianismFrom Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism by Fred Turner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was a massive disappointment. I had been wanting to read it for so long and had really been looking forward to it. I had heard about the Whole Earth Catalog and Whole Earth Review and their respective influences for years, and I had been on The WELL for over a decade myself (sch@well.com) and thought it was the best BBS ever devised, and of course Wired Magazine was awesome, so I knew this book had to be cool as hell. Boy, was I wrong. I actually almost finished it, almost made it 300 pages through before giving up in disgust. I don’t know how you could take such a COOL topic or topics such as Stewart Brand, 60s/70s counterculture, the invention and growth of the Internet, the importance of the Whole Earth Catalog, the influence of The WELL, the influence of Wired, the growth of the New Economy, and so much more, and make it SO DAMN BORING!!! God, this book sucks. It reads like a bad doctoral dissertation, which I guess should come as little surprise since Turner got his PhD at UC San Diego and taught or teaches at Stanford. He’s writing to his academic cronies and I guess he’s writing to impress them, but it’s definitely not for laymen, because he takes a chronology of events, times, places, people, things, happenings, big ideas, etc, et al, and bores you to tears while also beating you over the head with redundancy until you want to bash your head into a concrete wall. This is frankly one of the worst written books I’ve ever had the misfortune to read and I have no doubt that if ANY other decent writer out there had undertaken to write a book about similar topics, they could have written an engaging, enlightening, entertaining and cool book that would have captured most readers’ attentions. Instead, this garbage kills any interest I’ve ever had in the subject and I’m almost embarrassed now to have been on such a cool and influential BBS as The WELL after Turner has turned his destructive powers of total boredom on it. I’m giving the book two stars instead of one because the topic is good, but the book is not. Most definitely not recommended. I can’t stress that enough.

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A Review of Hatching Twitter

Posted by Scott Holstad on April 3, 2015

Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and BetrayalHatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve never read about such a group of immature, whiny, backstabbing losers in my life! To think that some reviewers consider them brilliant is really pretty funny. They were mediocre thinkers with mediocre talent who couldn’t cut it in real places, like Xerox PARC or Google, so they wind up at a start up, broke and desperate. The one who has had success, Ev, is good for the seed money. He at least founded Blogger, so he actually had done something, which was sold to Google for millions, making him successful. The other three Twitter founders — Noah, Jack, and Biz — were pretty much losers. They founded a company called Odeo that was going to take podcasting by storm, but were beaten to the punch by Apple. Jack and Noah drunkenly came up with the idea for Twitter one night, as an idea to escape loneliness. Noah came up with the name. And so it began. Ev stayed in the background, Biz handled publicity, Noah was the CEO and Jack was in charge of Engineering. I believe, if my memory serves me. This didn’t last long. They had a board with capital invested and soon there was rumbling, with Ev doing his fair share of the rumbling. And so Noah was forced out. Jack was brought on as CEO and Ev as chairman. Biz did what he did best. In a little while, Twitter starts taking off, slowly, very slowly at first, but surely. Jack didn’t want hash tags, but they emerged and they were brilliant. However, it became clear to everyone that Jack couldn’t run a company. They were losing money left and right, weren’t making a dime, everyone was on edge, and Ev and the board had had it up to here. So more backstabbing. And Jack was out the door. To plot his revenge. Ev took over as CEO. After all, he had successfully run Blogger, so why not this? Sounded good. Twitter had bought another company a little while before this happened and Jack had asked their main engineer to become director of ops at Twitter, a position this man didn’t feel he was qualified for. After Jack was gone, the board asked him for a briefing. He told them, in a state of disbelief, that there was no backup to the system. That if the system crashed, Twitter was gone. And that Twitter was held together with string and wires to begin with. Not good news. They got to work fixing that. Jack had been in way over his head. [Let me interject here. It’s clear that the author HATES Jack in this book, and has a serious man crush on Ev, so you have to take everything written about them with a grain of salt.] Okay. Twitter has grown to millions and millions of users. Hosting many millions of tweets daily. Ev has helped people like Oprah tweet her first tweet live on TV. But Jack has been plotting with one of the board members, who — and this is never clearly explained — loves Jack dearly, to get Jack back into the company. I could go on and on, but long story short, Ev is backstabbed by Jack and the board, is shoved out the door, Jack comes back as head honcho, Biz quits, we never hear from Noah again, and Twitter continues on, in spite of total incompetence and arrogance. Good book to read, disgusting people to read about. Cautiously recommended.

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A Review of The Innovators

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 9, 2015

The Innovators: How a Group of  Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital RevolutionThe Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a fascinating and entertaining history of the progression of the computer and related things, such as the Internet. I learned a lot and I’m glad I did.

Isaacson starts out with Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace. That’s right — in the age of the Romantics some 150 years ago or so! She’s generally credited with starting the computer revolution, as she envisioned a computing device based upon Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. Her writings on this “engine” show what appears to be the first algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine, and as a result, she’s often credited with being the world’s first computer programmer. Isn’t that fascinating?

The book tracks the progression of computing from the 19th century into the 20th and then into the 21st. Up comes Alan Turing, the ENIAC computer, which employed the first real programmers in history — all of them women! — the invention of the transistor and the microchip, Ethernet, and all of the wonderful inventions at Xerox PARC, where they invented the graphical user interface (GUI) for the computer screen, doing away with the command line prompt, the mouse, and networking, all of which was essentially stolen by Steve Jobs for the creation of the Mac. Of course, then Gates stole from him and Jobs was beside himself with the audacity. Ah, karma.

The book also introduces Gordon Moore, the originator of Moore’s Law, that states that technology will double in power and possibilities every 18 months. In addition, the author hits on Grace Hopper, Andy Groves, William Shockley, Gates, Jobs, Woz, Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the worldwide web, Linus Trovalds, the inventor of LINUX, and the people who started Google. It’s an inspiring lineup of inventors and — key word here — collaborators. The author believes strongly that collaboration was the key to computing development and he might be right. He provides plenty of examples of people toiling away by themselves, only to be forgotten by history for missing the boat on what would have been a great product.

The reviews of this book are pretty good. However, I read one stunning one recently that said this was the worst history he’s ever read and that the biographies are mediocre. He even criticizes the author’s treatment of Ada as being insufficient. I thought he did her justice. I’ve never even seen her mentioned anywhere else before. He spends a lot of time on her here. This reviewer was on acid and I let him know what I thought of his lousy review. If you’re remotely interested in how PCs came to be, how the Internet was created and evolved, etc., et al, this is definitely a book for you to read. Recommended.

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50 million compromised in Evernote hack – CNN.com

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 4, 2013

50 million compromised in Evernote hack – CNN.com.

I use Evernote. Do you? Will you now that this security breach has happened?

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