Scott Adams – Dogbert’s Top Secret Management Handbook

Why did I choose to read the book?

Easy, I really like Scott Adams’ Dilbert strip and I found the book on sale by chance.

What is it about?

As described on the book’s back:

Dogbert reveals the many vital skills needed by managers in their daily lives, including:

  • Pretending to care – learn how to hear without listening
  • Competition – experience the joy of setting your people against one another
  • Making decisions – be a leader without making any decisions
  • Incentives – inspire employees by giving them worthless knickknacks.

As is expected, both by the nature of the book and the books description above, this book is satire. If you now the Dilbert character Dogbert, a very smart and somewhat sociopathic dog and some of his misadventures, you will know what awaits you in this book. It is written from Dogbert viewpoint and details his wisdom on how to become a “well paid unthinking corporate zombie”.

How did I like the book?

Brilliant. From the first page, it is making fun of the corporate world and it’s absurdities. In some places, good management advice is being taken, flipped on it’s head by Dogbert sociopathic nature and turned into hilarious advice on how to seem more productive and successful. Also, the comic strips sprinkled in between the texts, are great and drive home some of the points being made. All in all, if you are up for something funny, give it a try.

Susan Cane – Quiet

Why did I choose to read the book?

I really liked Susan Canes TED conference, which I watched some time ago and made me decide to read her book. Also, I have a negative bias on introversion, which I hope this book will prove wrong.

What is it about?

Susan Cane is an introvert in the USA, the most extraverted culture in the world. Her book describes, how extraversion became the american social norm and how a lack of this personality trait can thwart your professional success. She describes the history of extro- and introversion and how today most US leaders specifically those, which graduated Harvard are extroverts. For the most part though, she centers on the virtues of introversion, of how being shy, non-impulsive, creative thinkers have shaped our world and how a focus on one specific trait can but simply be wrong.

How did I like the book?

It certainly did the trick. I too am subject to the negative bias on introversion, as I too believe only those which are loud and possess a powerful outgoing presence can be successful. The insight and historical background given by this book are amazing, especially the comparison between the US (culturally extraverted) and China (culturally introverted) was quite fascinating. Which was great as well were the insights given on how to recharge energy in your comfort zone, while still being bold and outgoing when necessity arrives. Overall, this book gives quite some food for thought, as to how important introverted people are to our society as a whole, though I found it slipping in the last third, when it focused on how to treat introverts properly, which I felt was mostly unnecessary.

Seth Godin – We Are All Weird

Why did I choose to read the book?

After having read All Marketeers are Liars, which I liked quite a bit, another of Godin’s books was in order.

What is it about?

Godin proclaims the end of mass marketing. Mass marketing is no more, the times when buying TV ads and billboards was enough, is over. The internet has splintered consumer groups into tribes, each with their own interests and abundance of living necessities has made the developed world rich, which means, people have all they need and now buy stuff they want, which is often quite weird. This has led to individualistic interests and thereby products, not covered my mass production and catered to fans / fanatics / individualists / the weird may it be old-school iPad compatible typewriters or audio cable covered in gold. Godin explains his concept of weird marketing and how to turn these tribes into customers.

How did I like the book?

Quite fun. Godin is again proving to be a master storyteller, which made the book an easy and quick read. While the books content in my opinion, holds true and was presented clever enough, I also felt it to be a bit esoteric. I wholeheartedly agree on his assessment, that the internet has splintered interest groups into tribes (some small, some big) I am not sure whether businesses focusing on these (often volatile) tribes can be profitable for long, then again, I have seen some strive in their respective niches. Quite interesting food for thought for sure.

The Manga Guide to Databases

Why did I choose to read the book?

Included in a humble book bundle some time ago, I stumbled upon this book / comic by chance. While I like reading comics and manga, I did’t know of the edumanga genre, until this book.

What is it about?

Half manga and half guide, this book introduces readers to concepts and usages of databases, in particular SQL-databases. The manga portions feature a story of a princess, which has to take over the family business and is plagued with process inefficiencies, due to data redundancies and related data differences. Along comes a magic fairy (yes really, look at the cover, that’s her) and shows the princess and her assistant the magic of centralized databases and their uses. The guide parts show the theory and extended explanations introduced in the preceding story chapter.

How did I like the book?

Loved it. I liked the bonkers story and the way all the concepts are introduced. Towards the end though, SQL functions are introduced and make the guide a little hard to follow, if you have no experience or way of replicating the lessons in a real SQL database. As an introduction, this book is perfect and easily accessible, and even if you do have experiences in SQL database design and programming, this will still be a fun read.

Learning Japanese

I have been learning Japanese for a whole year now and have to say, what might have looked as a easily doable task in the beginning (its but a language, how hard could it be) has resulted into an enormous project.

First off, why did I start in the first place?

This one is quite easy, every time I read something from japan, may it be novels, comics or other stuff, I always felt (and still feel) I should be able to read this in its original form, not in this (often) badly done translation. Also, I have wanted to learn it for a very long time, but always found it to be the wrong time or not to be a priority. When I passed 30 I thought I might as well just do it, otherwise it won’t ever work out.

What am I learning exactly?

All of the following things need to be learned in order to reach proficiency and to be able to read most anything Japanese:

Three Writing Systems, need to be learned. Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji

The so called Kana, Hiragana and Katakana are “easy”. Each compiled of about 50 characters, representing the sounds of the Japanese language. Both cover the same sounds, but are used in different ways.

Kanji are hard. Punishingly hard. Each Kanji can represent different sounds. Which sounds to use, depends on context / its combination with other Kanji or Kana.

What else must be learned?

Vocab and Grammar (as with every other language as well).

What have I done up to now?

  • Reached proficiency of both Kana (Hiragana and Katakana)
  • Learned about 300 Kanji (of approx. 3.000 – 10% – yay!) with their respective readings and meanings.
  • Vocabulary of about 1.000.
  • Teensy bit of grammar.

What am I using?

     Grammar:
          Genki books
     Vocab:
         Memrise (for Genki and Additional vocab)
     Kanji:
         WaniKani
 

What is next?

Straight to the point, my grammar is bad. Without it, I have no hopes of reading or understanding anything. I have a fair vocab and kanji knowledge, but this does not help with text. Its always “yay I know these words and they somewhat make sense” but that’s it, no context, quite frustrating.
Therefore, strictly books and their respective vocab only, until both Genki books have been finished, then back to learning more Kanji.