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Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs
by Walter Isaacson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.83
1402 used & new from $0.01

90 of 122 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Steve is great.. this book is not, October 28, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Steve Jobs (Hardcover)
There are some enjoyable passages in the book, like his friendship with Larry Eillison, his lowest points at Pixar and NeXT, etc. But there are few. Most of the remaining passages are rather repeating what are already out there. Moreover, this book comes with quite a lot of major flaws. I am going to name just a few:

- Steve had once said having his kids are thousands times better than creating any product he has made. This book has no concentration on this bullet point. One may find very few passages talking about Steve's view on his kids and why he thinks they are this important and how he aimed hard to invest more time in them. Not that there is no passage regarding his kids, but they are severely lacking to the extent that those passages become very superficial footnotes of the whole book, at the very last part of the it. It is perfectly fine if this realization came late in this life. But if it is important to the subject (and he said so), please do elaborate and invest the interview time and a good part of the book on these important relationships.

- The latter part of the book becomes a roadmap of Apple's products and their presentation that everyone pretty much knows. The author got exclusive interviews with Steve Jobs and the best he could do was just creating a chronological list of what Apple has released? This is next to very bad. And one can pretty much anticipate what the author is going to say in the next chapter.

- What was being done in Job's religious belief in Buddhism? Come on, Steve's religion is Buddhism, not any monotheism. The author did a horrible job in his previous book on Einstein. More particularly, he has mis-characterized Einstein's position on those religious concepts, to the extent that the mis-characterizations almost look like lies. This book is not as bad, but still quite bad. Steve's religious belief is Buddhism. Where is the interview regarding his formative years on this belief? Why did he choose such beliefs over the more predominent ones in Western societies (especially in USA)? Do reader know why Steve chose Buddhism after reading the book? I frankly don't. What particular flavor of Buddhism was Steve's concentration? The book doesn't say anything) etc. etc. Buddhism has no concept of afterlife but reincarnation only. The author tries very hard to twist Steve's belief into the western monotheistic beliefs. He mentioned more God than anything in Buddhism. This is a big betrayal to the subject and I am sure if Steve did read it (he did not), he would have berated it with his typical 3-word comment (his usual "This is shhh" comment).

- Details with depth are few and far between. The author could never get deep enough into a topic and he would then jump to another one, as if he was in a rush or that he was just summarizing what other books say. I will give one example: When the author says that Steve likes to read a book called Autobiography of a Yogi, the author didn't even want to attempt to summarize the particular reasons why and what Steve liked about the book. The author probably didn't ask any question about the book to begin with! Or should I say that he didn't even want to ask those questions? This is not excusable. There are quite several disturbing examples throughout the books, when it comes to topics not about Apple's products or people.

- There are several chapters with totally unrelated topics in them. The grouping is so bad that one had to wonder whether there was any binding error in the book. Chapters are mostly loosely related to its preceding chapter and the one that immediately comes afterwards. The only link is usually the timeline. Stories are developed almost on product timelines. Between some chapters are not bridges that you would expect but chasms. That makes one flip back the pages to check as if some pages had been skipped.

- The coda is horrible. This part won't make top 100 important things of Steve Job's life. This shows what kind of unimportant and silly questions the author was asking in his interview with Steve Jobs. I suspect this has to do with the author's own religious belief more than anything else.

- Except for few interviews, the character development via these interviews do not seem to go deep enough. I was hunger for Steve's father feeling about his son's choice of not wanting to meet him before he died. The treatments on Lisa and Steve's wife are also lacking in depth. Why was Lisa and Steve's relationship bad at times? Can you go deeper than just making a statement? The author states that Steve was deeply in love with 2 women but ... come on, give some efforts in developing a convincing story. "She is very beautiful" or those alike won't really make the cut. Plus, the readers do not want just timelines. The readers will have quite very coarse understanding of these important aspects of Steve's life after reading this rushed job. I would prefer to reading a bio with only half the number of people mentioned in the book but with more intense character development for each of them.

I am so disappointed in this biography. Imagine! We have lost our only window to get a glimpse into the great mind and the personal life of this genius! How sad!

Update: I am glad that Mr. Cook thinks the same:

.. Cook said. “I thought the [Walter] Isaacson book did him a tremendous disservice. It was just a rehash of a bunch of stuff that had already been written, and focused on small parts of his personality. You get the feeling that [Steve’s] a greedy, selfish egomaniac. It didn’t capture the person. The person I read about there is somebody I would never have wanted to work with over all this time. Life is too short.”
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 22, 2012 10:49 PM PDT

Thomas the Train: TrackMaster Bridge Expansion Track Pack
Thomas the Train: TrackMaster Bridge Expansion Track Pack
Offered by P.F.T.
Price: $22.40
28 used & new from $17.43

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You'll need "Height Track Pack" to raise the bridge, April 22, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I will type the much needed descriptions here:
You'll need the two pieces of bridge supports in "Fisher-Price Thomas the Train: Height Track Pack" to raise the bridge.
You'll need additional straight tracks.
There is no instruction in the box.

Fifty-50 Butter Cookies, 7-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)
Fifty-50 Butter Cookies, 7-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6)
Price: $25.46

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 6 boxes of cookies all expiring in less than 2 months, March 21, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The 1-star rating is given to the shameless company that sell and ship this product, not to the product itself.

The reason i NEVER order food online is bcoz they only ship you the product expiring VERY SOON. Prior to ordering from amazon, I went to several gourment markets in my neighborhood that said they carry the product, but actually they do not. I resolved to my last option- online order. and guess what? all 6 boxes of cookies arrived in the condition that I've feared/expected- expiring in 1.5 month from the date of arrival.

Biology of Belief Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles
Biology of Belief Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter, and Miracles
by Bruce H. Lipton
Edition: Hardcover
151 used & new from $0.65

5 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars this charlatan doesn't even know what science is, December 8, 2009
This book has nothing about Science or Biology. This charlatan cannot even define Science correctly. This is a mixed pot of 'something' that has no depth. The book is shallow and it is a total waste of my time and money.

How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In
How The Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In
by Jim Collins
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.17
333 used & new from $0.20

3 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars really bad book; a total waste of time, December 7, 2009
It is basically reading the stock chart and retroactively giving some simple syllogistic arguments for company failures. The arguments are shallow and have no depth and there isn't much meat in the book. One can see the stock performance of the companies the author has mentioned in the book to figure out how bad his assessments are. Whatever he says applies to all companies (of success or failure) and they are very simple logic. It is interesting how the author explains away his previous assessments on fannie mae.. this kind of arguments is what Karl Popper termed as historicism (see The Open Society and its enemies). What a useless book it is. Do not waste time and money on this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 16, 2011 7:22 PM PDT

A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers
A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers
by Patrick Robinson
Edition: Hardcover
150 used & new from $0.01

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars this is not what the title is saying.., November 30, 2009
if you take out a very large part of narratives about the author himself and all those adjectives and non-well-quantified statements (e.g. 'great' without concretely describe how 'great'.. all those analogies not needed) .. there isn't much left in this book. the book reads as if the author as a junior trader simply took out internal memos and emails and glued together a book. the author describes a lot of irrelevent people/events in the book that have pretty much insignificant contributions to the collapse of lehman.. and when it comes to people/events that are significant .. the meat is scanty. most texts are very high level descriptions and mostly subjective rants.. this book does not qualify for carrying that title and subtitle...

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - PC
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - PC
Offered by BLS Mart
Price: $11.08
122 used & new from $3.98

3 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely fun to play .. ignore those idealists.., November 16, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
just got through the campaign and have started playing the multi-player online games.. there isn't much degradation even with the dedicated server removed .. the game is at least as much fun as the 1st version..

there are certainly idealists in this world who have opted into a particular stance and have difficulties in getting themselves out of a predicament.. well.. couldn't help them.. they will curse whatever that isn't to their liking .. worst yet, they will make sure that if they opt not to have fun.. they want the whole party ruined.. i still see many people enjoying it online.. afterall, how many copies have been sold?
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 17, 2009 7:45 AM PST

America's March to Socialism: Why we're one step closer to giant missile parades
America's March to Socialism: Why we're one step closer to giant missile parades
by Glenn Beck
Edition: Audio CD
Price: $13.58
63 used & new from $0.02

20 of 91 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I happen to be unfortunate enough to have read more than one of his books, October 20, 2009
There are fewer than 50 books I have read in my life I would throw them straight into a trash can. It is not so much about them saying something wrong. It is mostly about the pretence of the authors on how invincible their arguments are and at the same time about how wrong the arugments actually are. It is very hard to swallow a book when an author does not play fair and does not present the weak side of one's stance. One would feel like being cheated after spending meaningful time on these books. They typically go where they belong.

Exaggerations as means to arrive at some hastily constructed points won't be sufficient to bring forth any argument, as they work in a superficial manner for all kinds of arguments, regardless of how wrong they are. To give an example: to say that death of capitalism without seriously meaning an actual death (would the author seriously believing in what he says?) only mislead and betrays the readers. America has always been practising a form of capitalism swinging between Keynesian and F. von Hayek's. Devilishly extorting reality to one desired extreme serves only well to enrich the author's pocket and does only harm to the general public. It is a sad aspect of this country and a book of this kind can become a best seller. Don't be taken advantage of. Break the spell.
Comment Comments (8) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 25, 2010 9:19 PM PDT

Small Is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas
Small Is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas
by Seth Godin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.53
251 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars a collection of loosely related opinionated shallow babbles, May 22, 2008
Check out the section about no-no's on making criticism. This book is full of it.

Other than that, there are some repetitive assertions. Not much analytic or data. Basically someone wrote pieces of stuff once in a while and put them into a book.

I am glad that I didn't pay for reading it. If you like reading blogs, this is probably for you. But wait.. why not reading them (or better ones) online?

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Incerto)
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (Incerto)
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.59
410 used & new from $0.01

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique treatment with valuable philosophical insights, April 20, 2008
This popularizer is a polemic on the platonicity of mathematical models, more specifically about their failures on taking into account of black swans. Black swans are the remnants consequential of the greedy reductionists' over simplifications of the reality. Black swans in summary have the following features: (1) rarity, (2) extreme impact, and (3) retrospective predictability. In the book the author has presented a plurality of ideas under the umbrella idea of black swans, together with a plethora of examples in various contexts. The arguments are terse, witty, pungent, occasionally offensive (to parties of vested interests and to other readers I suppose), fun and like the author's previous book "Fooled by randomness", worthy of re-reading. The author has done an excellent job in dumbing down technicalities for general audiences.

The book presents one novel demarcation (as stressed by the Popperian author, the demarcation is only an approximation for convenience) of randomness: (1) Mediocristan, and (2) Extremistan. Examples of Mediocristans are human's physical heights, actual weight of a minted coin, coin flipping, casino games, etc. Mediocristans are well taken care of by the traditional mathematical models and well established concepts relevant to the understanding of the traditional view of randomness, such as Gaussian distribution, standard deviation, statistical significance, etc. Extremistans, such as wealth, various phenomenon and statistics in wars (e.g. number of deaths), market behaviors, etc, are typically man-made or things that humans don't know much about. The author argues that as the world has become more complicated, it is moving deeper into Extremistans, and is less and less governed by Mediocristans. This change, along with people's ignorance of black swans, results in various phenomenon with significant impact such the surge of inequality (e.g. of wealth), the market crash of 1987 (in which the author has made a fortune), the S&L meltdown in the early 90s, LTCM's failure, or aberrant activities such as Gaussian delusions and applying flawed mathematical models to not so appropriate circumstances.

The nature of black swans can be vividly exemplified by the turkey problem coined by the author, a.k.a. the problem of induction. A well-fed Turkey could not know what would be happening to him on the Thanksgiving Day by inducing from how well he was treated in the days before. Like how the contemporaries of World War II couldn't realize the advent of event until after the facts. The problem of induction is an ancient philosophical problem first formalized in the modern epistemological context by Hume. Induction might be indispensible in the context of Mediocristans. However, it may fail miserably with Extremistans in the face of the "unknown unknowns", lest the probability of rare events is allegedly not computable. Experts who create mathematical models to capture black swans are said to be committing the Ludic Fallacy: believing that the structured randomness found in games resembles the unstructured randomness found in life.

The author uses black swans to explain the failure of the Efficient Market Hypothesis, the Modern Portfolio Theory, the misuse of science in the context of Sociology, Political Science, etc., the "theorizing disease" (relying much on incorrectly formulated knowledge as a therapy or consolation to ignorance and the stigmatic status quo of being not having control), the problems of heeding much to or totally relying on expert advices (e.g. a medical doctor might confuse NED (No Evidence of Disease) with END (Evidence of No Disease)), etc. The later part of the book discusses topics from basic binomial distribution to Mandelbrot randomness.

This book comes without much analytic data to sustain the author's hypothesis. Despite this, unlike many your-mom-is-a-female commercial books full of repetitive clichés found in the market, 'The Black Swan' is a well condensed tour-de-force and a convincing thesis that needs much attention. The author preaches against (1) naive empiricism (e.g. the meltdown of the Mortgage Backed Security market is a 'one in XXX billions' phenomenon), and (2) extreme skepticism (e.g. one believing in something with all the evidences pointing against it), and advocates beliefs in true and practical empiricism. In the author's word, he preaches practicality and does not want to be "a sucker in things that matter". He advises everyone to make decisions without being the turkey. The truth lies in realizing our limits and the understanding of the asymmetry of knowledge. The Popperian negative empiricism, a.k.a the certainty of falsification ("you know what is wrong with a lot more confidence than what you know is right") is the way to go. To be realistic, one needs to search for weakness in what he/she believes.

The author has made quite numerous suggestions on dealing with Black Swans, for example:
- Delay theorizing to avoid the 'theorizing disease' (".. not theorizing is an act.. The theorizing can correspond to the absence of willed activities, the default option. It takes considerable efforts to see facts and remember them, while withholding judgment and resisting explanations."). The author believes that those who delay theorizing are better off because of the problem of 'conformation bias' and the tendency of rejecting one's own established hypothesis.
- Avoid being overwhelmed by too much information, as too much information may be toxic.
- Avoid making predictions, as predicting is pretty much guessing.
- Avoid making predictions, as predicting is pretty much guessing.
- Avoid looking for the precise and local. Instead, as chance favors the prepared, don't look for something particular every morning but work hard to let contingency enter one's life.
- Gain exposure to serendipities, i.e. get free-lottery tickets and don't let presented opportunities go easily.
- Reduce exposure to negative black swans. Be protected on big bets.
- Avoid penalizing oneself with second guesses and on thinking too much about black swans.
- Ignore institutionalized frauds.

To those who are tolerant of the occasional bragging and nagging by the authors (some are indeed funny), this will be one interesting and memorable read.

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