9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
An Enjoyable Read About The Early Days Of Personal Computing And Beyond,
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This review is from: Terrible Nerd (Paperback)
Full disclosure, I've known Kevin, virtually, for about ten years, having emailed back and forth with him after helping to get the book "Atari Roots" on to one of his web sites years ago.
As for "Terrible Nerd", I really enjoyed this book. It was well written and well-paced. With the book rounding out at about 250 pages, I was able to complete it in a one evening, the day it arrived from Amazon.
The first half of the book covers the author's 1980s pre-college technology shenanigans, including some thievery, pirating and phone phreaking. While the author participated in these activities, it seems more of an experimental phase rather than a full-time criminal enterprise that takes place in other books in this genre. The book also details the logistics of living in a broken home, not in a sad, sappy way, but in a "when will I have access to my beloved Atari 800 again" way.
The author talks about various video game systems such as the Channel-F, the Mattel Intellivision and the Atari 2600. He also talks about the computers he had as a child including the Atari 800, the Texas Instruments 99/4A , the Apple IIc and others. He doesn't go into much detail on the hardware, but discusses the software in general and his favorite games in detail such as M.U.L.E. and Jumpman.
The second half of the book covers the author's college days, career in freelance technical writing and later, web publishing. The section on the author's college days is very interesting. The section on the author's freelance career begins to feel like an "Ego Wall" after a while, though being an autobiographical/memoir work, I guess it is appropriate. Even in this section there are good nuggets of historical and biographical information.
A great aspect of this book is that the author injects snippets of source code, programs screen shots, emails, diary entries, letters and school assignments that he has saved from his childhood. It adds a great personal historical facet to the work.
There are a few places in the narrative where the author jumps ahead or back in time which can be a little confusing. For this review, I read the first edition printed version and I didn't find any mistakes. The editing was first rate.
All in all, it was an enjoyable read and well worth the $15.
On a side note, "An Officer and a Gentleman" was a pretty good movie and places that I have worked, such as Bell Laboratories, did ask for a copy of my college transcripts so that they could see my grades.