I picked this book up hoping to gain some insight on customizing my work environment. I was expecting some useful anecdotes and strategies to accomplish this. Instead I found the information in this book rather simplistic, lacking in useful details, and repetitive.
The basic advice on hacking your work processes or relationships to improve your (and your company's) performance is valid and potentially useful but the entire book is written with the assumption that the reader works in a grey-walled, soul-sucking institution. The problem is that most of the people who might pick up a book like this no longer work in those grey-walled, soul-sucking institutions. We've moved on and we've been hacking our work all along.
Now I don't mind if a book reinforces ideas and practices I already follow as long as there is some new insight or a novel discussion of the subject. But I found the advice and anecdotes in this book wavering between very weak and obvious to ethically questionable and not much in between. On top of that the structure of the book was highly repetitive. Do I really need to read a one-page summary of the key points discussed in each and every 10-15 page chapter? Many sections of the book felt like padding to try and get the book to that magical 200 pages that business books seem to need to reach nowadays. They did mention building a hacker's toolkit of technology and techniques to help you in your quest; The one thing that may have held some useful nuggets for me. But the authors ultimately dodge the problem of discussing actual tools and techniques stating that everyone's toolkit is unique. Sure they discuss a couple things like Gmail, Google Docs, and Basecamp but if these are revelations to the reader then I'd like to pass along a message, "AOL called, they want their _1000 hours of Internet Access_ disc back. You still have it, right?"
To be fair I found myself cringing at only one or two examples that I found ethically questionable. For example, one anecdote is about an employee who hacked his company's expenses process by submitting a Mint transaction report along with fake purchase receipts. You read that right, *fake* receipts generated by a website that will happily sell you whatever fake receipts you might need. The logic is that this gets this employee out of collecting and managing his actual receipts or filling out his tedious expense request form. I suppose this employee only generates fake receipts for actual business purchases but when you have the ability to generate a receipt for practically anything you live pretty close to fraud-ville. Whether or not the fake receipts represent real purchases a financial auditor and Uncle Sam make not look too highly on the practice. But we're supposed to be questioning authority here, right? Silly laws, who needs em?
Another example was in a section that asked the question "Benevolent of Over the Edge?" One person placed a filter into their email system that would send her copies of emails mentioning her name that were not addressed to her. Tampering with email communications like that is, at minimum, ethically questionable and quite likely criminal in many countries. What? Wire-tapping is a felony, really? There is no guidance on this anecdote, the reader is left to consider the implications. I suppose if your moral compass defines "illegal" as "when you get caught" then this example might be useful but I hope the authors included that anecdote as an example of over-reaching during a hack.
All in all this book was wasted time for me. This could all have been written in one or two LifeHacker articles. If I can save one person two hours of their life then this review has been worth it.