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Linux and the Unix Philosophy
Linux and the Unix Philosophy
Price: £36.09

3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and inspiring, but dated and expensive, 12 Mar. 2013
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First the good news:

- An interesting insight into the origins of Unix and Linux, and the common ideas which join the two.
- His core ideas ('tenets of the Unix philosophy') really helped me to see why Linux is the way it is, especially at the command line.
- He writes with an infectious enthusiasm, and I do feel challenged to change the way I write my humble shell scripts from now on, as I can see the benefits of the approaches he describes.

Now the not-so-good:

- Much of the book seems like a barely updated version of the author's original book (The Unix Philosophy, 1994). This is confirmed by a comparison of the Kindle samples of the two books, with many passages repeated verbatim.
- Most of the examples which support the author's thesis are really dated now (e.g. the Atari 800). Some glaring anachronisms have been overlooked in the revision process, for example fax machines gaining wide acceptance at present! Although the last chapters bring his ideas into the 21st century, I feel it would have been better to have more current examples throughout the book.
- The price tag is very heavy (GBP 25.64 when I bought it), which seems somewhat ironic for an electronic book from a self-proclaimed champion of open-source software.


Playing at the World
Playing at the World
Price: £13.19

5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent history of D&D, 18 Dec. 2012
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I read this book to find out more about the history of Dungeons & Dragons, and I was extremely satisfied with the result! Each chapter provides a different angle, and a remarkably full picture emerges.

Chapter one deals with the amateur wargaming community out of which D&D grew, including valuable information about Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax's activities before they co-created the game. The second chapter covers literary influences on D&D characters and monsters, ranging far beyond Tolkien into pre-war 'pulp' literature, as well as classical sources and medieval bestiaries. Chapter three follows the development of wargaming rules from chess through German Kriegsspiele and the wargames of Robert Louis Stevenson and H.G. Wells, ending with the particular rules of D&D. The next chapter provides an overview of different 'roleplaying' practices, from psychology, child's play, and various sci-fi and fantasy fan activities which may not have influenced D&D's creation, but certainly modified its reception. The fifth and final chapter deals with this reception and modification by the fan community, and early struggles for copyright and control. Last of all the epilogue plot some trajectories of D&D including its acquisition of countercultural connotations - doing wonders for sales! - and its influence on computer games.

Throughout, Peterson is careful to separate historically verifiable facts from later embellishments, and to untie the Gordian knot of influence or coincidence. Yet there is an intrinsic sense of drama which drives the history on. I found it hard to put down, except to go off on some 'side quest' to investigate something the author mentioned for myself. My only disappointment was that the chapter on roleplaying (chapter 4) dealt predominantly with 20th century material, as I was looking forward to a similarly far-reaching coverage as was given for the history of wargaming rules (chapter 3).


In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha)
In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon (Teachings of the Buddha)

5.0 out of 5 stars Accessible introduction to the Pali Canon, 5 July 2012
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This book provides an accessible introduction to the Pali Canon. The organisation into themes means that the connections between texts can be easily seen, and the introductions to each section are lucid and helpful. The selection seems wide-ranging, and does not only include texts which appeal to the rational, Western mind ('Protestant Buddhism'), but also texts of a mythological and speculative character.


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