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Reviews Written by
A. I. Mackenzie "alimack" (Glasgow, Scotland.)
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High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge for Front-End Engineers
High Performance Web Sites: Essential Knowledge for Front-End Engineers
by Steve Souders
Edition: Paperback
Price: £16.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, just be wary about a couple of the tips., 2 Sep 2014
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Excellent, this really can make a huge difference to the speed of your website.
I improved our website by a factor of 5 by following the tips here and using a website too GTMetrix, which basically ests your website based on YSLOW and the google website optimiser).

The only thing to be wary of is you probably won't need federated content (Content Delivery Networks) or ETTags unless your site is truly huge. Otherwise a quick recommendation and some explanation in each chapter is perfect, too many tech books bloat out to convince you that you've got your money's worth.
Not sure if gzipping on the fly works in IIS, it didn't work for me in IIS 6 days and like a lot of O'Reilly books this favours open source over the Microsoft stacks.

Highly recommended.


Flash Boys
Flash Boys
Price: £6.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Flash but lacks proper explanation., 29 Aug 2014
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This review is from: Flash Boys (Kindle Edition)
Nicely written, and very exciting, Michael Lewis doesn't have the intimate knowledge of Wall Street and the City that he used to in the eighties but he tells a very good story and the topic is interesting.
The bizarre antics of the banks trying to shave a few microseconds off their transmission times is funny, a weakness of the book is it doesn't distinguish carefully between the technical quest to be faster and the immoral/ illegal front running and general sucker baiting in the Dark Pools.
Makes a good pair with 'Dark Pools', read them together to get the full picture.
Highly recommended if you like finance as a topic.


Familiar
Familiar
by J Robert Lennon
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.59

2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting premise, but poor delivery, 29 Aug 2014
This review is from: Familiar (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This was disappointing, the initial set up was interesting but although the writing was clear it had the feel of creative writing classes about it (always a bad sign).
The characters were dislikeable and just not interesting, it was written in a naturalistic style but with a sci-fi style ending, very unsatisfying. It didn't even really look at the question of identity in an interesting way.

Avoid.


PHP Advanced and Object-Oriented Programming: Visual QuickPro Guide (3rd Edition)
PHP Advanced and Object-Oriented Programming: Visual QuickPro Guide (3rd Edition)
Price: £17.54

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent making for making transition from intermediate to Expert, 5 Aug 2014
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Very useful book, Larry has added a lot to the section on Object Oriented design in PHP, it covers up to PHP 5.4.
I've used the chapter on multi dimensional arrays as well and several other chapters. The extra Object Orientated chapters are useful - there's a chapter on Design Patterns and further information on traits.
If you are serious about understanding Design patterns, use Head First Design Patterns in conjunction with Chapter 7. A lot more understandable than the Gof equivalent.
There's useful stuff on running PHP scripts outwith a web browser later on as well.


How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life
Price: £7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars A little disappointing, 19 May 2014
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I read this book over a weekend and enjoyed it to start with but I was a little bored with it by the end.
Basically he's advocating flexibility over means and ends, or systems vs. goals as he puts it. He's mostly sensible here, but the book could be summed up in a couple of points:

1) Favour systems over goals (retain some flexibility over outcomes);
2) Treat yourself as a system, check inputs versus outputs (eat right and sleep right);.

It seems a bit underwhelming when you distil it like that, and a bit depressing - not that any of these are necessarily wrong.
I'm just not convinced they automatically lead to success.

Also the book is mildly amusing at points but don't buy it thinking it's a Dilbert/ comedy book.


Dark Pools: The rise of A.I. trading machines and the looming threat to Wall Street
Dark Pools: The rise of A.I. trading machines and the looming threat to Wall Street
Price: £3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting run through the origins of High Frequency Trading, 5 May 2014
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This book is a quick read and makes a nice companion to Flash Boys which deals with the later period of electronic trading.
It begins with smaller traders spotting a technological edge - trading directly electronically. Levine is the technical genius for one of the firms. It then digresses onto Artificial Intelligence and Genetic algorithms used to develop better trading strategies than humans can develop unaided.

It generally good journalistically and makes for an exciting read but fails to give much of a technical explanation of why The Island system was better than others - why was its availability better? Scott Patterson isn't technical.
The book would benefit from someone that understood both the technology and the markets.

Nevertheless a good history of the origins of High Frequency trading, worth a read.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 3, 2014 2:19 PM BST


When Mum Turned Into A Monster
When Mum Turned Into A Monster
by Joanna Harrison
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, everyone will have been there, 5 May 2014
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The cousins are visiting and the kids are playing up, and something's wrong with Mum...
This book is a good read,outpr 4 year old loved it. Recommended.


Apache Phrasebook: Essential Code and Commands (Developer's Library)
Apache Phrasebook: Essential Code and Commands (Developer's Library)
by Daniel Lopez
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.13

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent little book, 21 Mar 2014
It's actually quite difficult to find good books on Apache despite it being the most common web server .

The documentation at the official Apache website is poor in terms of actually getting things done and searching the web for every command depends on you roughly knowing what you want to do initially and can take a long time.

This is a tiny book that really cuts to the chase - all the common things we might want to do are listed here with clear instructions, well worth getting. (Time for a new edition?)


OS X 10.9 Mavericks: The Ars Technica Review
OS X 10.9 Mavericks: The Ars Technica Review
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive review of mavericks, 19 Mar 2014
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Siracusa's reviews of the Mac OSes are justifiably fanous, he's incredibly thorough and he gives this revision of the OS a guarded welcome.

The main features of Mavericks that is worth having seems to be better power management for laptops, combined with some general speed gains - it seem to be LIon's Snow Leopard, as long as you don't use gmail (there have been consitent problems with google IMPAP mail accounts which may have been fixed by 10.9.2).

Worth a read.


After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory
by Alasdair MacIntyre
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.50

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic in moral Philosophy, 19 Mar 2014
The book is rightly famous, and well written although I found it tended to wander a bit at times.
McIntyre's thesis is that the Enlightenment project has gone badly wrong - there is no way of producing a consitent ethical framework with the tools it provides. Essentially his point is that ethics cannot be grounded in individualism but must be embedded in society and practice. He believes that rejecting Aristotle's ethics was a mistake.

He's very convincing about the failure of individualism and I think his point that morality has to be grounded in a community as correct. He's less sure on how we would apply Aristotelian ethics given the society we have now, how would we move from one to another where would we judge what the set of virtues is, who would be the authority and how would disputes be settled?

On the way he made me re-appraise both Nietzsche and Jane Austen, quite impressive but I didn't buy his whole argument.
For students chapter 12 (last half) is essential and the last chapter gives a handy guide to the whole book.

Worth the (considerable) effort!


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