What MeetMe is reading this month…

featured:

Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers

by Gabriel Weinberg and Justine Mares

“Real actionable advice on how to get the one thing every product needs: traction.  It’s filled with lots of good information, succinctly put by people who have done it.  It presents you with repeatable examples and real world advice.  It’s by Gabriel Weinberg and Justine Mares, both people who are in the startup game.  Gabriel Weinberg is actually a the guy behind the search engine DuckDuckGo.”

Jason Lotito

bookCreateAMindHow To Create A Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed

by Ray Kurzweil (Audible)

“This book provides interesting insight into the current theories as to how the brain works, and does a fairly good job of describing the current state and methods of AI.  It does this without resorting to overly complex technical jargon or needing to dive into technical algorithms.  If you’re looking for a more algorithmic description of AI, you’d be better off looking for neural network implementations across the internet.  But if you’re looking for a history, and description, delivered in a more approachable prose, then this may be what you’re looking for.  In some of the more in-depth sections, it was easy to lose focus on the audiobook, but despite that, it’s still a worthwhile read.”

bookSuperMarioSuper Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America

by Jeff Ryan (Audible)

“In this book, Jeff Ryan details Nintendo’s story from its origins as a trading card company, through its mega-successes in the early arcades and with NES, through more current times.  At times it seemed like some of the information might not be 100% accurate.  There was a time or two where it seemed to contradict itself, or where I found conflicting information on Wikipedia.  However, the book offers much in the way of nostalgia for anyone growing up with the early Nintendo systems.”

Matt Kemmerer

 

bookAmazon

 The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

by Brad Stone (Audible)

“The story of Bezos and Amazon’s rise was way more captivating than I’d imagined, but I suspect that was due to my personal interests. I didn’t even realize how many digital book questions I had stored in the back of my mind until they were answered here, like, what was the deal with e-books price fixing, how did they manage a free data connection on the Kindle, whatever happened to the e-books formats I used on my old Palm Pilot, why did the built-in Kindle dictionary disappear for a while. And from a broader perspective, understanding Bezos really help connect Amazons strange dots between Amazons seemingly disparate ventures, and explains their constant attempts to break ground, like with the Fire Phone, set-top boxes, and AWS. Brad Stone has a long, if intermittent, history with Bezos, allowing him to turn an already brilliantly written biography into an emotionally engaging story with a detailed arc. The author even dares to encroach on his subject’s personal life by tracking down Bezos’ long-estranged father and revealing his son’s identity for the first time. But that doesn’t keep Stone from pulling any punches; he is as likely to dig up skeletons from Amazons closet as he is homilies, particularly where business practices are concerned. There are scores of entertaining anecdotes from current and former employees, all tied together with recent historical context and broadly-painted corporate politicking. Amazon’s corporate culture and business tactics sound, to me, repulsive, but its vision, persistence, consistency, and patience are enthralling.”

Brian Herbert


 

bonus:

bookHaltHalt and Catch Fire

” A show on AMC that is pretty darn good. Brief synopsis:  A small company enters the home PC race and takes on IBM in the process.  I turned [coworker] Joe Hansche on to this show.”

Justin Bruno

 

What MeetMe is reading this month…


featured:

CODE

 

 


Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

by Charles Petzold

“The book is really about communication. It bounces between history, mathematics, and the physical mechanics of the communication devices we’ve used throughout history leading up to the microcomputer. The author does more than explain how a basic telegraph works, by tracing the evolution and the faults in each version of the technology. Halfway through the book the focus abstracts out to logic gates, then it abstracts out again to performing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using only these gates, then to memory structure, then to microprocessors and their instruction sets, and finally to higher level programming languages. I think the very best thing about this book is that it touches on concepts we’re all very familiar with, but it connects them better than just about any other material I’ve ever read on the subject.”Michael Smalley


happiness-advantage

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

by Shawn Achor (available on Audible)

“Happiness is important.  Ask people about their short term or long term goals and they may vary widely from person to person, but at the core of each goal is the hope and desire that it will make that person happier.  This book explores ideas and methods for helping to increase overall happiness and have a better outlook on life.  Further, it challenges the common notion that first we become successful, and then happiness follows.  The book argues that the converse is actually true: if we’re happy to begin with, then we’re more likely to be successful across all aspects of life.”

Matt Kemmerer

elements

The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles

by Noam Nisan“It’s really a unique book in that with some time investment you can actually learn to build a working virtual machine called ‘Hack’.”

Michael Smalley

“This book was surprising. I originally picked it up as a guide to succeeding in business, however, the book offers that in a very ‘spiritual’ way.  The author focuses on the tremendous effect our thoughts have on our lives and describes how he has applied his recommended three steps throughout his personal and professional journey to achieve his goals. His life story is inspirational and the three steps he outlines are in fact simple, which makes it feel like anyone can do it.”Diana Shkolnikov

Book 3: The Republic of Thieves

“This series is all about thieves.  And boy, do we love our thieves.  It’s a mix of mystery who-done-it.  It’s the planning of capers, the plotting to escape, and the twists and turns along the way.  I love the series because the characters are unique and colorful, the crimes the commit are interesting and fun, and the relationships are dynamic and diverse. 
The most interesting thing I find is how they are able to get out of the corners they find themselves in.  They are inventive with their crimes, and it’s delightfully fun to see what happens next.”Jason Lotito

learning

The Art of Learning

by Josh Waitzkin (available on Audible)

“The Art of Learning is Josh Waitzkin’s story.  Josh is both a National Champion at chess and a World Champion at Tai Chi Chuan — two very diverse fields.  However, he says that his best skill is neither chess nor Tai Chi, but learning.  Josh details his mental process for learning, and shares insights to performing at a high level.  The audio version, which is read by Josh, remains engaging throughout and is both interesting and inspirational.”

Matt Kemmerer


trending:

 

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
“I read Hackers based on David Slabonik’s featured recommendation. It was a screen-swiper to the end; I could not put this book down, but it probably appeals to a narrow demographic. As a developer, my theory of programmers as a class of people grows incrementally every day — there are subcategories of programmers based on motives, ideals and styles. Reading this book took my mental picture of hackers from a rough crayon drawing of a house to a satellite photograph. It was fascinating from a historical perspective, connecting my jumbled dots of computer knowledge on the origins of punchcards, games, digital music, and different programming languages. There are entertaining cameos from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the founders of Sierra games, all written before the subjects grew to immense fame. The effects of politics, salaries, and education are smoothly interwoven. Even the origins of nerd culture are explored, from hygiene and bizarre sleep schedules to the penchant for sci-fi/fantasy and lack of female interaction. But what really gripped me was the array of personalities that has shaped software engineering. Certain vignettes of historical programmers spoke deeply to me, confirming that my mental wiring has precedent among engineers, and other biographies gave me insights into the dispositions of my fellow coders. It was like reading a Meyers-Briggs chart for the first time, finding myself, finding my friends, and then seeing how we complement each other and where points of contention lie. Not only did Hackers give me continual jolts of inspiration for the kind of coder I want to be, it gave me a more honest look at the technical tasks I’m not well suited to. Make sure to get the 25th Anniversary edition for the epilogue follow-ups with influential hackers.”Brian Herbert

What MeetMe is reading this month…

 We bring you another installment of What MeetMe is reading this month…  Yet again, an eclectic mix. You’ll find writing that will inspire you to exercise your imagination and create, communicate more effectively, consider the pursuit of  happiness and simplicity, and of course, a little something to make you go WAH?!?!?

featured:

 

ideafactory

“An incomplete list of things invented at Bell Labs during its heyday: lasers, fiberoptic cables, satellite communications, cell phones, the C programming language, solar panels.

My favorite story in here: John Bardeen and Walter Brattain plug away for years to find the right materials to create the first functioning transistor.  Their boss William Shockley, who had laid some of the theoretical framework for their achievement, gets angry about not receiving enough credit.  So he stays up all night in a hotel room on New Year’s Eve writing out 30 pages of notes describing a better approach, and is able to prove out the concept in a few months.  His version becomes the standard.

The book will get you thinking about innovation and the circumstances that lead to it.  Much is a reinforcement of the now-fashionable idea that all invention is iteration, not the solitary genius model you might have learned in school.  But that new dogma is also challenged, or at least tempered.  Consider Claude Shannon, who showed up for work whenever, spent much of his time creating electromechanical mice and riding around the office on a unicycle, and knocked out the whole foundation of Information Theory in between games of chess.”

Roger Taylor

 


 

 “There’s one main theme to Essentialism: prioritizing the important things and throwing away the rest.  While this sounds simple in concept, whether in a professional or personal context, we tend to often prioritize incorrectly or choose to include non-important tasks due to outside pressures.  The audiobook weighs in at over 6 hours for this central topic, so it definitely gets repetitive, but the overall message is a good one.”

logic_and_design

Logic and Design, Revised: In Art, Science, and Mathematics

by Krome Barratt

Joe Szymanski

Rich Friedman

What MeetMe is reading this month


featured:

by Blake J. Harris (available on Audible)

David Weinstein


leaders

by Simon Sinek (available on Audible)

“With a heavy lean toward biology, this book talks about being a great leader and as a result building great teams.  Among other things, this includes being a strong team player and highly empathetic, rather than being in more of a dictatorial role.”

Matt Kemmerer

mindstarrising quantummurder

The Greg Mandel Series: Mindstar Rising, A Quantum Murder, and The Nano Flower

by Peter F. Hamilton (available on Audible)

“Peter F. Hamilton is a wonderful Sci-Fi author.  This series is different from his other series, as it’s a detective series with a sci-fi backdrop.  All three books are a fun read.  It’s also a nice departure from his normally long novels.”

Jason Lotito

A Short History of Everything

by Bill Bryson (available on Audible)

“There will always be a point in time where we think there is no more to learn on a subject, only to learn that there is plenty more to learn about a subject. Knowledge never stops.”

Rich Friedman

Daemon      Freedom (TM)

Travis Himes

netflix-techblog-header

The Netflix Simian Army

by 

PhoenixServer

by

“Phoenix servers recently came up in conversation and lead to these articles.  Chef gets us most of the way there, but there is certainly more we can do. And the Netflix idea of having an automated army that purposely breaks unexpected random parts of your infrastructure is scary and awesome at the same time.  It would lead to a LOT more automation and less stress in the long run.”

Diana Shkolnikov

by Ben Horowitz (available on Audible)

The Hard Thing About Hard Things is an in-depth look at what it’s really like to run a startup – exploring the tough times where defeat seems imminent and the difficult decision making that occurs that completely changes the future of the company.

Matt Kemmerer

Invention and Entrepreneurship

by Peter F. Drucker (available on Audible)

“A classic on management and innovation. His approach to strategically and tactically approaching innovation is a must read. This one of the many books from Alan Kay’s reading list I am starting to devour.”

 Rich Friedman

  

by Dale Carnegie (available on Audible)

“Often considered a classic and a must-read in business, Dale Carnegie discusses how to improve your human interactions.  In short, people like to be treated with respect and like a person, rather than as simply a means to an end.”

Matt Kemmerer   

 


trending:

Worm: The First Digital World War

by Mark Bowden

“Crazy smart folks chasing other crazy smart folks. The code that can be packed into so few bytes that can run rampant across the world in a short time will blow your mind.”

Rich Friedman

Einstein’s Cosmos: How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time

by Michio Kaku

“The simple analogies that Einstein had put forth to explain such hard concepts is welcome, but reading this book you get an appreciation for everything that happened for his ideas to come to light. Amazing to see both the support he gets but also the hard times that fall upon him and others of his time.”

Rich Friedman

by Rob Lowe

“Interesting change of pace to read a biography of someone’s life that has gone in a vastly different direction than my own. “

Matt Kemmerer

What MeetMe is reading this month…

For the last few months, we’ve been collecting book recommendations internally to present at our monthly all-hands engineering meeting.  It started out as work related material, but in the processes of collecting everyone’s recommendations it became very apparent that people are far more excited to share their non-work-related picks.  It turned out those books were also the more interesting ones to discuss.  Of course, the tech books were also solid picks and show what our engineers are excited about on a professional level.  The list seemed too good to keep to ourselves… So we thought we’d share it with everyone. We hope you enjoy these as much as our team has. Leave us a comment if you’ve already read or plan to read any of these.


featured:

hackers

“From the days of the early MIT hackers to the explosion of the personal computer and software industry revolutions, Hackers explores the history of the subculture of tinkerers and creators that made it happen. The stories are testimonials showing that when you give people access to tools and infomation, they are capable of great things. This book is inspirational not in the mushy sense, but in a very direct way that makes you want to grab a soldering iron, some microcontrollers, and start compiling code.”

David Slabonik


 wholenewmind

by Daniel H Plink

“Lots of random ideas. Seems like the author went out and did a bunch of cool travels and reading then found a way to tie it in to how right-brainers are becoming super important. Not many take-aways, other than for how to design tools to be holistic, beautiful, and meaningful.”

Brian Herbert

haskell

by Bryan O’Sullivan

“The Haskell book was quite mind blowing as an approach to programming.  I found Haskell appealing because it combines static typing, compile time checking, functional programming, and a powerful type system, among other things. Usually you only get two or three of those in a language.”

Peter Eisentraut

flashboys

by Michael Lewis

“If you want to know the power of a milli-second and at the same time pissed about the going ons in the financial industry read this.  It’s really a story about the power developers have over the world.”

Rich Friedman

javascript

by David Herman

“Between web and node.js, we are using JavaScript.  This means needing to really understand JavaScript.  This is an excellent book on the topic.”

Jason Lotito

by Nate Silver

“Nate Silver dives into a diverse set of topics to explore the statistics and methods for making predictions within each of those areas.  The topics vary from Major League Baseball to weather prediction to chess.  It’s a longer book, but the diversity of topics keep it seeming relatively fresh throughout.

Matt Kemmerer    

Article by Bret Victor

“Great thoughts on getting the initial process of coding beyond minds and into hands. Written by a powerhouse in UI design.”

Brian Herbert

supernormal

Super Normal

by Dave Morin

“The blog post details the Japanese design philosophy of “Super Normal,” which means that when you are trying to create a new product, instead of reinventing the wheel, you take a product or concept that is “normal” to the world and improve upon it.  I recommend this article because people often fall into a position of comfort and settling for experiences that seem to be just what we want when they can often be better. We accept a product’s shortcomings, like the cold, difficult-to-hold bucket mentioned in the article, because it gets the job done and/or no one else has done or conceived of anything better yet. The more friction we can remove in all aspects of having our members achieve their goals, the better, and that’s something we should continuously strive toward.

Anton Djamoos

by Dan Ariely

“Discusses how humans aren’t always as rational and logical as we might expect.  The book uses interesting experiments and case studies to highlight these irrational behaviors.”

Matt Kemmerer

by Brandon Sanderson

“Book 2 of the Way of Kings series. EPIC fantasy.  EPIC AWESOME”

Jason Lotito

by Roger Lowenstein

by Stephen King

“Three bios –  What they all had in common, was they had a passion for what they did, they were driven to do it, and were not in for fame and money.  They were willing to spend an inordinate amount of time and energy following their dream, though it often impacted personal relationships.  The Buffet one was good in that he always boiled everything down, no matter how complicated, into simple things. The King one, likewise, he had a straightforward process and stuck to it diligently. The Richards one, just because I’m amazed he’s still alive.

Peter Steinheuser

by Mark Bowden

“Three takeaways:

  1. there’s a lot going on at a low level on the internet that I don’t know much about
  2. the guys that do are pretty scary smart 
  3. we’re all gonna die 

same author as Black Hawk Down 
(point 3 might be hyperbole)”

Michael Glaesemann

by Michio Kaku

An interesting blend of biography and science.  Offers up some insight into Einstein’s life and his revolutionary theories.

Matt Kemmerer

by Rob Lowe

“It’s actually fascinating. lots of cool Hollywood stories”

Corky Brown 

by Neal Stephenson

Snow Crash predates the Matrix movies and the .hack series of games, and its influence on the subject of virtual-reality in fiction is obvious. A sword-wielding, code-slinging pizza-delivery driver working for the mafia is fired from his job, and begins to uncover the mystery of a new virtual narcotic, “Snow Crash” – which is both a computer virus and a degenerative nerve disease in the real world.”

David Slabonik

 

by Matt Galloway

“It’s a great book on Objective-C. I find I can go back to those books and learn and relearn.”

Jason Lotito

by Nir Eyal

“A typical and ok book about how we get hooked into habit forming products.  Interesting but if you read something similar probably not worth your time.”

Rich Friedman