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Have you ever stopped to think about how "information" and the ability to find it has changed our lives? Ambient Findability by Peter Morville takes you down a thought-provoking path as to what it all means...Contents: Lost and Found; A Brief History of Wayfinding; Information Interaction; Intertwingled; Push and Pull; The Sociosemantic Web; Inspired Decisions; Index
First off, this isn't a book along the lines of "follow these steps to increase your search engine ranking". In fact, if you're just looking for some quick hit suggestions on how to make your site easier to find, don't buy the book. It'd be a waste of your time. But if you're ready to really think about what "searching" means, read on. Morville examines how a number of trends have converged to make it possible to find out just about anything regardless of where you are and when you're looking for it. Wi-fi has made it possible to have search engine access outside the home or office. Google's massive indexing ability has allowed us to find things that would never be found otherwise. GPS, cell phones, and other technical marvels have made us locate-able regardless of where we (or the searcher) are. All this "ambient findability" changes who we are both as individuals and as a part of society. And with the continuing advance of smaller chips, more bandwidth, and integration of RFID into everyday products, this convergence of information exchange and interaction only promises to get deeper and more pervasive. As stated in the book... The future is already here, but it's just not evenly distributed yet...
I'm a little surprised I liked this book as much as I did. As I've stated in the past, I tend to avoid philosophical musings and gravitate towards practical "how do I" titles. But this one snared me. It's well written to begin with, and I think the subject matter was one that I was already interested in. It's the type of book that you should read slowly and think about as you go. When you understand how we've arrived at our current destination, it tends to make you have a greater appreciation for things we (or at least I) have taken for granted.
If you're ready for something that will make you think and ponder, Ambient Findability should make an appearance on your "need to read" list...
AppleScript: The Missing Manual
Do you work for your computer or does your computer work for you? I should hope its the later. If not, you might want to pick up a copy of AppleScript: The Missing Manual by Adam Goldstein and show your Mac who’s the boss.
The US $24.95 book is another entry in the ever popular Missing Manual’ series from Pogue Press/O’Reilly. Goldstein, the teenage founder of GoldfishSoft, manages to take you from an overview of AS’s underpinnings in Panther (Mac OS X.3) to as far as you care to get involved with the Script Editor.
There are examples of some of the most common repetitive functions accompanied with scripts, thorough explanations, graphics and sidebars. You are also instructed how to download the “Missing CD,” which contain all of the examples and exercises from the book.
The book is broken down into four major sections:
-AppleScript Overview, where the glaze is wiped from your eyes and all your fears dissipated;
- Everyday Scripting Tasks, actual hands-on scripting with applications that you probably use on a daily basis;
-Power-user Features, where you can learn how to get the most out of your scripts so your computer does the work while you sit out side on the porch experiencing daylight;
-Appendixes—Part One lists OS X friendly scriptable programs; Part Two, how to move your old HyperCard scripts into AppleScript; and Part Three references more books and Web sites.
The author writes in such a calming voice that actually makes this manual a page turner! You’ll be amazed at how easily you learn AS as he builds upon each successive lesson. And if you’ve never delved into scripting functions for your Mac, you’ll be amazed at just how powerful this unheralded application can be. And how much you’ll want to roll up your sleeves and get immediately to work.
This may be the push that you need to start getting under the hood and fine-tuning your machine to be the Mac of your dreams.
Pros: Easy to read and follow; be the envy of your friends by knowing the meaning of Boolean.
Cons: This could be the start of a major addiction; I’m old enough to be the author’s father.
Google Hacks, 2nd Ed
It seems like nary a month goes by that I don't learn something new about Google that hooks me ever more deeply into the site. After reading Google Hacks (2nd Edition) by Tara Calishain and Rael Dornfest (O'Reilly), I have enough "hooks" for the next year...
Chapter list: Web; Advanced Web; Images; News and Groups; Add-Ons; Gmail; Ads; Webmastering; Programming Google; Index
You probably know it by now, but the Hacks concept is built around 100 cool tips, tricks, and "hacks" related to the particular subject of the book. In this case, the subject is Google. I must have missed the first edition, because I don't remember ever reading any of this material in this form before. The first chapter deals with basic search tricks like mapping (#7 - Think Global, Google Local) and stock tracking (#8 - Track Stocks). Nothing incredibly new there that I haven't seen elsewhere, even though I may not always remember it when I need to. :-) The advanced section starts to pick up with things like #46 - Spot Trends with Geotargeting and #47 - Bring the Google Calculator to the Command Line. Learning how to "browse" the World Wide photo album in #51 was cool. For me, the book completely earned its keep with the gmail chapter. I didn't know about "plus addressing," which really rocks. And based on #79 - Use Gmail as a Windows Drive, I now have a 1 GB spare hard drive that I can use to transfer 10 MB files (or less) from home to work and back... Tres cool!
If you have a background in programming, you'll get even more out of the book. There are plenty of scripting examples using Perl, Python, and other languages that allow you to manipulate the Google API to integrate Google features into your applications. But even if that's not your forte, you'll still benefit a lot from the non-programming tips. Especially if you've never taken a lesson in the search syntax that Google provides.
If Google is your search engine of choice but you've never gotten beyond the basic search interface, you need this book. There's a whole world out there you know nothing about... Highly recommended.
Now this is what I've been waiting for; a good, in-depth, online library that I can search for specific data, sample books that I might want to read, even read complete books online.
That was the promise way back there, wasn't it? That pretty soon we'd all have access to vast collections of information, that we would be able to access whenever to search and peruse. Along with shopping online, telecommuting, and, uh, other Buck Rogers stuff, it was predicted almost at the beginning of this 'computer age' that we are slogging into at something less than full speed ahead. Well, we still aren't there, but we are inching a bit closer, with Safari (no connection with the Apple browser of the same name) Tech Books Online.