Reading Summary – 2018

It’s that time of year again.

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since my original reading list. I’m pretty sure I’m reading as much as I dare at a time (quality over quantity). One thing I’d like to track this year is how many books I buy/receive v. how many I’ve actually read. For those of us who tend to buy books whimsically and/or recklessly, it might be a good idea to cut down on that pile of shame. (Confession: I’m already -1 on that count)

Anyways, on with the list..

Ghost in the Shell Deluxe Edition Volume 1 – A watershed work of cyberpunk.  I’ve been a fan of the anime since the original release in the 90s.  The original manga does not disappoint.

The Subtle Art of not Giving a F*ck – Kind of an anti self-help book.  Some interesting premises and ideas around the futility of avoiding discomfort and making systemic changes with that in mind.

Babylons Ashes –  Book 6 of The Expanse.  Continues the arc of the previous book neatly while still taking us on a few tangents to flesh out the after effects of recent events.

The Churn – An Expanse novella.  There’s a set of these, one for each of the lead characters.  This one gives us the backstory of Amos Burton, the Rocinante’s mechanic.

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes – A collection of (very) funny interpretations of world mythologies and religions.  Think of it as if Cracked wrote a course on comparative religion

Persepolis Rising – Book 7 of The Expanse – This entry takes us forward about a generation past the events of Babylon’s Ashes while still keeping us up to date on familiar characters and introducing some new ones.  Probably one of the weaker offerings of the series but I’m still hungry for more.

The Butcher of Anderson Station – An Expanse Short Story.  Much shorter than The Churn, but still a good read.  Little bit of insight as to how Colonel Fred Johnson got his infamous moniker.

Old Man’s War – This is my first introduction to John Scalzi and I was not disappointed. This book (series) is surely inspired by Heinlien’s Starship Troopers, but without all the bloviating. I’ll be continuing with the series.

Antifragile – IIRC, I read this book as part of a Strenuous Life challenge. An in-depth study of building better systems by microfractures and the idea that there is no strength or growth without resistance.

Blood Meridian – A vivid and nightmarish stream of consciousness using historical events as a backdrop. This was a bit dense and requires some concentration to truly appreciate. It was a nice reminder that just because something is critically acclaimed and makes a lot of Top 10s, that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.

The Accidental Billionaires – The story of the founding of Facebook. Interesting and familiar but that’s mainly because I already knew the story. Still, if it’s a Ben Mezrich book, I want to read it.

The Ten Day MBA – Very interesting crash course in business.  Brushed up on existing knowledge and learned a few new things

12 Rules to Life – Excellent restatement of common sense principles by controversial personality Jordan Peterson. Accessible and interesting, if a bit long winded. 

 The Professor In The Cage – In the spirit of George Plimpton’s ‘Paper Lion’, this is solid behind the scenes storytelling of the world of fighters.

Skin In The Game – Another one by Nassim NicholasTaleb.  A discussion of evaluating advice based on the risk profile of the advisor.

A Fighter’s Heart – An interesting examination of commonalities across multiple fighting styles from both the fighters and spectators.

No More Mister Nice Guy – Watershed work on breaking unhealthy conditioning and making your needs a priority.  Intended for men but might be valuable to anyone.

Meditations – Marcus Aurelius intended for these musings to be for his own personal reflection.  It’s since become regarded as one of the iconic works of Stoic philosophy.  Suitable for reading beginning to end or for spot reading as desired.

Letters from a Stoic : Volume 1 – Another watershed work of Stoicism.  Written as advice to friends which means the names might require some googling.  Also, the content is a bit repetitive and comes off as a bit flowery and preachy.  I prefer Meditations

This Will Never Happen Again – A collection of essays from David Cain’s Raptitude.com website.  Good reads for grounding and motivation

I’d love to hear any feedback on this list and invite you to share your own reviews or recommendations.  As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to john@benedettitech.com.

Blogs I Follow

And now for something completely different…
 
I’m assuming most people have a set of sites that they check or frequent on a daily basis.   This post is a list of favorites that I have on my feedly app.  I generally sift through these and save some interesting articles to Instapaper for easy access wherever I happen to be.
 
Tech
 
Coding Horror – Probably THE blog that motivated me to switch to software development full time.  Funny and insightful.
 
Scott Hanselman makes the short list of any Who’s Who when it comes to Microsoft solutions.  Posts frequently with either interesting ‘What’s New?’ or other content.
 
Trisha Gee – I had first heard of Trisha during the inaugural HackSummit() conference and her presentation was one of my favorites.  A Java expert and advocate.
 
John Sonmez – I’d first heard about John after taking a few of his courses on Pluralsight.  After following his blog for a while, I took his Create A Blog course and the result is this site.  Daily new content.
 
Humor and Personal
 
Drew Magary – Drew is a writer for several publications including Deadspin and GQ.  We’re about the same age so his posts about parenting and cooking are very relatable.
 
Wait But Why – I ran across this blog a while back.  Posts feature length articles on cool futurist topics like space exploration and AI.  If you read anything on the site, make time for the four part series on Elon Musk.
 
The Art of Manliness – I’ve been reading AoM for a few years now.  Very interesting articles on hobbies, fitness, fashion, traditions and more!  This is the site that got me to drop my cartridge razor in favor of a safety razor.  (Highly recommended)
 
Mr. Money Mustache – Personal finance advice and a must read for anyone considering early (or at least earlier) retirement.
 
The Daily Stoic – A Ryan Holiday blog.  Stoicism has been enjoying some recent popularity and reference.  This is a good resource for anyone interested in the basics or a deeper dive.
 
I’d love to hear any feedback on this list and invite you to share your own reviews or recommendations.  As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to john@benedettitech.com.
 
Thanks for looking in!

Adding Widgets to WordPress

I wanted to flesh out the blog itself a little bit and experiment with WordPress. So, I decided to add some Widgets to the sidebar. These are configurable items that you can arrange alongside other WordPress content like menu and category links. They can be based on plug-ins or can be iFrames or just straight HTML so I’ve added a few examples. Once created, they can be arranged or reordered at will or shown/hidden based on certain conditions such as page or WordPress user properties.

ArrangeWidgets

First off, I wanted to brand the blog using the logo from Simple Programmer that I earned by completing the course that launched this blog in the first place. This is a simple hyperlink tag sourcing an image file as the element. To add this, I created a Text widget which allows you to add arbitrary text or html.

CreateText

spwidget

Next, I wanted to add a link back to the Github repository I created for a previous entry here. I accomplished this by installing a plug-in called WP Github from the WordPress marketplace. This allows you to add widgets for various GitHub categories such as repos, commits or issues. I’ve added the top level profile widget for now, but you can insert various other widgets specifically for repos or commit history.

wpgithub

Just for fun, I included a link to my Myers-Briggs personality type from 16 Personalities. This quiz and personality typing has been popular at some of the organizations and businesses I’ve worked with, some even going to far as to require employees to post them beside their nameplates. Adding this involved another Text widget. This one is a simple anchor tag referencing an image from the site and linking back to the 16 Personalities website.

Code:  <a href=”https://www.16personalities.com/intj-personality”><img src=”https://www.16personalities.com/images/types/intj.png”></a>

My last widget is a bit of personal accountability for me. I’ve struggled with weight for most of my life and have been tracking my weight and eating habits at Livestrong. This is a free service and they also provide a code snippet that points back to your progress on their website. This was accomplished by pasting in the code snippet into another Text widget.

lswidget

Pretty straightforward stuff, right? As always, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to john@benedettitech.com.

Thanks for looking in!

Enabling Disqus on WordPress

Not too long ago, I was introduced to Disqus for leaving comments.  I do enjoy the idea of tracking threads and discussions from a central tool and the notification mechanism.  Additionally, I just started getting my first spam comments on my previous posts.  (I guess that means I’m a really-real blogger now!)

 

I’d much rather people were able to leave comments without admin review and were from a trustworthy source, so I decided to go ahead and try setting up Disqus on my blog.

 

Some quick Google-Fu brought up some tutorials.  Here are the steps straight from Disqus.com:  Link

 

  1. In the left panel of your WordPress admin, select Plugins > Add New
  2. Search for “Disqus” and find the plugin provided by “Disqus”.
  3. Select Install Now > Activate Plugin
  4. Proceed with the onscreen install instructions.
  5. Log into your Disqus account, then choose the forum shortname you would like to install.
Setting this up was ridiculously easy and took me a total of about five minutes. If any of you have ideas for other centralized commenting or have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to john@benedettitech.com.

 

Thanks for looking in!

First Post

 

Welcome to the first blog post on BenedettiTech!

I started this blog based on a short course I took recently put together by John Sonmez at SimpleProgrammer.  (If you’re a developer not already familiar with John’s work, I would highly recommend checking out his site.). The idea is to walk through the steps to starting a blog and make a commitment to generating content that will boost your skills and your career.
I’ve had SimpleProgrammer on my RSS feed for some time now and read most articles when they come out.  I heard about the course on the site and registration is a single step at http://devcareerboost.com/blog-course/

The course consists of a series of emails with steps on how to select a theme for your blog, getting it set up and committing to schedule for future posts.  I’ve selected a focus of C# and general web development since that’s where I spend most of my time and my goal is to become an expert in that space.  But I’m sure there will be some off-topic posts as well.

This site is currently hosted on A Small Orange and uses a scripted install of WordPress installed via a Softaculous script.  I’ll be trying out some of the gadgets that come with this popular blogging software which I hope to cover in future posts.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to add them here or address them to john@benedettitech.com.

Thanks for looking in!