Another year, another book list

book-xmas-tree

Unlike previous years, I didn’t complete all the books below cover-to-cover. Instead, for most books I just picked a few chapters to read, and learn as much as possible. There are some good ones though (i.e. I finished the whole book) … and you can tell how the state of my mind changed, along the year, with the reading sequence.

  1. The Art of the Start 2.0: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
  2. Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes (TED Books)
  3. The Year Without Pants: WordPress.com and the Future of Work
  4. The Lean Product Playbook: How to Innovate with Minimum Viable Products and Rapid Customer Feedback
  5. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
  6. Getting There: A Book of Mentors
  7. With Her Eyes (Short Stories by Liu Cixin Book 11)
  8. The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
  9. TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking
  10. Magicians of the Gods: Sequel to the International Bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods
  11. The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks
  12. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
  13. Competing Against Luck: The Story of Innovation and Customer Choice

And there are a few I have yet to start … hope I can finish those in early 2017.

  1. Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves
  2. The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth
  3. The Art of Startup Fundraising: Pitching Investors, Negotiating the Deal, and Everything Else Entrepreneurs Need to Know
  4. Hard Landing: The Epic Contest for Power and Profits That Plunged the Airlines into Chaos
  5. From Big Data to Big Profits: Success with Data and Analytics
  6. Actionable Gamification – Beyond Points, Badges, and Leaderboards
  7. Joy on Demand: The Art of Discovering the Happiness Within

Pick a few from above to read, and tell me which one(s) you like most.

Have a great Year of Reading ahead !!

My 20 Kindle eBooks of 2014

books

2014 is a tough and rough year.

However it is also a good year, as I kind of picked up reading again (thanks to the Kindle Paperwhite II, my fourth Kindle), even though I am still a slow reader. Managed to only finish 20 Kindle eBooks this year, and my favourite ones are “Stuffocation“, “Lean Startup“, “Service Design” and “Pitch Perfect“.

The 20 books in reading sequence …

  1. Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think
  2. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
  3. Data Science for Business: What you need to know about data mining and data-analytic thinking
  4. Chariots of the Gods
  5. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products
  6. Stuffocation
  7. Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I Went from Gang Member to Multimillionaire Entrepreneur
  8. The Fortune Cookie Principle : The 20 Keys to a Great Brand Story and Why Your Business Needs One
  9. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses
  10. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
  11. Difference: The one-page method for reimagining your business and reinventing your marketing
  12. Pitch Perfect: How to Say It Right the First Time, Every Time
  13. Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works (Lean Series)
  14. Service Design: From Insight to Implementation
  15. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising
  16. The Giza Power Plant: Technologies of Ancient Egypt
  17. Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain
  18. Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace)
  19. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
  20. The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History’s Greatest Mystery Revealed

Still, there are a few books in the Kindle impatiently waiting … shall be good for the next three, four months !!

  1. The Orion Mystery: Unlocking the Secrets of the Pyramids (a reread)
  2. The FastDiet – Revised & Updated: Lose Weight, Stay Healthy, and Live Longer with the Simple Secret of Intermittent Fasting
  3. Loyalty 3.0: How to Revolutionize Customer and Employee Engagement with Big Data and Gamification
  4. Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
  5. The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users
  6. The 7 Day Startup: You Don’t Learn Until You Launch
  7. Flash Boys

Keep reading !!

Kindle Cloud Reader review

Before I shamelessly promote myself as a big fan of Kindle Apps, I better tell you that I am also a big fan of Kindle eBook reader. I really love the Kindle Apps as it works very well in tablets like iPad (I think people just use the term “iPad” instead of tablet anyway). Therefore when I know Amazon released the Kindle Cloud Reader, I have to review it …I set up the Cloud Reader without any problem, but it’s not that intuitive to set up your library for offline reading … anyway, here is the full details (with photos by the end of that blog post) of that new offering from Amazon.

  1. First of all, go to the homepage of Kindle Cloud Reader. Click the “Sign in to get started”, then sign in with your Amazon account credential in the next screen. That step will then kick start the Kindle Cloud Reader web application, and show you all the eBooks you have purchased for your Kindle.
  2. Next step is to increase the local database storage size (up to 50 MBytes) so that the application can save your books to your iPad (or other devices) for offline reading. And here is the tricky part, the application will also try to save the apps for offline use, and you will see that message “Saving app for offline use” in the bottom of the screen.
  3. In many cases, that step will return an error message stating “Error saving app. Tap here to try again“. If you encounter this, go to your iPad setting page and clear the cache of Safari and repeat the steps above again. The saving shall then be successful.
  4. Then add the apps to home screen. Change name to whatever you like and add to home screen
  5. Other than the Book grid view, you can also see the Book list view. You can toggle the views from the lower right corner selection buttons.
  6. Same as the Kindle for iPad apps, you can change the settings like font size, color mode.
  7. Click any book and you can start reading, and it works pretty much like Kindle for iPads.
  8. Now, try exit the apps and start the cloud reader again.
  9. If you have not saved the app for offline use successfully (see step 2 and 3 above), you will be greeted with that error message “Cloud Reader could not be opened because it is not connected to the internet“.
  10. To really read the books offline, you need to press and hold any book cover in your library, then select “Download & Pin Book.”
  11. After the download, you will see the books are “Pinned” with a green color pin icon underneath the downloaded book and ready for offline reading !!
  12. And lastly, there is the Kindle shop such that you can buy books directly within the web apps (if you’re online).

After all these set up, you can read the book as any Kindle apps … with three exceptions:

  • You cannot currently create new notes and highlights using Kindle Cloud Reader – but notes and highlights you create while reading the book on your Kindle or another Kindle app will be displayed.
  • There is no built-in dictionary (I missed it a lot !!).
  • It still feels a bit slower than Kindle reader and Kindle apps.

Hope you find this review useful !!

My Kindle-iPad experiment

If you search “Kindle vs iPad” in Google and you will probably find over 6 millions results, in other words this topic has been discussed to death. And of course, Amazon thinks there are many good reasons why Kindle is a better ebook reader and I also blogged before that with certain settings, one can use iPad to read ebooks.

But still, to really find out which device is the better ebook reader, I decided to do an experiment – read the first half of an ebook (“I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works: Why Your World, Work, and Brain Are Being Creatively Disrupted“) with Kindle 2, and then the second half of the same ebook with iPad 2. And here are my findings:

iPad

  1. I like the fact that you can check mail, news, tweets, Facebook walls etc. easily while you’re reading your ebook
  2. I hate the fact that you can check mail, news, tweets, Facebook walls etc. easily while you’re reading your ebook
  3. It’s the faster device of the two
  4. The battery lasts only 10 hours, and I don’t like the battery indicator (in percentage) in the upper right corner … it makes me worry about the battery all the time
  5. Without a keyboard, the touch gesture can turn the page, highlight a word / sentence, toggle the menu system etc. etc. – in one word, “confusing”
  6. I like all the colorful book covers in the home screen. It’s pretty much like the album library in iPod is great, but I still like to see all the CD covers.

Kindle

  1. I like the fact that you cannot check mail, news, tweets, Facebook walls etc. easily while you’re reading your ebook
  2. I hate the fact that you cannot check mail, news, tweets, Facebook walls etc. easily while you’re reading your ebook
  3. The e-ink screen is much much better than iPad (for any serious long form reading), your eyes will never get tired, strained and drained;
  4. Battery life of two weeks is good, you can easily finish a book without a recharge;
  5. With the keyboard and buttons to go to next / previous page, it is a lot easier to use.
  6. You can buy ebook easily with the Kindle shop.

Summary

Without a doubt, Kindle is a much better ebook reader if you like focused long form reading. However, if you can only take one device with you and reading is not your primary purpose, get an iPad. You won’t regret it.

Kindle for iPad survival guide

I have to admit I did not pay much attention to Kindle for iPad as the tool to read eBooks, even the application “looks” good with iPad and iPad 2. Reason is simply that I have a Kindle and it’s a much better device for reading. However, in most trips I will bring both my Kindle and iPad 2 along – the Kindle for eBooks, and the iPad 2 for emails, Facebook, RSS, and eMagazines like Bloomberg Businessweek.

On the other hand, there are trips that bringing two devices is a bit too heavy; and I have to decide – Kindle or iPad 2 ? For me, sometimes it is Kindle (when I have a book to finish …) and sometimes it is the iPad 2 (say, when there is a new issue of Businessweek to read). So when there is only the iPad 2 with me, and I want to read a few chapters of an eBook, I need to use Kindle for iPad apps. And to make this “reading experience” a more pleasant one, I applied the following settings to the application …

Pick the right books

All your purchased ebooks are stored in the Amazon archive, you can transfer all the books from the archive to your iPad but my recommendations is to only transfer the ebook(s) you are reading to your iPad, that save space in your iPad and also the synchronization time every time you start up the application.

Change the settings

From the lower left corner of the home page, click the “info” icon to start up the Settings menu. There are only three options but I highly recommend to turn on the “Basic reading mode”. It means it will not use the page turning effect when you touch the left / right hand side margin, but just sliding the pages.

Download the dictionary

By installing the Kindle for iPad application, the dictionary is not downloaded (it is however come as a standard in Kindle). All you need to do is to “touch” any one word from any eBook, and hold it for a while, then a dialogue will be popped up and ask you to confirm to download the dictionary.

Change the view options

It’s probably the most important part of this mini survival guide. One of the key problems to use iPad as eBook reader is the fact your eyes will get tired easily just by viewing the beautiful screen continuously, so we need to tune the screen to make it pleasant to look at.

In any page of your eBook, touch screen, and select “Aa” in the bottom menu to start up the View Options menu. What I did is changed all the four options – set the right character size and brightness that fit your reading environment. Set the background to black color, and lastly set it to single column reading (it’s better than two columns when you use your iPad 2 sideways, since you’re probably using the Smart Cover).

Hope the above helps a bit to your reading with Kindle for iPad. Enjoy !

Why is it not US$ 99 ?

About 10 days ago, Amazon announced a new version of Kindle 3 – the same look, the same specification but US$ 25 cheaper (i.e. the new low price is US$ 114). But there is one catch – you can buy one at this low price as long as you allow Amazon to place “Special Offers” (read “Ad”) on to your Kindle.

When I scanned this news, several questions popped up in my mind …

  1. How this going to work ? If I bought this Kindle and never turn on the WiFi / 3G, how can they download the “Special offers” to my eReader ? So is it mean I can enjoy a new device with low low price without any Ads ?
  2. When will the price slashing stop ? I bought my Kindle 2 over US$ 300 two years ago and now you can get a brand new Kindle 3 for one third of the price.
  3. Why is it not US$ 99 ? I mean the psychological barrier is US$ 100, so why not another 15 dollars cut ? My view is there may be another wave of price cut in near future (say, after summer holiday).
  4. When will the next Kindle (if there is one) be announced ? The current pricing strategy makes me think that a new model will arrive very soon – may be one with color screen ?

I have no good answers … but looks like at this price point, every book lover shall get one.

Close encounters of the third kind

According to the Hynek’s scale, first encounter is an event about sighting one or more unidentified flying objects (UFOs). And in my case, I encountered an unidentified computing objects (UCOs, i.e. computers) 30 years ago and it’s unidentified because those computers are housed in a large room, behind a thick wall and we could use it only through an “operator window” and with a deck of punch-cards.

Then for the second encounter – it’s an observation of UFOs, associated with physical effects like heat, interference with TV / radio reception and lost time. So obviously, my second encounter of computers were the desktop (in mid 1980s) and laptop computers (early 1990s). I could feel the heats, noises generated from the computers and of course I lost thousands of hours with these devices.

Fast forward to year 2011, third encounter is about some “intelligent communication” with “extraterrestrials” and “aliens”. I guess it is pretty clear, the smartphones, eBook readers and tablet computers are aliens to many and those all require intelligent communications if one wants to master one of these.

So, what’s the latest aliens ? It’s the iPad 2 … thinner, lighter, faster, last longer than the original iPad, and it even come in white color. But how is it compare to Kindle as a reading device ? In my view, iPad 2 is the best all-purpose tablet device in the market. It is so good that you will spend all the time (i.e. lost more hours) with the wonderful apps from the iTunes store, and therefore … you won’t spend quality time at all to READ.

So … for book reading, go for Kindle, no matter you like to read it under bright sun or not.

Kindle vs iPad 2