2012 in books

Posted by on Dec 28, 2012

2012 must be the year I read more than any other year. The amount of material I had to read for university isn’t coming close for sure.  I thought it would be fun to go through my Amazon/Kindle/Audible/SAP-Press/Bol.com accounts and share some of the most interesting books I came accross this year.

Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

This is the first audiobook I listened to in my car driving between home and work. This book was one of those listens you’d wish the drive would be a bit longer so you could listen some more. Even though I already knew most of the stories on Apple and Steve Jobs, especially on the era until 1998, I got a bunch of new insights and ideas from this great book. I also read Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky, but that is more fanboy stuff providing a little look behind the scenes of Apple Inc.

How an economy grows and why it crashes – Peter Schiff

I read a lot of books on economics and politics this year in an attempt to better understand what the hell is going on exactly with this ongoing world-wide economical disaster we are in. Think about it. How many people really know how our system works, where the money comes from and how things like inflation work? This is a very fun book on how an economy works and at what moment it starts to fail. It tells the story of an island with a small population where one of the islanders developed an advanced fishing device (a net). With the net he could catch more fish than he needed to stay alive and he got time to do other things than fishing. And so an economy was born…

No, They Can’t: Why Government Fails – But Individuals Succeed  – John Stossel

It was a great year for freedom politics. Ron Paul got mainstream attention and the LP even got over 1 million votes in the US Presidential elections! Who would have thought a few years ago. A cool book on big government influence on our (personal) freedom is this one by John Stossel. Stossel debunks a lot of myths with some insights I hadn’t heard before, like for example the one on having a minimum wage, which actually makes people poorer. Interesting stuf!

De kracht van scrum (The power of scrum) – Rini van Solingen

Of course I heard about scrum before and I even participated a bit in a project some years ago that used this methodology. But I still hadn’t seen a completed overview of what scrum really was and how it exactly works. This book is easy, fun and fast to read because it uses a short real life story to explain the steps of the methodology and the new roles for the project team members.

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Posted in: Books

Lifehack: Audiobooks

Posted by on Feb 7, 2012

When the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson was announced I instantly pre-ordered it for my Kindle. I’ve read numerous books on Apple and Steve Jobs before, but none of them were authorized by Jobs. So I was excited to finally get the complete story. But when the book got released in November ’11 I tried to read it, but just couldn’t get into it. The book starts a bit slow, I already knew most of the early stories and maybe most important I just didn’t have the time to read for a while.

That’s when I tried audiobooks. I’ve seen those Harry Potter 20-cd packs at bookstores selling for over €50,- so I never looked further into this medium before. But after a quick web search I found Audible, an online audiobook mp3 store, owned by Amazon. Audible has this neat promo which gives you 2 free audiobooks upon registering without charging your creditcard!

So I downloaded the Steve Jobs book to listen in my car to try this concept. As I drive for over 2 hours each day I already listen a lot to BNR FM Radio (10% news, 10% traffic updates, 40% commercials, 40% boring bs blah), a selection of weekly podcasts and of course Spotify. Now, a few weeks later, the FM radio time has been minimized and mostly been replaced by a range of cool audiobooks.

Listening to somebody telling you a story is easy, takes almost no effort and is very relaxing. While listening you can think about the story instead of being annoyed by radio DJ’s and commercials. This made my daily car rides way more efficient. I recommend you to check this out too. Go to Audible, get the free books and give it a try.

By the way, the Steve Jobs biography was superb! What a great story and I even got some great new insights out of it!

Posted in: Books, Lifehacking

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs
Posted by on Dec 7, 2009

Being an Apple fan/evangelist for almost all my life I experienced numerous introductions of cool new Apple products. Since the return of Steve Jobs to Apple in 1997 he delivered most of these product launches in his famous keynote speech (Stevenote) at MacWorld or WWDC. Anyone who has ever watched one of these events will admit that Jobs’ presentation skills are outstanding. Somehow he is able to deliver a performance that will fascinate you from the first until the last minute.

Now move over to the world of SAP and probably 80% (or more) of the presentations we attend. I watched the Vienna SAP TechEd keynote a few weeks ago through the live video stream. The speed of the presentations was very low and the slides were boring and stuffed with text. After a while people in the audience started to write tweets like:

Keynote #sapteched09 about speed of change? In stead of ppt with figures I like to see real SAP stuff, come on.

OK, we get the business case. Can we move on how attendees can use SAP technology 2 implement the business solution?

Ouch. Not good.

Luckily for us (and the guys at SAP) Carmine Gallo, a BusinessWeek columnist, wrote a great book on how to give a presentation like Steve Jobs. The book is overloaded with concrete examples from keynotes from the past. For example how to keep your slides simple and visual and why you should never, ever, use bullet points in your slides (it is actually the least effective way to deliver information). If Jobs starts talking about the Apple 2009 results, the slide simply says “2009”.

Gallo also shows that Jobs uses tons of short Twitter-like headlines that are easy to remember. At the introduction of the iPod, Jobs could have said something like:

Today we are introducing a new, ultraportable MP3 player with 6.5-ounce design and a 5 GB hard drive, complete with Apple’s legendary ease of use.

Instead he said:

iPod. 1000 songs in your pocket.

Feel the difference?

I found this video of Gallo in which he outlines the key topics of the book while showing some examples from actual Steve Jobs keynotes. You can find more info at Gallo’s BusinessWeek blog, at The Cult of Mac or at Amazon.

Posted in: Books, Featured