ACM

I’ve been playing around today with the online book access I can get through ACM. You can get access to about 500 books from Safari and 400 from Books 24×7. Mind you, there are thousands of books on the main Safari site, and thousands more on the main Books 24×7 site. A regular Safari subscription is $20 per month, and Books 24×7 is about $450 per year, so both those options are a bit expensive. There are some useful titles among the limited library of books available through ACM, but not too many recent ones. For instance, there’s a good bit of stuff on .Net 1.1, but very little on .Net 2.0. I don’t think I could just stop buying computer books, based on the selection available through ACM, but there is some good reference stuff there. There’s also not much you can do in the way of printing from either service, within the ACM section. Still, I’m going to try to keep this stuff in mind before running out and buying any more computer books, and I’m going to try to remember to seach these services the next time I’m trying to solve a programming problem.

Code Complete

I bought Steve McConnell’s Code Complete about 10 years ago. I never quite finished reading it, but I dusted it off at some point last year, and I’ve been reading a chapter every once in a while, when I get the chance. I just finished chapter 18, on code layout. Most of the stuff he’s writing about is stuff I know from experience at this stage in my career, but it’s still worthwhile to reinforce good habits occasionally. And, sometimes, he points out something that hadn’t occured to me, or brings up something I’m not familiar with. There’s a second edition out now that’s probably worth getting, but I think I’ll just try and finish the first edition before I worry about that.

Girl Detective

While googling for reviews of Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier series, I stumbled upon Girl Detective, a fairly interesting blog. It’s written by a young woman who does a lot of reading and, apparently, a fair amount of cooking. I noticed her making a number of mentions of a 50 book challenge. This is a pretty interesting concept — the idea that you should read 50 books over the course of the year, and blog on all of them. Maybe I’ll try that next year. Thinking over the books I’ve read this year, I don’t think I’ve come close to 50. If you count graphic novels, then maybe.

His Dark Materials

I just finished reading the last book in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy. Just for yuks, I did a Google search on “cheerful instead of surly”, part of a key line at the end of the book. I found a few interesting pages, including this one, along with some odder stuff.

The line, in part, is: “…showing them how to be kind instead of cruel, and patient instead of hasty, and cheerful instead of surly, and above all how to keep their minds open and free and curious.” I particularly like the cheerful/surly part, partially because it’s just a nice turn of phrase, and in part because it’s something I seem to be having trouble with lately.

Microsoft Reader

I’m very frustrated with Microsoft Reader. I wanted to start reading The Subtle Knife, book two of Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, today. My little Pocket PC would not cooperate. First, MS Reader would just give me errors. Uninstalling, reinstalling, reactivating — nothing worked. Eventually, the device wound up getting stuck in such a way that I could not reset it, no way, no how. I’ve got it going again, after flipping the “last-ditch” switch that wipes the memory completely, restoring it to factory defaults. I’ve got it working again, but really I shouldn’t have to spend more than an hour just trying to get to the point where I can read a book. Back to paper, dang it.