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William Gilson has commented on (4) products.

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution

William Gilson, January 16, 2015

Folks, this review will be a little different. I gave this book a try, even made it to the third disc, and couldn’t get into it. A lot of the historical references and technical talk were unfamiliar to me (I’m a biologist, not a computer scientist), so the significance of much of the book was lost on me. However, My Main Man (M3) is a computer scientist and was totally caught up in this book. He kindly wrote the following review for my blog.

M3 here with a review of The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.

Walter Isaacson has put together a compelling story of the people responsible for creating computers and the internet. He starts early with Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage in the mid-1800s and takes the reader on a biographical tour that includes Alan Turing, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and, of course, Al Gore. But Isaacson explains throughout that it’s not only these visionaries and geniuses we should thank for the digital revolution. Rather it was collaboration and team work that allowed for the big leaps, or more often, grinding progress that brought forth the computer age. Isaacson also shows how important the different “ecosystems”, as he calls them, were for innovation. Places like Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, Stanford University, and Silicon Valley along with the venture capitalists that kept things moving when big companies weren’t willing to take risks on early technology, were key as well.

20 minutes in, I was hooked. I have a Computer Science degree and had heard of many of the players Isaacson covered during my studies, but his book really brought them to life. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who works in a computer related field or is a technology entrepreneur, or who simply wants to learn just how wacky Gates, Jobs, and the rest were before they got famous. While lots of concepts and tech were covered by Isaacson, I think it will be accessible for the non-Geek too.

Why I read this book: Road trip with Nrlymrtl and she threw the audio book in the CD player. Just about every time we travel she’ll play an audio book that I probably wouldn’t have chosen otherwise and this one turned out to be a winner, for me at least.

Narration: Dennis Boutsikaris narrates the majority of the book and keeps things interesting by doing great impersonations of the various hackers, geniuses and geeks when reading their quotes. Unlike most non-fiction audiobooks I’ve listened to, The Innovators was far from boring. Boutsikaris’s vocal skill and Isaacson’s pace made it more fun for me than a serial biography about computer nerds probably ought to have been.

What I Liked: Learning about the personalities involved ��" most of these innovators were very colorful characters and the author did a great job making them real to me.

What I Disliked: Since several different innovators and teams were working on the same thing but at different ecosystems, some of the latter chapters started to feel repetitive ��" though it was interesting to see how different factors allowed one person or team to get ahead.
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Fragment by Warren Fahy

William Gilson, November 27, 2013

If you have a bend towards biology and odd life forms, this book was an action feast of what isolated evolution might produce over a few million years. I absolutely loved the flora and fauna the author came up with. The deadly and weird collided with pincers and shells and toxins on Hender’s Ilse. Watching the fragile humans discover this niche of life, and fall prey to it, was immensely entertaining.

The sub plot of the reality TV show threading through the story was also interesting. You have folks who are merely interesting in ratings and staying employed in the entertainment business. These folks often collided with the scientists, leading to various publicity stunts that didn’t end as planned *cue evil laughter from this reader*.

While a little odd, Warren Fahy brought in some characters later in the book, such as the dueling scientists Jeffery Benswanger (careful & precise) and Thatcher Redman (loose & seeking sound bites). Each of these men has a different take on what little has been broadcast by Sea Life concerning Hender’s Ilse and both are in for surprises. I enjoyed the conflict between these two, which added to the overall tension.

While I found Nell a strong, thoughtful, intelligent main female character, I also found her too nice. Yes, that’s right: too nice. She didn’t have a negative thought in her head. All the other characters found her nice too. This tended to make her a bit one dimensional. Never once was I concerned she wouldn’t make it out alive �" because she was the only lead female and because she was simply too nice to kill off.
Towards the end, there was a twist that I wasn’t expecting. It was excellent and definitely upped the stakes for our heroes. There was one little aspect that I found unbelievable concerning the weakness of the island critters, but I was easily able to tell my logic center to shut and enjoy the ride.
This book is full of fascinating factoids, most of them concerning marine life. There was a little jaunt into a lab that was collecting blood from horseshoe crabs for medical research. There was also plenty of theoretical discussion about marine evolution. Yes, this book not only satisfied my Action Junkie, but also my Science Nerd.
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Greatshadow: The Dragon Apocalypse
Greatshadow: The Dragon Apocalypse

William Gilson, November 11, 2012

This book is in the top 10 of my favorite new reads of the year. I know, I’m being blunt. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I was chewing through 50-100 pages a night and only put it down when I was too fatigued to read any more. This book turned me into a little kid �" I didn’t want to sleep, or do the dishes, or get dressed. I simply wanted to read this book. Infidel is a kick-ass 30 year-old woman who is the true heroine of this tale. She is fascinating, flawed, and trying to do the right thing after loosing her best friend of many years. Trust me. This books kicks ass and will have you calling in sick to work and family engagements.
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Command #08: Henry V: The Background, Strategies, Tactics and Battlefield Experiences of the Greatest Commanders of History by Marcus Cowper
Command #08: Henry V: The Background, Strategies, Tactics and Battlefield Experiences of the Greatest Commanders of History

William Gilson, November 4, 2012

This was a very informative read and it fed my brain well. Marcus Cowper tells the life of Henry simply, lays out the politics of the time in a straight-forward manner, and covers the big events in an unbiased way.
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