Summer reads for 2015

What began as a simple urge to read the hyped up sci-fi novel by Andy Weir called The Martian before the movie would hit the local theaters, ended up becoming the start of taking reading itself to another level. Almost like meditation, reading makes one disregard everything that’s going on in one’s head and just focus on the story at hand. That realization made me incorporate reading a part of my daily habits. Continue reading

The Martian

I few days ago, I wrote about me starting to read The Martian, the hyped sci-fi novel by Andy Weir. Since opening up the Kindle app on my iPad, I have had a hard time putting the book down, and this is probably the fastest I have ever finished a novel of this size. The story is in its nutshell quite simple and straight-forward and here is the Goodreads summary: Continue reading

How to cancel your subscription

I recently got the offer to try out Audible. They have a huge library with audiobooks of all kinds with great quality and an enjoyable experience. That is until you want to cancel your account.

At the beginning, there is in fact a cancel link available, which of course makes users feel at ease with the service. After a while however, the link disappears and cancelling the account becomes practically impossible without spending an enormous amount of time on the phone talking to the customer support. I did email the customer support about this a while ago, but still haven’t received a response.

I really liked their audiobook service but after pulling this stunt, I just can’t stick around anymore until they remove this redicilous “feature”.

So, you might ask: Is there an easy way to cancel my account? Yes, there is! Just make sure that you are logged in to your Audible account and then click the following link, answer some questions, and presto!

Cancel Audible account

Book Review: Getting Things Done by David Allen

getting-things-doneI have discussed Getting Things Done, or “GTD” here for a long time, but I have never actually read the famous book Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. I recently decided to read it (or actually listen to it), and I’m glad I did.

While I have embraced principles from GTD before, like having an empty inbox, but reading the book really makes everything come together and make sense. Even though many online resources talk about the GTD framework and process, they mostly touch on specific areas, and not the whole perspective. This book ties everything together to bring some sense into the hundreds of GTD tips floating around, for which even I am to blame.

The most important lesson in the book for me was to ask myself one single question on every action item added into the system:

What is the next action?

Such a simple question can have a tremendous impact on productivity and actually finishing tasks and projects. How many times have your not come out of a long meeting discussing action plans and strategies, just to realize that you haven’t really discussed how to proceed further in the project? By asking the simple question, the direction in a meeting can change and lead to you actually knowing what to do after a meeting!

There are of course lots of other lessons to be learned in the book, but I will leave those for you to find out by yourself! The ultimate goal of the book however, is to provide you with the principles and a framework for managing your entire life, not just your work. This will in most cases lead to a stree-free life, both personally and professionally.

The book is well thought out, both contents and structure wise. David Allen speaks with authority, while still maintaining the casual dialogue style (I listened to the audio book), which makes the content even more credible. If that isn’t enough, David has over 25 years of experience from managing tasks and coaching CEOs of large companies.

The only downside for me personally is that David speaks a lot of the analog world for managing tasks, like file cabinets for instance. Even though many people probably still use these kind of things for physical media, many people particularly in my line of work keep everything on the computer. Even though it was tempting to skip these parts, they all made sense in a way, and it of course makes the book available and relevant to even more people.

This is a perfect read for everyone, so grab it in your preferred media and enjoy!

Rating: 5/5

Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

predictably_irrationalAfter listening to This Week In Tech earlier, they spoke about a book called Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely. It is a very interesting book on human behaviour, which is very hard to put down once you start reading it. I decided to pick it up.

The book discusses the irrational behaviour that people express when faced with certain decisions or statements. The key part is “predictable”, since the subjects in his experiments exert the same predictable results each time a theory is tested.

My goal, by the end of this book, is to help you fundamentally rethink what makes you and the people around you tick. I hope to lead you there by presenting a wide range of scientific experiments, findings, and anecdotes that are in many cases quite amusing. Once you see how systematic certain mistakes are–how we repeat them again and again–I think you will begin to learn how to avoid some of them.

For instance, imagine that you were to buy a new TV for a certain price. At the store you see the future Mrs TV, but next to it is another similar TV. The other TV is possibly not quite as good, but it comes with a FREE DVD player. Most people would in this case choose the other TV, since it seems that you are getting the DVD player for FREE. So, does free cost? For an analysis of this and other phenomena, pick this book up and decide for yourself.

The contents of the book is as follows:

  • Introduction: How an Injury Led Me to Irrationality
  • Chapter 1: The Truth about Relativity
  • Chapter 2: The Fallacy of Supply and Demand
  • Chapter 3: The Cost of Zero
  • Chapter 4: The Cost of Social Norms
  • Chapter 5: The Influence of Arousal
  • Chapter 6: The Problem of Procrastination and Self- Control
  • Chapter 7: The High Price of Ownership

After reading the book, thinking about the results of Ariely’s experiments, it is not hard to draw the conclusion that hidden forces exist in our market place to force us to make our buying habits predictable decisions. The theory does however not stop there, but can be applied to most aspects of life that from a first glance may seem like rational decisions are being made.

Rating: 5/5

iPhone app: Stanza

The time has come for an e-book reader to find its way to my iPhone. It’s called Stanza and has a built-in online library which contains lots of free books and magazines.

The main library can be sorted by titles, authors and subjects. It also remembers the latest opened books. When viewing a book list, they are shown in a list with the book cover.

The coolest feature with Stanza is the ability to directly download thousands of books from free online libraries. The libraries can be sorted in different ways and of course searched as well. The easiest way to find something interesting to read is perhaps the Most popular section which shows lots of well-known titles.

There is also an online section for news papers. It contains popular magazines such as Wired, the Wall Street Journal and Time Magazine. Using Stanza for reading news seems somewhat strange, since all articles are formatted like a traditional news paper, which makes it difficult to navigate around the contents properly.

So how about the most important view — to actually read the downloaded books? I found that the default view of black text on white background was too bright and uncomfortable for the eyes. After some tweaking, I found that black text on light gray was just the thing.

I read the book When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth by Cory Doctorow, and it was surprisingly easy to read on the small iPhone screen, as long as it is tilted to the side. Now there is no excuse at all to not be reading at least one book a month!

Oh, and Stanza a free download from the App Store.