Reviews written on books by other authors (mostly Science Fiction)

The Confidence Factor by Stephen Covey Jr.

My dear ex-boss, Antonio González-Barros, has sent me a new fragment of a book written by Stephen Covey Jr. of those thought-provoking and compelling to start the week with good intentions and desire to improve oneself.

The book's title is "The Trust Factor"And the fragment to reflect is as follows:

Most tend to think of trust in terms of character: be a good or sincere person, or have ethics and integrity. And the character is totally basic and essential; but as I noted in the previous chapter, think that confidence is based solely on the character is a myth.

Confidence depends on two things: character and competence. The character includes the integrity, motives, intentions with people. The competition comprises the capabilities, skills, performance and trajectory. And both are essential.

(…………………)

Imagine yourself in court. He has been subpoenaed to testify as an expert witness and attorney for the prosecution is trying to convince the jury that you are a credible witness. What you will try to prove?

First, you are a whole person: that is honest and consistent, which has a reputation for telling the truth and not lie.

Second, it has good intentions, that is not trying to deceive or protect anyone who lacks motivation or hidden agendas that could influence their testimony.

Third, it has excellent references and who really has the expertise, knowledge, technology and capacity in the area that has been called to testify.

And, fourthly, it has maintained a good track record, which has proven its capabilities effectively in other situations in the past, you get results and there is reason to believe they will do so.

I hope you will be useful to you too and help you to start the week thinking about trust, how to transmit and how to recognize it.

A big hug.

Love and understanding are the foundations of leadership

Every Monday, my ex - boss Antonio González Barros sent through a mailing list, a small fragment of a book that has especially liked. I am fortunate and privileged to be one of the people receiving your emails, so that every Monday, beginning the week with inspiration and renewed energy.

This week, Antonio has sent us a paragraph of a recent book from Álvaro González - Alorda "The Talking Manager" (www.thetalkingmanager.com), Which talks about leadership and how to positively influence the lives of your employees. In this small excerpt of the book explains a story that has particularly struck me and I thought it worth sharing in this blog.

Here is the paragraph, hope you enjoy it and find it useful:

For months I had the opportunity to listen to Brian Bacon, founder of the Oxford Leadership Academy, a seminar closely with Professor Luis Huete of IESE. At the end of the day, Brian Bacon told the following story:

A few years ago, I participated in a conference in San Francisco. I was a lecturer second in a big event in which characters speak giants like Peter Drucker, Peter Senge and Michael Hammer: the Who’s Who of leadership and organizational change. In fact, I was rather in the category Who’s He?…

The conference was held around the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. For two days, the speakers had made a display of scientific wisdom on how to lead organizations. He spoke from the reengineering of human resources to the changing structures, through the best key leadership. Attendees had paid $ 5,000 to spend two days there, listening to great figures.

At the end of these conferences, the organizers tend to distribute a questionnaire to assess the impact of speakers and their messages. To everyone's surprise, the Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whom managed to convince to participate in the event- it was the first in the rankingAnd away from the second. Interestingly, it was not part of the panel of speakers, but had been invited to give a little message at the end. In fact, he did not speak more than thirty seconds. He took the podium, stood for a moment in silence, and with a very soft voice, said:

'So you want to change people. But do you know your people? And did you want? Because if you do not know people, no understanding, and if there is no understanding, no confidence, and if there is no trust, no change.

"And you want your people? If there is no love in what you do, no passion, and if there is no passion, you will not be prepared to take risks, and if you are not prepared to take risks, nothing will change.

"So, if you want your people change, I think: Do I know my people ?, and I want my people?

The message of Mother Teresa had been suspended in the auditorium and you could tell he was hit. As strong as when someone hears the truth.

This story of Brian Bacon brings me to the following conclusion: to make a person change, the most promising avenue is to inspire, after having accepted as it is. And you're inspiring when others see in you not only professional skills, but also some personal qualities worthy of imitation. When there is consistency between what you think and what you say and also between what you say and what you do. In short, when you transmit authenticity, a quality that conquest with many small efforts and often requires swimming against the current.

I hope you will also be inspiring.
You have a good day.
A big hug.

Montse.

Review of "THE CODEX SECRET" by Lev Grossman, Byblos - Ediciones B

El códice secretoI have outstanding writing large numbers of reviews, so I'll take these holidays to catch up. Today's is on a technological thriller set in a world of video game programmers [a little strange :-)] and librarians [also a little strange :-)].

El argumento del libro nos sitúa en la piel de Edwuard Wonzy, un joven banquero de New York que acaba de aceptar un traslado a Londres, pero al que antes de su partida, la empresa para la que trabaja le encarga a nivel personal, ordenar y categorizar una biblioteca particular. (Aquí casi estuve a punto de dejar el libro: ¿un banquero haciendo de bibliotecario por encargo de su empresa? No tiene ni pies ni cabeza… luego acabas entendiendo que esto ya forma parte de una “conspiración”… pero confieso que como el libro lo había comprado en un supermercado [lo compré en verano y en las librerías de la población en la que me encontraba no había Ciencia Ficción] tenía prejuicios hacia el posible argumento y hacia la calidad del libro).

Total, which results in one of the books to be cataloged there is a esteganograma (mensaje cifrado de tal modo que a su vez, oculta la existencia de otro menaje cifrado, este mucho más fácil de descifrar [en principio]). El origen de este mensaje lo encontramos en un escritor de la edad media con una vida anodina. El descubrimiento del mensaje y su posible publicación podría afectar a la reputación de poderosas familias de origen noble inglés, así que mucha gente está en contra de que esto ocurra. Encontrar el libro y descifrar el mensaje llevará a nuestro protagonista a interactuar con programadores de videojuegos y con bibliotecarios expertos, cada uno de ellos descritos con profusión y mostrando sus rarezas para hacerlos más interesantes a nivel de creación de identidad de personaje.

The truth is that as when I started reading the book I was expecting the worst, did not disappoint the fact that the book itself is loose and "light" (in the sense that it suggests not raise any question of that interests me) but can be read and does its job as reading weekend escape. In addition, the author was pleasantly surprised when describing the den where the programmer who has to interact lived, indicates that "The walls were papered with posters of diagram Mandelbrot reproduced in psychedelic colors". Yes sir! A good freaky anchored in the 80 should have a diagram Mandelbrot hanging on your wall. Good description.

MandelbrotI have none, but I confess that fractals have always fascinated me. In fact, my passion for programming started when I discovered at age 13, when in an equation that I taught school in replacing the variable by a random number (random), obtenía preciosos dibujos en la pantalla de mi ZX-Spectrum. En mi cabeza, las mates dejaron de ser algo abstracto para ser algo visual y bonito (…ingenua de mí). Cuando llegué a la universidad y me tocó estudiar conceptos como Ker, núcleo, Rank… en funciones algebraicas… por desgracia, me volvieron a poner en mi lugar y nunca me recuperé :-).

But back to the diagram Mandelbrot (he is the one I show in the attached picture), precisely Benoit Mandelbrot, the mathematician creator of theories of fractal geometry, died this past October 10, 2010 and some media echoed this and explained some of their work. Through this review I also wanted to pay a tribute.

Here is the link to its listing on Wikipedia if anyone wants more information: Benoit Mandelbrot

Here is a 17-minute lecture by Mandelbrot himself in early 2010 (is interesting): TED – Mandelbrot

To see beautiful fractal images created from the geometry of Mandelbrot studies, follow this link to Google Images: Mandelbrot images

Review of "Daemon" by Daniel Suarez, ED. Umbriel

Daemon

That book so interesting, entertaining and fun! Especially if you are a regular player of massively multiplayer role games, also called the MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role for-Playing Game).

I know I have a large number of reviews for writing (these last months I have not had time to do it), but rather than start where I left off, today I will write the review of the last book I've read: Daemon.

The argument of the book puts us at the present time in which virtually technology controls everything from the sprinklers from our garden, even the most sophisticated security systems, to planes and cars in which we move normally.

Our protagonist is a legendary computer game designer who has just died MMORPG and that before this happens has created a Daemon, a computer program that runs in the background and performs the tasks for which it has been programmed. Our DAEMON has been created in the image and likeness of the protagonist and threatens to destroy the world as we know it.

The story narrates the different adventures co-stars (a couple of hackers working on different sides, a policeman and an FBI agent) to interact with the DAEMON to help in the case of some, or to destroy it in the case of others.

The book is really interesting, not so much as to warn the general public of our dependence on technology (those who live on the network, we are already aware of it), if not because it shows that the book's author is himself addicted to MMORPG games, which undoubtedly causes empathize with him and you read the book with redoubled pleasure.

For those we are accustomed to MMORPGs (can anyone read a blog does not have never played WOW ???) indicate that they are a type of RPG that is played online and which interacts with both the player avatars of flesh and blood, as with NPC (non-player characters) created by the same game. The re-created worlds usually great, but there are also games that recreate famous World War II, as well as pure science fiction scenarios.

This summer, for example, I'm playing with my children to AION un MMORPG fantástico (en ambos sentidos), y juntos vamos descubriendo los mundos de East Lumiel y vamos realizando misiones. Bueno… lo de “juntos” es un decir, porque ellos dedican más horas que yo al juego y mientras que yo soy una guerrera de nivel 18, mi hija de 12 años es una paladina de nivel 25, mi hijo de 20 años es un scout de nivel 32 y mi hija de 18 años es una maga de nivel 45… Pero es divertido, y pasamos buenos ratos jugando juntos. Además, no tiene precio que tu hija pequeña, que en el mundo virtual es mucho más fuerte que tú, te ayude a matar arañas en un bosque encantado.

MMORPGs really are at the top of the game and its popularity is beginning to be important. This year, without going any further, we have seen in television ads World of Warcraft (WOW), something unthinkable until recently. And as a curiosity and shows their growing popularity, I've had this year a Russian student of Master Online in Marketing and Distribution Channels and as a final project master has conducted research on business models MMORPG specifically WOW.MMORPG

The chart included along these lines is precisely your project and shows the evolution in number of subscribers to some of these games. (The source is MMOGChart)

But back to the book, some of the games scheduled for the protagonist of DAEMON are "The door" Y "Across the Rhine". The first is fantastic and the second dedicated to World War II. In fact, one of the first meetings between the DAEMON and one of the protagonists hackers is the scene of the Battle of Montecassino (abbey taken by the Germans in 1944 and Allied troops decided to release on several occasions without success until the 4th time and cost more than 70,000 lives on both sides).

Some of the most interesting scenes from the book go precisely in "Across the Rhine" and it is through this game that the DAEMON has been recruiting acolytes and turning programmer in a God (not keep explaining why spoil the suspense of the book ).

About Daniel Suarez, author, indicate independent consultant working with computer systems and that this is his first novel. Apparently, Dreamworks has bought the rights to turn it into a movie. I'm happy for him!

Anyway ... a book 100% recommended, especially if you move in technological worlds. So if you still have vacation days, do not miss it, go to your bookstore and buy it !!!

Review of "PUPPET MASTERS" by Robert A. Heilen - The Factory

Amos de Títeres, Robert HeilenGenerally, books Heal I like, despite its moral and its fascism (which came not sure if it is fake and therefore caricatured, or is real ... but hey, the books are well and have rhythm), but this time, with "Puppet Masters"I have been unable to finish the book (and this rarely happens to me).

This book is written in 51 and the passage of time note:

  • It is sexist to abusive ends.
  • The future in which history passes (more or less our present) is completely outdated and shabby (not shabby to steam punk, this would be fun ... tatty tatty really).
  • The story goes aliens coming from Titan and occupying human bodies to go invading Earth (it is most normalillo for the time, we could say that "a classic" ... but it is an argument that is already very tired ... and above we know that there is nothing on Titan).
  • In the book nothing happens noteworthy and characters are not credible.

Anyway ... maybe in 1951 it was interesting (won four Hugo awards and 3 Locus), but now not even worth buying it nor read it.

(... And by the way, who designed the book cover [which is the only thing that saved] I'm sure you did not read it, it has nothing to do with the story)

Review of "The next 30 years" by Alvaro Gonzalez-Alorda - Encourages Ed.

This is not a book of science fiction I write the review from time to time. This is a reference book that makes you think and whose reading is essential is.

As some of the essential other non-fiction books I've read lately, "the next 30 years" I was recommended by my former boss Antonio González Barros. The little blurb that made Antonio to recommend is priceless:

(...) An excellent and highly recommended book by a good friend, Alvaro Gonzalez Alorda. I consider it one of the 10 books that have contributed most to me. I think taking time to reflect on several of his short chapters. It is a concrete, clear, practical and extremely pleasant on how to approach our careers manual. And a book that has a carefully own web useful is: www.losproximos30.com with well-selected links and soundtrack. I enclose a literal fragment of the first chapter. "

It is true what he says Antonio, the book lends itself to after reading each of its chapters, even for a moment and reflections. The book makes you question the type of professional you are, the type of work you do, where and endless want to get more questions we should all ask ourselves throughout our career.

The book is narrated in a pleasant and can be read both on paper and through the website created by the author.

Por lo que a mí respecta, ha sido realmente inspirador. Tan inspirador, que voy a crear una nueva categoría en este blog: a partir de una de las ideas del autor, voy a crear una zona llamada “YouTube University”. Alvaro González-Alorda indica en su libro que más pronto que tarde, Google o algún emprendedor acabará por lanzar la “YoutTube Business School”, una escuela de negocios online que recopilará el mejor conocimiento y los vídeos de las mejores clases impartidas por los profesores más brillantes de todo el mundo, ordenándolas siguiendo el programa de un MBA. Yo no atrevo a tanto… de momento me conformo con crear una nueva sección en la que iré colgando todos los vídeos que vaya encontrando en Youtube y que sean dignos de una asignatura universitaria de Marketing Digital, que es mi especialidad, aunque para que luego no parezca que a veces me contradigo, me reservo el derecho de incluir otros, si lo considero necesario.

But back to the book is 100% recommended for anyone going to be active, professionally speaking, the next 30 years.

Review of "ZOE'S STORY" by John Scalzi - Ed. Minotaur (Science Fiction)

La Historia de Zöe - John ScalziThis is a book that is part of a series of three books ( "The Old Guard", "The Brigades Ghost" and "The Lost Colony"), but can be read separately, which is what I did because not he knew none of the above three.

John Scalzi It tells the same story that explained in "The Lost Colony", but from the point of view of zoe, the adopted daughter of John and Jane Perry, the protagonists of the earlier novels.

Como no he leído las anteriores, no puedo dar indicaciones sobre si el contenido es muy repetitivo o no, o sobre si este nuevo punto de vista aporta algo nuevo a la narración. Mi opinión se basa únicamente en la lectura de éste último libro y lo cierto es que aunque no plantea grandes cuestiones, está bien narrado.

El argumento es más o menos el siguiente: Zöe es una niña que vive tranquilamente con sus padres (militares ya retirados) en un planeta llamado Huckleberry. Con ellos también viven dos extraterrestres de una raza llamada “obin”, que actúan de guarda espaldas de Zöe, y que a lo largo del libro vamos descubriendo porqué son sus guardaespaldas y porqué son tan raros (esta parte es bastante interesante).

Family tranquility ZOE is interrupted when his parents are selected to lead the colonization of a new planet on the border of the human colonies. As expected, colonization has just turned into an adventure in which besides saving the planet, must also save all mankind.

Thus summarized, the argument does not seem nothing unusual in this type of book, but as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, the book is well narrated, so it has rhythm and hooks. He was a finalist in 2009 Hugo Award.

Recommended for weekend reading without further claim that distracted a good time.

Review of "The Seven MARGARETS" Sheri S. Tepper of - Nova Ed B

Las 7 Margarets - TepperI love Sheri Tepper and how to write. This book is no exception. I imagine that much of the blame that I like so much, is that it is feminist science fiction, and it is not very common: in his books the protagonists of Tepper, in addition to fighting enemies of any race or planet, must also fight their own societies.

In Seven Margarets Furthermore, the author is able to surprise with an original, cool, interesting, well-crafted and developed a narrative that engages from the first page script.

The argument is as follows: the story begins on Phobos (satellite Martian partner Deimos) in a small community of scientists on living our protagonist, a girl who is bored both adults six imaginary companions invents from six traits of his personality.

Por razones que no descubrimos hasta el final del libro, 6 veces durante la vida de la niña, algunos de sus personajes ficticios se separan de su plano de la realidad, para crear otra realidad que se sobrepone a la original y que convive con ella. Es decir, en 6 tomas de decisiones que son cruciales para su vida, a la vez, la protagonista toma una decisión y su contraria, desdoblándose, sin ella saberlo y viviendo vidas paralelas, que por razones relativistas relacionadas con los viajes espaciales, también acaban convertidas en tiempos diferentes.

The universe in which all this happened to find an Earth on the verge of being wiped out by alien races that do not consider us rational, a land with much of ecosystems destroyed and whose only exportable good is the people themselves, who dies of hunger and thirst , and it is sold by the rulers of the planet in exchange for drinking water, slave contracts of 30 years. We also found other alien races who want to give us a chance and help humans spread throughout the galaxy to survive in hostile worlds and societies.

Seven Margarets are 7 personalities of the girl with which the story begins, they end up living different lives, according to the luck and the decisions they have taken, and end up converging in original and unexpected end.

Cuando terminas el libro y pasan los días, sigues pensando en la protagonista, en sus vidas y en la cantidad de veces que tú misma has tomado decisiones que te han cambiado la vida… sin ir más lejos, yo tenía que haber estudiado Telecos en La Salle, tenía que haber construido naves espaciales y ahora mismo, tenía que estar en Marte colonizando el planeta (estos eran mis planes de futuro a los 18 años [no es broma, es sólo que mi yo actual, el que conocéis, decidió en el último minuto estudiar Económicas en la UAB y empezar a trabajar en un Banco])… espero que en alguna otra realidad, una Montserrat esté instalando potabilizadoras de agua y generadores de gases de efecto invernadero para crear una atmósfera en Marte. Desde aquí le mando un saludo! ;-)

In short, a book 100% recommended to escape during during the hours-long reading, and to reflect on oneself, a few days later.

Review of "The Prefect" by Alastair Reynolds - The Factory

the Prefect

This novel is science fiction considered "hard" and is part of the saga Revelation space by the same author. Tells a detective story based in Society Bright ring, Although it can be read independently.

As in the other books, the universe of Bright Ring is well established and is consistent. In it we find characters and races of the most curious. One of these races, which I think was introduced in the book "Chasm city"Is that of the hipercerdos: Genetically modified pigs to serve to spare human organs but have evolved and end are classified as a race apart and considered full-fledged citizens. In "The Prefect" we have a hipercerdo that performs the functions of assistant protagonist. As in his other books also have machines that are almost human (the "Ulta"), And machines that are almost human.

The Glitter Band consists of a set of human habitats living in a kind of federation, but in which each habitat has its own rules and create their own types of society. So Reynolds recreates explaining different types of cultures and social organizations. If we add that Alastair Reynolds studied Physics and Astronomy, and worked as an astrophysicist at the ESA (European Space Agency), the book becomes something really interesting and worth reading.

Review of "2012" by Brian D'Amato - Ed Via Magna

2012 de Brian DamatoI confess I read this book as a result of seeing the eponymous film, and I did on the recommendation of my brother, with the promise that the book is the part that you forget the film: the Mayan legend about the date of the end of the world, and with the promise that was not Science Fiction and Historical Novel (I have nothing against the historical novel, but I prefer to read science fiction I always possible).

Según narra el libro, los mayas predijeron que el 21 de diciembre de 2012 el tiempo se detendrá y no habrá futuro para la humanidad. El libro nos explica la historia de ésta leyenda, pero lo hace de una forma original aunque poco ortodoxa: con un viaje en el tiempo a través de un agujero de gusano de tamaño atómico.

El protagonista de la historia es un descendiente de los mayas con una mente prodigiosa y adicto a los videojuegos y a los juegos de estrategia en general. Entre estos juegos se incluye un juego maya que se utiliza para predecir el futuro y que corrobora la fecha del fin del mundo citada en las leyendas. La misión del protagonista será averiguar por qué los mayas predijeron el fin del mundo para esa fecha y descubrir si hay algo para evitarlo.

Para descubrir más sobre la fecha en cuestión, la mente del protagonista es enviada al pasado a través de un agujero de gusano de tamaño atómico, que ha sido desarrollado por científicos de una empresa privada que parece tener más poder que el propio gobierno de los Estados Unidos. Pero sin saber por qué, la mente acaba en el cuerpo de varios mayas y no lo hace de forma optima. El protagonista (ya en el pasado) tendrá que lidiar con este handicap e intentar por todos los medios dejar un mensaje con claves para desvelar el misterio, para su yo de 2012.

Overall the book is well, although at times I think it has pages that are only there to reach the 733 pages because they contribute nothing and are completely dispensable.

A half a book you realize that really the book and the film have nothing to do. Nothing at all. In fact the original title is "In the Courts of the Sun" (but this did not know before buying). And when you discover this, you realize that you have been the victim of a marketing campaign publisher, has taken the film to rename the book and sell more books.

Nevertheless, the biggest disappointment appears on the back pages ... when you discover that the book is only a first part of a trilogy ... 733 pages for an introduction ...

Anyway ... not yet clear to me that I will read the following two parts when published. Still, the book is well narrated, he has pace and explains quite well how were the Mayan cities and culture. The author seems well documented.

The attached video is the promotion of the book.