Charlie Harvey

May 2011 Reading

  • Alex’s Adventures in Numberland By Alex Bellos

    My pal penguin recommended that I read this one. Its a lovely "pop maths" (if that is even a genre) investigation, taking in everything from the anthropology of number and counting to the history of maths to why the 50p coin is heptagonal. Thoroughly readable and wonderfully entertaining.

    2011-05-29 by Charlie Harvey
  • Hardboiled Web Design By Andy Clarke

    Andy is a bit of a dood. He did the redesign of the New Internationalist website a while back (he mentions it in the book). Hardboiled is a thorough and passionate call to arms for the HTML5 generation. He covers HTML5 and CSS3. There's plenty of case studies and pictures and Andy takes the time to break down how they achieved the effect (sometimes its lovely not to have to wade through all the code yourself). I’m often disconcerted when books try and have a theme (like "hardboiled") but Andy does it with such humour and panache that it becomes rather enjoyable. I can wholeheartedly recommend it.

    2011-05-24 by Charlie Harvey
  • Hackers and Painters by Paul Graham

    I found this a challenging read. Some of what Graham says is interestingly perceptive. But he tends to wrap things up in massive oversimplifications, especially in the realm of economic theory. Wealth may be "stuff that people want", but Graham never investigates why they want the stuff they want. People can "create wealth" but labour and the exploitative relationships it implies are glossed over. Instead he goes on an unproblematic and triumphalist pro-startup, pro-bourgeois riff (most of the wealth in the world is created by the middle classes?), which I found annoying as well as simply factually incorrect. That said, Graham is a talented writer and there's some really lovely work in here — the first chapter which asks why nerds are unpopular is particularly lovely. Just avoid the naïveté of the homespun economic theory and you'll be OK.

    2011-05-22 by Charlie Harvey
  • Q By Luther Blisset

    Another reread. Q is a radically postmodern and yet thrillingly swashbuckling novel about the movement of the free spirit in Europe and its struggle with the the catholic and protestent empires and in 16th century Europe. The central character has a number of names, but is an anabaptist radical and is always pursued by Qoèlet(Q) who is a sort of spy/emmissary of a Catholic cardinal. Some have read it as an allegory of the global protest movement in the late 20th century -- with the counter reformation and Augsburg playing the part of the collapse of the USSR and the ascent of the neoliberal globalization. But that's by-the-by. Q is totally gripping and, as the phrase has it, "unputdownable".

    2011-05-14 by Charlie Harvey
  • Don't Make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach to Usability. By Steve Krug

    Rereading this has reminded me of quite what an exceptional writer Krug is. He writes compellingly, accessibly and straightforwardly and covers basically everything you need to know about usability as a jobbing web developer. Jeffrey Zeldman says of it "After reading it over a couple of hours and putting its ideas to work for the past five years, I can say it has done more to improve my abilities as a Web designer than any other book". WHich is an impressive claim. I don't think he is wrong.

    2011-05-03 by Charlie Harvey


  • Be respectful. You may want to read the comment guidelines before posting.
  • You can use Markdown syntax to format your comments. You can only use level 5 and 6 headings.
  • You can add class="your language" to code blocks to help highlight.js highlight them correctly.

Privacy note: This form will forward your IP address, user agent and referrer to the Akismet, StopForumSpam and Botscout spam filtering services. I don’t log these details. Those services will. I do log everything you type into the form. Full privacy statement.