Austin Computer Book Club

Vote: Our Oct. ’19 Book

Autumn is on the way, school is starting back up, and it’s time to vote on the book for our October meetup. Digital Minimalism is back on the slate, plus a couple of new entries to choose from. Look over these selections and rank your preference using the form at the bottom of the post! Voting closes at noon on Wednesday, August 28 (that’s the day after we meet to discuss Refactoring).

What the Dormouse Said What the Dormouse Said book cover

– How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, by John Markoff
352 pages, 2006, $2-$17
On Goodreads; Amazon

Most histories of the personal computer industry treat it as technology or business. But this heady, brilliantly written book explores the culture and consciousness that produced the first PCs, the culture being counter and the consciousness expanded, sometimes chemically. What the Dormouse Said re-creates the San Francisco Bay Area of the 1960s and early 1970s, where a handful of visionaries set out to redefine what a computer could be. Here are Ken Kesey and the phone hacker Cap’n Crunch, The Whole Earth Catalog and LSD, the Homebrew Computer Club and the Hacker Ethic–the conviction that the point of computers was to make information free. Funny, poignant, and inspiring, the result is a classic story of humanism meeting technology and making history.

Digital Minimalism Digital Minimalism, by Cal Newport

– Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World, by Cal Newport
304 pages, 2019, $14-$26
On Goodreads; Amazon

Drawing on a diverse array of real-life examples, from Amish farmers to harried parents to Silicon Valley programmers, Newport identifies the common practices of digital minimalists and the ideas that underpin them. He shows how digital minimalists are rethinking their relationship to social media, rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world, and reconnecting with their inner selves through regular periods of solitude. He then shares strategies for integrating these practices into your life, starting with a thirty-day “digital declutter” process that has already helped thousands feel less overwhelmed and more in control.

Technology is intrinsically neither good nor bad. The key is using it to support your goals and values, rather than letting it use you. This book shows the way.

Cloud Native Patterns Cloud Native Patterns book cover

– Designing Change-tolerant Software, by Cornelia Davis
400 pages, 2019, $48
On Goodreads; Amazon; Safari

Cloud platforms promise the holy grail: near-zero downtime, infinite scalability, short feedback cycles, fault-tolerance, and cost control. But how do you get there? By applying cloudnative designs, developers can build resilient, easily adaptable, web-scale distributed applications that handle massive user traffic and data loads. Learn these fundamental patterns and practices, and you’ll be ready to thrive in the dynamic, distributed, virtual world of the cloud.

With realistic examples and expert advice for working with apps, data, services, routing, and more, Cornelia Davis shows you how to design and build software that functions beautifully on modern cloud platforms. As you read, you will start to appreciate that cloud-native computing is more about the how and why rather than the where.

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