Summer vacation

I’m back in Italy after a wonderful vacation in Oregon. I had a nice time in Portland at OSCON, and got to meet a bunch of people I most likely won’t see for a while, which is always fun. In particular, David Jones of OFBiz was impressive in his determination to do anything and everything to make that project a success. It would have been nice to spend a bit more time at OSCON, but vacation called. On the negative side, I’d kind of forgotten how these things at time break down into cliques, but c’est la vie. It reminds me that I prefer the inclusiveness that is at times more present in Italy.

Going a bit off topic from the topic of this journal, “computer stuff”, we went all over Oregon… Portland, the Gorge, Mount Hood and Timberline Lodge, the central coast, Eugene of course, including a wine tasting trip along the applegate trail, Waldo Lake, Paulina Lakes, and over as far as Fort Rock and the high desert, which was quite a spectacle for us city dwellers acustomed to being surrounded by people.

One of the great things about Oregon, and being on vacation there, is the bookstores. Powell’s is probably the world’s largest physical bookstore, and the separate technical shop is larger than all but the largest bookstores in Italy. I couldn’t resist buying a bunch of books there, and at the Smith Family Bookstore in Eugene, which has loads of used books at good prices. I bumped into Russ Nelson, of the Free Software Business mailing list, in the Economics section of Powell’s, which was an interesting chance encounter.

Amongst the books I picked up:

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

A good read, but it could have been condensed significantly and still got its point across. I think there is a lot to be learned in this book for us programmer types, who tend to be very much ‘maximizers’ in what we do. I’ve written about this some here:

Maximizers, Satisficers and Programming Languages

Why Globalization Works

The book explains what the title promises. It’s a long read, because the author is very thorough and provides lots of supporting facts and figures.

Growing a Business

Good read on creating and growing a business, even if it’s a bit dated, and related to the individual in question and his experiences. Now, if only I had the business…

How to Bring a Product to Market for Less than $5000

Haven’t read it yet, but I have some ideas for products completely unrelated to high tech (it’s stuff from Italy, actually) that I think would do quite well in the US. Contact me if you’re interested…

The Design of Everyday Things

Haven’t got around to reading this one either (also, I have a backlog of The Economist to read here at home, which is usually time consuming). It comes high recommended though.

The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal

I enjoyed Collapse as well as Guns, Germs and Steel by Jarod Diamond, and this one looks interesting too. In light of the aforementioned backlog, I left this one with my parents to read, and I’ll check it out later this fall.

Why Most Things Fail

Doesn’t seem to be rated very well on Amazon, but Ormerod’s thesis that economics-as-a-machine isn’t tenable is interesting, and I’m curious to see the details of that idea. Perhaps one of his earlier books would be good reading as well.

I’ll try and write up the books as I read them, if they prove worthwhile.

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