and include some from OUTSIDE your main field of interest
So, I’ve been doing lots of reading outside of “technical stuff” and science fiction. Just finished a short book written in the mid 1800’s – “Jane Eyre” for example. I picked it up based on a recommendation from a web site somewhere of “must read books”. It was interesting as it was written as a contemporary book of life during that period of time (so not someone from today looking back and imagining as it might have been but from the point of view of someone alive then – telling it as it was more or less, the social mores and all). One of the things I liked while reading it was the number of words I did not know the precise meaning of (ok, sometimes I frankly had never heard them from before – most I had heard but could not precisely define). Indicating how much language changes over time. Words such as lachrymose, confabulate, dowager, contumacy, and palliate to name a few. Sometimes I was surprised - I always thought I knew the definition of precocious - but I did not. I always thought of it in a somewhat derogatory sense, but it turns it it would be a compliment.
I’ve also been reading some blog writers that probably could not spell Oracle let alone figure out what to do with a sqlplus prompt. One of the newest entries in that genre for me has been Seth Godin – a marketing guy of all things. This morning, as I was catching up I read two of his entries and thought to myself – hey, I know exactly what you are saying – I say the same things about my field of expertise. They were:
- Good for them for trying something. Now, if they test and measure, we'll see... in the “But I like sticky floors” entry.
- I realized that every single time I used an analogy, he didn't "get it." Instead, he started talking about the example in the analogy instead of the concept I was trying to get across. In the “Yolks are to eggs as mice are to…”
The bit about the analogy is a good reminder – for me, for everyone that likes to use them. I love analogies, I over use them perhaps. I’ve seen that same effect though, if the person you are talking to takes the analogy literally – it can very much backfire (all of the problems the story you just told has – your product suddenly inherits, everything bad about the analogy is bad about your stuff now). An analogy taken to illogical extremes by someone can very much turn them off (or at best confuse them). When used lightly, analogies can help understanding – when taken the wrong way – they will be disastrous. Take care therefore with your analogies.
As he said “Yes, your shampoo may be as fresh as a daisy” – but if I don’t like daisies (or worse, I’m allergic to daises!) it could backfire.
I was just struck by the parallels to what I say/do everyday in this marketing guys blog. And here I didn’t think we had anything in common!
And yes, I will post the list of books I chose to read from the earlier entry “A question for all of you…”. The feedback was great – I’ll list out those I’ve read already (quite a few it turns out) and those I plan on reading. One of the criteria to make it on my short list will be the availability of a ebook version I can put on my palm pilot. I got hooked on that this last trip. I was reading Jane Eyre – the paperback version. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through it – on my way from London to Munich. Got a little sleepy and put the book in the seatback in front of me. And – quite predictably – as I’ve done it many times before, we land, I get my pack out of the overhead and leave – leaving the book in the plane. I hate it when I do that. So, I wanted to finish the book. I searched online and found Project Gutenberg. The book was there, for immediate download. I did so, opened the html file in Word, put it into documents to go and sync’ed my Treo. The book was on the Treo. And I found it quite readable (in fact the ability to click on a word, copy it and look it up on the web when not in a plane was very nice!). I plan on generating the list of books to read and then determining which ones I can get onto the Treo (I’ll put them all on the expansion card) and then I’ll have them with me where ever I go.
The only downside is that I like to keep books I’ve read and enjoyed on the bookshelf. I’ll probably end up buying the ones I liked in paper form anyway. This is the second book I’ve read online now and found both enjoyable and easy to read that way (I haven’t had printed documentation for Oracle since version 7.3 and I personally haven’t missed it).
But – it won’t work at the beach or a lake… First, not sure I want to whip my phone out on the beach (sand, salt, and so on). Second, unless it is a very very cloudy day the screen is hard to read!