025: Library Operations
Google Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks
by Joe Kraynak
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book when I took it from the shelf. It was published in 2005, so it would almost certainly have out-of-date material. Not only that, I use Google pretty much daily and have for years; would there be any tips and tricks I didn't know?
The book is divided into ten topics with ten tips per topic. I started with the first topic, "Maximize Google Search Options." I was happy to discover that I only had to read through 3 tips before I learned something new! I didn't know that you could use Google to search a specific website that doesn't have its own search bar. I read through a few more tips and learned about using Boolean operators: in Google, you use +, - and OR. I've tried using AND and NOT without success- now I know why. I learned how to search for numerical ranges. You can't use hyphens or the word 'to' - you have to put two periods between the numbers with no spaces separating them. (For example, to search the nearly 41 years I've been alive, you'd type: 1972..2013). Next, I learned how to search for pages that link to a specific webpage by typing the word link, a colon, and the web address. Out of the first 10 tips, I learned something new from 4 of them.
As I moved on to the rest of the chapters, I didn't learn nearly as much. In fact, there were only 4 tips in the remaining 90 that were helpful to me! Some of the chapters were obsolete (does anyone use MapQuest now that the far-superior Google Maps exists?). Some were about services that have changed significantly (Froogle is now Google Shopping). Others were not relevant to me (like how to create a Google listing for a business).
Recommended: Yes, slightly. I wouldn't recommend buying it, as much of the information is out-of-date, but it might be worth flipping through at the library to glean a few helpful tips.
750: Painting and Paintings
How to Paint Light
Barron's Pocket Art Guide
Reading this book was a lot like taking a graduate-level course without having any of the prerequisites. Not that I've ever done that, since it makes no sense to struggle through an advanced class when you have no idea about any of the foundation material. If there had been a Painting 101 book on the shelf, I would have chosen that. Instead, I ended up with this thorough guide to painting light.
Each section of the book is set up with several lessons and examples, which are followed by a "Let's Experiment" activity, an "Effects" tutorial, and finally "In the Style Of..." artist exploration. The book is very well-written and easy to understand. The examples are clear and beautiful. A person with decent knowledge of painting techniques would get a lot out of this book.
While I enjoyed the book, all of the "Let's Experiment" activities were more advanced than my skills. I could have tried them, but I knew that my lack of foundation would have meant that I would spend FAR more time struggling to set up the starting point than actually applying the specific lighting technique to the painting. I experimented with one activity- "Shading with Tonal Values." It was an interesting challenge.
Recommended: Not unless you are at least an intermediate-level painter.
500: Natural Sciences and Mathematics
How to Dunk a Donut: The Science of Everyday Life
by Len Fisher
"Scientists, like hangmen, are socially disadvantaged by their profession." This is the opening sentence in a fascinating and funny look at the scientific principles at work in everyday live. The book is divided into chapters including, among others: The Art and Science of Dunking; How to Add Up Your Supermarket Bill; How to Throw a Boomerang; Bath Foam, Beer Foam, and the Meaning of Life; and the Physics of Sex. The book is informative and detailed, yet totally accessible to the non-scientist. The author has a wonderful sense of humor and true dedication to the pursuit of answers. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable
by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
This is an incredibly difficult book to summarize. From the inside cover: "A Black Swan is a highly improbably event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was. The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11." The book is interesting, thought-provoking, and clever. Taleb is a brilliant and fascinating person, as well as an excellent writer. That said, did I actually enjoy the book? Sometimes yes, but much of the time, no. The book is not an easy read and does not lend itself well to the lifestyle of a busy mom picking it up for a few minutes here and there. The book requires concentration and thought, as well as large chunks of uninterrupted time to absorb the material. I am glad that I read it though.
Recommended: Not unless you have the time and interest to dedicate to reading it properly.
Goal #35 accomplished! Even if I didn't totally enjoy every book, I absolutely loved this goal. I already have plans for my next Library Roulette.... stay tuned!