Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Monkey's Raincoat - by Robert Crais

I am a fan of Robert Crais and, especially, his Elvis Cole/Joe Pike novels.  Therefore, when I saw "The Monkey's Raincoat," (the very first of the series) at the library, I had to read it.  In this installment, Cole is hired by a seemingly helpless wife to find her missing husband and son.  Things quickly get complicated and the story is fairly fast paced and action packed.

I'm not sure if it is because the book is dated (published in 1987) or if it is because I am being introduced to Elvis and Joe after knowledge of them as more fully developed characters in later stories, but I did not enjoy this as much as many other Crais works.  It won the Anthony and Macavity awards and was nominated for the Edgar and Shamus awards.  The story was engaging.  I didn't find Elvis and Joe as interesting and likable, however, as I usually do.

All said, I wasn't blown away, but I'm glad I read it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

iWoz - by Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak is the computer wizard best known for co-founding Apple Computer, back in the mid-1970’s, with the late Steve Jobs. It was the legendary Apple II computer that he designed way back in 1977 that launched the personal computer industry as we know it and put their upstart company at the head of the pack. This memoir also gives glimpses into his childhood and stints as a student, a concert promoter, the creator of the Bay Area’s first Dial-a-Joke hotline, a San Jose philanthropist, the inventor of the first universal remote control, a stay-at-home dad, and a fifth-grade teacher.

Wozniak claims that one of his drivers behind the book is to set the record straight. He says that much of the information out there about him is wrong. For instance, he and Steve Jobs were not high school classmates (they were years apart), he and Jobs did not co-design Apples first computers -- they were engineered by Woz alone, he did not get kicked out of the University of Colorado, he did not drop out of school, and he did not leave Apple because he was unhappy there - he stated some concerns but stressed that they were not why he left (technically he has been continuously employed by the company at a minimal salary).

I am myself a geek and lived through the era his story is set in (went through engineering school about a decade after Woz started). Therefore, I have a profound appreciation and deep respect for Woz's passion about electronics, engineering, and innovation. I found his explanations interesting. His sense of humor is a little different than mine, but his stories made me appreciate his personality. His recounting of various relationships (business, personal, and family) seemed genuine and reinforced his image as a good and caring person. I will warn you, though, if you have little interest in the technology explanations incorporated throughout the book, have little patience for unsophisticated and direct prose, and cannot relate to being a geek or nerd, you may not appreciate this book nearly as much as I did.