A great book for executives, limited use for developers

Quote from the introduction of the book: “This book is focused on providing readers a solid understanding of the technologies and business issues surrounding IPTV and Internet video. Care is taken to present major concepts clearly while staying above the specific details of individual implementations.”


Informative, enlightening and inspiring

This is a well delayed review.  I bought this book almost 10 years ago and I am reading some chapters again after becoming an entrepreneur myself.

This book is great for those who want some general understanding of the technologies and business aspects of IPTV, Internet Video, but its use for implementers and developers is very limited.

It is a very easy read. One probably can finish it in an evening.

Let me start by quoting the advance praise for the book "Rob Ryan has a passion for business and a love for entrepreneurs". This is exactly the impression I got when I saw him at an event where he talked about entreprensurship, and had the luck to chat with him briefly. He impressed me as a brilliant, pragmatic and genuinely nice person.  He is an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur, has the passion for entrepreneurship, know many entrepreneurs and has been helping many. Few have better credentials than him for writing about entrepreneurship.

The book is essentially a complete guide for starting a tech firm and making it successful.  Not only does it explain the principles, rules backed by solid examples from the author's own experience, but also provides detailed instructions including lists, tables, charts to drive a startup at different stages. One can start benefiting from the book before the inception of a firm, and continue it all the way till it reaches the top - a major player in a field. 

The book is geared toward startups seeking external funding, but the principles described in the book are equally applicable to bootstrapped startups and organically grown firms. For example, the required traits of an entrepreneur depicted by the book - intelligence, initiative, integrity, heart and willpower - are applicable to all startups. The sunflower model is a an enlightening way of  planning products and services based on a firm's core competence. 

The book provides quite a few practical checklists such as Rob's Quality Dog Food Test for evaluating product ideas.  I find the diagnosis of all kinds of wannabes such as quickie, dreamers, wonderful wacky MBA very interesting. If one observes with the list in mind, he can find plenty belonging to the list though not as many nowadays as during the dot-com bubble years. 

The 10X rule advocated by the book shows how realistic and experienced the author is.  One may naively think if a new product from a startup is 2X better than those of a dominant vendor, the efficient free market would help sell them.  The real fight for market share against established vendors is a tough one.  Striving for 10X is a good way to start the battle.

 I have to mention that the book is also an easy and entertaining read.

Very impressive checklist

Social media have been expanding and evolving rapidly, so it is difficult to keep up with all social media related websites, strategies and techniques. This book has compiled a very impressive list of items to consider. It would be unrealistic to follow every one of them. The book does not offer your a ready-to-go strategy, which is impossible because such strategy depends so much on the corresponding business type. This book is also somewhat like a cookbook because one can go back to it to pick different techniques to try.  

Enlightening and Intriguing

It should be pointed out that authors started and are running a software company successfully. I cannot judge how useful or relevant it is for other industry such as manufacturing, farming, etc. If you are in the software business and in favor of agile development and lean startup, most likely you will enjoy reading this book.

I believe this book is essentially about common sense. The book tends to make very strong points about certain forms so there is the risk of ignoring the fundamental reason behind the points. I agree largely with most points they make but almost always with a little bit reservation. Let me explain with the following three points:

  1. 1. "Meetings are toxic”. If one calculates the cost of every meeting (time x number of attendees x average compensation) and the outcome, most meetings are not worthwhile. However, there are some meetings, especially small group meetings offering the opportunity to bounce and challenge ideas, stimulating intellectual sparks that cannot be replaced with other work form. This kind of meeting can help produce and valid exceptionally good ideas and filter out poor ones that might lead to disastrous mistakes.
  2. "Say no by default”. The conventional wisdom is that the customer is god and vendors should always heed his words. It is refreshing to hear the simple truth that not every customer’s suggestion is worth adoption. I think the default response should neither "yes” nor "no”. Every idea should be looked seriously and objectively.
  3. "Workaholism”. It is a good point that what matters is the outcome, not the process. They authors equate long working hours to inefficiency. There are plenty of lazybones who work short hours and are utterly inefficient. There are also plenty of people who are workaholic and efficient hence extremely productive. I think the valid point here is that one needs to check frequently whether spending more time continuing the path is optimal. The correlation between the efficiency and the number of working hours per day is at best weak if there is any.

The book does provide stunning discoveries of business. It instead offers observations, perspectives backed by the authors’ success. They have probably been felt by many people but never or rarely been written in books.

Very practical and useful

This is the fifth marketing book that I have read recently.  I am so glad that I have finally found one that offers many practical and useful tips that I can follow.  I can appreciate and relate to the contents easily from the both sides of marketing - sponsor and targeted consumer. The book does not have any grand and rigorous theories.  It is just full of practical tips for both what should be done and what should be avoided. They are applicable to marketing of consumer-oriented products.  Though some may not be quite suitable for enterprise oriented products or service, most are still quite relevant.

Website Promotion 101

I think Website Promotion 101 would be a more accurate title of this book. I have had websites for quite some years so it did not surprise me that I did not learn much new from this book. I believe it is a very good book for people who are relatively new owning and building a website. This is the 8th edition of the book. It does a very good job in exhausting all the popular ways to promote websites. The companion website mentioned at every chapter is not very useful and many pages are empty.

Good if you enjoy pun-derful writing

I can imagine some or many people enjoy reading this book very much. As the author claims, he has pun-derful writing style. I do not know what pun-derful means exactly, but unfortunately, I know I am not used to it. When I pick a book like this, I just want to extract the information useful for me as quickly as possible. I have a hard time figuring out exactly what points the book tries to make. I learned a lot about advertising on Google and SEO from Google’s online resources and I believe I am doing fine in utilizing AdWords efficiently and boosting the ranking of my web pages. I thought this book would teach me more as a source produced outside of Google. Unfortunately, it has not. This book may be good for people who know little about advertising through Google.

Do not know what marketing knowledge I learned from this book

Firstly, I am not a marketing professional. Maybe I am not the right audience of this book. Marketing pros may want to skip this review from a marketing amateur. I really wanted to learn something about marketing from this book and have finished reading this book, but I do not know what I have learned from this book is marketing related but not common sense. I am trying to evaluate this book from the view of an ordinary consumer so see which marketing strategy preached by this book would entice me to buy some products. I thought this is what marketing is about. I also run a software startup which customers are enterprises, and this is what motivated to get this book to learn something about marketing. I cannot think of a single thing from this book that I can use. For this reason, I am supposed to give one star to this book. However, this book is well edited and most important of all, I agree with everything the book says. For example, it preaches socially responsible enterprise, and I am all for it; itt mentions micro financing, and I am an active member of Kiva. It repeatedly talks about sustainability and I am going green as hard as I can. Therefore I still rank this book 3-star instead of 1-star. For me, this book is more about some general trend and the right way to run a business than marketing, so it is appropriate to have the foreword written by the President of the Republic of Indonesia.

Many concepts discussed by this book are either abstract or not highly relevant to marketing. Let me give two examples to make this point. It talks about the shift to human spirit and emotional marketing of Marketing 3.0. As a consumer, I do not want to get emotional in shopping. I am a longtime subscriber to Consumer Reports. I make many purchase decisions based on objective review data like that of Consumer Reports. Many of my friends are in the same category. I am even more so when I make business purchase decisions. I do not see how emotional marketing can affect my procurement process. I am willing to believe emotional marketing can affect some consumers. Emotion is a tricky thing. I want to stay away from it in the marketing of my business. The book has a chapter called Marketing the Values to the Employees. I thought employees are required to understand and accept the values of their employer. If they do not, they should seek other employment in a free society. A company’s values should be very simple and straightforward. I do not see how a marketing campaign is involved in this. I am wondering if any of the authors have successfully and efficiently marketed a product by following this book.

A Quick Start Guide to Social Media Marketing: High Impact Low-Cost Marketing That Works (New Tools for Business) is good only for some general understanding of social media marketing. It is a typical work of a theorist with little practical experience.





Providing an easy and solid start

This book is perfect for SL beginner. I had zero experience in SL programming prior to reading it and finished two SL apps before reaching the end of the book. I do not feel I need to read another book to advance my SL programming skill though there is always much to learn. With the foundation laid by this book, I feel I can utilize many online sources easily to get things done.  Actually I did resort to online sources frequently when developing the apps while reading the book because the book is not meant to be a reference.  The book is very readable and flows smoothly with practical sample code clearly illustrating the points.  I enjoy it.

Very good book for certain audience with certain purpose

Firstly, it has over 1700 pages and weighs 2.7 kg (6 lbs) so if you do not have strong upper limbs and plan to carry this book around, you may want to consider eBook version.

I think this is a very good book for people who know quite some about C# to refresh their knowledge and a fairly good book for experienced .Net programmers to catch up with the fast evolving framework by getting introduction to the parts they have no experience in or update of new features of the parts they have used. 

I would like to regard the book as the combination of two independent books: 1) Pro C# 2010; 2) .Net 4 Platform.

The first three parts on C# are very good for experienced C# programmers to get a solid update of all the new features of C# such as the dynamic type.  Compared with .Net Framework, C# has a very limited number of new features though they are very important and useful ones.  These three parts have over 400 pages and are filled with useful sample code.  I think it is adequate for beginners to learn C# though I am not in a good position to make such judgment.  I used The C# Programming Language authored by the architects of C# when I started learning C# years ago and I still think it is the best C# book for those who have solid foundation of Java and C++.

Considering there are many books on each part of .Net (e.g. WPF, WCF, MVC, etc.), one may ask: how useful can a book on the entire framework be?  Firstly, it is obviously impossible to learn programming every part of the framework by reading just one book. If one wants to get some idea about all the components of .Net, he can go to many online sources to obtain that.  I admire the author for daring to write a book on such a large framework. I think the author does a good job to cover most of the .Net components with limited space in Part 4 to Part 7.  It may be more appropriate to title this book Pro C# 2010 and Introduction to the .NET 4 Platform because the amount of information is adequate only for introduction (WPF covered by 5 chapters may be an exception).  The introduction is unfortunately not even. WPF gets 5 chapters, ASP.Net gets 3 with MVC mentioned by one paragraph, WCF gets 1 chapter and Silverlight gets 1 page.

Overall, it is a worthy read.



This book is a very worthy read not because it offers some sound theories but it poses some very intriguing questions, presented some very interesting observations and more importantly provides a window into the thinking of many contemporary Chinese intellectuals who may influence the future of China which is more and more frequently the focus of the world.  It provides authentic Chinese views that one cannot get form publications by trained social scientists or historians.  Actually even the English of the book is very Chinese (I am still having hard time comprehending what the authors means by "Entitlement” which is one of the few most important key words of the book). This is the only book that I have ranked 5 stars while disagreeing with so many of its points.

The author is supposed to have the best background to tackle such topic.  He grew up in China experiencing the most turbulent era – the Great Cultural Revolution, received college education when China started opening followed by doctorate study in the former Soviet Union, then postdoctoral training in the west. He has witnessed the dramatically different aspects of the world spatially and temporally.

The question "why has China lagged behind the world?" triggered the writing of this book. I always believe this question has been answered for a long time. The reason is isolation – the rulers of China regarded themselves as the descendants of god and China as the center of the world for thousands of years.  

I disagree with one primary assumptions of the book that leads to its writing - China reached a peak at the beginning of the 21st century. How can a country with 5000 + years reach a peak when its GDP per capita is only 10% of many other countries? Around 800 AD during Tang dynasty, the Chinese were undoubtedly the most productive in the world with the national GDP accounting for half of the world. Would it be more reasonable to assume China reaches its peak when its GDP per capita is at least about the average of the developed world?

The most intriguing Chapter is Ch. 3 Chinese Way of Thinking covering people, their primary interest, spirit, and thinking pattern. I do not know how representative the description is.  It certainly does not represent the millions whom I saw in the streets of Beijing in 1989 protesting for cleaner government, democracy and freedom, but it may well represent a fairly large portion of the population who primarily care about only very practical and personal matters.

The author makes many intriguing arguments. One of them is that people tend to desire life in a relatively isolated small world (e.g. small kingdom) and he uses entropy to support this argument.   

The author makes very interesting observations but often follows them with conclusions far from convincing. For example, he writes "the working class is vanishing and trade union is dying worldwide. This means that there will soon be no dominant class in any modern social systems, which should be a new phenomenon in human history". Well, I can see the future world with middle class as the dominant group. How can this scenario be excluded?

Of course, the author also makes observations that hit right on the nail. For example, he states "This opportunity is also possible not only because the Americans were still happy with their super position in world without thinking of solution, but also because the Americans were busy in the war against terror.”  Imagine how stronger the US would be if  it spent a trillion dollars on innovation instead of the war in Iraq that literally created strong Al-Qaeda in a country that was free of Al-Qaeda prior to the war. China surely took full advantage of this drag to the West which provides peace and opportunities to China.

Many statements in the book are so typical of the author's cohort but may be shocking to others. For example, he plainly states "Maoism provides a solution for China, which suffered the consistent chaos and humilities for almost one or two hundred years”. During Mao’s 27-year reign of P.R.China, 30 to 50 million people died as a direct consequence of his order or policy, millions barely survived after receiving brutal treatment, Chinese economy was near complete collapse at his last breadth while many other countries that suffered destruction from WWII marched into the modern economy. Was that the solution for China?  Some people argue that only Mao who could help China gain independence.  I can understand if it is said by someone who grew up with heavy CCP’s brainwashing, I would feel insulted if a foreigner asserts that 400-million Chinese could produce just one person in the first half of the last century to lead China to independence while countries like the US could have many founding fathers who led their motherland into glory. Any objective historian can tell you that the founding father of modern China is Sun Yat-sen and it was his protégé Chiang Kai-shek who defeated some and united the other warlords to form a united China under extreme difficult circumstances. Many legitimate criticisms can be made about Chiang Kai-shek including his totalitarian government very similar to the current Chinese regime, but it is an undeniable fact the Nationalist army led Chiang played by far the major and brave role in WWII fighting the Japanese with over a million troops sacrificing their lives including more than 250 generals. The Chinese permanent seat on the United Nation Security Council was earned by the blood of the troops led by Chiang and secured by Chiang's firm standing. Even among the communists, there were plenty capable of leading China to independence. So, Mao and Maoism, in my opinion, were the most unfortunate things that China suffered from in the last century, not the solution.

The most shocking assertion by the author is that the Chinese lack logic and confuse accuracy with precision. Logic, or reasoning, is essential for any theory with practical use. Sun Tzu on the Art of War written 2500 + years ago is a primary text for the US War College and West Point, required reading for CIA officers. Does the author think logic is missing in this work or it is just an exception?  Chinese banking system started more than a thousand years ago and was once among the finest and most stable financial institutions. Can a financial industry thrive without adequate accuracy or precision? Does the author recognize that the Chinese invented their own abacus 2nd century BC and were able to crunch accurate numbers faster than any other people?
The author attributes the relative fewer systematic theories to the nature of the Chinese culture. I am wondering if the author has ever wondered why so many great thinkers and theories such as Sun Tzu, Lao Zi, Zhuang Zi, Mozi, Legalism, etc. were born in the relatively short span of Warring States Period and such flourishing of ideas immediately died after Qin Shihuang Di unified China, burned books and reduced the freedom of speech to zero. Is this random and pure coincidence?  Another surge of ideas especially in literature arose during Tang dynasty when there was quite a degree of freedom of speech. The unprecedented prosperity of China also happened in that period.  Is this another coincidence?  Suppose someone today has a great theory in social science especially regarding governing and it is quite different from Marxism, would he be able to become a prominent figure in any Chinese institutions and his theory be widely studied?  I would say that most likely he would be in jail like Dr. Xiaobo Liu, the theory would be banned and the key words of his theory would be filtered out in search engines. I have never lost the faith in Chinese people creating great theories benefiting the humankind and it will happen because the freedom of speech is the shared desire by all human beings and when it finally comes to China, there will be a spectacular flourishing of new ideas, theories on a land with 5000+ years history as its rich soil.

Again, despite my disagreements with many points of this book some of which are expressed in this review, I believe this book is a rare window to see the thinking of some contemporary Chinese intellectuals and providing many intriguing questions and observations.   



Depth, breadth and relevance

This is one of the best programming books that I have ever read.

The depth and breadth of the author’s knowledge is very evident in this book. Unlike many other programming books that cam be written by one specialized in a certain topic, this book encompasses so much that only people like Sanderson who knows in depth of every aspect of delivering a complex real life applications are able to write.

Yes, this is a book devoted to ASP.Net MVC2, but it teaches you everything needed to deliver a commercial web application – from setting up the development environment to application deployment and fine tuning. This book has a very good balance between focus and breadth.

The flow of the book is very well thought out.  It begins with some background and quickly provides a teaser MVC project from which you can get a good sense of what MVC is all about. If it does not appeal to you, you can stop there.  Then it spends 100+ pages on a complete project touching essentially all aspects of a web application. Though following this project is different from developing your own which usually is the best way to learn a new language or platform, but it is as close as you can get from reading a book. An experienced web programmer can relate to the project easily and see the differences and similarities between MVC and web forms.

Following the project is Part 2: ASP.NET MVC in Details.  This is the best part of the book. I have gone back to this part again and again and will do many more times. I have never seen any source explaining MVC nearly as well as this part. This is a better reference for MVC than MSDN though it cannot completely replace MSDN.  The book always uses very practical examples to explain concepts.  It is a combination of systematic tutoring, practical recipes and elucidating reference.

Part 3: Delivering Successful ASP.NET MVC2 Project is the practical utility of a book at its best. Security, server configuration, performance tuning, etc. may not be the favorite activities of developers but they have to be handled and asking IT staff to help with these tasks usually turns out to be futile. This part offers plenty of useful tips to accomplish them.
The only significant drawback of this book is its shunning Entity Framework as pointed out by another reviewer.  EF would fit in the SportsStore project so naturally that it would further its elegance.

The occasional humors add more pleasure to the reading. I personally prefer less assertive language in a few places.  MVC is great and I love it, but I still use web forms for many situations where I think they are most appropriate. Please do not forget that SharePoint and some large commercial banks’ web sites (including some large banks) are web form applications. The author’s passion for MVC appears to be almost emotional in its introduction. 

In case it is useful for some readers, I want to quickly point out that the book is either incorrect of confusing regarding converting a web site project to an MVC web application project. It says to follow the instructions of MSDN to convert it to a web application then proceed to other steps. Actually one only needs to follow the MSDN instructions to convert the web site project directly to an MVC web application and no other steps in the book are needed.

For people desiring to learn MVC, I believe, this is the only book they need to have to have.  Armed with the solid understanding of the topic, one can obtain any other MVC related information not covered by the book online with a simple and appropriately constructed search.



Good book on EF 4.0.

I have learned a lot from this book and used some methods in the book for my application, so I am a grateful reader. Since this book has been praised by so many reviews, I thought it would be most useful for me to state the strengths of this book quickly then follow it with my reservations that prevented me from giving 5 stars to it.

It is very readable and well organized. It is more than a collection of recipes because the first few chapters could give a beginner a good start on EF. Some people may think it has a lot of redundancy by providing a complete list of the code for each recipe, I personally like the completeness (I have the eBook version so the thickness does not bother me at all).

Here are my reservations:

  1. There are three methods to query a conceptual model in EF - LINQ to Entities, Entity SQL, Query builder methods. This could be confusing to novice readers. The book mixes all of them and it may be the best approach to mix them to achieve the most elegant code, but I wish the author could share the rationale of each mixture which can be very educational.
  2. Each recipe is a method to solve a problem with a specific approach but it may not be the best overall method. I wish the book could clearly point out this. A typical example is recipe 4-3 which is a method for signing a value to a property with code during data saving. This is a very common scenario for data entry applications (e.g. setting the user ID value which is not entered by the user for each record) and it is usually achieved by a single line of code in an event handler of a control. In the case of the recipe, it can be handled by one statement in the ItermInserting handler of the DetailsView, but the recipe uses a pure EF way of creating a partial method to intercept SavingChanges event.
  3. I think the best way to achieve a solid data model is to have a solid database design and the EF conceptual model should just be a reflection of that. EF has matured a lot but the latest version EF 4.0 still has some glitches or undesirable behaviors. It is quite possible that someone may have to recreate the model from the database and it may happen many times. If a lot of "custom" modifications are made to EF model, all of them have to be repeated and this may require a lot of work, good documentation or memory. The book has a lot recipes doing exact this and some of them even get into the XML code editing. I wish the book could clearly point out the caveats of doing this.


Interesting, informative but needs to be read with caution

I struggled in deciding whether to give this book a 5-star or 4-start rating. On the one hand it is more worth reading than many books that I would rank 5-star. On the other hand, its rigor leaves much to be desired. I believe everyone can benefit from reading this book because the myths disputed by this book are many and common. The myths are in wide areas ranging from media, government, business, education to science and religion.

Since so many myths are dealt with in this book, it is impossible to discuss each of them rigorously with solid data. The only way to tackle this is using common sense, references and some key facts. This is exactly what Stossel does in his book. He does well for many of them such as myths: Radioactivity is deadly, kids would not lie to incriminate their teacher, Republicans shrink government, buying on the Internet risks identity theft, fast food makes you fat, etc.

Though I cannot dispute any facts or references in the book, however I believe a few his arguments are flawed. Some are deeply flawed. For example, he used a few examples of close cousin marriages argue that close-kin marriage being bad idea is a myth so he thinks that people should feel free to marry their cousins. The scientific understanding of close kin marriage is it is likely, but not bound, to produce defective offspring. A few selected close kin marriages with healthy kids are far from sufficient to make Stossel's point. I believe one can find a few Sudanese in Darfur who are not hungry and have enough clothes. Does this mean there is no suffering in Darfur and we don't need to do anything.

The author honestly and proudly discloses that he is a libertarian. The book surely reflects his view of world. I think this is a plus in terms of letting readers know the libertarian's perspective of the world.

This book is worth quick reading but should be done with caution.

(written on 2009-13-14 during boring periods of a meeting)

Well written compilation of common GUI errors

This is a very well written and very readable book, but readers should not expect to learn as much as from a typical good book of 407 pages because most of bloopers described in the book can be avoided just by common sense. I suspect any experienced software developer with some experience of interaction with customers would be able avoid the vast majority of the bloopers especially those illogical ones. However this book still has great value because it enhances common sense and systematically organizes bloopers into categories: GUI control, navigation, textual, layout, interaction and responsiveness. It also talks about how to manage bloopers.

GUI is a very difficult topic to write about because it involves both art and science. The science part is psychology or cognitive science. GUI evolves constantly. One can list all the principles in a few sentences (e.g. logical, intuitive, simple, visually appealing, etc.), but one can compile much more bloopers than this book contains. I think this book has about the right balance. All application developers can benefit from reading this book or some literature like this. However such book does not have much reference value for sitting on a bookshelf, so get the book, read it and pass it to a friend.

(written on 2009-13-14 during boring periods of a meeting)



An informercial by a marketing genius

This book explains why Trudeau is a marketing genius. It is more for marketing his Web based service, defending his reputation against the accusation of FTC and FDA than anything else. He wrote this book and have a publishing company to publish it. I doubt any other reputable publisher would publish such book. Reading just a few pages would be sufficient to tell the author lacks basic scientific training. The same point is rehashed endlessly without providing any more substantive evidence to support it. Some of his advices are wrong and harmful. For example, the book suggests not use sun block claiming it causes cancer. There is plenty scientific evidence showing sun block reduces skin caner though not as much as many people believe.

Even though the author is a marketing genius, apparently he lacks adequate originality to put enough original material to fill even a small portion of the book. A large part of the book is effectively copy & paste work. For example, appendix B takes 100 pages! It is merely a reprint of a story about bakery fighting FDA. Not surprisingly, the author of the story is the owner of the bakery and not a single word from the other side.

Some natural remedies that have been tried and proven over hundreds of years can be effective, but the effect of many modern natural remedies devised by genius capitalists such as Kevin Trudeau are far from certain.

I think the best use of this book is to show it to kids as an example of poorly written deceiving books making arguments based weak or no evidence.

(written on 2009-13-14 during boring periods of a meeting)


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