Friday, February 20, 2009

Valentine Book Review

My lovely wife bought me Upgrade Your Life: The Lifehacker Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, Better for Valentine's Day.

I'm a big fan of the lifehacker website, and this book is a good companion to the website. Depending on your comfort level around computers and your exposure to personal time management techniques like Getting Things Done, the book is a pretty quick read. I finished it in two days. The book is broken into a series of tips, called hacks. My biggest complaint about the book is sometimes the hacks don't appear in logical order. For example, Hack 74: Setting Up a Home Web Server references giving your website a hostname with a service like, but doesn't explain how to do that until Hack 76. That's only a minor gripe, when you get to the DynDNS part in Hack 74 it tells you to reference Hack 76, so you aren't lost; it's just kind of annoying.

All in all, this is a good primer book for anyone wanting to tweak their computer or time management skills, without being committed to an entire book devoted to a complex system. I'd like to forward Hack 3: Craft Effective (e-mail) Messages to most people in a corporate setting. Tips: Determine your purpose, use an informative subject line, be succinct, make it clear why everyone got the message. I've been using Hack 1: Empty Your Inbox (and Keep It Empty) for awhile, and to say it changed my life is over dramatic, but everyone should give it a try.

Bottom Line: This book isn't going to teach you how to conquer the world, but it's full of interesting nuggets like how to perform better Google searches, managing a doable to-do list, and step-by-step instructions for some pretty neat computer tricks. It's a book that would be hard pressed to be over most people's heads, yet has enough advanced stuff as to not be a wasted read for more seasoned computer geeks. If you like the lifehacker site, you'd probably like this book.

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