CTRL Scroll and Getting Old

The handiest thing that I’ve used lately for a computer is the Ctrl button and the scroll wheel on my mouse. If you’ve never tried it, do it now on this web page. Scroll different directions and you’ll see what I mean.

Here’s the default view of my blog:


It’s not bad, and from about 2, 2.5 ft away, I can read this. However if I CTRL and scroll up a couple clicks, I get this:


Not a huge difference in the images, but much easier to read.

As I get older it gets harder to read images on the screen, especially when I’m trying to get a lot done. It’s easy to scroll down, but I was finding myself scooting forward on my chair and leaning in. Not the best ergonomics. So I sat back (in my new chair), and made all my fonts bigger. I upped the default sizes in Word, OneNote, EditPlus, etc.

Getting old is hard, but technology makes this easier. I even run a larger font in my Kindle apps than I Delaney because it’s just easier to read.

And more fun than browsing the limited supply of large print books at the library.

How Many Have I Read?

I saw this on Facebook, and while I’m not sure of the list, I reproduced it here. I think that an American list might have a few more books, like The Call of the Wild or White Fang on it. It’s definitely a Western survey as the Koran and Torah aren’t listed. No Heinlein, and a modern list might have Ender’s Game on there as well. Perhaps even The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

Anyway, there are a few on here I think I might tackle, like Of Mice and men.

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.


  • Copy this into your NOTES.
  • Bold those books you’ve read in their entirety.
  • Italicize the ones you started but didn’t finish or read only an excerpt.
  • Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses!

I followed a friend’s note and used Xs. I’ve read 38 of these. Or recall having to read them.

  1.     Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  2.     The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien     
  3. X  Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  4. x  Harry Potter series – JK Rowling      
  5. x  To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  6.     The Bible       
  7. x  Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte      
  8. x  Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell      
  9.     His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman (all 3)    
  10. x  Great Expectations – Charles Dickens     
  11.     Little Women – Louisa M Alcott    
  12.     Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy    
  13. x   Catch 22 – Joseph Heller     
  14. x   Complete Works of Shakespeare – I bought this one year in college. I think I read them all, but hard to be sure.    
  15.      Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
  16. x   The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
  17.      Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk    
  18. x   Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger     
  19.      The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger    
  20.      Middlemarch – George Eliot    
  21.      Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell    
  22. x   The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald     
  23.      Bleak House – Charles Dickens    
  24. x   War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy – In progress now, part IV
  25. x   The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams     
  26.      Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh    
  27. x   Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky     
  28. x   Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeckx    
  29. x   Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll     
  30.      The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame    
  31.      Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy    
  32.      David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  33. x   Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis     
  34.      Emma -Jane Austen    
  35.      Persuasion – Jane Austen
  36. x   The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis     
  37.      The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini    
  38.      Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres    
  39. x   Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
  40. x   Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
  41. x   Animal Farm – George Orwell
  42. x   The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown     
  43.       One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez    
  44. x    A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving     
  45.       The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins    
  46.       Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery    
  47.       Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy    
  48.       The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  49. x    Lord of the Flies – William Golding     
  50.       Atonement – Ian McEwan    
  51.       Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  52. x    Dune – Frank Herbert     
  53.       Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons    
  54.       Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen    
  55.       A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth    
  56.       The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafonx   
  57.       A Tale of Two Cities – Charles Dickens    
  58. x    Brave New World – Aldous Huxley     
  59.       The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon    
  60.       Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez    
  61.       Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck    
  62.       Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov    
  63.       The Secret History – Donna Tartt    
  64.       The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
  65. x    Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas     
  66.       On The Road – Jack Kerouac    
  67.       Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy    
  68. x    Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding     
  69.       Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdiex   
  70. x    Moby Dick – Herman Melville
  71. x    Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens     
  72. x    Dracula – Bram Stoker     
  73.       The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett    
  74.       Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson    
  75. x    Ulysses – James Joyce 
  76. x    The Inferno – Dante     
  77.       Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome    
  78.       Germinal – Emile Zola    
  79.       Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray    
  80.       Possession – AS Byatt
  81. x    A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens    
  82.       Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell    
  83.       The Color Purple – Alice Walker    
  84.       The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro    
  85.       Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert    
  86.       A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry    
  87. x    Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White     
  88.       The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom    
  89. x    Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle     
  90.       The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton    
  91.       Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad    
  92.       The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery    
  93.       The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks    
  94.       Watership Down – Richard Adams    
  95.       A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole    
  96.       A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute    
  97.       The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas    
  98. x    Hamlet – William Shakespeare
  99. x    Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl     
  100.       Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Book Review – The Checklist Manifesto

77693778[1] Andy Warren recommended The Checklist Manifesto to me and after seeing his review, I decided to grab it. It’s written by a surgeon, and starts with a few stories of how people were saved in the ER by some amazing teamwork.

The book then goes into a discussion on how complex the world is and how we have so much knowledge that we constantly struggle to apply it correctly. Many mistakes in medicine, law, and other fields are often the result of the inability of professionals to apply this knowledge at the right time. We have a data deluge, and he proposes a solution.

A checklist.

Not a step by step process, but more a few simple things that you should be sure to do when an event occurs. Using the complex processes of flying planes, building skyscrapers, and even investing, he shows that this doesn’t just apply to medicine, and really makes you rethink the way complex systems should be implemented.

It’s a great books, and one that I highly recommend you read, especially if you deal with complex systems.

Kindle v iPad

I don’t have either, but I ran across this comparison on the devices. It says get both, if you’re a consumer of media and culture. To some extent I do think that it’s got a perspective that makes sense, and if you can afford a $500 iPad (or more), then you can probably add in a $140 Kindle without worrying about it.

I had a Gen 1 Kindle, and I have an iPhone that is my primary way to read. I read on flights, and while I do take breaks and play some games, I think it’s a matter of attention span. Books that are really, really good hold my attention, and I won’t move on to anything else.

Books that I struggle with, or require more thinking, I switch off at times. When I read business books, I sometimes need to think about something, so I’ll close the Kindle app for a minute, maybe play a game, and let my mind wander with what I’ve read.

There definitely is a difference in reading on an LCD and e-ink. It doesn’t bother me, or it doesn’t appear to, but I understand that it might bother some people, and if that’s the case, a Kindle/Nook/eReader makes more sense.

I’m not sure if I’ll get an iPad. It has to function in my life and add something to it, and I’m not sure it’s that much better than an iPhone. Talking with someone recently that carries an iPhone, iPad, and laptop, they tended to use the iPad regularly, but it didn’t remove the need for the other devices. We’ll see if I make a case in my mind to get one.

However you do it, go read. It’s good for you.

Career Warfare – Book Review

70618861[1] I picked up Career Warfare on the recommendation of a friend that had seen the Modern Resume presentation. I grabbed it as an e-book and have been reading it for the last few months, at a fairly slow pace (for me).

I often read a book in a week, but in the case of this one, I would read part of a chapter, and spend a day or so thinking about it. Digesting the information, and seeing how it might be applicable to my career, and my brand.

The author, David D’Alessandro rose to CEO of John Hancock Insurance, and you have to keep that in mind. The book is written as a tool for how you might advance your career in corporate America, and it includes lessons for upper management, many of which don’t apply to most of us. Items like dealing with the press aren’t something the average person needs to think about.

However there is some great advice in there about how you should grow your career, and the impact that you have on your career based on your actions.

I highly recommend it, and there are a couple of great pieces of advice in there. Most importantly, you are always building your brand. Slowly, surely, but every day you go to work, or interact with people professionally, you are building your brand. I like that he stresses honesty and integrity as well.

There are some things I don’t necessarily agree with, like not bringing your spouse to social events, or not drinking at all, but if you are attempting to rise to the C-level ranks, perhaps that’s good advice.

Why Read?

I love to read. Like my friend, Paul Randal (blog, @PaulRandal), I read a lot of books every year, usually over 50. As long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed reading books, primarily fiction, and it’s been a part of my life that I often look forward to. It’s a joy to see both my boys enjoying reading, and even reading books I’ve recommended. Having my little girl starting to read on her own, and get wrapped up in books and read through them in one sitting makes me smile.

I ran across this link, The Plot Escapes Me, from the NY Times Book Review column, and at first I was surprised. A book reviewer can’t remember plots?

I just recommended The Treasure Hunter to my middle son. That’s a non-fiction book, about someone that hunts for Treasure all over the world as a part of his life, going to different countries for the adventures. Emeralds in South America, sunken ships in the Caribbean, old Indian graves in Central America and Mexico. I read that book as a kid, one of the few non-fiction ones I read multiple times. A friend of the family gave it to me, and I still have it on a bookshelf. I remember two authors, one Robin something, a former Green Beret having toured Vietnam. It’s one of the few hardbacks that I have carried from my youth, through moves and marriage, across the country and back.

I believe that books make us better, they round us out, and they enrich our lives. That’s part of what the author of the New York Times article talks about. We are affected by the books, even if we don’t often remember them. They change our lives, and help us grow.

As I age, I slowly realize that all the classes I didn’t like in college were actually good for me. The philosophy, the chemistry, the other classes that weren’t practical, and I haven’t used in my life, have contributed to who I am, and they have helped me be a more rounded person. I see more in life than just a narrow focus.

I think it’s important to consume arts, whether that’s music, art, literature, or something else. It helps you to grow and expand who you are. It’s one reason that I now mix non-fiction and fiction when I read, trying to grow, trying new things, trying to expand my horizons.

Reading Recommendations (Twitter is cool)

Twitter is an amazing beast. More and more I find myself getting useful information and ideas from Twitter. For someone that works at home, it’s a great window into the world outside.

A couple days ago, a friend posted that they were looking for a science fiction book to read, and were there any recommendations. I dropped one back and didn’t think about it.

The next day the person posted back that they liked book x, y, and z, and did anyone else have a recommendation. Four or five people chimed in and before long there was a science fiction list going back and forth in a number of tweets. A few people recommended books back to me, and I even picked up one of my own recommendations that I had read as a kid, and grabbed a sample on the Kindle App to remind me to get to it again.

So now I have these samples on my Kindle to start reading again:

  • Daemon – Danial Suarez, and the Freedom as the next book.
  • Titan – John Varley
  • The Gunslinger (Dark Tower Series) – Stephen King, I read this a long time ago, but the recommendations from friends will have me try it again.
  • Foundation – I read this in high school or college and I recommended it, but I only read 3. There are 7, so I’ll try this one again.
  • I, Robot – Never read it. Recommended to me.
  • The Second Ship – found on an Amazon recommendation
  • Star Soldier – Another Amazon recommendation found while looking at those above.

I’ll get to all these this year, but it’s cool to get a few recommendations.

Another E-Reader

023BW No, it’s not a new device. This time it’s my son, Delaney, who has been reading on my old iPhone regularly.

He started when he got through a series of science fiction that I had purchased in paperback and wanted to read the last book. Unfortunately I only had it in e-reader form, and told him he could buy it, or read it on the  Kindle app. I had upgrade my iPhone this year, and kept the other one as a spare. He grumbled a few days and then decided that saving some money was worth it, and he read the book electronically.

Then he accessed my library, and read 6 more science fiction books I had in there over the next few weeks. Recently I asked him what he thought of e-reading. He had been down on it at first, and wasn’t thrilled with it. A month in, he answered in the same way as my wife (and me).

“It’s really convenient.”

He told me that worrying about battery was a little hassle, but not a big one since we have iPod chargers all around the house. He said that the screen was a little small, and he’d like to be able to flip less, but ultimately he said that being able to just go to the next book, and having 5 or 6 or 100 books in your pocket was cool.

He’d started carrying the iPhone around, especially on errands. He’ll read in bed, in the car, before karate, just about any place, and being able to immediately get the next book, or switch books, is huge for him.

I think that’s the best part of e-reading. I do miss the covers, and would like color for a few things. I’d like better imaging for photos of illustrations, but for the most part, convenience far outweighs all of that. I can hold my iPhone and read for a much longer time than I could with a Kindle device. But ultimately, being able to buy books from Amazon, BN, or anywhere else is the key win for me.


59075814[1] I saw a short talk from Dan Pink a few months back from this year’s TED conference. It’s very cool, and worth watching. After watching the video, I bought the book, Drive.

This book goes through some the reasons why we are motivated to do things. It looks back at some of the older notions of motivation, mostly the carrot/stick  techniques most of us have been exposed to. It talks about the ways that we have tried to reward people and get more work, or better work, from them.

It does this with a mix of stories and research that Mr. Pink has done, with economists and psychologists, with interesting results. The talk summarizes it, but the book then backs it up with great examples. There’s a look at Google’s 20% time, Fed Ex days from Atlassian, and Best Buy’s ROWE work structure.

The main thrust that I’ve seen from this is that people want three things in their lives: Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose. We want to direct ourselves, we want to get better, and we want to make a difference. In my life, I had thought that better rewards motivated me, but as I grow older, I’m not sure that’s the case. I think that autonomy and mastery were key drivers, and purpose is becoming more important.

It’s a great read. If you liked Outliers, or want to try to grow yourself and become happier in your career, or even manage people better, I think this is worth the read.