The Art of War

The Art of War (Sun Tzu, 68 pages) is a classic, and i has long been in my list. Now I’ve finally completed it. And it was less than an overwhelming experience.

To be fair, this short book is probably more interesting due to his history than to the very content. It is after all a book written roughly 500 BC!

Also, it describes in a way timeless strategic lessons around war. The fact that we unfortunately still have critical military conflicts being fought in different parts of the world today, makes the content of this treaty still very actual.

However, it is not necessarily a complete manual on how to actually do all aspects of war. As it couldn’t be in any case. It is more like a poetic description on some key general aspects of war and peace. And, in that perspective, it is indeed a nice and interesting piece.

As I have already read some other great books on history, strategy, and war, this one gets somewhat pale in comparison. But it is still worth the time, especially due to its historical significance.


Hacking: 3 Books in 1

I recently concluded Hacking: 3 Books in 1 (Alex Wagner, 2019, 716 pages). It was an interesting introduction to different concepts and ways of thinking around ethical and non-ethical hacking.

I’m a Computer Engineer by background, but have worked most of my professional years in software products. The topics on this book are therefore somehow marginal to my field of action. Although several definitions and practices made sense right-away, because of my familiarity with the foundations of the digital world, other topics were relatively new to me.

For example, as is the case for most of us, I’ve also been exposed to multiple hacking attempts. Especially to Social Engineering techniques. But I quickly rebut suspicious attempts, and never understood what happens next to those that fall pray to some of these techniques. The book describes that in details, which I found very interesting to learn more about.

Other hands-on techniques on Kali Linux are also described in details. For me, these were interesting and curious, and also a way to get an overview without actually trying any of those.

So, in short, if your purpose is to get a good introduction into the world of security and hacking techniques, as it was in my case, this book is a great resource.


Radical Candor

I just finished Radical Candor – How to Get What You Want by Saying What You Mean (Kim Scott, 336 pages, 2019). I highly recommend this reading.

The first time I came across the basic ideas in this book was through a TED talk by the author a while ago. It had some interesting insights on how to give good guidance through feedback, and some good stories too. But it did not prompt me to try getting hold of the book.

In some other recent readings, however, I got a reference to this book again, and I decided to give it a try. It was a good move.

The book contains indeed lots of interesting first-hand stories, which only an author who has hold positions like Kim has could offer. Because of her many years at Google and Apple, among others, and the knowledge and experiences she acquired in her career.

Not to say that all that happens at Google and Apple is necessarily good, despite their enormous technological and financial success. But to say that such big corporations have had the time and resources to try and act on developing a good culture over time. And Kim has been a part of that.

At the core, the main message goes something like that: if one really cares about his or her peers, giving honest feedback is the best way to help them. If everyone around are candid with each other, giving and receiving clear and honest feedback, a great culture can blossom.

Lots of other practical insights and tips follow. And they are worth reading through.

In short, this is a very interesting and useful book. The time spent on it is a great investment for those wanting to achieve a more meaningful work-life.