Category Archives: Books

For the Love of Books: Turkey versus Belgium

The 80. edition of Antwerp Book Fair (Boekenbeurs) has finished recently. Shortly after that, another book fair, 35. Istanbul Book Fair took place. I was curious to compare the number of visitors, and especially the percentage of book fair visitors by taking the population of the city into account.

Istanbul is home to about 15 million people. Of these 15 million people, 558 thousand visited the fair in 9 days. On the other hand, the population of Antwerp is about 500 thousand people, and out of that, 170 thousand people visited the fair in 10 days on average in 2010 to 2012. In terms of percentage, the picture looks like the following:


In other words, 3.7% of Istanbul visited their book fair, whereas 34% of Antwerp population visited their book fair. If 34% of Istanbul’s population visited the book fair, that would make ~ 5.1 million people in 9 days.

This picture tells us something about literacy and interest in books, but of course we should always ask the question: how representative such a crude statistic is? Another interesting fact is that Istanbul makes up about 20% of Turkey’s population, whereas Antwerp makes up about 4.5% of Belgium’s population. (If we want to compare Turkey to a country with similar population and its most populated city: Germany is close to Turkey with its 80 million people, and its most populated city, Berlin, is home to 3.4 million people. In other words, Germany’s most populated city makes up only 4.25% of the Germany’s population.)

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Posted by on November 20, 2016 in Books


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PostgreSQL 9 High Availability Cookbook

6969OSPostgreSQL 9 High Availability Cookbook is a very well written book whose primary audience are experienced DBAs and system engineers who want to take their PostgreSQL skills to the next level by diving into the details of building highly available PostgreSQL based systems. Reading this book is like drinking from a fire hose, the signal-to-noise ratio is very high; in other words, every single page is packed with important, critical, and very practical information. As a consequence, this also means that the book is not for newbies: not only you have to know the fundamental aspects of PostgreSQL from a database administrator’s point of view, but you also need to have solid GNU/Linux system administration background.

One of the strongest aspects of the book is the author’s principled and well-structured engineering approach to building a highly available PostgreSQL system. Instead of jumping to some recipes to be memorized, the book teaches you basic but very important principles of capacity planning. More importantly, this planning of servers and networking is not only given as a good template, but the author also explains the logic behind it, as well as drawing attention to the reason behind the heuristics he use and why some magic numbers are taken as a good estimate in case of lack of more case-specific information. This style is applied very consistently throughout the book, each recipe is explained so that you know why you do something in addition to how you do it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on August 21, 2014 in Books, Linux, sysadmin


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Book review: Java Performance

9780137142521Drinking from the Firehose

Even though the Java platform (along with JVM) is one of the most ubiquotus software develoment platforms, it was surprisingly difficult to find a self-contained book dedicated to performance aspects of Java platform. “Java Performance” by Charlie Hunt and Binu John can be considered the only solid and contemporary reference in the domain of performance analysis and tuning of Java based systems. No matter which programming language you use to run on JVM, this book is the essential reference until something better comes along.

On the other hand, make no mistake, this is not a lightweight book, or a cookbook which you can consult for a few performance tuning recipes. Reading Java Performance is more like drinking from the firehose. Whether you are a beginner, or a seasoned developer, it will take time to digest the gory details presented. Luckily, the book’s logical organization is close to perfect and some of the chapters are pretty self-contained.

From start to finish, it is not difficult to see that if you want to consider yourself a serious Java performance engineer, you need to master the majority of the book. Chapter 2 starts with an overview of the basics of operating systems performance and monitoring, setting the stage for the upcoming chapters and acting as a refresher. The authors are very careful to explain concepts concretely by giving examples from Linux, Solaris and MS Windows systems, which makes sense given the portability of JVM. Chapter 3 and 4, if taken together, provide the most comprehensive technical explanation of Java Virtual Machine and Just-in Time compilation from a performance perspective. Even if you are not facing performance problems (yet), this two chapters make a very solid and clear reference for understanding JVM and JIT technology. The terminology, concepts and details in these chapters are very important: Without a solid understanding of them, it is not easy to understand the discussions in the following chapters.

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Posted by on December 8, 2013 in Books, java, Programlama


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Book review: Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

Time-tested solid framework for thinking about marketing challenges

If your background is in engineering or mathematics, you probably have enough prejudice against marketing books full of hype and buzz. Especially if you’ve been in the field and observed many a brand come and go throughout the last 20 years, you will really have a hard time reading marketing books with big words, let alone recommend them to your peers. Fortunately, “Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers” is a rare book, or should I say an outlier in this respect, that goes to the heart of the matter, and in a few pages shows what the real challenges are for a new high-tech company when it comes to marketing and establishing a brand.


There are many important lessons to learn from this book and I think even the simplest lesson, that there is a big chasm to be crossed, where exactly it is placed, why it exists, and you better be aware of it for your own good, is enough reason to read this book. But of course the book does not stop there, and continue with important topics such as what companies should do in each phase of their life-cycle, what types of users / customers are there, what kind of strategies you need to employ for which type of user and when you should do that, what the whole product means versus the core technology itself and a few other important points. Another lesson that is crystal clear: The enthusiasm and the bright energy of the starting point, all of those technological innovations are great and cool, without them you cannot start any high-tech product but it is also sad to see that they are not enough for being really successful and establishing the product as the dominant brand in the sector. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 20, 2013 in Books, business


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Book review: The Well-Grounded Java Developer: Vital techniques of Java 7 and polyglot programming

Very well balanced in its breadth, somehow lacking in depthwell_grounded_java

If you have ever had the chance to witness the live performance of the authors, you know what a dynamic duo they are, taking a no-nonsense, pragmatic and very down to earth attitude towards the perils and treasures of modern day Java development. It is easy to see that almost every page of ‘The Well-Grounded Java Developer: Vital techniques of Java 7 and polyglot programming‘ is full of that energy.

The world of Java development is wide and this book is very well-balanced in its selection of topics. In other words, almost any serious Java development team would welcome a new developer well versed in the topics of this book, or to put it differently, unless you don’t know much about most of those topics, do not consider yourself fit for a sharp and focused Java development team. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Books, java, Programlama


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Book review: The Design of Design

Definitely not required reading for all designers but a pleasant and useful one for some of them nevertheless

For some people there comes a time when they have spent more than five decades in their career and they can have a deep look at various projects they have accomplished, and talk about the common themes, as well as the distilled lessons they learned throughout a lifetime. If they also happen to be good writers as well as having lots of very successful achievements in industrial settings as well as academic and personal ones, then the reader of their work is lucky indeed. The Design of Design is one such book, at least for some readers.TheDesignOfDesign

Even though the book has many qualities, I consider it important to warn the casual reader: You are facing a book full of deep principles and abstractions. No matter how many concrete examples you may encounter in different chapters, the discussion of principles behind those examples are not to be taken lightly, Brooks often refers to the works of Christopher Alexander, an architect, designer, mathematician and cognitive scientist, not only famous for his work in architecture and design, but also for inspiring the famous “Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software” book as well as his non-mainstream writings. This alone should be enough evidence for the knowledgeable reader that this book aims to be something more than a passing attempt at discussing a few design principles. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Books, Programlama


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Book review: “RabbitMQ in Action: Distributed Messaging for Everyone”

rabbitVery high Signal to Noise Ratio, in other words a treasure trove of information

Some technical authors have a very formal, dry style when presenting useful information, whereas some become too friendly, informal and get lost in jokes and jargon, forgetting that the main purpose is to convey concepts and techniques as clearly as possible. This book is important and valuable because it combines a friendly, informal style with a mentality that always keeps presenting information clearly as the main objective.

One of the nice things about the book is that it does not assume the reader to know anything about messaging technologies, enterprise service buses and other concepts. It starts with a short history of messaging middleware, presents ‘why’s as well as ‘how’s and then describes how RabbitMQ came to be. Giving the reader a well-founded context is important for future explanations and discussions, not only particularly for RabbitMQ but for messaging challenges in general. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Books, Erlang, java, Programlama


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Book review: How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival

David Kaiser brings a whole new perspective to the concept of history of science in his book “How the Hippies Saved Physics: Science, Counterculture, and the Quantum Revival” (or maybe we should call it journalism of science, because almost all of the heroes of this wonderful book are alive). One of the central themes of the book revolves around the classical question of “what is the line between science and pseudoscience?” and others such as “do people move between categories, and if they do, does that lead to any scientifically valuable results?”. hip

For the reader who thinks science ‘progresses’ (whatever that progress means) in a linear, stepwise manner, the book is definitely full of surprises: expect the unexpected from a turbulent period of intellectual history throughout 60s and 70s, reaching to 90s and well to the 21st century. You will meet heroes such as Feynman (in very interesting settings), as well as the names probably you haven’t heard before, and you will learn that inspirations for scientific ideas can come from very unexpected domains. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Books, Science


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Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing by Neal Stephenson

What would your reaction be if you have seen the following on page 10 of a novel?

\zeta(s) = \sum\limits_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{n^s} = 1 + \frac{1}{2^s} + \frac{1}{3^s} + \ldots

Mine was along the lines of “we’ve got some interesting sci-fi author here, let’s go on!”. Or something close to that, as far as I can remember my first encounter with Neal Stephenson more than twelve years ago that started with Cryptonomicon and continued with titles such as Snow Crash and Anathem.

Stephenson never failed to satisfy and he has always delivered more than I expected as a curious reader. His latest book, “Some Remarks: Essays and Other Writing“, a compilation of his short, and some not so short, essays and stories, is full of little surprises and a lot of depth. For the reader, it is quite a remarkable experience to see how Stephenson’s style has developed throughout the years, the author of Anathem has notable differences compared to the author of Cryptonomicon.
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Posted by on June 15, 2013 in Books


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How to communicate the results of your research & innovation projects: a valuable guide from European Commission

fp7Anyone who is involved with European projects, such as FP7 (7th Framework Programme) projects, knows that a lot of documents are produced as deliverables. Those documents are mostly consumed internally, and even the public ones are generally written with more specialized users in mind. On the other hand, it is not difficult to see that communicating the results of a project to a wider audience in a successful manner is not achieved easily. This is a crucial step which, if done well, can provide the project partners with important benefits such as bringing new business opportunities, create a larger network, or increase the awareness about the project.

Dr. Frithjof Dau from SAP, the project leader of CUBIST, one of the FP7 projects that I’m involved with, has recently informed me that European Commission has published an important guide about disseminating the results of research and innovation projects: “Communicating EU Research & Innovation A guide for project participants

Its description reads as: Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Books


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