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Duffbert's Random Musings is a blog where I talk about whatever happens to be running through my head at any given moment... I'm Thomas Duff, and you can find out more about me here...

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Book Review - The Rules of the Tunnel: A Brief Period of Madness by Ned Zeman

Category Book Review Ned Zeman The Rules of the Tunnel: A Brief Period of Madness
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What would it be like to lose a couple years of your life to amnesia, trying to pick up the pieces of relationships that you apparently destroyed but have no idea of what you did?  Ned Zeman lived through that ordeal and relates his story in the book The Rules of the Tunnel: A Brief Period of Madness.  In short, this is a raw, disturbing read that is brutally honest.  At the end, I'm not sure if I would have liked Zeman before or after the episode, but I could feel compassion for what he went through.

Zeman was a writer and editor for Vanity Fair magazine in New York, where he struggled to fit into the lifestyle and hectic pace of the culture.  Although he appeared mentally healthy leading up to the age of 30, things started to change.  He became obsessed with personalities he profiled, people who had lived life out on the fringe, people who would solidly qualify as manic depressive or bipolar.  At 32, he developed his own symptoms, and thus started his own slide into the tunnel.  He tried drugs, therapy, hospitalization, and everything else he could think of.  Finally he came face-to-face wit the treatment of last resort... electroconvulsive, or "shock", therapy.  In all, he ended up receiving 20 sessions (an extremely high total) which put him on a roller coaster ride of emotions and behaviors that taxed the patience and love of those around him who were committed to helping him get better.  As he emerged from the tunnel, he had lost around two years of his life due to amnesia.  He had to reconcile the fact that although he was "better" now, his actions during that time alienated many of those he cared about.  He knew intellectually that he had treated them badly, and he accepted the fact that they had every right to turn away.  The only thing he couldn't do is figure out exactly what he did in each case.  Those memories were completely gone...

The Rules of the Tunnel whips you around emotionally.  Zeman's writing style is dark and gritty, and he doesn't attempt to hide or sanitize any of the ordeal.  Specifically towards the end when he's into the shock treatments, you have a view into his head as he attempts to build lie upon lie to keep his "protectors" at bay.   He tells his significant other in one sentence that she's the best thing that ever happened to him, and in the next breath compares her unfavorably to his ex-girlfriend.  He impulsively flies from LA to NY for an overnight trip to talk with his ex-girlfriend, racks up over $900 in room charges for one night (with no idea what he did to spend that much), and then tells about five different stories to everyone to hide where he actually was.  He's not a likable person during these times,  even when I'm trying to remember what type of treatment he's getting for his mental illness.

For me, the biggest impact was thinking about what it would be like to not remember things you did on an hour-to-hour basis.  People and situations would be like a ghost... something you might catch a vague glimpse of, but when you look directly at it, it's not there.  And I'm really not sure I could live with myself knowing that I had been a horrible human being to all my friends for a couple years, but I couldn't remember what I had done with any level of detail.  

The Rules of the Tunnel isn't a feel-good story, and it will likely make you feel very uncomfortable and disturbed in a few places.  Having said that, it's worth reading if you want to get a sense for what a person with mental illness might be dealing with inside.  At the very least, it will cause you to hesitate for a few moments before you pass judgement on someone who doesn't seem to be coping with life very well.

Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed


Book Review - Never Too Late: A 90-Year-Old's Pursuit of a Whirlwind Life by Roy Rowan

Category Book Review Roy Rowan Never Too Late: A 90-Year-Old's Pursuit of a Whirlwind Life
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When I picked up Never Too Late: A 90-Year-Old's Pursuit of a Whirlwind Life by Roy Rowan at the library, I was intrigued.  Here we have a 90-year-old guy who has been all over the world as a reporter, covering many critical moments in world history and interviewing the leaders who were part of them.  It sounded as if he had learned how to live life to the fullest regardless of age, and was going to share those insights with the reader.  And he does that... for about half the book.  It then morphs into more of a memoir of his adventures in the field.  Interesting, to be sure... but was it really what the book set out to be?  I don't think so...

Who Says You Have to Grow Old Gracefully!; How Old is Old?; Quit Is a Four-Letter Word; R Is for Resilience; Sunny Side Up; Tuned to the Immune System; You and the Eureka Factor; Stay in Touch; Seeking Solitude; Looking Back; Looking Ahead; Recycling the Past; Reliving the Dream; Finally, a Feeling of Closure; Cruising into the Nineties; Acknowledgments; About the Author

Rowan has, without question, led a fascinating life.  While covering wars and world leaders for Time, Life, and Fortune magazines, he was able to experience more than most of us would see and do in five lifetimes.  And as he headed into his 60's, 70's, and beyond, he certainly didn't retire to the porch swing to watch life flow by.  He still travels, exercises, and writes on a regular basis, even though he's into his 90's now.  Add in the fact that he beat cancer once and lives with a form of bone cancer that's controlled through medication, and he definitely doesn't fit the normal image of "old age."  I'd be happy to do what he does right now, and I'm only 50!

Through the chapter titled "You and the Eureka Factor," he shares his thoughts and insights on how you can still live a full and active life long past the time most people decide to slow down (or die).  Given that's the angle of the book I was expecting based on the flyleaf, I thought it was good material.  But from "Stay in Touch" through the end of the book, the whole tone and flavor of the book changes.  There was far less advice and much more reminiscing about past and current adventures.  Yes, the stories were interesting, but it was almost as if he wrote two different books of around 100 pages each, and then decided to put them into a single volume because they were otherwise too short to publish as stand-alone books.  Either that, or he and the publisher couldn't quite figure out what the book should be... a personal improvement book or a look back at his life in publishing.  By trying to do both, I think they failed to do either as well as they could have.

Given I know more about Rowen's life now, I'd be somewhat interested in picking up some of his other books.  I have no doubt his first-hand accounts and analysis of the war in China or the Vietnam conflict would be well worth reading.  But I have a hard time recommending Never Too Late as the two directions it goes are not necessarily paths that run close enough for a reader to remain focused on both.

Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed


Book Review - Tin Hero by Sabrina Zbasnik

Category Book Review Sabrina Zbasnik Tin Hero
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The fantasy genre is not normally one I gravitate towards.  But throw in plenty of snarky sarcasm and off-the-wall situations, and I start to get interested in terms of reading "something different."  Through an acquaintance on Twitter, Sabrina Zbasnik asked me if I would be willing to read and review her ebook Tin Hero.  Given the off-beat description and the email exchange I had with her, I thought I just might like this.  I was right... This was an entertaining read based on the "hero kills ogre and wins the hand of the princess" story line, but with enough craziness to make it fresh and unique.

Jack the Farrier's son is one of those kids who is in constant danger of causing harm to himself or others (or even the whole village) due to his lack of common sense.  Everyone, including his family, harass him continuously, knowing that he'll probably not survive to see adulthood given his many failings.  He happens to be in the square when Princess Anne announces that an ogre is threatening the village, and the person who kills the beast will have her hand in marriage.  Jack ends up with her lace hanky dropped at the end of the proclamation, instantly "falls in love" with her, and decides that he will be the one to slay the ogre.  But how can he do that if he knows nothing about weapons, fighting, or really anything else for that matter?  He needs a teacher, and sets off to find the fabled master (on his horse named Horse) who has killed all manner of beasts in his lifetime.

Actually, make that *her* lifetime, as the master is a woman named Cas the Barbarian.  She's retired, and has little to no patience to train future dragon slayers, much less one that could probably be bested by his own shadow.  But she needs some quick money to pay off a tax collector, so she takes him on as a boarder and student.  While he's probably more dangerous to himself than to any mythical beast that needs to be killed, she does see a small spark within him that might be able to be molded into something that would stand a remote chance of not getting killed.  With the help of Penny (her other boarder), Humphrey (aka Hump, a beast killer in his own right), and Chud (you'll have to read the book to find out about Chud), they take their best shot at getting Jack to the point where he can win the hand of his "true love" (or die trying)...

Offering to read and review an author's first novel (and self-published at that) is always a dicey proposition.  They may put a lot of work into their writing, but you find out that perhaps writing isn't their calling.  Fortunately, Tin Hero doesn't fall into that category.  Zbasnik does a great job in taking the standard characters and twisting them around in ways that bring a smile and laugh to the reader.  Her skill with dialogue, usually an area where new authors fall short, shows an adeptness at capturing words and pacing.  It's even more enjoyable that she does this with "unusual" characters set in a time and place that isn't something you'd encounter at your local Starbucks.  Yeah, there were a few typos and grammatical errors that an editor would have caught and fixed.  Normally that would bug me, but I was having too much fun in the story to let it detract from the overall effect.  

In short, I was impressed that this is Zbasnik's first novel, but I hope it won't be her last.  If you're looking for an enjoyable read that goes off in directions you weren't expecting, Tin Hero is well worth downloading...

Obtained From: Author
Payment: Free


Book Review - Battle of the Crater by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen

Category Book Review Newt Gingrich William R. Forstchen Battle of the Crater
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When it comes to adding "color" to a historical event, I don't do a great job in my mind.  I can read a paragraph spanning weeks or months of history, and that's as far as my mind takes it.  I miss the pain, suffering, glory, and everything else that actually occurred.  It's for this reason that a good historical fiction novel can open my eyes and help me understand some event on a much deeper emotional level.  Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen are masters of the historical fiction genre, and they once again hit a home run with their new novel Battle of the Crater.  I was offered an advance reader copy of the book, and was blown away by the raw emotion that Gingrich and Forstchen add to the Civil War battle also referred to as the Battle of the Mine Explosion (depending on what side of the conflict you were on).

Battle of the Crater focuses on a battle that occurred on July 30th, 1864 during the Civil War.  Northern and Southern troops were faced off  outside of Petersburg, Virginia.  The South had to hold the line, as a break there would likely allow the North to take Petersburg and Richmond and end the war.  They were dug into trenches and had a fortress (Fort Pegram) that was well situated to hold their position and break the siege.  A plan was devised and presented to Major General Burnside that was audacious in its effort and scope.  A group of soldiers who were also miners would tunnel under the open battlefield, ending up under the fort.  They would pack the mine full of explosives and blow a hole in the Confederate line, followed by an immediate charge of black soldiers who would be trained especially for this operation.  In the course of a few short hours, they could take Petersburg and Richmond and deal the death blow to Lee's army.  

Of course, what is planned and what happens are two different stories.

Crater tells the story of this battle from the primary perspective of one James O'Reilly, an Irish sketch artist who works for Esquire to report on the war.  He's also very close friends with Lincoln, as Lincoln gave him a job in his law office when O'Reilly first came over to the States.  Lincoln trusts him deeply, and asks O'Reilly to report back to him on what he sees on the battlefront, free of any political slant or agenda.  O'Reilly sees it all... the suicide charges by the North, killing thousands of soldiers in minutes... the death of his brother... the dedication of the black soldiers who have the need to prove that they are worthy of full citizenship in the US.  Most importantly, he is there as the political gamesmanship and egotism between Burnside and Major General Meade turn the battle plan into chaos, leading to the massacre of thousands of troops and the devastating defeat of the Union army in that battle.  Even though Meade changed all the plans and caused the attack to fail, Burnside is held responsible for not taking charge, disregarding orders, and responding to the evolving situation.  Burnside is relieved of his command in an inquiry after the events, and it's apparent that the decision on who to blame has already been made.  Even with O'Reilly making a plea to Lincoln to correct what is a miscarriage of justice, the decision stands as it's the most politically efficient way to deal with the loss.

Gingrich and Forstchen take the factual details of what happened at Petersburg and add the color, emotion, and horror of war.  They paint a vivid picture of the squalor behind the lines, the agony of battle injuries, and the hopelessness of the soldiers rushing into what they know to be suicide.  The arrogance of the leaders is also apparent, from how many commanded their troops from a distance, to how each step was often considered more from a political angle than a battle strategy.  Most importantly, they highlight the role of the black soldiers in the North, how they had to overcome the discrimination and racial barriers to be considered the equal of their fellow soldiers on the battlefield, and how regardless of how well they did, they still ended up unfairly shouldering a significant amount of blame for the loss.  This additional color and nuance are what I miss when I read the stark details of the battle on a site like Wikipedia.  There, I learn about the event.  In Battle of the Crater, I live the battle.

I'm not a Civil War historian or scholar, so I can't tell you whether the small details of the book are completely accurate.  With the passing of time, history is interpreted and shaped, and everyone has theories as to what exactly happened and who was to blame.  You may not agree with particular motivations or how things supposedly happened behind the scenes.  But for me, Battle of the Crater is an outstanding book, both for historical detail and bringing to life what it was like to be a soldier in the Civil War.  Perhaps if more people would take the time to read books like this, we as a society would be far more reluctant to rush off to battle and sacrifice our youth in wars that are not fought to be won, but to make generals look good.

Obtained From: Publicist
Payment: Free


Book Review - Odd Jobs by Ben Lieberman

Category Book Review Ben Lieberman Odd Jobs
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Odd Jobs by Ben Lieberman is one of those debut novels that could be the beginning of good things.  Lieberman has a gritty style that works well for this particular story, and it was easy to get wrapped up in the main character's situation.  As the story moved to its climax, Lieberman tossed in a number of unexpected *and* funny twists that had me laughing at scenes that were really rather morbid... but I couldn't help it.

Ken Davenport is a guy who has champagne tastes on a beer budget.  His dad was a district attorney, but was killed in a hit-and-run accident when Ken was young.  The event devastated his mom, and Davenport's life went downhill after that.  He was always working odd jobs and schemes to make enough money to get by.  He finally ends up at a meat packing warehouse, where the money is good but the coworkers are... different.  After proving himself as a winning fighter in some clandestine street fights between different companies, he gains the trust of the guys running the plant.  This leads Davenport to uncover what's really going on with the products and profit of the operation, and it also answers some questions about his own past.  These answers put Davenport on a quest to right some wrongs and get some revenge for everything he's had to go through.

As with most first novels, Odd Jobs is not perfect (at least in my opinion).  While I was impressed and wrapped up in the writing style, the story seemed to bog down somewhat in the middle parts of the book.  In fact, midway through the book I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy the overall package.  But once the end game started to play out, the pace picked up and I wasn't able to put it down.  

I hope Lieberman doesn't make Odd Jobs a one-time "been there, done that" project.  He shows real promise as a writer, and I'd love to read more of his work.  

Obtained From: Publicist
Payment: Free


Book Review - Brand Failures: The Truth about the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Times by Matt Haig

Category Book Review Matt Haig Brand Failures: The Truth about the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Times
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Brands come and go at an ever-increasing pace these days.  Mistakes are magnified and missteps in a local market carry over to the global market seemingly overnight.  But can we learn from the mistakes of the past and better manage the present and future?  There are definitely some lessons to be learned in the 2nd edition of Brand Failures: The Truth about the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Times by Matt Haig.  It's worth reading if you own or manage a business, or if you're deciding whether to invest in a company.  Just keep in mind that hindsight is 20/20, and pointing out mistakes after the fact is far easier than seeing them at the time.

Introduction: Why brands fail; Brand myths; Why focus on failure?
Classic Failures: New Coke; The Ford Edsel; Sony Betamax; McDonald's Arch Deluxe
Idea Failures: Kellogg's Cereal Mates; Sony's Godzilla; Persil Power; Pepsi; Earring Magic Ken; The Hot Wheels computer; Corfam; RJ Reynolds' smokeless cigarettes; La Femme; Radion; Clairol's 'Touch of Yoghurt' shampoo; Pepsi AM; Maxwell House ready-to-drink coffee; Campbell's Souper Combo; Thirsty Cat! and Thirsty Dog!;
Extension Failures: Harley Davidson perfume; Gerber Singles; Crest; Heinz All Natural Cleaning Vinegar; Miller; Virgin Cola; Bic underwear; Xerox Data Systems; Chiquita; Country Time Cider; Capital Radio restaurants; Smith and Wesson mountain bikes; Cosmopolitan yoghurt; Lynx barbershop; Colgate Kitchen Entrees; LifeSavers Soda; Pond's toothpaste; Frito-Lay Lemonade
PR Failures: Exxon; McDonald's - the McLibel trial; Perrier's benzene contamination; Pan Am; Snow Brand milk products; Rely tampons; Gerber's PR blunder; RJ Reynolds' Joe Camel campaign; Firestone tires; Farley's infant milk
Culture Failures: Kellogg's in India; Hallmark in France; Pepsi in Taiwan; Schweppes Tonic Water in Italy; Chevy Nova and others; Electrolux in the United States; Gerber in Africa; Coors in Spain; Frank Perdue's chicken in Spain; Clairol's Mist Stick in Germany; Parker Pens in Mexico; American Airlines in Mexico; Vicks in Germany; Kentucky Fried Chicken in Hong Kong; CBS Fender; Quaker Oats' Snapple
People Failures: Enron; Arthur Andersen; Ratner's Planet Hollywood; Fashion Cafe; Hear'Say; Guiltless Gourmet
Business Cycle Failures: Lehman Brothers; Marconi
Rebranding Failures: Consignia; Tommy Hilfiger; ONdigital to ITV Digital; Windscale to Sellafield; Payless Drug Store to Rite Aid Corporation; British Airways; MicroPro;
Internet And New Technology Failures: Pets.com; VoicePod; Excite@Home; WAP; Dell's Web PC; Intel's Pentium chip; IBM's Linux graffiti; boo.com; Google
Tired Brands: F. W. Woolworth; Oldsmobile; Pear's Soap; Ovaltine; Kodak; Polaroid; Rover; Moulinex; Nova magazine; Levi's; Kmart; The Cream nightclub; Yardley cosmetics
References; Index

Brand Failures is a fun and informative read on many levels.  Haig devotes a page or more to most of the brands listed above, outlining the story behind the rise and fall of the brand or company.  At the end of many of the stories, he lists one or more lessons to be learned from the failure.  For instance, we can take Harley Davidson's foray into the branded perfume market.  HD has an incredible brand loyalty in the market.  But that doesn't mean that anything with the HD logo will be embraced.  At the point that HD tried to create a perfume and aftershave, they overstepped their customer mind set.  They did the same thing with an HD-branded wine cooler.  Those items didn't fit with the image that their customers had of themselves, and as such they were a flop.  HD learned from that, and cut back dramatically on the branded merchandise.  What did they learn? That you need to focus on your brand values, you can't alienate your core customers, "lovemarks" need to be handled with care, and that less is more in many cases.  

In retrospect, it's easy to see where many of these brands went wrong.  boo.com spent copious amounts of money yet didn't have a functional web site.  Polaroid went under as they didn't stay relevant in a world of digital photography (same with Kodak).  Pets.com found out that charging less for an item than it costs you to sell it doesn't work over the long run (imagine that!)  On the flip side, some things that were successful broke some of the very rules that doomed other offerings.  For instance, tablet computers failed repeatedly until Apple made the iPad a runaway success.  No one knew they needed or wanted a Walkman until they actually hit the market.  If digital photography hadn't taken off, Kodak would have been lauded for staying focused. At some point, you have to take your best guess as to what the future will hold.  There's also a good chance you'll be wrong.

Even with the hindsight issue, Brand Failures is a good read with valuable information.  Some of the lessons lie outside of the "what happens in the future" question, and apply to all situations.  Just make sure you don't take every lesson as a rule, and be prepared to think about what might or might not happen if you follow a particular course of action.

Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed


Book Review - Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen

Category Book Review Annie Jacobsen Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base
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I first noticed Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen while wandering through a bookstore in London.  I read a bit and thought this was something I had to grab from the library when I got home.  I didn't want to buy it there and haul 500+ pages around in a suitcase.  After reading it once I got home, I'm glad I didn't commit to the weight.  This is one of those reads that leaves me conflicted as to whether I liked it or not...

The Secret City; The Riddle of Area 51; Imagine a War of the Worlds; The Secret Base; The Seeds of a Conspiracy; The Need-to-Know; Atomic Accidents; From Ghost Town to Boomtown; Cat and Mouse Becomes Downfall; The Base Builds Back Up; Wizards of Science, Technology, and Diplomacy; What Airplane?; Covering Up the Cover-Up; Dull, Dirty, and Dangerous Requires Drones; Drama in the Desert; The Ultimate Boys' Club; Operation Black Shield and the Secret History of the USS Pueblo; The MiGs of Area 51; Meltdown; The Lunar-Landing Conspiracy and Other Legends of Area 51; From Camera Bays to Weapons Bays, the Air Force Takes Control; Revelation; Epilogue; Acknowledgments; Notes; Author Interviews and Bibliography; Index

Jacobsen sets out to write a comprehensive expose on the history and secrets of Area 51.  Using declassified documents and countless interviews with people associated with the topic, she weaves a narrative going from the search for an out-of-the-way area that could be used by the government for sensitive research to the creation and use of the armed drones we see in the headlines today.  Along the way, there are nuclear explosions, high-altitude spy planes, permanently contaminated soil, and of course, the "Roswell incident."  But even as much as is told here, there's so much more that remains unknown and unknowable, as there are thought to be over 600 million pages of documents that remain classified to this day.  The full and complete story of Area 51 will never be known or told.

On the positive side, Jacobsen does a good job giving a broad history of Area 51.  Knowing why the site was created and how it's been used over the years provides the context for how perception and reality has been shaped by the government over this topic.  She spent the time and effort finding and interviewing people who are rapidly becoming inaccessible due to age.  As these individuals die off, parts of the story and history of Area 51 die off with them.

On the flip side, some basic facts are botched badly.  If you read other reviews on Amazon, you'll quickly understand the errors.  Either she didn't understand many of the facts, or the editors of the book were asleep at the wheel.  Many of the interviews are stories told by the interviewees of things they heard, not necessarily things they were part of.  After awhile, you have to start wondering where facts stop and legend/imagination/rumor begin.  Unfortunately, that type of mindset ends up coloring and clouding *all* the content, not just the parts that seem to be shocking or unimaginable.  I also had problems with her conclusions related to Roswell.  If the craft that was found really was a Russian aircraft piloted by mutated/genetically engineered children, why haven't we seen that particular technology used in other aircraft since then?  It's hard to believe that the saucer technology, if real, hasn't been used or made public in 60 years by either Russia *or* the United States.  I'm not saying I think it was really an alien craft.  I just can't buy into the story as told here.

So is Area 51 worth reading? It's a toss-up.  I think the book could have been done in about half the page count, and you have to read with an eye towards deciding some things for yourself.  On the other hand, the story of how high-altitude spy planes came to be is fascinating, as is the concept that some things are "born classified" and that even the President doesn't have a "need-to-know" to access the material.  It's not hard to imagine how many things are being done without oversight or control as to what ramifications may exist.  I'm reasonably certain that if those 600 million pages (where do you STORE that much paper???) were ever declassified, we'd have a drastically different view of our government and elected leaders.

Obtained From: Library
Payment: Borrowed


Do You Have an Opinion on the (fill in the vendor) (fill in the technology) Community?

Category IBM/Lotus Microsoft
As part of my day-job existence, I spend time reading blogs related to Microsoft SharePoint.  Of the bloggers I recently started following is Robert Bogue, an MVP for Microsoft SharePoint.  He has an interesting blog entry today titled "Do You Have an Opinion on the SharePoint Community?"

Here's a snippet from the post that covers his topic:

Despite the inflamitory nature of the titles (and content) let's look to see what Mark has to say this time:

1.        These aren't the good ole days
2.        Speakers aren't taunted by hecklers
3.        People have egos
4.        Conference burn out
5.        The MVP program is broken.
6.        Microsoft should do more for the community
7.        SharePoint is different.

Let me try to take these points one-by-one. My apologize for potentially grossly misinterpreting his points.

I'm thinking it would incredibly easy to substitute "Lotus Notes" for "Microsoft SharePoint", and many of the arguments and points would be the exact ones we struggle with.

His post is worth reading if you care about the Notes community and where things are going.  For me, it reaffirmed that we aren't that much different than other technology communities, we struggle with the same issues, our "broken issues" are also broken for other vendors and communities, and at the core, it all revolves around people.


Book Review - Unbeatable Resumes: America's Top Recruiter Reveals What REALLY Gets You Hired by Tony Beshara

Category Book Review Tony Beshara Unbeatable Resumes: America's Top Recruiter Reveals What REALLY Gets You Hired
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Given the current business and economic landscape, it's reasonable to expect that you or someone you know may be looking for a new job due to layoffs.  Your resume is still the primary tool you use to find that new job, and this book is a timely offering on how to make your resume stand out from the others... Unbeatable Resumes: America's Top Recruiter Reveals What REALLY Gets You Hired by Tony Beshara.  The information here is solid, and Beshara doesn't attempt to offer up any gimmicks that sound good but don't work in real life.

The Top Ten (BIG) Mistakes of Resume Writing; Straight Talk About Your Resume (From a Guy Whose Living Depends on Using Them); Surprising Facts About Your Resume Audience; The Resumes 3,000 Hiring Authorities Want to See; Key Features of the Most Effective Resumes; The Basic Resume and Some Resume Makeovers; Sample Traditional Resumes; Nontraditional Resumes; E-Mailing Resumes, Cover Letters, and Attachments - Increasing the Chances Your Resume Will Get Read; Leveraging Your Resume; How to Handle Common Resume Problems (Too Many Jobs, Employment Gaps, Changing Careers, Relocating, etc); The Top Ten Rules (You Now Know) of Resume Writing; Index

Beshara uses his many years of experience and expertise to great advantage here.  He talks about what hiring managers expect and want (backed up by interviews and surveys), and translates that into how those desires affect you when it comes to your resume.  He doesn't pull any punches (as in the chronological vs. functional resume format), yet his opinions and recommendations are practical and reasoned.  You may not agree or you may want to cling to your own resume style and ideas, but keep in mind he's been doing this type of stuff for *far* longer than you have. :)

For me, the high-value aspect of this book is the large number of examples.  Beshara offers up effective resumes for numerous jobs and industries, from retail manager and aeronautic engineer to college professor and physician.  Your specific job might not be in here, but you should find something reasonably close to look at as an example.  He also does some resume makeovers which are enlightening.  It enables you to see something that *doesn't* work, while also learning how that same body of experience can be repackaged in a more effective format.  I'd almost be willing to recommend the book on this aspect alone.

Regardless of whether you're putting together your first resume, dusting off a resume that hasn't been used in years, or looking to have more success in your current job search, Unbeatable Resumes is an excellent choice.  You may hope you don't have a need for the book, but the reality is that you need to be prepared "just in case"...

Obtained From: Publicist
Payment: Free

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Thomas "Duffbert" Duff

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