2020 Book Review

As in the book review for 2019, the list for 2020 includes only the books that I’ve read from cover to cover or at least finished reading the parts I’ve committed myself to read. There are a few books I’ve abandoned for a reason or another. Then there are a few others I haven’t finished but intend to resume reading. The latter group may end up in the review for the next year.

Also as last time, the book cover images below are affiliate links to Amazon. If you click on them and buy anything over there, you won’t be charged anything more than their normal price, but I’ll get a little commission.

That being said, most of the books I buy these days aren’t bought from Amazon. I mostly buy books in electronic form if it has PDF as one of the formats available. That’s pretty much most of them as most publishers now-a-days have web stores and sell e-books in two or three formats: epub, PDF and mobi – the latter of which can be copied over to Kindle devices. Having a book in more than one downloadable format gives you flexibility, portability and prevents you from getting locked into a particular ecosystem.

The exception would be for books from O’Reilly. They’ve stopped selling e-books directly from their site apparently in an effort to arm twist their customers into subscribing to O’Reilly Learning. The only place I’ve been able to find their books in electronic format is when from time-to-time a themed selection of their books goes on sale on humblebundle.com.

Webpack for Beginners

by Mohamed Bouzid

As part of my interest in PWAs, I’ve invested the earlier part of 2019 ramping up on modern web development technologies and although I knew that sooner or later I’d have to take a look into bundlers, the topic was still some items away in my to-do list.

But in January 2020 I offered myself to do technical reviewing for books on topics I had an interest in: Linux, client-side web development, Azure, and .NET. I got an offer to review this book about Webpack and it was a nice match as the book is laid out as a tutorial and I was a true beginner on the subject.

As the pesky reviewer I am, I followed each and every instruction contained in the book making sure each one worked as described and gave feedback where it occasionally didn’t.

Beyond that, I gave feedback on a few parts that I thought needed clarification, other parts that seemed repetitive, and other parts that seemed to get into too much detail on topics that in my understanding were pre-reqs before someone would be interested in using Webpack itself. All in all, I hope my humble feedback resulted in a better book.

Sudo Mastery

by Michael W Lucas

Despite having bought my first Mac in 2010, it wasn’t until 2014 that I first tried to use one for development purposes. Alien to anything derived from UNIX, I followed closely any instructions I could find for installing the necessary tooling only to hit some error for which the solution proposed by forum users typically involved using sudo to run commands that in some cases the documentation or software packages themselves warned against because of the security implications of doing so.

Not taking the time to step back and learn the basics of the UNIX world was certainly sudomasochistic as I probably spent more time than necessary trying to troubleshoot issues due to improper permissions and/or opening security holes that wouldn’t be there if I had a clue of what I was doing.

Fast-forward to April 2020, I’m pretty much comfortable using a Bash terminal to accomplish day-to-day tasks and although I have an understanding about the differences of running as root versus an unprivileged user, I still don’t understand the specifics of how sudo does it magic.

Enter Sudo Mastery, a book that teached me everything I ever wanted to know about sudo and then some more. Answer to questions such as:

  • What accounts for the differences in sudo.conf between Ubuntu and CentOS?
  • On a system with shared administrative responsibilities, what would be gained by implementing sudo policies, instead of sharing the root password among different sysadmins?
  • How to delegate tasks to other users that need access to privileged commands while limiting what commands can be executed?

Answers to those and many more questions I had are found throughout the text. All with a writing style with just the right amount of snarkiness that I found really entertaining.

Ed Mastery

by Michael W Lucas

What could possibly be written about ed that hasn’t already? Why would anyone buy and then read a book about ed in 2020 when there are modern alternatives such as the extremely popular Visual Studio Code or the older but dependable Vim?

Well, for starters:

ed is the standard Unix text editor.


Ed Mastery is a short book published in 2018 whose subject is a piece of software first written in 1969 that can still be found on boxes running operating systems derived from UNIX to this day. The writing style follows the previous book, so there’s some geek entertainment right there, but is it useful in any way?

Surprisingly, at least for me, after forcing myself to use ed's constrained feature set to edit several little programs as exercises of a programing language book, when I got back to Vim, I immediately saw some of those techniques being put to use as several commands that are essential to ed‘s operation, work as well on Vim, sed, etc.

Firewalls Don’t Stop Dragons 3rd Edition

A Step-by-Step Guide to Computer Security and Privacy for Non-Techies

by Carey Parker

The following observations are based on the 3rd edition published in 2018. There’s a more recent version published in 2020 which I haven’t read.

The idea of a book on computer security for non-techies is a nice one, but I’m genuinely curious about potential audience size of non-techies willing to buy and then read a 440 page book on the subject. I’m willing to bet that most will rather do a Google search, end up watching some random tutorial on YouTube and stop there.

One could (correctly) argue that you don’t have to read the whole 440 pages as it devotes lengthily sections containing instructions full of screenshots for three different versions of two operating systems: Windows 7, 8.1 and 10; Mac OS X 10.11, macOS 10.12 and 10.13.

But given the target audience…

It’s the book that’s going to save you countless hours explaining to Aunt May why she needs to have more than one password …

… or helping your mom remove ten different Internet Explorer toolbars so that she can actually see more web page than buttons.

From the preface, page xxi.

… if they were to read a book like this – and again, that’s a big IF right there, how much you wanna bet that Uncle George will be mixing up instructions for one of the Mac versions with a Windows box or the other way around?

Don’t get me wrong. There’s plenty fundamentals and good guidance in the book for anyone that doesn’t pay much attention to security beyond making sure the anti-virus and firewall are turned on. It’s just that I don’t see the target audience as it was described in the book taking the time to actually read it.

Then there’s Chapter 4. It’s devoted to the topic of passwords. What makes for good and bad passwords, the importance of enabling 2FA where possible, and the importance – in the author’s point of view – of 3rd party password managers.

Mostly important advice, but this is the point where things start smelling funny to me. See… all the current browsers offer support for some level of password management. Some will even synchronize between different devices and generate strong random passwords for you.

The author introduces LastPass and lays out instructions on how to install it on a computer and a smartphone – which is nice given the target audience? – then somehow manages to fit mentions to LastPass in each and every chapter there on to the end of the book (except for chapter 10). If you don’t have MFA enabled, don’t use a browser that has a password manager built-in and are using the same password over and over again, then you should totally get a password manager, but I couldn’t help but get the feeling that the whole thing was a lengthily advert for LastPass.

2019 Book Review

This post has been sitting for a long time in the drafts folder. As 2020 comes to an end, I thought that I’d finish and publish it now or delete it altogether.

As some would say, better late than later.

2019 was a year where I’ve invested a lot of time learning through video courses on Pluralsight and O’Reilly Learning. In that regard, O’Reilly had the extra benefit of online live video courses in addition to pre-recorded ones. Being live, it was possible to interact with the instructor and other course participants, which in my opinion is way better than pre-recorded material.

O’Reilly Learning also encompasses a vast online e-book library and although it’s very useful for quickly digging into a specific topic, there are a few issues that make me still prefer e-books in PDF format or physical books:

  • I prefer fac-simili layouts to auto flow layouts. The differences are more notable when there are images such as diagrams or illustrations;
  • O’Reilly offers an app for reading on the phone, but I don’t like the phone’s form-factor.
  • More than once, I’ve found material that was present in the PDF or print version that was lacking from O’Reilly’s platform;

Although I’d started reading several books with the initial intent to read them from cover to cover, I almost always got distracted along the way abandoning them in favor of the next shinny thing to cross my field of vision.

All that being said, that’s why the list is so meager. I don’t think I’d do justice in reviewing a book without reading most of it or at least the parts I committed myself to.

Oh, and by the way, for the sake of transparency both book cover images below are affiliate links to Amazon. If you click on them and buy anything there, you won’t be charged anything more than their normal price, but I’ll get a little commission.

PGP: Pretty Good Privacy: Pretty Good Privacy

by Simson Garfinkel

I’ve already wrote a little about GnuPG a couple of times and following the rabbit whole of learning more about it’s concepts and history I’ve ended up buying a used copy of this book.

The book was published back in 1995 and is divided in two parts.

The first part goes over the history and motivations that lead to the creation of PGP – the precursor to GnuPG and other OpenPGP implementations.

The second part is a reference on how to use the software package. This second part is unsurprisingly totally outdated. So when I decided to buy the book I knew whatever I was going to pay for it I’d be paying for only the history part. And it was totally worth it!

The Cathedral & the Bazaar

by Eric S. Raymond

Back in the 90’s I’ve read several books on Bill Gates, the history of Microsoft and the economic principles behind its modus operandi.

This book, on the other hand, helped me in getting started on the culture and economic forces behind open source software development and why this way of producing software has for the most part won the war against closed source alternatives.

As most of the print books I’ve bought in 2019, this was an used copy as well and was totally worth the price I paid for it.

Retrospectiva de 2015

2015 foi um ano “interessante”. Depois de bastante tempo onde o plano era não ter plano, eis que resolvi dar uma nova guinada.


Voltei a correr no finalzinho de 2014. Vinha treinando bem, ganhei ritmo e cheguei a completar uma meia-maratona. Mas no segundo semestre eu dei uma relaxada nos treinos e pra fechar o ano com uma certa vergonha, saí uma única vez para correr agora em dezembro – e foram míseros 2Km.

A única coisa que salvou dezembro de um vexame total e retumbante foi que esses 2Km foram percorridos descalços no chão duro com o calçamento variando entre pedra portuguesa, asfalto e concreto. Apesar de algumas bolhas no pé, a experiência me fez querer mais.

Retrospectiva 2015 - Corrida
Retrospectiva 2015 – Corrida


Juntamente com a volta aos treinos, passei a tomar mais de cuidado com a alimentação. Não tanto quanto a quantidade, mas sim com a regularidade e a qualidade do que eu vinha comendo.

Havia mais de uma década que eu não tinha o hábito de tomar café da manhã regularmente. Num dia típico eu chegava até a hora do almoço com somente duas canecas de café com leite no estômago. Isso não faz nada bem para o nível de insulina no organismo.

Por volta de fevereiro ou março, eu procurei passar a tomar café da manhã nos primeiros 30 minutos depois de acordado. E garantia a ingestão de pelo menos 30g de proteína, mais uma porção de carbohidratos e mais uma porção de algum vegetal. Procurei não ficar mais que 3 ou 4 horas sem comer alguma coisa.

Praticamente abolí o consumo de carbohidratos brancos e/ou refinados como arroz, derivados de trigo como pães, macarrão, bolos, biscoitos, etc. das refeições diárias deixando-os para ocasiões “especiais”. A ingestão de carbohidratos vinha basicamente de coisas como feijão, grão-de-bico, lentilhas, etc.

Mas depois de alguns meses eu comecei a relaxar e a coisa descambou de vez em setembro depois que voltei a trabalhar. Apesar de continuar tomando café da manhã, eu troquei o combo proteína+carbohidrato+vegetal por granola – que apesar de relativamente saudável, acredito ser pior do que eu vinha comendo.

De forma geral, continuo seletivo na hora do almoço e raramente pego arroz ou algum tipo de massa. Mas é no intervalo entre as refeições que o bicho pega. Lá no trabalho tem uma mesinha com café, chá, torradas e… biscoitos recheados. E biscoito, você sabe, é basicamente trigo ultra processado, gordura vegetal e açúcar – uma verdadeira bomba. É difícil resistir, então facilita muito quando eu levo alguma coisa de casa.

O resultado da redução da carga de treinos e da relaxada na alimentação é que depois de chegar ao meu melhor peso em provavelmente duas décadas, eu voltei a ganhar peso. Ainda estou melhor que no começo do ano, mas tenho que tomar cuidado por que já são três meses seguidos ganhando peso.

Retrospectiva2015 - Peso
Retrospectiva2015 – Peso


Em 2015 eu praticamente deixei as paisagens naturais de lado e foquei em temas urbanos como street, documental e arquitetura.

Se por um lado eu tive uma pequena decepção quando nenhuma foto minha foi aceita na XIX Bienal de Arte Fotográfica Brasileira em Cores de Ribeirão Preto, eu tive uma fotografia aceita no 5º Salão Nacional de Arte Fotográfica de São Caetano do Sul, algumas imagens destacadas no blog do Flickr (1, 2, 3, 4), um prêmio no concurso mensal da Angel Foto, etc.

2015 também foi o ano em que a fotografia começou a render algum dinheiro através de licenciamento e da venda de prints.


Biblioteca Mário de Andrade
Biblioteca Mário de Andrade

Comecei o “ano” em março lendo The 4-Hour Workweek do Tim Ferriss. O podcast do cara é excelente. Ele entrevista pessoas dos mais diversos backgrounds em busca identificar o que as torna únicas em suas respectivas áreas de atuação. Já o livro tem idéias interessantes, mas alguns trechos parecem snake oil. No geral, acredito que valeu a pena ter lido o livro, mas ainda prefiro o podcast.

Uns tempos depois comecei a ler o excelente Capital in the Twenty-First Century – que estava na minha To Do List havia alguns meses. Este é um livro que estou lendo devagar já que em alguns momentos o Thomas Piketty carrega no economês. O bacana do livro, é que o argumento do cara sobre a riqueza, renda e desigualdade é baseada em dados – não em viagens teóricas ou retórica.

A partir de julho eu comecei a comprar alguns livros técnicos para ajudar na construção de um site que estou/estava desenvolvendo. Entre eles, o excelente JavaScript: The Definitive Guide e alguns sobre CSS.

Com a volta ao trabalho em setembro, eu comprei um monte de livros para me atualizar na plataforma Microsoft. Entre eles, o excelente CLR via C#.

A partir do finalzinho de novembro eu voltei a ler alguns livros não-técnicos que estavam na minha To Read List já havia bastante tempo.

O primeiro deles foi o The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art para entender um pouco a economia por trás do mercado de arte. Bem distante (mas muito, muito mesmo) da realidade das minhas “fotinhas”, mas ainda assim, uma leitura bem interessante. Resumindo a estória: Segundo o autor, o mercado de arte contemporânea é movido mais por vaidade, status e marketing do que pela qualidade da arte em si.

Depois peguei pra ler outro livro que estava na lista já haviam vários meses e que volta-e-meia eu me pegava pensando que em algum momento eu tinha que ler: The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Comsumption

O livro faz uma analogia interessante entre o consumo de informação e o consumo de calorias (alimentos). O texto tem idéias interessantes, mas por ter ficado na wish-list por tanto tempo, talvez eu tenha criado expectativas de mais.

Um insight interessante do livro é que muita gente ao vasculhar a web, jornais ou o noticiário está na verdade procurando por afirmação e não informação. Eles não querem os fatos. Só querem uma opinião baseada em parte dos fatos. A parte que coincide e reforça a opinião deles.


Depois de dois anos de período sabático, em setembro eu voltei a trabalhar com TI. Mais especificamente com o desenvolvimento de sistemas na plataforma Microsoft.

Eu já tinha tido um gostinho do que seria voltar a programar enquanto estudava JavaScript para desenvolver o site para um dos meus projetos pessoais. Mas trabalhando por conta própria – e durante o meu sabático em particular – a realidade é que eu fazia o que eu queria quando bem entendia – o que na prática quer dizer que não saia muita coisa.

No trabalho, a coisa é diferente. É bacana, é desafiador e o que é melhor: Tem resultados palpáveis. Depois de fazer alguma alteração qualquer, basta executar a aplicação ou os testes automatizados com o profiler ligado para ver o resultado do trabalho. Ver um memory leak ir embora ou o tempo de processamento de uma rotina cair de hora e meia para menos de cinco minutos é muito, mas muito legal! É bom estar de volta!


Sol, Praia e Cerveja Gelada
Sol, Praia e Cerveja Gelada

2015 foi um ano de despedidas, de encontros e reencontros. Foi também um ano fechar um ciclo e de alguns recomeços.

Que 2016 seja um ano porreta!


P.S.: Continuo firme e forte no Cold Shower Therapy há mais de um ano. Saia da zona de conforto!