Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Here is the books I read for February.

imageClosing the Innovation Gap: Reigniting the Spark of Creativity in a Global Economy

Available in National Library

This book presents a well-research study of how innovation has become increasingly important to organizations and nations, and how to build, sustain and leverage on the innovation ecosystem for competitive advantages and business.

imageStart-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle

Available in National Library

How is that nation that is surrounded by hostile countries and constantly plagued with threat of war and terrorism is been respected and recognized worldwide as a powerhouse for extraordinary source of innovation ? What is it about Israel that attracts Intel to put the company’s future and trust since the 1960s into the hands of Israel chip designers to develop innovative CPU like Pentium, Centrino and the next generation of supercomputer chip ?  Why is that most developed nations with greater wealth, economic stability and excellent infrastructure fail to replicate the culture of innovation and start-up culture of Israel ? All these answers can be found in this extremely well-written book on Israel’s start-up history and culture. By critically looking at past events that shape Israel, the authors uncover the root of innovation of Israel that closely linked to military.

This book uses the story-telling style that effectively captivates the reader with factual dramas and interesting insights. The lessons learnt are well-supported with example and research, and summarized at end of each chapter.

A great deal of material also covers Singapore’s obstacles towards a innovative nation and explains hindrance like rigidity, lack of core value and sense of purpose, inability to attract R&D centres, obsessive focus on GDP, materialism and wealth-building, lack of freedom of speech that discourages questioning mind.


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This has to be my best record for most number of books read within a month. I do not read them all concurrently, rather I try to tackle 3 books, reading each book by a chapter or two everyday and completing them before proceeding to next batch. Only at the end of the month, I have realized that I have broken my own record Open-mouthed.  Some books here are simply addictive and hard to put down. Reading them are so engrossing that I find myself glue to the seat for more than 2hrs and still wanting for more. Look like the only things that can make me enthralling and oblivious of the surrounding to the point of skipping lunch and dinner are reading and programming.

So here the interesting books that you might want to read it too.

The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google


Loan from Singapore National Library

image  image Nicholas Carr is certainly no stranger to most people in IT world. His highly-acclaimed book “IT Doesn’t Matter” provides a thought-provoking view on IT in the corporate business world. The Big Switch continues on his valuable insight with this time focus on the history of electricity and how it becomes a crucial catalyst to drive modern computing infrastructures and technologies like utility computing, cloud, data centres,  Internet and how it will continue to impact the web innovation and business model.


The Cult of the Amateur


Loan from Singapore National Library


The early web era focus on disseminating information and only provides one-way communication, that is from information provider to the user. The Web 2.0 era changes everything, and now two-way communication and user-generated content become the essence of future web business model. By leveraging on online social tool and technologies like  social networking system, blogging, wiki, anonymous and known user suddenly become the driving force of marketing, communication and creation for business and the consumer industry. However, such changes can negatively jeopardise the culture and the economy by denigrating the value of expert and professional as the author found out.  In this book, the author examines the extent of Web 2.0 and how this movement can hinder innovation and promote quantity at the expense of quality resources. At the core of this book is the argument that amateurs who generally lack profession training and experience could not possibly give informed comment or create value that compete with expert and professional, and in the course of doing so, jeopardise the latter’s value and job.


Genius Explained


Loan from Ngee Ann Polytechnics


Everyone is intrigued with genius, a mysterious being who is gifted with creative and innate charismatic power that change the world. Most just accept that genius is genius because they are born to be one. However, in this book, the author meticulously research into the study of genius and debunk the prevalent myths of genius, and conclude that genius is nothing more than people with unparallel determination, diligence, obsessive focus and persistence. The so-called genius is a result their environment, temperament  and personality among other critical factors. According to the book, most genius performed poorly or averagely in their early years, and it is only through exposure and learning from salient works, and through consistent undivided dedication, preparation and commitment to their “art” that they manage to create their breakthrough and opportunity. Apparently, reporting generally does not report on those genius’s sacrifice of personal life, uncountable failures and unsuccessful works, which all are important foundations for discovery, invention and works. To validate his theory, the author researches the life of famous genius such as Albert Einstein, Mozart, Charles Darwin, and dedicates each chapter to them. This book is a must-read for those who want to nurture the “genius” out of their children or themselves.


Founders At Work: Stories of Startups’s Early Days


Loan from Ngee Ann Polytechnics

image  imageJessica Livingston interviews many popular startup founders from the Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 era, and consolidate those interviews into a book. Needless to say, this is compulsory read for those in doing a startup because it exposes lesson and experience of those who fail and succeed in the technological startup business. The startup founders recount their history dealing with employee, business, VC, angel investor and the community, and offer their genuine insight and thought.

I have read this book twice and I have to say it is definitely a classic book for the technological startup world.


Business The Sun Way


Loan from Ngee Ann Polytechnics image

This book reveals the business, management and philosophy of Sun Microsystems, a company that well-known for creating Java, Solaris OS, Sparc processor. Though I have to admit it is quite a drudgery to read because it read like a standard business textbook (fortunately the content is more abridged than business textbook). Yawn, but then each business book isn’t Wink? Still, this is one of valuable book to understand the company and its value. Well, for those  getting a job in Sun, what better way than to read this book ?


Castles can fly : making sense, building dreams

Loan from Ngee Ann Polytechnics


Alvin Lee built a profitable international business around Sand Castle Kit. Alvin Lee proves that if one perseveres in adversity and restive to pursue one’s dream, the dream will come into fruition. In this book, Alvin talks about how his creation come into being, and offers some valuable insight into innovation and lesson from his experience.

For those who still building dream castle in the sand will be inspired by Alvin to build their “sand castle”.


RICE & CHIPS: Technopreneurship and Innovation in Asia


Loan from Ngee Ann Polytechnics


How can Asian country replicates the success of Silicon Valley in creating a conducive environment and culture for innovation and collaboration ? The answer can be found in this book where the author research the successful model underpins Silicon Valley, and how it inspires Asian countries to build their own version of SV. The author reiterates that merely replicating SV will not be effective and each country has to retrofit the model to fit its own culture and environment. The author also look into the initiative and strategy of established countries like Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and China and the current state of their “innovation” infrastructures.

Although actual book’s content last only 96pages, and written in more academic style (luckily without those mind-blogging statistics), it is concise and easy-to-read.  The following summarizes the core points (word by word from the book), and details are further elaborated in the book.

  1. There must be a critical mass of brilliant engineers and scientists, venture capital, key suppliers and other players needed in technology venture formation.
  2. There must be a university or research institute that does research and development on par with the rest of the world, and publishes and/or patents its results to gain recognition for its achievements
  3. There must be stories of successful entrepreneurs that are handed down from generation to generation.
  4. Culture is an important key to innovations.
  5. Geographic proximity is very important
  6. Those living abroad and at home must organize themselves  formally to exchange ideas regularly, help mentor startups, and help with policy-making
  7. A good financial and legal framework for startups should be available.
  8. Realize that failure is an important learning opportunity.


Inside the Publishing Revolution: The Adobe Story


From friend


This book chronicles the history of Adobe company from its inception as a two-man startup to a large influential corporation that successful foray into the web era. Found by two founders who were frustrated by lack of commercialisation of their work in Xerox Parc, Adobe was initially created to provide high-quality laser printout through the Postscript language. The company went through major changes and event like collaborating with Apple, and acquisition of its major competitor like Aldus. Eventually, the company ventured into complementary industry like image and graphics editing through PhotoShop and Illustrator, followed by Acrobat and other web tools. What makes this book so enticing to read are the business lesson,  and strategy that the company executed to stay competitive and relevant.

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Book Reading of the Month: September

I am a avid reader especially on book about entrepreneurial success, Web, ghost, mystery, Microsoft (there are whole lot of it !) etc.

There are many books I read with some I read for only few sections. So here I present those books that I completed reading from the very first page to the last page for this month of September. I highly recommended the following books not because I finished reading it but because these books are really inspirational, interesting or refreshing.


About: Very comprehensive and informative “classic” book on Steve Jobs and Apple. There are lot of meticulous detail scrutinising the leadership of Steve Jobs, how his characters, talents,  personalities and philosophy of life shapes and influences the culture and operation of Apple. Among others, it touches on design, technology, marketing and innovation of culture to which Apple is renowned for. It is a “must” read for those who writing business assignment on Apple. It is full of quotes and even includes a interesting chapter on iPod which elaborate on its inception to its phenomenal success.



The following books are all local Singapore publication and hence its information is not available in Amazon. However you could find these books in the popular bookstore like Borders, Popular bookstore.


About: Do you have what it takes to be a successful towkay (business-man) ? We envy wealthy business-man with big car, big houses, accompanies by ChioBu (pretty gal), with seemingly unlimited wealth and riches but then do we know the years of struggle and hardship required in order to become a successful towkay ? This book reveals the secret of a hard-earned towkay and the distinctive mindset requires to sustain a profitable business and wealth.




About: This narrates the journey of a “elite” government scholar with respect to some of his successful classmates in 1970s/80s within the government sectors. It is a good read on how been positive and optimistic can help traverse through life no matter how things turn out.




About: Singapore is full of practical urban legends with many of them embellish with such dramatic details that it looks all seem real. Still, this book does mention that there are some truth to the urban legends. Some famous urban legends investigated include the ghostly apparition of lost soldier in Pulau Tekong in 1983, raiding of home for pirated CDs if acquitted in causeway custom, “blessing” the taste of satay in Satay Club using napkins, sightings of headless ghost in MRTs when pass through Bishan that originated from cemetery.



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Interesting New Books

Some books I came across while browsing in the bookstore in Funan Centre. Look like I am going to order these books. No, I’m not going to buy it, I’m going to request for purchase from my favourite world-class library. Yes, it is indeed world-class library and I am not been sarcastic this time, haha. Not only the library offers a conducive modern digital “lifestyle” environment (eg browsing internet, listening to CD audio, watch DVD), most importantly, the library maintains a healthy flow of new books every week that keep me on my toe. Almost every book I request end up in the library, with some as fast as a month (No joke, asking library to acquire a book generally requires a long tedious wait).  As what library I’m talking about, stay tuned.


So here is the list of books I’m talking about.

About: Delivering effective presentation




About: Introductory programming and development on Google’s Android Mobile platform.




About: Software development essays by none other than Joel Spolsky http://www.joelonsoftware.com/. This is a compilation of some of his popular essays from his site.




About: Singapore secrets of success from those who been there.


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