Before we plunge headfirst into a pile of patterns, I thought it might help to give you some larger context about how I think about software architecture and how it applies to games. It may help you understand the rest of this book better. If nothing else, when you get dragged into an argument about how design patterns and software architecture suck or are awesome, it will give you some ammo to use.
Lori and I completed the Whole30 eating program as described in the book “It Starts With Food.” We both have experienced benefits. I lost 26 pounds, don’t feel tired when I wake up in the morning, have lots of steady energy all day, have experienced diminished symptoms of my depression. My overall mood has been more cheery and playful. I feel good about myself. So here’s a list of negative mind and body conditions and symptoms that I’ve had for years, that are now decreased or have disappeared as a result of completing Whole30:
- Feeling bloated
- Feeling tired
- Feeling sad/depressed
- Feeling a coating in my throat which causes me to clear it constantly
- Stuffy head/sinuses
- Constant back pain
- Low self-esteem
I list these items because during the next 12 days we will be reintroduces elements into our diet in a controlled manner so we can evaluate how our bodies react to it.
Days 1-3: Dairy products
Days 4-6: Grains with gluten
Days 7-9: Grains without gluten
Days 10-12: Legumes
I wrote this book for both professional programmers and home hobbyists who already know how to program in Java and who want to learn practical Artiﬁcial Intelligence (AI) programming and information processing techniques. I have tried to
make this an enjoyable book to work through. In the style of a “cook book,” the
chapters can be studied in any order. Each chapter follows the same pattern: a motivation for learning a technique, some theory for the technique, and a Java example
program that you can experiment with.
I have been interested in AI since reading Bertram Raphael’s excellent book Thinking Computer: Mind Inside Matter in the early 1980s. I have also had the good
fortune to work on many interesting AI projects including the development of commercial expert system tools for the Xerox LISP machines and the Apple Macintosh,
development of commercial neural network tools, application of natural language
and expert systems technology, medical information systems, application of AI technologies to Nintendo and PC video games, and the application of AI technologies to
the ﬁnancial markets.
What is Outliers about?
1. What is an outlier?
“Outlier” is a scientific term to describe things or phenomena that lie outside normal experience. In the summer, in Paris, we expect most days to be somewhere between warm and very hot. But imagine if you had a day in the middle of August where the temperature fell below freezing. That day would be outlier. And while we have a very good understanding of why summer days in Paris are warm or hot, we know a good deal less about why a summer day in Paris might be freezing cold. In this book I’m interested in people who are outliers—in men and women who, for one reason or another, are so accomplished and so extraordinary and so outside of ordinary experience that they are as puzzling to the rest of us as a cold day in August.
2. Why did you write Outliers?
I write books when I find myself returning again and again, in my mind, to the same themes. I wrote Tipping Point because I was fascinated by the sudden drop in crime in New York City—and that fascination grew to an interest in the whole idea of epidemics and epidemic processes. I wrote Blink because I began to get obsessed, in the same way, with the way that all of us seem to make up our minds about other people in an instant—without really doing any real thinking. In the case of Outliers, the book grew out a frustration I found myself having with the way we explain the careers of really successful people. You know how you hear someone say of Bill Gates or some rock star or some other outlier—”they’re really smart,” or “they’re really ambitious?’ Well, I know lots of people who are really smart and really ambitious, and they aren’t worth 60 billion dollars. It struck me that our understanding of success was really crude—and there was an opportunity to dig down and come up with a better set of explanations.
3. In what way are our explanations of success “crude?”
That’s a bit of a puzzle because we certainly don’t lack for interest in the subject. If you go to the bookstore, you can find a hundred success manuals, or biographies of famous people, or self-help books that promise to outline the six keys to great achievement. (Or is it seven?) So we should be pretty sophisticated on the topic. What I came to realize in writing Outliers, though, is that we’ve been far too focused on the individual—on describing the characteristics and habits and personality traits of those who get furthest ahead in the world. And that’s the problem, because in order to understand the outlier I think you have to look around them—at their culture and community and family and generation. We’ve been looking at tall trees, and I think we should have been looking at the forest.
4. Can you give some examples?
Sure. For example, one of the chapters looks at the fact that a surprising number of the most powerful and successful corporate lawyers in New York City have almost the exact same biography: they are Jewish men, born in the Bronx or Brooklyn in the mid-1930′s to immigrant parents who worked in the garment industry. Now, you can call that a coincidence. Or you can ask—as I do—what is about being Jewish and being part of the generation born in the Depression and having parents who worked in the garment business that might have something to do with turning someone into a really, really successful lawyer? And the answer is that you can learn a huge amount about why someone reaches the top of that profession by asking those questions.
5. Doesn’t that make it sound like success is something outside of an individual’s control?
I don’t mean to go that far. But I do think that we vastly underestimate the extent to which success happens because of things the individual has nothing to do with. Outliers opens, for example, by examining why a hugely disproportionate number of professional hockey and soccer players are born in January, February and March. I’m not going to spoil things for you by giving you the answer. But the point is that very best hockey players are people who are talented and work hard but who also benefit from the weird and largely unexamined and peculiar ways in which their world is organized. I actually have a lot of fun with birthdates in Outliers. Did you know that there’s a magic year to be born if you want to be a software entrepreneur? And another magic year to be born if you want to be really rich? In fact, one nine year stretch turns out to have produced more Outliers than any other period in history. It’s remarkable how many patterns you can find in the lives of successful people, when you look closely.
6. What’s the most surprising pattern you uncovered in the book?
It’s probably the chapter nearly the end of Outliers where I talk about plane crashes. How good a pilot is, it turns out, has a lot to do with where that pilot is from—that is, the culture he or she was raised in. I was actually stunned by how strong the connection is between culture and crashes, and it’s something that I would never have dreamed was true, in a million years.
7. Wait. Does this mean that there are some airlines that I should avoid?
Yes. Although, as I point out in Outliers, by acknowledging the role that culture plays in piloting, some of the most unsafe airlines have actually begun to clean up their act.
8. In Tipping Point, you had an entire chapter on suicide. In Blink, you ended the book with a long chapter on the Diallo shooting—and now plane crashes. Do you have a macabre side?
Yes! I’m a frustrated thriller writer! But seriously, there’s a good reason for that. I think that we learn more from extreme circumstances than anything else; disasters tell us something about the way we think and behave that we can’t learn from ordinary life. That’s the premise of Outliers. It’s those who lie outside ordinary experience who have the most to teach us.
9. How does this book compare to Blink and The Tipping Point?
It’s different, in the sense that it’s much more focused on people and their stories. The subtitle—”The Story of Success”—is supposed to signal that. A lot of the book is an attempt to describe the lives of successful people, but to tell their stories in a different way than we’re used to. I have a chapter that deals, in part, with explaining the extraordinary success of Bill Gates. But I’m not interested in anything that happened to him past the age of about 17. Or I have a chapter explaining why Asian schoolchildren are so good at math. But it’s focused almost entirely on what the grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents of those schoolchildren did for a living. You’ll meet more people in Outliers than in my previous two books.
10. What was your most memorable experience in researching Outliers?
There were so many! I’ll never forget the time I spent with Chris Langan, who might be the smartest man in the world. I’ve never been able to feel someone’s intellect before, the way I could with him. It was an intimidating experience, but also profoundly heartbreaking—as I hope becomes apparent in “The Trouble with Geniuses” chapter. I also went to south China and hung out in rice paddies, and went to this weird little town in eastern Pennsylvania where no one ever has a heart attack, and deciphered aircraft “black box” recorders with crash investigators. I should warn all potential readers that once you get interested in the world of plane crashes, it becomes very hard to tear yourself away. I’m still obsessed.
11. What do you want people to take away from Outliers?
I think this is the way in which Outliers is a lot like Blink and Tipping Point. They are all attempts to make us think about the world a little differently. The hope with Tipping Point was it would help the reader understand that real change was possible. With Blink, I wanted to get people to take the enormous power of their intuition seriously. My wish with Outliers is that it makes us understand how much of a group project success is. When outliers become outliers it is not just because of their own efforts. It’s because of the contributions of lots of different people and lots of different circumstances— and that means that we, as a society, have more control about who succeeds—and how many of us succeed—than we think. That’s an amazingly hopeful and uplifting idea.
12. I noticed that the book is dedicated to “Daisy.” Who is she?
Daisy is my grandmother. She was a remarkable woman, who was responsible for my mother’s success—for the fact that my mother was able to get out of the little rural village in Jamaica where she grew up, get a University education in England and ultimately meet and marry my father. The last chapter of Outliers is an attempt to understand how Daisy was able to make that happen—using all the lessons learned over the course of the book. I’ve never written something quite this personal before. I hope readers find her story as moving as I did.
Anybody read Malcolm Gladwell? Tripping Point, Blink and Outliers? I haven’t but after reading this I’m going to. Sounds extremely interesting.
The big movement seems toward ebooks in the cloud but if you go with Google or Kindle or some other service, you are stuck with their rules of access. You can create your own cloud, however, and control your own library. Further, you can set up your cloud for free using open source programs and a free account at dropbox.
This cloud set up allows you to have access, either by webbrowser or by iPhone/iTouch, to your entire ebook catalog from anywhere you can get internet connection, whether by wifi or cellular access. The catalog generated is incredibly feature rich. You can browse your catalog by series, tags, author, title, and most recent additions. You can look up a book on Goodreads or check out the wikipage for an author.
Blogkindle blog offers daily news about the Kindle, eBooks, E Ink, and other related topics. There are well over 30 categories to search, including such topics as Free Kindle Books, Kindle Accessories, Kindle Thoughts, Kindle Tips and Tricks, and Kindle Applications. There is a very useful Kindle International Coverage Map that shows the strength of wireless coverage for the Kindle around the world. There is also a chart that details by country if there is wireless available, if you can purchase blogs, the typical price of a book, if tax is included, how many books are available under $5.99, and how many total books are available.
Kindle Boards is a blog dedicated to all things Kindle. There is a very active user community, and the site boasts over 9,000 registered members and over 1.5 million pageviews a month. The user forum offers many discussions on the Kindle that you can join in or learn from. Topics range from Book Reviews and Recommendations to Kindle Apps to Kindle Reviews. On the website, you can also find tips and tricks for the Kindle and a Top 10 page that shows Kindle-related top-sellers on Amazon. There is also a blog on the site, which discusses the latest Kindle news.
Kindle User’s Guide
This is a handy link to the latest edition of Amazon’s Kindle User’s Guide. It covers how to get started with your Kindle, getting to know Kindle content, reading on your Kindle, searching on your Kindle, the Kindle Store, accessing the web, and Kindle settings. It also includes phone numbers and e-mail address for Kindle support if something goes wrong with your device.
Kindlechat is a blog that discusses the latest Kindle news. It started in November 2007, not long after Amazon first released the Kindle. It has an extensive archive of topics related to the Kindle. Some of the most popular information found on the site includes ‘How to fill your Kindle for Free,’ ‘An Alternate Kindle Charger,’ ‘How hard is it to return an eBook?,’ and ‘How to skip more than 2 page on a Kindle.’ You can also access a number of Kindle reviews on the site and get help for your Kindle questions on the Kindle Support page.
A Kindle World blog
According to the author of A Kindle World blog, “This blog will explore the capabilities of this device with its immediate access to the entire global Net, through its 24/7 wireless feature. There will be ongoing tutorials and guides for little-known features and latest information on the Kindle and its competitors. Questions are welcome.” You can even have this blog delivered directly to your Kindle.
Kindle Review blog
The ireaderreview blog is dedicated to helping people decide if a Kindle is the right eReader for them and how to make the most out of their Kindle should they decide to buy. You can find numerous reviews on the site as well as handy tips and tricks for the Kindle. There is also a Free Kindle Books section of blog, which provides links to sites where you can find free content for your Kindle.
Amazon Communities and User Reviews
The Amazon site itself is a rich resource for impartial information on the Kindle. There are a number of forums you can join on Amazon to discuss various aspects of the Kindle experience. Just visit Customer Communities on Amazon and search for Kindle. The Kindle Community lists over 18,000 contributors and has thousands of discussions you can join. On the product detail page of both the Kindle and the Kindle DX there are hundreds of reviews of the devices from users themselves. These reviews can be quite helpful in learning the issues people have with the Kindle, as well as the many positive aspects of the device.
>Sony has released a new e-book reader for its Reader lineup: the PRS-700. Sony’s PRS-700 e-book reader borrows some iPhone innovations, such as a touchscreen display. Sony says its PRS-700 e-book reader makes it possible to read e-books in bright sunlight. The PRS-700 also offers a built-in LED reading light and supports multiple formats.
>A Beginner’s Guide to E-Books – Stepcase Lifehack: “How to Find E-Books
There are thousands, maybe millions, of sites offering e-books on the Internet, but here are a few good ones:
* Amazon: Of course Amazon has e-books, with just about any recent mainstream book for sale. Your favorite online retailer probably carries e-books, too.
* Project Gutenberg: Millions of free, public domain books, generally available in text and HTML formats. Includes just about any classic book you can think of from before 1923, and a few more recent books.
* Wowio: Beautifully formatted books, including some fairly recent mainstream books, all free.
* The Internet Archive: The Internet Archive is scanning books in libraries around the world and making them available for free in a range of formats, including searchable PDFs of the original page images. They have about half-a-million texts so far, and counting.
* Baen Free Library: A pioneer in the e-book field, Baen makes selected titles from it’s line of science fiction and fantasy books available for free download. Lots of good stuff for SF fans!
* Free-eBooks.net: A huge directory of free e-books, most of which are self-published. You’ll have to do some digging to find quality stuff here, but there are plenty of good books to be found wit# h some patience.
* Web Warrior Tools: Founded by two of the stars of the personal productivity blogosphere, Leo Babauta of Zen Habits and Glen Stansberry of LifeDev, Web Warrior Tools offers a collection of books devoted to topics like better email, podcasting, and other Lifehack-y subjects.
* Memoware: Memoware includes tens of thousands of public domain books, formatted for a wide range of portable devices. They also have a premium bookstore where more current, mainstream books can be bought.
* Fictionwise: A huge e-book bookstore, specializing in SF, with titles formatted for a range of devices. Check out their always-changing selection of free e-books drawn from their collection.