Book Review: The Peripheral – William Gibson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After watching the first few episodes of the Amazon Prime Series, I decided to read the book, and on the whole, I really enjoyed it.

It’s worth pointing out that the book and the tv series diverge on some major plot points, so both are worth watching/reading as stand-alone stories.

The plot centres around a character called Flynn, a 20-something American girl who works at Forever Fab, a 3D Print shop. One night while substituting for her brother, Burton, in what she believed to be a sim (computer game), she unwittingly sees a murder and is pulled into a dangerous game of politics some 70 years in the future. Repercussions of which reverberate into the past and create consequences for Flynn, her brother, and the world they inhabit.

Part of the book is set in a dusty and depressed Clanton, South Carolina, where you get the sense of a faded frontier town, good people, beaten down by the world and exploited by the powerful men who run the county.

The other part is set in future London, after an event called the Jackpot. A technologically advanced city that can use Continua to send and receive data to the past and back again. 

Using Continua creates a stub timeline, a fixed connection between the future and a new past. This connection can be used to communicate and for future technology to influence people and the economy. (Think Avengers: Endgame-style time travel, where the past is forked from the future’s lived past. The stub has a new and unknowable future).

What did I think?

On the whole, I really enjoyed the book. My only criticism was the ending felt a little rushed.

We have a long build-up about what the murder meant, who the bearded man was, and who might run the future-based competitor trying to attack present-day Flynn and her family, but I felt a little underwhelmed when the antagonist was revealed. Everything was wrapped up in a few short pages, tied in a ‘they all lived happily ever after’ bow.

Did it spoil my enjoyment of the book? Not really, the characters are great, and because I love Near-future Sci-Fi there was enough to enjoy with the descriptions of the tech and how it impacts daily life.

I recently found out there is a second book, in what’s now called the Jackpot Trilog; The Peripheral being the first. It’s called Agency and might offer further insight into what happened after the story finished, but it looks like it has a new protagonist so who knows.

I’ll definitely buy a copy though.

Confessions of a public speaker by Scott Berkun

In the past 5 years, I have given four public speeches and although they went well a strange thing happened. Every time I stepped onto the stage the master orator i had imagined myself to be panicked, packed his bags and ran for the exit. Leaving a slightly awkward fella behind to deliver the talk. Although the content and laughs were the same, they didn’t seem as interesting or funny.

So, this year I have made it a goal to: a) learn how to become a better public speaker and, b) to find someone brave enough to let me have another go. With that in mind I trudged off to Waterstones, book voucher in hand, to pick up a copy of Scott Berkun’s Confessions of a public speaker and boy, I’m really glad I did!

As with his other books: Making things Happen and Myths of innovation. He combines expert storytelling and command of his subject to create an entertaining and practical book on the dos and don’ts of public speaking.

Chapter 5, Do not eat your microphone, alone is worth the cover price. As the simple process, he applies to crafting a presentation can be used equally as effectively when creating essays and blog posts.

The book boils down to three main themes:

  • Know your material
  • Know your audience
  • Practice, practice, practice

Of these, he shares honest, hard-won advice which is guaranteed to make your next presentation a much more rewarding experience for you and your audience.

This book is for anyone who has to give a presentation to their boss, clients or has the ambition to become a conference speaker. It’s a highly enjoyable, quick read (once you start you won’t want to put it down – I read it in a day). Well worth the £18.

Design of everyday things, Second Edition

Design of Everyday Things, Second Edition. Once Sociable Design is in its final form, I intend to update DOET (as DOET-2). The principles have not changed, but the examples in DOET-1 are stale.The world of everyday things changed and so too have I. I have learned much since DOET-1 that will inform, modify, and broaden the discussions. I’m looking for good examples.They have to be timeless. I want DOET-2 to last 20 – 30 years, so any examples have to be things that will be relevant decades from now. For example, suppose I would have had photographs of teletype machines in DOET-1: who today knows what they are? Doors never get obsolete.)

How very cool 🙂

Not only will there be a second edition but we can suggest example for Don to include.

Blimey I read a lot of books this year

A list of the books I read throughout 2009. (Perhaps I should find a hobby, go out and meet more people.)

Business, Marketing and Business Philosophy

  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad 2: Cash Flow Quadrant – Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Freedom – Robert T. Kiyosaki
  • The 4-hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich – Timothy Ferris
  • E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It – Micahel E. Gerber
  • Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Technology Products to Mainstream Customers – Geoffrey A. Moore
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t (Hardcover) – Jim Collins
  • Tribes – Seth Godin
  • Outliers: The Story of Success – Malcolm Gladwell

Project Management

  • Making Things Happen: Mastering Project Management – Scott Berkun

User Experience and design

  • Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design – Bill Buxton
  • Subject To Change: Creating Great Products & Services for an Uncertain World – Adaptive Path
  • Institutionalization of Usability: A Step-by-step Guide –  Eric Schaffer 
  • Measuring the User Experience: Collecting, Analyzing, and Presenting Usability Metrics – Tom Tullis and Bill Albert
  • Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions – Tim Ash
  • Thoughtless Acts? (Hardcover) – Jane Fulton Suri
  • Card Sorting: Designing Usable Categories – Donna Spencer 
  • Prototyping: A Practitioner’s Guide – Todd Zaki Warfel

Philosophy and Self Development

  • The World as I See it – Albert Einstein
  • 59 Seconds: Think a little, change a lot – Prof. Richard Wiseman


  • Einstein: His Life and Universe (Paperback) by Walter Isaacson


  • Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson
  • Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson


  • The Tiger in the Well (Sally Lockhart Quartet) – Philip Pullman
  • The Tin Princess (Sally Lockhart Quartet) – Philip Pullman
  • The Straw Men – Michael Marshal
  • Moriarty – John Gardner
If you have any suggestions then please feel free to add a comment below – as you can tell I have wide ranging tastes.

Book: Landing page optimization by Tim Ash

Just received my copy of Landing page optimization by Tim Ash.

Landing Page Optimization: The Definitive Guide to Testing and Tuning for Conversions (Paperback)

Product Description
How much money are you losing because of poor landing page design? In this comprehensive, step–by–step guide, you’ll learn all the skills necessary to dramatically improve your bottom line, including identifying mission critical parts of your website and their true economic value, defining important visitor classes and key conversion tasks,   gaining insight on customer decision–making, uncovering problems with your page and deciding which elements to test, developing an action plan, and avoiding common pitfalls. Includes a companion website and a detailed review of the Google Website Optimizer tool. 

From the Back Cover

How much money are you losing because of poor landing page design? In this comprehensive, step–by–step guide, you will learn all the skills necessary to dramatically improve your bottom line:

  • Identify mission critical parts of your website and their true economic value

  • Define important visitor classes and key conversion tasks

  • Gain insight on customer decision–making and make your page friction–free

  • Uncover problems with your page and decide which elements to test

  • Understand the power and limitations of common optimization approaches

  • Develop an action plan and get buy–in from all key players

  • Avoid common real–world pitfalls that can sabotage your test

Packed with case studies, practical strategies, a detailed review of the Google Website Optimizer tool, and a comprehensive companion website, this one–of–a–kind resource will help you make your landing pages more profitable.

“Tim has figured out what so many people don′t understand: your website can (and should) get better. Every single day.”
Seth Godin, author of Meatball Sundae

“This book is a must–read for the modern Internet marketer.”
Kevin M. Ryan, Vice President, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Watch

“This is the best business–focused, measurement–based guide to website design I have seen.”
Don Norman, cofounder of Nielsen Norman Group and author of The Design of Future Things

“Stop guessing at the best landing page designs and embrace true customer centricity. This book shows you how!”
Avinash Kaushik, Analytics Evangelist and author of Web Analytics: An Hour A Day

“Tim′s Landing Page Optimization is a must–have for your bookshelf.”
Bryan Eisenberg, New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author 

Had good reviews on Amazon, will let you know what i think a little later.