A useful, entertaining and unusual guide that turns troubleshooting into an art form. Debut author Maxham, a founder of a data-mining company who also pilots airplanes, is the kind of guy who likes to figure out how and why machines break. It occurred to him that this skill—troubleshooting—is one that everybody should learn: “I want to put you back in control by giving you the tools and mindset needed to have a healthy and productive relationship with the machines in your world,” he writes. The brilliance of his handsomely packaged book is in how he generalizes troubleshooting for virtually any machine or system. He offers numerous strategies for how to assess, address and fix problems, and his solutions run from the obvious (turn the machine off and on again) to the complex (“[M]alfunctioning parts, each with their own patterns, can act together to produce much more complicated and intermittent failures”). Maxham occasionally employs some unexpected methods, such as when he applies therapists’ skills to computer programming, because, he says, “machine problems are actually human problems.” Maxham’s study is a highly intriguing work that’s a deep-dive how-to guide for service technicians of any ilk. However, the book could be equally valuable to lay readers who are keen on learning how to diagnose problems. Although Maxham uses several technical examples and discusses theories that may be a bit advanced for some readers, he lightens the book with well-chosen, cleverly captioned color photographs to illustrate conceptual points. Several tables and diagrams also act as useful supplements. Overall, Maxham’s style is informative, engaging and laced with humor. A quirky read that may be a breath of fresh air for professional and novice troubleshooters alike.
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").