Curated recommendations from Hacker News.


11 recommendations

Canada to Scrap IBM Payroll Plan Gone Awry Costing $1B

My favorite quote illustrating this is from former GE executive Craig Kipp, quoted in the book Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle[1]:

“So Oracle has this great product that will do eighty percent of what you want just by throwing the right switches in the software—no special code or anything—and it all falls down because someone asks that innocent little question: ‘What else would you like it to do?’” (p. 231).

jamesmishra, over 4 years ago

Watching Larry Ellison Become Larry Ellison

If you want a different perspective, "Softwar" is a good read. The author (Matthew Symonds) worked directly with Ellison to write the book (as opposed to other books which were written based on third party accounts and public information). He made a deal with Ellison that neither would alter the words of the other. Instead, Ellison could provide a reply or commentary wherever he disagreeed with Symonds. And Ellison did that, throughout the book.

pdevr, almost 6 years ago

Watching Larry Ellison Become Larry Ellison

A good book about Larry Ellison is “Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle” from 2004. It looks like Larry himself proofread the book as he offers comments and corrections at the bottom of some of the pages.

Oracle is unlike any other technology company in the world. The majority of their software offerings are not aimed at consumers, so many people (including programmers and IT-savvy folks) have a hard time understanding the company unless they’ve spent weeks studying one piece of their product stack.

I started working for Oracle in 1998. I thought I would be able to get up to speed quickly on everything Oracle. I was wrong. It took a long time to get a feeling of confidence. The main product, the Oracle database, is a vast monolith of technology and features that is constantly being updated. It has a documentation set that could easily fill a bookshelf. Taker a look:

Every so often someone takes at shot at Larry at a press conference or online, implying that Oracle’s time has passed, that some new hotshot company was going to overtake them in some way.

Spend some time studying Oracle and Larry Ellison, and you’ll understand why Larry always smiles at these questions.

cha-cho, almost 6 years ago

Oracle’s Cloudy Future

If you want to know the history of Oracle, "Softwar" is an excellent book. It includes Ellison's notes too, wherever he felt he needed to add them.

pdevr, about 6 years ago

Watching Larry Ellison Become Larry Ellison – The DNA of a Winner

"Softwar" is an insightful book about Larry Ellison, written by someone who had access to Ellison. I do not want to chime in with my own opinion, but would suggest to read the book to learn a lot about the history of Oracle and Ellison.

You will learn a lot of things, including:

* How being adopted affected his personality

* How he wandered around for a long time without any clear objectives

* How someone filed a false case of rape against him, and how he survived

* Death of one of his co-founders due to cancer

* How Oracle competed with other database companies, including the technical details (this is the part which I found most interesting)

pdevr, about 8 years ago

Larry Ellison Will Step Down as CEO of Oracle, Will Remain as CTO

Not really sure what to say about this. I don't know Ellison, nor do I own Oracle stock, or have any particular interest in Oracle per-se. But nonetheless, I've always seen Ellison as an important character in our industry, and after reading a biography about him, I felt a sort of kinship with him based on some shared interests.

At any rate, it definitely feels like the "end of an era" in a sense. I got my start in this industry in the mid to late 90's when Oracle, IBM, Novell, Microsoft, Borland, etc. were duking it out for supremacy, and - for better or worse - you've never really been able to escape Oracle's shadow to some extent. And Ellison was Oracle, in so many ways.

Edit: It's been a while, but I think this[1] was the biography I read. I'll just say this: regardless of what you think of Ellison, he's an interesting character and reading about the history of Ellison / Oracle is quite fascinating.


mindcrime, about 8 years ago

MongoDB Raises $150 Million at $1.2 Billion Valuation

This book is highly recommended by Aaron Levie from Box too. Fantastic book.

prayag, about 9 years ago

MongoDB Raises $150 Million at $1.2 Billion Valuation

Yeah, I was being hyperbolic to try to make the point -- you can dismiss anything as merely a frigging X. You're absolutely right with regard to Oracle.

(Tangent: for anyone interested in Oracle's history/business, or just enterprise software in general, I highly recommend

pc, about 9 years ago

Ask HN: Best books you read in 2012

The Lean Startup - Too bad this wasn't around when I was starting my (now failed) startup 4 years ago.

Softwar - Larry Ellison's story. Fascinating read.

Games People Play - Classic by Eric Berne. Must read psychology. Short, and you will get so much out of it.

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff - Must read psychology. Short, and you will get so much out of it.

Learn You a Haskell for Great Good! - Will re-read soon to get to the next level.

Maro, almost 10 years ago

Ask YC: What are some the best business books?

how to get rich by Richard dennis.

Softwar - A bio on Larry Ellison, one where he writes footnotes responding to the biographer's text

Made in japan - Akio Morita and sony - written by Akio Morita - founder describes early days of the company

comatose_kid, about 14 years ago

Startup founders, what books did you find most helpful?

Business side:

Most business books are fun to read, but it's really hard to say that any have been truly helpful. Most lean more to the motivational/inspirational side, instead of focusing on case studies. My suspicion is that business is probably not best learned from a book. But I'll list a few I like anyways.

Alan Sugar: The Amstrad Story - Great story about how Sir Alan grew an empire selling stereos out of the back of a car. Instructive because his key insights revolved around understanding what the average user wanted, as opposed to the technical elite.

Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison - He started his first company at 33 after working for other high tech firms. This book is neat because Ellison adds his own comments in the footer when he disagrees with the biographer.

Founders @ Work - Pre-ordered it. I was tempted to read it all at once, but decided to spread it out over 2 weeks. I'm glad that I did - there's a lot to digest....

Product side:

Designing Interactions - If you want to design great user experiences, it helps to see the thought processes great designers go through to create successful products.

Bulletproof Web Design - Well written, concise. Cederholm knows CSS.

Hardening Linux - I've seen many guides at the bookstore. This one appealed to me because it has both breadth and depth. The chapter on configuring firewalls was alone worth the price of the book.

comatose_kid, over 15 years ago

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