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Book review : You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto

April 16, 2011 Leave a comment

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto  is a 2010 book by Jaron Lanier. Lanier argues that Web 2.0 doesn’t interactivity, customization, and participation. According to the author, the unfettered–and anonymous–ability to comment results in cynical mob behavior, the shouting-down of reasoned argument, and the devaluation of individual accomplishment. Lanier traces the roots of today’s Web 2.0 philosophies and architectures (e.g. he posits that Web anonymity is the result of ’60s paranoia), persuasively documents their shortcomings, and provides alternate paths to “locked-in” paradigms. Though its strongly-stated opinions run against the bias of popular assumptions, You Are Not a Gadget is a manifesto, not a screed; Lanier seeks a useful, respectful dialogue about how we can shape technology to fit culture’s needs, rather than the way technology currently shapes us.



Lanieralso  argues that the problem is not inherent in the Internet or the Web.  Deterioration only began around the turn of the century with the rise of so-called “Web 2.0” designs.  These designs valued the information content of the web over individuals.  It became fashionable to aggregate the expressions of people into dehumanized data.  There are so many things wrong with this that it takes a whole book to summarize them.  Here’s just one problem:  It screws the middle class.  Only the aggregator (like Google, for instance) gets rich, while the actual producers of content get poor.  This is why newspapers are dying.  It might sound like it is only a problem for creative people, like musicians or writers, but eventually it will be a problem for everyone.  When robots can repair roads someday, will people have jobs programming those robots, or will the human programmers be so aggregated that they essentially work for free, like today’s recording musicians?  Web 2.0 is a formula to kill the middle class and undo centuries of social progress.

You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto 

Categories: Book Review

Book Review : The Mythical Man Month

April 9, 2011 Leave a comment

The Mythical Man Month and Other Essays on Software Engineering is another true classic book by Frederick P. Brooks in software engineering and software project management. It documents some of the common pitfalls in software development. The technologies mentioned in the book might be obsolete but the lessons are not. The book was first published in 1975 with a second anniversary edition in 1995. It is required reading in many software engineering and computer science university courses. The title comes from the incorrect assumption that men and months are interchangeable. The No silver bullet chapter is also as relevant today as ever.

Excellent value for money and good fun to read. Also a good present for your team leader/project manager 🙂

The Mythical Man Month and Other Essays on Software Engineering

Categories: Book Review

Book review : Code Complete

April 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction is one of the true classic books in software development written by Steve McConnell. First published in 1993 by Microsoft Press, it was followed by a second edition in 2004.

It has received outstanding reviews, being widely regarded as one of the leading must-reads for software developers and has become mandatory reading in many CS courses and companies.

The book not only provides useful information and examples on software development, it is also very amusing to read. McConnell has added the infamous Coding Horrors  as examples to be avoided.

Coding Horror !

It is highly recommended and offers excellent value for money.

The contents of the book:

  • Chapter 1: Welcome to Software Construction
  • Chapter 2: Metaphors for a Richer Understanding of Software Development
  • Chapter 3: Measure Twice, Cut Once: Upstream Prerequisites
  • Chapter 4: Key Construction Decisions

Part II: Creating High-Quality Code

  • Chapter 5: Design in Construction
  • Chapter 6: Working Classes
  • Chapter 7: High-Quality Routines
  • Chapter 8: Defensive Programming
  • Chapter 9: The Pseudocode Programming Process

Part III: Variables

  • Chapter 10: General Issues in Using Variables
  • Chapter 11: The Power of Variable Names
  • Chapter 12: Fundamental Data Types
  • Chapter 13: Unusual Data Types

Part IV: Statements

  • Chapter 14: Organizing Straight-Line Code
  • Chapter 15: Using Conditionals
  • Chapter 16: Controlling Loops
  • Chapter 17: Unusual Control Structures
  • Chapter 18: Table-Driven Methods
  • Chapter 19: General Control Issues

Part V: Code Improvements

  • Chapter 20: The Software-Quality Landscape
  • Chapter 21: Collaborative Construction
  • Chapter 22: Developer Testing
  • Chapter 23: Debugging
  • Chapter 24: Refactoring
  • Chapter 25: Code-Tuning Strategies
  • Chapter 26: Code-Tuning Techniques

Part VI: System Considerations

  • Chapter 27: How Program Size Affects Construction
  • Chapter 28: Managing Construction
  • Chapter 29: Integration
  • Chapter 30: Programming Tools

Part VII: Software Craftsmanship

  • Chapter 31: Layout and Style
  • Chapter 32: Self-Documenting Code
  • Chapter 33: Personal Character
  • Chapter 34: Themes in Software Craftsmanship
  • Chapter 35: Where to Find More Information

Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Categories: Book Review