Sunday, November 7, 2010

Worth Dying For by Lee Child

This is one of the best action thrillers I've ever read. I like the style. It makes you not even see the action, but even hear and smell it. :) Great book.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

Great book. Great story, great characters, great style. I like it more than the last two. It feels like the story must continue. I wish there were more books by Steig.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

I just finished reading The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. And before that, I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Next I am going to read, the last book: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Great books. I love the story, the style, the language. I highly recommend it to all my friends.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Smart and Gets Things Done: Joel Spolsky's Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent by Joel Spolsky

This is a great book both for people who are interviewing programmers and for programmers who are looking for a job. I've read it briefly a couple of years ago and now I read it again. This time from cover to cover, taking notes, thinking of what the author says, how it aligns with what I did on the interviews and what I should do differently next time. I have several interview books in my collection, But this one is probably the best so far. This book is short, to the point, with lots of practical advices. It is written in a style that makes it fun to read.

Once in a while I have an opportunity to interview candidates for a position in my team. I never had a formal training on how to interview people. I was always curious how to learn the most important things about the programmer in an hour. What to ask? What not to ask? How to make sure that the person is motivated and able to learn things required for the job? How to make sure that the person will deliver what he or she promises, can and will write solid code, has a good judgment and makes smart decisions to solve code and design problems? It is pretty hard to do in an hour. Any practical advice on how to do that is very important to me. This book has a few practical things that I found useful.

First of all, it has a whole scenario on how to run the interview. It is simple and easy to follow. Second, it narrows down the focus on what specifically needs to be asked and how, so you learn the most important things about the person's skills and how he or she applies them. Third, it explains why writing the code during the interview is important. It explains how to do it right. I went through many interviews in the past, and had to write the code on the whiteboard a lot, but I was always curious why do I need to do that if I have a computer? :) Well, now I know.

The second part of the book talks a bit about the management styles and the teams. I found it very interesting actually. I think this part could be more useful to the candidates. It helps to understand a few things about a good team culture and the management styles. It gives some pointers to what to look for when you are applying for a job and want to find a great team to work with.

I think this book was one of the most important books I've read about interviewing. It was worth getting back to it in two years and reading it again. I should probably add a note to my calendar to reread it in two years once more. I hope Joel will write a new edition by that time. :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mastery: Interviews with 33 Remarkable People by Joan Ames

I have not updated my reading list for a while. I've read a few books since the last post. Unfortunately, not all of them inspired me to write a post to my blog. So, I just write about the books I like. :)

I just finished reading the interviews on mastery by Joan Ames. I like this book a lot. I especially like the interviews with scientists and engineers. I guess it is because they shared thoughts and ideas on mastery that are more related to what I do for living. This book definitely expanded my view on how to achieve new levels of mastery. I especially like the advice by Alexis Sanderson on the ability to be delighted in the discovery of your own errors. I think it is kind of important quality for a software developer. I also like the approach of Peter Steidlmayer on reaching the higher level of knowledge by simplifying things, i.e. figuring out the key principles behind complex things. I am going to apply some of the ideas and thoughts I've got from this book to my daily practice just because those things make a lot of sense to me, not because I've found a recepe the the mastery. :)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar By James Marcus Bach

This is an interesting book. I found in on Amazon in a free stuff for Kindle and downloaded it just out of curiosity while traveling back home from work on a train.

The book starts with a story how James got invited to a school to talk about his success in self-education where he tells kids that it is o.k. to drop off the school if you want. The idea of leaving the school and taking care of your own education is kind of wild. However, something like that happened to me once.

I kind of dropped off my English class at the high school. I did not think I could learn English in a way it was taught to me. In the same time, I was studying math at the extra-curriculum School of Mathematics created by Moscow State University. I was a straight A student at this school. I also studied music at a local Music School.A few years later, I took English classes at the local club and later at the Donetsk State University. I was taking care of my own eduction also. Therefore, I got hooked on the story, continued reading the book and found a few more things that were important to me, as James says, "authentic".

I like the author's style. It is personal, honest, and open. The whole book is like an autobiography. In addition, it has a lot of great advices on how to learn things. I especially liked the idea of cyclic learning, i.e. going through iterations to refine the understanding of things. I also liked the idea of alternation of learning activities, which is especially useful in learning computer programming - read and code, then do it again, and again.:) There are a lot of other great advices on learning.

The part about the career in the software testing was quite interesting. I am doing software testing these days also. I learned quite a bit on how James achieved success in this area and his approach to selecting things to learn. So, it was quite useful. I would even say that a big part of this book is specifically for software testers.

I am not sure that I agree with all the things James suggested. I still think the school is important. Things don't always happen the way we want, but it is our responsibility to find a better way and fix it. The problems in school are for a reason. Randy Pausch used to call these kind of things - walls. Quitting is easy, but than we miss a chance of learning how to deal with those problems. The school is a safe environment to do so.

I am glad I read this book. It was an interesting read. It has lots of great advices on learning, working and living It made me think a few things over. This book is not so easy to forget. A few things mentioned in it are still bugging me. I like that. :)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin

I like the book. It is one of those small books that is hard to read fast. It makes one stop and think, which is great. :) I believe that is the biggest value of this book for me. It made me think over things I do for living and analyze what I should keep doing, as well as consider a few things that I might need to quit. I am not a big fun of quitting, but I am beginning to appreciate the value of quitting a bit more after reading this book. :)