Recent reads

Ship it! A Practical Guide to Successful Software Projects, Jared Richardson, William Gwaltney. A short book and an extremely quick read. The book is a set of tips for practical improvements software development teams can make to their project execution. The general tips are no-brainers: use automated builds, source code control, bug tracking, etc. But the specific advice on how to implement these is very good. The authors provide tips for getting started as well as how to know when you’re doing it right. Even though our practice is doing pretty good on most of this stuff I still found several good nuggets worth implementing. We’ve ordered copies for the whole practice.

Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists and Iconoclasts–The Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution, Steve Lohr. The title says it all. This book reads like a collection of magazine articles arranged in rough chronological order on topics starting with Fortran and eventually making its way to the Open Source movement. This book can be enjoyed by readers with or without technical backgrounds. Those in the tech industry will probably find some of the stories insightful but you’ll have to put up with the occassional explanation for the non-techies in the audience (like what WYSIWYG stands for or the broad brush description of object-oriented programming).

I am Charlotte Simmons, Tom Wolfe. This was the first time I’d read Tom Wolfe. I loved it. He’s got quite a unique and engaging style of writing. The novel is about a small town girl who graduates at the top of her class and learns a lot about the real world at college (major understatement). The secondary characters–a basketball player, an intellectual elitist, and a fraternity member–have stories that are intertwined with Charlotte’s. I found that those archetypes ran pretty true to life. The book is sort of like the movie Crash–there’s something not to like about each of the characters. It’s a long book but quite a page turner. Unlike some books that sort of fizzle out at the end, this one left me really keyed up–I was really frustrated. Not with the writing or the ending per se but with the characters. It’s not often I read something that makes me want to strangle one or more of the characters. That’s a good thing.