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Book Review

LinkedIn in 30 minutes – Book Review

LinkedIn in 30 minutes, by Angela Rose, is an excellent short introduction to LinkedIn.

It has plenty of useful tips, even if you already has some experience with the network.

For great profiles I'd recommend the LinkedIn Strategy course, but this covers some of the same material, just in much less detail.

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Book Review

Twitter in 30 minutes – Book Review

I just read Twitter in 30 minutes – by Ian Lamont. It did take around 30 minutes – even while going to Twitter to check things out.

I feel that the book will be almost nearly pointless if you already use Twitter (which I'd guess means you wouldn't be the target of it).

Nevertheless, I still learned a few things I didn't know.

 

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Book Review

Agile Principles, Patterns and Practice in C# – Book Review

Agile Principles, Patterns and Practice in C#, by Robert C. Martin and Micah Martin, covers a number of agile practices in C#.

The book is a little old by now (2006), but while it does feel dated at points, that doesn't take away the overall quality.

I particularly liked how much time was spent going through the analysis and coding of a large practical example (a payroll) – including DB persistence.

 

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Book Review

Networking for Nerds – Book Review

Networking For Nerds: Find, Access and Land Hidden Game-Changing Career Opportunities Everywhere, by Alaina G. Levine, covers the many ways in that you should always be networking to advance your career.

Some of the advice is targeted towards academics, but most should apply to everyone.

Some of the areas covered are how to network everywhere, in specific settings, how to network online and how to make your own career opportunities.

One piece of advice that I felt was missing is that author suggested that you Google your name over time to keep track of what your name is associated with – but no mention of Google Alerts. This is a minor detail, though.

Overall, somewhat useful. I feel it is a little pricy for the size (e-book version, at least), but I got it from Safari.

Related:

Linkedin Strategy Course

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Book Review

Essential C# 6.0 – Book Review

Essential C# 6.0, by Eric Lippert and Mark Michaelis – cover the C# language up to the 6.0 update of last year.

Coverage and examples are pretty good. One thing I liked is that any extensions to the original language are clearly marked with a version number. If you get the book to update your knowledge, there is also a nice index for each version.

Given how little changed in version 6.0, it'd be silly to buy the book though – there are plenty of blog posts covering this. If you get it for free (maybe from Safari or something similar at work), then it might be a good idea.

Overall, pretty good coverage, although I'd recommend C# in a Nutshell instead – it felt a little more complete and had more developed examples.

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Book Review

Hello, Startup – Book Review

Hello, Startup: A Programmer's Guide to Building Product, Technologies, and Teams – By Yevgeniy Brikman – is a great view into just how (and if!) you should create your startup or join one.

The coverage goes to some weird but arguably good places along the way (for example, talking about clean code), but even when it does, it is still good advice.

What the book covers is:

  • Why Startups – why would you want to create a startup, or work on one – and very importantly, why you might want not to.
  • How to come with ideas, covering the classics such as pain points (which has been advice on shareware forums for literally decades), idea journals, the now common “your idea is not worth much compared to execution” and the very important how to validate your idea – as your idea is pretty likely to not be as good as you think and you probably want to find out now, not after years of development.
  • Design, including the classics – personas, usability testing, visual design.
  • Picking a tech stack – surprisingly tech agnostic, and full of interesting suggestions on how to decide what tech to use. Pick mature ones instead of the flavor of the month. and it is not as important as it seems.
  • Clean Code – already mentioned as the relatively weird chapter. The advice is good, and cover the general stuff you'd see on Code Complete and The Pragmatic Programmer, such as good practices, refactoring, etc.
  • Scalability – review of several practices that you should probably follow – such as Test-Driven Development, design reviews and code reviews.
  • Software Delivery – again, several good practices – source control, code reviews, continuous integration and automated deployment.
  • Startup culture – how to define your companies culture, and what it means. Even if you don't read the book, check out the Netflix culture slide deck – it is pretty long but well worth reading.
  • Getting a job at a Startup/Hiring for your startup – interviews, asking good questions, and the best practices in the area.

The book has a ton of memorable quotes from other material – I didn't have a chance to go through it for my notes it, but I'll probably come back here and update this post when I do.

There are also plenty of resources on the book site.

Overall, I strongly recommend anyone interested in creating a startup to read this book. It was pretty great.

Related books/courses:

Adaptive Code in C#  – great review of good development practices and keeping your code flexible, although some examples are a little exaggerated

The Pragmatic Programmer – great, goes into the specific programming practices

App Making – more specific to apps, but also covers how to get ideas for apps, design advice and how to test your ideas

 

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Book Review

Adaptive Code in C# – Book Review

I have just finished reading Adaptive Code via C#: Agile coding with design patterns and SOLID principles – by Gary McLean Hall.

It covers ways and patterns to get more flexibility out of your code – so it can adapt better with time and requirement changes, have interchangeable components instead of awful dependencies, and so that it can actually be unit tested properly.

It also has a chapter on Scrum (the development methodology), which isn't that relevant to the theme, but still sort of applies as a general practice which allows for your software to adaptable.

It ends with a ASP.NET MVC example, which I also found useful.

I've read this as an e-book on Safari Books Online's iPad app, and the code layout proved problematic on many occasions (the end of no-so-long lines would be clipped). In the very end of the book (yeah, that is a really useful spot) there is a warning that suggests reading the book in landscape mode with the smaller font available – which I would say is pretty lame. (There is a graphical link, but the listing sometimes wasn't the exact version of the main text, and would sometimes return to beginning of the chapter instead of the right spot)  I have seen similar things in other books in Safari, so I don't know who is to blame for the problem, but still annoying.

Overall, very nice, a quite pleasant read and very instructive.

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Book Review

The Pragmatic Programmer – Book Review

The Pragmatic Programmer – by David Thomas is a bit of a classic (1999).

I read it way back, when it was still somewhat new, and decided to re-read when I subscribed to SafariBooksOnline (my review of the service).

It is still pretty good still after all those years. While I do use most of the practices they suggest on much of my work, there were plenty of useful tips and reminders.

And if you haven't read it, it is very much worth for the dozens of practices you might not be using yet. It does feel a little dated, and many of the practices that were uncommon at the time are very common today. Some bits are almost funny, such as the lack of Refactoring tools outside Smalltalk, or the suggestion of using USENET private groups for communication, but these are the exception.

Overall, strongly recommended for anyone that want to be a better programmer.

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Book Review

Chaos Planning + Pronto Learning – Book Review

Chaos Planning, by Sean D'Souza, covers ways to plan while considering the chaos that usually affects the best laid plans.

The Premium version also includes Pronto Learning: Insiders Tips To Speed Up Your Learning .

Both are quite short and to the point – it took me about an hour to read them while taking notes.

The main principles of Chaos Planning are interesting – add extra time to your to-do lists and plans, so that they don't crumble when the unexpected happens.

Other ideas on Chaos Planning are:

– Write down and get external pressure (such as clients, friends or other people in a forum).

– Get actually competent at stuff you regularly do, instead of blundering through. Do a daily practice of 15 minutes to learn something – starting and stopping (a problem I commonly have) makes it hard to learn. Bring it with you for when you have to wait in lines – E-book reader apps are great for this, depending on your smartphone screen, or just take a physical book with you if possible.

– Go through what you want to learn several times, at increasing interval. I have read this several times before and have seen it on Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, Learning on Steroids, and the Superlearner course , so it is very much recommended. The hard thing is getting the time for it, but having good notes (that you wrote yourself – apparently these work much better than just copy and pasting book material) helps.

– Do pre-sells to get a real deadline. They also help test viability of a product and tend to help sales, and you can e-mail (and maybe send a bonus) and do refunds if you really can't pull it through. Sean also has a pre-sell course.

– Clear distractions, such as excessive e-mail newsletters (not mine, I hope!).

Pronto Learning: Insiders Tips To Speed Up Your Learning:

– Plan to teach what you learn, even if it is just mentioning it to an spouse or colleague, or maybe doing a blog post – your mindset is different and it is easier to find the gaps in what you learned. Actually applying what you learn is even better.

– Again, the repeated learning principle, recommending a week for the first time and then months.

– Take real breaks (not just going on Facebook or random sites) – take a 20 minutes nap, go to a cafe, etc.

– 15 minute principle, if you can't understand something, or solve a problem in 15 minutes, ask for help and take a break. Or look at Google/YouTube for a tutorial.

– Use dead time: listen to workshops or audiobooks while exercising, or read a book while waiting.

– Make a list of important tools and skills and go through them.

Conclusion

Overall, I think they were OK, and barely covers the asking price. Sean's stuff isn't cheap, but at least it is not packed with filler and it is a quick read. It definitely has useful information, though.

 

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Book Review

Building an App Business – Book Review

Building an App Business, by Derek Clark, is a short book (122 pages) which has as a lot of interesting advice for anyone that wants to start building apps for smartphones.

Topics include validating the market, how to monetize your apps (paid, ads, in-app-purchases, etc), how to design your app,

Well worth the price, recommended.