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Secrets of the Rock Star Programmers: Riding the IT Crest

1 rating: -1.0
A book by Ed Burns

A-list Programmers Reveal How to Develop Breakout Skills Find out what it takes to push your programming chops to the next level and design killer software by getting inside the minds of today's rock star programmers: Rod Johnson, Inventor of … see full wiki

Author: Ed Burns
Genre: Computers & Internet
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
1 review about Secrets of the Rock Star Programmers: Riding...

Superficial chats with enterprise programmers

  • Apr 17, 2010
Rating:
-1
There are, roughly speaking, three worlds of programmers: the enterprise world, the startup world, and the academic world. As its ridiculous subtitle suggests, these interviews are with stars of the enterprise world, where Java and heavyweight IDEs dominate. If you don't use Spring and Eclipse, then most of the chapters will feel irrelevant to you. Personally, I'm a refugee from the Java world moving toward Ruby and Python (the languages that reign supreme in the startup world). The most pertinent interviews were with Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas, the founders of The Pragmatic Progammers. They do fine work; I'd much rather read just about any of their books than this one.

The overproduced design of this book is consistently annoying. Each interview is prefaced by a "Fact Sheet" about the rockstar programmer, with a baseball card-style breakdown of factoids. "Number of kids: Four." Uh, OK. Then the author places interjections throughout the chapter [and not just explanations on square brackets, though there are many of those] but also sidebars like: "Character attribute: Pragmatic, not excessive, optimizer." Ooookay. Why are you interrupting this interview to tell me that? It's as if the author expects me to go build a fantasy baseball team with these programmers. Then the book concludes with a totally superfluous interview with Weird Al Yankovic. Like the rest of the book, that interview doesn't know who its audience is: If you've never heard of Weird Al, it won't make you want to listen to him; and if you're already a fan, you won't learn anything new from it.

But the real problem with this book is the lack of depth. Interviewing programmers in depth without getting mired in too much technical trivia is a big challenge. Masterminds of Programming makes the opposite mistake, producing interviews that are tediously low-level. The one book of interviews with programmers that I'd recommend is Peter Seibel's outstanding Coders at Work. If you really want to know how smart programmers go about solving hard problems, that's the book to read.

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