Archive for the 'book review' Category

Book Review: Land Of Lisp

11/23/2010

Land of Lisp is a book written that teaches programming in Common Lisp through writing a series of games. It attempts to inspire the reader through fun example programs and is an overwhelming success.

This is one of the few programming books I have read where I found myself really wanting to finish off each sample so that I could play the resulting game. It does a great job of creating games that are fun and original enough to hold your attention.

Not only this, but the book actually goes into quite a bit of depth for each of the topics covered. During the course of building these games the reader writes a web server, a DSL for creating SVG, and an interface for adventure like games. Through these exercises many of the benefits of Common Lisp (and all lisps in general) are explored.

Does this have me wanting to rush out and use lisp for my next project, no. But, I will certainly consider it, and I had a lot of fun reading through this book and learning the language.

Book Review: Focus

11/19/2010

I recently read through the free release of Focus by Leo Babauta. Its short, about 125 pages, and reads very quickly. I enjoyed the read and definitely got some ideas from it about both why and how to focus better.

The book’s main point seems to be that in this busy age of distraction focusing on a single subject at once can be very difficult. Despite this, focus is very important to productivity, and to enjoyment of your life. By consciously acknowledging the importance of focusing we can make steps towards improving our own attention to the topic at hand.

Most of the contents of this book didn’t strike me as new information, but seeing it all presented in one place helped me to realize how well everything plays together. Avoiding distractions and interruptions has always been important to me, but for some reason I previously only associated these ideas with work. After reading Focus I realize that these same problems can hurt enjoyment of other aspects of your life. I also found his view on goal setting in the chapter “Letting go of goals” to be an interesting alternative to ideas I’ve heard in the past.

I only read the free version of this book because I was just curious and the vast amount of stuff included with the premium one looks overwhelming; but assuming the premium one is of comparable quality to the free one I think it would be worth the money. I am definitely going to be evaluating whether or not it is something that I want to buy.

Book Review: Start Small, Stay Small

11/15/2010

I just finished reading Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer’s Guide to Launching a Startup by Rob Walling and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It struck me as The Four Hour Work Week with most of the fluff/exaggeration stripped out and presented from a developer’s perspective. I generally rate business books by how much they inspire me to start working, and by that rubric this one’s a winner.

Start Small, Stay Small does an excellent job of explaining what is necessary to run a software business to a developer who may think that creating the product is all that needs to be done. The book’s short length and the avoidance of unnecessary filler makes the information (at least feel) much more actionable than advice I have read in other books.

Business books in the software world seem to be mostly focused around the venture capital driven, make it huge types of companies but this book presents an alternative plan; one that is more realistic for the average developer. The options of bootstrapping a company and then growing it larger, or just creating a small, self-sustaining business and going on to found another are presented along with reasons why each one should be chosen. Even if your goal is to build a gigantic company, the information on marketing in this book could prove invaluable.

In short, I found this book to be exactly what it advertised; a blueprint to getting a startup off the ground for a developer.

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