Thoughts on building a library

I’ve always loved to read as a child but what I read depended mostly on the books I got as birthday presents. As an adult I occasionally bought some books at book stores at train stations. But I never had a strategy how to build a library.

Why do I need a library?

Knowledge is power! Books are the easiest way to gain profit from other people’s experience. You can see books as mentors which tell you valuable life lessons. For example the Game book “I will teach you to be rich” got me started with thinking about personal finance. Continue reading “Thoughts on building a library”

Review Code Reading

If you learn a music instrument you have to learn riffs, licks and songs. No teacher will ever say “Here are all the chords and scales. Go into the world and make people happy” Does not work.

But in software development sometimes it seems to look like that universities show you algorithms and data structure and the syntax of a specific language and say you are done – save the world with your code.

In the last couple of years more and more people look at software development as a craft and call it the software craftmanship movement. Continue reading “Review Code Reading”

Ruby Day 1 – Seven Languages in Seven Weeks

My friend Timo recommended the book “Seven Languages in Seven Weeks” to me a couple of months ago. During my parental leave I’ve finally found time to read -and more important-  code the exercises.

The first language is Ruby. Ruby is object-oriented, dynamically and strongly typed. It supports duck typing and is a good fit for developing DSLs. Continue reading “Ruby Day 1 – Seven Languages in Seven Weeks”

Review “Managing Oneself” by Peter Drucker


To call this book a book is a bit exaggerated. It contains only 60 pages which I assume you can read in under one hour. Nevertheless if you haven’t encountered the work of Peter Drucker yet this is the place to start.

The Author

Peter Drucker is best known for his concept of “Management by Objectives”. He also coined the term “knowledge worker” and “core competency”.

Main Takeaways

Drucker elaborates on three major questions:

  • What are my strengths?
  • How do I perform?
  • What are my values?

These are the basic questions to ask yourself to answer the bigger questions:

  • Where do I belong?
  • What can I contribute?

The rest of the book ponders on developing relationships and a second career for later in life.

The bottom line

I will stop writing so my review won’t be longer than the book itself. Managing yourself is a big factor in personal success. If you don’t manage yourself how can you manage others? As I already mentioned this one is a good entry into the works of Peter Drucker. It’s also perfect as a gift, so buy a bunch of them.

My reading habits over the years

As a child and teenager I read a lot, mostly fictional books. I often went to the library and got lots of books as a birthday or Christmas present.

  • Astrid Lindgren
  • Tonke Dragt
  • Wolfgang Hohlbein

On of my favorite authors at that time was Ken Follet. I read through the 1000+ pages of the Pillars of the Earth on just two or three days. The more we had to read for German classes in school the less I’d liked to read at home. Occasionally I read a Preston / Child thriller.

After I finished school I worked as a sound technician at the Landestheater Detmold. Due to masses of spare time and to the lack of nowadays always on communication devices I got into reading again.

I re-read all the classics which I should have already read in school.  Because I didn’t had to, it was actually a lot of fun. I read a lot of the books from Thomas Mann,  from Heinrich, Klaus and Golo Mann as well.

During my studies I started reading non-fictional books and often bought different books about the same topic because I enjoyed reading things from a different perspective to better understand them.

So what happened to the habit over the years? Why did I almost stopped reading entirely?

Distractions by other hobbies

  • Working 40+ hours per week plus commuting
  • Surfing Facebook and 9gag
  • Binge watching
  • Children 🙂

What got me into reading again

  • Martin Suter
  • Paulo Coelho
  • Manfred Spitzer

My new most favorite author became Dan Simmons after I accidentally bought the book “Terror”
After I watched the TED talk Why I read a book a day (and why you should too): The Law of 33% I started to read again like crazy and started to build up a personal library

Review “The Passionate Programmer”

About the Author

Chad Fowler is best know for being CTO of 6Wunderkinder after its exit to Microsoft. Before he was Senior Vice President of Technology at LivingSocial.

The Book

Fun fact: the first edition of this book was titled “My Job Went to India: 52 Ways To Save Your Job” but Fowler found this title misleading: instead of improving from mediocrity to keep your job we wants You to focus on becoming exceptional and staying ahead of the pack. Continue reading “Review “The Passionate Programmer””

The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull

I think I first came across the Peter Principle in the context of The Dilbert Principle.

Where Scott Adams states in a satirical fashion that “leadership is nature’s way of removing morons from the productive flow”, Peter and Hull just say that everybody in a big enough hierarchy always gets promoted to a position where he no longer can succeed and so reaches his personal level of incompetence.

Pretty  shocking, huh? Continue reading “The Peter Principle by Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull”

Review “Lessons learned in Software Testing”

I became aware of James Bach through the Google Techtalk “Becoming a Software Testing Expert”. Then I quickly got his book “Lessons Learned in Software Testing”.

In this book Bach presents with his colleagues Cem Kaner and Bret Pettichord 293 tips and tricks (“lessons”) from the test practice.

Divided into 10 chapters, this book covers almost every aspect that can be encountered in daily SW test work.

Similar to Rework, the strength of this book lies in the small, self-contained chapters. You can individually rate and apply each tip individually or not. The authors are advocates of the context-based test strategy; So there is no all-encompassing concept / strategy that works for every kind of SW product.

Therefore, the recommendations are sometimes deliberately contradictory, e.g. whether SW tests according to IEEE 829 should be documented or not. Just as a doctor only makes a diagnosis after a detailed medical history and then treats the patient, “lessons” are tools that are only to be used after a detailed analysis of the situation (industry, company, team, project, product).

At the beginning of this analysis, the tester must scrutinize himself and his mission in the development process. Insights such as that you can never find all the mistakes and therefore never completely test, sound obvious, but should always be kept in mind to get your own motivation.

The tester does not verify that the product is working, but shows that the product has a defect at a certain point. Word!

The fact that the tester primarily supports or relieves the developers is an idea that is far too rarely taken into account in practice. Test departments are often perceived as opponents rather than as partners.

The following chapters cover the handling of test techniques, bug reports, automated tests, test documentation, the exchange with the developers, as well as the management of the own test team.

The conclusion of the book are the two topics career in SW-test and creation of a test strategy.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a strict roadmap that simply has to be implemented one-to-one to ensure software quality, you will not find it here. On the other hand, if you are looking for suggestions and critical questions to continuously improve yourself and your work, you will find enough material in this book to deal with it for several weeks to months.

Review “Rework” by Jason Fried und David Heinemeier

Today I introduce you to one of my favorite books, “Rework – Business Smart and Simple” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. The two authors are the founders of 37signals and have developed the framework Ruby on Rails, on which most of their products are based. After devouring their first work Getting Real in the online edition (http://gettingreal.37signals.com/), it’s time to spend the money on a hardcover. I like books that pragmatically approach the topic of business start-ups / company founding, so get straight to the point: Continue reading “Review “Rework” by Jason Fried und David Heinemeier”

Review “Der Bohlenweg” by Dieter Bohlen

We continue with motivational literature. After having lured you with reviews of the biographies of Richard Branson and Gene Simmons, today is a book from local climes.

Why Dieter Bohlen?

“Phew,” I hear some say, “I’m supposed to read or even buy a book from this dude?

Of course this is the parting of the ways: some consider him the superstar par excellence, the others would never admit publicly that you watch his programs, listen to his music and even envy him a little bit for his success.

One thing you have to let Dieter Bohlen: his almost painful honesty when he expresses his opinion. That never gets boring.

Anything but boring is his book “Der Bohlenweg – Planieren statt Sanieren”, although it could be classified primarily as a business advisor.

Business counselor?

Yes. What many do not know is that this man not only started a business degree but also successfully completed. “Completing”, “putting into action”, “finishing” is his mantra that sets him apart from the pure verbal acrobats.

“The key is to have an idea and to push it against all odds”

The little Dieter was anything but predestined to become a titan of pop music, we learn in Chapter Two: not a musical early education but the prospect of taking over the paternal road construction company. No one has been waiting for him and his music, on the contrary.

That which he throws at the head of the DSDS candidate today, he heard himself often enough in his early days and still or just because of this continued. To enforce his idea against all odds, one thing is needed:

W O R K – HARD  WORK

So, at this point you could put the book aside, because everything is said. But we would still miss a lot of good material and spokes for example. Never find out why it is better to live in a small apartment than in a large villa.

His excursions into the handling of money are also extremely instructive. Bankruptcies and / or personal bankruptcies as with Matthias Reim, Roy Black and Drafi Deutscher: This can not happen to Dieter. Spend less than you take and realize from the outset that the uncle of the tax office is half of all revenue. Nix gross equal to net!

He also warns us against windy financial advisors, which of course only appear when there is money to invest. Why is that?

The motto that control is better than trust runs like a thread. Also, that falling is no shame, as long as you get up again, is one of the wisdom with which Mr. Bohlen delights us.

What impresses me most is that Uncle Dieter zuschmarrt one with his successes (1000 times platinum or so) but mainly describes the experiences in which he has properly used the toilet: Toggle contract, home purchase (scrap property) and the robbery he does not out.

Conclusion

Of course, his book does not replace his studies at Harvard Business School, but when someone like Dieter Bohlen, who apparently “made it” (TM) chats, I get a clue.

Often it is the simplest of rules (“always putting something on the high end”) whose consistent application makes the difference between success and failure. And no matter how one agrees with him: “Consistent” could be his middle name.