Archive for the 'Books' Category

The Clean Coder

The Clean Coder

By Robert C. Martin

 

The Clean Coder is a kind of sequel to the famous Clean Code published in 2008. This sequel is a 200-pages-self-help book for programmers that’s sprinkled with biographical material. By and large, the mantra is: read this book and you’ll learn how to be a true professional programmer. To achieve that goal, the author shows a kind of ethic code for “true” developers in a world of sloppy programmers. The most remarkable aspect of the book is that is rather focused on psychology than in practical or technical stuff. Therefore, there are whole chapters dedicated to topics such as: when/how to say No to pushy managers, coding mental-state, etc.

I do support the idea of acting always as a professional no matter if you’re an entrepeneur, an employee working for a large company or a freelancer. One should have always in mind that every mistake we make has consequences and there’s no free lunch. However, I find the approach of this book is a little unreal, the programmer is presented as a kind of medieval knight or so.

To sum up, there are highs and lows in this book. While I enjoyed some chapters like “how to say no” or “how to estimate”, others are pretty much useless, like “Coding”, “Mentoring, Apprenticeship, and Craftsmanship” or the one about teams and projects which, to my surprise, is 4 pages long (!?). The reading is agile and even enjoyable but don’t expect to much and it won’t disappoint you. Usually I’m not very keen on this sort of books, but every now and then, I read one because we all have something to learn or get better at.

This is recent interview with Robert C. Martin:

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The Art Of Start

The Art Of Start

By Guy Kawasaki

This is an entrepreneurship guide that explains what it takes to transform an idea into a succesful startup company. The book describes the different difficulties any startup has to deal with. It tackles subjects such as: the business plan, the bootstrapping stage, funding,… We could say that it focuses mainly on IT companies although the general principles are valid for almost any company. The book is easy-to-read, does not ramble and is peppered with a pinch of entrepreneurial philosophy which is always encouraging when you’re about to choose the red-pill. I found particularly interesting the chapter about raising capital….valuable advice from someone who lives in the Valley and knows very well what it’s all about.

There are hundreds of books about running a business. I chose this one basically for the author: Guy Kawasaki. I first knew him when I read the foreword of Presentation Zen, and I thought that a guy that can write a so awesome introduction, must have lots of smart things to say.

To sum up, the book is good and sometimes brilliant. It’s not overly optimistic which is always welcome; can’t bear those stupid books that make you believe everything is possible if you try it, when we all know it doesn’t work that way.

This is a talk by Guy Kawasaki at Stanford University:

You can watch the rest of the videos here.

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Hello, Android

Hello, Android

By Ed Burnette

Regarding books, one of the things I appreciate the most is an honest relationship between title and contents. Unfortunately it’s quite common to find books out there promising things they don’t fullfill.

“Hello, Android” meets perfectly the commitment of its title. Don’t buy it expecting a reference manual of Android because it’ just an introduction to this platform, and I must admit that it does the work gracefully. It’s quick and brief so it tells you the essential and gives you resources for further research such as the sample projects that can be free downloaded from the book website.  A nice aspect to highlight is the hands-on approach, throughout the book concepts are illustrated with lots of code. Furthermore a Sudoku game is parcially developed during a couple of chapters.

So I basically recommend this book for beginners mainly for two reasons:

  1. Starts from the Scratch: Nothing is assumed so it’s a good point to start out as Android developer.
  2. Brevity: I don’t have time for an eight-hundred-pages book to start to develop. I’ll deal with the ins and outs as I go, not before.

Of course, like any book about Android, Java (or C++, C#, etc) basic understanding is recommended.

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¿Por qué las cebras no tienen úlcera?

¿Por qué las cebras no tienen úlcera?

De Robert M. Sapolsky

Tengo por costumbre de leer de cuando en cuando algún libro científico que no tiene nada que ver con aquello que me da de comer. Creo que es bueno saber bastante de una materia (básicamente para poder comer de ella) pero también hay que conocer un poco de todo lo demás. En este caso me ha parecido que no era mala idea saber algo del Estrés que todos mejor o peor sobrellevamos. Aunque parece haber miles de libros sobre el asunto en cuestión, fue fácil encontrar el libro adecuado porque no me interesaba un manual de autoayuda sino algo que explicase el porqué desde el punto de vista físico… y de estos últimos hay pocos.

Principalmente este libro se divide en dos partes: por un lado se explican las causas y consecuencias fisiológicas del estrés en lo relativo a las diferentes funciones del cuerpo (circulación, digestión, sexo, memoria, sueño, etc) para finalmente tratar los factores psicológicos y socioeconómicos.  Este último muy interesante explicando la relación entre estrés y desigualdades económicas, exponiendo  que no sólo ser pobre es un factor estresante (quizás el mayor de todos) sino también sentirse como tal. El libro se remata con un capítulo dedicado a las estrategias de control y mitigación del estrés…sin recetas mágicas pero científicamente demostradas.

Uno de los aspectos más memorables es el estilo divulgativo e informal del Robert Sapolsky. Se menciona una gran cantidad de estudios citados (y explicados con sorprendente sencillez) que avalan cada una de las afirmaciones, lo cual es más o menos normal en cualquier ensayo científico…pero lo novedoso es que cuando las cosas no están claras, también se explica por qué no están claras. Para alguien no-científico como yo, hay que decir que las 500 págs. se hacen duras por momentos (debido a toda la terminología científica: hormonas, neurotransmisores, receptores, etc) pero sólo por momentos porque es casi siempre interesante y está aderezado con partes hilarantes (por ejemplo las dedicadas a los babuinos).

Tras su lectura, realmente uno llega a entender la razón de que alguna decisión importante te altere el sueño o el apetito, mientras que irte a correr media hora por el parque o una cerveza con los amigos te haga olvidarte por completo de un estresante día de trabajo.

Robert Sapolsky fue entrevistado por Eduardo Punset para el programa Redes, este es el vídeo emitido:

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Manual Del Buen Bolsista

ManualBuenBolsista_CoverManual Del Buen Bolsista

De José Antonio Fernández Hodar

¿Quién no ha fantaseado con la idea de hacerse millonario?  Como no soy la excepción y dado que no se me ocurría ninguna idea digna de atraer ingentes volúmenes de capital,  decidí  probar con la Bolsa.  Tras unas semanas haciendo compras y ventas ficticias llegué a dos conclusiones:

  • No sé nada de Bolsa.
  • Me va a costar caro.

Así que he replegado las tropas y le estoy intentando poner remedio al primer punto. Luego de rebuscar en foros y blogs algo de literatura para profanos, me decidí por el Manual del Buen Bolsista (11ª edición). El libro empieza de cero y tiene un estilo bastante entretenido para aquel que no sabe y quiere aprender. Abstenerse todo el que sólo está interesado en Bolsa por el mero juego de azar que supone, ya que terminará con este libro (y con cualquier otro) en el estante más abandonado de la habitación.

El Manual de Fernández Hodar tiene capítulos a mi parecer infumables (por ejemplo los dedicados a Análisis Fundamental, Futuros y Opciones) pero tiene verdaderas perlas como los de Análisis Técnico,  Comportamiento de los Inversores y Gestión de la Cartera. Creo que tiene un perfil conservador que es adecuado para los que no sabemos (casi) nada de Bolsa, albergando consejos de sentido común para no perder hasta los pantalones. Bien es cierto que es bastante criticado entre los entendidos (basta bucear por alguno de los numerosos foros dedicados al asunto).

En general, para ser un libro sobre el Mercado de Valores es entretenido a la vez que riguroso. No se deben esperar grandes recetas pero sí lo necesario para conocer un poco las bondades y miserias del negocio.  Al menos una cosa he aprendido: la Bolsa no me va a hacer rico, a mi pesar.

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Presentation Zen

PresentationZen_CoverPresentation Zen

by Garr Reynolds

Essential

Beyond the typical book about getting better at presenting or becoming a more effective speaker, Presentation Zen offers its own answers to a couple of key questions:

  • Why design matters?
  • What the hell is a good design?

As a technical guy I’ve always been focus on searching functional solutions for problems but I’ve overlooked the design aspects of those solutions nonetheless. Since I finished this book I’ve started to look at these things from a different perspective, not just technical but visual. Presentation Zen’s honestly one of the most remarkable books I’ve read in recent times. It’s become my personal starting point to the Design world providing the necessary guidelines and resources I needed.

Plain, clear, brilliantly designed… I could write longer about Presentation Zen but it would go against the principles it teaches 😉 So let me leave you with some visual stuff about it…

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Getting Things Done

getthingsdone_cover Getting Things Done: The Art Of Stress-Free Productivity

by David Allen

Taking Back Control


I have to confess I started GTD with the same scepticism I read any self-help manual. As you may imagine, I’m not a big fan of this genre. Throughout the book, the author describes with agile and enthusiastic prose every aspect of this method (by the way named GTD). In a nutshell, the main goal of GTD is basically to be relaxed and focus on what you’re doing at a moment. The way to get there involves following up a precise methodology based on writing everything down. Most of the book explains the structure and maintenance of the equipment (baskets, lists, cabinets and so forth) needed to keep the system working efficiently. If you’re a good guy and fulfill the rules, all your stuff will be under control so your mind will be empy and you’ll ultimately feel better.

I think the GTD implementation requires a lot of self-control so I seriously doub that It goes well with most of the population. Although I’ve got a remarkable tendency to chaos and disorder, I’ve been working with a partial implementation of GTD for four months with good results. Gradually (against the book advice) I am implementing the whole methodology. My reason to try GTD is that it’s simple and based on common sense. Till now I’ve noticed I’m more conscious of how much stuff I have to deal with on my daily basis. In short, for me GTD has actually meant more control.

Back to the book, I must criticise the excessive enthusiasm that covers this type of books although I´ve been through worse times. The second negative aspect I have to mention is the length of the book. In my opinion is a bit lengthy and redundant mainly because it tries to emphasize over and over the key concepts. I actually prefer those books that get straight to the point…no offense, but life is short.:)

To sum up, I recomend GTD to all of those who have lost control over their lifes and don’t know how to manage so many projects and commitments. Either as a way of life or as “Tips and Tricks”, I sincerely believe that GTD can help with all that stuff.
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