D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

Becoming a Better Developer Update - Or "How to spice up baby-making sex"

Monday, July 30, 2007 2:11 AM

You're probably looking at the title of this post wondering how spicing up baby making sex relates to becoming a better developer. First, you should really go and read George's post first to get some context around this.

Read it? Great...

So over the last few months I've been trying to sink my teeth into some Tech books as part of my becoming a better developer. I sympathize with George in that tech books can sometimes become difficult to plow through. To use another analogy, its like working out: you start on that treadmill hitting 100%, but after 10 minutes you're limited to maybe 60% or lower and you won't hit 100% until you get to the next day's workout. Or as George implies, until his troop carrier has reloaded with marines.

I've found a way to avoid this tech-book burnout though, and I want to share this secret with you. Here it is:

1) Know What Type of Booty Call You're Looking For

Sometimes you just want to hit the club, find a fly honey, and show her why you're the King Kong of the CLR, and sometimes you're looking for a longer-term hookup for whatever reason (hey, Sopranos is over now, so you have to do something on Sunday nights right?). Of course, this is an analogy for technology books remember, so what the hell do I mean? Simple: be specific about the topic and type of book that you want.

I'm about to commit a geek travesty here and bring the wrath of Justice Gray on my head, but here goes: I didn't like Head First Design Patterns. That's not to say that the format was necesarily bad, but just that I was looking for examples of how to implement design patterns in code and explanations for those design patterns...which are definatly in the book. But at the same time, I waded through (and skipped over) many pages that had crosswords, questions, funny conversations between the patterns...Now for some developers this might be a great book and they read it cover to cover and have every blank filled in and crossword answered...but not me. Hence why you should know what type of book you want for a given topic. Are you looking for a quick refresher? Don't read an exhaustive account of the history of OO development and a high level look at patterns, and very possibly consider the language used as well (Head First Design Patterns uses Java, which is close enough to C# to be ok...but there were pages dedicated to how Java implements certain things that were pointless to me).

2) Be A Man-Whore...Be A Playa

Sure, you could be committed to one book at a time, but after a while that gets boring. You're sitting there reading the same topic night after night, and eventually the attraction to learning the latest and greatest .NET technology gets lost in the ramblings of the author and you wondering "geeze, how many more pages until I can ditch this?".

Instead, keep your beeper going by reading at least 3 different books at the same time. Yes, 3 different tech books, on different subjects, all at the same time. At first that sounds daunting...but trust me, you end up getting enough variation to keep all the topics interesting and you don't burn out on any given one.

3) No More Floozies - Only High Class Ho's

Kid Rock said it best, and its true for tech books as well (he was talking about garden tools). Pick authors that are good. Don't just read a book because its some ancient author who may be incredibly smart in his/her area, but can't communicate that in written word. Don't feel that there are certain books that you "have" to read. Make sure they're relevant to what you're learning/using right now, and for that to happen you'll probably already have some idea of which authors should be your go-to people. You want ASP.NET info? It doesn't get sexier than Dino Esposito (he's got a great book on Ajax). Want a great read on architecture and design while learning about a great free framework that you can use? Rocky Lhotka's Expert C# 2005 Business Objects is a must read. Just saying you "read a book" doesn't really mean anything unless that book really has meaning and value to you. You're going to spend x number of hours on this, make it count.

So that's it. If you follow my three simple rules for managing your geek-reading, you can avoid the "baby-making-sex" scenario that George talked about.

To quote Saint's Row, "You think you're ready for this playa?"


# re: Becoming a Better Developer Update - Or "How to spice up baby-making sex"

I agree with you completely about Head First Design Patterns. It is an excellent book, but there is too much superfluous information between the meaty parts. That isn't to say that I want all the meaty parts removed, but I want the use of them to be tempered. I'd compare HFDP to Copeland's JPod. Good book, but why do I need to have the first 100,000 digits of pi in print? 7/30/2007 3:16 AM | Donald Belcham

# re: Becoming a Better Developer Update - Or "How to spice up baby-making sex"

You didn't...did you?...OMG, you did...you slagged a Douglas Copeland book?! BLASHPHEMY!!!

JPod was GENIUS! and I learned probably more about design patterns, asian organized crime, and how to hide a grow op from the cops in that book than in HFDP!

Heh...but yeah...it was a little quirky to have those pages of Pi printed out...was that in the original Microserfs I wonder?

D 7/30/2007 3:28 AM | D'Arcy from Winnipeg

# re: Becoming a Better Developer Update - Or "How to spice up baby-making sex"

I don't remember if there was anything like that at all in Microserfs. At least the CBC is making a sit-com based on JPod. Instead of commercial breaks they're going to have us play games like:

"Watch the next 50,000 scrolling number and select the one that is a letter "O" instead of the number zero. Text where it appears in the sequence and you could win your very own trip to a Burnaby grow op!" 7/30/2007 5:25 AM | Donald Belcham

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