A reminder that inspiration can come from anywhere! These interpretations of kids’ drawings are spectacular.
A reminder that inspiration can come from anywhere! These interpretations of kids’ drawings are spectacular.
This week I decided to tackle on a completely different type of book from the book, going all the way back to the time of Roman philosophers. A friend had suggested trying out this short and quick philosophy book, convinced that I would love both the idea of ideas as well as the concept of making the most of our time and our lives.
This book is actually quite short – short enough to actually complete through an audiobook while I was running a half marathon this past weekend! Only about a hundred pages, or an hour of audio. Although life may (or may not!) be short, this read will clearly be worth your time investment.
Verdict: Not much time investment needed to learn about how to invest in your time. Many concepts that people in the modern day rarely bring up.
The underlying concept in this book: Carpe diem. Seize the day. Live your life, today.
While that concept is nothing new, Seneca’s methods of the most of their lives may be. I’d like to bring up three of his main points in this review:
It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficiently generous measure to allow the accomplishment of the very greatest things if the whole of it is well invested. But when it is squandered in luxury and carelessness, when it is devoted to no good end, forced at last by the ultimate necessity we perceive that it has passed away before we were aware that it was passing. So it is – the life we receive is not short, but we make it so, nor do we have any lack of it, but as wasteful of it.
I really don’t need to add any comment to this, as Seneca has so beautifully explained it himself. But from my take on this: Create an end goal, maybe a couple. Invest all your time into it. Keep at it, step by step, and eventually you’ll accomplish something greater than you could ever imagine.
Don’t wait to retire to start living your life. Start. Living. Today!
Even the leisure of some men is engrossed; in their villa or on their couch, in the midst of solitude, although they have withdrawn from all others, they are themselves the source of their own worry; we should say that these are living, not in leisure, but in idle preoccupation.
Ever since I started working full-time, I realized just how little time I had outside of work, so I tried making every moment of my free time count. Topping the previous section of creating an end goal, I make sure that my leisure time actually goes toward a goal, instead of time wasted in busy idleness, in idle preoccupation.
Most people wind down as soon as they get back home, turning on their TV, Netflix, Facebook, etc., and just spending the rest of the day relaxing. After all, you already put in an entire eight hours of work in a day – how could you have the energy to do even more? What would make leisure time an end goal?
My leisure time tends to switch between the following:
It seems that my end goals tend to fall under the following when it comes to leisure: self-improvement, and socializing. Likewise, you can definitely do the same! Pick up a skill you would like to develop, whether it’s a physical skill from drawing to sports, or a social skill from communicating to planning events, there are so many choices! Remaining in idle preoccupation seems dreadful, even unimaginable, when there’s so many possibilities to bring out our greatest potential.
In guarding their fortune men are often closefisted, yet, when it comes to the matter of wasting time, in the case of the one thing in which it is right to be miserly, they show themselves most prodigal.
Personally I tend to be rather frugal in both time and money, but that may be just because I’m still a new grad without much money yet! Time is money, with the following exception: We can always make back money, but we can never make back time.
We should consider spending money on the following things which I would think we try to be stingy on:
This book is such a quick read, everyone should definitely give Seneca a chance. The time you gain out of reading this book will reward you tenfold. Do it, now, now, now!
This week I’ll be covering a topic in the engineering field: the non-technical aspect of the technical field. As this is a topic that’s rarely covered (that doesn’t involve everyday soft skills such as communication and time management), I’m excited to share my review of this exclusive book.
Verdict: A non-technical, technical book in software engineering; rarely done let alone rarely done well, but this book does it. Best audience is for professionals who have just started out in their career.
Having worked in the industry for a year now, I feel like now or a few months earlier would have been the perfect time to tackle this book. Andrew Hunt covers many topics that may be – or should be – commonplace to the experienced engineer, including orthogonality, design by contract, and software entropy. Despite the topics being rather introductory, I do see most of my coworkers breaking such practices, even those with over a decade of experience, so there is definitely merit in skimming through this book no matter your skill level.
In addition, despite the topics being introductory, I would suggest against reading this book if you are not yet in the work force (which includes internships). I feel that personally, having my current project in mind when reading each principle gave me a concrete image of these abstract ideas, making them easier to remember.
This book may leave you thinking “I already know all of this!” Everything is rather familiar. However, even though you may know it all, do you actually follow all the practices regularly? Most likely the answer is no, but EVEN IF the answer were yes, reading this book helps you as an experienced programmer gain perspective (see my earlier review Made to Stick and the Curse of Knowledge) of those newer to the industry. Use your knowledge to help those around you!
As usual, I’ll break up the contents by their chapters, briefly explaining the concepts from each section.
Hunt’s definition of a “pragmatic programmer” is actually rather simple and self-explanatory, really, the things you hear everyday even outside the engineering world. Regardless, before anything else, a pragmatic programmer shall keep the following in mind above all else:
Hunt now starts diving into the code by introducing several principles to keep in mind:
Many beginners overlook the power of the tools provided to them. IDEs, debuggers, etc. Hunt enlightens the reader with the benefits of investing a little time for learning tools to increase their productivity tenfold:
Hunt extensively preaches to code defensively. Code in defense against your own mistakes. Assume that the next person reading your code – even if it’s yourself – knows nothing.
The project must be as flexible as possible, or else it won’t survive in the long run. Hunt explains concepts on just how to do this, extending upon his concept of orthogonality and decoupled code from “A Pragmatic Approach”:
This section finally dives directly into code implementation, whereas all the previous sections were more abstract ideas to take into consideration:
What you do outside of code, before you code, is at least just as important as coding itself. Hunt emphasizes the need for taking care of prerequisites with the bullets below:
How are “pragmatic” projects run? Hunt’s tips on making teams run as smoothly as possible:
So despite the topics of this book being so introductory, why a full five stars? Simple: How many other books are like this, let alone do it so well? Even with my lack of experience and my initial judgment saying that this felt too familiar, I had already gotten great feedback from code reviews saying that my code is a lot cleaner, as if “I had gained an extra year of experience overnight” (verbatim!).
This book breaks things down so well because the concepts are actually quite abstract, but Hunt makes the abstractions so concretely understandable (another shout-out to Made to Stick) that any programmer can benefit from this book regardless of experience.
This post may be helpful with everything being so concise, but regardless the book definitely deserves its own read. These principles will truly sink in once you dive into Hunt’s explanations, and those principles will last throughout your software engineering career.
An immensely popular business book with over 70,000 ratings on Goodreads. What makes this book so great? Following last week’s review on what makes ideas great, this time I was interested in seeing if there were any similarities between great ideas and great companies.
Using the SUCCESS model explained last week, Jim Collins in this week’s book uses simple (they’re really nothing too groundbreaking), concrete (using examples from the companies themselves), credible (using empirical data from his research among over 80 companies) stories (also using examples from the companies themselves) with some unexpected facts (for example, a CEO of a “great” company being humble instead of having the stereotypical ego) to convince us that these specific traits will make any company great.
The SUCCESS model works. Let’s see how that applies to making riches.
Verdict: Content is well worth the read. Heavily researched, but with an arbitrary methodology. Explanations feel verbose.
Jim Collins provides a concrete five-year study of multiple companies who have sustained a stock market value of a given percentage (150%) above the average market. From there, he reverse engineers the remaining companies by discovering commonalities among their practices, given the empirical data he had discovered.
Two superheroes, two teams, fighting each other to the death. Each superhero has firm beliefs in what they are fighting for. There is no true villain. Who do you cheer for?
Captain America: Civil War is such a great movie thanks to not only its great writing and humor, but also to the principles in this book.
Every day I’m constantly thinking about ideation. What makes ideas creative? What makes ideas survive for years? What makes ideas bad? After reading through this book, you’ll see not only how Civil War became such a great hit but also just how easy spotting a great idea really is, once you’re exposed to the concepts in this book. Let’s check it out.
Disclaimer: I’ll be using this superhero blockbuster as my example throughout this post, and while I’ll try to hold back on spoilers, some details may spill just enough to ruin it for you. You’ve been warned!
Verdict: Clearly the authors took their own advice into making this book such a success.
SUCCESS – if you could only remember one word from this book, it would be this. Chip and Dan Heath establish the six key qualities of ideas that truly last: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories. Add an extra ‘s’ for good luck and you get “success.” Each principle explained below:
You’re constantly pushing yourself to be the best you can be, every day. You go to the gym when you could have gone straight home to unwind on Netflix right away. You put in that extra hour studying for the exam. You’ve been doing this for years, your entire life, just to reach your greatest goal.
And in an instant, everything you’ve worked so hard for gets taken away.
A book unlike my previous reviews, usually in self-help or business, this quick memoir of a neurosurgeon easily became a bestseller during its release early this year, claiming a solid 4.37/5 rating on Goodreads with over 24,000 ratings. After spotting this book in a Barnes and Noble and looking up its stats, I decided to give this a shot, and oh was it so worthwhile.
Verdict: Quick, impactful memoir providing a rare perspective on insights in the medical field, in life and death, in chasing your passions, and in forming meaningful relationships with everyone you meet. Absolutely emotional in every regard.
Paul Kalanithi loved the little intricacies in the laws of science, particularly in how the brain works and how it’s able to enable every action we perform. He equally loved the world of literature as it provides access to human meaning and brings the aforementioned laws of science into communion.
This (insert length of time not being a week)’s book features a well-rounded approach to life… specifically for software developers. I’m in the software field (and just starting out too so what better time!), I read, and I’m striving for a balanced life, so of course the sheer title of this book caught my eye!
Verdict: Lots of useful points throughout the book, but too broad and too introductory.
John Sonmez has quite a resume. Aside from being a developer, he dived into the realms of bodybuilding competitions, real estate, online course content creation, and writing – both in blogging and in this book. While he doesn’t brag about these achievements in the beginning or on the cover to attract your immediate attention, you see him bringing up these chapters of his life as he gives himself credibility to this holistic message. If you’re a software developer and you could only read one book in your life, this would probably be it.