JavaScript Ninja

Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja, second edition, By Resig, John (- 2016)

John is the creator and lead developer of the jQuery UI library, so I am not surprised to find that this is an excellent book. It is not for the beginner programmer, but if you have a bit of JavaScript experience then you will find this book rewarding.

It is essential reading for object oriented programming (I hope you are doing that). Did you know that there are four ways of invoking a function/method, and that only some of them are appropriate for object-oriented programming, with ‘this’ bound in the appropriate way? And the pitfalls in wait for the Java programmer who expects ‘this’ semantics to be the same?

The first edition was excellent. I am looking forward to reading this ‘completely revised’ edition.

Windows Into the Soul

soulWindows Into the Soul : Surveillance and Society in An Age of High Technology
By Marx, Gary T.
Book – 2016

The library’s barcode sticker on the back generally obscures some unimportant back-cover information but, in this case, it is troublesome: it covers Schneier’s recommendation. I wanted to read that so I found it on the web:

In a world punch-drunk on data, with both governments and corporations Рnot to mention private persons Рincreasingly recording and correlating our every move, Windows Into the Soul is an important and timely book

The author, Gary Marx, is / was an MIT professor who lives and breathes surveillance, in particular, the social and philosophical aspects. This book is not easy reading, but it is thought-provoking.

VR Book

Samsung VR Headset
VR Book : Human-Centered Design for Virtual Reality
By Jerald, Jason
Book – 2015

Learn about the design of Virtual Reality systems. This textbook format book is a bit like a university level textbook, but it is published by the ACM so it has some of the flavour of a scholarly research paper. But wait: it is readable, and takes you through all aspects of VR systems, from system design, hardware, content creation, health effects, to interaction design. VR is not a new technology: we progress from old historic systems requiring specialised lab hardware, to the latest Oculus mass market headsets.

Hardcover, 600 pages, many excellent illustrations.

Chaos Monkeys

chaosmonkeys

Chaos Monkeys : Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley
By Garcia Martinez, Antonio

Book – 2016

This book takes you into the life of Silicon Valley startups, beneath the veneer of respectability, complete with lying, cheating, and double-crossing co-founders. Get ready for a wild, coarse ride. The reward: you get insight into the challenges that a startup founder faces, including financial, legal, and personal. There are great contrasts between west and east coasts business culture. There are also great contrasts between Facebook and other silicon valley companies.

The author’s experiences include leading a startup through the Y-Combinator boot camp program. He has great respect for Paul Graham, Y-Combinator’s founder. The experiences continue, with VC funding, then acquisition by Twitter and Facebook at a time when they wanted to “monetize” ads. He reported to Cheryl Sandberg, and a chapter of the book tells what happens in a meeting with Zuck.

The book is a quick read at times, then at other times it expands my vocabulary. Without getting too serious, there are appropriate and memorable quotes from Churchill, Hunter S. Thompson, Shakespeare, Adam Smith, Fidel Castro, the bible, and Machiavelli. The book is a quick read at times, then at other times it expands my vocabulary.

At 500 pages, it is a large book. It is fascinating, so make sure you do not have commitments for a few days!

Exploring ES6

Exploring ES6 – Upgrade to the next version of JavaScript, Dr. Axel Rauschmayer, LeanPub, 2015

An in-depth book on ECMAScript 6, for JavaScript programmers, free to read on the web. It is a book for people who already know JavaScript but want to understand it better.

The previous book on JavaScript, published in 2014, is free to read on the web. It is for experienced programmers “who want to deepen their skills and/or look up specific topics.”

Rauschmayer teaches classes for Ecmanauten, blogs at 2ality.com, holds talks and workshops at conferences, and organizes the MunichJS user group.

the Start-Up Bubble

Disrupted – My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble By Lyons, Dan Book – 2016

Lyons was a technology journalist at the top of his career when the news industry imploded, leaving him screwed (in his words). He stumbled around, eventually getting work at HubSpot, the marketing support company. The job fit was so bad! When it ended about a year later, Lyons had a perfect chance to exercise his well practised skills in satirical writing and ‘take the piss out’ of Hubspot.

There are a few themes here:

  • ageism: Lyons was twice the age of the average Hubspotter, and he delights in detailing how green they were
  • VC start-up bubble: Hubspot and similar businesses make their founders millionaires while being unprofitable. The VC investors loose millions.
  • marketing: Hubspot’s ‘awesome’ capability was in spammy email campaigns.
  • culture: The company culture was laughable, and Lyons has a great time satirizing it.

The book is infamous at the moment. See Lyon’s Linkedin post, and Hubspot’s riposte. See also Lyons’ article in the NY Times.
Lyons’ Linkedin profile describes his experience at Hubspot succinctly as ‘Veni, vidi, scripsi’. Lyons may never again get a chance to work in a technology company, but he has revenues from a best seller, and I suspect he has a comfortable future as an author.

Software Craftsman

Software Craftsman : Professionalism, Pragmatism, Pride
By Mancuso, Sandro
Book – 2014

This book is for the working software developer. Do you see yourself as a professional? Or do you have pride in your skills a craftsman? Or is your work just a job, driven by a non-technical micro-manager?

Mancuso discusses the Craftmanship movement, which became strong around 2008, and compares it with the Agile and XP movements. This book will comfort you when deadlines are pressing. Better still, if you read it while in the early stages of planning a software project, you will plan and design quality code from the start.

Mancuso discusses this in the context of his own career progression from a green, cocky youngster through to a mature leader, showing considerable wisdom.

Here is the author‘s site.