Category: Books

  • You Might as Well Be a Great Copy Editor

    An early draft of a paper, blog post, grant proposal, or other piece of technical writing typically has many problems. Some of these are high-level issues, such as weak motivation, sections in the wrong order, or a key description that is difficult to understand because it lacks an accompanying figure. These problems need to be […]

  • Secret Coders

    Although I’m not sure that I’ve mentioned it here before, I’m a pretty big comic book nerd. So I was psyched when, late last year, Gene Luen Yang mailed me asking if I’d like a review copy of his upcoming graphic novel. I love Gene’s Avatar comics, which I had been reading with my kids, […]

  • Atomic Accidents

    Although I was six years old when the Three Mile Island accident happened, I clearly remember grownups talking about it and being worried: the house my family lived in was only about 60 miles away from the meltdown. In those days there was also plenty of free-floating nuclear angst due to the cold war; this […]

  • Reading Iain Banks, Part 1

    One of the enduring pleasures of my adult life has been the arrival of a new book by Iain Banks every year or two. Although that is over now, I thought it would be interesting to read his books in order of publication, and to write a bit about each. His first four books were […]

  • A Few Good Books

    I haven’t been getting a ton of reading done this summer, but here are a few books that you might find interesting or fun. The Psychopath Test I’m sort of emphatically not a fan of those lightweight nonfiction books we’ve been seeing a lot of in the past few years that would have made (and […]

  • Funniest Computer Book?

    The other day Eric Eide noticed The UNIX Hater’s Handbook on my desk and remarked that there aren’t enough funny computer books. This is undeniably true. So now I’m trying to find the funniest computer book and I’d appreciate some help. Here are a few guidelines: Not really looking for a Dilbert collection. Let’s just […]

  • Four Books on Debugging

    It often seems like the ability to debug complex problems is not distributed very evenly among programmers. No doubt there’s some truth to this, but also people can become better over time. Although the main way to improve is through experience, it’s also useful to keep the bigger picture in mind by listening to what […]

  • The Space Child’s Mother Goose

    I just noticed that this old favorite has been reprinted. A quick excerpt: This is the Theory Jack built. This is the Flaw That lay in the Theory Jack built. This is the Mummery Hiding the Flaw That lay in the Theory Jack built. This is the Summary Based on the Mummery Hiding the Flaw […]

  • Cyber War

    I recently read Richard Clarke’s Cyber War. Although I didn’t learn anything new on the technical side, that isn’t the focus of the book. Clarke’s main agenda is to build awareness of the uniquely vulnerable position that the United States finds itself in as well as proposing national policies that might lead to a more […]

  • Book Beginnings

    If a book starts out just right, I’ll keep going back and rereading the first few sentences long after I’ve finished the book. Here are a few that did that to me. Fagles’ translation of the Odyssey: Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off […]