Brush Up My Programming And Such…

… not quite brushing up my Shakespeare, but I have been pretty busy lately with other things. Since I’m in the middle (or rather at the end) of changing bank accounts (which I can’t recommend to anyone with procrastination habits like mine) I’m trying very hard to stay away from my Amazon wishlist. I have two very promising books on my nightstand, but they shall be my reward for when I have gotten some of my more tech related reading done. It’s not like I don’t like reading tech and tech related books, but sometimes it is a bit tedious (we’ll get to that in a minute) and just grabbing a nice novel from the nightstand instead can be very tempting.

However, here’s what I was reading these last weeks:

Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t Make Me Think’: I wrote about it before and though what I said back then still is true, I also want to say that this what I consider a must-read for anyone who’s slightly interested in usability. And to be honest, everybody who’s involved in building web sites or applications or what else should have an interest in knowing the basics. You can probably get most of the information somewhere else, be it from other books or from the web, but I’d guess that you’d have a hard time finding it as clear, concise, condensed and engaging. Honestly, if you have a fun time reading a book, it shouldn’t really matter if you already knew some of the stuff. It certainly doesn’t hurt and it usually is a good thing to be reminded of stuff that has been vegetating in the back of your brain for quite a while. If you’re interested, you can have a look at Krug’s web site www.sensible.com.

NHibernate in Action: As you can imagine this was not something that I read for pure fun. Other than so far being the only book on NHibernate you can get, it was pretty decent, although the rush in which I read it unfortunately kept me from playing around with the examples as I had originally planned to. To be clear: With pretty decent I mean that I was able to read a really tech-oriented book without boredom oozing out of my ears, while still getting the feeling that I was learning something. That’s something that a lot of tech books fail to achieve, so I salute the guys who wrote it for making a pretty dry topic interesting enough to keep reading. You can check it out on their publisher house’s page at www.manning.com/kuate.

Neal Ford’s The Productive Programmer: This was one of the books that basically deliver about exactly what I thought they would deliver, not particularly more, but also not less. You won’t go from zero to hero after reading this and a lot of practices are simply not applicable to either me as a person or to the tools I work with, but there were a couple of things in it that I could apply and that I would say already pay off. I now use Launchy regularly, have installed virtual desktops on both my Mac and PC and have successfully disabled those stupid balloon tips in Windows. Very subtle changes, but effective, be it just in making me feel better. I skimmed a few chapters, because it was obvious that they were just not for me. You need to decide for yourself whether it’s worth the price, but to anyone who just expects a few hints rather than the silver bullet and would be satisfied with that, you should at least check it out. Neal’s blog is at memeagora.blogspot.com.

I now returned to reading the official Microsoft Traning Kit for WCF and re-reading Donald A. Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. Next in line is getting to know Silverlight, by the way. So all in all I’m positively busy.

And should I decide that I have now earned myself a relaxing no-tech novel, I still have Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief and Julian Barnes’s The Somnambulist ready to be read. But I try to remain strong.

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