« Andrew Bird @ The Miramar in Milwaukee | Main | Happy Valentine's Day »

Current Bookshelf

There are 3 computer books that I am reading right now. I am making my way through them at different paces, but will have reviews of them all as I finish them.

Practical Development Environments by Matthew B. Doar. I am about a third of the way through this one. While definitely practical, the first third is spent explaining what a development environment is. I am just getting into the meat of the comparisons between different tools and philosophies. While the first section of the book is geared towards a beginner, it may not be adequately declared as such. I would suggest that someone looking for an in depth comparison between different strategies skip the first portion of the book. I don't fault the author for this trait, but I am already familiar with a number of development environments and am distinctly looking for a lucid explanation of why I should consider X over Y or Z+C over B.

My Job Went To India: 52 Ways to Save Your Job, by Chad Fowler. This book may sound a bit offensive, or brash, but from all of the reading I have done from Chad Fowler, and especially from his recent Perlcast Interview, i believe that this book is a very well-considered take on this issue. It never ceases to amaze me that as a people, Americans complain as much as they do. There is a simple reason why jobs move overseas: labor is cheaper, and a well educated, well-paid workforce severely impacts bottom lines. While that is heartless (and is not nearly as simple in reality as I made it sound in that line), the increasing globalisation is an amazing opportunity for American workers (programmers especially) to branch out and find something that is not as readily commoditizable, some not so boiler plate. I have just started this book, but am anxiously awaiting reading the rest of it.

Squeak: Learn Programming with Robots by Stephane Ducasse. This book is probably the one I am most excited about. I remember so vividly the few times my elementary school classed was bused to the one school in the district that had a Macintosh lab. We would program (in Logo, perhaps? I need to nail that detail down. ) in a graphical environment and would have several different tasks: Draw lines (of various shapes, sizes and colors), draw shapes, do basic animation and program a course for a car on a track to take. The Squeak environment has fascinated me, primarily as the most practical way to learn Smalltalk. The environment that accompanies this book is very similar to the environment I used as a child. The premise is that you are in charge of a bunch of robots. Your raw materials are: Bot (a class or factory for making robots), and a few simple commands for the robots themselves( Go, Jump, turnLeft, turnRight, etc) and a Color factory. The book is not designed for children necessarily, but the environment and some of the exercises are definitely child-friendly. I spent some time Friday night introducing Juliana to this environment and it was a blast. We spent some time drawing lines, making the robots turn, and trying to draw rectangles and triangles. Hearing my 5 year old say, "I am giving the robot the "Go" message!" is pretty cool. Much, much, much more info on this will be coming soon.

Also, in the vein of learning to program, I am anxious to pick up Learn To Program from the pragmatic programmers. There is a great picture on flickr of a little girl reading this book. I'll update this post with that pic when i dig it out. Yay! As I was typing this post, I noticed that Perlcast has an interview with Chris Pine, the author of Learn To Program. Excellent.

What are you reading?