Unlike Michael Lopp’s first book, Being Geek has typesetting that isn’t atrocious and features unique content. As a long-time blog reader, there were certainly familiar passages, but I found the entirety of the book worthwhile.
Even for the stuff I’ve seen before, there’s something to reading it on a piece of paper, in your hands. Maybe this is why I still have not ordered a Kindle.
Anyway, on the plane, the following passages jumped out at me, and caused me to tear up my bookmark for later regurgitation:
On escaping from reality:
If you walked in and looked over my shoulder at trollkill #653, you’d think I’d dropped into a twitchy, fugue-like mental state, and I have. I am…a machine. Machines don’t have a care in the world, and that’s a fine place to be. This is the act of mentally removing ourselves from a troubled planet full of messy people, combined with our ability to find pleasure in the act of completing a small, well-defined task. This is our ability to lose ourselves in repetition, and it is task [sic] at which we are highly effective.
On using incentives and rewards to make shit happen:
It’s a knee-jerk management move to use money as an incentive. Problem is, money creates drama. Money makes everyone serious, and while you may be in dire straits as you design your game, you don’t want the team stressing about who is getting paid; you want them to stress about the work.
On “truly knowing somebody:”
I’m not suggesting your Facebook pals aren’t an important part of your life, but until you’ve sat in a bar arguing about the relative benefits of your favorite programming languages until 2 a.m., you don’t know how someone is built.
The Web connects us, but the medium also filters out the aspects of humanity that make us interesting and knowable. You’re not going to know me until you see that I talk with my hands. I’m not going to know you until I realize that when you’re really thinking about a thing, you can’t look anyone in the eees, because it distracts you.
You get the idea. Or you don’t. That’s fine too. If you’re in software, you should read this book. Is it the only book you ever need to read about your career as an engineer? No, but it’s the best one out there. Maybe I’ve just spent enough years in the industry and climbed the ladder far enough that everything resonates, but this book is relevant to me, working in software for a financial services firm on the east coast. If it’s half as relevant to you, you owe it to yourself to buy it and read it (or bug me to borrow my copy). It’s the kind of book that makes you say something like “wow, I want to go work for this guy, he has it figured out, and he knows what my job is like already.”
Again, it’s a supporting text for your career, it’s not the be-all. It occasionally feels a bit cobbled together. The chapters stand pretty well on their own, but the narrative isn’t completely coherent. To be fair, makes it clear from the onset that this isn’t going to be a linear narrative from the get-go. I don’t think this is a material detriment, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Enough of my babbling. Go buy it.