This Week Reading - wk16 2014

It’s a sad news that Gabriel García Márquez passed away this week. Although many of us haven’t read of his most famous novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, we should have heard about it once in a while.

I read One Hundred Years of Solitude on Kindle last year when I studied in the driving school to get the driver’s license. Our school was located in the near suburbs, and surrounded by a green hill full of graves and a waste incineration power plant which kept pumping white smoke through a large chimney. It was a cloudy day in late spring and early summer when I finished it. A few cars were crawling randomly in the vast training field before my bare eyes. But my twisted brain was still shocked and spinning in the world of crazy Macondo. Like I said on twitter:

Though it’s a bit awkward, I always thought it was such a great honor to live with those great men/women, like Gabriel Márquez, Claude Shannon, Steve Jobs and Eileen Chang etc. on the same earth for a while.

Rest in peace, Gabo!

I finished More Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky this week. Yeah I know it was published almost 6 years ago. But good knowledge is never out of date. Right?

Joel is an experienced software engineer once worked in Microsoft for MS Excel and now in his own company Fog Creek Software. Also he is an excellent writer with most articles were posted on his weblog. Indeed, there are lots of good programmers and good writers all over the world. But it’s not easy to find out the talents with both charecters. Moreover he co-founded the prevailing Q&A website Stack Overflow which in my humble opinion is much better than Quora at computer-specific questions.

A bunch of people over the internet doubted this book, as well as his website, was a way to promote and advertise Fog Creek Software and their products. But I think there is nothing to againt earning money by your own words and speech. Especially those words are somehow useful for the readers.

In my view, a good writer should firstly be an independent thinker without talking big to impress people. Actually I have the same feeling on certain subjects. Unfortunately, I didn’t go further to investigate deeply about the root cause and then get the final solvement. But Joel did. And he sorted it out by words in an interesting way. For instance, how to estimate effort for software development and testing, how to set task priorities, how to hire people, how to set price tag for software products, and so on.

Though a few posts cover technical issues regarding programming. This book, in which most of the articles are about management in software company, mainly aims to managers instead of software engineers. However, I still suggest all software engineers to read it in your spare time.

Another article I’ve read in Pocket this week was Cheap Words from New Yorker , which analyzed the good and bad of Amazon from book industry perspective.

After reading this article, I finally found out why those journalists always refered Jeff Bezos as a Wall Street guy when they talked about Amazon. He is rather a bussiness man than an artist like Steve Jobs or a geek like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. It’s also hilarious to read the part about “Amazon filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission” to accuse Apple for manipulating ebook prices with big publishers. You should check it out by yourself. It is really worth your while to read.