Friday, February 26, 2010

Books everyone should read not just geeks or hackers

It has been a while since I did not write anything on my blog. I have been busy with work and reading among other things. But two books I read recently made me to want to blog about them. One is Paul Graham's Hackers and Painters, the other is Pomodoro Technique Illustrated by Staffan Noteberg.
On Hackers and Painters:
It is a great book especially for programmers. The breadth of common sense and not so common sense knowledge is breathtaking. It offers unique perspective on programming languages. It is pretty much biased towards Lisp, which is understandable considering his success and expertise on it. However, his advice of not learning Lisp for people over the age of 25 does not do justice to such a great language that every programmer should learn even if they do not use it. I am recent Lisp convert and I can already see its benefit to my daily work. I think earlier Lisp Dialects did not catch on because of its "strange" syntax, which made it more implementer friendly but not user friendly. But a recent dialect called Clojure is poised to make Lisp very very popular. Because the creator of Clojure is making very very nice middle road approach between user and implementer of the language. Anyway, Paul Graham's collection of essays in his book is really eye opening. There is chapter on how America's public school system works, why it is works the way it is and how adults should help kids between the age of 11 and 17. There is also a chapter about how to create wealth. His take on start ups are really thoughtful.

On Pomodoro Technique Illustrated:
Pomodoro means tomato in Italian. It is a focus training method that helps every goal oriented person by allowing them to get things done. What is unique about it is:
1. It is simple
2. It is easy
3. It is effective

Here is what you need to do:
1. Pick a to do item now
2. Set 25 minutes timer and start doing it now
3. Repeat above with new to do item if you finish or continue working after a short break.

All you need is a Timer, a sheet of paper, and your attention. In this memory overflow day and age, everyone needs to stay focused to get anything done. Countless interruption and stimulus is making people not even be able to concentrate for 25 minutes. Try it and you will be more productive.