Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Book Review: Rework and Remote

Monday, January 6th, 2014

I am reviewing two books: Rework and Remote by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37Signals fame. Both books are laid out in the same form. They have multiple sections and each section has multiple chapters. Chapters are short: 1-3 pages normally. These short chapters are great because they are packed full of info without being overly long and boring. The minor down side is some chapters left me wanting more on the subject. Each chapter has an illustration that goes with it. Some of these are hilarious.  I had no problems finishing these books and staying engaged while reading them.

Both books are not made up theory that sounds nice either. Both books are rooted in what makes 37Signals work. The ideas and concepts in the books come straight from day to day life at 37Signals.

Rework

Rework’s tagline is “Change the way you work forever”. The general idea is to challenge the status quo of what work should be and look like. It pushes the standard norms of running a business. For example the chapter “Why Grow?” discusses the idea of the right sized business. It suggests to the reader to find the right size for them and to stay there. This is different then the status quo of: If you are not growing you’re dying.

Remote

Remote’s tagline is “Office not Required”. It could be considered a playbook for setting up and having remote employees. I would suggest this for both employees or employers that want or even are working remotely. The great part about this book is it makes it clear what the trade offs are between working remotely vs being in office. In many cases it suggests why these trade offs are invalid or how to deal with them. The chapter “The Lone Outpost” suggest that giving one employee the ability to work remote is setting up remote to fail. It states that remote will only work if multiple people feel change that is needed to make remote work.

Conclusion

I have seen my fair share of “old way” thinking while working traditional and nontraditional jobs. It pains me to see this “old way” still strong in management today. Both of these books push the idea that there is a better way. It is a new and different way, there are pitfalls, but in the end you will be happier, your employees will be happier, and your product will be better. I highly recommend these books to pretty much anyone, exceptionally if you are working in a creative job such as development or design.

Book Review: Being Geek – The Software Developer’s Career Handbook.

Friday, February 25th, 2011

I’ll admit, I am not much for book reading. I like skimming the Internet and blogs but setting down with a book is not my thing. Maybe it is my Dyslexia, who knows. That is why I was surprised on how fast I read Being Geek by Michael Lopp.

Michael, who often goes by the name Rands, is a engineer manager in Silicon Vally by day and writer/blogger at night. Besides writing books, Rands writes a blog called Rands In Repose where he gives advice about living, working, and dealing with geeks and being a geek. It is well written blog with good content.

Back to Being Geek. The book claims to be the “The Software Developer’s Career Handbook” and it does just that. The content is not earth shattering but it does put things into perspective. Being Geek is written for the target audience of Geeks who tend to view the world in black and white. The content flows from the start of a Geek’s career to the end the current gig along with everything in between.  Chapters are short and to the point, each has a point to be made. While connected and in an order, the chapters can stand on their own. This made the book a joy to read because I didn’t have to go through the fluff to get to the point.

I thought the book was over all very good. There were a few chapters that felt they didn’t apply to me at this moment. These parts where more about being a manager, which I am not (yet anyways). With that said, may of the chapters did apply. The first section of the book walks through the finding a job and interviewing process. This was probably the biggest eye opener to me. I did not realise all the minuscule detail that interviewer is looking for, that is if they are any good. Rands goes into detail on what to expect and what the goals of the interviewee should be. For example, the phone screen, I learned, is all about communication. Can communication flow between the interviewer and interviewee. Rands also discusses the type of questions the interviewer is probably going to ask, why they ask it, and high level suggestions for answers.

In the end the book gave a lot of good information in a no nonsense cut the crap kind of way. I give credit to the Book and Rands for giving me some confidence and motivation in my career.