Christmas Books

I read quite a few things over Christmas, here’s some notes on a few of them:

Mobile First & Emotional Design

These were probably the shortest two that I read, but both jam packed with some quite useful information. With Mobile First, some of it was already preaching to the converted, but the examples and approaches were useful to see.

Emotional Design, however, made me think. It’s about optimising designs for the way human emotions operate. And, it works very well.

Much of the book outlines case studies, some from Aarron’s work with MailChimp, and others from elsewhere. It does a very good job of making its case - something that I’ll think about in the future.

A PhD is Not Enough

I read this after spending a good chunk of time reading Matt Might’s blog. It’s a book about academic careers and attempts to reveal exactly what that entails.

Like most books on the same subject, it’s US centric, but still valuable. If the thought of academic is on the horizon, I’d suggest you give it a read.

The Passionate Programmer

This is about programming careers. I think it’s well targeted at those soon to be leaving University or in University studying something programming related.

I find what most people say on careers to be simply offensive, this is good.

A big pain point I see in people is seeing what they’re being taught at University to be the be-all and end-all of what they need to know to get a job. For some, this is obvious, but for others not so. The book makes a good point of suggesting that you firstly should be problem, not tool orientated, and that also you should be pushing out into other technologies. Especially new ones.

For the former, this means pushing far out of your comfort zone. Used to Java? Learn Ruby, or Objective-C. Or, even better go functional and learn something like Haskell. But, more important is to remember what you’re working on now is just the thing of the moment. If you keep that view, you can keep ploughing forward. And anyway, if you learn around your favourite technology and methodologies enough, you are still improving on the original one.

It is a little dry at times, and somewhat fear driven (there’s lots about the risk of having your job outsourced), but overall it’s a good book. It has some nice personal case studies, too.

The Macintosh Way

This wasn’t what I expected. It’s a book about applying the way the Macintosh was created to other companies. Some things are a little dated (it was published in 1990.)

It doesn’t contain a gushing history, but a a slightly rose tinted, but critical look at how the Macintosh was crafted (and maintained after Jobs left.)

The point of the book is how to apply this to other companies. Beware of the dating chapter. It’s painful.

Core Data for iOS

This has got to be the first book that has made me enjoy dealing with data. Up until this point, I had avoided Core Data (it is a complex framework.) But, I got this as a Christmas Present.

For iOS, Core Data is essentially a wrapper and set of tools for dealing with SQLite. I’ve not finished reading it yet, but so far this has given a enjoyable discussion of the way Core Data works and how to go about using it. It has some nice tips on performance, too - especially important if you are handling large data sets.

The information is not limited to just iOS, either. Whilst this is the primary focus, it does cover enough if you are looking into the Mac, too.

I did read a lot of other things, too (mostly catching up.) You can find those over on Pinboard.