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Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Programmers) [Paperback]

by Andy Hunt
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)

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Book Description

November 4, 2008 1934356050 978-1934356050 1

Software development happens in your head. Not in an editor, IDE, or design tool. You're well educated on how to work with software and hardware, but what about wetware--our own brains? Learning new skills and new technology is critical to your career, and it's all in your head.

In this book by Andy Hunt, you'll learn how our brains are wired, and how to take advantage of your brain's architecture. You'll learn new tricks and tips to learn more, faster, and retain more of what you learn.

You need a pragmatic approach to thinking and learning. You need to Refactor Your Wetware.

Programmers have to learn constantly; not just the stereotypical new technologies, but also the problem domain of the application, the whims of the user community, the quirks of your teammates, the shifting sands of the industry, and the evolving characteristics of the project itself as it is built.

We'll journey together through bits of cognitive and neuroscience, learning and behavioral theory. You'll see some surprising aspects of how our brains work, and how you can take advantage of the system to improve your own learning and thinking skills.

In this book you'll learn how to:

  • Use the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition to become more expert

  • Leverage the architecture of the brain to strengthen different thinking modes

  • Avoid common "known bugs" in your mind

  • Learn more deliberately and more effectively

  • Manage knowledge more efficiently

    Printed in full color.

  • Frequently Bought Together

    Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Programmers) + The Passionate Programmer: Creating a Remarkable Career in Software Development (Pragmatic Life) + The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master
    Price for all three: $68.68

    Buy the selected items together

    Editorial Reviews


    "I’ve recommended it to anyone who will stand still long enough to listen to me. I was familiar with some of the ideas and techniques from my various readings on the science of learning, but its invaluable to have them gathered in one concise book, especially one geared towards developers."

    —Dr. Paul V. Gestwicki, Professor & Director of Undergraduate Programs, Ball State University

    "I’ve always been looking for something to help me improve my learning skills, but i’ve never found anything as effective as this book."

    —Oscar Del Ben, Software Developer

    "Absolutely terrific! I’m only beginning the 3rd chapter and I’ve already found the book VERY, VERY useful. It makes me look at what I am doing and how I do it in a different light."

    —Carol Saah, Java Software Developer

    About the Author

    Andy Hunt is a programmer turned consultant, author and publisher. He co-authored the best-selling book The Pragmatic Programmer, was one of the 17 founders of the Agile Alliance, and co-founded the Pragmatic Bookshelf, publishing award-winning and critically acclaimed books for software developers.

    Product Details

    • Series: Pragmatic Programmers
    • Paperback: 288 pages
    • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (November 4, 2008)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 1934356050
    • ISBN-13: 978-1934356050
    • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.7 inches
    • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
    • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

    More About the Author

    Andy Hunt (sometimes credited as Andrew Hunt) is a writer of books on software development. Hunt co-authored The Pragmatic Programmer, six other books and many articles, and was one of the 17 original authors of the Agile Manifesto and founders of the Agile Alliance. He and partner Dave Thomas founded the Pragmatic Bookshelf series of books for software developers.

    Customer Reviews

    Most Helpful Customer Reviews
    129 of 146 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars Go read something else April 10, 2010
    Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
    I was thrilled when I learned about this book and I waited impatiently for it to arrive from Amazon. Boy, was I disappointed!

    The idea of such a book is great, somebody should have done it. The execution though is the one that is bad. The book is mostly focused around small number of defining concepts, which are supposed to explain and substantiate all the facts about the way brain works and the suggestions of how to become more efficient in whatever you do. These concepts are the L-mode and R-mode of the brain, the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition, and the metaphoric comparison of a brain with a two-CPU computer.

    Unfortunately, L/R-mode theory is now considered wrong and dated (the theory is more than 20 years old -- a lot has happened in neuroscience since then), and basing and substantiation suggestions on it is questionable. Even though the suggestions themselves are mostly reasonable and useful (in case you have not come up with them on your own yet), the constant L/R-mode preaching makes an impression of somebody selling you snake oil. The L/R-mode explanations make up a bulk of the book, sound really fishy, and get annoying pretty quickly.

    Dreyfus model, although somewhat useful in some fields, not too useful in the context of research work and science (and any non-trivial software engineering), where things are a tad more complicated [note: this is my personal opinion, don't take my word on it and read about it elsewhere if you want]. That wouldn't be a problem, if Dreyfus model wasn't used throughout the book to explain things.
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    74 of 82 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding and improving how your mind works... November 1, 2008
    I tend to gravitate towards books that explore how the mind works, and how you might be able to manipulate it into better performance. Naturally, when I saw that Andy Hunt's Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware had been released, it went up on my to-be-reviewed list. Hunt does a great job in exploring your "wetware", and there were some chapters that squarely addressed certain issues I'm currently dealing with.


    Journey from Novice to Expert: Novices vs. Experts; The Five Dreyfus Model Stages; Dreyfus at Work - Herding Racehorses and Racing Sheep; Using the Dreyfus Model Effectively; Beware the Tool Trap; Consider the Context, Again; Day-to-Day Dreyfus

    This Is Your Brain: Your Dual-CPU Modes; Capture Insight 24x7; Linear and Rich Characteristics; Rise of the R-mode; R-mode Sees Forest, L-mode Sees Trees; DIY Brain Surgery and Neuroplasticity; How Do You Get There?

    Get in Your Right Mind: Turn Up the Sensory Input; Draw on the Right Side; Engage an R-mode to L-mode Flow; Harvest R-mode Cues; Harvesting Patterns; Get It Right

    Debug Your Mind: Meet Your Cognitive Biases; Recognize Your Generational Affinity; Codifying Your Personality Tendencies; Exposing Hardware Bugs; Now I Don't Know What to Think

    Learn Deliberatively: What Learning Is...
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    80 of 93 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars Not so useful May 20, 2009
    I'm going to be a dissenter among all the praise the other reviewers are heaping on this book. I bought it because of the acclaim here so I feel I should warn other people considering this book that it may not be as great as it seems. Between all the anecdotes, references to The Pragmatic Programmer (a good book but why so much self-promotion?) and pointless pictures (a mention of the automatic sewing machine is followed by a half-page diagram of one; an expert software developer is apparently a wizard so there's a half page illustration of an evil-looking wizard; many pages are filled like this)... wait, what was I talking about? Oh yes, and all those sidebars that go off on a tangent and distract from the main text. Between all that stuff there's not a whole lot of useful, actionable content with which to "Refactor Your Wetware". And what content there is won't be very exciting to anyone who already spends much time learning on their own. This book could be helpful to people entering high school but if you're already successful at learning new skills and are looking to sharpen your edge I suggest you consider Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School instead of this book.
    Was this review helpful to you?
    39 of 49 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read this year October 17, 2008
    If you have read and loved any of Andy's books like the foundational book "The Pragmatic Programmer", you will not be disappointed here. Those of us that are constantly chasing the changing technologies and despite our best efforts continue to fall behind, this book gives some amazing insight into learning more effectively. I must admit I have not completed the book yet. But even with less than half of the book behind me, I feel empowered to begin approaching my career development (programmer) with new found optimism and enthusiasm.

    Put down (temporarily) whatever "must learn" tech book you are stumbling through right now and pick this one up. When Andy is finished with you, I guarantee you will be able to "pick up" that new technology more quickly. I don't know how many new technologies I've waded into and felt discouraged because despite my best efforts, it was taking too long for me to 'get it'.

    On another note, if you have been a fan of GTD (Getting Things Done) and still feel something was missing, I sincerely think Andy's helpful hints will give you the skills you need to get the most out of your brain.
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    Most Recent Customer Reviews
    5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read for knowledge professionals
    This book should be given all new knowledge professionals on their first day at work. This text is by far the most useful guide on how people think, work, and learn that I have... Read more
    Published 2 months ago by Aaron Avery
    5.0 out of 5 stars Very good book
    Different approach to programming. Shows how to increase intuition and problem solving using the R-mode of your brain. Very useful.
    Published 3 months ago by Richard Guerin
    4.0 out of 5 stars Beware! Blog compilation...
    Pros: interesting ideas about mind maps, "morning pages" and many links to useful material.

    Cons: no single concept behind this blog compilation, it is like a... Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Fedor Rusak
    5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and Fun
    I guess depending upon what you consider fun. :) I loved reading this book. It was easy to read, some of the content was stuff anyone interested in "finding a better... Read more
    Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
    3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Read for people in software.
    Very interesting read coming from the perspective of a software engineering manager. The author uses real world examples from a variety of industries to demonstrate how rigid... Read more
    Published 4 months ago by Robert Hansen
    5.0 out of 5 stars Don't waste a minute . read it right away
    The author is not presenting a radical notion that we have two sides to the brain but he certainly provides a lot of insight as well more reading material for the interested... Read more
    Published 5 months ago by R. Naidu
    4.0 out of 5 stars Love the book, dislike the Kindle edition
    I loved this book; it is very well written. But I have friends who bought the electronic copy of the book directly from the publisher, and the layout is much better. Read more
    Published 10 months ago by R. Tock
    5.0 out of 5 stars love this
    I have read this book before .I just wanted to own it now . I got the book in pretty good condition.
    Published 12 months ago by Jack Sparrow
    5.0 out of 5 stars Great Reading...
    Enjoyed the reading... I would recommend this book to anyone who would seek to find out more about how we as humans learn and communicate and how to do both better.
    Published 12 months ago by dveenk
    4.0 out of 5 stars Food for thought. Food for your brain.
    I read this book on recommendation from a friend after we discussed the Pragmatic Programmer. I was not disappointed. Read more
    Published 15 months ago by Greg
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