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Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Programmers) 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1934356050
ISBN-10: 1934356050
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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 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1934356050
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934356050
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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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

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Paperback
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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8 Comments 74 of 83 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
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.
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I was recommended this book by a lecturer in a programming class. After looking through the reviews I was disappointed by review comments claiming that the book focused on the outdated Left and Right side brain model. After actually reading the book, I was please to find that it DID NOT continue the fallacy of this idea. Instead, It used reference to L-mode and R-mode, which are distinctly different from left and right side theory. L-mode and R-mode are refereed to as different forms of thinking performed by the brain, but instead of being said to be located on the left/right side of the brain, they are said to both occur throughout the brain.

Now that I have that portion off my chest, I will discus the book as a whole. The authors give a huge amount of tips and advice for improving our thinking. Much of the book is focused on coxing the L-mode (creative) part of our thinking to come forward. All the advice is objective, with a huge amount of source references. It is plainly stated by the authors that not all of the tips/advice will be useful to all users, but instead suggest that you try as many as you can and use those that have positive results.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in become more objective and valid in their thinking. Since reading the book, I feel I am able to incorporate new knowledge much easier. I can also recall information with increased ease. The principles covered in this book can be applied to all thinking and learning, but the information in the book is given largely through computer/programming analogy. This may cause it to be harder to understand for those unfamiliar with these topics.
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