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Secrets of the Rock Star Programmers: Riding the IT Crest 1st Edition

3.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0071490832
ISBN-10: 0071490833
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ed Burns is a senior software engineer at Sun Microsystems and a well-known personality in the enterprise IT profession. He is the author of McGraw-Hill's JavaServer Faces:The Complete Reference.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education; 1 edition (March 13, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071490833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071490832
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,538,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ed Burns is currently a consulting member of the technical staff at
Oracle America Inc., where he leads a team of Web experts from across
the industry in developing JavaServer Faces Technology through the Java
Community Process and in open source. He is the author of four books for
McGraw-Hill: Secrets of the Rock Star Programmers (2008), JavaServer
Faces: The Complete Reference (co-authored with Chris Schalk, 2006),
JavaServer Faces 2.0: The Complete Reference (co-authored with Chris
Schalk and Neil Griffin, 2009), and Hudson Continuous Integration in
Practice (co-authored with Winston Prakash, 2013).

Before working on JavaServer Faces, Ed worked on a wide variety of
client and server-side Web technologies since 1994, including NCSA
Mosaic for X, Mozilla, the Sun Java Plug-in, Jakarta Tomcat, the Cosmo
Create HTML authoring tool, and the Web transport layer in the Irix
operating system from Silicon Graphics.

Ed is a frequent speaker at international industry conferences, having
presented many times at Oracle's JavaOne conference, given keynote
addresses at the W-JAX and JAX conferences in Germany, the Globalcode
Developer's Conference in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the JSF Days and CONFESS
Conferences in Vienna, Austria, the DOAG Conference in Nuremberg,
Germany, and also has spoken at numerous Java User Group meetings and
the No Fluff Just Stuff Java Symposium. Further information and blogs
may be found at http://purl.oclc.org/NET/edburns/.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book doesn't have any code tricks. It is just a series of interviews with people who have been instrumental in the software and IT industry over the past twenty years with an emphasis on more recent contributors. It mainly goes over how they look at problems and how they solve problems, with a good mix between their approaches to hard and soft skills. If you are a student doing a paper on the history of computing I'd say it would probably give you a pretty good look at some of the personalities involved in computing on which it is difficult to find much written. For example, James Gosling is the father of the Java language, but it is difficult to find any information on his approach to technical problems and his personality in general. This book gives you that kind of insight on Gosling and on other specific personalities that are leaders in the IT field. The final chapter on Weird Al Yankovic is rather strange, since he has nothing to do with the IT field and his intro has his qualifications listed as "The Programmer's Rock Star". I'm not sure how true that is, but it is an amusing chapter.

It's not for everyone, but it is a rare source for this kind of information.
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Format: Paperback
There are, roughly speaking, three worlds of programmers: the enterprise world, the startup world, and the academic world. As its ridiculous subtitle suggests, these interviews are with stars of the enterprise world, where Java and heavyweight IDEs dominate. If you don't use Spring and Eclipse, then most of the chapters will feel irrelevant to you. Personally, I'm a refugee from the Java world moving toward Ruby and Python (the languages that reign supreme in the startup world). The most pertinent interviews were with Andy Hunt and Dave Thomas, the founders of The Pragmatic Progammers. They do fine work; I'd much rather read just about any of their books than this one.

The overproduced design of this book is consistently annoying. Each interview is prefaced by a "Fact Sheet" about the rockstar programmer, with a baseball card-style breakdown of factoids. "Number of kids: Four." Uh, OK. Then the author places interjections throughout the chapter [and not just explanations on square brackets, though there are many of those] but also sidebars like: "Character attribute: Pragmatic, not excessive, optimizer." Ooookay. Why are you interrupting this interview to tell me that? It's as if the author expects me to go build a fantasy baseball team with these programmers. Then the book concludes with a totally superfluous interview with Weird Al Yankovic. Like the rest of the book, that interview doesn't know who its audience is: If you've never heard of Weird Al, it won't make you want to listen to him; and if you're already a fan, you won't learn anything new from it.

But the real problem with this book is the lack of depth. Interviewing programmers in depth without getting mired in too much technical trivia is a big challenge.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book a great read for a variety of reasons. I don't have an IT background but I enjoy reading about groundbreakers and top performers in any field -- hence my interest in the book. The author does a great job of getting at why these folks are RockStars and how they all think about programming and software. But it also does a great job of getting at the issues they face that we all share -- how do I keep up with the deluge of information in my field, how do I stay current with trends and changes in the industry, how do I maintain a work/life balance, etc? And for those with an IT background, there is some very technical information as well. And with the great interview with Weird Al at the end, there is something here for everyone. You'll find value in this book if you don't know COBOL from Ajax, are in CS 101, or are a 20 year industry veteran.
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Format: Paperback
I got this book because I liked the idea very much. I gave it 3 stars because some of the questions and info he presents seemed to be irrelevant. For example, he has these general questions he asks all the programmers (in addition to the unique questions). Questions like, "how important is it to be aware of your own ignorance?", "how important is it to be thinking about how you're thinking?", just strike me as rhetoric and a bit "boring". Also on each programmer he has a profile page like name, degree, etc. he has some irrelevant things like "Birth Order"... Birth Order?? C'mon man. Also, it would be more interesting if he were to interview some more recognizable programmers (maybe Bjarne Stroustroup that created C++, or people that made some significant technology like Craig from craig's list or Sean Fanning from Napster or the guys at Google, or maybe even Bill Gates). Alot of the people he interviewed I just didn't recognize. Also, it seems he has a bias towards the java world. What was a bit irritating is that at the end of the book he interviews Weird Al Yankovic. Again, I just felt this was irrelevant information to the subject at hand. Overall, I'm not dissapointed I got this book.. I just guess I wasn't completely satisfied after reading it.
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Format: Paperback
After reading the book, I'm not quite certain what qualifies a programmer as being of rock star quality, and I'm not sure why "secrets" was chosen to describe the contents of the book.

Perhaps 'an informal exploration of how some rather well-known programmers approach their craft' would have been a more appropriate title for this book, though I freely admit that it is far less catchy!

I did enjoy reading the interviews, and probably would have rated the book higher if the cover and title were less... sensationalist.
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