- Paperback: 338 pages
- Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (August 13, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0596155409
- ISBN-13: 978-0596155407
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 47 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Being Geek: The Software Developer's Career Handbook Paperback – August 13, 2010
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About the Author
Michael Lopp is a Silicon Valley-based engineering manager. When he's not worrying about staying relevant, he writes about pens, bridges, people, and werewolves at the popular weblog, Rands in Repose. Michael wrote a book called "Managing Humans" which explains that while you might be rewarded for what you produce, you will only be successful because of your people.
Top customer reviews
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Looking on my own experience in tech companies, I think that his advice is often spot-on. There have been times when I've read one of his blog posts after a difficult situation and found myself understanding it better. He's got a keen eye for detail and for understanding the nuances of geek behaviour, as well as all of the interacting forces that come into play when you're working for a big geek company. I've gone back to read half-remembered posts that I felt were pertinent to a given situation.
I found it amusing that Lopp says in his introduction that he's not writing a book that gives you ten steps for anything, or that will define the five characteristics of a top leader, but most of his essays are structured in just that form: distill a situation into some archetypes, identified by Capital Letters. For an occasional blog post, I don't mind this style; as a book, this structure got rather repetitive. While I love the blog, I found that I couldn't read the book for more than a half-hour without losing interest because the style just didn't work for an actual book.
Honestly, I was hoping for more. The blog is excellent. I hoped that a book would use the blog as a starting point and give more consideration, more depth. But it's not there. If, like me, you've been reading his blog for some time, I can't really recommend this book. You've read most of it before, albeit in a different order. The new pieces don't really add that much. If you're not a reader of his blog, this book is a good look at moving through your geek career. I'd recommend adding his blog to your reading list while you're at it.
In many ways, the author takes his specific experiences and incorrectly generalizes them. Perhaps they are commonplace in Silicon Valley, but not in technology in general.
Further, key information is omitted. For example, he states that a good way of getting adversarial coworkers to get along better, is to get them to play Back Alley Bridge during lunch - but that crosses two management challenges - getting employees to do non-work events and getting employees to sacrifice their lunch hours. No advice whatsoever is given on how to deal with either.
Probably the worst oversight is assuming that the career path is limited to either staying a developer or moving into management.
That said, I think this is an enjoyable book that one can learn from, but that it should not be interpreted in any way as a career handbook.
The chapters are strongly influenced by posts on the blog. While the chapters are interesting of themselves, there is little coherence between chapters, and some of the chapter headings are not a good description of the contents.
Lopp's other book, "Managing Humans," may be a better choice for many readers. In that book, the chapters are more coherent, and the stories are more on-point.
This was an enjoyable, quick read, which is why I gave it 4 stars. I just think the other book is better, which is why I gave that one 5.
Most recent customer reviews
Nicely written, clear, thoughtful, useful.Read more