- 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: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,238,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Secrets of the Rock Star Programmers: Riding the IT Crest 1st Edition
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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.
Top customer reviews
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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. Masterminds of Programming makes the opposite mistake, producing interviews that are tediously low-level. The one book of interviews with programmers that I'd recommend is Peter Seibel's outstanding Coders at Work. If you really want to know how smart programmers go about solving hard problems, that's the book to read.
Even after reading the book, I'm not sure what criteria was used in determining who is a Rock Star Programmer. It seems to be some combination of successful software developer, entrepreneur, those with a fanbase, some specific skills and being in the right place at the right time (riding the crest.) Then there are the exceptions such as Herb Schildt who is a programming educator and author.
I would have enjoyed this more as a series of articles than as a book. I felt the chapters jumped around a lot and had different voices. Largely due to the dynamic in individual interviews. Some interviews flowed well and others had a number of disfluencies ("right", "okay", etc.)
The author was trying to tie everything together. He adds cross references, observations when interviewees say similar or contrasting things. There is a table in the back to direct you to which interviewees answered a given question.
Some themes in the book are knowledge of ignorance, the right thing vs the quick thing, a non-IT plan B, continual optimization of environment, outsourcing and personal/professional balance. Many of the interviewees gave their thoughts on their expertise which was nice. It left me wanting more though. I think that is because I would read a book on the topic to get the opinions.
It's not for everyone, but it is a rare source for this kind of information.