Links

You can find here links to some of the most interesting sites and articles that I read.

Paul Graham’s essays – I believe that Paul Graham is a genius. Not only did he left his mark on software development, but he also funded Y!Combinator, a venture capitalism company specialized in technology start-ups, and, as if this wasn’t enough, he writes perfect, both in form and in essence, essays about technology, innovation, education and investment. If you don’t know him, read them – he will change the way you think about the world.

Martin Fowler’s website – I think Martin Fowler is the only software design theoretician who is spot on. Unlike many others, he is realistic about the premises of software development and doesn’t propose ideas and techniques for an ideal world. He coined and described techniques like refactoring, the various types of Domain Specific Languages, worked on patterns without overdoing it and many others. All in all, it’s a must read for anybody who wants to build good quality software within the budget.

No Silver Bullet – Essence and Accidents of Software Engineering – This is a well known article for any serious software engineer. It’s one of the few that touches the fundamental issues of software development, and shows the essential limitation in faster development of software.

The Mythical Man-MonthFrederick Brooks is a software engineer who participated in some of the largest projects of IBM, 25 years ago. He added his remarks in this book, probably the first discussing about the problems that we have when managing the development of a large software system. Most of his ideas prove still true today and serve as a basic building block for any software development organization method. I am still amazed how many companies, at least in Romania, make the same mistakes described more than 25 years ago by Mr. Brooks.

I’m a big Monty Python fan, as many other developers. For those who don’t know, the programming language python is named after them (its documentation is filled with Monty Python quotes) and the word spam comes from one of their sketches. I also liked that they embraced the new media, and provide a youtube channel with their works – which, by the way, also increased their sales.

However, their humour may be hard to digest at first, so here are a few of their classics. Watch these before trying something like the “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” or “The life of Brian”. So, here they are:

And last but not least, my brother’s interesting drawings.

Books I Read

I love books. They allow us to explore areas that we would never have thought of, expose us to ideas that we could never have had, marvel us with their stories, their style and their lessons.

I love a good story and I believe story telling is part of our lives more than we realize. I love when writers use words in unexpected or harmonic ways. I love to get their message about the human spirit – because most of the good literature is about exploring the human spirit.

I will tell you in the following about some of the books that impressed me and why. I believe everybody should read them, because each of them is unique and offers something to think of or to marvel about. Happy reading!

Umberto Eco, “Foucault’s Pendulum” – An amazing story, on multiple levels, proving the monumental culture and subtilty of the author – something you would expect from one of the best specialists in semiotics. Also serves as a cure for all conspiracy theorists. Beware, needs careful and multiple reading to understand the whole picture. (I still name my computer Abulafia whenever I can choose…)

Herman Hesse, “The Glass Bead Game” – Hesse was a master storyteller. His stories seem so simple, yet underneath the simplicity you find a subtle analysis of the human spirit. It’s hard to choose one of his stories as the best, but “The Glass Bead Game” is the one I’ve read first. Try anything by him, you will end up by reading all that he wrote – that’s what I did.

Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” – Oscar Wilde arguably wrote some of the most sparkling conversations ever. His dialogs are witty, funny, ironic, serious and invite to reflection. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is filled with such lines, combined with a story about the corruption of the human soul. All in all, it’s a masterpiece that opens new horizons for the reader.

J. R. R. Tolkien, “The Lord of The Rings”Tolkien worked on his imaginary world for 40 years. It includes different races, each having their own correct language (Tolkien was specialized in languages), legends, poetry and stories. The “Lord of the Rings” novel is only a small part of the complex world he designed, but it’s a universe in its own right. Each character speaks differently and changes subtly over time. The story develops in a perfect rhythm, keeping readers close and wanting more. Many parts of the world are left for the reader’s imagination, which makes it even more appealing. Tolkien wrote this book in an academic style, asking for reviews and feedback from peers, and stopped when each of them said that the story is great except for one part – which was a different one for each of them. It was clear at that point that he created the best story he could. We will not see a similar work soon, so enjoy it.

Frank Herbert, “Dune” – When I read “Dune” I was completely fascinated. The book is overwhelming; it describes a future world very different from what we know, it has strong characters and the narration is constructed by seeing what each of them thinks. The book is filled so much with religious, philosophical and ecological references that it can also serve as an introduction to each of these. The reader needs to make efforts to understand what’s happening, yet it is so well written that you cannot leave it until you’ve read it. I love it also because it’s the perfect example of Science Fiction written with style – something that we so rarely see.

Douglas Adams, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” – I love British humour. I love Science Fiction. This is the best mix ever between the two. Everything about it is absurd. First, the book contradicts itself. Second, the book is not exactly the same as the radio show and not exactly the same as the movie. To complicate things even more, there are more versions of the book that are slightly different from one another. Oh, and did I mention that it’s a trilogy in five volumes? It is probably the only comical book that starts with the destruction of the Earth, insults everyone by stating that Earth’s population was formed of useless people who got there by mistake and ends with the destruction of the Earth. However, it is hilarious, preposterous, absurd and has one very serious theme: the Universe is much more complex than we could ever imagine. How about this for a serious introspection?