Category Archives: Learning

Book Review: The Effective Engineer

Last month we finished reading “The Effective Engineer” by Edmond Lau in the book club at work. It is a great book full of practical advice on how to get more done as a software developer. In fact, it is one of the three books I think all programmers would benefit from reading (the other two are Code Complete and The Pragmatic Programmer).

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Developer Book Club

dsc_0333For several years now, we have been running a developer book club at work. We pick a book relevant to software development, and read a chapter a week. Every other week we meet for 30 to 45 minutes and discuss what we have read. It is quite popular and useful, so I thought I would describe how we do it, and why having a book club at work is a good idea. Continue reading

Book Review: Release It!

In the book club at work, we recently finished reading Release It! by Michael T. Nygard. It is a book I have been meaning to read for a long time, but somehow I never got around to it until now. It was written in 2007, and it is starting to show its age in several respects.  Despite this, there is still a lot of relevant advice on how to make software work well in production.

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18 Lessons From 13 Years of Tricky Bugs

In Learning From Your Bugs, I wrote about how I have been keeping track of the most interesting bugs I have come across. I recently reviewed all 194 entries (going back 13 years), to see what lessons I have learned from them. Here are the most important lessons, split into the categories of coding, testing and debugging:

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Learning From Your Bugs

DSC_0663Bugs are great learning opportunities. So how do we make sure we learn as much as possible from the bugs we fix? A method I have used for more than 13 years now is to write down a short description of the bug, the fix, and the lessons I learned.

Way back in 2002, I came across a blog post (that I unfortunately can’t find again) that described this method. I have used it ever since, and I believe it has helped me become a better software developer.

Every time I fix a particularly tricky or interesting bug, I take a few minutes to write down some facts about it. Here is an example of a typical entry: Continue reading

Ph.D. or Professional Programmer?

When I graduated from university with a degree in Computer Science, I wanted to continue and get a Ph.D. But I also wanted to work as a software developer, so I worked for five years in industry before going back to do a Ph.D. I spent one year as a Ph.D. student before deciding that I liked professional software development better. Even though this was many years ago, I think some of the lessons I learnt still apply. Continue reading

Social Engineering from Kevin Mitnick

GitWI recently finished reading Ghost in the Wires by Kevin Mitnick. It is the story of Mitnick’s hacking career, from the start in his teens, through becoming the FBI’s most wanted hacker, to spending years in jail before finally being released. It’s a fascinating book that at times reads like a thriller. One of the things that struck me when reading it was how often he used social engineering to gain access to systems. Here are three examples of what he did, and what we can learn from them. Continue reading