Sunday, November 30, 2008

Blogroll, November 2008

The half-life of engineering knowledge is depressingly short. The old school way to stay current is via books covering technical topics, such as those published by O'Reilly and Associates and more recently by The Pragmatic Programmers. Though the quality of the writing in published books is generally quite good owing to the involvement of an editor, the other drawbacks are legion. Books have very long lead times before publication, leading to dated material. The enormous burdens placed upon the author mean that some interesting topic areas will never have a book developed. Technical books carry a relatively high price tag, and will continue to do so as long as the volumes stay low (a run of ten thousand is considered a successful technical title).

RSS I recent years I have sought my continuing education online, as presumably does the Gentle Reader as well. Sometimes this is in the form of publication-ready papers, such as those Ulrich Drepper is fond of writing (for example, "What Every Programmer Should Know About Memory" is excellent). I also check the links on Reddit regularly; I have mixed feelings about Reddit, but it does draw links to quite a bit of interesting material. If I find a particularly good author I'll add their RSS feed to Google Reader.

One blog I follow regularly is that of Louis Gray, a prolific blogger about social media and web 2.0. Each month he highlights other blogs in that space. I really like that idea: each link makes the entire genre just a little bit more richly connected. I'm going to try to regularly suggest other blogs which I follow, though I will probably not make these lists as frequently as Louis Gray does.

Some starting assertions:

  • I'm going to focus on blogs relevant to software development. For example I also read parenting blogs, and though the Gentle Reader might also be a parent you'll need to go elsewhere for that material.
  • I'm not going to spend time on Jeff Atwood, Steve Yegge, or other high profile writers. I suspect the Gentle Reader has already decided whether to follow those authors or not.
  • Though I try to focus on embedded system articles and many amongst this first set of links are related to low-level systems programming, future blogrolls will run further afield. You have been warned.

The Blogroll:
1) Proper Fixation, by Yossi Kreinin

Yossi writes from the perspective of a senior individual contributor, a point of view I greatly appreciate. He's covered close-to-the-metal topics like CPU architecture and debugging, but also other topics such as organizational challenges.

2) The Cranky Product Manager, by the Cranky PM

Written from the perspective of a Product Manager at Dysfunctosoft, a highly exaggerated (one hopes) parody of the CrankyPM's employer. Entertaining, with a dash of truthiness.

3) Dadhacker, by Landon Dyer

Landon Dyer is another senior developer with a long history in the computer industry. In the 1980s he worked on video games at Atari, and regularly posts reminiscences about those days. He also writes about the experience of being a developer in the lower levels of the system, like writing software for broken hardware and various pearls of wisdom.

4) Gustavo Duarte, by the eponymous Gustavo Duarte

Gustavo is best known for his extraordinarily detailed descriptions of various facets of the x86 architecture, such as the privilege levels and MMU hardware. He's also written on a wide range of topics such as the GPL, certifications, and software business philosophy.

More to come

That is it for this installment, but I'd like to make the blogroll a regular topic.