GDTBooks::General Computer Book Recommendations

The Elements of Programming Style (2nd Edition)
* Authors: Kernighan, Plauger 
* McGraw-Hill, 1978, ISBN: 0-07-034207-5
* Comment:  The 1st edition of this book was published in 1974.
            Although ancient (in computer years), most of the items 
            discussed in this books are still applicable today.
A Quarter Century of UNIX
* Author: Peter Salus 
* Level: all 
* Addison-Wesley, 1994, ISBN 0-201-54777-5
* Comment: The definitive book on the history of the Unix 
           operating system.
Not Just Java: A Technology Briefing 2nd Edition
* Author: Peter van der Linden 
* Prentice Hall, 1999, ISBN: 0-13-079660-3
* Comment: This book is an up-to-the-minute briefing about Java's 
           influence on computing.  It provides an excellent overview 
           of today's computing and provides insights into where 
           computing is heading.  It discusses - in an overview sort 
           of way - topics such as the Internet and TCP/IP, the World 
           Wide Web (WWW), browsers, Java applets, the Internet and 
           E-Commerce, security issues associated with distributed 
           processing, client/server and the intranet, network 
           computers, and software components and enterprise computing.
The Practice of Programming
* Authors: Kernighan, Pike 
* Addison-Wesley, 1999, ISBN: 0-201-61586-X
* Comment:  A little diagram on the front cover of the book explains
            it all:  Simplicity, Clarity, and Generality.  This book
            is sort of a modernized version "The Elements of Programming 
            Style (2nd Edition)" authored by Kernighan and Plauger back
            in 1978.  In this book, the authors illustrate universal
            engineering concepts that are independent of language,
            operating system, or programming paradigm.  The book is
            the result of many years of experience writing and
            maintaining a lot of software, teaching programming
            courses, and working with a wide variety of programmers.
OPENSOURCES Voices from the Open Source Revolution
[ online version]
* Authors: DiBona, Ockman, Stone
* O'Reilly, 1999, ISBN: 1-56592-582-3
* Comment: This book contains a lot of information about the 
           history of many open source projects.  There is
           stuff about Apache, IETF, Netscape, Berkeley Unix,
           O'Reilly and Associates,, Open Source
           Initiative, Free Software Foundation, Linux, Perl, 
           Cygnas Solutions, Bind, and RedHat.
The Mythical Man-Month: Essays On Software Engineering
* Author: Fred Brooks
* Addison-Wesley, ISBN: 0201835959
* Comment:  This book focuses on the management of computer 
            programming projects.  The essays draw on Brook's 
            experiences as a project manager for the IBM System/360 
            and for OS/360, its operating system.  A fallacy that exists 
            in many data processing organizations is that when a project 
            falls behind schedule, then the solution is to throw more 
            programmers at the problem.  Wrong!  According to Brooks'
            Law:  "Adding manpower to a late software project makes it 
            later." I particularly like the following quote taken from 
            the book:  "The bearing of a child takes nine months, no 
            matter how many women are assigned."
The Pragmatic Programmer
* Authors: Hunt and Thomas
* Addison-Wesley, 2000, ISBN: 0-201-61622-X
* Comment:  An excellent book that helps us become a better programmers.
            I agree with almost everything they preach.  They have a
            deep respect for the Unix philosophy.

The Cuckoo's Egg
Silicon Snake Oil

The Cuckoo's Egg is a true story about an astronomer - Cliff Stoll - at Lawrence Berkeley Lab who traced a 75-cent accounting error to a spy ring that in turn sold information to the KGB. These spy's were able to access military and educational systems thanks to sloppy system administration and various software defects in certain Unix programs.

Silicon Snake Oil is another book by Cliff Stoll that minimizes our present day networked society. He asks the question: "Are we sure we really want a networked society?" I always find it refreshing to hear technically savvy people remind us that there is more to life than computers and the Internet.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a story about a man (the author Robert Pirsig who is on a quest for truth) and his son who travel across country on a motorcycle. I agree with the following quote by Edward Yourdon:
If you substitute the words "program debugging" for "motorcycle maintenance" throughout the book, you will have one of the most useful and most inspirational books on debugging and software maintenance you will ever own.

The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer
The Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer

The Decline and Fall of the American Programmer was written by Edward Yourdon in 1992 and it is a harsh commentary on the computing industry in the USA. In a nutshell: America has too many high priced programmers producing mediocre systems at a mediocre pace (i.e. low quality, low productivity, but a high price).

The Rise and Resurrection of the American Programmer is not a retraction of Yourdon's 1992 book, but in 1996 Yourdon sees things turning around (the exploding popularity of the Internet, just-good-enough software [which customers seem to tolerate], the Java programming language, and Microsoft [a dominate, well-to-do, USA-based industry leader]).