Geeks in Teams – Team Geek by Fitzpatrick and Collins-Sussman

teamgeekSome weeks ago, I came across a quite interesting title from O’Reilly Media, Team Geek by Brian W. Fitzpatrick and Ben Collins-Sussman. There are quite a lot of books out in the shelves trying to explain how to behave as well as how to improve your life as a professional programmer. However, most of them are either hard to read, difficult to understand or just boring while repeating stereotypes over and over.

Team Geek is quite different, though. It seems the book benefits from the experience of the authors. Both come up with a bunch of experience working at Google and probably dealing with quite a lot of people during their professional life.

The Content

Six chapters, each about 20 pages – some with topics you probably never thought about and others just confirming what you ever thought of but never believed in. And that’s basically what you most benefit from. The book shows you are not alone with your thoughts how teams and collaboration should work. It’s about you as a developer (as a human thing) but also working in a team of geeks (often not understood as humans at all).

The Truth

Based on my very own experience during my professional life, I have to acknowledge almost everything the two authors write is true. Considering the fact, the book is written based on an US American context, with different culture, people and background, most of the topics are true for European developers as well. It seems the kind of human becoming a developer is the same all over the world. Whatever if it was during my time in UK or Germany, the you can apply many of the patterns provided in the book to your daily job.

The Reader

Professional developers, managers, team leads, architects, open source developers and even designers could benefit from the book. However, I would definitely recommend to already provide some experience in this kind of business to fully understand (i.e. to feel with the authors) what’s written and to benefit from the book. Not sure if beginners (e.g. students) or juniors can benefit from the book. Eventually, the reader will find some hints how to improve his or her daily life within a world of geeks and nerds and how to strengthen the very own standing within the company or group.


  • well written and easy to read
  • chapters of the right size to read during an evening
  • nice illustrations (not a reason to buy but really nice to look at)
  • great content
  • references for further reading given


  • terrible to useless index
  • not suitable for juniors and beginners (but that’s fine)

Where From

You can order the paperback or the Kindle version from Amazon or get the entire set of digital formats directly from O’Reilly.

O’Reilly Books on Your Finger Tips

O’Reilly’s camel book was one of the programming books, I bought quite some years ago. Since then  I am a big fan of O’Reilly books. Eventually, O’Reilly started to provide books in various digital formats. As owner of various e-book readers, I was quite pleased when O’Reilly stated to offer their books for download. Purchasing books not only from O’Reilly rather from a whole bunch of publishers, downloading, updating and copying the books from all these websites became almost  day job over time.

Even more, I was pleased by O’Reilly recently offering a beta service to synchronize purchased books to your Dropbox account. In your Personal Info area, you’ll find the Dropbox settings. Once authorized and the file formats selected to sync, you can start syncing your books.

O'Reilly Dropbox Settings

While newly bought books will synced automatically, previous purchased need to synchronized manually. Therefore, you’ll find a Sync to Dropbox button in the Your Products area to select which previously purchased e-books to download.

Sync to Dropbox

After Dropbox has finished, you have all your selected books as well as future purchases in your local Dropbox\Apps\O’Reilly Media folder. No worries if you delete one if these files, you can initiate the synchronization again as described above.

O'Reilly Media Folder in Dropbox

Not only that your e-books are synced to your computer, once available in Dropbox, the files are also available on all devices supported. Eventually, this means you can easily access your books on iPad, iPhone or Android devices. As Dropbox even supports Kindle Fire,  this might be a good reason to pick up this device. Based on rumors, this might be available early September. Until then, the Kindle stays the last device I have to copy my books manually. However, due to the fact they a re synced to a dedicated folder, it is easy to pick them up.

O'Reilly Media on iOS

Actually, I am that pleased with this great kind of integration, that I have asked Manning (also a publisher, I own a lot of e-books) about a similar feature. Eventually, it was confirmed that such a feature is currently being developed.

If you have no Dropbox account yet, you can support this blog by following this referrer signing up for a free account.

The Cleaner Coder

The Clean CoderI recently finished the latest book from Robert C. Martin aka Uncle Bob, called The Clean Coder.
Once finished there are many pro and cons about this book. At the beginning I was quite skeptic about the book but at the end I am glad I’ve read it to the very end.

The books is neither a set of rules that make you a better software developer nor is it really provide a code of conduct to follow in your professional life. However, if you spend some time in this industry, you will have many déjà vu moments while reading this book.

Very positive (if you a frequent reader and being interested in the people behind the books) is the fact that you will learn a lot about Martin as a person. Each chapter is more or less a short essay about a past project or part of his former work, some experiences he made and the (not so surprisingly) conclusions he made. There are quite a few sentences that are worth to remember, sometimes things you thought of many times but have not found the right words to write it down. Also you might find some interesting anecdotes you might learn something from (or did you know where carriage return and new line come ‘/r/n’ from and why they vary on different operating systems?).

One very positive aspect is that he points out what a professional (software developer) is, how he should behave and what could do to be recognized as such. In our industry you are still recognized as some kind of nerd, a geek who codes 24h hours a day, does not sleep, consumes a lot of caffeine and plays video games which a lack of social skills. While some of these things might be true, one expects often that you work more than the regular time, you solve each and every problem without any failure and that you come up with miracles, wonders performing magic, voodoo and code kung-fu each and every day (often for a very conservative salary). Nothing you would expect from other professionals (lawyers, doctors etc.).

Eventually, he writes about many things I, and probably you too, experience each and every day in our day work. At the end it is a nice reading book you might read during some evenings. Just the very final chapter about the tools he uses in his work (vi, Emacs, Eclipse etc.) and the frequent mentioning of FitNesse (which is Martins’ project) are quite unnecessary.

I am not fully convinced that the book is a must have reading, however, I work in this industry for nearly 13 years in various projects, research and product development, large and small companies, consulting and academia with different teams in different countries. At the very end it is quite calming to see once more that my problems are everywhere the same, have been the same for a long time and probably will stay the same for a long time in this industry.

What Is IronRuby?

If you are interested, go to Manning Publications Co. and get an (almost) free White (green) paper about IronRuby. It will cost you only your e-Mail address and clicking the opt-out link as soon as you received the first newsletter.

“IronRuby is an implementation of the Ruby language on the .NET Framework. That means when it’s complete it will have the same language features as Matz’s Ruby Implementation (MRI) 1.8.6 but backed up by the intrinsic power that the .NET Framework harnesses.”

What is IronRuby - Green Paper


There is an upcoming book I am looking forward to: O’Reilly’s RESTful .NET by Jon Flanders.

That’s what the cover text says so far:

“RESTful .NET is the first book that teaches Windows developers to build RESTful web services using the latest Microsoft tools. Written by WFC expert Jon Flanders, this hands-on tutorial demonstrates how you can use WCF and other components of the .NET 3.5 Framework to build, deploy and use REST-based web services in a variety of application scenarios. No prior knowledge of REST or WCF is required to get started.”

I am thinking about the REST concept now for a while and I am really interested in the way Jon is going to address some of the issues such as secure REST endpoints. He will also address the ADO.NET Data Services which follow the REST principles quite well. I am not to optimistic right now about it, since REST is not as easy as it is commonly thought.

The book is scheduled for October and so I just added it to my wish list, not to forget about it.