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Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware
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Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  1,712 ratings  ·  146 reviews
Software development happens in your head. Not in an editor, IDE, or design tool. You're well educated on how to work with software and hardware, but what about wetware--our own brains? Learning new skills and new technology is critical to your career, and it's all in your head.

In this book by Andy Hunt, you'll learn how our brains are wired, and how to take advantage of
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Paperback, 251 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Pragmatic Bookshelf (first published August 15th 2008)
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The Pragmatic Programmer by Andrew HuntClean Code by Robert C. MartinCode Complete by Steve McConnellRefactoring by Martin FowlerWorking Effectively with Legacy Code by Michael C. Feathers
Software Craftsmanship
9th out of 19 books — 62 voters
Your Leadership Edge by Ravinder TulsianiEat Move Sleep by Tom RathLeadership by Carlos    RiveraDrive by Daniel H. PinkExecution by Larry Bossidy
21st Century Leadership
35th out of 68 books — 34 voters


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Community Reviews

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Jeanne Boyarsky
I borrowed a copy of “Pragmatic Thinking & Learning” by Andy Hunt and enjoyed the read. In addition to referencing ideas from Bert Bates and Linda Rising, there was a good mix of concepts and concrete techniques.

Favorite three concepts:
1) Dreyfus model – novice vs advanced beginner vs etc. And why it matters to us
2) Extended analogy between human brain and computer
3) Why certain models of learning work better than others

Favorite three suggested things to try:
1) Block out time to learn and fi
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Jonathan Fretheim
Despite the nauseatingly gimmicky subtitle, I gave this book a chance because of how many rave reviews and references I've seen. There were a lot of tips, tricks, perspectives, anecdotes, metaphors, etc., about thinking and learning that were worth being exposed to. Certainly some I'd seen before, but a lot of new ones, too. The chapter on the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition (a sequence of five discrete levels beginning with Novice and ending with Expert that can be applied to someone's "expe ...more
Rod Hilton
Andy Hunt's "Pragmatic Thinking and Learning" is a programming book only in the most liberal definition of the phrase. Sure, it's geared toward programmers, but the fact of the matter is that this book would be useful to anyone.

The book essentially covers two topics. The first topic is how your brain works. This is interesting, to be sure, but the book really shines when it comes to the second topic: how to use your brain, knowing how it works.

Andy talks about very light cognitive science, and h
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Nathan Glenn
Dec 10, 2012 Nathan Glenn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone!
This is definitely one of the best books I've ever read.
Andy takes research from cognitive science, neuroscience, psychology, sociology, behavioral science and everything else you can think of to show you how to be the best person you can be.
This book is filled with interesting facts, and to-do lists that challenge the reader to take immediate action.
Random tidbits:
The notion that our brain cells can die but we can't create new ones is now known to be false. It turns out that you need to be happ
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Demian
I just finished reading Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware. The book is geared towards anyone who wants to learn and think better. It has plenty of specific details for software engineers.

The book does a lot of build up to get you to understand what it means to be an expert, what are the levels of skill and how the brain works for better and worse.

The best part of the book is the last few chapters. He puts the theory aside and gets to the low level practices along with some t
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Veselin Nikolov
Turn yourself into a robot in five easy steps.

- Switch off your Phone, Skype, Email
- Zombie yourself by silencing the internal voice in your head
- Doodle, write notes and mind maps
- Buy a second monitor and code with vim on screen one
- Breathe

The book is amazing. It explains things that I do to get focus and solve puzzles since kindergarten.

It is also boring and kind of sad. It implies that you need to be a zombie robot to succeed and become an expert. I'd love to disagree but I'm afraid they mi
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Tomasz
Amazing book about how our brain works, how it learns, searches for solutions and answers. Moreover it shows many tips and tricks how to squeeze out from our brain as much as possible to increase our mental abilities. More about this book can be read in my blog post http://tomaszdziurko.pl/2011/09/pragm....
Inna
Great book! I like the tools described in it and using them, I like not only the description of R & L modes of our brains however practical examples how to use them and switch between.
During reading the book, I found out some bugs in me and will continue refactoring of the wetware to have them fixed in the nearest next versions :).
Rafael Bandeira
Feb 27, 2010 Rafael Bandeira rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: programmers, students, researchers, designers
Recommended reading for those constantly seeking for improvements in their day-to-day life, career and profession. Hunt goes right and deep in theories and studies about how the brain operates and how differently our creativity and logistic are and why having both working together is ought to bring betterment to one's learning, focusing and making.

From the several concepts brought to the table we have the Dreyfus Model for talent acquisition, and the R-mode and L-mode studies that go on the diff
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Steve
This is one of the better books I have read recently. It is as if the author "Andy Hunt" wrote this book to inspire me personally. This was the perfect book to read around new years. It helped me re-gain my focus and passion about being in technology.

I don't want to get in to too many specifics about the book, since you can read the outline of the book online elsewhere, but generally speaking, the book helped me create a plan for 09, and suggests ways to help effectively execute my plan.

There
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Kelley
I have a lot to say about Hunt's ideas in this book, unfortunately I'm not inclined to go into all the theory, chipping away at it. But I don't want to avoid the theoretical arguments in his book altogether, just for the sake of preserving what's useful about his practical tips for improving memory and creative thinking skills.

Hunt correctly observes what is wrong with the programming discipline, and also understands, I think, why programmers are not encouraged to be experts, let alone competent
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Ben
I enjoyed this book and got a lot of value out of it. I thought it did a good job of distilling decades of research into easy-to-understand and salient ideas that can be put to use immediately. I really appreciated how the author heavily referenced his research material so that you can easily dive deeper into a particular subject if you want to. The part that made this book really great, for me, was all of the practical ideas that you can start right trying away. I've already begun doing some of ...more
John Schneider
Although this work is written mostly for programmers and other knowledge workers, it contains a wealth of knowledge and practices that will enable even the most learned to do more. Written in a clear and compelling style, "Pragmatic Thinking and Learning" succeeds at illustrating how to think better and lear better. I really wish that I had read this book before the completion of my formal education because I am certain that I would have learned far more with the insights this work contains. Imp ...more
Jason Kittredge
I enjoy the pragmatic programming series very much, and found that this book was pretty good. I've read a lot of other self-help "how to think better" types of books (e.g. Mind Hacks), and think that this book is on par with most of the others that I've read.

The best parts of the book are the practical discussions at the end. The review of the Dreyfus model of expertise is interesting, but not really what I was looking to get out of the book. However, the more pragmatic suggestions toward the e
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Robert
The authors give the reader a great framework for thinking outside the box and learning outside the classroom. They discuss tools to help with retention like mind-maps and Mnemosyne, tools to help comprehension like mind-maps, tools to help with retrospect such as keeping a personal journal, and tools to help with archival and retrieval like a personal wiki.

This was a fantastic book and a great read. Although it talks some about programmers and their habits (after all the author is one), its con
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Anton Petrov
An awesome book! It is a real eye opener for so many aspects of our life - how our brain works, concentration, errors, self improvement, meditation and rest, dealing with lots of work, valuing your ideas and ways of generating more. It has so many practical examples that even if you try just one of them (and most probably it will work for you) you will already have made a good step towards your goal. You'll be a little more pragmatic. And you'll love it :) This is not a book strictly related to ...more
Robert
This is a very interesting book on how to understand and rewire ones brain...

I came away with a number of valuable insights, largely around the Dreyfus Model of Skills (Shu Ha Ri from the martial arts world) but also extending into Right/Left brain, how to learn, & how to focus.

I saw immediate areas, largely work related, where my 'mental models' were incorrect and deficient and were preventing me from communicating with and motivating/influencing those I work with.

This is a book that will b
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Rosa
Pragmatic Thinking and Learning Refactor Your Wetware was a thoroughly engaging read. While it consisted of many learning tips I have read previously, Andy Hunt presented the theories behind these tips in an easy to understand manner. Hunt also provided multiple methods of using the tips in the books and offered a good balance between no, low, and high-tech methods. While the main audience for this book is programmers, the advice is easy to apply to any other field.
Garrett
Nov 29, 2008 Garrett rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone (Everyone should be learning more)
This is an awesome collection of information about the way our mind works and how to get the most from it. Much of the information was not new to me. It even mentioned many things that I do personally. The real value came from:
Having all this material collected into one location with a decent Bibliography to learn more.
A single text that I can share with others so that we are all on the same page so to speak.

I just wish I could keep my hands on my copy of the book for more than a few days so tha
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Torben Rasmussen
Highly recommended. I truly enjoyed this book.
Andy Hunt have managed to strike an excellent balance between overview and introduction while providing sufficient concrete advice on how to realize it to be able to get started on 'refactoring your wetware'.
While there wasn't many new and novel ideas, it is a great composition of a lot of different techniques and approaches.
The book is written for people working with IT, but most parts can surely be appreciated by people working in other industri
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David Mitchell
This is probably one of the best books I've read on learning and memory. It covers a broad spectrum of topics from how to lear and how our brains function to how to read and remember things. Describing and compiling in one concise location topics I've learned and seen in a number of other books.

By far one of the best books I've read and I keep going back to it to increase my understanding of specific topics and to refresh my memory of certain techniques.
Nima
Totally disappointed, waste of time.
jaadhimalli
A great book with practical suggestions. Recommend it for all software engineers and developers. For any person who wants to improvie I recommend this book. Also recommend for parents who want to teach or train the kids. This book will help you identify which way of learning ur kid has and help you teach them accordingly.
Bill
You really MUST read this book. Very practical advice on how we learn and how to use the R-mode more. I'm already seeing benefits from reading this book. He addresses an audience of L-mode dominant programmers but it's relevant for any knowledge worker.

I could say much more but I want YOU to read the book for yourself.
Daniel P.
I loved this book. It makes you stop... question how you "think" and then goes about offering news ways of looking at things. Helped me in my IT development work for sure... but I'd guess it'd help anyone anywhere with anything... because it challenges your pre-conceived notions and opens your eyes to what's really there.
Trish
Very easy read and full of real world applications. Hunt's well thought out book boils human cognitive science down to useful methods to help readers improve their learning and creativity. I disagree with his description of generations and personalities and it doesn't match most current research or descriptions of millennials. Other than the author's choice to write directly to software programmers, there is nothing unique about this book, but overall the author does a good job of explaining hum ...more
Ryan
As some background, Andy Hunt is one of the authors of The Pragmatic Programmer, a book about non-traditional programming best practices that is so popular it almost has it's own programming subculture built around it, tied closely to the concept of "agile software development" which the author also helped codify. In face the author has turned the concept of The Pragmatic Programmer into an entire imprint of quality books aimed at software developers. Pragmatic Thinking and Learning is under tha ...more
Nathan
Andy Hunt's Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware (Pragmatic Press; 2008) teaches programmers how to master a subject, strategies for using your brain to its fullest, systems for learning, and the best ways to practice. The result is a grab-bag of pop-psych systems, practical strategies, and good old-fashioned inspiration that will give most programmers more footholds as they climb the tree of knowledge. I had expected the book to be about thinking more than learning (it's not) ...more
Johnny Graber
Great book to understand how we can improve our skill set by learning deliberately. The explained techniques and methods may not all work for you, but you will find at least one that helps you. Andy Hunt did a great job to collect and combine all those different approaches. You can either learn those lesions on your own or read this book – I suggest spend the time to read it. Even when you read it multiple times you will be faster than making your own mistakes on the way to enlightenment.
Jason Stirk
An interesting read that briefly looks at 20 years of research and attempts to distill it into a set of tips and tricks to help make you think to your maximum potential. It does this without once feeling like a "self-help" book, or a mindless motivation manual.

Whilst some of the advice seems a bit like common sense (eg. Cut down on distractions) Andy provides some interesting justification why it matters, and how to apply the tips in a pragmatic way.

Other tips seem basic, but are powerful tools.
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A question regarding R-mode drawing exercise 2 9 Jun 01, 2014 03:48AM  
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Andy Hunt is a programmer turned consultant, author and publisher.
He co-authored the best-selling book "The Pragmatic Programmer",
was one of the 17 founders of the Agile Alliance, and co-founded
the Pragmatic Bookshelf, publishing award-winning and critically
acclaimed books for software developers.

Andy started writing software professionally in early 80's across
diverse industries such as telecommun
...more
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