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Being Geek: The Software Developer's Career Handbook

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  931 ratings  ·  111 reviews
As a software engineer, you recognize at some point that there's much more to your career than dealing with code. Is it time to become a manager? Tell your boss he’s a jerk? Join that startup? Author Michael Lopp recalls his own make-or-break moments with Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Netscape, and Symantec in Being Geek -- an insightful and entertaining book that w ...more
Paperback, 318 pages
Published August 10th 2010 by O'Reilly Media (first published July 1st 2010)
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A. Jesse
Sep 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
A supposed career handbook, with little relevance to my career. The author has worked at large corporations (including Netscape) and small startups, but his idea of a startup is 80 employees. That's my idea of a large company. He also assumes a kind of corporate culture that I hope is obsolete: The kind where you have a week to prepare for the Big Meeting, the kind where you live and die by PowerPoint. In my career, I never see slides.

Lopp advises the reader on job-searching, but it's a style of
...more
Nori
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was ok
Seriously underwhelming at best; offensive at worst.

This is a collection of blog entries, loosely edited into a book. Emphasis on the "loosely." Lopp says that the goals of the book (it has goals?) are to improve the reader's improvisational skills (presumably as regards career curveballs) and to define one's career strategy. Those would have been great, and I picked up this book sort of hoping for exactly that. He delivers on neither, though -- those are pretty lofty goals for something written
...more
Mahmoud Tantawy
Sep 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
a very very interesting book for Geeks and alike personalities, it can be boring sometimes, but this is only when it is discussing situations one didn't face yet, but over all it is a very important read for all of us geeks!

i really did enjoy reading it & i totally recommend it to everyone, and for parts where it feels boring, just skim it and keep the book near so that you can return to it when needed ... you will need it, as it discusses all phases of a geek's life/career.
Kevin O'Donnell
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Poorly edited, rehashed blog posts written in a trying-too-hard-to-be-colloquial-and-"with-it" style, containing only modest and superficial insights, a strong tendency to simplify and categorize people and situations in a gross, reductionist, nearly dehumanizing manner, and backed by a philosophy reliant upon cynical gamesmanship and distrust. In short: all the worst aspects of capitalism in a quick read! I'm more interested in transcending the workaday, growth-worshipping business life than be ...more
JDK1962
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
Meh. I'm probably not the audience for this book, since (a) I'm not in Silicon Valley, (b) I'm a remote (to use the author's term, and (c) I'm in the final 7-15 years of my career arc. However, I've been a reasonably successful software developer for 31 years, and there was absolutely nothing in this book that surprised me, or made me think "wow, if only I had known that 20-30 years ago, my career would have been totally different."

Plus...I know this is a book that grew out of blog posts, but it
...more
Daniel R.
Sep 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book contains many astute observations about the life of a software developer combined with practical advice about how to approach your career. The book touches on aspects like interviewing for a job, office politics, transitioning to new responsibilities like becoming a manager, how to manage your time, dealing with crises, and thinking about when it's time to find a new job. I found the book did a great job of helping me think about the three questions it lays out at the beginning: What a ...more
Ezra
I have been reading Michael's blog, Rands in Repose for years. Andy and I discussed the latest ones over lunch.

Most if not all chapters come from blog posts usually come with additional polishing. For example, one of my favorites, The Nerd Handbook, is converted from a blog post to Chapter 23 with an introduction on how it should be handed to someone who needs to understand people like me plus an introduction for the recipient.

The best of: Chapter 8: The Culture Chart - "Culture is the undercur
...more
gabrielle
Mar 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: pretty much nobody
This book feels like a lot of other books by bloggers-cum-authors; just a string of blog posts, and really better in small doses.

I also can't say I've worked in any environments where his advice would apply. And, encouraging pigeonholing people as certain "types" is not a way to get along in the work place. That's just going to give you tunnel vision and shut you down.

The real reason I quit reading this book halfway through had its seeds in the introduction: "For much of this book, my prototypic
...more
Atif Rahman
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you are a techie who does not read books (other than technical references), this one book will capture essentially all the core tenets and challenges in the life of a techie and how to go about addressing them.
The writing style is not formal, the author rather casually and without rigour categorises the types of people and work in various settings while leaving a handful of tips around topics as diverse as tooling, presentations, demos, conflict resolution, time and team management, product
...more
Nikolay
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it
I didn't learn much new stuff, but it's a good read if you are wondering what managers in software companies do all day or if you haven't thought your “career” would be in five years.

As most of Lopp's books this one is also a bit scattered, but there are enough fun bits and the books is quick enough to read so hat you give it a try.
Matt Grommes
Aug 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Excellent handbook for engineers. Not all of the material will be relevant at any one time but if you keep the book around to refer back to it'll pay dividends.
Will
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was ok
Most of the material here is from rands in repose. Which is okay, but it's not the end to end handbook that it seems to be billed as.
Carl Christian
Sep 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm starting my work-log right now. No more three paragraph end of the year reviews.
Marshall
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Being Geek" is an extremely honest book about author's thoughts on technology career. It starts with who we are, to what we do, to how we do it, and end with "what's next" (trust your gut and charge forward).

Several takeaways I have from the book:

1. Prepare for the unexpected: things can do wrong will do wrong. What distinguishes a competent engineer is his ability to face the unexpected.

2. Be efficient. If we are more efficient, then we have more time to enjoy what we love to do. Therefore, to
...more
Andrew
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Is it a collection of blog articles: yes. Are the chapter titles too cute to find what topic it's on: of course. But is a apt description and frank discussion about what I do and what managers do: absolutely.

Having worked in the industry for a decade, moving from service desk to DBA to manager, from small SMB to global enterprise: this is a good read.

A speed read with some colorful language at times, but still worth reading. And then Googling for the original blogs and forwarding them to peers
...more
Tarry
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Very casual write-up of how to drive a software engineer career into management. I didn't appreciate or like all the chapters, save for the last few management ones
Vladimir Rusinov
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Lots of interesting thoughts, but not very well composed and written.
webdad3
May 08, 2011 rated it liked it
I finally finished Being Geek by Michael Loop. I started this book about 2 months or so ago. First off I got it on my Kindle and for some reason I couldn't get the page numbers to show up. The book is 300+ pages long, so it is pretty beefy. As you can see, I said "finally". That would infer that it took a really long time to read. In my mind, this book was not a quick read at all. However, that doesn't mean it was a bad book.

I don't remember exactly who recommended this book to me. I think I saw
...more
Bill
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: career, non-fiction
Michael Lopp is the person behind the blog 'Rands in Repose', which explains the blog-like feel of this book. It may be presented as if it's a coherent guide to a career in the software industry. But it's clearly just an edited collection of articles on topics related to career, career management, and a management career. This is not really a weakness, but it's not always a strength, either. The book sometimes lacks flow.

A bigger weakness is that few of the articles really lead to any conclusion
...more
Amy
Jan 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I really enjoy Michael Lopp's writing. It makes me feel like the chaos of working with software is not an end-of-the-world experience, but the norm. And in that case, there's no need to fix it or escape from it, and the real solution is to learn to live within it. Hearing Lopp's stories of living within it are helpful, and give me an idea of what is, or may be, expected.

Lopp cuts through the nonsense and focuses on reality, and I respect that.

I am not at all sure that I share his view that a man
...more
Angela
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Being Geek offers us geeks and nerds a one-stop location to figure out the best way to go about a career search. While it's geared more to specifically IT related positions, those of us with a geeky mindset will appreciate the insights and tips offered by Lopp.

In the introduction, Lopp states that the majority of concepts and chapters in the book were ones from his blog - Rands in Repose. I had never read the blog, so don't know how similar/different it is from that venue to the printed on paper
...more
Laura Stone
Jan 29, 2013 rated it liked it
I think the author's description of this book holds - it is mean as much as a cover-to-cover read as it is a reference guide to return to again and again. It covers all of the basics required to work in development (as far as my own experience relates) and then some.

My biggest gripe with this book was that it sometimes didn't make sense. Certain chapters were clear and concise, for example the chapter outlining the author's method of organizing himself for the day. I cannot say the same about c
...more
Simon
Sep 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Being Geek is a collection of Michael Loop's blog posts about a career in Software Development. I generally liked this book because it helped established some ideas about what it is like to have a job in software development. However, some of it I felt did not specifically apply to me in my current position at Microsoft. It explains how to deal with non-technical people/issues during your career. However, Microsoft is such a tech-orientated company and day-to-day I deal with tech orientated peop ...more
Amr
Sep 26, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: tech, business
Being Geek is an interesting read. Michael Lopp is able to capture that thought in your head and articulate it on paper. But that only works so many times.
Some of the chapters in this book are so good and so matching my experience that I wrote some notes on the side while reading the book. Other chapters, I don't even know what he's talking about.
Most chapters revolve around their title. The author sums up a certain situation - which is the center of this chapter - in the chapter title. To expla
...more
pluton
Oct 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kcls, abandoned
My first encounter with the book was by its title — "Being Geek". Geeks, nice, should be interesting. It's only when i started reading the book, i noticed the subtitle about careers. So it's far from being technical. It turned out to be a pretty boring book with a somewhat strange writing style (too much slang), most likely, adopted from blogs. The chapters seem messy and not related to each other much.
I read about a half and skimmed over the rest. There are good ideas in the book, but i feel th
...more
Lance Willett
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Re-read from 2014. This was a nice check-in on my career and development after 7 years at Automattic, rating my "toolkit" and progress on growth and relationships.

A few favorite quotes:

> An excuse is an abdication of responsibility. There are no healthy excuses.

> You are responsible for your career. Directions are better than set rules.

> Failures happen at the edge. Stay involved at the center of things. To stay relevant, informed, and valuable.

Takeaways:

1) Those closest to the problem
...more
Gordon
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
A little more bland than Managing Humans very much more of the same.

This book attempts to provide a selection of essays to help a geek in their life and career, but frankly unless you fit Lopp's specific definition of a geek a lot of the advice flows by you.

Written from the perspective of the workaholic crisis manager in a tech community with no values on non-tech and non-work activities, it was somewhat difficult to complete. The Rands blog with it's occasional posts are much more digestible.

Bu
...more
Svitlana Nova
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-help
If you are looking for a well-thought-out book that was written to deliver some big thought or message, this ain't it. It's a very loosely strewn together series of blog posts with obvious effort to make the story coherent, albeit not a successful one.

As others have mentioned, I have been very much irked by the usage of "he" almost exclusively throughout the book. I never thought that it would affect me, but something about reading about exclusively male universe just makes it that much less rel
...more
Meri Williams
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I've long been a huge fan of Michael Lopp's blog, Rands in Repose. Though many of the chapters in this book started as posts on that blog, they have been brought together into a wonderful cohesive whole which acts as an essential life handbook for any geek.

Focused primarily on work life, it guides you through all aspects of your career, from starting up quickly in a new gig, to surviving the vagaries of the tech industry day-today and finally knowing when to move on and how to get that next job
...more
Marc
Nov 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biz-management
I bought this book to calm my nerves in preparation to look for my second job out of grad school. I'm not even sure how I found it, but or found Lopp, or realized he was the same part-time madman that created Jerk City, which I loved when I was in undergrad. Anyway, this is a great read. It's a great way to think about your career in software/engineering/any technical discipline, and how to create mental models to understand and anticipate other actors in your workplace. Since then I've become a ...more
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