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Being Geek

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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 will help you make better career decisions.

With more than 40 standalone stories, Lopp walks through a complete job life cycle, starting with the job interview and ending with the realization that it might be time to find another gig. Many books teach you how to interview for a job or how to manage a project successfully, but only this book helps you handle the baffling circumstances you may encounter throughout your career.

Decide what you're worth with the chapter on "The Business" Determine the nature of the miracle your CEO wants with "The Impossible" Give effective presentations with "How Not to Throw Up" Handle liars and people with devious agendas with "Managing Werewolves" Realize when you should be looking for a new gig with "The Itch"

338 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 1, 2010

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Michael Lopp

6 books121 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
Profile Image for A. Jesse.
31 reviews24 followers
September 30, 2010
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 He also assumes a kind of corporate culture that I hope is obsolete: The kind where you have a week to prepare for the Big Meeting, the kind where you live and die by PowerPoint.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 search which I consider an illusion: You respond to a job listing with a resume carefully tweaked for the position, pass a phone screen, and interview on site for half a day. When I left college I, too, thought this was how people applied for jobs, but in my experience it's a sign of desperation if you resort to such measures. If you want to apply to a dozen companies and get nowhere, submit your resume. If you want to work, email your friends.

Lopp's advice might apply to those fresh out of college, with no contacts, looking for long-term employment in giant corporations. I've never been such a person, and I never meet them either. If you're freelancing, or working for a startup, then reading this book is useful not for its specific advice, but simply as an opportunity to spend a few hours considering your own situation. It's nothing like his, but in considering the distinction you may clarify your status and your goals.
Profile Image for Nori.
192 reviews34 followers
February 25, 2014
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 in dribs and drabs as unrelated blog entries. I would go so far as to say they're post-facto goals, ones that look nice on a dust jacket.

The part that really grates, though, is how much this book is clearly not targeted at me. My gender doesn't align with that of the protagonist in 90% of the supposedly representative scenarios. Lopp has some lame disclaimer in the preface about how we should read "he" to mean "he or she," but dude, if you're being paid to turn a bunch of blog entries into a book, please do me the courtesy of making at least some of your examples gender-free, or alternating. At the very least, don't make it extra clear that I'm not even potentially the protagonist, because of references to shaving and badges hanging from belts.

The chapter nominally for the geek's significant other takes the cake, however. "Your nerd" this; "his" that; all of which very accurately describe a very narrow type of anti-social, socially incompetent dude geek -- many of whom I've encountered and count among my friends, but WHO COLLECTIVELY ARE NOT THE FULL SET OF GEEKS. Argh. To say nothing of Lopp's random urging to get the geek's S.O. to urge him to treat exercise like a game, mentioning that the author himself once passed out in McDonald's after a workout for lack of calories. So many problems with this chapter.

A few pearls, but this is basically just a set of descriptions of scenarios the author has been in, and no help generically. Let's just say that my career strategy was not defined by reading this book.
Profile Image for JDK1962.
1,214 reviews21 followers
August 3, 2014
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 reads like a book that grew out of blog posts. And the stuff on the games of Werewolves and BAB made my eyes glaze over in about 15 seconds.

(Added the following day...)

So, I can see you asking, what would YOU tell software developers just starting out?

(1) Probably: don't. Pick something else. You will run into managers (probably 50% or more at established companies), who have little respect for your work, don't view it as a creative act, and think all software developers are fungible. Meaning that if they have a C# or Java or Python developer in Denver for $x/year, and then they see they can get a C# or Java or Python developer in Bangalore for $x/4 per year, guess what they're going to do? In fairness, some things can be outsourced, and some can't, but to an unimaginative manager, that's the easiest way to drop the bottom line, even if it dooms your business. So, for a career, pick something that requires physical presence, or obvious creativity.
(2) HR is not your friend. They're not there for you. No way, no how. They're there for the company, to ensure that the company does not fall afoul of the law with regard to interviewing, hiring, or firing. They will tell you nothing that not in the corporation's interest for you to know. They may not be your enemy, but they are never, ever, your friend.
(3) If your manager believes that technical reasons are trumped by "well, because I'm the manager, we're going to do it my way," start looking. No, seriously. Huge red flag that should never be ignored.
(4) One of the engineer's jobs is speaking truth to power...but there are ways of doing it that will alienate everyone, and ways of doing it that will allow others to realize, with dawning horror, that, for example, they've committed to solving an NP-complete problem. Try to learn the latter method.
(5) You are responsible for your career. Get more education. Always, always learn (fundamentals, more than tools: tools change too rapidly). Read books, not just blogs.

I've had a long career in this field, and I've never been laid off (which in itself is a minor miracle, meaning I'm some combination of lucky and good). But I'll be just as happy to finish off my professional career and spend time writing prose or code for myself.
35 reviews17 followers
December 31, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Kevin O'Donnell.
19 reviews14 followers
September 2, 2013
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 becoming an expert player within it.

Tom Coates recently struck upon a big part of my queasiness with Rands's priors and approach:

"@rands I picture you working in a sort of Game of Thrones-like castle full of manipulators and spies who want to chop your bits off."


(His often self-important, self-parodic aphorisms shared on Twitter deserve a separate discussion.)
Profile Image for Daniel R..
219 reviews11 followers
September 6, 2010
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 am I doing?, What do I do?, and What matters to me?.
Profile Image for Ezra.
134 reviews35 followers
March 8, 2015
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 undercurrent of ideas that ties a group of people together. In order for it to exist, it must move from one individual to the next. This is done via the retelling of stories.... The is not a corporate values statement on the planet that so brutally and beautifully defines the culture of a company."
Chapter 13: The Impossible -
Chapter 14: Knee Jerks
Chapter 22: The Pond
Profile Image for gabrielle.
322 reviews4 followers
March 5, 2015
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 prototypical geek is a he as a convenience. There are plenty of she geeks out there for which the observations of this book equally apply."

Gee, thanks.

Additionally, I noticed partway through that while all the geeks were "he"s, all the managers were not. While it's interesting that the author would make that effort for managers but not his target audience, he also tended to make his examples of female managers embody the qualities people assign to women but not men (e.g. "she's too emotional"), furthering those gender stereotypes.
Eff that.
Profile Image for Nikolay.
97 reviews78 followers
January 24, 2013
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.
23 reviews8 followers
August 11, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Marshall.
171 reviews17 followers
July 31, 2015
"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, tooling matters, listening to people matters.

3. Do something we love. Let what we do be part of who we are. If my mind is not passively chewing on something I'm doing, it's a sign that I'm not interested in what I do.

4. I'm responsible for my career. My manager is responsible for my job, but I'm the only person who is responsible for my career.

Great quotes

It is a defining characteristic of the nerd or geek to seek definition.

At our core, I believe geeks are system thinkers. A simpler way to think about this is that in the mind of a geek, the world is like a computer — discernible, knowable, and finite. After years of successfully using the computer as a means of interacting with the world, we’ve come to follow a certain credo:
We seek definition to understand the system so that we can discern the rules so that we know what to do next so that we win.

Definition, system, and rules. It all goes back to our ever-favorite tool, the computer. Our success with the computer has tweaked out perspective of the planet. We believe that given enough time and effort, you can totally understand the system.

People screw things up. They are the sources of bugs. They ask odd questions, and their logic is flawed. In the pleasant mental flowchart we have in our geek heads, it’s a single person who causes us to frustratingly ask, “Who are these people and why the hell don’t they follow the rules? Can’t they see the system? DON’T THEY WANT TO WIN?” Yes, they do.

The advice and this book begin with a contradiction: prepare for the unpredictable. The unpredictable shows up on your doorstep in two forms: simple unpredictability, which you can assess and act on immediately, and world-changing unpredictability that rocks your world and requires serious work on your part.

It’s professionally fashionable to bitch about your company and your inept manager, but when you start bitching about your career, I call bullshit. The idea that anyone besides you is responsible for your career is flawed. Your boss is only your boss while he’s your boss. Your career is yours forever.

With time and experience, you’ll learn there is a finite set of personalities walking the halls. Yes, they have their individual nuances, but these personalities and their motivations can be understood.

Your boss and his motivation will vary from company to company, but it’s a knowable set of motivations varying somewhere from “hiding until I retire” to “driving everyone absolutely crazy as I attempt to conquer the world.” You can make most meetings useful. You can dig yourself out from underneath the endless list of things to do. It’s OK to quit a job with people you like because there are a lot of people to like out there.

It’s easy to forget with micromanagers and visionaries cluttering your day with their agenda, but as the owner of the code, it’s your job to care — daily. Whether it’s during the joy of writing the code, the annoying days of bug fixing, or the seemingly endless maintenance tasks, it’s your call where the code is going to go next. Are we spending too much time on maintenance? Is it time to throw it away and start over? Sure, it’s not necessarily your decision to make, but it’s absolutely your responsibility to raise the issue, to have an opinion, and to affect the plan. This code is crap. We need to start over.

Growth represents the strategy by which you are learning, doing more, getting promoted, getting the shit kicked out of you, and garnering more responsibility. There’s a simple rule designed to grab your attention: “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”

Let’s see if you’re dying. Ask yourself the following: Have you failed recently? Is there someone within throwing distance who challenges you daily? Can you tell me the story of something significant you learned in the last week? Any answer of “No” is a troubling sign. You’re coasting. Sure, it’s comfortable, but while you’re sitting there in your mediocrity, your industry is aggressively attempting to make you irrelevant. It’s not personal; it’s a function of all of those other bright people who aren’t scared of failure, who have surrounded themselves with catalytic personalities, and who thrive on understanding.

Perhaps a healthier way to think of it is that your manager is responsible for your job, but you’re the manager of your career. The primary goal of both jobs is to identify and act on opportunity inside of the company that is going to challenge you, force you to learn, and push you to the edge of discomfort.

A reputation is a community-based opinion that you don’t control. It takes years of work to develop and a single missed key responsibility to destroy.

To me, the fundamental unit of growth is knowledge. Knowledge isn’t facts, and knowledge isn’t data. It’s your consumption of facts, data, situations, and personalities, and the consumption yields a discovery. It’s when you mentally build something new. This knowledge may not be novel, but what makes it unique is that you built it for yourself.

I’m a fervent supporter of maintaining a work-life balance that allows you to explore as much of the planet Earth as possible, but I’m also the guy who thinks if you’re going to do this job, you should be absolutely fucking crazy about it. This doesn’t mean that you’re obsessively working 24 hours a day on the product, but it does mean that the work you are doing is part of you.

If my mind isn’t always passively chewing on the things I need to build, again, it’s a sign that I might not care about what I am doing.

Manage your time — it’s an invaluable commodity — obsess about the tools you use, and take the time to understand the people around you. Figure how to speak their language so you can learn how to convey your bright ideas to anyone.

What I’m telling you is that management is the art of choosing what not to do, which means you need to be ready and willing to look at the task at the end of a day and ask, “OK, I made this urgent this morning. A day has passed and I had time, but never got to it. Does it matter?”

Priority is relative. What felt so important last Wednesday loses importance five days later when the larger context of your week, your month, and your career shows up. You need to develop a practice of strategic information shedding where you are constantly and intelligently jettisoning ideas and work. A well-maintained to-do list gives you a daily sense of professional well-being. It constructs the pleasant illusion that you have a degree of control in a world where you have no idea how tomorrow will taste.

When I’m standing in the middle of a Crisis, I’m doing two things at the same time. First, I’m frantically trying to fix the issue by any means possible. I’m also carefully looking to identify the root cause of the Crisis.

Whether you’re formally trained as a computer science nerd or not, you’ve learned the value of efficiency — to make each action that you take mean something. You know that when you’re efficient, you have more time to do what you love.

Before I explain how to get your head around this meeting, I want to talk about intent behind this meeting. Intent starts with a question: “Why does this meeting exist?” If you’re responsible for the presentation in this particular meeting, it exists because someone hates you. It’s not personal hate. It’s professional hate, and it’s exacerbated by a simple fact of organization: different groups speak different languages. Marketing speaks marketing, Legal speaks legal, and Engineering speaks engineering. There’s a fundamental communication breakdown somewhere in the building, and someone is feeling wronged. They’re feeling bullied and since they don’t speak your dialect, they’re complaining up rather than across.

Everyone Hates Engineering Outside of engineering, no one really likes engineering. Here’s why: No one knows what we actually do to build the software, so they assume it’s easy In everyone else’s head, it’s really simply just to add that checkbox to that page and “just branch the code or something... use an If/ Then statement or something.” Cute. And totally annoying. What’s being asked for there is the world’s worst specification, but the real problem is that the person asking assumes they’re describing all of the work involved. They believe that their understanding is somewhat related to the work involved in developing a product. Worse, this misunderstanding goes both ways....

The curse of the Silicon Valley is: we’re often placing our most valuable talent into a job they are utterly unequipped to handle and probably don’t want.

What you need to pay attention to when Alpha Knowledge leaves is the team’s ability to handle the unexpected. It’s not the day-to-day operations of the team that will be impacted by the absence of Alpha. It’s when shit hits the fan that you’re really going to miss

Leaders optimize reality to their favor, and the more powerful and influential they are, the more they can define a comfortable reality for themselves and their team.

Trusting your gut and charging forward. It can be addictive.
Profile Image for Oscar Barlow.
13 reviews1 follower
December 25, 2018
Read this book in a bit of a rush as I was trying to meet a promise I made to myself to read 12 books in 2018, and I was running late. But I think that's fine - of all the books you could read in a rush this is a pretty good choice. It's a series of blog posts that have been edited together with some bridging content here and there.

I say that like it's a bad thing, but it's actually not. The author sets out his tests for if you need to make a career move in the second chapter. Firstly, are you growing? That is, have you failed recently? Is there someone sitting near you who challenges you daily? And, can you tell me the story of something significant you learned in the last week?

Secondly, are you actively setting the technical direction of your product? Thirdly, are you meeting your commitments? (These latter two I find need a lot less explanation)

Future chapters deal with strategies for finding the right new job, getting promoted, and navigating management. As a structure, that's something I can work with; I got enough (the foregoing summary) out of this first read for the book to have been worth reading, and I know where to go back to in future.

That said, the content is showing its age a little bit. I haven't checked but I suspect that neither agile nor devops were much of a factor when the book was written, and they've both had wide reaching impacts on how software projects work, and how software companies run. Furthermore, much of the advice is specific to American, or rather Silicon Valley, business culture and practice. This limits its general applicability.

'Management' as a way of doing things isn't in danger of disappearing though. You can still level up your savvy (and probably your salary) by reading this book.
Profile Image for Michelle.
90 reviews3 followers
November 20, 2022
I was a bit disappointed with this book. I like the Rands blog so I thought I would read this and enjoy it but it was a bit slow to finish for me and I read a good bit. I know a lot of nerds that have other passions other than technology and felt like it put nerds in the light of only really enjoying tech related topics unless it was made a game (like exercise). Most nerds I have encountered chase the high in tech and through other means as well. It also seemed to lean heavily towards male nerds even with the initial introduction saying it was about both genders. Overall some decent ideas on a few things but I disagree with a good bit of the overall idea that this is a true nerd handbook. Just my two cents but some might disagree and enjoy it more.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Andrew.
592 reviews5 followers
January 8, 2017
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 or reading amusing snippets to my spouse.
Profile Image for William Yip.
228 reviews2 followers
May 9, 2022
The author wrote sentences with missing words or incorrect or confusing wording. He dismissed videoconferencing, not knowing superior videoconferencing software has been created such as Zoom. I was disappointed that there wasn't more advice on software itself, most of the advice was about navigating interviews and corporate life. That said, the advice is useful especially the ones dealing with a company's collapse and transitioning to a manager. His point about the geek's instinct for systems thinking and metagaming is quite accurate. His call to always be learning and growing is paramount.
Profile Image for Mark Nenadov.
800 reviews31 followers
February 26, 2019
A free-flowing, animated, and spirited book that many will either love or hate. I think there is some great content here (I recognize it as a classic) but I find the tone and crassness off putting and grating at times. It also could have used a good deal of editing. Like many books assembled largely from blog posts, it suffers from a very choppy feel. That said, with some fortitude,there are some good insights to be gained from plowing through this hay ride.
Profile Image for Aiman Adlawan.
117 reviews2 followers
February 15, 2019
I wanted to read something about software books and grab this one. The book has many interesting and practical views about software developer's "daily life". It is very interesting and funny specially if you can relate to the events that he writes.
Great read. Best for fresh grads and new to software devs.
25 reviews
December 27, 2019
Great book which can be recommended for the experienced people. I mean that it would mostly help to the software engineers with 2-3 years of experience. The book can guide on the ways of the developing in terms of career.
Profile Image for Tarry.
7 reviews1 follower
November 17, 2018
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
Profile Image for Murat.
15 reviews4 followers
January 27, 2019
It's more like a handbook for Software Developers who has walked into the land of the "Management". I found it an easy read, motivating in some parts and irrelevant in most others.
Profile Image for Meagan.
350 reviews30 followers
September 21, 2019
I really enjoyed seeing him speak in person last year, but this was a bit of a disappointment.
Profile Image for Mantas Kūjalis.
2 reviews1 follower
September 18, 2022
I found it more about being manager, or how to understand your manager rather than software developers career book.
Books is all about soft skills dealing with people while being software developer.
109 reviews2 followers
October 18, 2019
Pretty good career overview from the perspective of applicant, employee and manager.
Profile Image for webdad3.
6 reviews7 followers
May 19, 2011
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 it in an answer on programmers.stackexchange.com. I really had no idea what to expect when I bought it. It was one of those books that held my attention mildly, but it didn't have my full attention. I read it when I could, but it sat for a couple weeks at a time. Some of the information presented in this book was pretty relevant and other parts were very dry. As a senior programmer I'm beginning to wonder if management is in my future (I'm just wondering, and I'm probably far off from that conclusion). The author of this book is a manager of programmers so his insight is helpful. The book covers a very wide range of topics, from interviewing to dealing with different types of people and then to dealing with an exodus. I almost feel it covered too much. It might of been a better book if the subject matter was a little more concise.

Overall I would probably suggest this book, rather than out right recommend it. If you are a new programmer or going to school to be a programmer then it is a good book to gain insight into a programmers life. I would also suggest this book to new managers or to colleagues that tell me they are thinking of management as an option. Other than those 2 groups, I'm not sure if it is worth your time.

Ultimately I would give it a 3 out of 5
Profile Image for Bill.
610 reviews12 followers
April 23, 2012
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. Most will get you thinking about your own career or situation. This is good. Some also make solid suggestions for how be successful. This is better. But not all do. And even those that do are most relevent within the specific context of California's Silicon Valley during the first decade or so of the 21st century. In an industry that's always changing, career management is just as volatile.

The strength of the book comes in the voice of the author, Michael Lopp or Rands. He strikes a friendly, beleaguered tone that helps the reader identify with the situations and with the nuggets of advice being offered. Even though the advice is often more implied than spoonfed, I think most software developers will find something in here to help them in their working life, whether they are an individual contributor or a manager (or on their way to being a manager). Just read with a your own good judgement intact and use the articles as jumping off points for personal reflection.
Profile Image for Angela.
184 reviews4 followers
September 20, 2010
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 word.

I really enjoyed this book. Finally, some of the reasons I think a certain way made perfect sense, the reasons why I tend to approach my job in a more straight-forward, I would like to do this by then, route (as opposed to the haphazard non-structured route most of my co-workers employ). It also helped me realize why being in staff meetings and deviating from the agenda so much you never get it accomplished was bothering me. Thank you, Michael!

In essence, if you're looking for a career change, wanting to ask for a promotion, or just overall want a bit more insight into your way of doing things - AND you've been previously classified as a geek or nerd - this book's for you. There's a lot of good information in here, for geeks and non-geeks alike.
Profile Image for Amy.
112 reviews
January 24, 2011
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 manager is responsible for employees' career growth (I really feel that I am responsible for my career growth and my manager is responsible to support me in it to some degree). But I suspect his view is more common than mine.

Lopp describes his systems for tracking tasks and daily goals, and I'm going to keep them in mind because I think they'd work for me as well. Perhaps what I loved most about this book, though, aside from Lopp's willingness to tell it like it is, is that he really does understand geeks. He believes the geek quest is to "Learn enough about my world to predict what's next." Um, yes - I guess there's no chance I can edge myself out of the geek category any more if he's going to succinctly and accurately sum up what I strive for like that!
Profile Image for Ty Stone.
201 reviews3 followers
January 29, 2013
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 certain other chapters; the purpose of these continues to elude me. Another point that riled me up was the sexist assumption that the person reading the book, or the "geek" that is a software developer, is a man. Male pronouns were used for 90% of this book and almost all bosses were referred to as men. That said, I really enjoyed that the author explored the differences between start-ups and large companies and the overall message of the book.

I recommend this book for software developers/engineers who are looking for information on office politics and the social components of working in a development environment.
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