At the occasion of Read an eBook week, I thought I'ld do something you can’t actually do with real books: buy (and read) a version of a book before it is released. Andy Hunt, author of the excellent book The Pragmatic Programmer (a must read for every developer!), recently announced the availability of a beta version of his new book, Refactor your wetware. This beta version is an early electronic version of the book, which gives the reader the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the book, and give feedback for the final version (which, as a beta book owner, you can also download when it is released). So, I went over to the Pragmatic Bookshelf store, ordered my copy, and got an e-mail with my personalized copy only a few seconds later.
As the subtitle of the book (Pragmatic Thinking & Learning) hints, the main subject of this book is our brain: how we learn things, how we become experts in a certain field, how we get new (innovative) ideas, how we solve problems, … The goal is to use these understandings to become more effective in our learning process, to make it easier to get ideas and to solve hard problems. The book has a lot of the feel of The Pragmatic Programmer to it: easy to read, very pleasantly written, a lot of descriptions of situations and experiences that sound very familiar, and a written description of some thoughts and theories that somehow were already floating around somewhere in your brain, but which you never really paid attention to; and, of course, mainly written from the perspective of a software developer. The book is filled with quite interesting statements and useful tips that will probably keep lingering on in your brain for quite a while. The insights into the human brain that the book provides seem to make a lot of sense, and explain a lot of real-life experiences.
Reading this (beta) book was fun and very learnful. Unfortunately, there is also a downside with a beta book. Not the occasional typo, not the layout that goes slightly wrong in a place or 2, but the fact that, just when you’re hanging on every word of the text, you end up with a few chapters that have nothing but Coming soon. Then again, this might be the perfect book for this to happen: while waiting for the second half of the book to appear, my R-brain will have a chance to index the raw data it recorded from the book in the background, and I might be able to read the remainder of the book with more context-awareness. Hey, I think I learned something!