Tagged: software

Mini review: “Coders: Who They Are, What They Think and How They Are Changing Our World” by Clive Thompson (audiobook edition)

This book is a must read if you are considering becoming a coder – and also if you work with them. The first half or so of the book goes into detail about how most people get into writing software (formal education or being self taught), the nature of the job (what they do all day), possible career paths and the personality characteristics found in many coders – both good and bad. It looks at the different types of people coming into the industry, the misleading myths that have built up, the particular challenges for women and the realistic outlook if you are looking for a mid-career job change – coming in from a different industry. Very interesting, and not something that I recall seeing dealt with in such detail elsewhere.

The remainder of the book examines the tech scene in more general terms – a look at the early days of computing and how people got into computers in previous decades, the decline in the proportion of women in the profession over time, the rise of AI and machine learning, the social problems (little predicted at the beginning but now very much in evidence) that arise with becoming a massive scale platform and how the venture capital industry determines how companies have to behave.

There is a bit of repetition as things that are mentioned briefly in the first part are dealt with in more depth in the second, but the author does a good-enough job at bringing things back to how these things are relevant to coders. The final chapter on “blue collar” coders is particularly good, so the book finishes on a high. It should give people thinking about going into this field some things to consider, which can only be a good thing.

The narration of the audiobook is interesting – often the soul of these technology / business books is sucked out of them by a narrator who talks in some “default-American” tone, unremarkable and uninspiring. At first I thought that this was going to be yet another example, but the performance is more nuanced – it feels like it is the author reading their own text but it is more professional. He gets the tone just right.

Drafts for iPhone

draftsiosicon-large

I don’t normally mention apps, but I heard about this from Merlin Mann and it sounded interesting.

Just type in some text and send it elsewhere.  Great for sending text messages, email to specific people, items to a to-do app, Tweets, entries into your calendar, updating text files on Dropbox – all a lot quicker than opening the specific apps themselves.  I’ve found dictating into it works well.

If you do the same thing with text more than a few times, it’s worth setting up an Action.  I keep finding new uses for it.  Brilliant.

Well worth a couple of quid of anyone’s money.

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Drafts app

• Macworld: Hands on with Drafts 3.0 and its impressive new organization tools

Macstories: Drafts 3 Review: Better iOS Automation and Workflows

Lifehacker: How to Use Drafts to Speed Up Your Mobile Note Writing