The Bartimaeus Trilogy

This trilogy by Jonathan Stroud consists of The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem’s Eye and Ptolemy’s Gate. They chronicle the adventures of a talented young magician called Nathaniel and the witty Djinni Bartimaeus whom Natahaniel has, just, managed to control. The books are set in a magical version of London run by magicians and travels a little to other countries. The other main character who features is Kitty, part of a resistance movement working against the rule of the magicians. Along with the human inhabitants are a suitable number and variety of creatures from the tiny and snivelling ??? to the living clay monster Golems.

I found the first of these book, The Amulet of Samarkand, while looking for something less vacuous than Harry Potter. This trilogy falls into the category of children’s fiction also, which sits nicely with my attention span. I waited anxiously for the second and found it well worth the wait – not a copy of the first with different monsters as the Harry Potter series has been so far.

The third part of the trilogy is sat next to my bed waiting for me to finish some non-fiction books before I really get into it as I know it will take over my reading time as soon as I open it.

Would I recommend these? Definitiely.

“The Amulet of Samarkand” by Jonathan Stroud, Doubleday Oct 2003, ISBN: 0385605994
“The Golem’s Eye” by Jonathan Stroud, Doubleday Oct 2004, ISBN: 038560615X
“Ptolemy’s Gate” by Jonathan Stroud, Doubleday Sept 2005, ISBN: 0385606168

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master

I was introduced to this book several years ago by some Thoughtworkers I had the luck to be working with. After a bit of a dip in my passion for writing software this book really brought back my interest in being professional about writing great stuff.

I was chuffed when the Geek Book Club I started a few months ago decided on it as the first book we should read as a group. It was a second reading for me and I can say that it’s just as good second time around. The book is full of sensible explanations of practical tips. Many of them are things that we all know we should do, but somehow don’t like “The Cat Ate My Source Code”. But other aspects challenge our thinking about some stuff more deeply; like the discussion that ensued around Domain Specific Languages and their good (and bad) uses that our group had while reading Chapter 2.

So much of this book is the foundation of individual agile practices (if there are such things) that it makes sense for everyone to read it. Interestingly it’s also on Joel Spolsky’s Software Management Reading List which is aimed at those wishing to manage software development rather than those wishing to do software development.

“The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master” by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, Addison-Wesley Oct 1999, ISBN: 020161622X

Well who then?

Ok/Cancel has a great comic this week that I feel points at something more fundamental.

Who “owns” the design. The design, in this posting, being what the application must do and how it should do it. Now, many would say that requirements are written by Analysts, and I would agree, but requirements aren’t a design.

Often the Technical Lead feels she owns it, but surely that’s the technical design? Maybe the Interaction Designer? Well, I’m sure Tom Chi would be the first to say that they can only design what’s been decided on.

At Microsoft it falls to the Program Manager (note the spelling, Program, not Programme) and that makes sense in many ways but most organisations don’t have anyone with that title.

At Apple it’s simple; it’s Steve Jobs.

So where does/should it sit? Being able to boil down the essence of a problem or opportunity that many people have and present a solution that meets that need is an unusual gift.