Monday, December 31, 2007

Partial Readings: Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns and The Knowledge Management Toolkit

  • I have started with a book recommended by many sites about software architecture and design as a must read: Smalltalk Best Practice Patterns by Kent Beck. It is well written and I can see why it attracted a lot of people, even if there aren't so many Smalltalk programmers out there: it is written for use! That means that the book has less than 200 pages, but each of the specific patterns there are laden with references to others in the book, some even in the next chapters. That's because the book itself is structured to be kept nearby and consulted whenever a new project is started or in progress, not something that you read and forget in a bookshelf, gathering dust.

    However, the patterns presented are sometimes useless for a C# programmer, some being already integrated in language and some being not applicable. The fact that Smalltalk works with Messages further complicates things. I did eventually open a link to #-Smalltalk, but who will ever have time for it?

    I have decided that rather than reading this book and forgetting or not getting many of the things inside, it would be more efficient searching for a similar book that is more C# oriented.

    So, bottom line: great approach, both literary and technical, but a little hard to use for one such as me. Anyone know of a C# Best Practice Patterns book?
  • My next attempt was in the wonderful world of management! Yes, I was approached by their people, apparently they want me to join them and rule the galaxy. Maybe if they wrote more concise books!!

    The Knowledge Management Toolkit: Practical Techniques for Building a Knowledge Management System
    starts interestingly enough, describing the need of every company to build a way to retain knowledge against employee turnover or plain forgetfulness. Basically what I am doing with this blog. But it goes further than that, quantifying the return on investment for such a KM system, describing ways of rewarding people and encouraging them to use it (it is not something done automatically).

    All great, but then it kept going on telling me how the book is going to change my world, rock my boat, help me in my business... after reading the preface, the introduction, the "how it's structured", the marketing bullshit, the first chapter (full of promises about the next chapters) I was completely bored! If there is any technical description of what to do, when to do it, how to do it, why , etc, I didn't find a trace of it in the first chapter. Reading on my PDA from a badly scanned txt file didn't help either.

    Besides, I got more and more frustrated. I barely have the time to scratch all I planned on doing in this holiday (while getting nagged on by the wife, the cat and whatever friends I got left) and improving the company workings is not my responsibility. I am the god damn coder! I write code! I have a management system all of my own and I get my ROI by googling a frustrating bug and discovering I solved it a month ago myself and wrote about it here.

    So there! If you have a business it is good to have a repository of actual knowledge (a.k.a. processed information) and encourage people to use it so that they don't take all their experience with them when they leave your sorry cheap ass company! I've summarised the entire book for you! I am not reading it anymore. It hurts my sensitive techie soul!