I read constantly, but I've not reported lately on what I've been reading. These are things I've read, enjoyed, found valuable. I'll mention some tools and toys as well. I'll leave out things I hated. Isn't that nice of me?


Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, by Daniel Pink, has inspired a chapter in The Nature of Software Development, coming soon. He tells us that people are motivated by Purpose, Autonomy, and Mastery. This rings very true to me, and I hope it does to you.

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration, by Ed Catmull, tells the story of Pixar and how they maintain creativity in the face of relentless schedules and being part of a big business. I hope never again to be part of a big business, but Catmull's stories of leadership are inspiring.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Ed McKeown, isn't yet another book about simplifying your life. Well, it is, I suppose, but his approach to thinking about what really matters is valuable. I'm a sucker for thinking about myself, and if you are as well, you'll find this book to be quite useful.

The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer (Great Discoveries), by David Leavitt, is a very interesting story of Turing, his contributions, and the tragic end he came to. Fortunately, that last bit is mercifully brief and the story is quite interesting. It includes quite a lot about math and code-breaking but you can safely skip over those bits if you find them too heavy. Good story of an important figure in our profession.

The Art Spirit, by Robert Henri, is a collection of writings about art. Henri holds that most anything we do well is art, and that art is the province of any human being. Very enjoyable.

Joy, Inc.: How We Built a Workplace People Love, by Richard Sheridan, is the story of his company, Menlo Associates, and the thinking behind it. Quite idealistic, quite practical. Sheridan has built a very successful company with a focus on Joy. Definitely something to learn here.


My fiction reading is all over the map. Science fiction, with forays into fantasy and steampunk. Adventure novels, spy novels. Once in a rare while, something like literature. Here's a small sampling:

The Iron Wyrm Affair, by Lilith Saintcrow, takes place in what seems to be Victorian London in an alternate universe. Emma Bannon is a sorceress in service of the spirit Britannia (and her avatar Queen Victrix), while Archibald Clare, her sometime work partner, is a "mentath", a master of logic and deduction who rivals the great Holmes. Sounds pretty fluffy but this story and the following ones are strong, a bit dark, and quite enjoyable if you like the steampunk kind of thing. Saintcrow's novels often please me. These are my faves of hers.

Sniper's Honor, by Stephen Hunter, is the ninth in his excellent series about Bob Lee Swagger, an aging retired sniper who gets into dangerous adventures, always involving snipers gone bad. The novels usually include a bit of history and are good spy/adventure stories.

Permutation City: A Novel, by Greg Egan, is a hard SF story of people who load their personalities into computers for fun, research, and, ultimately to survive the death of the solar system. I think Bill Tozier (@vaguery) put me onto this one, and I enjoyed it.

Another tip from Tozier was the Bel Dame Apocrypha series by Kameron Hurley, starting with God's War: Bel Dame Apocrypha Volume 1. Is it set in some kind of a post-apocalyptic desert on Earth? On another planet? In a different universe? Fascinating, and it gets more so as the series goes along. Dark, and I think everyone dies -- at least once.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out the work of Iain M Banks, who recently passed away. His "Culture" series, beginning with Consider Phlebas, is charming, funny, and deep. Truly great hard SF. Worth it for the names of the intelligent ships alone. Very highly recommended.

Tools and Toys

I guess I might as well show you some of the toys I've recently bought, for fun or profit. You may know that I'm trying to learn to draw, and my theory is that as soon as I get the right equipment, I'll be able to do it.

I have a fine Derwent pencil wrap for my ten thousand pencils, which come in all colors, textures, and permanence. This Derwent Canvas Carry-All Bag has room for those, my many erasers, and even a sketch book. And I can slip the iPad into it for those days when I can't just be purely analog. The first one came without the included shoulder strap and Amazon sent me a new one by next day shipping.

Laura Fisher, my webmistress (not as interesting as it sounds) told me about these Staedtler Watercolor Pencils. Since when I draw with Paper(tm), I often use the watercolor brush to color things, I thought I'd try these. You shade as you would with a pencil, then dab on a little water with a brush, and voila. Lots of fun and messy too.

I also have an Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Quadricopter, which is lots of fun. Parrot's upcoming Bebop comes with a joystick controller, longer range etc etc. I thought it would be good to practice with joysticks, so I bought Syma X1, the little guy above, as well. So far, I am incredibly good at crashing it.