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Books for Geeks

The book as we know it is probably going the way of photo film and vinyl LPs: it won't disappear altogether, but evolve into an increasingly rarer curiosity treasured by aficionados. But whether it's an eText or dead-tree-tech, books still make great holiday gifts for the geeks in your life. Here, in no particular order, are a few that came across my desk this year that might be worthy of a place under your tree:

  • Agile Testing: A Practical Guide for Testers and Agile Teams, by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory, Addison-Wesley Professional, January 9, 2009.

We did a SuperCast with Lisa Crispin this year, and her presentation was very well received. Both XP guru Ron Jeffries and Uncle Bob Martin of Object Mentor have endorsed this excellent and much needed book.

  • Continuous Delivery: Reliable Software Releases through Build, Test, and Deployment Automation, by Jez Humble and David Farley (Addison-Wesley Professional, August 6, 2010).  

This timely book lays out the principles and technical practices that enable rapid, incremental delivery of new functionality to users. It covers such techniques as automated management, data migration, and the use of virtualization. This is a great book for anyone on a delivery team.

  • Being Geek: The Software Developer's Career Handbook, by Michael Lopp (O'Reilly Media, July 27, 2010).

If you haven't heard of Lopp, it's probably because of his nom de blog. He's the "Rands" of Rands in Repose. The book is largely a collection of his best blog posts. Readers get a narrative covering a typical tech-job life span, from job interview to the move to greener pastures. (You might also check out Lopp's other book, Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager.)

  • 100 SOA Questions: Asked and Answered, by Kerrie Holley and Ali Arsanjani (Prentice Hall, November 22, 2010).

This one is mainly for the business types in your life, but it might answer a question or two lingering in your mind about Service Oriented Architectures. Written by two IBMers, this book couldn't be more straightforward. It does exactly what it promises, taking on top-of-mind SOA questions such as: "Does SOA require service modeling?", "What are the building blocks of an SOA infrastructure?", and "What is the future trajectory of SOA?"

  • Building the Perfect PC, by Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson (O'Reilly Media, November 24, 2010).

Here's a gift for the Make magazine fans on your list. It might seem to be a book for quasi-technical geek wannabes, but this is a valuable how-to written by hardware experts. Include the URL to Mr. Thompson's Web page on the card.

I also want to recommend some oldies, but still goodies:

  • Programming Clojure, by Stuart Halloway (Pragmatic Bookshelf, May 21, 2009).
  • Eclipse Plug-ins, by Eric Clayberg, (Addison-Wesley Professional, 2008).
  • Release It: Design and Deploy Production-Ready Software, by Michael Nygard (Pragmatic Bookshelf, March 30, 2007).
  • Software Security: Building Security In, by Gary McGraw (Addison-Wesley Professional, February 2, 2006).

And finally, a shameless, self-serving plug for my new book: The Everything Guide to Social Media (Adams Media, November 18, 2010). I'll let an Amazon reader speak for me on this one:

"If you're still unclear about the difference between Facebook and Twitter, this is the book for you. Well written, it provides a clear overview of the various social media tools available today. I'd especially recommend this for parents who are struggling to keep up with all the modes of communication and engagement being used by their kids online and for any professional or small business owner who needs to keep up with the changing landscape & harness social media tools for their own benefit."

Happy holidays!

Posted by John K. Waters on December 20, 2010