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Welcome to my blog, which was once a mailing list of the same name and is still generated by mail. Please reply via the "comment" links.

Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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Lepl parser for Python.

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SVG experiment.

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Cache rewrite.

Extending OpenSSH.

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RE: [Cute] Haskell Refactoring

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2004 09:39:43 -0300 (CLST)

Milan Maksimovic said:
> Sorry if this list is just meant for us to post interesting stuff that we
> find, but I have to follow up on this.

Not a problem at all.  I don't know how the list will evolve and maybe in
the future I will need to make some rules, but your reply is very welcome.

>>> The "standard" refactoring book is probably -
>>> http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0201485672
>>> - it's OK, but mostly obvious (like basic pattern books, really)
>  For very thoughtful people with enough experience it is probably 'mostly
> obvious' and 'basic', but for others it is a nice shortcut to get there
> (or
> closer to that). For me it was far more then 'OK'. Back in 1999 when I

I don't think I can reply to all your points, because really it's your
experience and I have no argument against that - everyone knows best what
is right for them, and maybe your opinion is the right one for more people
than mine.

But maybe I can explain how I evaluate books.  For me, a good computing
book (a good book of any kind, really) should be:

- Interesting.  If it spends a lot of time telling me how to do things I
already know then it's not a good book (for me).

- Well written.  This is difficult to judge, but I like authors with a
distinctive voice (it has to be subtle, though).

- Short.  Really this is "Interesting" again.  A long book has very little
chance of not being boring at some point.

Since my first and most important point includes "(for me)" I am not
surprised that others feel differently.

In fact I added "like basic pattern books" because I wanted to flag this
(maybe not clearly enough).  The refactoring book is - to me - very like
the Gang of Four's original Pattern book.  It's not quite as iconic, but
it's similar.  Both are books that a lot of people find very useful.  But
neither meets my "Interesting" or "Short" criteria - they both spend a lot
of time telling me things I already know.

I don't think I'm the world's best programmer, so I don't have a good
explanation for why I find large chunks of those books "obvious".  I think
maybe they fit with how I think about the world - books that I might find
interesting might seem obvious to others, who think in different ways.


PS Fowler's "UML Distilled" is an excellent example of a "good book" for
me, so I'm certainly not picking on that author!  And I'm surprised by
this, because really it's not as "profound" a book...

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