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July 01, 2004


Dejan Jelovic

Peter Norvig has covered the topic a couple years ago, albeit using far less colorful langague than you.

Teach Yourself Programming in Ten Years:



you've managed to sum up and say everything I've ever wanted to about the tech industry in just a few blog posts. Without a doubt, you are the man.


dejan: thanks for the link...that article really hits the nail right on the head.

bill: after all that diarhea about the pattern books, i figured the publishing industry could use a good brow-beating in general


Great stuff Phil. I remember being just out of school about 5 years ago and trying to locate a good book to further my programming knowledge in PL/SQL. Luckily I bought an O'Reilly Press book http://www.oreilly.com/ though now that I look at their site they have a 'Hacks' line of books that they are putting out, and it looks like they are publishing books out the wazoo which makes me wonder if they've started to 'publish anyfuckingthing by anyfuckingbody' as you so eliquenty put it.

The point agree with you most on is the 'a preview of bullshit 2.0 BETA'. That's just wrong in my book...Hmmm...my book...maybe I should write a book on programming in .NET! I've been programming in .NET for about 8 months now, I'm sure I could puke up enough crap to fill a book. Thanks for the idea!


skicow: i totally agree. oreilly used to be great, but they have totally lost their focus over the last couple of years or so...

Kynn Bartlett

Hear, hear!

And I say that as the author of "Teach Yourself Cascading Style Sheets in 24 Hours."


Robert Cantwell

Gotta agree with you - your referenced "god-awful pieces of shit" probably hurt more than helped my initial efforts in learning C# and Design Patterns.

I do like AW Professional series though. Esp. Onions's "Essential ASP.NET".


kynn: anybody willing to admit that here after a post like this, deserves only respect and admiration!

rob: i really like that series too. i actually recommended fritz's book on an earlier post. however, cooper's book on patterns really does deserve the "biggest pieces of shit" award...it should come with a fucking warning on the front cover...

Chris Taylor

mmm, makes me glad I stopped buying books years ago. Someone needs to write a book to end all books - Teach Yourself GOOGLE in 21 seconds.


Phil, awesome! I all but fallen from my chair laughing. 10/10 on target!

Speaking of which, APress joins the black list for me as well. I had a shock couple days ago, when browsing through "Mobile .NET" by Derek Ferguson. That simply takes the cake just in introducting .NET platform:

"Java is Sun technology for 'write once, run anywhere'. With .NET however...CLR runs on a Windows server - not on the client devices!" And to drive the point home it followed by diagram titled: ".NET means 'write once, adopt on the server, receive anywhere' "

APress happy to chrage 40$ for such wisdom coming from "...Derek Ferguson is a world-renown author, speaker, and developer who has been recognized throughout the IT industry for his work."

Well, if such athors would just wear clown strips and bells, i bet they would be even more "recognized throughout the IT industry".


maxs: thanks. that's ashame. i think apress has some nice titles. i heard that addison wesley just published the definitive compact framework title...you might want to check that out instead.

anyway, i think i'm just going to go with a safe bet - stop buying computer books altogether and only buy math books published by springer-verlag.

i'm sick of this shit...


Lets not forget those books by Sybex. You know, the ones that look like they were printed on really bad recycled paper, super wide margins, and a font size that rivals the big print Reader's Digest. Just so they can come in at 500 pages and charge you up the wazoo for such a "big" piece of crap.

Understand that most of these worthless pieces of crap were written by these fuckers http://caustictech.typepad.com/caustictech/2004/06/i_know_everythi.html. I dont know how many times I have had to deal with a "contractor" or "consultant" that also had a few books "under his belt". Judging by their skills, the books MUST have been crap.

Oh, and did you ever notice that most of these books' content is usually rewritten stuff from the online help or manual of their respective subject SDK or application?

I couldnt live with myself if I were one of these fucking authors.

The only publisher that maintains some consistent quality? O'Rielly. Even then they have had a few duds.


Honey, I like those books with the pictures of animals on the cover. Keep buying those.



blobbus: i couldn't agree more. i think i'm fortunate enough never to have bought a sybex title. however, based on the comment above, my fiance agrees with you on oreilly.

Gary Cornell

Ferguson's book was published 3 years ago, it is out of print for all practical purposes. I'm shocked that the guy bought the book, I'm shocked that he could find it (and I run Apress.) He should return it.
That book came out when .NET was very different.

The book from Apress that he should have bought is this book, which, I will point out, most people like alot:



gary: thank you very much for the updated info. i appreciate the honesty. i wish more publishers would be as sincere and forthright...

I agree with you on all counts, Phil. There was, however, one "in a certain amount of time" book that I really thought was best in its class.

Ben Forta's Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes. I recommend this book to every developer who doesn't know SQL (which is about 90% of them.)

He also wrote a book on regular expressions which I heard was pretty good, but haven't checked out yet.


One good thing about the WROX strategy of putting the authors picture on the front: The uglier the author was, the better the book was sure to be.


Awesome Phil! Best revelations of this long time computer book racket that I have ever seen!

Keep it up.

Through my work as an auditor and a consultant with dozens of companies in the United States, Great Britain, Mexico, Japan, Russia and Southeast Asia, I have witnessed the implementation of numerous quality management systems (QMS) and environmental management systems (EMS).

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