April 2007 Archives

Required Reading


Over the years as a software developer, manager, and executive, I find myself reading  a few "classics" over and over.  One might think that the ideas discussed would get outdated over time, but this is not the case.  With each read, I have a greater appreciation of the points  made.  The real world software battles fought (some won and some lost)  give greater appreciation of the wisdom shared.

Read These First and Read These Again

Every software engineer, web developer, project manager -- any one who has a job function related to software should read these:

Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks

Hints for System Design by Butler Lampson

Whenever I start a project, I always (re)read or skim these.  I point out to every new employee that they should attempt to read these.   For the non-developer or inexperienced program these  might not make too much sense.  But there are always lessons to be learned regardless.

Current Good Reads

Not sure if these have legs that will withstand the test of time -- bu they are pretty interesting today.

Dreaming in Code by Scott Rosenberg

This is an interesting account of what went on in OSAF's Chandler project. It provides good insight of what can go wrong, even with good people with good intentions.  Very up-to-date.  Makes you realize the more things change  the more things stay the same.

Founders and Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston

Real accounts of by founders of start ups.  Great insight.

Interesting Papers

The Cathedral and the Bazaar by Eric Raymond.

Worse is Better by Richard Gabriel.  The view point of  releasing  early, releasing often, releasing  before things are fully baked -- is often attributed to the "Worse Is Better" concept.   However this paper -- and its follow ons say something much more, much richer,  and much more subtle.  And, the follow on debates that "Worse is better is worse",  "Worse is worse", and the like are somewhat interesting follow ups.

On Formally Undecidable Propositions of Principia Mathematica and Related Systems by Kurt Godel.   Just kidding.  But for the wanker theoretician/arm chair philisopher in me, I enjoy reading this.

Blogs I Read Regularly

Skrentablog -- Rich is one of the best and brightest dyed-in-the-wool hackers come successful entrepreneur and executive.  And, there's a humility, practicality and brilliance in Rich that make his blog one of my favorite reads.  The best part is that he vacillates coherently from one extreme to another, seemingly contradicting himself, all the while providing perls of wisdom.

Joel on Software -- Practical advice from the trenches

Paul Graham -- Paul is a great writer with great insight.  There's an idealism in Paul's point of view that I love as a software professional.  I don't know if he serves the idealistic entreprenuer or serves himself/Y Combinator.  Maybe/hopefully both.

Read.  Write.  Learn.  Repeat.

Where Are My Brethren?


Chris Tolles once pointed out to me that there are three tribes in the Valley -- White, Indian, and Chinese.  From within these tribes, it's easy to find our heroes -- Steve Jobs, Vinod Khosla, Pehong Chen, to name a few.  This  makes me wonder, where is my tribe -- the Japanese (Americans)? And, in particular, who are my tribe's heroes?

In general, I don't get too hung up on racial differentiation.  As a Japanese American whose ancestors immigrated a few generations ago, I am definitely more "American" than "Japanese" at least culturally speaking.  And yet, I wonder, where are my brethren?  Why aren't there more successful Japanese entreprenuers/engineers in the Valley, not to mention the heroes and leaders?

Sure, there's Guy Kawasaki.  But, as confirmed by his LinkedIn profile, he really hasn't been in the fire of starting/running companies in years ("Advisor" and "VC" don't count).  Likewise, Scott Oki of Microsoft fame, left the industry in the early 90's.  I think he mostly builds golf courses these days.  (And, he hails from Seattle not the Valley).

Then, there's a handful of Wayne Yamamoto's --  this guy and this guy.  I think some confuse the former with me -- he also worked at Sun and our research interests are similar.  The latter seems to have had success and, unfortunately,  problems at S3.  I've met neither.  If you are either Wayne or Wayne, send me an email -- love to meet.

Last, there's Jeff Yasuda.  I met Jeff a few weeks ago.  He heads up a start up called Fuzz.  He's up to some good stuff.

Here's a call to all my brethren -- leave a comment (or send me an email)  and let me know the good stuff you are doing.  Prove me wrong -- seems like we should be kicking butt in the Valley.