Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software book cover

What MeetMe is reading this month…





Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

by Charles Petzold

“The book is really about communication. It bounces between history, mathematics, and the physical mechanics of the communication devices we’ve used throughout history leading up to the microcomputer. The author does more than explain how a basic telegraph works, by tracing the evolution and the faults in each version of the technology. Halfway through the book the focus abstracts out to logic gates, then it abstracts out again to performing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division using only these gates, then to memory structure, then to microprocessors and their instruction sets, and finally to higher level programming languages. I think the very best thing about this book is that it touches on concepts we’re all very familiar with, but it connects them better than just about any other material I’ve ever read on the subject.”Michael Smalley


The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work

by Shawn Achor (available on Audible)

“Happiness is important.  Ask people about their short term or long term goals and they may vary widely from person to person, but at the core of each goal is the hope and desire that it will make that person happier.  This book explores ideas and methods for helping to increase overall happiness and have a better outlook on life.  Further, it challenges the common notion that first we become successful, and then happiness follows.  The book argues that the converse is actually true: if we’re happy to begin with, then we’re more likely to be successful across all aspects of life.”

Matt Kemmerer


The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles

by Noam Nisan“It’s really a unique book in that with some time investment you can actually learn to build a working virtual machine called ‘Hack’.”

Michael Smalley

“This book was surprising. I originally picked it up as a guide to succeeding in business, however, the book offers that in a very ‘spiritual’ way.  The author focuses on the tremendous effect our thoughts have on our lives and describes how he has applied his recommended three steps throughout his personal and professional journey to achieve his goals. His life story is inspirational and the three steps he outlines are in fact simple, which makes it feel like anyone can do it.”Diana Shkolnikov

Book 3: The Republic of Thieves

“This series is all about thieves.  And boy, do we love our thieves.  It’s a mix of mystery who-done-it.  It’s the planning of capers, the plotting to escape, and the twists and turns along the way.  I love the series because the characters are unique and colorful, the crimes the commit are interesting and fun, and the relationships are dynamic and diverse. 
The most interesting thing I find is how they are able to get out of the corners they find themselves in.  They are inventive with their crimes, and it’s delightfully fun to see what happens next.”Jason Lotito


The Art of Learning

by Josh Waitzkin (available on Audible)

“The Art of Learning is Josh Waitzkin’s story.  Josh is both a National Champion at chess and a World Champion at Tai Chi Chuan — two very diverse fields.  However, he says that his best skill is neither chess nor Tai Chi, but learning.  Josh details his mental process for learning, and shares insights to performing at a high level.  The audio version, which is read by Josh, remains engaging throughout and is both interesting and inspirational.”

Matt Kemmerer



Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
“I read Hackers based on David Slabonik’s featured recommendation. It was a screen-swiper to the end; I could not put this book down, but it probably appeals to a narrow demographic. As a developer, my theory of programmers as a class of people grows incrementally every day — there are subcategories of programmers based on motives, ideals and styles. Reading this book took my mental picture of hackers from a rough crayon drawing of a house to a satellite photograph. It was fascinating from a historical perspective, connecting my jumbled dots of computer knowledge on the origins of punchcards, games, digital music, and different programming languages. There are entertaining cameos from Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the founders of Sierra games, all written before the subjects grew to immense fame. The effects of politics, salaries, and education are smoothly interwoven. Even the origins of nerd culture are explored, from hygiene and bizarre sleep schedules to the penchant for sci-fi/fantasy and lack of female interaction. But what really gripped me was the array of personalities that has shaped software engineering. Certain vignettes of historical programmers spoke deeply to me, confirming that my mental wiring has precedent among engineers, and other biographies gave me insights into the dispositions of my fellow coders. It was like reading a Meyers-Briggs chart for the first time, finding myself, finding my friends, and then seeing how we complement each other and where points of contention lie. Not only did Hackers give me continual jolts of inspiration for the kind of coder I want to be, it gave me a more honest look at the technical tasks I’m not well suited to. Make sure to get the 25th Anniversary edition for the epilogue follow-ups with influential hackers.”Brian Herbert

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