This week we thought we would stray a little outside of the technical world and respond to one of the questions we are often asked. Actually it is more often phrased as a statement than purely as a question "You guys must read an incredible amount of stuff to keep up with all the new things in the IBM i world." This is often followed by "How do you decide what to read?" or "Do you ever read anything except technical stuff?"
Let's start with the technical stuff. We follow some dozen or more online forums ranging from Midrange.com to Code400 to those on SystemiNetwork. We also subscribe to more than 40 technical newsletters covering topic areas from Web design to mobile apps to general IBM i and (not surprisingly) programming in RPG, PHP, etc. Do we read all of these completely? No; there aren't that many hours in the day. We find that skimming the content often reveals trends that we should dig into more deeply.
Of course there are a few writers that we consider "must reads." Scott Klement is the first person to come to mind, followed by Aaron Bartell and for PHP-oriented topics, Alan Seiden and Mike Pavlak. Trevor Perry is always worth reading; even if we don't always agree with him we have to admire his passion!
We have, of course, large heaps of technical books around the place--more recently the PHP, Web and mobile-related heaps have been growing. Actually since we buy more and more books in e-reader format these days the physical heaps aren't growing as much as they used to, thank goodness. Many of the recent additions to the library come from the folks at Sitepoint. In particular we've added "JQUERY: Novice to Ninja" and "Build Mobile Websites and Apps ..." both of which are excellent introductions to the topics and well priced, as are most of Sitepoint's offerings.
Do we ever read anything non-technical? Sure. In a blog post a few years ago, we talked about our fascination with "Predictably Irrational" and "Freakonomics." Susan has actually re-read "Predictably Irrational" since then and enjoyed it as much as the first time. She has also been enjoying some books by Malcolm Gladwell: "The Tipping Point" and "Outliers" and she has "What the Dog Saw" and "Blink" waiting in her "to be read soon" stack. We also want to re-read our friend Bob Tipton's great book "Jump!: Get Unstuck" before we see him at the upcoming RPG & DB2 Summit, where he'll be our keynote speaker. He might quiz us on the content!
What about reading purely for fun? Absolutely. We recently discovered Kathy Reichs and are thoroughly enjoying her books. We didn't know it when we started reading her, but her main character, Temperance Brennan, is also the main character in the TV series "Bones". But if you don't like "Bones" don't let it put you off trying the books; they are really quite different. "Bones" has just been TV-ized. We have also enjoyed most of the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child, which we began reading at the suggestion of friend and colleague Paul Tuohy.
Jon is a huge fan of Terry Pratchett and even persuaded Susan to read "Nation" which she enjoyed even though she's not into the fantasy genre. This is interestingly one of Pratchett's young reader series, which may say something about our maturity level. If you haven't read it give it a try. It will challenge the way you view religion and society as well as being a darned good read. Jon was glad he didn't realize it was for young people or he might have missed it!
Jon has just finished reading "Randy Bachman's Vinyl Tap Stories," which is a collection of the stories Randy tells on his weekly radio show. If you are a music lover this is a "must listen." Until recently you had to listen to the live stream or on satellite radio in the U.S., but past shows are now available on CBC's website. Next on his reading list is "Outwitting Squirrels" by Bill Adler Jr. ,which from a brief glance is hilarious--and hopefully helpful!
So what else should we be reading? Any and all suggestions welcome.