Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
– Groucho Marx (Humorist extraordinaire)
0. Intro ⛵
That Book You Had Meant to Write
The next time somebody tells you, “I think you’ve got a book inside you,” I would like you—and me—to be prepared with a good response. It’s just the sort of thing which you might have been told, yet never gave so much as a second thought, this notion of writing a book (or two, or three, or four….)
To warm things up a notch, check the picture above, complete with a beguiling set of books—stylishly arrayed atop a portable table in my study—with an equally stylish, monogrammed model of a sports car that doubles as a computer mouse. (Think James Bond here, straight from the uber high tech labs of his sidekick and tech alter-ego, Q.)
It’s Now or Never
Well, the time has come to talk a bit about exactly that: Having a book inside you, yearning to break free. We are, in fact, going to chat about four books that were brought into existence, and not so long ago either. (Yours truly, as regular readers will recall, wrote up and published four books on Amazon, all of which have been warmly received.) So this is their story, the story of
- Dispatches from the Software Trenches
- Postcards From The Software Island
- Letters to a Software Practitioner
- The Harvest Moon Chronicles
Now, that’s what I had to say about those four books. But the bigger news is this: You say it even better. You, in fact, say it best.
And to prove my assertion—that you say it best—all I have to do is reach out for your generous and thoughtful comments online. Oh, and by the way, instead of bookmarking all four links above, you can simply stash away just the one after heading over to their one-stop location, the home of
With that, let’s dive right into the stories by way of what you have had to say. And one more time, this is decidedly not about me; this is all about you, dear Reader. I’m celebrating you, yay!
1. Just Say No to Information Overload 📺
Who wants to drown in the sea of information? Not you and me, that’s for sure. So let’s pause for a moment and ask
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
– T. S. Eliot (poet and dramatist)
And if I have lived up to the expectations of my readers—thank you, dear readers, from the depth of my heart—dare I say that the rhetorical question posed above by Eliot has been, over the years, paramount on my mind.
2. Out-of-the-box Thinking Awaits You 🎁
Recall how this blog, after all, is named Programming Digressions, and all else will flow from there…
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
– John Keats (from Endymion)
So yes, out-of-the-box thinking awaits you at every corner in the pages of these books.
3. A Harvest of Ideas 🍄
Dwelling on the possibilities, such as what it takes to grow a successful garden—one made up of ideas or even the one to be found in your own backyard—is the subject matter of one of the (four) books in particular.
I dwell in possibility.
– Emily Dickinson (the best poet ever)
Oh, and you are cordially invited to take a stroll through a harvest of ideas.
4. In the Trenches ⛏
To let you in on a secret, fellow technologists—as well as those of you who are not—we sure love a good tale, and we might even write a tale or two up one of these days. As for the trenches,
When forty winters shall besiege thy brow,
And dig deep trenches in thy beauty’s field.
– William Shakespeare
Oh yes, these books are straight from the trenches of technology.
5. Entertainment (Not Quite Broadway-style) 🎭
Who doesn’t like being entertained while learning something substantial? Regular readers know this full well, and that’s what this blog has been doing since its inception about seven years ago.
I would sooner read a timetable or a catalogue than nothing at all. They are much more entertaining than half the novels that are written.
– Somerset Maugham (in The Summing Up)
Come one, come all, it’s time to have fun once again.
6. Did We Stumble onto Paradise? ⛱
Sigh, postcards may be passé, but they sure haven’t lost their charm. And this book in The Programming Imagination Series sets out to prove it definitively.
I have made this [essay] longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
– Blaise Pascal
Keep it up, esteemed workers at the Postal Service, and we will make good on our end to keep delivering, too, postcards and all.
7. The Joy of Learning 🏄
There’s something powerful about the imagination to propel, guide, and navigate you through complex areas of endeavor. After all,
Is it so small a thing
To have enjoyed the sun,
To have lived light in the spring,
To have loved, to have thought, to have done;
To have advanced true friends, and beat down baffling foes?
– Matthew Arnold (in Empedocles on Etna)
But allow me to underscore the spirit that pervades it all: The joy of learning.
8. Seriously Seeking Inspiration? 🔭
Who knows when—and where—inspiration might strike… All we know is that
Inspiration descends only in flashes, to clothe circumstances; it is not stored up in a barrel, like salt herrings, to be doled out.
– Patrick White
And when it does, would you please let me and other readers know? We love a good tale.
9. Merely “How-to,” or also “Why-to”? 🎯
Is knowledge only about getting up to snuff on the “how-to” of things? I disagree with that view.
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
– Albert Einstein
At least as equally important, I firmly believe, is the “why-to” part of the equation.
10. Society Speaks (in) this Currency 💰
The sounds of Nature can make quite the crackling cacophony. But the world of technology isn’t muted by any means. To hear the orchestra, let’s remind ourselves of how
Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.
– Immanuel Kant (in Critique of Pure Reason)
No currency exchange bureau required either. This is straight from the trenches.
11. Oh, and Something of Creativity 🐘
Riches beyond riches, I’m telling you, are to be had by those who cultivate the discipline for connecting the dots. You see,
Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not
– George Bernard Shaw
Ever keep asking a more beautiful question, and life will be good. With that, our story draws to a close. See you next time, right here.