Hackers and Painters

On Monday and Tuesday we had a visit from a Microsoft Solution Provider, sent by Microsoft to help us evaluate several of the spreadsheets that are used for some key tasks in the company, and how we can move them forward. Aside from official work, sat at lunch he recommended a book by Paul Graham, who amongst other things created the Yahoo! Store, and also came up with the spam filtering technique on which the majority of current filters are based.

Hackers and Painters: Essays on the Art of Programming

The book is called Hackers and Painters, and is a series of essays relating to various aspects of programming and technology, under such headings as “Why Nerds are Unpopular”. Chapter 5 apparently impressed the Microsoft PR company so much that they withdrew permission for any pictures of Bill Gates to be used – so the publisher got hold of a police mug shot of Bill Gates when he was arrested instead! The essay that provided the title for the book points out programmers are best compared to creative roles such as architects or painters, rather than more mathematical based roles. Anyway, I’ve got hold of a copy from Amazon, but as yet have only had a chance to skim a couple of chapters, I’ll maybe write more once I’ve read more of the book.

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