Monday, January 21, 2008

Less is More

Like most people, over the past 20 years I have amassed quite a collection of books that I find difficult to part with but will rarely open, if ever. I guess I have been saving them for that one special day when I'll thank my lucky stars that I held onto these books forever and shipped them all over the U.S., going wherever I have lived.

Well, those days are over. My personal goal is a "less is more" lifestyle (or as my brother says, "the more you own, the more owns you"). All of these books will be donated and hopefully someone can either read them or the recipient of the donation can sell them for some money. I've discovered books that I borrowed long ago, I've discovered books that I obviously must have "borrowed" from my high school (which I'll have to return), and I came across a host of computer books from my days at school and early in my career. Although many of these books taught fundamental concepts that apply to today, it's almost laughable how out of touch some of them are with today's technology:
  • Assembler Language Programming for the IBM System/370 Family by George Strubel
  • File Management Techniques by Billy G. Claybrook
  • Pascal Plus Data Structures by Nell Dales and Susan Lilly
  • Data Structures Using Pascal by Aaron M. Tenenbaum and Moshe J. Augenstein
  • Programming in Ada by J.G.P. Barnes
  • LISP by Patrick Henry Winston and Berthold Klaus Paul Horn
Oh yeah, I got plenty of use out of that LISP book. But don't laugh at that Ada book. Ada heavily influenced the design of Oracle PL/SQL.


Unknown said...

Hi Joel,

I could not agree more!

It is very tough, but I don't want to add more "stuff" to my life either. When I add one more thing, I have to let go of one other thing. That's my start. Let's see where it leads me to :).

Chances are that we will meet again in June, perhaps my talk about my projects here will be accepted for the customer success stories:


Anonymous said...

Hi Joel,

Oh crikey, LISP....I remember that, spending an hour making sure all your brackets matched up properly just for your program to output a number (or something equally uninspiring).

Still, it seemed advanced in its day.


Dimitri Gielis said...

Cool! Another product manager of APEX making cyberspace unsafe ;-)

Scott and Mike are lagging behind...

Byte64 said...

You mean it's time to get rid of "The Art of Computer programming" by Donald Knuth?

There are books that age out terribly fast, some that seem to be good forever.

I never touched Lisp directly, but i spent quite some time with Forth and a sort of "GMO" Lisp with RPN notation created by HP for their calculators. To date is the best, most flexibile and powerful programming language i ever worked on.

I am always reluctant to give away my old books. Not only, there is one way of saying that goes: you'll need a thing 5 minutes after getting rid of it. :-D

Joel R. Kallman said...


That's funny you mention GMO Lisp with RPN notation. One thing I'll never get rid of is my HP 15C, which I used throughout college and still use to this day.


Carl Backstrom said...

DIBS on the LISP book!

I remember well the days of writing extensions to AutoCad and the AutoCad Land Development Desktop.

Like John said brackets brackets brackets......... actually never mind just burn that book I hope to never work with that awful language again.



Byte64 said...

i'd like to say the same of my collection of calculators (HP71B, HP48SX, HP48GX...) but unfortunately i used them so much that they have all "died" since a long time.
My vintage HP-85A is still working but unfortunately the cassette reader doesn't work anymore.
And i still believe today that the RPN stack is far superior to algebraic mode... :-D

Byte64 said...

you say that because you never programmed in RPG IV or worse... (RPG34, RPG38)

Unknown said...

Hi Joe,

Do you still have the assembler book by George Strubel? I'd be pleased to get it into my library.

Believe it or not, I am 27 years old and S/370 is my daily bread. I've heard this was one of the best books published. So far there is nothing about z/Architecture so I hope this book would let me improve my skill set ;-)