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    2014 for anyone who is wondering roughly how old this blog post is. I think it ultimately fails to address the whole reason why people seek out the Learn X in Y hours books which is to learn enough to get a job so that they can be trained on the job.

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      This article also makes the mistake of assuming “Learn X in 24 Hours” is about learning to be a software developer. It’s not. It’s about learning the basics and gotchas of a specific language. I went to college to learn the stuff he rattles off like the realities of the hardware limitations. But I actually had Learn C++ in 24 Hours, because I needed to look up simple stuff like how C++ does vectors vs Java.

      Nowadays you just look that up in a language’s tutorial docs or on Stack Overflow, but these books served that function back then.

      Also, not all jobs that require a bit of coding skill require you to be a full software developer. Visual Basic is reviled for unmaintainable spaghetti code–and yet those programs did mission critical functions for business.

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        Also, not all jobs that require a bit of coding skill require you to be a full software developer. Visual Basic is reviled for unmaintainable spaghetti code–and yet those programs did mission critical functions for business.

        Still do! Production Driven Development is what I call it. It’s buggy as hell for the first year but after 20 years it becomes rock solid. While it’s completely insufferable in the process once it becomes so extremely battle tested it can be hard to replace because “It works and doesn’t have any bugs”.

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        2014 for anyone who is wondering roughly how old this blog post is

        Uh. I don’t know where you got 2014 from, but it’s rather older than that.

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        Learn C++ in 21 Days by Jesse Liberty is one of my all time favorite programming books by one of my all time favorite technical writers. Just like all book series, “X in Action”, “Learning Y”, “Z for Dummies”, quality varies from one book to the other.

        The series are marketing’s way of indicating the size of the book (short, medium, long), the assumed level of experience (beginner, intermediate, advanced) and the way it is mean to be consumed (start to finish, read what interests you, cookbook, reference, etc).

        I’m not fond of the marketing around the “For Dummies” series of books but I’ve found a couple that were great at introducing me to (non-technical) subjects I was vaguely interested in. If you learn what the marketing is trying to convey and to evaluate each book on its technical merits, your choice of books will expand, and that’s a good thing.


        The novice phase of learning anything is unavoidable. Even if you write a 10,000 page book mean to be read over 10-years, you will still have novices who’ve read the first few hundred pages who “know enough to be dangerous”. The problem is not in the learning materials, is in people’s poor ability to evaluate themselves, especially when they are novices. The solution to this problem is external evaluation. So before you allow people to write potentially dangerous code, you need to evaluate them through exams (in college), technical interviews, and supervised work.

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