a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Teach Yourself Programming in 23 Hours


#1

I see that Scott Mitchell has a new book out, Teach Yourself ASP.NET 2.0 in 24 Hours.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://blog.codinghorror.com/teach-yourself-programming-in-23-hours/

#2

So what about the “Dummies” series of books, eg. “ASP.NET 2 for Dummies”?

(I did have a look for “Brain Surgery for Dummies” but they don’t appear to do one… yet!)


#3

Fred Brooks put it best in his description of the programmer who “works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination.” Maybe Scott Guthrie learned how to do that in 24 hours, but I doubt it.


#4

7’s the key number here

I know, I love that part. It’s so insane, like the whole Dr. Evil counseling rant from Austin Powers (“Some times he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy.”)

Most of the books I read are after I’ve heard good things about the author, not necessarily the book.

I agree, but I would also expect good authors to push back hard on terrible, no-win conventions like the “learn (x) in (y) time intervals” book title meme.

http://abstrusegoose.com/249


#5

7’s the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. 7 doors. 7, man, that’s the number. 7 chipmunks twirlin’ on a branch, eatin’ lots of sunflowers on my uncle’s ranch. You know that old children’s tale from the sea. It’s like you’re dreamin’ about Gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly Brie time, baby. Step into my office.


#6

When I first started programming I got one of those books. That title was just so tempting, how could I go wrong?

What a difference 8 years makes!

I think the publisher should be forced to change the title to “Get a vague understanding of [YOUR TEXT HERE] in 24 hours”.

Not as catchy and it will not dupe the uninitiated but then that is what we would hope.


#7

“7’s the key number here. Think about it. 7-Elevens. 7 doors. 7, man, that’s the number. 7 chipmunks twirlin’ on a branch, eatin’ lots of sunflowers on my uncle’s ranch. You know that old children’s tale from the sea. It’s like you’re dreamin’ about Gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly Brie time, baby. Step into my office.”

why?

Cuz your f***ing fired!

Man, now I have to go home and watch that movie. Generally I avoid those books as well, but I’d recommend a Scott Mitchell book to anyone.

It all comes down to the author. If you’re uneasy about a book, check out the author’s blog (everyone has one, right?). Most of the books I read are after I’ve heard good things about the author, not necessarily the book.


#8

Huh. That sounds great.

Unless someone else comes out with Teach Yourself ASP.NET 2.0 in 22 Hours.


#9

I personally like the HeadFirst series.

I agree, with some caveats:

http://blog.codinghorror.com/head-first-design-patterns/

Also, Tim O’Reilly said (in blog comments, somewhere, I can’t recall where… I think that DHH Ruby dude’s blog) that the Head First is nearly impossible to scale because the format is so uniquely tied to the authors. Not that that’s a bad thing, just an observation.


#10

Ha! I’m writing a book called “Learn ASP.NET in -infinity Hours”.

Take that!


#11

Perhaps these books are referring to hours on Venus, which last ten Earth days. So twenty four hours is around 224.7 Earth days. You could get a pretty good grasp of ASP.NET in 224.7 earth days assuming around the clock reading and studying.

I personally like the HeadFirst series. They don’t attempt to dumb it down too much, but do realize that people learn better when the writing does not put them to sleep. Osmosis is no way to learn.


#12

I used to say “Years at university saved me hours at the library”. q;-)


#13

The funniest part about these “X Hours” books is that they generally do nothing more than introduce the syntax of the very core commands. I imagine with this ASP.net book they’ll do most of it without even mentioning the concept of a CodeBehind, defining and using custom classes, overriding methods, or any of the truly fun stuff ASP.NET/VB has to offer. Again, I think it’ll be a basic syntax of “This is how you do if statements and for/while loops. This is how to make a DataGrid work.” and the like, without getting into the deeper capabilities that would truly enable someone to be proficient at VB.net.

I started with VB.net a little over 2 years ago and there are still times when I run into something I want to do that I say “Hell, I don’t know what command to use to do this.” and off to Google I go. The mere thought that a true capability to program a well-designed, fully-functioning VB.net program can the attained in 24 hours is nothing but a ludacris marketing gimmick to try to trick unsuspecting innocents into thinking they’re really learning something more than just syntax.


#14

I actually saw a “Sex For Dummies” book at Borders the other day

Yes, this is old news. I saw this book on the bookshelf of a Canadian friend of mine years ago, and I asked him about it. He said-- and this is a direct quote-- “We have two copies. My wife had one before I married her.”

He’s a funny guy, but he wasn’t making a joke. They actually owned two copies.

Of course I never let him live this down. But what the hell does he know. He’s Canadian.

Michelle LalaLongname Bustamante

(yelled at top volume in the loud, rough voice of a late 19th century Mexican Federale)
BUUUUUSTAMMMMANNNTEEE!


#15

foobar - i think that sounds great…
until someone comes out with a book called “Learn ASP.NET 2.0 in -(infinity + 1) Hours”.


#16

How about a Sarbanes-Oxley For Dummies? And as the author’s bio proudly reports – she’s also “the author of two For Dummies technology titles”. Geez.

The book does get good reviews on Amazon but geez can’t we get beyond this stupid “Dummies” tag…?


#18

I personally dislike the entire idea of the books indication how long time it takes to learn task “bla”. It gives me the feeling that it’s a quick introduction and nothing more, i’d be much happier with a tittle that discribed what you actually would learn from the book


#20

Hi Jeff. I was going to respond here in the comments, but decided to go ahead and put it on my blog instead (since it got a tad bit long).

http://scottonwriting.net/sowblog/archive/2006/04/06/163161.aspx


#21

Jeff,
Love the title…I have to admit I was hoping you were really going to teach me .NET in 23 hours. Damn.
I have to admit the “in 24 hours” hold appeal for me not because I belive the claim, but because I know that it’s a good entry-point (as stated earlier).

I’ve been frustrated trying to learn .NET so far because writers either think you’ve been living in MS land for a long time (and are just upgrading) or text is so buried in .NET marketinese, that true content is a pain to extract. When a claim like “in 24 hours” is made, I am fairly assured that they will at least try to pack a lot of info into a short book.


#22

One of my coworkers, Alan, put together a book cover for my new book-- check it out: