- Try to teach myself Chinese by reading my brother-in-law's Chinese version of "Effective Java"
- Watch Chinese soap operas on TV
- Cruise the net!
Well, if you're reading this you've figured out which of the above options I chose. Because reading news articles and technical articles gets tiring after a few hours, I decided to look for something a little more meaty. I found it in The Art of Unix Programming by Eric Raymond, which is available to read online.
The book is really interesting and has many insights that I wasn't familiar with, which is unusual, since most books on computers tend to hit 80% of the same well-trodden topics and stories.
The book is pretty hostile to Microsoft (in a very one-sided manner) which may be a turn-off to some readers, but I guess I just look at it as the artistic license of a true believer.
One part that I've found particularly interesting is the write-up on the Unix maxim that "silence is golden"; i.e. if your program doesn't have anything interesting to say, then don't say anything. This was one of the "features" of Unix that really caused me problems when I first started programming at Penn State University. I never knew what the hell was going on because the command-prompt would say nothing, whether I simply moved a file or accidently overwrote a programming assignment due the next day (which is funny ... in hindsight). Reading Raymond's arguments, I think that the "silence is golden" rule holds up somewhat better in a command-line world than in a GUI world. In a GUI world there are many subtle mechanisms to provide feedback without being obtrusive about it.
On a related personal note, my technically-proficient wife sometimes calls me "Mr. Unix" because I occaisionally forget to provide re-assuring "uh huh"s to statements she makes that I don't disagree with.
PS - I would personally pay $100 to watch Raymond and Donald Norman debate the merits of software providing constant feedback to the user. But perhaps "celebrity deathmatch" would provide a more appropriate forum.