Tips from the top: cracking Christmas and New-Year books

Experts and pundits weigh in

Lipner seconded McGraw on The New School of Information Security. "It presents a new and different way of thinking about information security threats and ways of countering them," he said. "In a time when security threats are real and incidents are becoming more serious, it's really important to think analytically about security investments, and The New School provides an interesting perspective on doing this. It's very readable and definitely takes on some long-standing assumptions about information security."

Miko Matsumura is well known among Java jocks as Sun's original Java evangelist. In recent years, he's gained notoriety in service-oriented architecture circles as the co-creator of The Middleware Company's SOA Blueprints, the first complete, vendor-neutral specification of an SOA application set. He coined the term "intentional SOA," and his paper, Intentional SOA for Real-World SOA Builders, outlines practices and principles that ensure the business value of SOA. His latest book is SOA Adoption for Dummies, is a free e-book sponsored by Software AG.

Matsumura recommended The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. "It's an engaging read and pretty timely, given the current recessionary crash," Matsumura said. "It's a book about how the human brain is not tuned to see emerging phenomena, and how history is written after the fact".

Also on the list: The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, by Richard Dawkins. "It's a fascinating book that shows all of the evolutionary 'branch points' (40 in total) between the beginnings of life on earth to the branch that ended up as human," he said.

"It's a tour de force, and one that sheds a lot of light on our evolutionary history and the pattern architecture driven by evolution. Information systems on a large scale are evolving systems, so this should be interesting reading for anyone working on extremely large-scale heterogeneous systems, particularly ones with some lengthy history."

Jeffrey S. Hammond is a senior industry analyst at Forrester, but we can forgive that as he's also an inveterate coder, a former PowerBuilder developer, and also a language geek. Hammond's latest obsession is Ruby. He recommended three books for us.

For the Web/RIA developer: Enterprise AJAX: Strategies for Building High Performance Web Applications, by David Johnson, Alexei White and Andre Charland. Why? It delivers "good nuts and bolts discussions of the practical and performance considerations developers face when they are trying to build RIAs," Hammond said.

For the .NET developers, he offered: Software Engineering with Microsoft Visual Studio Team System, by Sam Guckenheimer. "A solid practical ALM how-to manual for .NET shops."

And for developers at ISVs: Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant, by W.Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. "As the world is remade by a recessionary economy and continued penetration of open source software, it's helpful to have a framework to think about how to evolve the software products you're trying to build," he said.

Security maven Brian Chess is co-founder and chief scientist at Fortify Software. His latest book is Secure Programming with Static Analysis, written with Jacob West. Chess is another fan of, The Black Swan. "Looking at yesterday is a bad way to predict tomorrow," he said. "Taleb focuses on the financial world, but his lessons apply just as well (if not better) to the digital realm. When you're finished reading it, you'll have an excellent appreciation for how silly most practitioners of 'risk management' really are."

For fiction heads, Chess plugged Alive in Necropolis, by Doug Dorst. "It's a ghost story set in northern California," he said. "The writing sparkles. Dorst describes my part of the world better than I ever could. Not a tech book, but how can you really understand tech without knowing about its birthplace?" ®

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