13 December 2010

Reviews: Debugging and Write Portable Code

Two books I bought recently were ones I expected to be easy going. They were, but I think they were still worthwhile.

Debugging: The 9 Indispensable Rules for Finding Even the Most Elusive Software and Hardware Problems by David J Agans is about, well, debugging. Anything, not just software. It’s full of war stories from many domains (including cars, houses, and Sesame Street). The rules are how to logically approach problem solving, and make sure the problem is actually solved (rule 9). Most of it is common sense, but it doesn’t hurt to see it distilled. And based on the war stories, it’s easy to get wrong. Of potential use to non-developers: there’s a chapter on applying the 9 rules from the Help Desk, when you can't observe directly.

Interestingly, one of his war stories was kind of mentioned in...

Write Portable Code by Brian Hook. I’d had some dealings with Brian when I was at GameHouse, so I knew he knew his stuff. This book too was largely review (I’ve had to deal with getting code to run on different processors and compilers), but again it’s nice to have things spelled out sometimes. And I’d never heard of compile-time asserts or #pragma STDC before. Some of it’s a bit dated (version control in particular — and it must have been written right before the Mac Intel transition), but much of it is stuff you’d still have to deal with when moving between Mac and Windows — or even Mac and iOS. (Scalability is one aspect of portability.)

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