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Joel on Software

2000/03/18

by Joel Spolsky
Saturday, March 18, 2000

More on sabbaticals... - my first article! A bit about what I'm doing on sabbatical and why programmers need to take a year off every now and then.

Coming soon: a discussion of management styles in high-brainpower places. Silicon Valley has a very different style than New York, and frankly, New York's style is going to destroy a lot of good companies.

Jared and I both just read Charles Ferguson's brilliant book, High St@kes, No Prisoners. This is the story of how he founded Vermeer Software (which created FrontPage) and sold it to Microsoft. As Jared says, "you can really feel his intelligence coming off the page." Ferguson is really, really smart, and he really, really understands the software industry in a way that I've never seen in one of these books. He's the only one who really understood how badly Netscape was being run; he's the only one who's willing to say that technical companies run by non-technical CEOs are a disaster waiting to happen; and he just GETS IT. Anyway, even though he had a terribly tense time creating a company, reading this book really made me want to start one myself!

I also loved Jon Katz's book Geeks. Most of the geeks I've known are middle class nerdy kids who got great grades and went on to ivy league colleges where they were appreciated for their nerdiness, but I also know quite a few people who's lives are surprisingly close to the heros of this book.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

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I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Trello and Fog Creek Software, and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

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