how software works

The True Story of Random Numbers

My latest book, How Software Works, covers a lot of the most interesting secrets behind the software we use every day. Even so, there were a lot of cool topics that I wasn't able to include. So I've decided to "showcase" my "animation skills" (have I downplayed that enough?) by making videos to cover them instead. The first of these is about random numbers. Few people know how many types of programs depend upon random numbers—or that it's impossible for a program to create them. Sound like a paradox?

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Coming Soon: How Software Works

HSW CoverI'm  excited to announce that the imminent release of my new book, How Software Works. Whereas Think Like a Programmer was written for programmers-to-be, How Software Works is for everyone who is curious about what goes on behind a computer screen, whether they have any interest in programming or not.

I suppose I've been interested in technology my whole life, but one thing that's a little unfortunate about the dominance of software is that you can't learn how it works by watching it. When I was a boy, I used to love playing records on my parent's big console stereo, which had an automatic record changer. I remember once my dad had the panel off to fix it, and then I could get an idea of what it was actually doing. Taking the case off a computer, though, doesn't help you understand what it's doing at all.

So my fear was that we're heading into a world where many of the tools we rely on are just "black boxes" we'll have to accept and not understand. And that's sad, not just because we shouldn't have to live in a world we can't comprehend, but also because the secrets that make software go are really cool--maybe even cooler than the mechanism of an automatic record changer.

I've made a little overview video...check it out:

I'll talk more about the book as we get closer to release. I should point out that you can actually buy the book now under my publisher's early access program. You'll get a discount, and be sent the "beta" version of the e-text now, then get the final e-text and a printed copy when they are ready.

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