Recommended Books

 "Smart people learn from their experiences but smarter people also learn from the experience of others."

A business consists of more than just technology. Below are books that have helped me gain a greater appreciation for those other things.

Finance

A book about why stock prices in the short term are random and no one can predict the future. Better to invest in index funds with their low fees than pay high fees for managed funds that rarely out perform index funds over time.
In depth book on value investing.
The book really excels at showing the relationships between the income, balance and cash flow statements. It emphasizes that you need to know the relationships between the three statements to grasp the health of a business.
Learn how to record accounting transactions as this book takes you through common business activities. Helps in learning how money flows through a business.
Design

This book explains how to create more visually appealing business cards, flyers, newsletters, and brochures. It explains the different types of fonts and why you should care. Remember CRAP: contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity.
Users don't read web pages—they kind of stumble through them until they find what they want. Rather than read, users just try clicking on something because it is usually faster and they can always use the back button to make another choice. The important thing emphasized is to use solid design principles and do usability testing often. Usability will catch things you never thought were issues and put to rest all those useless religious debates about whether to use a pull down menu, popup menu, or a bright neon custom coded menu crafted by an over ambitious programmer over the weekend who once took a design course in college and heard his professor say to always use bright colors.
Ever think about the design of doors, phones, or simple objects. This book covers it. Also has a section on software.
Writing

Talks about the importance of the lead, using active verbs, eliminating unnecessary words, using the human element, and avoiding exaggeration.  
Software Management

Bring back the quiet office space where people can work with less interruptions and get into the flow more often. Know the real cost of high turnover, long overtime, and unrealistic schedules.
Adding more people to a late software project makes it later.
Measuring the performance of employees often leads to employees optimizing for those measurements while starving other tasks. This leads to what the book calls dysfunction which occurs when the intended goal—which the measurement is intended to make happen—is not met.
No matter what they tell you it's always a people problem.
Marketing

A nice book about marketing laws. This will give you a better idea of what those guys on the top floor of your company worry about all day.
Presents five distinct user groups: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. Each group presents unique marketing challenges. The book presents ways to win over each group and most importantly how to cross the chasm that exists between groups including the biggest chasm between the Early Adopters and Early Majority.
Digs deep into how humans behave and think. Covers things such as: law of scarcity, good cop/bad cop, reciprocity, and the contrast principle.  
Bigger companies can be slow to react to new innovation because the market is initially small. If the market grows, its customers began to embrace the new technology and if the company is slow to move it may go out of business. Surprisingly, many big companies go out of business this way.

Business Tech

The hacker ethic started at MIT's Tech Model Railroad Club in the late 50's and then progressed into computers and hacking phone lines into the 60's and 70's. The Hacker ethic believes all information is free and open. After MIT, the book turns to Northern California in the mid 70's with the Homebrew club where Steve Wozniak got his chops.
This book is about the businesses that grew out of seemingly nothing in the late 70's and 80's. Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore from Fairchild Semiconductor who started Intel. Gary Kildall's CP/M OS at Digital Research. Dan Bricklin and VisiCalc. Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Rise of the IBM PC. How Gates grabbed the IBM OS contract from right under Gary Kildall's nose. Mitch Kapor and the rise of Lotus 1-2-3. Steve Jobs at Apple. John Warnock and Adobe Systems. It's all here.
You can say what you want about the guy but you can't say he doesn't work hard. Reading this book made me realize how hard Bill has worked in his life. He started programming in middle school and used to sneak out of the house to go program in the middle of the night. His business smarts are just as impressive.
Tinkering with computers in Finland he picked up the book Operating Systems: Design and Implementation by Andrew S. Tanenbaum and started playing around with Minix—which is what the book examples are based on—and found out he didn't like some limitations with it. The first thing he didn't like was the terminal emulation so he wrote his own by bypassing the Minix OS. Then he wanted to upload and download things using his terminal emulator so he needed to write a disk driver and file system driver. He did that and on it went. 
A story about Data General's design of a 32 bit minicomputer.
Needing money to pay the bills while in college, Marc Andreessen got a job at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the Univeristy of Illinois. There he became familiar with navigating the web, which at that time meant using a barrage of UNIX commands to get around. He became familiar with HTTP and HTML and used early browsers like the Midas browser from Standford. He and fellow NCSA worker Eric Bina thought they could do a better browser and created Mosaic and then Netscape.
Good book about the creation of Windows NT with Dave Cutler at the controls. 
Intuit was started with the goal that printing a check should be faster than writing one with a pen.
Written by a writer who was hired by Amazon to write book reviews. 
Reading this book made me realize how spectacular Google's growth was. I first used the search engine in the spring of 1999 at the suggestion of a fellow computer science major when I was in college. At that time Google had 10 employees and were still working out of a rented house. They didn't have a business model and were not profitable. They got a big hint from GoTo (later changed name to Overture) who pioneered the pay per click model. Enter AdWords and the rest is history.
I am amazed that PayPal even made it. It started out as a way to literally beam money between Palm Pilots. They set up a website where you could add money. Nothing much was happening until a user asked permission to use their logo in their auction. Users of eBay were starting to use PayPal as a way to get payed much to their surprise. They changed their focus and had to fend off eBay, who tried to kill them multiple times and even created their own pay system. Eventually eBay gave up and bought them.
A book about Go Corporation that started the pen computing revolution that never really caught on. Battles with Microsoft and Apple. Talks with IBM. Good business stories. 
A book following Mitch Kapor's Chandler project. The product never really got off the ground and was plagued by complexity. Good insights into the development process and just how complicated software can be.
History

In 1532, a handful of Spanish invaders lead by Francisco Pizarro walked into the Incan empire—15 million strong—and with a dazzling display of shock and awe, of which their guns played a primary role, captured the Incan king Atahualpa and with it the Incan fighting spirit. So intimidating where the horses and armor of the Spaniards to the Incas that it took months before they had the courage to organize an attack. Well written book.
It is amazing that we went from no understanding of the atom in 1900 to the atomic bomb in 1945. This period was marked by huge leaps in scientific understanding fueled by the openness of the scientific world community. It turns out the real secret to building the bomb was not the ingredients—Uranium 235 and Plutonium—which were widely known but rather the manufacturing might required to extract them. It took a huge amount of energy and engineering know how to get the job done. Some key scientific figures fleeing to the US helped greatly as well.
John Roebling left Germany in 1831 citing less personal freedom and high bureaucracy; no place for one with ambition. He first made his mark building a suspension aqueduct for the Pennsylvania Canal in record time and then built four more. Then came the Allegheny River Bridge and the Niagara Bridge that put him among the great bridge designers of his day. He wouldn't live to see the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge.  His son, William, finished the bridge after his death. Good lessons on how to communicate technical matters to nontechnical stake holders.
It is easy to forget how vital oil is to the prosperity of any nation. Factories, ships, planes, and the distribution of goods all depend on oil. Germany lost WWII not because of its lack to make more planes and tanks but because it ran out of oil to power them. Oil is the spark that fuels economies. But as badly as we need oil, the oil producers equally depend on consumers to sustain their economies. This book details the complex relationships between consuming nations and producing nations. Like most things in life, there are two sides to any negotiation.
The hardest part of building the canal was not the immense digging but the mosquitoes that killed the workers. The French made the first attempt to dig the canal but failed largely because of malaria and yellow fever. The United States succeeded where the French failed thanks to William Gorgas who linked the deadly diseases to mosquitoes. After the work zone in Panama became disease free, the resources and engineering knowledge of the United States made the Panama canal a success.
The revolution didn’t start out good. If there was a way to beat the British the Americans couldn’t find it. Washington’s Continental Army was driven from New York all the way through New Jersey to just across the Delaware river opposite Trenton. The moral of the country was wavering with more loyalists joining the British cause. Washington was having a hard time getting people to fight. All that changed with a daring attack on Trenton in the early morning hours of December 26th 1776.

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About Me

I am a Principal Engineer with 13 years experience developing and releasing software products. I started developing in C/C++ then moved into .NET and C# and have tech lead multiple projects. I have developed products in Windows Forms, ASP.NET/MVC, Silverlight, and WPF. I currently reside in Austin, Texas.

Own Projects

Pickaxe - An easy to use web page scraper. If you know a little SQL and how basic CSS selectors work, no web scraping product will be easier to use.

Download Page

Source Code

Created ASP.NET MVC forum originally targeting home owner associations but now in use by an investor group.

http://vtss.brockreeve.com

A language for querying PGATour golf strokes.

http://pga.brockreeve.com/

Real time bidder for car ads demo

http://cargawk.com/

Simple front end tic tac toe

http://tictac.brockreeve.com/

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