decades as a self-taught programmer, there were so many things I didn't know

I decided to change that in 2014 and I spent a year studying the fundamentals. Then I wrote some books about:

  • Data Structures , Algorithms and Big-O 
  • Computation and Machines (Turing, Push Down, etc)
  • Complexity Theory
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    Lambda Calculus
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    Programming Patterns and Principles
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    Functional Programming Basics
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    Essential Unix Skills
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    Binary, Bitwise and Logical Operations
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    Encryption and Hashing
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    Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

Staying silent when the conversation goes over your head sucks. You've got this.

DON’T HAVE A CS DEGREE? NEITHER DO I! That’s why I wrote these books: to fill the gaps in my career. The result? Two volumes and 700+ pages of essentials skills and ideas every developer should know.

I'm a self-taught developer, and for most of my career, I've learned what was required to get the job done. When conversations veered toward core concepts, I disengaged.

I decided to change all of this in 2014. I looked up all of the topics that a typical CS degree covers and then I dove in. Halfway through, I decided to write a book about what I was learning.

"Such a great book..."

I really recommend Rob Conery's "The Imposter's Handbook" as a great way to reinforce those fundamentals and core concepts. Rob has been programming for years but without a CS degree. This book is about all the things he learned and all the gaps that got filled in while he was overwhelmed.

- Scott Hanselman

Two volumes, 700+ pages, 40 Chapters and over 3 years in the making.

I began writing these books in December, 2015 as a list of things I wanted to know more about. At first I figured it could be a series of blog posts, but I decided to push myself to go deeper and do a bit more. In August of 2016 I released the first version and it took off.

In May of 2017 I started the second volume, researching binary problems, encryption, hashing, boolean algebra and more. A year and some later, the second volume was published.

22 Code Projects which you can download from Github and follow along with.

Lots of Hand-drawn Illustrations. It’s how I learn things and I thought it would be fun to add them to the book.


The Imposter's Handbook is a great resource for *any* programmer, self-taught or otherwise.

- Chad Fowler (GM Microsoft, former CTO of Wunderlist)

It Used To Drive Me Crazy When:


Big-O Came Up In Conversation and I Would Stop Talking

I was at a conference in Las Vegas in 2009, at a social event with other speakers. Two of them started talking animatedly about a routine that was O(n^2) vs. O(n). I had no idea what they were talking about and wanted to hide.

Turns out: Big-O is actually pretty simple! We step through multiple examples, including the dreaded Fibonacci, to see how many different ways we can code the same routine, all with a different Big-O.

I Would Have Nothing to Say When Told "It's Just a Combinator"

There are certain words that make me look for an exit, and Combinator is one of them. I'm still not an expert, but after researching for a few hours I understood them well enough to code a few up in JavaScript – including the Y Combinator! 

That's what we'll do together as we learn the basics of Lambda Calculus, the mathematical blueprint from which all programming languages spring. 

I Had No Idea Which Data Structure was Needed for Breadth First Binary Tree Traversal in an Interview 

In 2014 I interviewed a friend of mine and asked a simple question: "what is the most important thing a developer should know?" His response was immediate:

"Basic algorithms and data structures. Everything we do eminates from there."

He went on to describe interviews he's conducted where the candidate had no idea how to traverse a binary tree, nor which data structures to use. I had a blank look on my face when he finished... "I'm one of those people" I said.

No longer! I bought myself a few books, watched some online videos and before I knew it, I was writing traversal routines as if I had known them for my entire career. And you know what? It's simple.

"You guys, this was so worth it! It's off da chain!"

"I am being schooled right now and it feels like good! I cannot recommend this too much for people like myself who never went to college for compsci but wishing for proper understanding of significant concepts."

- Michael Latham (via Twitter)

"Hooooo the Imposter's Handbook is so good.  It's so good..."

"...Loving learning about NP(~etc) problems!"

- Rachel Kelley

Visual Person? 

I'm a huge fan of video tutorials, and I love making them. In fact, I think I might like making these things a little bit too much!

I spent over 5 months putting these 17 videos together (~3.5 hours), fine-tuning the audio, editing the videos down to be as concise as possible. You won’t stare at bullet points on a slide for 5 minutes while I drone on, nor will you watch me fumble about trying to type while I install dependencies. Your time is valuable, and if I’ve done my job right, you’ll turn that time into knowledge. 

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    Simple and Advanced Algorithms
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    Lambda Calculus Walkthrough
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    Functional Concepts with JavaScript
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    Sorting and Graph Traversal
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    Design Pattern Walkthrough
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    Shell Scripts and Makefile Creation
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    Super Simple TDD and BDD
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    Step by Step DB Normalization

Get The Digital Version

You can purchase the books directly from us in epub, mobi or PDF format.  There is also a video companion set if you, like me, enjoy visual materia.  If you prefer a print book, you can buy that from our printing partner, Blurb Books (link below).

My exploration of Big O, Computation, Complexity Theory, Structural and Design Patterns, Database Theory and Essential Unix Skills.

Scott and I dig into Binary, Information Theory, Encryption, Hashing, RSA Keys, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain.

The 17-video set created for Season 1 of The Imposter's Handbook, meant to complement the book. Season 2 videos are in production currently and not included here.

Get both editions of the book and save yourself $11.00.

Print Person?

No problem. You can buy The Imposter's Handbook (Season 1 only, for now) from Blurb, our printing partner. Each page is printed in full color on high-grade print.  

Prepping For An Interview?

Interviewing for a position as a programmer can be intimidating as well as just a little bit infuriating. Unfortunately, that's the way it is for now. If you want a job at a big tech company, they will likely be asking you questions about Depth First Search, Stacks and Queues, and Linked Lists. Let's be positive! Learning (or relearning) these things can be great fun - so let's spend a weekend brushing up our job skills!

Get All Three for 30% Off!

You get the Mission: Interview package with basic review materials ($49) plus  The Imposter's Handbook ($30) plus the Imposter Video set ($19). You'll be covered when it comes to conceptual conversations!

Need a Complete Reboot?

If you're coming at this process from the very beginning and need to make sure you know the subject matter, this bundle is for you. You get all of the concepts in The Imposter's Handbook (both volumes), the Imposter Video Set (17 videos, over 3.5 hours of concepts) and the practice drills from MIssion:Interview. This is a lot of work - run with it!

Get All 4 For 30% Off

If you want to be sure of thing, take it all home with you.

You get the Mission: Interview package with basic review materials ($49) plus our The Imposter's Handbook ($30). You'll be covered when it comes to conceptual conversations!

What Others are Saying About These Books

We've sold over 12,000 copies of The Imposter's Handbook over the last 2 years, and people really seem to like it.


Big Machine was founded in 2015 by Rob Conery (me). Before this happened, Rob (me) made videos for Pluralsight, and before that he made videos (and wrote stuff) for himself through his company Tekpub. Rob likes to explore things - perhaps a better way of putting it is that Rob likes to break things - it's what he does best.  He wants you to be educated in your strong opinion. To care a bit more deeply about a given technology that you cling to. He wants you to love what you do. That's Big Machine.

Want To Know What We're Up To?

We're constantly creating new books and videos and, from time to time, we send out informative emails to let our customers know what's going on. 

​We send out notes maybe once a month or so, or more often if something fun is on the horizon. Hope you sign up!

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