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The idea that you need a CS degree to be a good programmer is Bullsh*t. Being Self-Taught is your super power

As a self-taught developer it's 1000 times easier for you to learn core CS concepts then it is for a CS grad to figure out how to ship something. Your self doubt is your kryptonite. Let's fix that.

If you're just doing your job you're being overlooked and ignored

Take a look around your office, online, or wherever you work with other programmers. Did you know that 20% of these people are planning to leave their job this year and get a higher paying one because they have skills that are ridiculously in demand? The other 80% get to stay behind in a crappy job earning far less than they should be.

What's the difference between the 20% and the 80%? The 20% speak up and demand to be paid what they think they're worth.

What do you think you're worth? It's probably a lot more than you think.

It's best if you don't cause problems. Thank you.

Here's the thing: great programmers are a rare find - mostly because they stay hidden in crappy jobs, burying their talent under a belief that everyone is better than them, not recognizing just how valuable they are. Burnout sets in, self-esteem drops and they give up entirely.

The demand for talent in our industry is off the charts! Filling that demand is the problem. There's simply too much mediocrity.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

You've probably heard of this phenomenon: people with low ability at a task or a job overestimate their skills at said task or job. Put another way: the worst programmers are the most confident and believe they're amazing

The opposite is also true: the best performers underestimate their skill because they're good people and don’t like to shine the light on themselves. That means they don’t speak up for themselves, lose their voice, and don’t get the recognition they deserve.

This is the problem: you stay silent while your loud, toxic coworker gets the promotion and you end up working for them.

We can change this, all it takes is a weekend.

In 2014 I published a book directly aimed at self-taught programmers (of which I am one). The goal: walk them through the concepts and skills they need to regain their professional confidence. That’s it!

It’s called The Imposter’s Handbook - named because I felt like a massive programming imposter - and is almost 900 pages full of theory, practical skills, programming principles and more.

I taught myself how to create solid, compelling software applications over the years as well as open source libraries that people loved. Why couldn't I apply the same rigor to teaching myself the stuff that goes into a CS degree?

I had been doing this stuff for over 15 years, getting paid pretty well too! Yet I would constantly find myself in a room with people I felt were 100000 times smarter than me. How was it possible I had absolute NO IDEA what they were talking about? Didn't we do the same things? Did it matter that I didn't know? How was I even in the same industry as these people?

I felt like a massive imposter. So in 2014 I investigated what went into a CS degree and dug in...

Feeling like you don't belong somewhere and that you're fooling everyone is called Imposter Syndrome and is a very real problem that can disable your career and foster toxic relationships with your colleagues. It is possible to overcome this feeling by taking time for yourself and filling the gaps in your knowledge.

Introducing The Imposter's Handbook

I spent years teaching myself the subjects that go into a Computer Science degree. I looked at the curriculum for Stanford and MIT (and a few others) and dove in. Computation, Complexity Theory, Encryption, Blockchain, Algorithms and Data Structures, Lambda Calculus and more. I wrote it down and decided to share it all.

Instead of a wall of theoretical text, I did my best to make them as human as possible, with hand-drawn sketches of complex topics that took me days (and sometimes months) to figure out. I wanted to write a technical book for humans that would convey the magic of our industry.

Now In It's Second Edition!

I have continually updated The Imposter's Handbook seasons over the years, and recently I decided to combine both seasons into a single, coherent resource. That's the Second Edition - over 900 pages of glorious CompSci goodness - and it's all yours.

I love these books!

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


Chad Fowler

Such a great resource...

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

Data Structures, Algorithms and Big-O

People typically think of this as "the stuff you learn when you're about to interview" which is true, but there's so much more to it! Graph traversals can save you so much time if you know how to plug them in and using the right storage type in Redis can make or break your application!

Computation, Complexity and Machines

What exactly is a Turing Machine and why do we even care? I remember talking to a friend about debugging JavaScript and they made a quip about writing bug-free code and The Halting Problem. I asked if that was a movie, but it turns out it's a foundational concept in machine computation!

Lambda Calculus

You ever wonder where programming languages got their start? What did the very first programming language even look like? Turns out that Alonzo Church came up with the blueprint before computers were even invented...

Patterns and principles

We've all heard of the Gang of Four and other names that get thrown around when we're accused of violating some Grand Principle of Whatever... but ... what are those principles, who made them and why should you even care?

databases and relational theory

I love databases and organizing information but for years I just winged it, organizing my database tables and collections by the seat of my pants and what I thought made sense. Then I learned how to do it right by studying a relational theory and getting to know what CAP meant...

essential tools and skills

I used to make fun of my colleagues that used shell scripts for everything ... until of course they were headed out the door hours before I was. They always seemed to know a simpler way of solving a problem...

binary, bitwise and logic

One thing I managed to avoid for most of my career was a discussion about anything binary or bitwise. XOR? Sure, whatever. I remember everyone laughing at a joke where the punchline had to do with "bit-shifting" and... I had no idea what was happening. No longer...

compression, encoding, error correction

Who decides how text is transformed into binary and then back again? Why is one file bigger than another and what does "LOSSLESS" even mean? In this section you'll writ your own encoder and then your own compression algorithm. You'll even know why you're doing it and the fundamental theories behind it!

encryption and hashing

Wow if there was one topic I knew nothing about it was encryption. So much math, so much... I really don't care which should I use MD5 or blowfish? How do hashes work and how can they be so small? Why is an RSA key secure? Such a great story...

They say

HOOOOO THE IMPOSTER'S HANDBOOK IS SO GOOD. IT'S SO GOOD... ...Loving learning about NP(~etc) problems!

Rachel Kelly


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

The best compsci book you will ever read... Telling every dev I know to buy a copy. You really killed it @robconery!

Justin Etheredge

This process doesn't need to be a chore. In fact it's incredibly rewarding

You might never use a functional language, but it's a good idea to understand the core principles. You might hate JavaScript, but understanding the elegant simplicity of the language will lessen that disdain and allow you to work with it happily when you need to. And you will need to, someday.

Knowledge decreases anxiety. Less anxiety makes you a more pleasant person to work with as well as reliable and effective.

I joined a project a few months back and learning Go was a prerequisite. I had never used Go, but I understand software patterns and general language design in large part due to making these videos and writing the books I've written.

I was able to spend a week looking over implementation patterns and unit tests as well as idioms brought in from other languages like C# and JavaScript (which I do know) - and in a very short time I was able to contribute something meaningful.

I love the process of learning and the only thing I like more is writing. I'm good at it! My goal with this book is to make it as human and fun as possible - not dry and boring like most tech tutorials. I did my own doodles and tried to make the experience seem like you and I were in a pub, talking shop.

Nail the interview, Get the job that's waiting for you

If you're studying up for an interview you need all the help you can get! With this package you get the second edition plus 5.5 hours of interview preparation from our Coding Interview Bootcamp production, from solving practice problems by hand to strategies for what to do when you lockup. In addition you get over 6 hours (34 videos) from our Imposter Video Bundle. You'll be set!

All in: book and video set

With this package you get the second edition of The Imposter's Handbook in ePub (open standard for iOS and other digital readers), mobi (for Kindle) and PDF, covering topics from Computational Theory to Lambda Calculus to Encoding and Hashing and Cryptography. In addition you get 32 video walkthroughs that enhance and extend the books, offering concise, tightly edited visual walkthroughs of some of the tougher concepts. I also added additional examples (such as how to create a one-time pad).

the Book And intro videos

You get the second edition of The Imposter's Handbook in ePub (open standard for iOS and other digital readers), mobi (for Kindle) and PDF. You'll read about Complexity Theory, dive into Binary problems and brush up on your Unix skills. You'll also receive all updates to this edition. NEW: for a limited time I'm also throwing in the Data Structures and Algorithms video set - 11 videos that dig in to the concepts in the book (a $30 value) AND 10 videos on how to set yourself up as a solo contractor ($30 too).


Will I get updates?

You will get every update to the books and videos, yes. If you ever lose access to the book you can always come back here to our downloads page and get a copy sent to you.

What's your refund policy?

If you don't like the book, no problem at all. I might ask how I can improve it, but otherwise your money will be refunded.

What if I find a problem?

You very well might! The book has been out for a long, long time but if you find a problem just let me know and I'll be sure to update as needed.

Should I get the videos?

I'm a visual person and I love watching well-made videos, so I would say "yes" if that's you too. There are 34 of them - over 6 hours - that build on what's in the book.

Is the book DRM protected?

Nope. You get EPUB or PDF and you can read however you like. All I ask is that you don't share - there was a staggering amount of work that went in this thing!

Will the book and videos help with interviews?

Ohhhh yes. In fact that's one of the main themes throughout - how to deal in an interview setting. The questions can be silly, but that's OK the jobs are rad.