Staying silent when the conversation goes over your head sucks. Let's change that.
Engage with your peers and make yourself a stronger job candidate!
Don't have a CS degree and feel like you should?
Hey I don't have one either and I always managed to get the job done anyway... then again...
This industry changes so quickly - frameworks come and go as do idealogies and "best practices" for a given language or framework. How could anyone claim they knew "the best way"?
We're all figuring this out right now was what I always believed. Turns out I didn't know what I didn't know.
None of it mattered anyway - I had a job to do! And I did that job and my clients were happy. I created open source libraries, helped people and I even got a job at Microsoft - all the time believing I could learn what I needed to learn to get the job done.
If only I could have understood how much more there was to know...
I go to conferences every year and I meet some incredibly talented people and one year I sat in a room with a small group of attendees and speakers and the topic of Big-O came up. I just sat and listened. I had absolutely no idea what it was they were going on about...
The discussion got animated. Someone mentioned graphs, another said something about Bin Packing and depth-first traversal of an optimization problem...
I had been doing this stuff for over 15 years - how was it possible I had absolute NO IDEA what they were talking about.
This had to change. I needed to change this for myself.
So I did.
The result? The Imposter's Handbook
I spent 4 months of 2014 and 7 months of 2015 and then another full year in 2018 studying all of 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...
Writing these books and has changed my career and my entire outlook on my profession, and I decided to share them with you. Instead of a wall of theoretical text, however, 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.
Here's What You're About To Learn...
You'll get both volumes of The Imposter's Handbook, each covering the core concepts and skills that every developer in our industry should know. At the end you will be a better programmer, understanding problems at a deeper level and (most importantly) understanding what you shouldn't be trying to do... and why!
A Rich History
Our industry didn't just happen in the 80s and 90s; some very clever thinkers laid the foundation that built out careers - some of them well over 100 years ago. For instance: did you know that Ada Lovelace is considered the very first programmer? Do you know why? It's a fascinating story...
Essential Skills for Interviewing
Most programmers hate technical interviews, and it's easy to understand why: the questions can sometimes have little to do with the job you're being interviewed for. That said, they just want to know what you know and you need a common language for that. One of algorithms, data structures and theory! Let's learn it!
Avoiding Dumb Mistakes
I cringe sometimes when I think about the problems I tried to solve in the late 1990s and early 2000s. I believed in the computer and that, with enough practice I could solve any problem if I just coded "hard enough". After getting fired from a contract in 2005, I realized that wasn't true at all.
Becoming the Hero You Are
You're a smart person. You care about your career and what you're able to provide your employer and yourself. That's why you're here isn't it? To improve yourself? I've condensed years of research into two volumes - take advantage of that. You have a unique perspective and a lot of talent... let it shine!
These books have helped a lot of people. You're next.
I was stunned when I released this book in 2015. It started as a side hobby, something I'd blog about as time allowed. Soon enough I decided that I needed to make a stronger commitment because it's OK to be wrong when you write something in your blog. Writing a book that people pay money for? You better step up your game and do your best to get it right. So I did... and it's helped a lot of people.
I LOVE THESE BOOKS!
The Imposter's Handbook is a great resource for *any* programmer, self-taught or otherwise.
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.
It's so good...
HOOOOO THE IMPOSTER'S HANDBOOK IS SO GOOD. IT'S SO GOOD...
...Loving learning about NP(~etc) problems!
With Season 1, I dove into the topics you typically cover when you earn a CS degree
Big-O, Data Structures, Algorithms
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
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 Unix and CLI 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...
With Season 2, I was joined by Scott Hanselman and we covered the topics that most interested us
Binary, Bitwise Operations, Logical Circuits
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, Information Theory
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, Hashing and RSA Keys
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...
"Just pre-ordered "The Imposter's Handbook, Season 2" by @robconery and @shanselman. I have a PolySci degree and I was headed to law school when the Internet happened, so the first edition of this was fantastic. It filled two-decade-old gaps for me."
Who am I? Well, I'm...
I've been writing and producing videos for the bulk of my career, starting in 2003 with the advent of my fun little open source .NET project, SubSonic. In 2009 I founded Tekpub.com with my friend James Avery and later that year I created the podcast This Developer's Life with my friend Scott Hanselman.
I currently work at Microsoft as a Cloud Advocate and love to create things as I can. I have a load of open source projects and like to write things about PostgreSQL too.
Written By a Human for Other Humans
Reading about Computer Science concepts can be a bit challenging. Academics construct sentences like an engineer might build a bridge and casual bloggers don't typically take more than 30 minutes to write a post and even then they forget the most crucial details.
My goal with this book was to make it a nice, long conversation where you and I wander through computer science history and get to know the concepts in our own time. I wrote, then rewrote, then rewrote AGAIN with the goal of making each chapter as straightforward and human as possible.
I also busted out my iPad Pro and doodled my heart out as drawing things helps me understand and helps me use fewer words
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"
Our bestseller in digital format (epub, Kindle and PDF)
You get both seasons in PDF, Kindle and epub (ipad/ios) formats
Season 1 in Print form (does not include Season 2 topics)
Already own the first volume and just want the second? No problem, you can get that here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will I get all the updates?
Yes. I will never create a "new edition" that you'll have to pay for. That said, this is only for the digital edition. The print version is sold by a different store (Blurb) and I don't have acces to that.
What if I find a problem?
You very well might! It's been a few years and I've worked a lot of things out, but if you find an issue, there's a link in the front of the book where you can log an issue.
Is it DRM protected?
No, I hate that. I do ask that you not share, however, this book took me a long time to write.
Can I use this for interviews?
Heck yeah! I get a lot of email from people who have let me know it helped them score a great job. All of the topics in these books directly relate to job interviews.
Will this work on my Kindle [THING]
Yes, it should. The problem is that Kindle's have a proprietary format and it's kind of guesswork as to how to get it to layout properly. I've tried a zillion methods and the recent one as of 2019 seems to work for most Kindles.
This is my life's work, literally
I have dedicated an enormous amount of time to this book, fixing, tweaking, rethinking and improving what I can, when I can. I've had so much fun on this project, and I really hope it shows. Thanks so much for dropping by and if you decided to buy it, I really do hope you enjoy it!