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 a book 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

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 this book: to fill the gaps in my career. The result? 600+ 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

600+ pages, 16 Chapters and over a year in the making.

I began writing this book 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 a preview and began taking feedback on Github.

Lots. Of. Feedback.


Finally, in November of 2016, version 1.0 of the book was released. Since then I’ve pushed 3 additional versions – to me this book is alive!


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

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

"I LOVE THIS BOOK! "

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

- Chad Fowler (CTO, Wunderlist)

It Used To Drive Me Crazy When:

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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 Overhear Friends Debating the Bridge Pattern

During my .NET days I would routinely listen to podcasts, such as Hanselminutes and Herding Code. In 2011 I listened to a show where the guests were debating the utility of the Bridge Pattern, and I had no idea what it was nor how it was used. I just consigned it to cathedralized thinking and over-architected ideas.


  • I was surprised to find out that it is really useful in certain situations! I just needed to let go of my insecurity and dive in! That's exactly what we'll do using C#.
  • I Would Hear the Name "Dijkstra" and "Graph" not Understand the Context

    Programmers like to invoke Edsger Dijkstra's name when they're about to drop the knowledge on you. The man is pretty colorful and has done a lot for the industry, including creating a very clever graph traversal algorithm.

    I had no idea. I had never really considered the use of a graph for anything, really. My loss, but as it turns out, that's easily corrected. Graphs are straightforward, as is Dijkstra's algorithm, which we get to write using JavaScript.

    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

    Are You a 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

    "LOVED your imposters handbook..."

    "... so much what i’m struggling with..."

    - Linda Liukas

    "The best compsci book you will ever read..."

    " Telling every dev I know to buy a copy. You really killed it @robconery!"

    - Justin Etheredge (Cofounder, Simple Thread)

    You certainly don't need to know this stuff, but knowledge is power...

    I began writing this book 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 a preview and began taking feedback on Github.

    Lots. Of. Feedback.


    Finally, in November of 2016, version 1.0 of the book was released. Since then I’ve pushed 3 additional versions – to me this book is alive!


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

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

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    Time To Up Your Game

    You can purchase the ebook directly from us in epub, mobi or PDF format. If you're an Apple fan, you can buy it on the iBook store and have it delivered directly to your iOS device.  If you prefer a print book, you can buy that from our printing partner, Blurb Books.


    Buy both volumes of the book at a discount

    We've just put the next volume of The Imposter's Handbook on sale. Get both and save.

    I'm joined by Scott Hanselman in the next volume of The Imposter's Handbook, which we're calling Season 2. All new content in a standalone book, it's a perfect complement to the first volume.


    You can buy both and save while supporting us at the same time.

    Want to Empower Your Team?

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    You are fully protected by our 100% Satisfaction-Guarantee. If you don't get value out of this book and its videos, you get your money back.


    What Others are Saying About This Book

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

    About

    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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