Who's reviewing

My name is Alexander Tarnowski and I work for a Swedish company called Crisp. I started this site as a hobby project, mostly to keep track of what I read, and to document my take aways.

I'm not overly fond of writing about myself in this form, but since I've reviewed a couple of books by now, I'd like to tell the readers of this site about my technical background and experience. That way, a reader of my review can judge whether what I've written makes sense, or if I'm talking about stuff that lies outside my area of expertise.

I started playing with computers at the age of twelve by writing simple programs on a Commodore 64. In junior high I switched to QBasic, did some experimenting with Pascal, and eventually ended up doing C and x86 Assembler in DOS. At that time I tried to write games, but always got stuck writing drivers for sound cards, graphics boards, memory managers and so on. All in all, I was quite familiar with how a DOS-based computer worked, for being a teenager.

In 1999, I started studying computer science. Apart from math and the obvious computer science stuff, like algorithms and OO design, I picked up the basics of C++ and some less commercial languages like Haskell and Prolog. Although I found functional and logic-based languages interesting, I stuck with Java and Perl as my primary languages ever since. My studies ended with a master's degree polarized towards theoretical computer science and internetworking.

While finishing my master's thesis, I decided that broadening my area of expertise would be a good idea, and went for a bachelor's degree in business administration.

I've been working with software since 2000 (I was lucky enough to get a part-time position in a small IT company while studying). Since then, I've been holding on to the developer role in one form or another, but I've had projects that required working as architect, project manager, and test specialist. As a matter of fact, test automation and agile testing is what I'm mostly interested in at the moment.

In terms of operating systems I've been through DOS and Windows 3.x/95/98/ NT/2000/XP/Vista/7, while also running Linux since -96, with Slackware and now CentOS being my favorite distributions. I've set up OpenBSD-based firewalls and clinched with different versions of Solaris from time to time. I'm also ok with a newer version of Mac OS.

As for databases, I'm better at making them run in a CI environment than writing complicated nested SQL queries. I've used MySQL for a couple of years, maybe 7-8, and have similar experience with Oracle. I can install these databases and make them do what I want from a developer's and tester's point of view. Administration of clustered Oracle environments I leave to others.

I'm quite comfortable with internetworking. Through my education and general interest I've crossed paths with most of the Internet protocols, including those for routing and streaming. The same goes for IT security. Around year 2000 I worked for a security company, where I picked up the basics, and I've followed the field since then. I know about the kind of vulnerabilities you should look out for, how to set up a firewall, and what kind of things one should consider when moving to the cloud (regulatory and technical).

Throughout the years I've touched on some other fields and technologies like OpenGL, DirectX, embedded systems, and some system administration. While very, very far from being able to do magic in those fields, I have general understanding, which is nice for the bigger picture.

I'm quite familiar with agile system development and testing. Partly because of where I work, partly because that's what I've been doing for the last five years. These are areas where I can assume a coaching role.

That's it. Hope it provides some background to my reviews!


  • 2015-09-29

    It's been almost one and a half year since I reviwed a book! I've been too absorbed by Writing my own. Anyway, I'm back with Jeff Patton's relatively...
  • 2014-01-04

    New category! Performance! Reviewed The Every Computer Performance Book. Check it out!
  • 2013-09-10

    Reviewed a book that' slightly less technical, but much more fun to read. It's I.T. Confidential.
  • 2013-08-13

    Reviewed yet another book on Visual Studio 2012 and TFS. I also created a "Microsoft" category and moved the other TFS book there from the "Tools"...
  • 2013-08-05

    Updated the FAQ. Included information about getting a book reviewed.