The Year Without Pants; Book Review

The Year Without Pants; Book Review


I debated whether to review this book or not.  But I have read the whole book, and I can tell you that it is a great book.  The internet has changed the terms of work for many, and for many programmers they can work where they like.

The author has written many books, and he was invited by WordPress to be a leader of a team inside WordPress.  This tale describes how a guy who used to work for Microsoft could succeed in an unstructured environment like WordPress.

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During his tenure, his team created great products for users, like Jetpack, and a consistent comment system.

The title of the book stems from the idea  that bloggers write in their pajamas — they don’t wear pants.  But WordPress powers over 20% of the websites of the internet.  It is a quiet and significant power over the internet.

The book deals with the culture of WordPress, the challenges of offering software versus offering a website, and more.  The creation of Jetpack, and a new comments system occupy a large portion of the book.

Only non-local businesses can benefit from this book.  Most businesses require people to be together regularly.  The book overstates that it is the future of work.  Being local is a big thing, particularly when services are personal, or when transport costs are high.


There are a few grammar errors in the book; it could have used a better editor.  Was there an editor?

Who would benefit from this book: Anyone trying to understand how to manage a dispersed workforce would benefit from this book.  If you want to, you can buy it here: The Year Without Pants.

Full disclosure: The publisher sent me the book after asking me if I wanted it.

If you enter Amazon through my site, and you buy anything, I get a small commission.  This is my main source of blog revenue.  I prefer this to a “tip jar” because I want you to get something you want, rather than merely giving me a tip.  Book reviews take time, particularly with the reading, which most book reviewers don’t do in full, and I typically do. (When I don’t, I mention that I scanned the book.  Also, I never use the data that the PR flacks send out.)

Most people buying at Amazon do not enter via a referring website.  Thus Amazon builds an extra 1-3% into the prices to all buyers to compensate for the commissions given to the minority that come through referring sites.  Whether you buy at Amazon directly or enter via my site, your prices don’t change.


By David Merkel, CFA of Aleph Blog

David J. Merkel, CFA, FSA — 2010-present, I am working on setting up my own equity asset management shop, tentatively called Aleph Investments. It is possible that I might do a joint venture with someone else if we can do more together than separately. From 2008-2010, I was the Chief Economist and Director of Research of Finacorp Securities. I did a many things for Finacorp, mainly research and analysis on a wide variety of fixed income and equity securities, and trading strategies. Until 2007, I was a senior investment analyst at Hovde Capital, responsible for analysis and valuation of investment opportunities for the FIP funds, particularly of companies in the insurance industry. I also managed the internal profit sharing and charitable endowment monies of the firm. From 2003-2007, I was a leading commentator at the investment website Back in 2003, after several years of correspondence, James Cramer invited me to write for the site, and I wrote for RealMoney on equity and bond portfolio management, macroeconomics, derivatives, quantitative strategies, insurance issues, corporate governance, etc. My specialty is looking at the interlinkages in the markets in order to understand individual markets better. I no longer contribute to RealMoney; I scaled it back because my work duties have gotten larger, and I began this blog to develop a distinct voice with a wider distribution. After three-plus year of operation, I believe I have achieved that. Prior to joining Hovde in 2003, I managed corporate bonds for Dwight Asset Management. In 1998, I joined the Mount Washington Investment Group as the Mortgage Bond and Asset Liability manager after working with Provident Mutual, AIG and Pacific Standard Life. My background as a life actuary has given me a different perspective on investing. How do you earn money without taking undue risk? How do you convey ideas about investing while showing a proper level of uncertainty on the likelihood of success? How do the various markets fit together, telling us us a broader story than any single piece? These are the themes that I will deal with in this blog. I hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In my spare time, I take care of our eight children with my wonderful wife Ruth.
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