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Review: Java Cookbook, 3rd ed., by Ian F. Darwin (O’Reilly) September 7, 2014

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Java Cookbook

I am not really a fan of Cookbook style books. However, by looking at the table of contents of the Java Cookbook, it’s clear that the chapters on this book run parallel to chapters in more classical technical books, e.g. the excellent Core Java books by Horstman and Cornell. While the more classical books try hard to provide a logical structure within the chapter with the needed context (a story) to master the content, cookbooks give you independent ready-to-use recipes (yeah for metaphors!). So it’s really about getting a proven solution fast than (deep) understanding. But you should get that from the title, so no surprises there.

My specific use case is simple. I want to do some Java coding soon, and needed a quick refresh on the language. While not so long ago I used Java 7 features for a private project, most of my Java coding in the past was based on Java 6. Java 8 seems to have nice improvements, so a fresh-from-the-press Java Cookbook (3rd edition, July 2014) seemed a fast way to get up to date. With 900+ pages, “fast” is of course relative. By this standard, the books delivered.

The content is *very* varied. Some chapters needed careful reading (or even re-reading), while others could be skimmed or even skipped. Recipes include (citing the product page):

  • Methods for compiling, running, and debugging
  • Manipulating, comparing, and rearranging text
  • Regular expressions for string- and pattern-matching
  • Handling numbers, dates, and times
  • Structuring data with collections, arrays, and other types
  • Object-oriented and functional programming techniques
  • Directory and filesystem operations
  • Working with graphics, audio, and video
  • GUI development, including JavaFX and handlers
  • Network programming on both client and server
  • Database access, using JPA, Hibernate, and JDBC
  • Processing JSON and XML for data storage
  • Multithreading and concurrency

As you can see, it’s a mixture of very basic and advanced stuff and that kind of thechnical width has its risks. Some recipes are too obvious and not more useful than the javadoc showing the classic usage of a standard method of a standard class (e.g. substr from String). As such, I don’t think it can replace a good book from a “Learning/Starting” series if you’re new to Java. A similar phenomenon happened on the other side of the spectrum. For more complicated subjects (like the new functional aspects in Java (lambdas), GUI development or threading) a cooking recipe just doesn’t provide enough context to really grasp the concepts. I hope the following screenshot from the book illustrates my point (and also shows what I don’t like about java):

java-io-classes

Try to put this in a recipe!

 

Despite this warning, I can say that most of the recipes are useful. By example, even the first chapter (“Getting Started: Compiling, Running, and Debugging”) was surprisingly useful because it included things like ant, maven and gradle. There is lots of content to skim (it’s OK, it’s a cookbook!), lots of interesting stuff to read, lots to use with a mental note “need to dig deeper here” and even some annoyances from time to time (I wish the author would stop pushing his own classes for trivial stuff, like removing tabs (!)).

As a conclusion we can say that if you like cookbooks, this could be a good one. If you don’t, it depends on your expectations. Mine were met, no more, no less. 3 out of 5.

 

Title: Java Cookbook, 3rd Edition
By: Ian F. Darwin
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Print: July 2014
Ebook: June 2014
Pages:898
Print ISBN: 978-1-4493-3704-9
| ISBN 10: 1-4493-3704-X
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4493-3703-2
| ISBN 10:1-4493-3703-1

Review: “Software Architecture Fundamentals Part 2. Taking a Deeper Dive” by Neal Ford and Mark Richards August 14, 2014

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Taking a Deeper DiveWell if the first video got a 5/5 rating, you can be sure that the second part deserves that as well. Although more advanced than the first part, it’s pretty obvious both videos must be considered to be one workshop. Looking a the clothing of the instructors and audience in the studio (2 people), tt’s pretty clear they were recorded on the same day :).

While the first video was more about common sense and obvious rights and wrongs (patterns and anti-patters), the second part seems to boil down to ‘it depends’. TIMTOWTDI (There is more than one way to do it) will Perl people say. By example, it was clear the instructors had a very different opinion about SOA and Continous Delivery.

Like in the first part, the chapters titles are well chosen and give a correct overview of the subjects that make up the course. The video starts with Architecture Tradeoffs (see above), followed by Continous Delivery, Abstraction and Choosing and Comparing Architecture. More applied are the chapters about Web Services and Messaging, SOA, Integrations Hubs and the continuation of Continous Delivery. More abstract where the Approaches to Enterprise Architecture, Strategies, Evolutionary Architecture and Emergent Desing.

Again,  this video delivers what it promises. Neal Ford and Mark Richards are still enthusiastic about their teaching and seem even more involved in the second part.

Again, great series. Kudos to Neal and Mark.

Software Architecture Fundamentals Part 2
Taking a Deeper Dive
By Neal Ford, Mark Richards
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Final Release Date: April 2014
Run time: 5 hours 57 minutes

 

Review: “Software Architecture Fundamentals Part 1. Understanding the Basics” by Neal Ford and Mark Richards May 5, 2014

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Concerning learning, I don’t consider myself a “visual” guy. I am pretty happy with a good book. Although I often read O’Reilly books, this is the first “full feature” video (7 hours) from the publisher watched. While I am very interested in the topic of I.T. Architecture, the idea was to give this “new” format a chance.

bktThe chapters titles are well chosen and give a correct overview of the subjects that make up the course. Starting with an introduction defining the role of architect, it goes through the more social (Architecture Soft Skills) and infrastructure role (Continuous Delivery) of the job. Some chapters are very close to the developer level (Understanding Large Codebases, Design Patterns), while others are very specific for the architect role (Architecting for Change, Architecture Patterns, Architecture Anti-Patterns). Some chapters are more geared toward Enterprise Architecture (e.g. Enterprise Architecture Concepts and Fundamentals).

I must say, this video delivers what it promises. Neal Ford and Mark Richards are good and enthusiastic speakers making it a very pleasant experience. Also the concept of a limited studio audience helps to make the format more active. Going back and forth between Soft Skills (leadership, technical depth/breadth, multi-platform skill, business domains, etc.),

Architectural Techniques (adaptability, integration, Architectural and Design Patterns, etc.). The course gradually present the basic knowledge to understand more complex enterprise architecture approaches, strategies *and* implementations. I liked it.

Software Architecture Fundamentals Part 1
Understanding the Basics
By Neal Ford, Mark Richards
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Released: March 2014
Run time: 6 hours 57 minutes
http://shop.oreilly.com/product/110000195.do

Review “Resilience and Reliability on AWS” by Jurg van Vliet, Flavia Paganelli, Jasper Geurtsen (O’Reilly) April 26, 2014

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When cloud technologies go beyond the hype, they can be very interesting. I have spent some time looking and evaluating different stacks and cloud providers. Amazon’s AWS is certainly the 800 pound gorilla of Cloud offerings. I had high expectations for a book with a title like

“Resilience and Reliability on AWS”. If you have an UNIX administration and architecture background “Resilience and Reliability’ is specially what you’re looking for (and evaluating) in cloud offerings.

Let’s start by the good part. This little book (<150 pages) is a will give you a good overview of the many components of Amazon’s cloud setup. Some information about FOSS projects is useful outside of AWS.

The bad is that while there are some tips and nice ad-hoc examples about Resilience and Reliability, this is by far not the subject of the book. You get the feeling the authors know about the principles of good and stable engineering and administration, but as a reader you don’t benefit from their experience. You’ll be a witness of their success histories, but you will not learn about the basic principles.

Besides the bad, there is also the terrible. Maybe half the pages are filled with terribly formatted code. Pages and pages of white space sensitive Python without syntax colouring and bad formatting is too much for a Perl guy :). There are other ways to deliver code in 2013 (publishing year). IT moves fast and cloud offering change all the time. Printed code tied to a service will be dead even before… well, it should be useless by now.

I would not recommend if you want to learn about Resilience and Reliability. Maybe a third could be useful as an introduction to AWS, but you may get better results by reading the docs or the upstream howto’s.

Resilience and Reliability on AWS
Engineering at Cloud Scale
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Released: January 2013
Pages: 150

Perl@FOSDEM: a big thank you! February 4, 2014

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FOSDEM

Just a short post with a huge “thank you” to everyone that made the Perl presence (dev-room + booth) at FOSDEM 2014 a success: the speakers, the video and booth responsibles, the volunteers that decided on the spot to help us man the booth or helped us to set it up/break it down (this was a heavy job: we had the biggest collection of Perl books *in* *the* *whole* *world* and a huge camel with us…) and of course everyone who attended the talks or talked to us at the booth.

And last and not least, the people from FOSDEM itself. Organizing and running an event of such size and importance is a herculean task. And yet, every year 5000 FOSS people leave with a smile on their face and full batteries to continue our work advancing FOSS.

Thank you,

Claudio and Wendy, the Perl@Fosdem organizers.

Perl at FOSDEM 2014: dev-room and stand January 21, 2014

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Also this year will Perl be present at FOSDEM, certainly one of the nicest and biggest (+5000 hackers) Free and Open Source conferences in Europe. Also this year, we’re very enthousiatic about the lineup. Let’s have a look:

Event Speakers Start End

Saturday

Welcome to the Perl devroom Claudio Ramirez, Wendy Van Dijk 11:00 11:15
Convos, a modern IRC client for your browser – A fullly HTML5 async Node.js-like application in Perl Marcus Ramberg 11:15 11:55
Asynchronous programming: Futures Paul ‘LeoNerd’ Evans 12:00 12:40
Perl Community Essentials – How to get the most out of the Perl community? Salve J Nilsen 12:45 13:25
Writing novels using Perl Juan Julián Merelo 13:30 14:10
A/B testing: what your mother never told you Curtis ‘Ovid’ Poe 14:15 14:55
Perl and the Web – A Love Story Sawyer X 15:00 15:40
Perl 5 and Unicode – A Thorough Introduction David Lowe 15:45 16:25
Nearly Everything you do is Optimization – Stop. — Really, Stop Matthew ‘diakopter’ Wilson 16:30 16:50
Stop Building Bridges to Nowhere: Build Bridges to MoarVM instead Matthew ‘diakopter’ Wilson 16:50 17:10
Net::LDAP – Basic concepts of LDAP, the Net::LDAP module and some real life examples Clément Oudot 17:15 17:55
Perl 6: what can you do today? – State of the Butterfly Jonathan Worthington 18:00 19:00

Video recording responsible: Theo van Hoesel

Please remember to also visit us at out Perl Stand, K.level2.13 (same building!, see https://fosdem.org/2014/stands/ ). The stand will be open non-stop during the conference, Saturday *and* Sunday. Please consider dropping by to help at the start and end of both days for helping setting it up/secure it for the night/dismantle our Stand. Also during the conference your help is welcome (so people can take breaks, etc).

We also plan going to dinner together. Keep an eye on this Perl-Fosdem specific twitter account: @PerlFosdem. (If you don’t use twitter you can always read the announcements here: https://twitter.com/PerlFosdem ).

See you soon!

Call For Speakers/volunteers: Perl devroom (2014 February, 1st), FOSDEM, Brussels, Belgium January 6, 2014

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FOSDEMIt’s almost time for FOSDEM (February 1st & 2nd), and like every year we need to make sure that the Perl community is manifestly present. We applied and got both a stand and a dev-room. Yes!

So what do we need to make this year a success and how can *you* be part of it?

  1. We need talk proposals for our dev-room (Saturday 1st February, 11-19h). We really do. This is *our* room, it’s not only a meeting place for our community, but also how we show ourselves to the free and open source world. Please send you proposals *as soon as possible*. We’re flexible about the format and time. If you can not make it, hassle your Perl contacts to send a proposal. It’s has been an interesting year in the Perl world, so why not make it know? SEND YOU PROPOSALS NOW! We don’t have a lot of time left (the FOSDEM people need to print the booklets), so don’t make me use blinking text! (I remember the tag).
  2. We need a video volunteer. This year the nice people at FOSDEM want to record all the talks. This is great for our outreach and breaking out of the dreaded echo chamber. What will the volunteer need to do? Make sure things get set up and recorded. Video material and specific instructions will be provided, so technical video knowledge is not needed. More info here: https://lists.fosdem.org/pipermail/video/2014-January/000078.html
  3. We need stand volunteers (so everyone can take enough breaks, visit talks and eat/drink). The Perl booth will be present on Saturday and Sunday 1st-2nd February). What need you need to do? Help to set it up / break it up and, most importantly, share your enthusiasm about Perl by talking to people. I know that this may sound scary, but it’s actually *really* a lot of fun. Give it a go. Also, you can always drop by and help out. Always welcome.
  4. We also appreciate promotional materials of your company or organisation for this event. Brochures, flyers, pens, buttons, stickers, little toy animals, etc, etc: it is welcome. The more interesting stuff is gone *very* quickly. Please let us know that you want to send us your promotional materials and we will let you know the address to send it to.
  5. And finally and rather obvious, visit our dev-room and stand: don’t be a stranger :).

Please send your proposals and/or your volunteer timeslots to us:
Claudio Ramirez (El_Che, nxadm, email: padre.claudio at apt-get.be) and Wendy van Dijk (email: nl.pm at wendy.org).

Please get in touch and see you at FOSDEM!

PS: Forward/twitter/facebook/g+ this link as wide as possible:
URL: http://nxadm.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/call-for-speakersvolunteers-perl-devroom-2014-february-1st-fosdem-brussels-belgium
Short link: http://wp.me/p69IC-j7

Short Review: “Digital Capture After Dark” by Quintenz-Fiedler and Scholz, O’Reilly March 4, 2013

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DCADCombine a busy life and short winter days and you don’t have a lot of natural day light to practice photography. So, the “Capture After Dark” part of the title interested me. While we’re talking about the title, let’s start with the bad. I kind of grew allergic of the “digital” adjective in photography books. Most of the time, it’s a cheap way to reprint some old material. And let face it, older photography books are just fine as a learning tool even when using a digital camera: the principles are the same. Books that take the “digital” identity seriously and add specific content (1/3 of this book) often fall in an other trap, by trying hard to be a manual for a specific version of a specific software package. As a result, when released, a big part of the book is either outdated or irrelevant (in the case you prefer to use other software, e.g. FOSS).

Luckily, the other two thirds of the book are about photography. As stated in the introduction, the information “is presented as a variety of techniques regarding equipment choice, technical approach, subject matter, and production practices”. This is certainly the case, and the book is useful and applicable, certainly if you’re relatively new to photography. On the other hand, if you already have replaced a camera because you used it to death, you won’t discover much new: yes, you need a tripod at night and warm clothing :) .

So, if you’re new to photography, I’ll give it a 3 stars out of 5 (1/3 of software manual killed it for me). If you’re not, maybe 2 out of 5: it’s not a bad book and certainly not something very technical of that goes deep in the artistic part of photography. Nevertheless, it’s very fast read and it’s good to see the bits you’ve learn in one document.

Perl@FOSDEM2013: we will be there January 28, 2013

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FOSDEMWe did it. A dev-room was cancelled by an other programming language community at FOSDEM. So why not help out and fill the void? A full program for a Perl dev-room  with a deadline of two days. The schedule will appear shortly on the FOSDEM website (Perl dev-room) once they refresh the data.  When the schedule will be online you’ll discover how cool it is…

Thanks for everyone on the community making this possible!

Also, have a look at Wendy’s post about the dev-room.

Perl@FOSDEM2013: A very late Call for Papers January 25, 2013

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FOSDEM

Dear Perl Mongers and friend,

PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO YOUR PERL CONTACTS  (excuses for the yelling :) )

We have to make this short and simple. Therefore most of this email is copied from last year’s Call for Speakers.

What?
Perl Dev-room, Saturday 2 February 2013, 11-19h.
Perl booth, Saturday and Sunday 2-3 February 2013, 11-19h.
FOSDEM, Brussels, 2 & 3 February 2013 https://fosdem.org/2013/

Where?
Free University Brussels, Campus Solbosh: https://fosdem.org/2013/practical/transportation/

Why so late?
Because our dev-room request was denied at first. They gave it to another programming language community, so we ended with only a booth. Now, the other community had to cancel their participation. We are Perl, so we jumped in and we asked for this. We got it.  Now we have to fill it.
So be quick and send in your presentation proposal.

Send proposal to who?
Both Claudio Ramirez (nxadm, email: padre.claudio at apt-get.be) and Wendy van Dijk (email: nl.pm at wendy.org).

Perl booth and dev-room information (most is from last year’s Call for papers):

The stand request is approved some time ago.  The stand will be open throughout the weekend. The dev-room event will take place Saturday, February 2nd 2013 , between 11:00 and 19:00, in room AW.126. The room itself has 75 seats, WIFI and a VGA projector.

This environment, being a university classroom with raised seats, lends itself perfectly for talks. This is a wonderful opportunity to present your Perl project ­big and small­ or talk about subjects you care about. We are looking for a variety of subjects on all levels: starter and advanced, generic and specialized, core internals and CPAN. We have 8 hours time, so we have the flexibility of using different time formats: e.g. talks of 20 minutes, more classic talks of 40 minutes or longer (although we learned from experience that longer talks should be split into slices of 20 or 40 minutes).

Please don’t doubt to send a proposal (information about yourself, subject, short description and time needed). If you have several subjects you are enthusiastic to talk about please send alternative proposals. In the case more than one talk is not selected, your proposal will help us when putting the schedule together and even have backup talks in case someone cancels. Also mention your time constraints (if any).

Please send your talk proposal by e-mail to the address below as soon as you read this.  You will receive an answer within 2 days. We will submit a definitive schedule on Sunday 2013-01-27 to the FOSDEM organizers.

Please forward / distribute this call as wide as possible (certainly to your local mongers).

Thank you.  Hope to meet you all in Brussels.

NB1: This is a community event without sponsoring. We don’t have the means to pay for your trip and time. If you want to sponsor part of the event, please feel free to contact us.

NB2: We’ll also appreciate volunteers, booth and dev-room. Please tell us your availabilities so we can also prepare a planning for this.

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