Review: Java Cookbook, 3rd ed., by Ian F. Darwin (O’Reilly) September 7, 2014Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: bookreview, books, goodread, Java, o'reilly, Programming
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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):
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.
Review: “Software Architecture Fundamentals Part 2. Taking a Deeper Dive” by Neal Ford and Mark Richards August 14, 2014Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: Architecture, Java, o'reilly, video
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Well 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.
Review: “Software Architecture Fundamentals Part 1. Understanding the Basics” by Neal Ford and Mark Richards May 5, 2014Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: Architecture, Java, o'reilly, video
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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.
The 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.
Understanding the Basics
Review “Resilience and Reliability on AWS” by Jurg van Vliet, Flavia Paganelli, Jasper Geurtsen (O’Reilly) April 26, 2014Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: book, o'reilly, review
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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.
Engineering at Cloud Scale
Review: Programming Perl (4th ed) by Tom Christiansen, brian d foy, Larry Wall, Jon Orwant (O’Reilly Media) August 10, 2012Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: book review, IT, o'reilly, Perl, Programming, Programming Perl
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If you already program in Perl you know that “Programming Perl” is the de facto reference of the language. I haven’t met Perl Mongers citing randomly from it, but we are not that far from it :). If you’re new to Perl, well now you know what you will be reading soon.
This brings us to the targeted public of this book and that’s a tricky question. In my opinion, if you’re new to Perl –or new to programming– you are better served by “Learning Perl” (or a similar book). On the other hand, if you are an experienced programmer you’ll learn Perl from “Programming Perl” with a deep understanding of the language as a bonus. But 1184 pages may be a little too much to get your feet wet.
Don’t return the book to Amazon yet if you take the tutorial-road: your copy will serve you well for years to come as reference for the less obvious aspects of the language (and let’s be honest, there are several). So, this book is not a tutorial book. It’s neither, unlike what I just wrote, a pure reference book. The book is very well written, with just enough humour (also: as not “too much”) to make the 1184 pages digestible to get a deeper insight of the language, something that can not be said of many reference books that are written in a “phone book” style.
The previous versions dates from the year 2000 and covers ancient perls preceding the Perl revival and modernisation we’re enjoying today. Well, if this book is so important for the language –the codification of the language as it were– and well written to be enjoyable, the authors should be lucky to not face trial for the Perl riots while waiting for the update of the book. More seriously, the update was indeed urgently needed and kudos to the authors: writing this kind of book (content and reputation) is hard. It helps that Larry, the creator of Perl, is part of the team. A great read.
“Programming Perl, 4th Edition” by Tom Christiansen, brian d foy, Larry Wall, Jon Orwant
O’Reilly Media, February 2012, 1184 pages
Print ISBN: 978-0-596-00492-7, ISBN 10: 0-596-00492-3
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4493-9890-3, ISBN 10: 1-4493-9890-1
Programming Perl @amazon.co.uk
Review: #tweetsmart by J. S. McDougall (O’Reilly Media) March 22, 2012Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: #tweetsmart, book review, marketing, o'reilly, twitter
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Ok. I am new to twitter (@nxadm) and I am not sure I completely grasp the concept. So what’s more promising than a title in the form of a hashtag? The back of the book reads: “#tweetsmart provides the answer [to what to do with twitter] with 25 creative projects to help your business, cause, or organization grow. But this isn’t just another social media marketing book—it’s the anti-marketing how-to community-engagement book”. Does the book deliver? Well, it all boils down to who you are.
It’s certainly a good read. I enjoyed it. It’s short (100 pages), sometimes funny and always extremely to the point, something I appreciate. McDougall is really passionate about the subject and that shows: the author’s style is enthusiastic and upbeat. If you’re a business you’ll be using the oldest marketing tricks in a digital jacket in no time. You’ll reach a much bigger audience that you thought it was possible and it will cost you peanuts. Good.
So, what if you not own a business? No problem, the back says “business, cause, or organization”, you may think. Nope. Being an free and open source enthusiast involved in a few projects (e.g. Padre, the Perl IDE) it was specifically the “cause or organisation” part that made me curious. Of the 25 recipes, isn’t there at least one applicable to smaller (not commercial) open source projects? Sadly, no. It will help you to sell coffee or burritos, but not reach new users or developers. Did I learn something I didn’t know? Again, no (I repeat: I enjoyed the book).
So the “anti-marketing how-to community-engagement book” epithet may be a little euphemistic. Let’s stick with a “not-annoying and not insulting practical online marketing book for small business”. Sure, it sounds less “cool”, but take it from me, “not annoying and not insulting” part is worth *a lot* when talking about marketing.
Will I recommend it? Well, it depends on who you are. The 3 of 5 stars I give to this book is just an average: it ranges from totally irrelevant for some uses to a fantastic HOWTO to get the online marketing of your business started in no time. You Mileage -May- Will Vary.
Be nice to me and I’ll be nice to you (ebooks) February 25, 2012Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
Tags: DRM, ebook, o'reilly, onyx
I love it when I get a fair deal in this greedy digital world. Paying twice for the same content is something I really dislike.
Besides the content, I like chromatic’s way of doing business: you can freely download the DRM-free pdf of his book (Modern Perl) even if you don’t buy a hard copy. Guess what, I bought the book the day it came out.
Although O’Reilly does make you pay for the electronic content of a printed book you already own, they give you a very fair deal: “Upgrade to the electronic version of any print book you’ve registered at oreilly.com, for just $4.99″.
I just got the DRM-free digital version of 5 O’Reilly paper books I already own and I don’t feel cheated at all. Be careful though not to mix offers like the 5$ book “upgrade” the half price for new releases of books you own. In this case you’ll pay half price of the full ebook price instead of the 5 $.
This is how you make customers happy. Treat me with respect and I won’t mind sending some money your way once in a while.