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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

Review: Programming Perl (4th ed) by Tom Christiansen, brian d foy, Larry Wall, Jon Orwant (O’Reilly Media) August 10, 2012

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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, 2012

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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.

The good

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.

The bad

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.

Conclusion

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.

#tweetsmart
25 Twitter Projects to Help You Build Your Community
By J. S. McDougall
Publisher: O’Reilly Media
Released: February 2012
Pages: 106
http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920021315.do

Be nice to me and I’ll be nice to you (ebooks) February 25, 2012

Posted by claudio in Uncategorized.
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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.

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