6 June, 2011

Changes

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a review. So review requests have dropped off. The reason for the lack of posting on my part has been due to the demands of life. Later this year I hope to get back in the saddle a bit. Part of that real life business culminates in my family and I moving from Florida to Budapest Hungary here in about a month.

The reason I’m posting about this here is because if you have a book you want me to review, once my life gets back to normal I may be able to do it, but your best bet will be to get me the book in an electronic format rather than mailing me a copy. So publishers, authors, and publicists — unless you feel like shipping your book to Budapest, I will need it in electronic format. I have a Kindle so that will work. EPUB is probably the format that would work best for me. On-line books are a possibility but to be honest, something I can read when disconnected will be best.

Thanks,
JR

23 December, 2009

Python Essential Reference 4th Ed.

It has been ten years since David Beazley wrote the first edition of Python Essential Reference. The book has proven itself as a valuable resource to Python developers and has been kept current over those ten years, with the fourth edition coming at an interesting time for Python. Python 3 was a major release that broke backwards compatibility. Python 3 has been around for a year now. That said, the current download page at the official Python site states, “If you don’t know which version to use, start with Python 2.6.4; more existing third party software is compatible with Python 2 than Python 3 right now.” Beazley in keeping with the pragmatic roots of a reference that sticks to what is ‘essential’ has removed the coverage on features from 2 that were removed from 3. At the same time, the primary focus for new features that came with 3 is limited to those that have been back-ported to 2. This approach, born out of a desire to keep the reference relevant, provides a blended approach that is above all else practical.

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14 December, 2009

Mobile Design and Development

It is pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that the growing prevalence of mobile technologies is something that cannot be ignored. A special report in the Economist on telecoms in emerging markets wrapped up with the prediction, “…at current rates of growth it seems likely that within five years, and certainly within ten, everyone in the world who wants a mobile phone will probably have one. 3G networks capable of broadband speeds will be widespread even in developing countries, and even faster 4G networks will be spreading rapidly in some places.” It does not appear that it will be long before Smart Phones are just normal phones and anyone who wants to be, will be connected to a world wide mobile network. Any business or developer that wants to reach groups of significant size really needs to be prepared via mobile platforms. Brian Fling has been helping others operate in this space for close to a decade and is very familiar with the lay of the land. He sees the opportunities and has experienced the pitfalls and frustrations as well. His new book, Mobile Design and Development brings some of that experience and knowledge to the mobile neophyte, looking for an overview of just how to get in the game.

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27 October, 2009

Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python



The Second Edition of Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python is available to read on-line or as a free download. This is a book that aims to teach children to use Python. The author says that it is appropriate for kids from 10 years old, on up.

I haven’t read through it all. I gave the PDF version a cursory glance and it looks good. The table of contents doesn’t give page numbers and there are some other rough edges, but at no cost, this is acceptable in my mind.

I do intend to read it and see how it compares to “Hello World!”.

Edit: It looks like there have been some changes over at the site and so I’ve updated the post to reflect the title and show the cover of the book.

8 October, 2009

Dreamdark: Blackbringer & Silksinger



My next two reviews over at SciFiDimensions.com are up – they are for
Dreamdark: Blackbringer and Dreamdark: Silksinger. I loved them both – and you can find out why over there. Coincidentally, my wife just finished reading Blackbringer and she loved it too. I think my oldest daughter will be tackling it next. Silksinger, I think, is even better. That is saying something as Blackbringer is pretty great.

2 October, 2009

Bleak History



I’ve been given the opportunity to write a few reviews for SciFiDimensions.com. The first up is for Bleak History by John Shirley. I read an ARC for the book back in June or July, so I hadn’t seen what it would finally look like. The cover is well done. For the rest, click on the above image of said cover and hop on over to check out my review.

29 September, 2009

Android Application Development

Google’s mobile OS Android has received plenty of press. As with a lot of Google products, there was much anticipation before any devices were even available. Now a number of phones are available, with many more coming out world-wide in the near future. Part of the lure of Android is the openness of the platform and the freely available tools for development. The SDK and accompanying Eclipse plug-in give the would be creator of the next great Android application everything they need to make their idea reality. The bar to entry in the official Google Android Marketplace is very low and it doesn’t seem to be much of a stretch to predict that the number of developers working on Android is only going to grow. As with any hot technology the number of books will grow as well and O’Reilly’s Android Application Development has jumped into the fray, promising to help budding Android developers what they need to get started.

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28 September, 2009

Learning Ext JS

Rich Internet Applications (RIA) have often been associated with some type of sandbox or virtual machine environment to make desktop features available via the web. Many applications though, have left behind the restrictions and demands of those technologies, implementing RIAs as pure web interfaces. One key technology in this area is JavaScript. It’s been well documented that working with JavaScript can be problematic across various browsers. In response a number of JavaScript libraries have been created to alleviate the issues in dealing with different browsers, allowing developers to focus on application logic rather than platform concerns. One such library, focused on providing tools for building RIAs is Ext JS. For the aspiring developer looking to use Ext JS, Packt provides a guide to the library in the form of Learning Ext JS

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21 September, 2009

The Magicians

The popularity of web site Will It Blend? is indicative of how people enjoy mashing things together. Of course this kind of sharing and combining has been going on in the arts for quite some time. The new Lev Grossman novel, The Magicians asks ‘will it blend?’ of two rather popular fantasy series, J.K. Rowling’s world of Harry Potter and the tales of Narnia from C.S. Lewis. Grossman’s thoughts on both are tossed on top and then the author begins to play a symphony across the full range of buttons from stir to liquefy. What comes out is not children’s fantasy but at times a rather bitter mix.
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8 July, 2009

PragPub

This is not about a book per se – but I do love all the Pragmatic Bookshelf books I’ve read this far, and so a free magazine available on-line from these folks is awesome. They’ve got downloads available for this first edition in pdf, epub and mobi formats. That is also a big win as it means I can read them on my phone. Below is text cut from the press release for the new mag.

The Pragmatic Bookshelf, the innovative publisher of award-winning books by programmers for programmers, has launched a new magazine: PragPub.

PragPub editor Michael Swaine served for years as editor-in-chief and editor-at-large for the venerable Dr. Dobb’s Journal and coauthored the seminal personal computer history book, Fire in the Valley.

Michael says, “There is a huge demand for timely information on current programming issues, but conventional magazine publishing can’t keep up with the pace of change in software development. There are some wonderful blogs and wikis that address particular technologies or projects, but they tend to come and go, or serve an extremely niche audience. We’re hoping to strike a balance between a conventional magazine and a topical blog or wiki, capturing the benefits of professional editing and a regular publishing schedule of a magazine, and the responsiveness and sense of community of the blogs and wikis–the growing, worldwide Pragmatic community.”

The July issue is now available from the Pragmatic Programmers site. PragPub is published monthly and is free of charge.