Friday, April 30, 2010

Effective Perl Programming: Ways to Write Better, More Idiomatic Perl (2nd Edition)

Product Description
The Classic Guide to Solving Real-World Problems with Perl—Now Fully Updated for Today’s Best Idioms!

For years, experienced programmers have relied on Effective Perl Programming to discover better ways to solve problems with Perl. Now, in this long-awaited second edition, three renowned Perl programmers bring together today’s best idioms, techniques, and examples: everything you need to write more powerful, fluent, expressive, and succinct code with Perl.

Nearly twice the size of the first edition, Effective Perl Programming, Second Edition, offers everything from rules of thumb to avoid common pitfalls to the latest wisdom for using Perl modules. You won’t just learn the right ways to use Perl: You’ll learn why these approaches work so well.

New coverage in this edition includes

* Reorganized and expanded material spanning twelve years of Perl evolution
* Eight new chapters on CPAN, databases, distributions, files and filehandles, production Perl, testing, Unicode, and warnings
* Updates for Perl 5.12, the latest version of Perl
* Systematically updated examples reflecting today’s best idioms

You’ll learn how to work with strings, numbers, lists, arrays, strictures, namespaces, regular expressions, subroutines, references, distributions, inline code, warnings, Perl::Tidy, data munging, Perl one-liners, and a whole lot more. Every technique is organized in the same Items format that helped make the first edition so convenient and popular.

About the Author
Joseph N. Hall has programmed for a living since 1984, taught his first computer class at age fourteen, and has worked with Perl since 1993.
Joshua A. McAdams, a programmer at Google, is the voice of Perlcast. He has hosted two Perl conferences, conducts meetings for Chicago Perl Mongers, has spoken about Perl at events worldwide, and is a CPAN author. brian d foy is coauthor of Learning Perl, Fifth Edition (O’Reilly Media, 2008), and Intermediate Perl (O’Reilly Media, 2006), and author of Mastering Perl (O’Reilly Media, 2007). He established the first Perl user group, the New York Perl Mongers; publishes The Perl Review; maintains parts of the core Perl documentation; and has more than ten years of Perl training experience.

Donald E. Knuth - Selected Papers on Design of Algorithms

Product Description

Donald E. Knuth has been making foundational contributions to the field of computer science for as long as computer science has been a field. His award-winning textbooks are often given credit for shaping the field, and his scientific papers are widely referenced and stand as milestones of development over a wide variety of topics. The present volume, the seventh in a series of his collected papers, is devoted to his work on the design of new algorithms. Nearly thirty of Knuth’s classic papers are collected in this book and brought up to date with extensive revisions and notes on subsequent developments. The papers cover numerous discrete problems, such as assorting, searching, data compression, theorem proving, and cryptography, as well as methods for controlling errors in numerical computations.

About the Author

Donald E. Knuth is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Computer Science emeritus at Stanford University.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum

The first half of Mike Cohn's book, "Succeeding with Agile: Software Development Using Scrum", isn't so much about how to be successful with agile as how to be successful replacing non-agile with agile, selling agile, and transitioning to agile. Mike Cohn is neither a wild-eyed dogmatist professing the one true way nor an ivory-tower philosopher; he's a pragmatist.

He devotes entire chapters to helping scrum evangelists decide whether to start with a pilot or go all-in across the organization, whether to pilot publicly or in stealth, what factors might prevent success, how to swing things your way, how to approach a transition in steps, picking the right first project and first team, and how soon to adopt agile technical practices like simple design, pair programming, TDD, continuous builds, refactoring, and automated testing. He notes from the first chapter that agile implementations are hard and don't always "take" - and explains why. He recommends solutions to the many conundrums and traps that agile teams face.

About midway through the book, as you're reading insights into teamwork, you realize that this book is not just about transitioning to agile but about getting really good at agile - and that you're going to need to read it not just once but come back to it for new insights again and again. The fact is it's stuffed with tips, guides, data, approaches, failures, successes, and helpful hints of every kind.

Part of what makes this book important for me is repeatedly reading observations consistent with my own experience, but drawing on so many more experiences with agile that it results in emergent patterns, as well as in truths that are too often left unsaid. Then there are the surprises that come from reading an author who is remarkably well-read across genres. He does us all the favour of reviewing and summarizing scads of studies and surveys that demonstrate why agile is worth the effort, with data on productivity gains, lower costs, improved employee engagement and job satisfaction, faster time to market, higher quality and, importantly, stakeholder satisfaction gains.

Cohn is practical right down to the challenges from facilities and h.r., the likelihood agile transitions will face waterfall-driven expectations, and strategies for coexisting with other approaches, regulatory standards and processes. Importantly, he provides helpful anecdotes and examples from companies large and small. He's familiar enough with other process changes your company may have attempted to be able to compare and contrast and differentiate the substance and style of scrum from everything that came before.

While Cohn is sometimes unsatisfying - drilling down not quite far enough in sharing what's worked - in its 400-plus pages, it's remarkable how few of these unsatisfying examples there are.

Finally, I should point out that though it may not be immediately obvious, there's one more group of readers for whom this book has enormous value: Agile wannabes who know their current process isn't working. They frequently have heard of agile but have no idea what it looks like or how to sell it. If you're one of those, you also need to read this book. Mike Cohn over and over offers advice and examples and data that will give you aha after aha as you build a picture of what a truly effective process can look like - and how yours could become functional like his.

If you're interested, there's a longer version of this review at: this link...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It

As an Information Technology (IT) guy, I found Cyber War to be quite interesting. While I usually dislike the term "Cyber", I guess it's the best way to describe the topic so the majority of people know what Clarke is referring to. It may be a shock to many readers just how interconnected everything has become, and the author does a good job of explaining how some systems are not actually on the Internet, but can be accessed from another computer that is. While he primarily covers strategies in the book, he does present scenarios that may scare people. For example, if you thought the plane you were flying across the country on could fall out of the sky anytime due to a hacker, would you still fly?

My main concern with the book isn't really what he write about, but rather what he doesn't touch on. He spends a lot of time comparing a "cyber" strategy to the Cold War strategy. My complaint is that while he makes them sound very related, he forgets a very important difference. In the Cold War, only a powerful government could launch a nuclear missile. In a Cyber War, just because the U.S. government may decide to not take action, does not mean that a citizen will. If you are a skilled computer guy, or a "hacker" to use the authors term, you could decide to initiate or retaliate a response without the government even knowing it. I can only assume this wasn't covered in the book because it would just complicate the strategy even more than it already is.

While the book may be too technical for some and not technical enough for others, it does a good job of laying down the foundation for a national discussion. Considering the state of the economy, I think most of us realize how quickly things can go from bad to worse, and our financial markets are extremely susceptible to this new threat. I hope the book will get more people thinking about the issue, and I'm sure that was Clarke's primary objective in writing it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Professional C# 4.0 and .NET 4

C# and .NET are reintroduced in this one book for the 2010 audience of programmers. The two subjects are wedded in the text to form one complete reference. I have just finished reading this book and I can tell you that it will take another two readings to fully absorb the contents because of the numerous details. At just over 1400 pages, this is a compendium of the two programming areas that has enormous scope. I am impressed that the authors and the publisher were able to complete this project before the release of the two in April. Operations specific to the .NET v4 release are noted in the text.

I found the information in this book to be comprehensive and detailed in many ways. With 47 chapters and an appendix this book is going to be the cornerstone of my .NET computing from this time on. My previous references are getting dated and don't give me enough information to pass the employment interviews. This book and one other are going to be my entire reference library for C# programming in general.

I found the information to be very well written to the point that even after six years of using C# it increased my knowledge and understanding of this wonderful new computer language. I have over a dozen books on .NET and C# in my library and this is the best written of them all. For this reason I am giving it 5 stars. I believe that this is the best introduction to these two subject areas

Of course, if you want to work in depth on one of the chapters covered in this book, another reference that expands on the material will be required.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Win a copy of "OSGi and Equinox: Creating Highly Modular Java Systems

I'm delighted that this week, the authors Jeff McAffer, Paul Vanderlei & Simon Archer will be helping to answer questions about their new book OSGi and Equinox: Creating Highly Modular Java Systems. They will hang out in the IDEs, Version Control and other tools forum. Or check it out on your mobile device.

This ofcourse is all happening at the JavaRanch forum and the promotion starts Tuesday, April 20th 2010 and will end on Friday, April 23th 2010.

They hope to be selecting four random posters in this forum to win a free copy of the book provided by the publisher, Addison-Wesley Professional.

Please see the book promotions page to ensure your best chances at winning!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Every Last One: A Novel

Anna Quindlen books are always very powerful (I remember "Black and Blue" vividly and that has been years ago). This latest novel from her is no exception. Incredibly well written with an engrossing and emotional story, this is a book that will stay with you for days after finishing it - and probably years.

The author is a master at being able to write what a mother feels but doesn't necessary articulate. Being the other of a teenage myself, there were many times during the book when I would think how perfectly she captured so many moments in my own life. Obviously not everything translates exactly, but you can tell this is a woman who has walked a mile in my shoes and is able to write eloquently about that experience. The uncertainty of raising kids (even the ones that are really, really "good) is perfectly articulated and shared throughout the book.

A beautifully written book with a story that draws you in slowly at first, grabs you in the middle, and then doesn't let you go until the final page is read.

Warning: I would caution the reader to be very careful about reading reviews of the book until after completing it yourself. As the jacket indicates, there is an event which occurs that rocks the main character's world. While you know something is coming, it is best to be unaware of what the actual event is - a spoiler regarding the plotline would really be a spoiler in this case.

Friday, April 16, 2010


This book is filled with some great advice for those who want to start their own business, have their own business, or are just interested in the subject.

As a fan of 37 Signals the company and a frequent reader of their blog, I was excited when Rework was first announced (so excited I pre-ordered it). From the initial descriptions, I was excited to read a full-length book from Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson. My hope was that they would expand on the ideas frequently discussed on their blog and elaborate on some more of their personal experiences in running a very successful small company.

Unfortunately, if you are familiar with the authors, their blog, or their previous book "Getting Real", then very little of the content in this book is new. All of the lessons and chapters feel like retreads of previous material, even down to some of the analogies such as "be like a chef" or "be a curator".

So while I think some of the lessons in this book are great, I feel that it deserves a 3 star rating because so few of these lessons are new material.

On a similar note, I think my biggest gripe here might be with the length of the book: it may appear to be 270 pages, but there are only about 100 pages of actual content in Rework. The book is really about 100 or so one-page essays, separated by a full page illustration between each section.

I really wanted to be excited by this book but having read their previous output, unfortunately I found very little new material to digest and the illustrations between sections feel like nothing more than filler.

So if you are not familiar with 37 Signals or their blog, and you dream of one day starting your own company, then this book is filled with great advice. But if you are familiar with the company, their blog, or "Getting Real", there is almost nothing new here for you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oprah: A Biography

(THE FOLLOWING REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS)...Kitty Kelley is known as one of the most controversial writers in American history as she often writes about celebrities without their consent, publishing books that are unauthorized. Having written works on Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra, and Elizabeth Taylor, Kitty's new book is sure to receive some negativity as its subject matter is one of the greatest American icons and treasures of all-time.

In "Oprah" Kitty documents the life of the one and only Oprah Winfrey. Having researched the book for over three years, Kitty performed over 800 interviews with people who have known Oprah, some of whom did not want their names disclosed. Kitty interviewed Oprah's father Vernon, and a cousin who stated that Vernon Winfrey is actually not Oprah's bilogical parent. Here, we finally get to see the real Oprah, from her humble beginnings in Mississippi to becoming the most famous talk-show host in the world.

Kitty discusses how Oprah was raped at the hands of a cousin when she was young, the birth of her child that died in infancy, how she never knew her mother, her turbulent relationship with her dad, her years in school where she displayed impressive intelligence with academics, her thirst for being on television, and her eventual rise to stardom on a local Chicago TV station on an early morning talk show that went national and made her into the world's first African/American billionaire.

We also get to see the Oprah that we all love and know, witnessing her admiration of children and her hours of dedication in helping kids, especially girls, in obtaining an education which resulted in her developing a school in Africa for underprivileged youth. Kitty discusses Oprah's personal life and why she has never married, a question everyone has wondered about. One of the most shocking statements is Oprah's love affair with former "Entertainment Tonight" co-host John Tesh who had a relationship with Oprah in the 1970's. It is revealed that Tesh ended the affair because he had a hard time dealing with interracial issues.

Thought-provoking and extremely well-written, "Oprah" has come out at a special time in American history as Miss Winfrey has decided to wind down her talk show after 25 years of broadcasting, so this gives the reader that special volume of info that they can cherish for all time.
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