Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Pagination in PHP

As a developer, once in a while you come across a requirement in a project that requires you to go that extra mile. I recently moved from desktop development to web applications and have been enjoying the experience.

However, there are a few things we are used to on the desktops that are not available on web applications - like pagination, tabbing, portability and ease of development.

Whilst there are tons of examples of PHP Pagination online, only a few of them have a complete example that demonstrate how it actually works. The rest just show a little piece of code and  tells you to figure out the rest yourself...nothing of real substance that you can adapt to fit your need.

That said, I came across a nice jQuery version which does almost what I needed - problem is that I would need to learn to use jQuery to use this example. So, what this means is that I need to learn a new framework to learn to use another. Hmm, that's online tutorial for you.

If you know of any good example of PHP Pagination, please leave a comment below and share it with us all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

You Should Get Yourself One of These Amazon Kindle Fire

After spending a few days with the Kindle Fire I have been very impressed. I don't think it will ever replace my e-ink kindle but it is a great little deice. I have owned multiple Kindles including the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation devices. I have also read on android Smartphones, an iPod touch, kindle for pc, and the cloud reader.

PHYSICAL: I love the size of the Fire, it can be held with one hand although after a while the weight forces some positioning adjustments. It is about the size of the past (non DX) kindles and around the size of a DVD case. The power button seems to be poorly placed in the center of the bottom of the device; Right where I want to put my hands. I frequently hit/hold the power button unintentionally. The speakers are surprisingly good for a device of this size although the max output could be louder. I miss the physical page forward/backward buttons of the earlier kindles and volume up/down buttons would make a nice addition. Overall, none of these problems are great enough to cause me to down-rate the device.

SOFTWARE: The carousel on the home screen is interesting. It is a good idea but can be too sensitive and spin when I intend to select an item. The favorites on the home screen remain stationary and are easier to navigate than the carousel for frequently accessed items. I currently have my favorite apps and the books I am currently reading as well as those on the top of my list.

NEWSSTAND: The pages of magazines are a little scrunched on the Fire's screen but zooming in helps a lot. I found that nearly half of my favorite magazines aren't available at all (yet). I don't tend to read magazines as much as I read books so this isn't a huge problem but for people looking at the Fire for magazine reading should check availability first.

BOOKS: The functionality of the reading is more like reading on a cell phone than reading on a kindle. The biggest missing feature seen on e-ink kindles and missing here are collections. There is very little ability to organize your books here. You can view all books you own (Cloud) or all books on the device. You can sort these listings by title, author, or most recently viewed. Kindle.amazon.com has a way rating books, listing books as want to read/reading/read/abandoned. It would be great if the Fire accessed this data and allowed for better user management of the list. My list contains just under 200 books and over time that number will only grow. Once you find the book you are looking for (I keep the ones I am currently reading and plan to read next in my favorites) reading is a simple and pleasant experience. The title of the current book is written at the top of the screen and other than that the only thing displayed during reading is text. A single tap in the center of the screen brings up the time, battery, network status, how far you have read, and various other buttons. The display color, margins, spacing, font size, and typeface can be changed through the menu. Font size cannot be changed by pinching.

MUSIC: The music plays well and can be organized into playlists. The music features are most useful if your music is on the amazon cloud drive. But music, and everything else in the cloud, can't be accessed when outside of wireless.

VIDEO: Watching free and purchased videos is a great experience on the Fire. Keeping track of the free Prime videos I want to watch is much more difficult. There is no queue or to watch list so every time you want to watch you have to search around for what you are looking for.

APPS: What's not to love about a free app every day? Some great android apps are still missing here but there are a lot of great options available and hopefully the list will grow.

Overall the Fire is a great product at a great price. A 3G options would be very nice.

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World - Michael Lewis spins an entertaining yarn, traveling about the world and joking about the personality traits that led to the varying economic disasters of 2008. One can learn a certain amount about what transpired in each country, but the strictly factual material in this book could probably be spelled out in less than ten pages.

The bulk of the book is composed of amusing vignettes and Lewis's attempts to define each country's travails in terms of broad cultural stereotypes. The Icelandic crash, for example, follows from the that that Icelandic men think they are Vikings and don't listen to women.

The Greek crash results from their inability to trust each other. The German problem comes from their trust in process and their fascination with fecal matter (I am not making that up).

I don't know that my understanding of the world has been advanced by this book, though the book is an enjoyable, quick read.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Review of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

I just finished reading Steve Jobs. Wow! I must say I'm breathless (once again). With the number of reviews already published, I'll focus on a few key points that made an impression.

1. Walter Isaacson tells a very engaging story. His narrative captivated me from the get-go. He elegantly wove the various angles of Jobs's work through the time-line, which wasn't an easy task when you consider all the projects that were developed concurrently. It's a magnificent read.

2. I found it interesting to read "Jobs in his own words." It was hilarious to discover how much he and Bill Gates cursed - something I could have guessed but was never made explicit in other works about him.

3. There wasn't all that much new information. I don't know if it's because of my interest in Steve over the past few years, but I already knew most of the content presented in the book. There were not that many "Damn, I was wondering about that!" moments during my read.

4. The book lacked a lot in terms of Jobs's personal life. I expected to read a lot more about it, given that Isaacson was an "authorized" biographer. I believed I would find more extensive interviews with the children and his wife. They appear to be completely peripheral to Jobs's life, although the book doesn't allow me to conclude that at 100%.

In summary, it's a great book on Steve Jobs. If you want to know more about the showmanship of Steve, there will be more interesting options on the market. I give it 5 stars because it is truly a fantastic read.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

There is nothing particularly new in this book. It just discusses how to write "clean code" -- the code that is really easy to understand and maintain. Nevertheless this book is worth reading just to remind you another time how important "clean code" is!

This book provides lots of concrete advice how to make your code "cleaner". It discusses importance of proper naming, code formatting and testing. It stresses importance of constant refactoring and provides several extended refactoring examples. But the most important advice the book gives is to always commit better code then you have checked out.

Some advices given in the book can be disputed. Some chapters are weaker (in particular chapters on concurrent programming are quite superficial). Still overall book is definitely worth time spent reading it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

JBuds J4 Rugged Metal In-Ear Earbuds Style Headphones with Travel Case

I have owned numerous "midrange" earbud headphones over the years, ranging from Sonys to Sennheisers. All of these earbuds delivered the same things: great sound quality for the price, and flimsy construction. I estimate that none of these products, no matter how many buzzwords adorned their packaging, lasted more than 1 year with normal use.

Finally, after my latest pair dropped a channel due to an internal cord break, I deliberately searched for something with rugged construction, and came across the JBuds J4 model. The words "kevlar-reinforced cord" sounded great to me, so I ordered up a set, hoping I would not have to get another for at least 2 years.

Like every other earbud in this price range, the JBuds arrived in a plastic blister pack with several different sizes of rubber tip pieces. My ear openings seem to be rather small, so the smallest tips are usually the ones I end up using, and these were no exception. I did not care for the double-style rubber tips, but I find that the noise isolation from the single-style are more than sufficient.

Sound quality is as good as any competing earbud. Having never listened to "high-dollar" ($150+) earbuds, I have no idea what sort of auditory experience I am missing out on, though I hope to try some soon. Regardless, these earbuds are not lacking compared to the others on the market in this price bracket.

The cord is undoubtedly the best feature of these earbuds, and was the main reason I chose them. It is a standard Y-style cord, which I strongly prefer to the asymmetrical type, with no adjustable slider. Cord length is ideal for me (6' 2" tall) to keep my iPod/phone in my pants pocket and still have enough slack to do workouts at the gym without any binding or catching. The cord's flat design is ingenious in that it does indeed prevent tangling as claimed. The two separate channels may get tangled around each other, but they are easily undone, and most of the time the cord just shakes out. That alone is probably the most notable feature of the J4. In addition, I have now been using these in my normal (moderate) fashion for over 7 months, and they have not missed a beat. I will be sure to update the review periodically to reflect how they hold up compared to prior sets, but they seem promising.

Now, the big downside: The headphones are not very comfortable. This is obviously a huge factor in the earbud market, and sadly the J4's suffer a minor and seemingly easily corrected design flaw which causes discomfort and/or frequent adjustment in the ear canal. The body of the earbuds, rather than having a somewhat half-spherical shape like many others, is a long cylinder with an end cap, that tapers on the ear side to the speaker port. The transition between the straight and tapered sections is a sharp, hard edge, and this edge tends to rub against the ear, causing significant discomfort. Over time, I have gotten more used to the earbuds, but unlike others that I never had to touch, I find myself frequently shifting these around to get that sharp edge off of my ear. I compared them side-by-side with my older broken earbuds and noted that those ones were smooth and curved, preventing such issues.

Two other details about the earbuds are worth noting. First, the cord is quite bulky. I don't mind, especially since the bulk is largely due to the kevlar reinforcing fabric, for which I am grateful, but it's not easy to see how thick it is in the pictures. Second, the plug is straight, not 90 degrees. This is no problem either, but a detail that some people wish to know.

Overall, I am happy with the JBuds J4 earbuds, but their unfortunate sharp-edged design really detracts from their overall rating, due to the discomfort it causes in the ear. If JBuds could reshape the J4 to more resemble the J3, or the Sennheiser CX300, this would solve the only problem I have with them, and would earn the J4 earbuds a 5 star rating in my book.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Java EE 6 Development with NetBeans 7

In any technical work, the author's primary problem is to target an audience, and to maintain that focus throughout. This is every bit as important as accuracy.

With the title of this book, you expect that the operational pieces in the Java EE 6 spec will be explained within the context of the Netbeans IDE. That's all well and good, but how much prior knowledge of both these Java standards should be assumed? Here one must avoid too many screenshots, with a singular focus on step-by-step procedure. At the same time, it must be assumed that a really seasoned developer is probably already familiar with Netbeans and would just want an in-depth focus on the somewhat newer Java EE 6 spec.

In view of this, some coverage of the UI of the IDE, with due attention given to the whys and wherefores of the Java EE 6 components, is in order. It's reasonable to expect an substantial audience for a practical guide that explains how this IDE can help a developer who wishes to stick with the facilities provided in the EE 6 spec. Additionally, one can expect the reader has a technical bent but could use help integrating the technologies in the Java spec. In other words, a reader in the moderate knowledge range.

So now I have to say that I'm a member of the above target audience, and I really liked this book.

I won't re-list the table of contents here, but I have to mention some highlights here. It's my opinion that JSF has evolved to the point where it is a serious contender; especially since PrimeFaces hit the scene. So I was really happy with chapters 4 and 5. It's wonderful to see such a concise Facelet template explanation. PrimeFaces is there because it is included with Netbeans 7. Although one sees a lot of Hibernate, it's cool to have JPA included- and the author sails right on into session beans. There is a great discussion of Web Services development to wrap up.

The book has a good selection of topics; and is approachable- but it isn't a lightweight in that it really explores, to some depth, what the current iteration of Java EE can do. After reading it, you definitely gain a new respect for Netbeans, too.

Don't expect coverage of things outside of Java EE 6 (except for PrimeFaces)- there is only so much room in one book. Given the title, this isn't a surprise or really a problem. Just be advised.

This book promises to be practical in approach; to integrate Java EE and Netbeans; to be concise and comprehensive; and for a wide range of developers. I think it pulls it off. I have to recommend this one.

Reviewed by: Kenneth Tindle

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Trend Stetting: Hail to the Editor in Chief

Regardless of your contribution to Barack Obama’s approval rating, you have to admit one thing: The man can give a speech. And to the delight of professional wordslingers the world over, toiling under deadlines and character counts, he tends to write much of each address himself (like another fellow who’s spent some time on Pennsylvania Avenue used to say, he “feels our pain”).

To figure out why the 44th president’s speeches have such an explosive impact on listeners across the party spectrum, seasoned political analysts Mary Frances Berry and Josh Gottheimer tackled the impressive task of parsing his language. Their forthcoming book, Power in Words, walks us slowly through 18 of candidate Obama’s major addresses during his ascent to the White House.

It’s a fairly wonky read, as you’d imagine, with plenty of citations and endnotes and an occasionally excruciating level of detail: “After a few days in the country spent traveling with a twelve-car motorcade, Obama and his entourage flew to the rural area of Kolego in the Siaya District of Nyanza Province, about 175 miles east of Nairobi.” But Berry and Gottheimer temper their academic approach with lively anecdotes about backstage tension and last-minute rewrites, as well as insight into the symbiotic relationship between Obama and his head speechwriter, Jon Favreau (not the guy behind Cowboys & Aliens—look for his younger, prettier Googleganger).

Here’s what I learned from their efforts: The president’s political savvy and famous preacherlike cadence play a big role in his ability to stun a crowd, but delivery only goes as far as what’s in the package. Berry and Gottheimer close every chapter with the full text of the speech they’ve just analyzed, and the placement is apt. It drives home the force of the words themselves—clean and precise and startlingly emotional, even on a two-dimensional page. You may or may not agree with them, but they’re impossible to ignore.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Scriptin' with JavaScript and Ajax

There are lots of JavaScript and AJAX books out there now, but few really combine both skills into one book. A few books that do, are huge books (700+ pages) and really are impossible to read through and actually get through all the 'techo-jargen' to really get anything out of the book. Most people need a easy-to-understand, to the point with real-world examples book.

This book by Charles Wyke-Smith is the book you are looking for if you want to quickly get started learning JavaScript with all the latest features (including libraries) and how to incorportate AJAX features as well. Since AJAX is not a separate technology, but incorporate sepecific JavaScript objects to create AJAX-enabled websites.

The author assumes no previous JavaScript experience and goes through the basics of JavaScript covering variables, if statements, loops, arrays and how objects/classes work. Then the author goes into explaining the DOM works in modifying and referencing HTML elements of a web page as well as modifying CSS styles of elements (and child elements) of a page. This of course is the foundation of how to use AJAX properly and explained very nicely by the author will great examples to get anybody up and running easily.

The author then goes into explaining JavaScript events inrelation to how they affect an HTML page with window and mouse and keyboard events. The author also covers the Event object in talking about event delegation and working with the DOM in creating some complex JavaScript examples.

Then various JavaScript libraries such as jQuery, Adobe Spry, Prototype are explained with some really cool examples of using multiple libraries together which is very unique for most JavaScript books.

Finally, the author very nicely explains how the objects that work with AJAX work and how to create some really useful AJAX web pages with PHP.

Lots of good stuff to learn from this book and the author does a fabulous job doing it a relatively short book (300 pages).

A great book and worth buying if you want to learn JavaScript and AJAX the proper way!!!

The Linux Programming Interface

If your nose is a bit sensitive, the physical book might smell of chemicals, or at least the original copy that I received did. I was able to get a less strongly smelling copy from the publisher, which helped a lot. The hardcover edition is fat and pricey but worth it - looking at the sample code from the kindle version it came with it was kind of hard to keep track of what's going on while flipping through screens.

Also - I was confused on this point for a little bit - if you're looking for coverage of user space processes like systemd or command-line filters like less or grep, this is not the book for you - it covers only the underlying kernel system calls and C API which those filters are written with.

That said, I'm learning a lot about Linux through this book - and C as well. I learned C++ before I learned Linux, in some programming class where we used it to build a simple calculator and similar tasks. Learning C a bit later was a pain because it seemed so archaic and there was no proper motivation. Reading this book, though, made me realize how C actually makes a lot of sense in its proper context as a tool primarily for systems programming, for which it was created.

It's still slow and dense to read and digest (I still have a long ways to go with it), but I don't think there's any way around that - there's a lot of subtle and good information here, and it builds up the foundations progressively.

Be sure to get a copy if you are a serious Linux hacker.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities

I've done some graphic and web design in the past as part of a different job, but I'm now changing careers and will eventually be doing mostly freelance design. There are a lot of books out there that show you great designs, or that discuss only the more technical aspects of design.

But this book is unique in that it not only shows you brilliant works of design and branding, but shares the creative process behind them, focusing specifically on the critical task of creating brand identities that are lasting, relevant, and pleasing to any given client.

This book is visually inspiring while also being a great read... the perfect blend of eye candy and rich information! I'm about halfway through right now, and even if this was the end of the book, I would think it was worth picking up. But just when I think it can't get any better, I read a few pages more and love it even more.

David Airey just does a great job of demystifying some of the more daunting aspects of branding. Obviously I'm a beginner, but I have to believe that even seasoned designers who aren't as experienced in branding would find this very useful. Anyway, enough gushing. Get it. Love it.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PHPList 2 E-mail Campaign Manager

Since I swapped my Java programming skill for Python in 2009, things have been going very well. In fact, it's turned out to be one of the best decisions I've made in my programming careers ever since I stopped developing in VB6. One cool thing about Python is the brilliant community out there that are working to make it one of the best languages for developers.

The first time I tried the Django framework I was hooked. There's nothing out there in the Java landscape that compares to the ease, less cluttered and well-documented power that Django provides. If like me you've used Java long enough, you will have noticed how bloated it quickly became with different people coming out with all sorts of frameworks - making an already crowded landscape into an XML-polluted jungle. Luckily, I discovered Python, saw the light and switched.

Talking about switching, we just started a new project last week which focuses on developing mailing applications for one of our clients. Unfortunately, they want it developed in PHP and not Python meaning that some of the folks on the team will have to either brush up on the PHP or start learning. As luck would have it, I bumped into this PHPList 2 E-mail Campaign Manager at the bookshop on my way home, so I picked up a copy.

PHPList 2 E-mail Campaign Manager is some of the best books out there on developing your very own mailing list. I have only read the first 3 chapters an can already see the amount of useful information that will come in very useful for my current project.

One of the problems with managing a self-hosted application like mailing list is that it requires an on-going security audit and protection from spammers. With this book, you will not only get to see ways to install and maintain it seamlessly, you will also get to opportunity to choose which of the many open source mailing list meets your need. There's no need in installing a 900 pound application on a server that will not stand the load, so knowing what works where and how they scale really matters.

I have just installed two of the many applications and can already see how they will cut down on our development and maintenance time. The other cool thing about this book is that I was able to apply some of the tips to Python.

Have you got a copy, did you find it equally useful? Would like to hear what others think about it. If, however you are looking for a great book to manage any sort of mailing list on your own, this book is a must. Internet marketers will hugely benefit from it as well. I can't recommend PHPList 2 E-mail Campaign Manager enough. Click here to get a copy now!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Jenkins: The Definitive Guide

Streamline software development with Jenkins, the popular Java-based open source tool that has revolutionized the way teams think about Continuous Integration (CI). This complete guide shows you how to automate your build, integration, release, and deployment processes with Jenkins—and demonstrates how CI can save you time, money, and many headaches.
Ideal for developers, software architects, and project managers, Jenkins: The Definitive Guide is both a CI tutorial and a comprehensive Jenkins reference. Through its wealth of best practices and real-world tips, you'll discover how easy it is to set up a CI service with Jenkins.
  • Learn how to install, configure, and secure your Jenkins server
  • Organize and monitor general-purpose build jobs
  • Integrate automated tests to verify builds, and set up code quality reporting
  • Establish effective team notification strategies and techniques
  • Configure build pipelines, parameterized jobs, matrix builds, and other advanced jobs
  • Manage a farm of Jenkins servers to run distributed builds
  • Implement automated deployment and continuous delivery

About the Author

John Ferguson Smart, director of Wakaleo Consulting, helps organizations optimize their Java development practices and infrastructure. He provides training and mentoring in agile development and testing practices such as Continuous Integration, Test Driven Development, Build Automation, and Continuous Deployment.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dive Into Python 3

Mark Pilgrim's Dive Into Python 3 is a hands-on guide to Python 3 (the latest version of the Python language) and its differences from Python 2. As in the original book, Dive Into Python, each chapter starts with a real, complete code sample, proceeds to pick it apart and explain the pieces, and then puts it all back together in a summary at the end.

Dive Into Python 3 is a Python book for experienced programmers. Whether you're an experienced programmer looking to get into Python 3 or grizzled Python veteran who remembers the days when you had to import the string module, Dive Into Python 3 is your 'desert island' Python 3 book. If you've never programmed before, Python 3 is an excellent language to learn modern programming techniques. But this book should not be your starting point.

Get "How to Think Like a Computer Scientist: Learning with Python" by Allen Downey, Jeffrey Elkner, Chris Meyers and learn the basics. Then dive into this book. Dive Into PYTHON 3 was written by Mark Pilgram, and this edition is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License 3.0. * Money raised from the sale of this book supports the development of free software and documentation.

About the Author: By day, Mark Pilgrim is a developer advocate for open source and open standards. By night, he is a husband and father who lives in North Carolina with his wife, his two sons, and his big slobbery dog. He spends his copious free time sunbathing, skydiving, and making up autobiographical information.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter - Yellow

I don't know about you, but my little boy likes one of these awesome toys. We got him a nice Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter - Yellow. The last time we bought him something of that sort, it ended up in the bin within days of buying it.

However, this particular one seems to last much longer. It does feel like the best of the Syma toys on the market right now for those with children especially boys. If you have a child and would like to treat him to a nice toy, I would recommend you get them this top of the range Syma S107/S107G R/C Helicopter - Yellow

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Using Sep in Python

If you have been working with the latest Python 3 to a degree, chances are that you will have come across some very tricky and trivial piece of code that would run easily on Python 2.* but not on Python 3. This is one of the huge number of changes that was introduced in this Python 3 version, and sometimes you need to go back to the documentation to really work out how to use them. Below is a quick example on how you could use the new Sep.

Here's simple example of that in action:

place = "London"
print("Hello from ", place, '!');

If you run that, you will get
Hello from London !

The new print() method by default inserts a space at the end of its arguments. To avoid that space you will need to explicitly specify the 'sep' keyword.

print ("Hello from ", place, "!", sep="") # Note the explicit " " after "Hello"
Another goodie is that you can easily get useful information about modules, classes, keywords, and functions, e. g.

>>> help(print)

I will find time over the weekend to update this post and add a lot more examples here. I see lots of people searching for how to use sep - and it's important to have various examples that demonstrate how to effectively use it.

However, if you have a much bigger text than the one shown above, you will need to concatenate them before printing. Here's an example of how you might also want to use it:
output = "".join(["Hello ",name,"!"])  # thats an empty string to start 

As I have always said, use the >>> prompt to experiment to find which works best for you. It is one of the most powerful methods to learn how to use Python's huge collection of modules.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Skipping tests in Python unittests

There are situations when writing unittests in Python you want to skip some tests - for example, you don't want to initiate process that could take some time to finish, e.g parsing huge XML.

In that case, Python's unittest allows you to annotate which of your methods in your test case you'd like to skip. Starting from Python 2.7, you could use any of these skip decorators in your code:

1. @unittest.skip
2. @unittest.skipIf
3. @unittest.skipUnless

Here's an example on how to use them -
import sys
import unittest

class TestSample(unittest.TestCase):
    @unittest.skip('Unconditional skipping of the test method')
    def test_skip_unconditional(self):

    @unittest.skipUnless('-smoke' in sys.argv,\
                         'Skipping the smoke test')
    def test_skip_unless_conditional(self):

    @unittest.skipIf('-quick' in sys.argv,\
                     'Skipping a time consuming test')
    def test_skip_if_conditional(self):

if __name__ == '__main__':
    # don't pass the args to unittest module
    except ValueError:

    except ValueError:


The test test_skip_unconditional is skipped all the times. The test test_skip_unless_conditional is run only if the unittest is invoked with -smoke option while the test test_skip_if_conditional is skipped if the unittest is invoked
with -quick option.

Here's the result of running the code above:

$ python sample_tests.py -v
test_skip_if_conditional (__main__.TestSample) ... ok
test_skip_unconditional (__main__.TestSample) ...
skipped 'Unconditional skipping of the test method'
test_skip_unless_conditional (__main__.TestSample) ...
skipped 'Skipping the smoke test'

Ran 3 tests in 0.000s

OK (skipped=2)

As you can see from the result, it shows how many of our tests were skipped and if the test was successful or not. Apart from these commonly used decorators, the unittest module has more and equally useful ones you should check out.

Since discovering Python in the last couple of years, I continue to be blown away at how flexible and refreshing it is to program in a language as cool as this. Unlike Java and other languages, testing modules come as default with your standard Python installation. Apart from this default testing module, you might want to see another one. Pytest.org provides another awesome testing framework that is quite easy to use. The site has a huge documentation to get you started - so check that sites out to learn how to do more with testing your Python code.

But if like me you prefer not to download additional testing framework, then check out Unittest tutorial on Python site for more on how to write Python test code.

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Experience Learning A New Programming Language

Since I left university several year ago, I have been programming heavily in Java and Python. In fact, my main language right now is Python. I have talked really well about it in this blog; and how I got into it in the first place.

If you came through any sort of university route, you will have been taught Java as well during your time there. But as you get into the industry proper, it soon becomes clear that you need more than Java to compete. You need more than just one programming language under your belt to get you anywhere as a software professional. What you learnt as part of your course is nothing compare to what you will be faced with in your day job. So, that's why it is important to have a good idea of what it takes to succeed as a software professional.

One of the best qualities of a professional software developers is the ability to adapt, learn and use the right tool or language for the task in hand.

We recently started working on a Windows-based project and we were all give a copy of Beginning C# Object-Oriented Programming to get us up to speed with C#. Although I have been programming for as long as I care to remember, I had never do any Microsoft Windows based development at all. Most of my work have been on Linux or Mac-OSX which will make this project a nice opportunity to explore Windows proper.

I spend the weekend on this Beginning C# Object-Oriented Programming and was surprised to see how easy it is to work with the .NET framework. If you already know Java and other Object Oriented programming, you can easily skip some of the chapters in this book. The first few chapters cover the logic and intro into .NET programming while the rest move deeper into designs along with more than 30 fully hands-on activities, you'll discover how to transform a simple model of an application into a fully-functional C# project, including designing the user interface, implementing the business logic, and integrating with a relational database for data storage. Along the way, you will explore the .NET Framework, the creation of a Windows-based user interface, a web-based user interface, and service-oriented programming, all using Microsoft's industry-leading Visual Studio 2010, C#, Silverlight, the Entity Framework, and more.

I totally recommend this book if you are getting into Object oriented development for C# and .NET. I didn't think I would like it, but was blown away at the pace, content and style of the writing. You won't be surprised to learn that the author, Daniel Clark, is a trainer.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Pro Python by Marty Alchin - Book Review

Pro Python - This is one of those books you need to really spend time on to seriously appreciate what a great technical book should be.

I received this book a while ago, other than the quick flip through the chapters, I didn't spend time reading it until now. I bought it during a project we were working on and needed something that would give me real practical ways on how to use Python. Most of the books I started with only touched on the basics as listed in the free Python book.

But Pro Python is entirely different. It contains one of the full description of decorator patterns in Python I've seen in any books. Despite spending countless hours on the web, no one actually explained those patterns. It might be that they don't know it or can't be bothered to go that deep. That's exactly where this book shines - it addresses some of the topics you will find useful for real life projects like the credit card processing application we were working on.

Despite being a pro book, it breaks down advanced topics into basics, functions, classes, meta programming, and includes distribution, not always covered by other texts.

This book does more to explain the Python mindset needed for clear, concise code, than some of the explanations I have read that seem to favor dictating a “Python Way” to the reader. Therefore, once you have learned Python basics, this book is a must for your library.

Bon Apetit!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Western Digital My Book Essential 3 TB USB 3.0/2.0 Desktop External Hard Drive

My Book Essential 3 TB
I've been working with computers since 1994, back when there were no personal or micro-computers. Back when a 300 baud modem was hot stuff. My first 60MB hard drive cost $600 (back when $600 actually meant something) and measured about a foot long or more, about 8 inches high and six inches wide. So you can imagine my delight when this little 2TB drive showed up. It's no more than a tenth of the size of that first 60MB hard drive. Imagine, two thousand gigabytes.

There's an old saying in computing (or at least those old enough to remember it) that, no matter the size of your hard drive, you'd only have about 1MB of free space. Well, not no more. Given the performance of our other Western Digital drives, I'm pretty confident that the My Book drive will last until, well, until we don't need to preserve our professional, historical files anymore.

Now, before I buy things like terabyte drives or printers or laptops, I always check PC Magazine's Editor's Choice collection, and this one was highly recommended. Its speed, size, and simplicity make it a real standout. Furthermore, we've been using Western Digital's drives for over ten years and have been very pleased with them.

Unfortunately, though, Robin's Rule #2 is: all drives fail eventually, as do computers. (Robin's Rule #1 is: never pass a law you can't enforce, but we'll skip that one here.) My sturdy old Pentium 4 Micron computer is finally dying, after putting in several years of hard service, so it's time to move on to the laptops, especially now that we're retired and I'm no longer doing interface or other design work that really does need a large monitor. And moving to the laptops means it's time to transfer all our historical, professional data off the old machines, which is why I bought the My Book drive.

The real beauty of the Western Digital My Book isn't just its thundering capacity, it's the size and portability. Using a simple USB cable, I can move my main development data from one computer to the next in less than five minutes (Gee, just like the old days of moving SCSI drives on the Macs). So now every one of our computers with a USB port can become my main development and writing computer. Just as soon as I transfer that 1.5GB of old emails from clients and contact information for everyone I know (I used to use Outlook Express, but now I just let Yahoo take care of the mail), and things like my book-selling database files. The total data transfers have now taken up barely a fraction of the My Book's space. Out of a readable 1.81TB, I still have 1.78TB left. And that represents over fifteen years of developing database applications for clients like California state agencies and medical research projects.

Meanwhile, the My Book drive just sits quietly in the background, taking up almost no space and storing our entire professional history of database development. Yes, it's a ridiculously huge drive for a small company, but all those historical files are critical and, what with the recent tornado warnings (tornadoes in California? Really? Weird.), it's nice to know that all I need to do is unplug this one little drive and our critical data is safe. Or, at least, it will be safe just as soon as I finish transferring the data from the other computers sitting around here. That's an awful lot of reassurance for about $130.

Monday, May 30, 2011

My Review of Seven Languages, Seven Weeks, the beginning

Last time I blogged about Seven Languages, Seven Weeks, the beginning, I was thrilled at how much you folks liked the book - which I got week before it went on sale on Amazon. I like to pre-order books especially when I know they will be classics like The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Collector's Edition. Since then it has been on my shelf gathering dust until now. Although I attempted to read it immediately I received it, I didn't really spend as much time as I wanted on it because work, other books and family commitments got in the way.

If you didn't know about Seven Languages, Seven Weeks, the beginning, it is written by Bruce Tate of Pragmatic Programmer fame - he's also the author of many other books highly regarded books including Better, Faster, Lighter Java.

This book covers seven languages over seven weeks (which is a big challenge) - breaking them into very manageable size for you to cover each of the languages in one week. What I love about this book is that it covers some of the latest top languages (Clojure, Haskell, Io, Prolog, Scala, Erlang, and Ruby). For those who already know other languages like Java, Python and C++, you will definitely enjoy reading this book. Once you've finished and attempted all the problems accompaning each of the languages, you will be ready to use them in anger.

Like I said in the initial blog post, I'm very happy that Python or Java was not used in this book - you don't want to be relearning the language you already use; so the use of these new languages is a wise move. It has been in my todo list to learn new languages, so when this book came on the radar, I could not contain my excitement. If you are a serious developer you will benefit immensely from this book as it will allow you to expand your programming knowledge and add these languages to your toolbox.

If like me you love programming languages, then you will love this book.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Developing Android Applications with Adobe AIR

If you want to use your ActionScript skills to build mobile applications for the Android OS, this Developing Android Apps with Adobe AIR guide will show you how to use the unique programming environment, architecture, and tools in the Adobe AIR for Android SDK. You'll get practical hands-on experience on a wide range of development topics, from device-specific features to optimization techniques and best practices -- including how expand your mobile development experience beyond Android to other platforms.
Developing Android Apps with Adobe AIR takes you through the entire development process, with ready-to-run example code that implements each feature discussed, including:
  • Touch and gesture events, and screen orientation
  • Saving and retrieving data on the device
  • Features such as geolocation and the accelerometer
  • Animation, scrolling, device resolution, and vector images versus bitmaps
  • Architecture for one screen at a time and breadcrumb navigation
  • Advanced topics, such as security, custom views, and optimization

About the Author

Veronique Brossier is Senior Flash Engineer at MTVNetworks and adjunct professor at ITP/New York University. She has worked on applications for the world of art and entertainment, including The New York Visitor Center and the 9/11 Memorial site for Local Projects, NickLab for R/Greenberg Associates, Cartoon Network Online, the Hall of Biodiversity at the American Museum of National History, and many more.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Materials I Used to Learn Python

The last time I posted a piece about how to download totally free Python ebooks and other materials, someone emailed me and wanted to know how I got into Python Programming as a lady. Like most things I have done so far in my life, it started when I was in school and didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. Luckily of me, one of the classes in school those days included a class in introduction to computers.

It was there that we first got exposed to programming in Modula-2. I picked it quite quickly that I was writing and debugging my own code properly within days of learning the language. It felt surprisingly natural and exciting to anything I had ever done. Imagine coming to class explaining to my colleagues how to get their programs to run. I was always moving from one desk to the other just helping people to get their program running. The buzz I got was awesome. The go-to girl :)

Fast forward several years later...having used Java, Perl, and C++, I thought I would learn Python Programming. I had many project  ideals and wanted to work on some of them with Python and learn the language in the process. I did a bit of research and found wikiversity's introduction to computer science - managed by the same folks behind Wikipedia. This is good for beginners new to programming in general and Python in particular. Being a veteran of programming languages, I didn't find it too useful as it caters for beginners. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to learn from that site if you are new to programming in general. In fact, it has a number of quality links to other resources you might find quite handy. You should get a solid understanding of programming background, problem-solving and what algorithms are.

That said, you might find  Head First Programming to be a nice place to start learning python - it uses Python as the main language to teach the basics of programming. This is what I always recommend to those who enjoy having exercises at the end of every chapter. This  Head First Programming  assumes that you are just starting off in programming; as such approaches it from a teacher-student perspective. Be sure to look around for bargains, but you can pick one up for $12 on Amazon.

If you prefer to read online, I would suggest you check out Dive Into Python - there's a free online version - or you could download the PDF onto your computer. What I like about the PDF version is that it comes with searchable feature making it possible to jump around the huge file using the table of content.

I had the link to the MIT Open Courseware program, but can't seem to remember where I bookmarked it. I will post here when I bump into it again. But in the mean time, if any of you know the link please post it in the comment.

The book I have now that I'm working my way through as we speak is  Programming Python - it is the latest version published in 2011, updated for Python 3 and still manages to cover all the advance topics you would expect. Try and get a copy if you can

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Using Version Control with Git

Seeing how fast technologies move on, I have decided to get my hands on Git and learn how it works. During my years of software engineering, I have used everything from CVS to Subversion - so I know how these tools and technologies work. They all have areas where they shine, and other areas where they could be better. So, that is why I'm looking to try out this Git system.

You might want to see How Software Professionals Are Making Money Online.

I've heard a lot of good things about it - I figured one of the best ways to get started is create a free account on Github and download the client for your platform. I work on both Windows and Ubuntu Linux, downloading for these platforms is very easy especially for Windows. Here's a link on how to download and install it on your platform. There's nothing particularly difficult about getting started, just follow the simple installation process and you will be running in no time. Another thing I did after installation was fork an exiting project and start from there...easier than starting all over with a new project.

Although there are lots of free materials online for learning to use, I prefer to use books when there's no access to the internet. Apart from that, I like collecting books especially when they are the first edition of their niche; which Version Control with Git is.

I only just started using it and can't really tell how useful the book is, this is my first day of using it so in a couple of days to come I should be able to post my experience and thoughts. Remember you don't have to get the book, you can read the free online version of the book by bookmarking it on your computer. This allows you to  get the up to date version every time the official documentation is updated.

But of like me you like to buy books and display them on your bookshelve after reading, then you should buy a copy. I saw it on Amazon for $10 - so check in case the price has gone down since last week.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The IT Jobs Are Exploding in 2011. Are You Ready?

Despite the state of the economy and the financial industry, it looks like the IT industry is seeing one of the biggest growth in the whole of the services industry. We have been hiring new staff members, and the forecast is that that trend is only going to keep improving.

You might want to see How Software Professionals Are Making Money Online.

As these jobs are coming fast and thick, are you ready to take advantage and see your earning grow as well? If you have not thought about improving your skills, I think now is the best time to really start considering it. There are more jobs in emerging technologies and languages like Scala, Python and NoSQL - as always, these jobs require new skills, so it is imperative that you keep learning.

One way to see how these new generation languages are spreading in the industry is to take a look at one of the top freelancing sites - Odesk.com. Some of the jobs on that site require that you use any of these latest technologies. There's no excuse not to update your skills...if you rely on the C/C++ you learnt over 10 years ago, you will soon become a dinosaur and quickly become extinct. But if that's not an option, you could start today. It all starts with a search online for sites that offer certificates on Python, Perl, Database and Linux/Unix administration, Java, PHP/SQL, client-side, Web, .Net, and Open Source programming.

The cool thing is that you can use tools like FREE Transcender demos! to help you learn all of these technologies for free from the comfort of your home. Most of developers I know use these tool and it has changed their life and massively broaden their job prospect.

Don't wait for some young college graduate to come and knock you off your job, download one of these FREE Transcender demos! videos and start learning to program for free.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Harmony Project - Where is it Today?

Back in 2005, I was fresh out of university where I was finishing my post graduate program. I had the whole time in the world to spend on open source projects and other personal stuff. It was then I managed to write the only commercial software I have ever written on my own and marketed it.

I still remember clearly remember where I was when I first heard about Harmony project; I was on the Underground Tube train and read about it in Computing magazine. When I got home I checked out the site, within weeks of that initial encounter quickly joined the project...working on testing and documentation. Soon after joining the project I posted this message almost a day to the day I posted it 6 years ago.

It was a great project - I spent most of my time working on it, answering questions in the IRC, keeping the documentations up to date...doing all that whilst still holding down a full time job else where. Sadly, it wasn't until the when Sun rejected our request for the testing kit that some of the guys became disillusioned.

I changed job, got married and started a family. All these did not give me the time to spend on the project, so I slowly lost focus and interest. It was not until this morning that one of the little reminders on my desktop popped up with a link to this post.

Not sure harmony is doing great, but would have been cool if they managed to persuade the then Sun to hand over the testing kit.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Mastering Regular Expressions Should Be In Your Toolbox

If you work with Python or Perl on a daily basis, chances are that you will have used a great amount of Regular Expression for manipulating text as part of your project. For Perl programmers, regular expression is a major part of the language and you are expected to master it if you are to succeed using the language, but for others, you will only use it now and again on some projects that require it; so you may end up not requiring to know a lot of regex.

However, for most beginners, one thing they find quite challenging with programming is getting to grips with regular expression - even some experienced folks out there still find themselves struggling with it. It does not matter how long you have been programming, if you are not making use of this feature as part of your everyday project, it is easy to forget the syntax altogether. To make matters worse, most programming books do not cover it, instead they just make a passing reference to it. So if you have a need to use it in anger, you will most likely use one of the best and widely used resources.

Mastering Regular Expressions is one of the most highly recommended books on Regular expressions out there today. This book starts by looking out how regular expressions work and sets out to explore how you can create them in C#, Java, Javascript, Ruby, Python, PHP, Perl, VB.NET.

I have had this book on my shelf for as long as I can remember, only recently went back to it because of the recent heavy lifting work I'm doing in Python. The cool thing about Regular Expression is that it works across languages - you don't have to learn it all over again for each language. It is one of the few things in programming that is the same no matter what language you choose.

The writing style is great, it shows you clear examples on how regular expressions work and how to use them. It has definitely helped me to become a better Engineer. The cool thing about this book is, unlike most other one out there, it focuses wholly on Regular Expressions. It covers everything you will need to know regardless of language and platform. It does not matter how long you've been programming, this important feature for text manipulation is a vital programming aspect that everyone should master.

It doesn't matter what programming language you work with, if you are looking for ways to learn how regular expressions work, I highly recommend getting a copy of Jeffrey Friedl's book

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kanban by David J Anderson

I've been in and around IT/software development for 10 years, and familiar with the Waterfall, Agile, Scrum and Kanban (or so I thought) methods. This was a very in-depth book on Kanban, opening me eyes to a much wider world than just being a task board. First 3/4 or so is focused on Kanban specifically, with good implementation ideas, and then the rest brings in quality practices and other areas of software development and how they connect or work within a Kanban environment.

My one gripe (besides the book's price) would be that this book is primarily for managers with the authority to implement serious change, which is ironic given the focus on the employee-empowering benefits of the discipline. Would have been nice to have some thoughts on how to introduce it without the WIP limits and negotiations with other teams; a way for line employees to push for change and prove the concept of task visibility, flow, throughput and bottlenecks w/o having to make externally visible changes right off the bat.

The way it's presented in this book, seems to be targeted at groups that are really struggling with their existing processes or already have a continuous improvement culture. I think the folks kind of muddling through with an existing process might find the "switching costs" to be pretty high.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why My Server Is Still Offline!

It's been almost 5 months now since I took my server offline. A lot has happened since then: moved home, changed work and google has updated their algo. This has been the longest time that my server has been offline. The few times I previously took it down was when I had a new hardware and was struggling to migrate vital sensitive data across; then a few days later, it was back up.

But this time, after moving city and home, I decided to give it while before powering back up, during this offline period, I have been loosing revenue ofcourse. The server had 12 sites hosted in it and it had thousands  of pages indexed. These are the pages I worked hard to create and promote. So having them offline not only deny people great content and resources, it also costs me some nice and decent income as well.

The main reason why I have not brought it online since has been because of time and upto date hardware. The current hardware is a bit dated and showing its age...some weird sound come through now and again. So, I plan to get a much newer hardware before I can dust it off again.

Another reason is that I run a VOIP server as well, and that requires constant monitoring - which I can't afford at the moment. As you can see, there's a lot of work before it can be running again. But hopefully things should be back to normal before the middle of the year.

The only consolation I have is that most of the previously indexed pages are still online, all the backlinks are still there ageing and getting juiced up; but the only thing left now is when the server comes back online.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Free Python Programming Books

One of the things new programmers find very hard is where and what books can be recommended. I spend some of my free time mostly on the Python Tutor list helping out there to answer questions; and sometimes help these new Python programmers deal with anything they happen to be having trouble with like some Python gotchas and cryptic error messages they can't understand.

By far the most common question we see is more about what free books and websites we could point them to. For some people, these online resources can be a great help because they don't have to pay for them. So, they can use them as reference as well as study material to master the language. I use them myself - in fact, I've had them in my bookmark for a very long time - going back to check up on one thing or another now and again.

So, with that in mind, I thought I would post here some of the free Python Programming Books I use myself in hopes that others might find it useful.

  1. Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python
  2. The Django Book
  3. Building Skills in Python
  4. Data Structures and Algorithms with Object-Oriented Design Patterns in Python
  5. The Pylons Book
  6. Dive into Python
  7. An Introduction to Tkinter
There are more out there - as I discover them, I will make sure to update this list. Of course some of you have bookmarks of your favourite Python books - would be great if you could share them here as well.

For those who are lucky enough to have one of those Amazon Kinde 3G, you could also consider downloading free ebooks to your device for free. See here for details and links 

Update: Andre has sent us a link to Learn Python The Hard Way -  You can take the online course as well as download the free copy of this book to your computer..Great for absolute beginners - complete with exercises at the end of each topic.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV

I bought this TV at Fry's Electronics, the price was $899.00 I could not believe my good fortune. A few years ago I tested a tcp-50g25 with very similar specifications at Paul's TV at the time the price was $1500, and I would have paid it if had I had the money. I spoke to a Panasonic technician as to what the difference between this TV and the more expensive tc-p50vt25, and he said not much other than 24hz frame rate handling, and some minor issues, IE. 1 less hdmi input, no 3d glasses.

This TV is without peer at this price range for having both 3d and just superb 1080p picture quality!
If you are buying a TV do not allow yourself to view any TV unless you see this, or any TV in both Blue Ray 1080p, and Digital Broadcast 1080i, If not do not conclude the TV is good or bad, or any TV that you are evaluating.

You can not tell what the quality of the TV is! Standard Def. will not tell you, it will not be quite as good, nor will a DVD be very good either, so beware this pitfall.  3d on this TV is good, but not as good as 2d in brightness and because of the yellow tint, but is still very satisfying. This TV likely dissipates 350 watts of power but that still is not terrible for this size a TV.
The sound is not very impressive, connect the tv to at least a 5.1 system. For some reason the TV does not send 5.1 out its optical port so you have to use a new amp with 7.1 or use your blu-ray players output to a 5.1 amp or 5.1 decoder amp combo.

Utube is good on the TV, the TV does not decode Divx when smart media is inserted into the smart media port. The DLNA does not recognize a lot of media on a computer, but a HDMI ported computer easily connect to it so this is not a huge issue.

View this TV in "Vivid" mode only or make sure your are in a completely dark room. In a show room make they put the TV in "Vivid" mode other wise the TV will look dull. The TV is not designed to be in a bright environment.

Also beware of Fry's "special financing", they neglected to put it on our receipt, so we had to fight to get the 0% interest for a year deal because of their mistake. So if you are smart wait for a sale and buy this TV for $900 and make sure you is buying at Fry's Electronics get the "special financing" in writing.

You could in fact pick one up right now on Amazon - there's a special deal going right now.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Inexpensive and worth every penny

I live in a converted warehouse loft and 90% of my floor space is old pine and maple hardwood flooring (sealed). Given that the amount of floor space is easily 1000+ sq. feet, mopping has been a huge chore and one that I don't enjoy doing - mostly because it never seems to really get the floor that clean and it seems to take forever.

After reading the reviews online and shopping around, I came across the Eureka 313A Enviro Hard-Surface Floor Steamer. It was well liked by the people who own it and use it, and at around $65, I couldn't say no. The 313A arrived within a few days, was well packaged and the assembly and instructions were simple and straightforward (seriously, if you can put water in a tea kettle, you can use the Eureka 313A). Within minutes of receiving the steamer, I was putting it to the test on the kitchen section of the floor (easily the area of the loft that gets the most traffic and builds up the most dirt).

The Eureka 313A Enviro Hard-Surface Floor Steamer heats up quickly and does a FANTASTIC job of cleaning and the fact that it doesn't use ANY chemicals in the process makes the air I breathe safer and healthier. Remember the first time you used a Swiffer instead of a broom, and you were totally disgusted and amazed at how much garbage your broom was leaving behind?? Well, that's what using the Eureka instead of a mop was like - the floor was visibly cleaner than it had ever been with a mop, sanitized, didn't smell like any cleaning chemicals and had a nice, natural sheen.

After steam cleaning all of the floors and leaving the house for a while, upon returning home and opening the door, the air in the apartment even smelled a little fresher, cleaner. You're going to be amazed (and probably pretty grossed out) by what this thing will pick up off your floors.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

There has already been a lot of discussion in the media and online about this memoir of a Chinese American mother's strict parenting practices. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is honest, informative, interesting and entertaining, and I believe Chua is making fun of herself and her strict, "Chinese" style of parenting as much as she is promoting her methods.

While I wouldn't suggest that Chua's very controlling parenting philosophies be universally adopted, I think she makes some good points that are worth thinking about. For instance, since it takes hard work to get good at anything, and since being good at something makes it more fun, Chua believes pushing your child to work hard is a way of making them ultimately happier. Also, Chua points out that her view of her daughters is complimentary. She drives them so hard because she sees them as strong. She feels that always letting a child give up is bad for their self-esteem and doesn't prepare them for the future.

That said, by the end of the book even Chua admits her approach doesn't always work. Her younger daughter Lulu pushed back with great defiance against Chua's controlling manner, but even Lulu admits she's glad her mother forced her to work hard when she was younger. It's not hard to see that Lulu's success at tennis and "improv" comedy, pastimes her mother did not sanction, is at least partly due to the determination and drive her mother helped instill in her.

Lulu's older sister Sophia had a long, well written letter to her mother published in the January 17, 2011 edition of the New York Post. In it Sophia thanked her mother in detail for how she was raised. Among other things Sophia said is that far from turning her into a robot she believes her mother's strict methods have helped her be an independent thinker.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Totally Free kindle Books!

Last week, I blogged about free Kindle ebooks that I read on my Android phone using the free Amazon Kindle app. The app is free for reading kindle ebooks on your phone if you don't have the Kindle device itself. I had Kindle 3G last year, but it's broken now and can't afford to replace it.

Here's a comprehensive list of free books that you can start downloading right away. The books work the same on the Android app as it does on Kindle - there's no difference. The only concern I have with reading on mobile devices is size of the texts - they could damage your eyes if used regularly. If you have the money, you could pick one shiny Kindle up or just look around for a used one. Other than that, it works just as great.

Click the link and scroll to the middle of the page, to the right hand side is the Search box if you have any particular title you'd like to search for. They are updated daily - so be sure to bookmark the page.


Monday, March 07, 2011

The Millionaire Messenger: Make a Difference and a Fortune Sharing Your Advice

Brendon Burchard is a Masterful Teacher and Trainer. His message and delivery has helped me and aided countless thousands of others to discover and enhance our voice, clearly define our message, and to properly package and present it to our audience and the world at large. For me, the journey has taken many years, tens of thousands of dollars and countless mistakes. Thankfully, there is now a roadmap and a framework that paves the way to sharing one's message with the world in a more effective and more fulfilling way.

In his latest 'Golden Ticket', "The Millionaire Messenger", Brendon Burchard has accomplished an incredible milestone having synthesized and distilled his many years of experience on the expert journey to GREATER INFLUENCE, IMPACT and BIGGER INCOME into a simple, easy to follow checklist. The result is a treasure trove of wisdom, insight and perspective rarely delivered in such an easily accessable format (without the tuition of years of searching and thousands of dollars).

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. The journey to the fulfilment that comes from sharing your message with the world in a bigger way to make a bigger difference begins with the 10 Steps Burchard succinctly lays out in "The Millionaire Messenger". This blueprint is most assuredly the gift of another 'Golden Ticket' to all who appropriate and apply the message delivered by "The Millionaire Messenger."

Friday, March 04, 2011

This One Will Blow Your Mind!

This image is mind bending... See it and try to work out how they did it
See it here

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Poke the Box

Seth Godin has been making the same plea in the last several books. "We Need You To Lead Us" was the subtitle of Tribes. Using reverse-psychology, Linchpin asked "Are You Indispensable?" to prod us into action. "I sell fireworks," he says at the beginning of Small Is The New Big in talking about how his writing encourages those with great ideas to get them done.

In Poke The Box, Seth removes the whatever directional intent there may have been in those prior works and imploring us to do something, anything. There are no barriers left.

Inger Kklekacz isn't photographing the Portland's live music scene because someone told her to. Modern Skirts' Gramahawk album was made up of music they wanted to make and a label didn't.The King's Sixth Finger didn't make sense to publishers, but it didn't stop Jolby. Amanda Hocking didn't wait to get picked and she sold 900,000 copies of her books.

If you are already doing, you don't need Poke The Box.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Sims Medieval - Limited Edition Revisited

The Sims Medieval - Wow, I'm thrilled at the level of excitement that my initial blog post on The Sims Medieval - Limited Edition created. A few weeks ago, just after putting up a post about my experience with the game, several other blogs and sites syndicated the post sending traffic here in the process.

What is interesting is that, although I had been playing computer and video games since 1998, I never really spent own money on any game. Virtually all the games I've played were either borrowed, given to me or played with friends at their place.

But this time, thing were different - I thought I would buy it after seeing this short trailer on Amazon.com website. This turned out to be a very wise decision, because days after owning a copy of this The Sims Medieval - Limited Edition, I posted the said review and things started rolling from there. I now own 4 more copies of the best games out there including Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty Collector's Edition and some more on the way.

I'm not someone who usually spend money of games, but that changes the moment I found out the fun, excitement and fulfillment one gets from owning one of the highly sort after collector items in the video game world.

I don't know how long the excitement will last, but one thing is for sure: I will keep having fun while I still have it.

I can't recommend it enough, if you too have a few change to spend, I strongly suggest you get one now. Not only because it is one of the best games ever made, but you are investing in one of the coolest collector's items out there.

Get it NOW!

My New Kindle Wireless Reading Device

I didn't think I'd ever want an e-reader, because I love reading "real" books too much. But now that I own a Kindle 3, I can't imagine my life without it! I still read "real" books, but I can download magazines, email my kindle newspaper articles I want to check out, email my kindle work documents I need to read, and keep many books with me at all times. It comes in so handy to take out a "book" of short stories when I'm in line at the post office, or bring up a book while i'm in the doctor's office waiting room!

One of the things that most surprised me about the Kindle is how many really great books are offered in the Amazon Kindle Store for free! I thought it would just be old books with expired copyrights, but there really are a lot of new books that Amazon offers for free as part of a promotion!

Also, another thing I was pleasantly surprised about is that you can always download the whole first chapter of ANY book for free, and then buy the rest of the book (and download it automatically) if you like it! This is so nice, because many times as soon as you start reading a book you know it's not going to be something you're interested in.

Overall, if you're on the fence about this product, I say go for it! It will only IMPROVE your reading life!

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Monday, February 28, 2011

Modern Perl

I really like this book for many reasons:

First it is about Perl and how to make most out of Perl. Perl 5 has been blessed with some great additions in CPAN, which are not covered in most other Perl books (at least not in those I read so far). This book explains those additions and some concepts behind them. It is interesting and informative.

Second it was written in the true Perl spirit which is in the open, i.e., you could go to the books website and get the chapters still in draft. So there is feedback and improvement already in this first edition. With other books you have to wait for the second edition to have those things.

Third it shows that Perl 5 is not an old-fashioned language that cannot compete with the new hip languages, but Perl 5 still has a future. You just have to write the right kind of Perl code and the book explains how to do this.

In summary, if you like Perl 5, I'd say you will like this book.

Modern Perl

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Hanging Shed by Gordon Ferris

The book is set in the later forties in Glasgow. Douglas Brodie is drifting in London after leaving the army when he gets a call from his old friend Hugh (Shug) Donovon. Hugh is in prison, destined to hang for murder. Brodie travels north, reluctant to help because he and Hugh fell out before the war, over a woman. Brodie is rapidly drawn into a world he thought he had left behind as his roots overwhelm him with memories, and also a new world of murdered children, drug dealers and the underbelly of Glasgow criminal life.

Brodie meets Samantha Campbell, Hugh's defense lawyer and is persuaded to help her attempt to clear Hugh. Their efforts involve them with the Slatterys, hard men from Ireland who control the drug trade with a rod of iron and the threat of death, frequently more than a threat. A cast of crooked policemen, reporters and figures from Brodie's past jostle on the stage.

I have read mixed reviews of this book. All praise the writing, which I can only do as well. It is clean and tight and the descriptive passages and train of thought of a man coming to terms with what happened to him during and after the war, and what is happening to him now are striking and vivid. Gordon Ferris bring to life Glasgow, its sights and sounds and smells.

Some reviewers seem to be uncertainty about the reality of IRA gun-runners in the late 1940's, and whether the IRA were active at that time. As the child of a man who trained in Ulster in the early forties and told me that the only time he ever knew he got shot at during the entire war was south of Belfast, I can vouch for their presence. And the IRA link is not overdone in the book - it is a convenient means of sketching in the bad men, who are very bad indeed.

Overall I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys tough, hard edged thrillers. I am not always a big fan of books set just after the Second World War, but the strength of writing and vivid characterization, not to mention the twists and turns of the plot make this one of my top reads of the last year.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Collector's Edition

I'm not sure what some of the negative reviewers were expecting. We got a taste of "The Tales of Beedle The Bard" in "Deathly Hallows". For me, there was no confusion about what this book was going to be, as we got to read one of the stories(The Tale of the Three Brothers) in "Deathly Hallows". The story is also situated in the book perfectly- there can be no doubt about the fact that it is a FAIRY TALE and that is all.

Anyone who was expecting an 8th instalment to the Harry Potter series obviously wasn't paying attention.

That said, this is a delightful little book of fairy tales that gives us some more insight into the world of Harry, Hermione, Ron and friends.

The fact that Rowling is able to create perfectly crafted fairy tales to me is just baffling. Even as an English teacher who has spent many college and professional years writing both for work and fun, I can't IMAGINE being able to do this. Try it. It's harder than you would think to come up with a Grimm's-esque tale. It has to have the right mixture of magic and morality, and Rowling gets it just right.

The foot-notes by Hermione and Dumbledore are cute and amusing, and give devoted fans another small dose of the Harry Potter world they've been missing.

Is it an instant classic? In my home, yes. Around the world, no, probably not, but she wrote it as a fun gift for a few friends, and it ended up being published. They're selling the thing for 10 bucks a pop, and donating the proceeds to charity...it isn't going to be bloody Shakespeare.

Learn Objective-C on the Mac (Learn Series)

After first reading a Wiley Publishing book on this topic, and getting lost in all the errors and the rapidity of the code (tell me if you got totally lost on Chapter 8 like I did?), my next book on the subject was this. WOW! While this book won't get you up and coding full-blown applications in a day, I truly believe that this should be every future Mac OS X developer's FIRST book on Objective-C. Only then should one move on to meatier things. While the other books get you building pretty apps, and you follow along as best you can, not fully understanding what every line of code means, and *maybe* you could rewrite the example code by memory a day after, this book gives you the confidence to tackle big projects, by building a solid Foundation(.h) of the basics, explaining the basics, and especially drawing attention to the differences between C and Objective-C while you're going along.

After completing the book once, and returning to the Wiley Publishing book, I was able to fully understand the examples in that book, and was able to even rewrite the examples to make more sense to me. I even had a good idea on how to formulate my Classes ahead-of-time, from looking at the purpose of the examples.

If you want to code the next lame Mac OS X or iOS program people won't download even though it's free, go ahead, choose a different book. If you want to make Cocoa/Objective-C your career, and give you the confidence to aim high, start with this book. I'm glad I did.
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