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.
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