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The following reviews were written by Michal Owsiak (owsiak.org, owsiak.biz). Enjoy and feel free to write a few reviews of your own on Safari Books Online.

html 5 missing manual

Review:

I have mixed feelings when it comes to this book. At some point it is entertaining and can teach you the basics of HTML very well, however, it is too basic for a professionals or semiprofessionals. Topics covered within the book are well explained, it covers basics of the HTML 5. You will find here information regarding new tags, new ways of input validation, progress bars, sliders, video embedding, audio embedding, managing the canvas, working in offline environment, etc. If you are not sure whether this book is for, ask yourself question, where you put yourself. Do you start your adventure with HTML? Or maybe you are HTML veteran? If you are about to begin your experience with HTML 5, this book sounds like a good read. At the very beginning, Matthew lays down the basics of the HTML 5. You literally build a simple HTML page by extending it step by step. Second chapter gives you the overview of how to create a structure of the page, how to use new tags and what to avoid (especially the old markups). I really enjoyed part four, where details related to forms are laid down – how to create them, how to validate values, how to provide users with input suggestions – entirely at the browser’s side. Video and audio related section will shade some light in terms of the variety of video/audio codecs – there are few of them, and they can make you confused, believe me. Another great benefit is that you get CSS explained by examples rather than by definition. However, you may fell slightly disappointed if you are looking for a CSS reference.

I like the style of the book. It is really simple written, at least that’s what I think. You shouldn’t have any issues with following what Matt tries to explain. Keep in mind, however, that this book is rather brief overview of HTML 5 rather than comprehensive HTML 5 reference. Great plus for Matt for putting lots of references to external resources and for really impressive examples. You will be guided how to find them at the very begging of the book.

 Berkun's Managing Breakthrough Projects Master Class

Review

I like Scott’s approach to giving lectures. He makes it half formal half informal and he has this “natural” flow when it comes to performing. It makes acquiring the knowledge easier. What you get here is the knowledge wrapped such way it is easier to swallow.

Leading and Managing is devoted to growing ideas that are new and good at the same time. Well, in fact, this lecture helps you to learn how to manage people who are expected to invent “things”. In first part Scott presents the basics, he tries to define what good ideas are and how to distinguish them from bad ones. He tells quite interesting stories which will probably entertain you while at the same time provide with the knowledge. Succeeding parts are related to the topics that will help you manage the innovation process. Scott tries to provide you with a Swiss knife for inventor, well for the manager who works with inventors, as a matter of fact. You will learn how reducing team size may influence the process, how to protect the people and what does it mean to protect them, how to deal with authorities and how to choose right people for right tasks. Scott is rather pragmatic, that’s why he focuses on the experiment as a basis for any innovation. There is quite a bunch of people, mostly among the philosophers, who would argue with this thesis, but this is not that important. The part I really enjoyed was devoted to role definition. It’s good to know how roles may influence anything we do in a team.

There is a lot of material within this video – you have to have almost four hours to spend if you want to watch it through. But it pays of, I can tell. There is, however, one drawback. This is why I am not giving here maximum score. The sound quality is very poor when Scott’s audience takes over. Each time people in class spoke it was hard to follow – volume was way too low.

As a side note, I really liked Scott’s question regarding bad day, or bad week. This was good one. You will know what I am talking about after you watch the video  :)

 The Java Sessions: The Best of OSCON 2011

 Review

I was very excited when I finally got this video. I work with Java for quite some time now and I was thrilled with all these new ideas around Java and JVM. You will find here topics related to recent research devoted to JVM, both theoretical and practical. Topics cover wide range of topics related to application development as well. This is at the same the strength and the weakness of this video. You will find here gentle (short) introduction to functional thinking, you will see an example of how to improve your services step by step right from the Twitter guys, you will learn how to elevate Gradle usage, and argue regarding the purpose of software configuration. I am pretty sure that after watching “Coding over Configuration” you will have more questions than answers – just like I did.

How about my experience? Well, I think I benefited by half of the material. I am not quite for jQuery which means I dropped this part entirely, the same refers to Visage Android Hands-on Lab. I am simply not into it. I tried to watch, but it turned out I was not interested at all. What I really enjoyed was “Functional Thinking”. Neal was able to present in very comprehensive way material, usually considered hard to follow. “Implement Your Own JVM Compiler” was interesting, but I will stick to yacc anyway Grails related material was also quite entertaining – maybe that’s because I am recently into Groovy and stuff. Steve, by talking about Twitter and it’s experience with transition to JVM gives you nice overview of how to deal with big changes within the development process. Unfortunately he won’t provide you with lots of details. That’s a pity. As I already mentioned, Robert asks you quite controversial question: “why do you use the configuration at all?”. Which is quite intriguing one if you take his arguments into account.

Some of the videos didn’t make to catch my attention, maybe because I wasn’t interested with the topic in the first place. Some of them were really interesting and caught my attention from the beginning till the end. And some of them were just moderate. But one thing I can say for sure. Quality of the material is, as usual, at really high level. But, as I stated in summary – only for JVM hobbyists.

 Practical Packet Analysis, Second Edition

Review

Practical packet analysis is related, in fact, to a single product – Wireshark. Chris mentions other tools as well (in an Appendix), but he mostly focuses on this, particular tool. Wireshark allows you to analyze what’s going on within the wires of your network. Listening to the wire is not that easy as you may think in the first place. First of all, it’s good to know the terminology. Chris provides you with the exact knowledge you need. You will learn just enough to get started and will be told what are the differences between switches, routers, hubs and taps. You will also know what ARP and OSI mean as well as many other abbreviations. What I especially liked within the theory related section was some sort of analysis when to focus on particular device for sniffing and how to utilize it to its extent. One remark here. For people totally fresh in network terminology I’d suggest something additional and better (easier) explained. I think, at some places book might be hard to follow. Especially when Chris discusses topics like packet components, uses computer related arithmetic, and provides not that much detailed explanation of some topics. In fact, I’d suggest this book to intermediate readers who already know something about computers and networks.

What do I think about this book? It is good for people who are familiar with computer science but didn’t work with networks so far. Why? It simply requires some level of knowledge related to networking and to data is processing. On the other hand it is based on well known, easy accessible, GUI based application. This way, you can follow it quite easily, even though you are not perfectly familiar with all the network based concepts. I’d suggest this book as a starter for people who are thinking about working with packet analysis.

I particularly liked what Chris says at the beginning of 4th chapter: “As you perform packet analysis, you will find that a good portion of the analysis you do will happen after your capture.” This is certainly true. And this sentence tells very important thing. Good network analysis is not only based on listening to the wire. In fact, it is based on a deduction. It’s like detective’s work.

 the book of ruby

Review

I think Book of Ruby was aimed as elementary for the Ruby language however, Huw didn’t achieve his goal at 100%. If you take a look at table of contents you can see that most of the basics of the language are covered. And this is certainly true, but the devil lies in detail – like always.

Book is very well organized, it contains well defined chapters and sections, but at some point is hard to follow. When I was reading it, I found myself getting confused regarding particular topics. Point is – some topics are “under simplified”. This way, you can think that everybody will follow but in fact, people get confused. I know that sometimes it is tempting to tell people “just enough”, in order to make them do, at least, something. But this is a tricky way to teach.

This book should be addressed to people who are in the middle of the road with Ruby programming. It is to complex for beginners – they won’t be attracted by simple examples that don’t lead to anything “fancy”. On the other hand it is too simple for advanced users. I think it should be treated as some sort of companion book for other books – covering Rails.

About the Author

Michal Konrad Owsiak is a computer scientist and a hobbyist philosopher. He develops applications within Java, and Objective-C related environments. Recently, he is involved into Nuclear Fusion, HPC and GRID related projects. He reads lots of books – both philosophy and IT related. He can be followed at http://twitter.com/mkowsiak and at his blog http://www.owsiak.org

Tags: book-reviews, html5, java, Michal Owsiak, ocson 2011, projects, Ruby, Safari Books Online,

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