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W Boudville (Terra, Sol 3)

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Node.js Blueprints
Node.js Blueprints
Price: CDN$ 18.14

4.0 out of 5 stars ex, Aug. 30 2014
Node.js tackles well a persistent problem in code development. People often link to packages developed by others outside their firm. Simply because it is faster than re-inventing the wheel. Of necessity, you have to add value by making new things. But the downside is a rat's nest of package dependencies. The book starts by explaining how you can explicitly record the dependencies using Node Package Manager. An example is given in JSON format, which is intuitively readable. That is the point about JSON. Perhaps more than any other single feature of Node.js, this handling of dependencies could save you immense time in debugging and maintaining your code base.

Granted, a novice programmer might not appreciate this. Not having endured in the trenches with a large code base or with having to maintain it. But experienced developers understand the significance.

The text goes on to show how Node can be combined with another popular package, Angular.js. Where the example also demonstrates the use of a backend MySQL database. Important because many applications are more than just a user interface. Persistence to a database is typically needed.

Another expansion in functionality is the use of WebSockets. Turns on a 2 way interaction between a browser and the web server. This can greatly expand the user's appreciation of what a browser can do. While Backbone.js is explained in its own chapter, for improved handling of jQuery. All of these are useful packages that you are likely to need.

Cloudera Administration Handbook
Cloudera Administration Handbook
by Rohit Menon
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 60.32

4.0 out of 5 stars get, Aug. 23 2014
This book is a rapid and useful introduction to the use of Apache Hadoop to analyse huge data sets. But the central assumption is that you are not necessarily a data scientist per se, but an administrator of a Hadoop system. So the text really treads lightly if at all on the intricacies of data analysis. Instead, the merits of what Cloudera offers are explained.

Top level material is covered, including building a cluster and installing and if needed upgrading Hadoop on it. Very tightly related to this is running MapReduce, which is the analysis engine optimised for a Hadoop cluster. The demands are specialised enough that ancillary processes [daemons] are needed. Like a job tracker program, giving information about scheduling of jobs, a status of the hardware in the cluster, and what jobs are currently running. If you have ever been system administrator of a computer cluster, especially a unix cluster, you may have seen similar programs, albeit on a smaller scale of disks.

A key advantage of this book is a joint education in Hadoop and MapReduce. The point about running a Hadoop cluster is that often you then run MapReduce on it. Where Cloudera comes into play is in the simplification of the Hadoop administration. But not all the software described in the book is free. Cloudera has a Manager program in two versions - Standard, which is free, and Enterprise, which is not. Standard looks pretty good actually. But the text encourages you to carefully contemplate splurging on Enterprise. Arguing essentially that its extra features are worth the cost. You should read the text slowly to see if you concur. As an inducement, at least when the book was written, the Enterprise version has 60 days free use. This could still be valid when you read the book.

Force.com Development Blueprints
Force.com Development Blueprints
Price: CDN$ 18.14

4.0 out of 5 stars learn, Aug. 23 2014
Recently, I was fortunate to attend a hackathon in Los Angeles sponsored by Salesforce, which makes the Force.com code described by this book. The company has several texts for Force documentation, which were indeed useful during the hackathon. But it would have been helpful to have had this book as an accompanying aid. It explains at a more readable level. And simply having more examples available can help some programmers.

The text starts off with a very cogent topic. The use of Heroku. This website was bought by Salesforce in 2010. It is heavily used by programmers in java, Ruby on Rails, python and node.js, as well as for other languages. As a practical reality, if you aspire to be a professional programmer, the book's examples of using heroku plus the git version control program are good background. Many now put their source code in heroku and access via git. If you have to pick up just one thing from this book, read carefully about heroku and git and try to use those lessons.

Also, the book uses extensive examples in Ruby on Rails, which has emerged as a major web server platform. If you can, take the book's advice and use Ruby on Ubuntu, as the Microsoft Windows environment has had awkward problems. Granted, maybe by the time you read this, those issues have been resolved.

Not surprisingly, the book describes an example of CRM, which is essentially where Salesforce originated. The Force framework has abilities to let you rapidly add commonly needed features like 'chatter', which is just what Force calls an internal messaging for your users. The graphics widgets available under Force let you easily instantiate these as needed in your code.

Sparrow iOS Game Framework Beginner's Guide
Sparrow iOS Game Framework Beginner's Guide
Price: CDN$ 14.57

4.0 out of 5 stars no, Aug. 23 2014
Well, it would certainly help to already be using Xcode and Objective C for iOS. The text rapidly starts letting you see visible changes on your cellphone simulated screen, in chapter 2. It assumes that you are acquainted with object oriented programming, in any other OO language. So and just as an example, the first code snippet has a narrative that mentions the use of factory methods. To anyone in OO, you have heard the term before.

Ditto for the concept of attaching listeners for various types of events. Game programming, and not just for the iPhone, invariably uses listeners as a mechanism for getting user input.

The Sparrow classes are quite extensive if you follow the book's discussion. The snippet examples turn out to be rather involved, and end up bringing in many ways you are likely to need and use to code your own game. Also handy are the many comments about usability. A crucial topic given the small screen size of a phone compared to a PC or laptop screen and keyboard. You are advised to always keep in mind how straightforward it will be for a user to play your game.

Unavoidably, the book talks about Objective C and gives snippets in this, but does not mention the latest Apple recommendation that it is shifting to Swift as the default programming language. Interesting to see how Apple is going to finesse this transition. But it is still worthwhile for you to learn Sparrow, given the short development time for mobile games, since the migration to Swift will likely play out over several years.

Near Field Communication with Android Cookbook
Near Field Communication with Android Cookbook
Price: CDN$ 14.57

4.0 out of 5 stars read and write tags, Aug. 15 2014
NFC is a limited range technology that has proved successful in a few uses. Mostly to do with financial transactions. The book starts with a good question and answer section. Mostly about objections often raised to NFC. Principally, the concern is power drainage. The response is that NFC is low power, at least compared to Bluetooth or WiFi. So the book argues that you can keep your NFC transceiver continuously on.

Some chapters deal with a common NFC use - reading and occasionally writing tags. The reading is far more common. While the writing of a tag means it must have more complex and hence more expensive circuitry. Hopefully you know that an URL is a special case of an URI. The book has a list of the standard prefixes for all the possible URIs. Because the limited capacity of an NFC tag means it is ideal to hold an URI. Granted in practice the most common URI put into the tags will probably be an URL anyway. But it helps to be aware of the broader possibilities inherent in what can be put into a tag.

Naturally, the reading and subsequent parsing of a tag then specialises to parsing an URI. One section of the text explains the parsing. Easy for experienced programmers.

The book also goes beyond tag access. Another key recent functionality is Android Beam. Which is Android's take on the Simple NDEF Exchange Protocol [SNEP]. It lets 2 Android phones exchange data in a peer to peer mode. Perhaps here is where it can interesting for some readers. You have a chance via the code snippets to garner inspiration for novel interactions. Of necessity, the snippets just display trivial functionality. Your job is to improve on these.

JIRA 6.x Administration Cookbook
JIRA 6.x Administration Cookbook
Price: CDN$ 16.49

4.0 out of 5 stars integrate with github etc, Aug. 15 2014
When the book says Jira is an issue tracking package for a corporate environment, in practice for some of you, this will mean handling complaints and bugs. In the computing community, bug tracking is a common necessity for any firm putting out software.

The book is directed towards a system administrator of Jira. There is much flexibility built into what you can make for your users. A form that a user fills out can have fields that you define as mandatory or not. The former means the user must fill out a field. You should probably exercise care about how many such fields you assign this status. Tempting after all to define all fields as mandatory. But that can deter some users from reporting an issue. While this might be frustrating from your standpoint, you have to make a tradeoff between ease of reporting and the comprehensiveness of those reports.

Jira is much more than form filling. One chapter delves into how you can define a workflow. Using an simple graphical interface to build a directed graph. A finite state machine, for those readers with the appropriate background. This network machine can then be used by your users in a project. The transitions between nodes [states] of the network can themselves have intermediate screens where users can fill in extra data or get information.

If indeed you want to use Jira for software development, then chapter 7 is germane. It shows how to integrate it with github, bitbucket and other 3rd party packages and websites. As you may know, several of these sites are now often used by programmers to archive their code in a globally accessible manner. A key paradigm change in the programming field. Jira lets you accomodate your users if they use these websites.

HTML5 Game Development HOTSHOT
HTML5 Game Development HOTSHOT
Price: CDN$ 14.57

4.0 out of 5 stars templates of games, Aug. 15 2014
HTML5 is now the official standard for web pages. But another major topic on the web is games. Makzan shows how to combine the two. You should be aware that this also involves CSS stylesheets. Whenever you read of HTML5, implicitly CSS is used, as a factoring of structure away from visuals.

The book is a collection of game examples. Involving the use of JavaScript, as a simple object oriented programming language. The examples collect the visuals to be shown in web pages and the game flow logic. You should maybe focus on first defining the latter. This is the internal skeleton upon which to later draw the graphics.

A clever technique shown in Project 2 is how to use CSS classes to store state information. Some games can be designed and understood as finite state machines. If there are not too many states, and most of these have different and distinctive visuals, then the method of Project 2 could be applicable.

More broadly, the collection of example games can be used as a template starting point. This includes understanding the class inheritances used. Straightforward way for you to encapsulate behaviour in a compact manner. This is of course a general property of object oriented coding. But if you are new to games, the book is a good way to see how it is applied to your context.

Having said this, some aspects of the book seem tedious and strained. Each chapter has subsections called 'classified intel', 'prepare for lift off', 'engage thrusters'. The first time, it's cute. Later, just cheesy.

Learning iPhone Game Development with Cocos2D 3.0
Learning iPhone Game Development with Cocos2D 3.0
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars detailed example, Aug. 15 2014
The text is very much a detailed building of an example game within the cocos2d framework. It walks through chapter by chapter, systematically adding features to the game. All within the Xcode and Objective C context that hitherto has been necessary for iPhone application development.

Game ideas like using sprites, the implementation of simple physics to determine the movement of these sprites as a function of time, and how to play sound, are explained step by step. For sound, you are warned that sound files exist in different formats, and conversions are sometimes required to a given format that you might standardise on.

You should pay attention to the chapter on the user interface. Given the small screen size of the iPhone, the UI should be kept as simple and intuitive as possible. The user is unlikely to read many instructions. In this sense, conforming to how UIs are done in other mobile games may be a good idea. So that she can rapidly transfer over any UI knowledge from other games.

Note that unavoidably, the book was unable to discuss Apple's recent announcement of the Swift programming language as the preferred new environment for the iPhone. Given cocos2d's popularity, I imagine it will still be heavily used for the near future, even without any upgrades to accomodate Swift. In practice, we are likely to see the latter.

iOS Development with Xamarin Cookbook
iOS Development with Xamarin Cookbook
Price: CDN$ 16.49

4.0 out of 5 stars first, Aug. 13 2014
Most of the coding for Apple's iOS is done in Objective C and uses Apple's Xcode. Indeed, you should probably do so. But perhaps you have a specific reason not. Then this book explains with many examples a different route. Using Microsoft's C#. However the book is careful to warn that you will still need a Mac in order to fully test your code. Turns out that Apple's iOS simulator, which runs on a Mac, to simulate running on an Apple mobile device, often does not fully emulate all the hardware features. Granted, this may change over time. Right now, you should get in addition to that Mac, an appropriate mobile device.

Perhaps you are already proficient in C#. Or your firm has a large existing code base in C#. This is the starting condition for the book. It never really discusses the issue, largely taking it as a given that you have already made your decision.

The plethora of code examples is the book's strength. If you have a specific coding need, try skimming the contents and the remainder of the text to find something close to you. All the examples enhance the odds of a useful intersection. However, the number of examples also means that of necessity the code snippets are just that - brief. Take more time over a given example to ascertain if indeed it can be germane.

The examples include more than simply widgets and text. Some demonstrate the use of images and video. The latter can be especially compelling and impressive, given the size of the mobile device and the minimal bandwidth. Which perhaps is a cautionary note with these examples. Be careful about the sizes of your static images and video. What might be a neat and functioning example in your lab may not transfer over to the outside, in low bandwidth environments.

Webgl Hotshot
Webgl Hotshot
by Mitch Williams
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 54.70
5 used & new from CDN$ 54.70

4.0 out of 5 stars you, Aug. 13 2014
This review is from: Webgl Hotshot (Paperback)
You actually have to know some maths of computer graphics. Simple two and three dimensional geometry and trigonometry. Some code snippets got into enough detail to require this, to fully understand what is going on. So you should understand what a cross product is. This lets you find, given two vectors that define a plane, the normal to the plane. A very common and fundamental operation.

The text gives sufficient to let you appreciate how to build 3D into your web pages. Ironically, one example, Project 6, shows graphics with unnecessary detail. This example depicts stock prices as a function of time, for several companies. But the screen shots display the curves not as 2 dimensional, but in 3D. No doubt to show you how to embed them in a 3D space. Other than this, you should never do this in your own graphics. The 3D adds no extra information. Worse, it makes comparing prices between the companies, and indeed for the prices of just one company, harder. You have undoubtedly seen this before in other graphics packages.

See Turfte's The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Simply, do not use an effect in your graphics just because you can.

Overall, the book's message can be seductive. Try to bring a user inside your website. Not just a passive reading of information. The book is only an introduction, however. The writing of such new content can be very labour intensive.

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