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W Boudville (Terra, Sol 3)

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Cocos2d-x Game Development Essentials
Cocos2d-x Game Development Essentials
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars a quickie, Oct. 12 2014
Well, the book focuses on writing mobile games in C++, which is correct for the majority of games. So if you are starting out in game development, you are making a good choice professionally. Another advantage touted is the free open source nature of Cocos2d-x. However, note that you can of course write games that you own, in it.

Another advantage is the cross platform nature. For mobile games, this boils down to 2 main choices – iOS and Android. Most of the book's examples are for iOS. The game examples are brief, as indeed is the entire book.

Of the graphics, they tend to be simple given that the screen will be on a cellphone. Sprites are quickly explained, but this is a straightforward concept to grasp. The text shows how actions can be done to these sprites, like moving or fading or rotating them. You can have fun varying your code snippets to rapidly see how code changes propagate into visible changes on your mobile screen simulator.

The touch ability of a mobile screen is used in a chapter. Undoubtedly some of you [most?] will find a use for touch in your games. The chapter describes single and multi-touch effects. Also easy to code.

Play Framework Essentials
Play Framework Essentials
by Julien Richard-Foy
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 33.82
3 used & new from CDN$ 33.82

4.0 out of 5 stars make more interactive web pages, Oct. 12 2014
Making a web application can be complex and Play tries to help simplify the process. Richard-Foy starts with the basics of explaining the architecture of such an application – from the client browser to the web servers. Play offers the choice of java or Scala for coding. Java is much better known to many.

Like Ruby on Rails and other languages, there is a standard projects layout for the files. So you need to know for Play that source files go under app/ and test files in test/, for example. As a practical matter, if you get deep into a project, you may or rather will need to manually go into such directories and add or remove files for debugging or other development needs.

The book also has good advice on testing whatever web application you make. One such is to use Selenium WebDriver which lets you write automated tests for a browser. Perhaps you have wondered about how nice this would be, well it has been done. You can now define numerous unit tests for your user interface and just run these all from one simple command.

A more advanced topic is how to handle long running requests from the browser. One solution is to use Ajax, while another is to use WebSockets. Either gives you greater interactivity from the user standpoint while she is running her browser. It lets your app directly push changes to the browser. A fundamental qualitative enhancement.

Learning Unity 2D Game Development by Example
Learning Unity 2D Game Development by Example
Price: CDN$ 14.57

4.0 out of 5 stars use C#, Oct. 12 2014
The book is arranged as 5 extended examples of games parleyed in Unity 2d. But first the book prepares by quickly discussing the basics in the introductory chapters. These include the topics of setting scenes, adding characters and code control. At first, I mistook the latter for version control, which is certainly needed for large programming projects! But the code control chapter discusses in broad terms the different types of programming languages, from machine language to assembler to any level of higher languages. More to the point, since the book is about Unity, you find that you can write in 3 languages - C#, UnityScript and Boo. Not bad! This enhances the opportunity for Unity to spread its adoption.

Of these languages, C# is perhaps the one with the most expressiveness. It is equivalent to C++ or java. So if you are from those languages, probably pick C#. As a pragmatic point, it can offer the best performance, and could have the largest networking libraries.

While the choice of UnityScript may be made by those better versed in javascript. The former derives stylistically from the latter.

The text mentions Boo mostly for completeness, and just to remark that it is in the style of Python.

The game example chapters are each concise. Deliberately, the examples are where you can rapidly understand and try. Got to say that for those readers who hail from spending too much time in video arcades, look at the chapter on classic arcade if you want to recreate something from your misspent past.

One game example just starts into the vast arena of a physics engine. Showing how to incorporate realistic effects that let the player take advantage of his pre-existing intuition. I should add that you are not required in this chapter to actually know introductory physics kinematics. But the more you do know, the greater the ability later to customise any physics engine you might use.

Arduino Networking
Arduino Networking
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars happy tinkering, Oct. 11 2014
For many of you Arduino enthusiasts, the project you work on will need a way to connect your hardware to a network. As a practical matter, that network is likely to be your local network or the Internet. This text gives a means, using the Arduino Ethernet shield. The slender nature of the book hints at how straightforward this can be.

Given the hardware, the steps in the text's examples show how to upload data, including how to plot this in a rudimentary way on a terminal window. Back to basics indeed. For debugging, this makes the mininum needed. No fancy interactions with a web server. At least initially. But the text then goes onwards, to explain to to hook up to a web server. Chapter 3 actually makes the web on the Arduino motherboard. Impressive use of the memory and CPU now commonly available in Arduino !

Another key variant is later in the book, when it shows how to use a web server on the Internet to remotely control your device. The advantages and uses are manifold. Albeit with the requirement that the device needs to be accessible from the Internet.

Happy tinkering.

OpenCV Essentials
OpenCV Essentials
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars q, Oct. 11 2014
This review is from: OpenCV Essentials (Kindle Edition)
For serious graphics research and development on many platforms, OpenCV is the de facto standard. It has a massive library of graphics subroutines, extensively debugged. So you do not have to reinvent or rewrite known algorithms. The first chapter of the book gets right to the point. It has an example describing how to use it in computer vision contexts, where you have to process live input from a camera. Sound familiar to some of you? Another common case is the playing of a video file. For both uses, the source code snippets are easy to code and understand.

The second chapter delves into using and extending the GUI for image processing. If your needs do not exactly fit what OpenCV has, altering in the manner suggested by the chapter's examples may be a viable and relatively quick solution.

That chapter does not do image processing. Instead, the rest of the book briefly and only briefly cover this vast topic. Offering examples like the use of thresholding. Or what has emerged in recent years, the use of cascade detectors for object recognition. OpenCV 3.0 [the latest] will have Kaze and Akaze detectors included. Earlier versions will require you to make your own arrangements to bolt these on. The text was written recently, but at that time, version 3.0 still lay in the future. But also take a look at the existing cascade detectors offering in pre-3.0. These may be adequate for your project.

The book is well suited as an introduction. Not just to OpenCV but to the entire field of graphics analysis. In passing, it also shows how that field has changed from the 1980s. Then, when I first met it, the emphasis was more on producing realistic images ab initio in an artificially made image. But over the years, that has largely been achieved. Photorealism is a done deal, more of less. Instead, now the problems are in detection/recognition in image data streams or huge video files. Something totally out of ability back then.

R Graph Essentials
R Graph Essentials
Price: CDN$ 14.29

4.0 out of 5 stars r, Oct. 11 2014
Congratulations on making it this far! Yes, I kid you not. If you are reading my review, then you already know R or know about it. R is now the de facto statistical package favoured by many maths departments throughout the world. What this means is that the researchers in those departments often write and debug the subroutines in R. All for free, as far as you are concerned. So looking at R is a good choice. But given that you are dealing with possibly large data, graphics routines are essential. The book focuses on what comes with R. The base set of graphics.

We see that simple plotting of curves is available. Along with scatter plots and various histograms. The R code to generate those figures is short. Yes, it is programming, but you do not need prior knowledge of a fully fledged computer language like C or java. The R language is quicker to learn.

The graphics examples in the book are nothing different or new from what any statistics text might show. Instead, it shows how R Graph can be equivalent to other packages like Mathematica, Maple, SAS, Splus etc. Those have been around much longer, but typically are not free.

The book is not meant to teach stats graphics per se. So if you are also learning that, consider getting a pure text on it and then also use this Lillis book to aid in actually drawing some graphs.

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$ 61.08
4 used & new from CDN$ 61.08

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. Development Blueprints 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 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$ 14.84

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.

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