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W Boudville (Terra, Sol 3)
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Groovy 2 Cookbook
Groovy 2 Cookbook
Price: CDN$ 16.49

4.0 out of 5 stars less verbose than java, Jan. 8 2014
This review is from: Groovy 2 Cookbook (Kindle Edition)
This book is aimed at a reader who might already know java, but wants to learn functional programming. Prior to Groovy, you might have to start with an entirely new language. A major attraction of Groovy is that its creators have gone to great lengths to make most java statements compatible.

Along these lines, these common java packages are implicitly included in every Groovy source file - java.lang, java.util, java.io, java.net. Plus there is a more compact notation that reduces the verbosity of standard java. This translates to hopefully code of yours that is quicker to type and to understand, in a self documenting sense.

The text also shows that Groovy can aid in enterprise applications, where you might already have extensive libraries of java beans, with a concomitant expertise that you have built up. Chapter 3 may provide a pleasant surprise, in showing how Groovy beans, and there are indeed such creatures, can be used in place of your more common java beans. And why? More compact notation. But the Groovy beans also indicate that the Groovy writers are serious about making Groovy have a place in large scale pre-existing enterprise data centers.

At the simplest level, the book has a persuasive example. It shows a typical java bean, with some local variables and associated getter and setter methods. Then it shows the equivalent Groovy bean. No need to explicitly write getters and setters, or default constructors. The sheer brevity of this is so nifty! And I hope you are experienced enough in java to realise that less code means less chance of random bugs creeping in.

But what about the functional aspects of Groovy? There are numerous examples that illustrate annotations. Easy to follow and hopefully you can rapidly write your own cases.

There is much more to the text, of course. But this should give you some of its flavour.

SketchBook Pro Digital Painting Essentials
SketchBook Pro Digital Painting Essentials
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars mimics different hand drawing methods, Jan. 1 2014
While the cover is in colour, the reader should be cautioned that the internal illustrations are all in black and white or greyscale. In part this is an inevitable consequence of the affordable price of the book. Colour plates can be costly. But also note that sketching in most of the book's examples often starts with the equivalent of pencil. So the figures that are intrinsically black and white are perfectly adequate for comprehension of what the software can do for you.

But the text does indeed often refer to the subsequent use of colour, to fill in the drawing, as it were. Here you are required to use some imagination. Or more favourably, you are running Sketchbook Pro on your machine to accompany the book's lessons.

You can see that Pro has many settings that let you mimic quite realistically a hand drawn canvas. Ok, you still do not get the tactile feel of paper. But from a purely image standpoint, the final product can be quite impressive. Or at least Pro lets this aid the best of your drawing ability.

Do take a look at the drawings which emulate a pen nib use and those for a brush and ink. Nice and this is a key point. Suppose you want to make a drawing that will then be reproduced. Either as hardcopy, like in this book's figures, or in a web page. So the point is not what the original drawing physically is, but what the copies look like. Then Pro should work well for you.

Vmware Vcloud Director Cookbook
Vmware Vcloud Director Cookbook
by Daniel Langenhan
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 55.13
14 used & new from CDN$ 55.13

4.0 out of 5 stars impressive useful methods, Dec 22 2013
The vCloud Director is an impressive extension of VMware's existing product line. It lets you, a data center administrator, expand the number of networks you can start up and thence manage.

The book also shows a natural dynamic tension between VMware and Cisco. The latter is of course also continously improving its hardware and software offerings. One important case is the Cisco 1000v, which is software. It competes with the VMware Distributed Switch. Langenhan describes the 1000v as being a replacement. I am uncertain if this is VMware's official policy, but the reader should take into account that the author is independent of both companies. So his opinion on this and indeed on other topics in this book is valuable.

One recipe that may resonate widely with readers is on creating load balanced virtual machines. Remember that one point about having VMs in the first place for most companies is to improve the use of your existing hardware. All those idle but powered up servers. But having deployed VMs across your machines, presumably using VMware, the next logical step is to load balance them. This helps increase further the overall use. The recipe on this appears straightforward to implement. Though please note that I do not have the hardware and software to do so, and am just going by the text's narrative.

Another important area of discussion is the enhancement of datastores. This is an acknowledgment that a virtual machine is ultimately run on and stored on hardware. A chapter delves into ways that VMware improved the backing up of your VMs. This includes recommendations or perhaps reminders that backups should be stored on disks that are as cheap as possible; not the latest and fastest ones.

Kali Linux Cookbook
Kali Linux Cookbook
by Willie Pritchett
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 45.79
13 used & new from CDN$ 45.79

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars surveys field, Dec 7 2013
This review is from: Kali Linux Cookbook (Paperback)
Hmm. Penetration testing. Hmm. The back cover sounds very suggestive; like a not so covert inducement to train as a subversive attacker. Sections of the first chapter might also be construed that way. But the authors are correct in explaining that you, as a defensive sysadmin, need to understand the methods that an attacker can use against your network.

Know the enemy.

Useful too and indeed is the explanation of VirtualBox. Made by Oracle no less. So if you are somewhat justifiably dubious about random packages trolled on the web, its parentage should be reassuring. It provides a secure [hopefully !] sandbox in which to test various virtual operating systems. Indeed, the book can be read in part as a nice guide to installing and running VirtualBox.

Chapters 4 onwards in the text are where you focus on actually scoping out an unknown network. The narrative delves into using existing tools like nmap to scrutinise that network. There is also a program called maltego written external to Kali and similarly used for threat assessment. Kali apparently bundles a version of it. So via Kali you effectively have a superset of maltego. If you come from prior experience with maltego, that might be a useful way to understand Kali.

The book takes us into the use of Nessus, another renowned network prober. And then ditto for Metasploit.

This de facto survey of the penetration field is a virtue of Kali.

Getting Started with Oracle Public Cloud
Getting Started with Oracle Public Cloud
by Hemant Mehta
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 41.20
6 used & new from CDN$ 34.70

4.0 out of 5 stars just a starting guide, Nov. 28 2013
Very good. Oracle is trying to respond to the increasing use of 'cloud computing'. As the opening chapter acknowledges, the attractions include elastic provisioning, where the user [typically a company] pays only for the actual use, while the data center is refactored out and run by others. Note that the use of 'public cloud' certainly does not mean free or run by a non-profit organisation. Public is short for publicly available.

The layers of the Oracle cloud architecture are summarised in a diagram in the text. Much of this is generic to any cloud provider, like Amazon. But here there is a natural emphasis on the Oracle products. Mainly Solaris, Oracle's linux version and the Oracle database servers. Plus also a java service.

The entire book is basically a white paper (technical document) explaining Oracle's offering. Readers who might have already used Amazon Web Service will see much familiar. With a natural difference being that Amazon offers the free SQL databases, while Oracle gravitates towards support of its 11g version.

The book bills itself as a starting guide. So it is somewhat unfair to compare this against the full panoply of AWS, which is really the default giant in public clouds. This being said, I do hope there is more to Oracle Public Cloud than presented here. AWS has made great strides in also supporting a distributed geographic redundancy and in having a nice GUI for a new user, for example. The screen captures in the book only convey limited comparative ability.

Alfresco 4 Enterprise Content Management Implementation
Alfresco 4 Enterprise Content Management Implementation
Price: CDN$ 20.39

4.0 out of 5 stars workflow sections for business owners, Oct. 21 2013
The back cover suggests that the book is for 'experienced users, business owners or system administrators who want to install and use Alresco in their teams or businesses'. After a reading of it, I opine that it is not well suited for the typical business owner, who cannot be expected to have much computing experience at the programming level. Rather, it is meant for a combination of an experienced user and a sysadmin.

For this version 4, if you have indeed used earlier versions, then much of the text content and numerous screen captures should easily make sense. There is a lot of pages where you can customise the many attributes for your content of documents. Like being able to transform content from Microsoft Doc to Adobe PDF, or to convert from JPG or GIF to PNG. And for documents, there are nifty abilities like adding a summary property or to turn on versioning.

But there is only so much you can do from the GUI. Further extensions are possible by you writing javascript. As you should appreciate, this lets you introduce arbitrarily complex rules, limited only by your ability to code and debug them.

Another source of complexity in Alfresco is the use of XML configuration files. As with other packages, these files are getting larger. The text has several cases of XML snippets where this is readily apparent.

Perhaps the broadest use of Alfesco is in the mapping from a business workflow to a content oriented instantiation. Here is where a business owner might look. But she will likely need the assistance of a more computer technical employee to walk through the later sections of the book that deal with this.

concrete5 Cookbook
concrete5 Cookbook
Price: CDN$ 14.84

4.0 out of 5 stars for experienced PHP and javascript programmers, Oct. 15 2013
The allure of concrete5 is the promise of an easier time making those darned pages of content for your website. concrete5 implements the use of templates, which it calls blocks. Related to this is 'page types'. The book is geared for the programmer already well versed in PHP.

For you, there is a considerable set of code snippet examples. These should be straightforward to understand and quick to type. Plus, you might well be tempted to experiment with altering the code. And you should. It can be best to regard the examples in the text as a jumping off point for you to learn about the limits of concrete5.

concrete5 draws a distinction between page types and blocks. The latter are still small, but the emphasis is on the visual layout. Importantly, you can easily define your own block types from scratch. The book shows how. It frees you from being confined to the default block types in concrete5. Also note that the functionality of blocks is greatly enhanced by the ability to embed javascript. Since javascript itself has increased in power in recent years, you should be able to appreciate the possibilities this opens up.

Chapter 5 starts to go into deeper issues of integration. Where you have a back end database server. The examples in this chapter illustrate using the database to populate your web pages. But also going from user input on those pages back to the database. A cautionary note is given about guarding against SQL injection. The latter is a dangerous probe against your database and is well known to crackers.

Phonegap 3 Beginner's Guide
Phonegap 3 Beginner's Guide
by Giorgio Natili
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 48.40
11 used & new from CDN$ 48.40

4.0 out of 5 stars develop in any major browser, Oct. 15 2013
If you are a startup writing applications for mobile phones you probably have limited resources; especially good programmers. But mobile phones are split into iOS, Android and Microsoft Windows Phone. Really troublesome to have to customise your source code for each platform. This version 3 of PhoneGap tackles the problem. The book has many necessarily brief examples that show code running on -

a) Microsoft Windows Phone and developed using Visual Studio.

b) Apple iOS and using Xcode

c) Android and developed under Eclipse.

I suspect the last choice might be the favourite of some programmers who prefer entirely open source environments.

The text delves into how to debug across these platforms. It points out another nice feature of PhoneGap. You can work in a desktop browser. As a practical matter this is vital. You need to actually write code on a machine with a reasonably sized screen and keyboard and mouse. PhoneGap lets you do this. And all the major browsers are supported by now. Google Chrome, Firefox, Apple's Safari, Opera and of course Internet Explorer.

Also, you don't strictly need to test your code on all these browsers. But the book is careful to insert a cautionary note. You may [actually you should] compile platform specific executables that are optimised for the look and feel of the appropriate UI layer.

PhoneGap and this text also attest to the widespread standardisation that has occurred on browsers. A vast improvement over the browser wars and the huge imcompatibilities of the 90s.

Getting Started with Hazelcast
Getting Started with Hazelcast
by Mat Johns
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 42.97
14 used & new from CDN$ 42.53

4.0 out of 5 stars costly use of memory versus disk, Oct. 10 2013
Hazelcast is an ambitious way to have data redundancy and fast data access. From the book, it is clear that much very complex coding has already been done for you, the developer. This largely frees you from knowing the low level intricacies of how Hazelcast does its clever things under the bonnet. But keep in mind that this comes at a significant cost. Two actually. The first is that the data is held in memory. Orders of magnitude faster access than from disk. In this respect, Hazelcast is taking advantage of the still falling prices of memory chips. So that even though disk space is still less costly, now it becomes practical for some applications to hold the database in RAM. Some readers will see the analogy with SAP, which has garnered much recognition for its in-memory HANA database.

The second cost relates to the first reason. Having the database is memory is non-persistent. If the computer crashes, the database is wiped out. Strewth!

Hazelcast's answer is to replicate the database. It is split into partitions and 2 copies of each partitition are made. The copies are distributed across the nodes (computers) that collectively form your back end server.

You can see immediately that your cost per byte [or these days gigabytes] of actual data has just doubled, over what you are already paying for RAM versus disk. The book does not come out and exactly say this outright, but a keen reader will pick up on it. What it means is that you need to decide the economics. Gauge the maximum size of your database, without any replication. Then see if you can afford twice that [at least] in RAM in two or more servers.

Html5 Data and Services Cookbook
Html5 Data and Services Cookbook
by Gorgi Kosev
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 60.11
14 used & new from CDN$ 53.61

4.0 out of 5 stars extensive abilities of HTML5, Oct. 2 2013
The authors want to educate you in understanding how to fully or better use HTML5 with Javascript, both on the client side and for the server side. Just going through the many sections and code snippets gives an appreciation that this combination now can rank as a fully fledged programming language.

One quick way is to consider Chapter 3 for drawing graphs that the user can interact with. The examples are good in also showing how to get external javascript and CSS packages into your code. But mostly the chapter tells how to easily put in the necessary graphical elements, like sliders and axes. Other features include the ability to zoom in and out and to pan across a chart. You must have seen such things before, in fully fledged graphical applications, like Mathematica and OpenGL. To be sure, what the current text describes does not even begin to approach those in the full graphical functionality. But for general purpose use, the HTML5 and javascript can be surprisingly versatile for simple graphs.

Another chapter of the book goes into data validation. Where the user inputs data into a text widget and your code checks the input values for correctness. Like if it meant to be an integer. Or the strength of an input password. I imagine the latter should catch the attention of some readers. The discussion takes you into the use of regular expressions [regex], something fleshed out over the last 30 years in unix. Just learning regex if you are new to it can be very useful in other programming contexts; not just data validation.

The complexity of the text increases somewhat when it gets into how to talk from the client side to servers. Extensive use of JSON to hold data in an object oriented manner. Ajax also gets considerable use. It lets you push data from the server to the browser, where the user of the browser does not explicitly have to do anything. Greatly expands the idea of interactivity, if you have never heard that browsers can do such behaviour. As an inventor, I commissioned prototypes of my first patent where the pushing to the browser was absolutely essential to the overall interaction. So this section of the book was of especial interest to me.

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