Read an E-Book Week – O’Reilly, O RLY?

Disclaimer: Although my work is related to the topic at hand, these are the thoughts of Sarah, the book junkie, and are not necessarily those of my employer.

This owl made its rounds long ago, but every time I hear “Oh really?”, this is one of the things I think of:

O RLY?

The other thing I think of when I hear “Oh really?” is O’Reilly.  Growing up in the techie realm, I simply adored O’Reilly’s books.  I looked forward to seeing what the next animal would be, as well as the next topic.  It wouldn’t be later in life, when my friend Jeff mentioned that he contributed to an O’Reilly book, that I would realize that not all O’Reilly books had animals.  But that still didn’t stop me from buying O’Reilly books.

My camel book (Perl) and rhino book (Javascript) have seen a lot of desks over the years.  In college, we used some O’Reilly books as our textbooks, and that made me happy to see that even my instructors had respect for O’Reilly books.

O’Reilly is another one of the publishers that fuels my love for eBooks.  From their O’Reilly Deal of the Day to the other deals for members (including a % off new editions or maybe a “buy x get x free” deal), there are plenty of deals for their titles in eBook format.  Add to it that their titles are DRM free – I can download my titles to any number of machines and devices.  Even better, when I purchase a title, I get the title in multiple eBook formats – including APK (Android), EPUB, PDF, Daisy (accessible), and Mobi (Mobipocket).  I don’t have to spend money on each format.

Here’s a sample of some of the books that I’ve purchased recently, thanks to some of O’Reilly’s many eBooks deals:

O'Reilly Titles

While flying home from the 2011 Microsoft MVP Summit, I read a few of the O’Reilly books – including Just a Geek by Wil Wheaton.  Reading this book gave me a look at the world of Wil Wheaton, including just how much of a geek he really is.  After spending most of a week with my geeky guy friends and their guy ways, this book grated on my nerves a little.  But that’s a good thing – it really captured Wil’s geekiness and his typical guy train of thought.  He really is just a geek.  Overall, it was a great read that I would recommend to Wil Wheaton fans.

Whether I want reference books or books by popular geek icons, I’m sure the O’Reilly site won’t let me down.  There’s a wealth of deals, over a wide variety of topics.  Publishers and imprints available on the O’Reilly site include O’Reilly, Microsoft Press, No Starch, Paraglyph, PC Publishing, Pragmatic, Rocky Nook, Sitepoint, TidBITS Publishing, and YoungJin.

So thank you, O’Reilly, for your great deals and for the DRM free eBooks!  Keep it up!

Read an E-Book Week – MEAP, MEAP!

Disclaimer: Although my work is related to the topic at hand, these are the thoughts of Sarah, the book junkie, and are not necessarily those of my employer.

Before I got an eBook reader, I would read eBooks – in EPUB and PDF formats – on my laptop and on my desktop with Adobe Digital Editions, which means that you don’t necessarily need to use an electronic eReader device to read eBooks.  I have to thank Manning Publications Co. for encouraging my interest in eBooks, as they had me review a couple titles for them – specifically IronPython in Action and Hello World! Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginnersin PDF form.

Today’s topic is all about MEAP – the Manning Early Access Program. This is Manning’s program to allow readers to get early access to chapters of a book as soon as they become available.  It also allows the readers to interact with the author(s) via author forums.  Authors can make changes based on feedback from the MEAP readers.  When a chapter is updated, MEAP readers can get the latest updates as well.

MEAP books cost the same as an eBook or print book but get you access to the chapters early.  This feature alone caught my eye with Manning.  While I keep an eye on multiple tech publishers, I’m always curious to see what’s coming out through Manning’s MEAP program.

The MEAP books I’m debating on at the moment include:

MEAP, MEAP… check out the MEAP titles today!

Read an E-Book Week – Introduction

Disclaimer: Although my work is related to the topic at hand, these are the thoughts of Sarah, the book junkie, and are not necessarily those of my employer.

Thanks to Nathan Blevins‘ retweet, I am now aware that this week is “Read an E-Book Week“.

For Read an Ebook Week, you could try one of my books. Get them at Amazon: http://amzn.to/fYawfL or Smashwords: http://bit.ly/eVTQe6less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply

Growing up, I read a lot of books.  I grew up with Richard Scarry, Dr. Seuss, and Shel Silverstein.  I spent a lot of time at my local library, checking out sheet music, mystery novels, and miscellaneous fiction.  As I grew older, I was introduced to the works of James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, and Nora Roberts.  While I started embracing my inner geek, I switched over to Michael Crichton, Douglas Adams, and Neal Stephenson.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2010… I was getting ready to fly across the country for the 2010 Microsoft MVP Summit.  I didn’t want to pack a stack of books and realized that it was time for me to embrace eBook readers for my own personal use.  That’s when, after research on my own, I decided to go with a Sony Reader Pocket Edition.  I liked that I could read eBooks without glare on an electronic device.  I also enjoyed that I could check out books from my local libraries.  And yes, my Sony Reader Pocket Edition followed me across the country again this year for the 2011 Microsoft MVP Summit.  What can I say?  It’s nice to carry a “stack of books” on a flight across the country thanks to the invention of eBooks and eBook readers.

Throughout this week, I will talk about my adventures with eBooks and recommend some techie eBooks while I’m at it.

Hello World! – A Friendly Intro to Programming…

 

Many months ago, Manning Publications contacted me and asked if I’d review this book.  I had seen one of my fellow local user group members with it, and it intrigued me, so I agreed to do it.  Manning sent me a PDF of Hello World!  Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners (ISBN 1933988495), which I promptly read but have forgotten to post about here.  My apologies on delaying my review on such a great book…

Father and Son Take on Programming

This book was written by a father/son team – the son is 10 years old.  When they first embarked on this journey, he was 6 years old.  And he wasn’t just a kid learning a new programming language – Carter had significant input in the book content.  Cartoons with speech bubbles, amongst other parts, were written by Carter.

They wanted to gear it for beginners at any age, including kids.  Rather than convincing “why” to learn programming, they assume that if you picked up the book, you’re obviously interested in learning programming.

What I love most about this book is that it offers a kid’s perspective on programming.  I’ve found the younger perspectives of programming to make it seem less intimidating and more fun, and this book and Carter’s perspective both do that.

Presenting the Concepts

I really like the order they presented concepts.  If I had to teach an intro to programming (in general) class, this would be the approach I’d take as well.  It starts out with the basics of variables and operators.  From there, it moves on to GUIs, decisions, loops, comments, and then graduates from there. 

The object-oriented side of Python doesn’t get introduced until later, and I like this because it reminds me of my data structures classes in college when people who thought they understood the basics would get totally lost.  Object-oriented notation and development in general was a tough concept that really made or broken a person when it came to our data structures classes.  Those who didn’t get it did what they could to get through the class and then avoiding programming like the plague.  I think this was because OO concepts in general were explained more academically rather than in terms that most people could relate to.  Carter and Warren use a simple example of a ball to explain objects, attributes, and methods – had we had something like that in college, there may have been a few more programmers from that program. After objects, they get into things like modules, graphics, collision detection, sound, and randomness. 

Each chapter addresses concepts that we as developers should be familiar with and explains them in terms that a beginner can understand.  Rather than being challenged to look at a language through a textbook with syntactic and plain examples, I find this book offering fun examples for learning basic programming concepts and even the advanced concepts.

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed the book.  I found the examples to be easy to relate to and the overall text to be both understandable and in an order to make it easy for a beginner to work through.  As I mention

ed earlier, I read it right away.  I got caught up in event planning, speaking engagements, and life in general that I forgot to write this review.  I liked this book so much that I purchased a dead-tree version for my bookshelf and to take with me and promote at my Python talks. I highly recommend this book for beginners of all ages.

More on Father and Son

Want to see and hear more about Warren and Carter Sande?  I found some links that you may enjoy.

You can see them on the Young Programmers Podcast, where Carter presents PythonCard: http://young-programmers.blogspot.com/2009/11/carter-sande-presents-pythoncard.html

They appeared on Hanselminutes #194, talking about their book writing experience, Carter’s programming experience, and other things: http://www.tr.im/RM6l


 

The Coding Geekette’s Book Reviews: IronPython in Action

I’ve been asked by Manning to review Michael Foord and Christian Muirhead’s IronPython in Action. As many people know, I recommend technical books typically based on their reference value, as I usually get bored within the first few sentences and end up turning them into references rather than reading through them. This book, however, was one that I read cover-to-cover.

What I liked best about this book was how it was broken down and how those parts come together. The 15 chapters are broken up into 4 parts – Getting Started with IronPython, Core Development Techniques, IronPython and Advanced .NET, and Reaching Out with IronPython.

The pace of this book is great for someone just learning IronPython. The book mentions using IronPython Studio and also brings up Mono, an alternative version of .NET that adds cross-platform abilities and supports IronPython. It also addresses IronPython from both perspectives – what Python is for a .NET programmer and what .NET is for a Python programmer.

IronPython in Action covers everything from the basic “HelloWorld” in C# (a language most .NET developers are familiar with) versus Python to getting into Silverlight. There are plenty of examples of Python and its data structures, which gives the .NET reader the basic building blocks to follow along through the rest of the examples in the book. There are also plenty of examples of .NET code for Windows Forms, .NET types (strings, numbers, and Booleans), delegates, and event handlers. I’ve found these introductory chapters to set a great base for developers from either camp – .NET or Python.

Once that base is established, the rest of the book gets into marrying Python and .NET into the wonderful language known as IronPython. The examples that are covered include (but are not limited to) working with XML, tabbed dialogs, modal dialogs, object serialization, testing with unittest, working with various mock libraries, monkey patching, dependency injection, metaprogramming, WPF, shell scripting, data binding, Silverlight, and extending the language with languages the .NET programmers are familiar with (C# and VB).

Overall, I would recommend IronPython in Action for anyone wanting to learn IronPython. The examples in this book were easy to follow and very applicable to everyday programming. Even if you’re an experienced IronPython programmer, IronPython in Action would be great to have on hand as a reference. I’m looking forward to buying the final copy once it comes out, just to have as a reference (and to plug in my future IronPython talks).

Want to hear what other people are saying about this book? Check out other reviews that the authors are tracking!