O'Reilly Book Reviewer

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book Review: Packet Guide to Network Protocols by Bruce Hartpence

Before I start my review of this book, let me narrate a story. Recently I had a crisis at work where certain users were not able to invoke web services. Of course, we had well-tested software using agile methodology and all that. My team knew our front-end and our backend very well. What we weren't well-versed with was the connection by which our front-end communicated with the backend. We were in a war room with the networking experts for 2 days and I couldn't understand jack of what they were talking. I was clearly an "outsider" in their elite circle. Hence, I got interested in this book.

This book is divided into seven chapters starting with networking models (OSI, TCP/IP) and ending with subnetting. Most of the material is dry but the author keeps the flow going steadily by providing screen printouts of Wireshark and explaining it with his pedantic style. Questions, answers, and exercises at the end of each chapter reinforce your learning. I liked chapter 5 (Network equipment) and Chapter 7 (Subnetting) very much as it is explained well and also I can relate it to my work.

This book is certainly not for the faint of heart. It is not your grand-father's "Hello World" book. In fact, it reads like a computer science text book. The author has pain-stakingly tried to simplify it as much as he could. As Einstein said, "Keep it simple but not any simpler". A background in networking would help refresh your knowledge and this book serves exactly that. If you are an absolute beginner looking for a basic book on networking, this book is not for you. However, if it's been a few years since your last networking class, you should be able to pick things up with the help of this book.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Book Review: Developing Android Applications with Adobe AIR by Veronique Brossier (O'Reilly)

With the release of Adobe Flash Builder 4.5, and more lately 4.5.1, mobile development with Flex and AIR has taken off at a neck-breaking speed across all major platforms - Android, iOs, and Blackberry. While there are plenty of resources on the web that cover "hello world" type applications, no article covers basic concepts of AIR + Android in depth. In order to develop a meaningful Android application that uses multi-touch, accelerometer, camera, geolocation, microphone, and video, you need to first understand these concepts. This book covers all those topics in addition to advanced topics like hardware acceleration.

I was delighted by the author's simple style of explaining these concepts. It makes this book a pleasure to read and easy to follow step-by-step. I highly recommend this book to anyone doing AIR development on Android. This book and videos on the Adobe developer site for connecting to server side would (Java/Spring/Hibernate) would be a great resource to keep handy.