O'Reilly Book Reviewer

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book Review: Arduino Cookbook by Michael Margolis

The best way to describe Arduino is "open-source electronics". The hardware and software combination provides a platform for interactivity designers to prototype embedded devices before beginning any mass production. Arduino cookbook is one of the best books I have read on this platform that explains step-by-step how to program and build interesting circuits that fascinate and make you stand out among your peers.

This book assumes no previous knowledge on the part of the reader. Indeed you must have some basic understanding of electronics but just enough to be able to connect the Arduino board to your PC and also install and run the IDE software. If you know just that much, this book will take you to the next level. The information on Arduino is so scattered on the Arduino website and other sites, this book will provide the basis for a strong foundation for you. I like the style of cookbooks in general as "problem statements" and "solutions" are presented together followed by a "discussion" paragraph. This is a huge book of 724 pages covering the entire gamut of simple programming, serial communication, analog and digital input, using sensors, visualizing the output, audio output, etc. It has entire chapters devoted to I2C and SPI communications, wireless, and Ethernet networking. Followed by a chapter on creating your own libraries. The appendix sections at the end help you understand about electronic components, schematic diagrams and data sheets, using a breadboard to build and connect the circuits, and tips on troubleshooting software and hardware problems. You can grab this book as an absolute beginner and graduate to become an Arduino master at the end.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Book Review: Head First Mobile Web by Lyza Danger Gardner and Jason Grigsby (O'Reilly)

First of all, I am a big fan of the Head First series. That doesn't necessarily mean I have read all the books in the series. However, for the most part, the books that I have read have consistently reinforced my knowledge in that subject area. By creatively repeating the concepts via different perspectives, like two inanimate objects engaged in a debate, interviewing of a new technology, bubble speeches, etc, the books are a pleasure to read and absorb. I feel that the authors have put a lot of work into making difficult concepts easier to understand.

The Head-First Mobile book is an exceptional book. The mobile development space is obfuscated by the variety of technologies, devices, screen sizes, and so on. This book dispels the complexity and puts everything in perspective. For example, it talks about responsive web design in which you can adjust the formatting of your content dynamically depending on the device that is asking for the content, all done using the same HTML and CSS file. How cool is that! Later chapters talk about intermediate and advanced concepts like mobile-optimized websites, device databases, and mobile development frameworks. All in all, this book does a great job of demystifying the complex workspace of mobile application development and clearly explains how to design and develop bullet-proof websites.