O'Reilly Book Reviewer

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra by Shin Takahashi (Trend-Pro Co Ltd)

To be honest I haven't touched Linear Algebra for 20+ years. I had a gruelling time in high school just trying to keep up with an insane syllabus that I didn't have the time to really understand the purpose of Linear Algebra in real life. To make it worse, my professors didn't bother to explain either as they had a lot of topics to cover in very little time. So it was all mechanical learning trying to solve problems and proofs without understanding why. I always had this feeling in me that my learning of linear algebra was incomplete in spite of scoring well in Math. So 20 years later I picked up this book out of sheer curiosity whether my learning could be completed.

I must say I am very impressed with the approach of this book. The author has made learning delightful using a comic format with two kids - one a math wiz trying to explain it to the other who is struggling. At a steady pace, the book covers a lot of the basic concepts of linear algebra like vectors, matrices, Gaussian elimination, subspaces, dimension, and linear span. The author makes it interesting by explain how they apply in computer graphics, cryptography, and engineering. I finished reading the entire book in 3 hours! It all just came back to me after 20+ years! Thanks to this book, I am glad that my kids will not be struggling to understand math when they go to high school.

Albert Einstein said, "You have really learned something if you can explain it to your grandmother". I can confidently say I have learned the concepts of Linear Algebra thanks to this book and I can teach it to my grandmother (if she is willing to learn!).

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Enterprise JavaBeans 3.1, 6th Edition (O'Reilly) by Andrew Lee Rubinger and Bill Burke

I was not a big fan of EJBs as the previous versions of the spec left me baffled and frustrated. I kept away from learning EJBs as not one at my work place seemed to care about them either. With EJB 3.1 there has been a renewed interest on this topic and so I started reading "Enterprise JavaBeans 3.1, 6th Edition - O'Reilly".

I think the authors have done a good job starting with the basics in the first section of the book explaining what the purpose of EJBs are and how the container takes care of providing services so we can focus on writing the business logic instead of re-writing plumbing and cross-cutting code.

Section two of the book provides chapters of the book provide a coverage on the various types of beans with practical examples on when each is suitable to use. I really enjoyed this section of the book as I could relate it with my daily life as a programmer.

Section three and four focus on Entity beans and Container services but I read them lightly as I don't have much interest in going too deep into those. Section five of the book wraps up with lots of practical examples (like recipes) on each bean type. I enjoyed reading this section of the book as well.

Overall, I think this book is much better than reading the EJB 3.1 spec online and the authors have done a great job in bringing the spec to life with practical examples and simplified language.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Book Review - Node: Up and Running by Tom Hughes-Croucher and Mike Wilson (O'Reilly)

If you have heard of Node (which true web developer hasn't!) but haven't had the courage to get your feet wet, Node: Up and Running (O'Reilly) is the book to get. In a true "up and running" style, this book assumes zero knowledge of Node, other than a familiarity with JavaScript. This book is well-written with lots of example code snippets generously thrown inside the book.

This book is not the book to learn JavaScript. The authors have provided clear and concise examples on using Node to assist you as much as possible to write robust, scalable, and maintainable Node applications. I haven't seen a better book on Node and the material online just doesn't compare.