O'Reilly Book Reviewer

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Book Review: Super Scratch Programming Adventure by The Lead Project (O"Reilly)

Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Microsoft, Intel Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Google, Iomega and MIT Media Lab research consortia.

I had heard of Scratch before but I didn't know what age group of kids it targetted. I assumed it was for teenagers that had an interest in computing but weren't interested in developing heavy-weight enterprise level projects. Since my kids are not teenagers yet, I put Scratch on the backburner. I was wrong!!!

This book made me rethink the target userbase for Scratch as anyone 8 and above (although 7-years olds will do well too!). Each page in the book is very colorful and full of graphics which makes it a pleasure to read for kids as well as adults (me!). I thoroughly enjoyed reading each page as I felt like a little boy out on an adventure. Once I did completed this book, I got my kid started and enjoyed his feelings and thoughts on Scratch. He hasn't completed the book yet but I know he will go slow and steady on it.. probably reading a chapter a week. This is his third week and he is on chapter 3 and he hasn't put the book down yet. I don't think he will!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Book Review: What's new in CSS3 by Estelle Weyl (O"Reilly)

If you are a serious HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript developer, chances are you have heard of Estelle Weyl, seen her presenting at OSCON and other conferences, or bookmarked her standardista.com website. Estelle Weyl is a very popular speaker and author so I was naturally excited to get this book. For the most part it is good stuff.

This book is a very very brief overview of what's happening in the CSS3 world of specs and recommendations. Most of the chapters are extremely small. For example, Chapter 10 and 11 are just one paragraph each. Chapter 9 is just two pages. The writing is of high quality just like the author. However, I am slightly disappointed by the total lack of any depth in the book. It would easily have been an article on the web or just a blog. The actual book content (excluding TOC, Preface, etc) is about 25 pages. If you remove the last pages of the chapters that are just a paragraph long, it's even lesser.

In short, I absolutely love the author and am a huge fan of her presentations on OSCON and other conferences. This book falls short of my expectations, not in the quality of the content but in the lack thereof.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Review: WebGL: Up and Running by Tony Parisi (O'Reilly)

This book makes it easy to learn WebGL. Although not targetted for advanced users, it made it easy for me to understand WebGL and the three.js library. Honestly, I haven't worked in 3D so most of the concepts were pretty new to me. This book cleared some of the concepts and didn't overwhelm me with complexity. Tony Parisi has definitely taken care to keep it simple and useful.

There isn't much coverage on how WebGL works natively and I probably don't need to learn that. What I got out of this book are concepts and more depth on three.js and for a beginner, that's more than enough.