Posts Tagged ‘books’

Book Review – Code

April 18th, 2010

I just finished reading Code by Charles Petzold.  This book is like no other I’ve ever read.  This book explains how computers work.   Think about that for a second.  Do you know how a computer actually works?  Really?  This isn’t about double clicking on the blue “E” to access the internet.  This book explains how a machine can take electrical 1’s and 0’s and use them to do math, save files, display graphics, and everything else a computer does.

I love the way the book progresses.  It starts with the most basic of electrical circuits.  Simple light bulb and battery type stuff.  It spends a few chapters building your circuit board chops and BAM!  – he shows you how you can wire a circuit to add binary numbers.  Wow, you can now build a very simple computer.  He continues to add to what you already know piece by piece.   Components are added to the circuit board so that it can now perform subtraction, multiplication, and division.  You learn how a circuit can remember data, the basis of memory.  You learn the issues surrounding floating point math and how they are resolved.  He explains machine code, and how it can be simplified by assembly language, and in turn, high-level languages.

Mixed in with the technical chapters, he adds sections on lighter topics such as Morse code, Braile, alternate (non-base 10) number systems, and more.  He covers how letters can be stored as a series of bits, and why there are 8 bits to a byte.

This book changed the way I think about computers.  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand them better.  Although it assumes no prior knowledge, this book is not for the faint of heart; some of the chapters require tenacity to stay focused and comprehend.  However, I guarantee it will be well worth it.

Book Review – jQuery in Action

April 9th, 2010

jQuery in ActionI just recently finished reading  jQuery in Action by Bear Bibeaut and Yehuda Katz.  I had used very little jQuery before reading it, and even less AJAX.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  Five Stars.  To be fair, I may be biased largely because jQuery is so awesome, anything about jQuery will inherit it’s awesomeness.  But either way, if you want to get into jQuery, this is a good place to start.

I’ve heard it pointed out that all of the information in this book is already online, on the jQuery website.  But that’s missing the point.  The book presents the information at a well-thought out pace and order, minimizing confusion.  For example, early on it spends a good amount of time introducing and explaining the various CSS3 selectors and getting your “Wrapped Set” of elements before it jumps into how to manipulate those elements.

The book process to move through all of the awesomeness that jQuery offers with DOM & Content manipulation, Event Handling, Animations, Plugins, and Finally AJAX.  My First attempt trying to implement AJAX was without a framework, using the WROX “Beginning AJAX” book.  I’ve decided that book isn’t worth it’s weight in lead, and that it should be pulled from the shelves.  jQuery makes it ridiculously easy to make POST and GET requests to the server, and handle the results.  I was using AJAX in production code within a week of reading this.

I don’t know what else to say.  The level of Awesome that jQuery exudes is matched only by other epic wins such as Dropbox and Vim.  If you haven’t tried jQuery, you need to. Now.