Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

Notes on Software Creativity 2.0 by Robert Glass

September 23rd, 2008

Software Creativity 2.0 by Robert Glass (as the title implies and you might expect) is centered around creativity in the processes, methodologies, organizations, and people responsible for producing software. I concur with Steve McConnell’s glowing review (Landmark Book, On a Par with People Ware and Mythical Man-Month).

Robert Glass has given the software world many gifts during his 50 year career in software development. This book stands above his other contributions as his magnum opus. I cannot recommend it highly enough. – Steve McConnell

There’s no need for my personal review, but I will say that if Robert Glass had a blog this book would no doubt be his best of.

Interesting excerpts from Software Creativity 2.0:

When I began working in industry. I was appalled to find that nothing I had learned in graduate school bore the slightest relationship to what I was asked to do on the job. …

Practice often precedes and helps form theory …

The more a creative person knows about the subject of focus, the less the need for creativity …

In order to think originally, we must familiarize ourselves with the ideas of others

Notes about the Creative person’s traits:

They are especially observant …

They see things as others do, but also as others do not …

They are by constitution more vigorous and have available them an exceptional fund of psychic and physical energy …

They usually lead more complex lives, seeking tension …

The creative person is both more primitive and more cultured, more destructive and more constructive, crazier and saner, than the average person. …

Keep in mind I’ve omitted some of Robert’s earth shattering excerpts since I’ve read a couple of his other books (see this older post for details) – my chosen excerpts don’t do justice to the book. Read it yourself! :)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Book, Creativity, Musings Tags:

Free: Win a Copy of: JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

July 29th, 2008

JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford is an excellent book. At 140+ pages this book is approachable and easy to read. The writing style is terse and clear, and it’s crammed with good advice.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would like to give a copy away. You can read my review here.

Contest Rules:

  • Comment on this post.
  • Leave a valid email in the email comment field.
  • The winner will be chosen at random and notified through email on Oct 1st.
  • I pay for shipping.

Good Luck!

This contest has commenced, and the winner is Luke Maciak!

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Book, Contest, JavaScript Tags:

2008 Summer Reading List: What Are You Reading?

July 1st, 2008

Summer is finally here! Well… “here” as in, “here in Canada” where we have 8 months of winter, fall, and spring…

This summer I hope to finish up the following books:

Books and reading are essential for personal and professional development. The more you read, the more you understand and the more resources you have to fall back on.

What books are you reading this summer? Do you have any recommendations?

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Book, Musings Tags:

Book Reviewed: JavaScript: The Good Parts by Douglas Crockford

June 7th, 2008

Weighing in at 140+ pages of content, JavaScript: The Good Parts [Douglas Crockford] cuts through the obscurities, pleasantries, and filler found in most technical books. Instead, this book dives straight into the heart of the JavaScript language. It presents the clearest comprehensive explanation of what makes JavaScript a great programming language that I’ve encountered to date. It nails the important concepts, like JavaScript’s: object oriented nature, its classless (pseudoclassical) nature, and functional nature. While covering the fundamentals like JavaScript’s: functions, lexical scoping, lambdas, prototypal inheritance, and functional inheritance.

This book’s size makes it approachable for all audiences, its style is terse and concise. This book has the potential to do for JavaScript, what Richie’s inspirational classic the C Programming Language did for the C language.

JavaScript is the programming language of the web (AJAX), and this book will guide you through the good parts of this often misunderstood language – while this book is an excellent reference, it is not intended to replace JavaScript: The Definitive Guide, you’ll do best to have both these books on hand.

If you enjoyed (or are considering) this book then you may want to learn more of what Douglas Crockford has to say, check out his great JavaScript video series on the YUI Theater.

I highly recommend this book. View my review on Amazon.

Free: Win a Copy of Beginning CSS: Cascading Style Sheets for Web Design

April 24th, 2008

Beginning CSS: Cascading Style Sheets for Web Design by Richard York is a great book for any web developer looking to thoroughly understand CSS.

This book was required pre-reading for my latest Technical Editing task – I'm editing Mr. York's newest book. So in the spirit of spring, de-cluttering, and giving. I'd like to give this book away. This book is like new with a couple minor dings (from an airport fiasco), it is in full color (like all good design books should be), and it's free!

Contest Rules:

  • Comment on this post.
  • Leave a valid email in the email comment field.
  • The winner will be chosen at random and notified through email on Canada Day (July 1st).
  • I pay for shipping.

Good Luck!

The contest has ended and the winner is Devin Parrish!

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Book, CSS, Contest, DOM Tags:

Book Reviewed: ASP.NET AJAX in Action by Alessandro Gallo, David Barkol, Rama Vavilala

April 20th, 2008

The authors of ASP.NET AJAX in Action did an OK (Average) job at presenting the ASP.NET AJAX Framework. However; this book lacked objectivity and suffered from hype. The authors didn't seem to have proficient experience with the JavaScript language, or enough experience with other AJAX Frameworks / Libraries, or sufficient experience using the ASP.NET AJAX Framework in real world projects. This book sadly felt like most technical books – average.

Comments like “we recommend that…”, “because it makes no sense…”, “you must rely on a special method…”, “you must understand X,Y,Z to run complex client-side code without writing a single line of JavaScript” were discouraging. Many of the “whys” were left answered and the technical inner workings of the framework often trivialized. Don't get me wrong, writing a book is incredibly time consuming, but if you're an author, presenter or the like, and you don't fully understand something then admit it. Do some research, provide some links, or move on. Consistently making comments like these bring the integrity of the whole text into question.

The ASP.NET AJAX Framework itself is technically flawed, bloated, and almost entirely impractical. I was disappointed with the server-centric approach that both the book and ASP.NET AJAX Framework takes. I was disappointed that the book continually pushed JavaScript under the carpet as magic and at the end of the book I was pleased to see the promise of making “the JavaScript code disappear” never was  fulfilled. JavaScript is the very most important part of AJAX, without the 'J' in AJAX, we're left with nothing – just 'Asynchronous', 'And', heaps of more ugly 'XML'.

When reading this book, take the contents and the ASP.NET AJAX Framework with a grain of salt, if you're really serious about learning AJAX then read JavaScript: The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan.

I typically only contribute positive reviews, but I don't agree with the majority of reviews found on Amazon and hope this review provides some objectivity. I commend the authors on their hard work, I'm probably being too harsh with this review – I know it's tough to write a book, and imagine they made many sacrifices as they worked towards tight deadlines.

View my review on Amazon.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: .NET, AJAX, ASP.NET, ASP.NET AJAX, Book, JavaScript, Review Tags:

How To Choose a Good Technical Book

April 16th, 2008

The quality of technical books have wide variations between publishers and authors. While choosing a book based on the author is reliable, depending on a publisher or brand name is not reliable, and choosing a book based on advertisements is even less reliable. It makes sense to choose your books wisely since most technical books live a short life (the duration of a single project), cost money, and require precious time to be read.

When choosing a book I follow this heuristic approach:

  • Ask experts in the field (friends, forums, newsgroups) for recommendations
  • Ask these experts to differentiate between the high level books and the books that take a technical deep dive.
  • Filter out (discard) the high level recommendations.
  • Filter out (discard) all recommendations that contain the following keywords in their title:
    • Cookbook
    • Problem – Design – Solution
    • Hacks
    • Tips
    • Learn X in 24 hours
  • Look for recognizable authors.
  • Cross reference these recommendations through Amazon's Reviews:
    • Books with over 100 excellent ratings on Amazon are instant winners – the Amazon community is rarely misleading.
    • Books that haven't received more than 50 ratings should be considered with skepticism – visit a local book store and skim through the text in question before making the purchase.
Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Book, Musings, Software Tags:

Book Reviewed: JavaScript: The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan

March 26th, 2008

JavaScript: The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan is a great book! When I began reading this book I was convinced that (like many technical books) the first couple chapters would contain the important stuff and the content would slowly digress into page filler, fluff, and the book would become just another monitor stand. But not this book! After finishing the formal chapters I started reading the references – YES, this book is so good I’m reading the references! Flanagan has raised the bar for all JavaScript books – this book is in its 5th edition, and has been reviewed by a couple web Gurus (Douglas Crockford, Peter-Paul Koch).

JavaScript is the assembly language of the internet – most of the current-generation web frameworks make heavy use of JavaScript, CSS, and AJAX. If you really want to understand how ASP.NET or Ruby on Rails really works, how AJAX works, how JavaScript libraries work. If itching to push the web browser envelope, to really innovate, then this book is a required read. In addition if you’re coming from a staticly type background like Java or .NET, then JavaScript (a functional programming language) will open your eyes to a different programming model. Once you grock the fundamentals of JavaScript you’ll never be able to look at classical languages (Java, C++, .NET, …) with a straight face again. I highly recommend this book to any web developer from any web framework camp.

View my review on Amazon.

Free: Win a Copy of Professional ASP.NET 2.0 Design: CSS, Themes, and Master Pages

February 25th, 2008

Professional ASP.NET 2.0 Design: CSS, Themes, and Master Pages by Jacob Sanford is a great book for ASP.NET developers looking to expand their knowledge on the ASP.NET 2.0 Web Design front.

I've read this book, re-read it, edited it, and would like to give it away – I was the Technical Editor. The books is like new and (did I mention) it's free!

Contest Rules:

  • Updated! Just Leave a comment with a valid email address!
  • Post a 500 x 200 pixel image of something you're working on in the comments of this post – this image could be code, web design, or anything work related.
  • Include an optional description of your work
  • The winner will be chosen April 1st May 1st, they'll be drawn at random, and will be notified through email.
  • I pay for shipping.

* I've included a sample entry in the comments. If you're looking for a great free photo editing application then try If you're looking to host your image you might want to consider Flickr or Photobucket.

Good Luck!

The contest has ended, and the winner is….. Andrew Hinde. Nice!

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: .NET, ASP.NET, Book, CSS, Contest, Themes and Skins Tags: