I’ve recently read LEGO Space: Building the Future by Tim Goddard and Peter Reid. As usual, the disclaimer is that I received a copy of the book for free in return for the review. As a parent and grandparent, I have some experience with LEGOs. Being honest, the spacecraft were my favourite as a kid as well, so for me this was a great, light, no-brainer. For that, this book was perfect! The story line is great for kids who want to have fun with an easy to grab good v. evil story while learning a few cool things about the history of the space race at the beginning.
Really, the main focus of the book is the great eye candy of various ships, monsters, and backgrounds built by some incredible LEGO artists. There are instructions in the book for making 8 of the pieces you see in the book from robots to ships and even a work station. The directions are straight forward and look easy to complete. The story line is fairly predictable and there are tonnes of details about all of the various ships which I’m guessing will be out on shelves soon. For parents and grandparents, this is a fun way to get the kids to read and leave the video assault behind for a bit. Reading this with them encourages us to challenge their imaginations to keep the story lines going while creating not only these ships but also look at what they could do to modify the ships to make them better.
Overall, this is a fun book. It took me a little over an hour to read and it was great for heading into the office on the bus!
I’ve recently been reading Learning R by Richard Cotton. As usual, the disclaimer is that I received a copy of the book for free in return for the review. I have never worked with R before, but I work with a lot of data queries and data analysis in my day job. Mr. Cotton’s book is fantastic from the ability to get the foundations and figure out how to write different things in R. His tone is easy going and conversational; so I was able to follow along on something that seemed foreign in relation to what I do. The book is broken down, at the beginning, into various pieces, strings, numbers, etc. I like this approach to it because it gave me the ability to focus on each piece of the puzzle and see how I could access data and gather information from that data.
My only negative is there seemed little information on using R with databases such as Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, etc. For many of us in a corporate environment, we’re going to be going in and out of those types of data sources so often that I would have appreciated a more in depth coverage there. However, I do feel like the book was excellent for getting your feet wet in something which seems, to me, a potentially very powerful tool. I believe it was the author’s approach to the subject that made the language as accessible as it turned out to be.
Overall, I would suggest, if you work with a lot of data and have to return information on that data, to give this book a read and you will likely find another tool for your toolbox and will feel like you have good knowledge of it out of the gate.
I’ve recently been reading Head First C# by Jennifer Greene and Andrew Stellman. As usual, the disclaimer is that I received a copy of the book for free in return for the review. I have read other Head First books before and this one was very much in line with those others. For those who are not familiar, the Head First Labs concept is to turn the reading experience around and deliver the information with a lot of other goodies to keep your brain engaged by not having line after line of text blurring into one another. For some people, myself included, this is a fantastic delivery mechanism. Their Head First Statistics book probably helped me with the class more than the textbook did.
This book is no exception. It is well researched and well written. The examples are entertaining and keep you engaged with the book and with the concepts as they build layer by layer until you have a very solid understanding of the basics of C#. This is a book geared to someone picking the language up for the first time. My only complaint is that they are so centered on Windows 8 and the Windows App Store that they had to put out a separate pdf file for people who don’t have or don’t develop for Window 8. For me, I had not yet made the jump, so I needed the conversions in places. However, the book was so new, it wasn’t immediately available.
I would have preferred them target the .NET 4 and 4.5 frameworks from a Windows 7 perspective only because it’s more in use in the enterprise where many programmers are working. They could also use this to isolate the 4.5 improvements a little better and then demonstrate how those improvements are enhanced in the Windows 8 experience. However, I also admit that being able to build a Windows Phone application with C# and XAML was a fun exercise.
Overall, this book is perfect for the slight to moderate ADHD programmer/student who wants to learn, not want to be bored, and tries to cram as much as possible in the shortest time available. The whole “series” is fantastic and well worth anyone’s time to use as a good learning tool.
Well, I have a skeleton site up that implements an .edmx file in the Models folder and maps to the respective tables and I have basic CRUD pages which will work when I launch it in test mode. It’s uglier than sin, but it’s getting there.
I’ve been working through some other tutorials for MVC4 so I can make sense of ways to do this on my own and do a better job with formatting and database updates. I do feel immensely better because it is all coming together. I’ve found it’s easier for me to get it when I’m writing it rather than reading about it.
The nice part of the most recent tutorials I’m working through is that I am getting experience with Ninject, Moq, and unit testing in VS2012. I think I have finally turned a corner and am starting to make more sense of what I want to do and how to do it the best way possible.
I’ve read the start of the quote, “These are the days which try men’s souls,” and have now found a way to certainly apply that in my career. I’m trying to re-build some vintage ASP VB6 sites. Currently, I’ve cleaned them up and made them workable, except for one page because the Oracle back end for that table uses a CLOB data type and VB6/ASP can’t handle CLOBs.
What I really want to do is use MVC 4, Entity Framework, and ODP.NET to create something workable and aimed toward being there in the long run. (Basically, I don’t want to have to do a major re-write in 3 years when the database is switched from Oracle to SQL Server and it all becomes easier.) Therein lies the problem. Wiring up 2 of the 3 components isn’t difficult. I can get EF and MVC4 to work well as I can get EF and ODP.NET to play nice, but add in all three and I feel like I’m in uncharted territory. So I’m going to start blogging and documenting what I’m discovering in hopes that someone else might have some info (if anyone else reads this) and can help me find the pieces I’m missing, or will be able to follow my trail into this and hopefully get something productive out of my morass.
I can do the first part on this rig. (I have two rigs I work out of, one faces the world and the other faces a private subnet that doesn’t have outside access.) So I create an MVC4 project and ensure the latest jQuery, ODP.NET, and EF are all part of the puzzle. I have some ideas of the different controllers and models I’m going to need on the first project. It’s the administration piece which will access existing data tables for a program which monitors events as they happen and sends notification emails to subscribers based on agency, call type, and/or the number of responding units. (There is also a portion for notifications based on the address of the event). So I need to administer the subscribers, the locations, and the call types. The subscribers need to be administered overall, but need to also be filtered by the agency to whom they “belong” as well as the agencies to which they subscribe. The locations need to be administered overall and certain groups of locations need to be gathered together for supervisors to monitor. The call types and subtypes need to be administered to determine when we need to make changes to automatic emails. Plus I have a couple of data grids which show what’s in the pipeline being evaluated and what has been sent out to subscribers. Overall, this shouldn’t be hard. I have 3 CRUD areas and a couple of simple dataset queries. Again, this isn’t rocket science. I already have the tables in place, so I don’t need Code First, I need Database First.
I can connect to the database on the second rig and when I create the project, I create it on the second rig (from the first one) so there won’t be any problems with it pulling up and being able to code. I can edit the web.config file so I can connect to the Oracle DB. (I’ve gotten decent at that) and I know the queries I need at each stage. I should be able to put all of this together easily, but I’m just not making the last connections to link MVC4 through EF to ODP.NET to reach the DB in a meaningful CRUD environment.
Well, more later…..
Tagged with: asp.net
Posted in Programming
I would recommend this book for someone who wants to build browser based games. This book taught me a lot about that. It gave me a few ideas for what and how to make some killer games. However, I will look for more sources on CoffeeScript, especially if they can explain why I want to do this in the first place.
I recently completed CSS Fonts by Eric Meyer. As usual, the disclaimer is that I received a copy of the book for free in return for the review. Mr. Meyer is very well known as a CSS expert and I follow his blog and his writing carefully because I feel certain I will learn a new trick here or there. This book most certainly continues with that trend and justified my wanting to review this book.
The book covers one topic and one topic only, fonts and how to use them better with CSS. It is slim, more reminiscent of an O’Reilly Pocket Guide than anything else. However, that is certainly not a statement against this book. In the course of 60 pages, this book covers every font selector in CSS and covered a few that I’d never heard of as well. There were clear explanations for each selector, how to use it, and why you would want to use it. In the end, if the viewer looks at a site I wrote in a Gecko-based browser, then they would see something that could rival anything developed in InDesign.
I’m looking forward to a day when a lot of the tricks I’ve read about in this book are common throughout the major browsers so hand tuning the typography in a website can add a new depth and dimension to any website. This is a fairly recent release and I think this should be in every web developer/designer’s arsenal to start making web typography as elegant as anything which appears in print.
I am going to play with a lot of these ideas in website I build when I get the chance. Buy this book!