The Education of a Programmer (Me)

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Month: December, 2013

New Packt Publishing Offer

As  many of you readers are aware, I do book reviews and occasionally help promote sales for publishers. Well, Packt Publishing is back with a new offer.

They are running every eBook or Video in their collection for $5 each! That’s a great deal in my opinion. They have a lot of high quality titles on various topics and they have great customer service to boot! Here are their details on it: The $5 eBook Bonanza is here! Treat yourself to the eBook or Video of your choice for just $5 and get as many as you like until January 3rd 2014. To get you started, we’ve put together the Top 20 titles of 2013 for you to pick up here. But don’t forget, you can get ANY eBook or Video for $5 in this offer

The link to get the discount is here!

$5 ebook Bonanza1 template 1


Book Review – LEGO Space: Building the Future

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!

Book Review – Learning R

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.