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on May 24, 2012
I agree with the others who say the book isn't aimed at a particular audience. It is all over the place from useful, but basic scripts to manipulate the filesystem, to a basic Suduko solver(which I actually liked except for the errors)**, to absolutely pointless games.

I liked the image manipulation scripts because it doesn't use the 60% solution known as Paperclip and shows some good use of the Rmagick gem which is one of the best gems around, even its docs are pretty good, which translates to amazing relative to your average Ruby Gem.

The sorting algorithms seem completely out of place in a not-at-all academic book. I wouldn't normally dump on algorithm coverage, but without the basic background it is worthless and none of these are worth using over sort().

Some of the networking scripts are laughable, like the subnet calculator which is a ridiculous tiny wrapper around ipaddr library. Writing one from scratch would have been a far better learning experience for the reader.

With so many stupidly simple scripts, with the occasional moderate difficulty scripts, it seems that the target audience are fairly new programmers, or experienced programmers looking to learn a little Ruby. Problem is, there is the last chapter: Metasploit. There is no way that someone who is going to get something out of most of this book will be able to make heads or tails of opcodes and payloads. Talk about being all over the map.

The biggest problem that made me consider giving it one-star is the scripts are not written to be shell friendly. ie using stdin and stdout. A lot of these could be chained together to be quite useful, but I don't recall any real discussion about this. Ruby is most definitely a language that shines in *nix-land. It integrates at least as well as Perl. So why the Windows-centric view?

Given all that, the book is useful, if only to pull out a lot of the code, properly modularize it and throw it in your pile of scripts you keep. You do have your own libraries right?

The writing is well-done and clear, and I don't regret buying and reading it. I must admit that my review would be much harsher had I paid more then $3 for it.

This is the second NSP book I have come across that was not up to their standards and they were both Ruby books. Is this really the same publisher that printed Hacking: The Art of Exploitation and The TCP/IP Guide? We have enough mediocre publishers, thank you very much.

** The Suduko solver is a copy/paste from a Perl script which would be fine, except he didn't finish the translation.@@p in initialize somehow becomes $p in the solver method. This is something I would expect from Apress, not NSP.
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on May 4, 2009
Thanks to No Starch Press for my review copy!

From the Description

Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts provides 58 scripts that offer quick solutions to problems like system administration, manipulating images, and managing a website. After getting your feet wet creating simple scripts to automate tasks like file compression and decompression, you'll learn how to create powerful web crawlers, security scripts, and full-fledged libraries and applications, as well as how to:

* Rename files, disable processes, change permissions, and modify users
* Manipulate strings, encrypt files, and sort efficiently
* Validate web links, check for orphan files, and generate forms
* Mass edit photos, extract image information, and create thumbnails
* Parse CSV files and scrape links, images, and pages from the Web

Ruby is a highly extendable and sometimes confusing language especially when you throw in all the various rubygems out there. Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts provides many examples on how to use the various gems to script together quick hacks (wicked scripts) to various problems one may encounter.

Steve walks us through the problem we are trying to solve, the the code to solve the problem, how to run the code, what the results look like, a lengthy discussion on how it works and "hacking the script" with ideas on how to extend what we wrote. All the code is well commented (see the sample chapter on No Starch Press) and well explained.

Easy and fun to read, font is readable, doesn't contain pages and pages of uncommented code, source code is available, companion website exists, and the book left me with memorable ways to remember and use the material. I've actually gone back a few times to look at some of the scripts in the book. I also liked the metasploit section (of course). It certainly isn't your typical "Hello World" programming book which is also refreshing.

As one other person posted in their Amazon review, its a bit hard to say what level the book is for. Its certainly NOT for beginners as we're expected to already have ruby up and running and understand the basics and its not advanced material either. That leaves us with intermediate which is ok but certainly makes it hard to recommend for knowledgeable programmers. The book is short, its got 58 or so scripts coming in at 170 pages but it would have been nice to have more. Its certainly not "too short" but more would have been nice. I would have liked to had more information on the specific rubygems used for different scripts. Links to where to the specific gem homepages to get further usage would have been nice as well.
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on September 27, 2015
You know, this guy has really hit the nail on the head with this book. It's practical. IMHO the best way to learn a language is to use it, so here ya go. And he explains everything from syntax to methods along the way. Not to mention the programs in the book are surprisingly useful too.

Good job, well worth the $$
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on December 9, 2008
If you are just getting into Ruby or even have been using code for sometime, this is a great book for all! It is full of a ton of useful and functional examples of code, perfect for expediting that learning curve and trying to solve that problem you've been working on for weeks.

As another user commented, it serves as a great reference book and also a fun and interesting read.
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on October 12, 2011
I bought this book a few weeks ago. My boss asked me to learn Ruby so I could give a hand to some colleagues in a project that was running late. The book is a simple collection of scripts written in Ruby. However, I do not regret my purchase at all. If you already "speak" some programming language, the book is a great tool to learn Ruby. No boring introduction to syntax, variables, classes and the like. Just nice and useful scripts to learn by example. Need to learn socket I/O? Check the Servers section. Need to code some algorithm? Check chapter 9. Encrypt/Decrypt files? Manipulate images? Scrap a website? Parse XML? You'll find examples for everything. It even has a chapter on writing extensions to metasploit, which was unexpected but very convenient for me since I do pentesting from time to time.

For every script in the book you'll find how to run the code, the output it produces, an explanation of how it works and some hints on how to hack the script for your own needs.

Summing up. If you are looking for an in-depth guide to the Ruby language, then this book is not the best option. But if you already know some programming language and need to learn Ruby quick and by example, the book is a great choice.
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on January 4, 2009
I'm not sure who the intended audience is for this series of books from No Starch but even a junior developer will find these books elementary. A much better choice is the Ruby Cookbook in the oreilly series. Not only is it 4 times the size but it is densely packed with code snippets that go beyond the silly "generate lotto numbers" variety of this text.
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on November 17, 2011
This would be a good book for someone who just learned Ruby and wants to see some basic example scripts. For myself I found that the code was easy enough to understand without the explanations. This book did make me aware of some ruby gems that I haven't used and might want to use in the future. Most of the scripts just weren't that cool to me though.
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on December 6, 2008
Lots of code examples for just about every scenario you may find yourself involved in, plus great explanations of what is happening with the code. This is not a Ruby 101 book, rather a great desk reference for the serious Ruby programmer looking for a "better way".
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on February 8, 2009
Nothing will put a coder to sleep faster than mindless tedium that their job brings. "Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts: Useful Scripts That Solve Difficult Problems" is a tech manual on the Ruby programming language and how coders can use the language to create useful programs, to help them get through the hated busywork and get to the proverbial fun part of program design and code. "Wicked Cool Ruby Scripts" is a must have for any dedicated Ruby coder who wants the most complete toolbox possible available to them.
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on June 1, 2010
The book is great. A nice selection of useful scripts.

The shipping method provided (mediamail) was a disappointment.

Not sure about others, but personally when I order a technical book it is needed right away.
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