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36 of 49 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ads must be punished, February 1, 2013
This season has ads for FX at the beginning. This is pernicious and must be stopped. If it continues, be sure that many of us will eschew Amazon Instant Video. FIX IT!!

The Definitive Guide to Catalyst: Writing Extensible, Scalable and Maintainable Perl-Based Web Applications (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
The Definitive Guide to Catalyst: Writing Extensible, Scalable and Maintainable Perl-Based Web Applications (Expert's Voice in Web Development)
by Kieren Diment
Edition: Paperback
Price: $43.99
47 used & new from $20.00

25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Incremental to the POD documentation, but disappointing., October 12, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I've used Perl for about ten years, and have experience with all of the "pre-Catalyst" frameworks and helpers (from to CGI::Application to dalliances with writing my own and trying Jifty). I've also used Rails and read several books on it (most of which are disappointments).

Unfortunately, I found this guide a disappointment as well. Most of the book seems to be structured around a few "examples," the largest of which is a translation app from English into "Lolcat." The problem with such an app as an example is that it could readily be done in a dead-simple, several-line CGI script (hell, even a one-liner could probably do it), so it requires a certain suspension of disbelief that one should be using stashes, chained dispatch methods, templates, and the like. Why not a normal CRUD type app as an example? Boring, yes, but to-the-point and more likely to be illustrative of the tools and their best applications.

The conversational "flow" of the book is distracting, as well. I understand that a more tabular or outlined form for making specific information easier to find could render it hard to read "straight through" as a book. But the sheer volume of information, and diversity of scenarios, make it unlikely that anyone will read it straight through and make equal use of all parts. Far better to organize the content more rigorously by function -- for example, the best and best-structured chapter by far is the chapter on dispatch (it gets to borrow for its prose structure from the flow chart on page 168. Less in-depth meanderings into such adjuncts as DBIx::Class and Moose, but more on how (if at all) such outside modules must interface / play nice with the Catalyst core. A chapter on errors. A chapter on logging. A chapter on templating.

The index is a mess and lazily put together. Under "log", only one entry: "Logging, in Catalyst, 7." (Are you serious? who wrote that index entry? Logging, comma, IN CATALYST?!? SERIOUSLY??) For "error:" "error handling code, changing to output errors to the log, 104-105." Nothing for "exception" (fair enough, as Perl properly has none), but under Perl's equivalent, "die:" "die, using for error handling, 156." WTF? Finding these three sections shouldn't be an Easter-egg hunt. WTF would be wrong with:

using "die" ... 156
logging ... 104-105
see also *log*

log ... 7
errors ... 104-105

I'm rooting for Matt & co., and I'm a fan of Catalyst. But this book needs a reworking for its next edition, and it needs an editor (the typography, too, is underwhelming). It's not that the team that wrote this isn't smart enough, or that they don't know the subject well enough. It's merely that they need to structure, structure, structure, and clarify, clarify, clarify. Looking forward to second edition, guys.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 16, 2009 7:50 PM PDT

Signal to Noise
Signal to Noise
by Eric S. Nylund
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $6.33
127 used & new from $0.01

1 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I returned it for a refund as defective., January 30, 2009
I bought this on a whim because it was suggested alongside some other sci-fi (Neal Stephenson, I think). I really do think that returning it as "defective" was fair, because the quality of English used in the book was so remarkably poor as to make concentrating on the content impossible. I don't understand why it got such good reviews. I made an honest effort to enjoy it but couldn't stomach the prose, much less get to a point where I could critically assess things like plot, characters, etc. If you buy this, be prepared to return it as well...

Asking Questions: A Practical Guide to Questionnaire Design (Social & Behavioral Science Series)
Asking Questions: A Practical Guide to Questionnaire Design (Social & Behavioral Science Series)
by Seymour Sudman
Edition: Hardcover
54 used & new from $0.01

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you ask questions professionally, READ this book!, July 6, 2001
People tend to see asking questions as an intuitive, conversational means of communication. Wrong. As someone in the professional survey field (, I see a lot of questions every day -- good and bad. Some questions are so poorly written that the responses actually reduce the quality of the survey results.
Sudman & Bradburn's book, although originally written for the pre-Internet age, helps people to learn the art and science of writing good questions. The most helpful part of the book is the collection of actual, concrete suggestions for how to word certain types (e.g. threatening/nonthreatening) of questions, mixed with examples of the themes in practice. In addition to designing and wording the actual questions, intelligent strategies for survey instrument design are included. These strategies are mostly pre-Internet, but can be adapted to the constraints and freedoms of Internet surveying.
(Surprisingly, though, even today polls and surveys constantly violate the principles in this book. Perhaps a good read alongside _Asking Questions_ would be _How to Lie With Statistics_).
_Asking Questions_ lets your surveys and questionnaires benefit from decades of social science and opinion research. Reading it once back in college probably isn't good enough: everyone who does surveys professionally should keep a copy at his desk.

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