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Rod Stephens "Visual Basic MVP" RSS Feed (Boulder, CO United States)
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Loungefly Hello Kitty Floral Embossed Black Wallet
Loungefly Hello Kitty Floral Embossed Black Wallet
Offered by Modern Pinup
Price: $35.00
2 used & new from $28.05

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, November 20, 2015
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Completely awesome!


Sanrio Hello Kitty Micro USB Car Charger for Smartphones
Sanrio Hello Kitty Micro USB Car Charger for Smartphones
Offered by Tarifa Shop
Price: $14.41
118 used & new from $12.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Arrived faster than promised in good condition. Kitty's cheeks glow red when she's plugged ..., November 20, 2015
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Arrived faster than promised in good condition. Kitty's cheeks glow red when she's plugged in, which looks cute in the daytime but scary in the dark.


Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming
Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming
by Jason R. Briggs
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.45
89 used & new from $18.58

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book, but is it the one for you?, August 28, 2013
This book is exactly what it says it is: a kid-friendly introduction to programming with Python. It explains concepts in simple terms and doesn't assume you understand anything about programming. It doesn't even assume you know anything about some useful mathematical concepts such as angles and the modulus operator. I think even kids could use this book to learn to program.

The one place where I think the book may have problems is with motivation. Kids (or anyone for that matter) want to produce something fun and interesting quickly. Unfortunately to learn to program you need to learn the syntax for a lot of operations--performing calculations, repeating code, building classes, and so forth. It's important and the book does a great job of explaining it in simple terms but it's not exactly fun, despite the kid-friendly jokes sprinkled throughout the text. The book finishes by building two games that are pretty fun, but it's a long way from page 1 to those games.

In contrast, the book Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games is shorter, has colorful pages, and explains how to use the Scratch programming language to write games. Scratch uses drag-and-drop programming and that book dives quickly into graphics and the other elements you need to write simple games.

"Python for Kids" provides a better introduction to the real world of programming (it's taught at many colleges and universities) but "Super Scratch Programming Adventure!" is more engaging. You'll have to decide which book is right for you. Perhaps both?


The Truth about Sharks and Pigeons
The Truth about Sharks and Pigeons
by Matt Phillips
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.95
20 used & new from $5.34

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story similar to Tom Holt's books, April 10, 2013
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A great read! As zany and wacky as you could want it. I would say it is more similar Tom Holt's work than Douglas Adams' but if you like either, you won't go wrong. I hope this author has a long and successful career.


Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games
Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games
by The LEAD Project
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from $6.66

69 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, non-threatening introduction to programming, September 25, 2012
This book's subtitle is "Learn to program by making cool games!" but let me say right at the start: this book doesn't really teach you how to program in general. Instead it teaches you how to program the Scratch game programming environment.

Scratch is a mostly drag-and-drop environment that lets you build simple animations, play sounds, and determine when objects overlap. The book walks you through creating some very simple games such as making characters walk around the screen, collecting "dimensional strings" without getting zapped, dodging bad guys in a maze, and battling dark wizards in space.

The games are corny but don't let the simplicity of the storyline fool you. Although the games seem simple, they introduce important programming concepts. They show how to use variables, loops, events, broadcast messages, sprites, animation, timing, pseudorandom numbers, sound, and more. They also show how to use the Scratch programming environment to build programs, edit images, and interact with the user.

After reading this book and working through the example games, you won't know how to program in general-purpose languages such as Java, C++, C#, or Visual Basic, but you will know some of the fundamentals needed to understand those languages so learning them should be a bit easier. There are many differences between Scratch's drag-and-drop approach and those other languages, which require much more typing, but Scratch may provide a gentle and entertaining introduction to programming concepts. And you just might end up writing some games that are fun enough to be worth playing more than once.

The book's forward says Scratch is designed for ages 8 and up, and that seems about right. My son, who is now 10, has been to several game programming day camps over the last few years. They used an environment somewhat similar to Scratch and he loved them. Working through this book would probably have given him an even better introduction to programming and I suspect it would have been even more fun.

If you're an adult and you want to learn "real" programming, you should probably look for a book about the specific language you want to study such as Java, C#, or whatever. If you're a younger aspiring game developer looking for a fun introduction to programming, or an adult that wants to try a different method of programming, this book may be perfect for you!


Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving
Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving
by V. Anton Spraul
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.71
77 used & new from $17.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Falls a bit short of its promise, September 10, 2012
This book bills itself as an introduction to creative problem solving and it starts off on the right track. Using a few interesting logical puzzles such as the "fox, goose, and corn crossing the river" puzzle and an alien combination lock puzzle invented by the author, it explains some useful problem solving techniques such as breaking a problem into manageable pieces, looking for analogies to previously solved problems, and attacking the easiest parts of a problem first.

Unfortunately the author is sometimes rather pedantic, beating a topic into the ground long after it has lost all interest. The book also spends a lot of time on programming-specific topics that aren't really creative problem solving. For example, the book spends six pages explaining what arrays are and how they work, eight pages on string manipulations, and whole sections on basic data structure topics such as linked lists. These are important topics but they really aren't creative problem solving.

These topics also require a fair amount of C++-specific syntax and manipulation. For example, the sections on string manipulation don't make any sense in languages such as C#, Java, or Visual Basic that treat a string as an entity instead of as a series of bytes. You can still read the text and try to pull out the deeper concepts but they are obscured by the C++ orientation. The book might have been improved by using pseudo-code for everything and focusing only on problem solving tricks and techniques, but perhaps the author wanted to use C++ so readers could write concrete, testable programs.

This might be a good second book for a beginning C++ programmer, but more experienced programmers will be familiar with most of the topics covered in this book and programmers using other languages will need to make some mental adjustments to convert the C++ examples into a more familiar form.


The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra
The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra
by Shin Takahashi
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.89
76 used & new from $13.09

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great, easy introduction to linear algebra, June 26, 2012
I've always avoided the Manga series (The Manga Guide to Neurosurgery, The Manga Guide to Xenolinguistics, and so forth), but I use a lot of math in my programming, including linear algebra, so when I saw The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra I thought I'd give it a try.
The book teaches the basics of linear algebra from the ground up. It starts with the definitions from set theory that you need to know to understand the underpinnings of linear algebra and works up from there so you don't need any previous background in any sort of mathematics.

The book's format is a bit quirky, with one manga character teaching another about linear algebra, but the result is surprisingly effective. Different students learn best with different teaching methods. For example, some learn best by reading a textbook, others by working through exercises, and still others by listening to someone explain a topic. I fall into the last group and usually learn the most by watching lectures. Surprisingly this book seemed to fit my learning style fairly well. Even though the "lectures" are given by manga characters, it seemed easier for me to digest than a normal textbook.
The material is presented clearly, logically, and in an easy-to-follow style. I also admit I got hooked on the corny teen romance storyline running throughout the book.

My only real complaint about this book is that it doesn't include many exercises. The characters work through enough examples to give you a decent understanding of the material but a bunch of exercises would let readers use another method for cementing the information in their minds.

This book also doesn't cover the full breadth of linear algebra and I vaguely remember some topics from my undergraduate days that weren't fully explored in this book, but it does provide a good introduction so you'll be ready for further research into linear algebra either in a class or in another book.


Murach's Java Programming
Murach's Java Programming
by Joel Murach
Edition: Paperback
Price: $38.31
94 used & new from $16.75

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good book that starts from scratch and gets you pretty far before it's done., February 2, 2012
If you have previous experience programming with Java, or even with C++ or C#, this book may be too slow for you. If you've never programming in those Java-like languages and you don't think of yourself as an idiot or dummy, this book can give you a solid introduction and get you up and running reasonably quickly.

After some preliminary material about how to install Java and NetBeans, the book covers basic programming topics such as making classes, working with variables and arrays, manipulating dates and string, and so forth. It does a good job of covering all of this material and the book's text-on-the-left-page-example-on-the-right layout makes it easy to follow the examples, particularly in the beginning when you may be less sure of yourself.

The last few chapters cover the slightly more advanced topics of data access and threads. While data access is a bit tricky, it's such an important topic that it deserves the coverage if gets here. In fact, database programming is a huge topic so you may want to search for other books about database programming after you finish this book.

Threading, while important, is a bit more confusing than the book's other topics so it might have been better included in a more advanced book. It seems sort of tacked on. Still the chapter on threading provides a decent introduction and even if you skip that chapter completely there's still 740 or so pages of good reading here for you.

Summary: If you've used a Java-like language before, you may find this book too slow. If you're intimidated by computers, this book may be a bit too fast. If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get a solid foundation in Java, you're in the "Goldilocks zone" and this book may be just right for you.


Murach's ASP.NET 4 Web Programming with C# 2010 (Murach: Training & Reference)
Murach's ASP.NET 4 Web Programming with C# 2010 (Murach: Training & Reference)
by Anne Boehm
Edition: Paperback
Price: $35.79
77 used & new from $3.15

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice, broad coverage of ASP.NET development, June 10, 2011
As the title implies, this book explains how to build web sites using ASP.NET and C#. It's a big book (834 pages) so it has plenty of room to cover a lot of material in depth. It doesn't assume you know anything about web programming, however, so it also covers the basics, albeit quickly.

The book covers ASP.NET basics and explains how to use a database in a web site. It also covers some very important and confusing topics such as how to secure a website and authenticate users.

I particularly liked the appendix that explains how to install Internet Information Services (IIS), Visual Studio, and SQL Server 2008 Express. These aren't really part of the ASP.NET material but they are necessary to work through the book so it's nice to have a little extra guidance here.

Similarly there's an appendix that gives you some guidance for working with IIS. Again it's not really part of ASP.NET but it can make building ASP.NET applications a lot easier. (Together these two appendices only take up about 30 pages so the book doesn't waste too much space on them.)

My only real complaint with the book is that it only covers SQL Server databases. It would have been nice to have had at least a mention of other databases such as MySQL, which is fairly popular on websites.

Also note that this book doesn't cover WPF or Silverlight applications. Those are separate topics.

Overall a good introduction to ASP.NET development, suitable for both beginners and those who have some experience with web development.


Murach's ADO.NET 4 Database Programming with C# 2010 (Murach: Training & Reference)
Murach's ADO.NET 4 Database Programming with C# 2010 (Murach: Training & Reference)
by Anne Boehm
Edition: Paperback
Price: $41.10
77 used & new from $27.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book for DB beginners or those with some experience, June 10, 2011
At 712 pages, this book has plenty of room to cover a wide range of topics with a satisfying depth. As its title says, it explains how to use ADO.NET in C# programs, but it doesn't just explain how to use bound controls. It also explains more advanced topics such as using XML data, web applications, the Visual Studio Report Designer, and Microsoft's latest attempt to make database programming easier the Entity Framework.

The book is more advanced than an "Idiot's" or "Dummies" book but is well-written and easy to read so it is still accessible to database programming beginners. While it covers some pretty advanced material, it doesn't assume you know everything to begin with and it does a good job of covering the basics. It includes lots of screen shots to help you navigate through the confusing wizards and designers that Visual Studio provides for working with databases.

The only nit I'll pick with this book is that it doesn't cover any database products other than SQL Server. That is a very important database tool for Visual Studio applications but much of the same techniques work with other databases such as MySQL.

But I know firsthand that you can't cover everything in a book, even one that's 712 pages long.


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