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Mastering Eclipse Plug-in Development
Mastering Eclipse Plug-in Development
by Dr. Alex Blewitt
Edition: Paperback
Price: $44.99
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4.0 out of 5 stars powerful development tools, December 7, 2014
Hmm. The book came out in August 2014. Strange that no reviews have been posted by now (Dec 2014), so I will try to remedy the situation.

Eclipse is perhaps the most common development environment for java programming. Blewitt shows the latest developments in its support for adding plug-ins. A good aspect of the book is that it jumps right in. You are expected to be already using Eclipse and hopefully have written some prior plug-ins.

Chapter 2 has a long discussion about how the classpath is used. As a practical matter, complexity and bugs can arise from problems with the elements (jar files) listed in the classpath. This is not restricted to programming with Eclipse. But the chapter delves into the details of, for example, the loading of all extensions via the classpath. To this ends, you might also check out chapter 6, which is a companion description of class loaders. Historically, this was the crucial idea that drove the very successful use of java inside enterprise computing on the Internet in the dot com years. You can now see here what the latest features of the class loader can do for your code.

The text also goes into OSGi services and runtime. For dynamically hooking up your executable to existing services.

Another useful feature is the Gogo shell and a console view, where the latter comes with Eclipse. Likely, you have run the console to see output from your programs. But the text shows how other consoles can be invoked, with various advantages for each.

Throughout the book are many code snippets and examples of running programs from a console or terminal window. Useful guidance.

Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration Cookbook
Oracle Solaris 11 Advanced Administration Cookbook
by Alexandre Borges
Edition: Paperback
Price: $53.99
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4.0 out of 5 stars focuses on unique aspects of Solaris, November 29, 2014
Borges offers you a hefty and comprehensive explanation of Solaris 11 administration. He has considerable experience in the matter, having worked on Solaris 7 in 2001. He offers the reassurance that since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, it has put considerable financial support into maintaining and extending Solaris. The book is offered as evidence.

One important feature is ZFS - a 128 bit file system that supports transactions. What Oracle has done, and not surprisingly, is embed its flagship database (which is currently Oracle 11g) all the way down into the silicon. By owning both the operating system and the database, and optimising the combination. Thus what distinguishes 11g from its competitors is the fast transaction rate. So if your firm does many transactions, Solaris 11 and the relevant sections of this book may be the most compelling reads.

Another topic is Internet Protocol Multipathing, for fault tolerant network interfacing. It's a very mature product that the text explains in detail, for more robust server sites.

Indeed, a strength of the book is how it does not waste time explaining common and low level sysadmin commands, that are largely unchanged over 25 years from earlier Unixes. Those commands are a commodity amongst the remaining Unixes of today and linux. The book focuses on the unique aspects of Solaris, where the operating system can offer distinctive value.

The Traders' War: A Merchant Princes Omnibus
The Traders' War: A Merchant Princes Omnibus
by Charles Stross
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.21
55 used & new from $2.28

4.0 out of 5 stars ingenious travellings, November 29, 2014
Like the first omnibus book, this is a repackaging of Stross' earlier books. Numbers 3 and 4 of the Merchant Princes series. I enjoyed the first omnibus and ditto for this. Great to reread the plot. Which is certainly complex. You do have to pay attention. Not a breezy simplistic adventure novel.

The book can appeal to readers who grew up on Piper's GUNPOWDER GOD or Pournelle's Janissaries (Janissaries series Book 1) or Stirling's Conquistador. And let us not forget the successful and long running series by Eric Flint, 1632 (Ring of Fire), which is up to 18 books! These have the idea of 20th century [gee well now it is the 21st century] people somehow thrust back into a medieval society. Their modern tech, above all, firearms, let them aspire or invariably compels them to rule the natives.

Stross has clearly given considerable thought to his plot. He adds a twist of 3 worlds in a multiverse, with ours the most advanced. Yay! With the piquant twist of travellers doing so by focusing on an intricate pattern password. Unique across scifi stories as far as I know. He further complicates matters by restricting jumping to a few individuals. No portal as in Conquistador where anyone and heavy machinery can pass through. This ingenious aspect is the bottleneck around which he embroiders an entire series.

The only downside is what I remarked about the first omnibus. Clearly the publisher needed a different cover, to spur sales. But the cover of this second book is as milquetoast and generic as the first. Somehow the publisher should have sought inspiration from the original covers and commissioned something different but along those lines as far more germane.

Mathematica Data Visualization
Mathematica Data Visualization
by Nazmus Saquib
Edition: Paperback
Price: $30.67
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars rapid graphing of large data sets, November 29, 2014
This book differs somewhat from most Packt offerings, which are often about software packages recently released. Mathematica is venerable; the first version hails from the mid 80s. Predates the Web!

By now, Mathematica is very complex, with many routines for data analysis. The emphasis by Saquib is on how to see your results. As an aside, all the images in the book are in black and white, to save printing costs. But Saquib and the publisher have made available colour versions on the Web. Serious readers should look those up, for colour adds a useful extra dimensionality or depth to how you can understand data.

The book glides quickly over 2d graphs. Quite mundane and frankly such stuff is really a simple commodity these days in visualisation. The value of the discussion is in 3d plotting and in picking 2d images from those higher dimensional scenes. Like the isocontour and isosurface plots. You should experiment extensively with these. Mathematica has gone to some length to make these as easy to generate as possible. A major point of the text is how to do these easily and thus often. There is an interactive loop, where by being able to make these graphs rapidly, you can experiment with peering into your large data set many times. Hopefully, insight will follow.

There is also an interesting section on text visualisation. Where you have amassed a corpus of text documents and can then study what the documents are about. This reflects the data often found from social network feeds. The examples are rudimentary but still worth studying as a basis for your work.

Coming Home (An Alex Benedict Novel)
Coming Home (An Alex Benedict Novel)
by Jack McDevitt
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.17
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars ties up loose ends, November 29, 2014
Indeed as others opined, this is a rather dull book. To me, the single act of danger on Chase Kolpath and Alex Benedict was perfunctory and can be read as an almost obligatory plot complication done with the minimum of tension and effort on the part of the author.

Now the book does tie up 2 loose ends. It connects with the opening book, A Talent For War, written some 20 years ago, and which I consider to be McDevitt's best novel. The latter has some real intrigue and complexity. As well as several dramatic scenes that were quite well depicted. If any of you have never read that book, you should. A far better effort than this current one. Sadly, it is as though McDevitt spent much of his creativity on Talent and has since coasted down. None of his subsequent novels, including this one, has come close.

Talent starts with Benedict describing the loss of his uncle Gabe on a ship that has just disappeared. Now we see the people on that ship rescued, but with little drama.

The other loose end is that apparently for the first time, we see that the universes of the Priscilla Hutchins books and the Benedict/Kolpath ones are the same. There is a fleeting reference to records retrieved from millenia ago that mention Hutchins en passant. The Hutchins books were set a few centuries forward from the Common Era. While the others were some 10 000 years later.

Learning Unity Physics
Learning Unity Physics
by K. Aava Rani
Edition: Paperback
Price: $27.99
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4.0 out of 5 stars rigid body collisions are common, November 29, 2014
This review is from: Learning Unity Physics (Paperback)
I am not sure if the "Rigidbody" is a term already used in Unity or it was just coined by the author. As a physicist, I have to say that none of the texts I used ever had that term. It is just conventionally 'rigid body'. But aside from this, the text is quite straightforward to understand. It plays [pun intended] to the desire of many game programmers to inject realistic physical interactions into their scenarios. And yes, interactions between rigid bodies are indeed the most common. Partly due to the relative simplicity of modelling. Because the alternative is to model inelastic bodies when colliding. You can do this, but it is much harder and more computationally intense. So perhaps the first choice you have in your game is to decide whether to solely use rigid bodies or not. As a pragmatic matter, you should say yes.

Unity allows for 2d or 3d games. Good. Many of the book's examples are 3d, for greater realism. And within the games, collisions are typical. Unity comes prebuilt with the means of handling 3 types - box, sphere and capsule. In case you are wondering, capsule collisions are mostly meant for encapsulating a humanoid character.

Most of the text's examples are instructions and screen shots about using the Unity GUI to build parts of a game. There is very little in the way of actual code scripting snippets. The engine makes these. But the text is meant as a first text on its subject. A sequel to this book might discuss more at the explicit scripting level.

PhoneGap and AngularJS for Cross-Platform Development
PhoneGap and AngularJS for Cross-Platform Development
by Yuxian Eugene Liang
Edition: Paperback
Price: $29.69
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars easy examples to understand, November 27, 2014
The virtues of PhoneGap are well known to mobile developers. You in principle only need write one version of your program, and PhoneGap will make iPhone and Android binaries out of it, linking to the appropriate libraries in both operating systems. But the author of this book explains AngularJS, which attempts to aid one major step further. You can see how Angular [I'm just going to drop the JS as tedious and most people I know who use Angular just call it that] is in essence another refactoring. Where APIs are provided within it for you to get at sensor data emanating from the mobile device, which of course is typically a cellphone.

The text also acknowledges Facebook's importance. Several examples discuss how to use Angular to simplify a Facebook login. Apparently, many users are already logging into Facebook while travelling.

Another importance case covered is using Angular to make code that uses RESTful operators. REST has become popular for simplifying the logic of accessing a web server in a stateless manner, instead of stateful. Well, the book has a simple example of how to write an Angular app for this.

It should be said that all the book's examples are rather cursory. Deliberate, so that you can scan the book rapidly. However if you want more detailed examples, the best approach is of course to write them yourself, using the text as a launching pad.

The Burning Room (A Harry Bosch Novel)
The Burning Room (A Harry Bosch Novel)
by Michael Connelly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.80
141 used & new from $12.80

4.0 out of 5 stars deliberate unresolved issues, November 26, 2014
There seems a major stylistic difference between this and the earlier Bosch books. In Burning Room, some threads are left unresolved. Not just to Bosch, but even in the third person voice, to us. Some readers will surely find this unsatsifying. But the author via Bosch ruminates that "he" [Bosch] always found TV crime movies and books unrealistic. They solved everything. Whereas in real life, often some key issues are never pinned down.

At a metalevel, I wonder if Connelly is responding to police who have read his books. He is well known for having many contacts within LAPD, to give verisimilitude to his detailed knowledge of police procedures. Perhaps [finally?] Burning Room built in such unknowables.

To this ends, you may actually consider this book superior to several of the earlier ones.

Wireshark Essentials
Wireshark Essentials
by James H. Baxter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.49
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars many options for analysis, November 23, 2014
This review is from: Wireshark Essentials (Paperback)
I was a sysadmin and programmer who had to write low level C code to parse Internet packets. Very tedious and error inducing to understand all the levels of the TCP/IP protocol stack. In huge contrast is the package known as Wireshark. The 'wire' of course refers to the cable along which the packets are traversing.

The examples in the text largely use IPv4 instead of IPv6. v4 is still the most common addressing on the Internet. But note that Wireshark can certainly handle decoding v6 packets. The use of v4 in the text also has the merit of somewhat simpler notation. All the concepts discussed using v4 carry over to v6. Chapter 5 is where the discussion explicitly involves v6.

Wireshark has many handy parameters, reflecting a considerable development history. By now, it is quite refined. For example, when capturing and storing data to your disk, one option is a ring buffer. In other words, a fixed maximum length is defined for the data. When this is reached, the program goes in a loop [ring]. It overwrites the earliest data. A trivial thing to code as you can appreciate. But it prevents your disk from getting filled. It lets you typically set a trigger on some anomalous event. When activated, you then only look back for some relatively shorter time at preceding events, to try to find correlations.

RESTful Java Patterns and Best Practices
RESTful Java Patterns and Best Practices
by Bhakti Mehta
Edition: Paperback
Price: $25.19
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars deprecates SOAP and WSDL, November 22, 2014
Remember the last 15 years or so, when SOAP and WSDL came of age? You could and indeed may have used them to make websites of considerable complexity. But that complexity was the rub. Sometimes hard to write and later maintain. After all, check out some texts from then, that had XML encoded queries. Extremely verbose and brittle. Sure, it was XML and you could read it, after a fashion. But awkward.

This current book explains an alternative that is now very popular. The REST approach emphasises a true stateless interaction, where every client browser request has the full details. This frees up the server logic from having to maintain a record of information that might have been needed from earlier requests. Allowing for much easier coding on the server. Plus of course the possibility that the server now handle a greater load of such requests.

Those of you mathematically inclined will see this as analogous to idempotent operators.

The text is brief and in some ways this is due to the relative simplicity of the REST approach. Something you should appreciate above the lower level details on the pages. The description is quite complete. You also are guided into the other key feature of REST - using http verbs like GET, HEAD and PUT. The sheer clarity of this contrasts nicely with SOAP.

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