Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review of The LEGO Build-It Book, Vol. 2 by Nathanael Kuipers and Mattia Zamboni

So, this is the second volume of the series. I picked up the first volume because my son is just into LEGO. The book was so good that when I saw this come up, I knew I had to get it. I saw this book on the O'Reilly Blogger Program and got a copy for free from them.
The content of the book is excellent. The pictures show you step-by-step how to build each model. What's even better is if you have all the bricks you need for the first volume, it will be exactly what you need for this one! I was really impressed that they did that and didn't require buying any extra bricks or a different package.
I prefer the models in this volume over the first one and think they did a very good job again. I would definitely recommend it.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review of The LEGO Build-It Book, Vol. 1 by Nathanael Kuipers and Mattia Zamboni

I picked up this book because my son is just now getting into LEGO. Actually, it's the bigger DUPLO blocks that he's playing with but I really wanted to get him started on actual LEGOs for Christmas this year. He loves cars and planes, especially after watching the movie Planes, and now makes all sorts of planes with his DUPLO set.
I saw this book on the O'Reilly Blogger Program and got a copy for free from them and I have to say that this is an impressive book.
For a young kid like my son, it's going to be over his head, at least the text portion, but it will be fun to work on various projects with him together and will be nice to teach him how to build his own things.
For the content of the book, I would say it's excellent. The pictures that show you step-by-step how to build each model are great. It's easy to see what you need for each step. They also give you an idea of what pieces you'll need.
I really liked that they gave you the entire BoM for the book. Basically, buy the Super Speedster set and you have everything you need. OR, they give you a piece-by-piece listing if you need to go buy specific bricks you don't have.
The entire book is well thought out and the pointers are nice too. For anyone that's into LEGO and wants to make some models with clear instructions, this is the book for you.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review of Raspberry Pi Cookbook by Simon Monk

I finally got around to buying a Raspberry Pi and started to do a little setup when I saw the early release of this book as part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. I received this early release as part of the program and I have to say I'm very happy with the book so far.
For most Cookbooks, you have to have a general idea or experience of the topic the book is about. The same is true here except what you need to know is how to navigate your way around a terminal, whether it by Putty for Windows or any terminal for Linux or Mac. If you know your way around a terminal window, then you'll be just fine with this book.
The book goes over the basics of everything on how to get your rPi setup. Ideally, you'll start off with it connected to a monitor and keyboard with a mouse and everything will go smoothly. After that, you can run "headless" if you would like by using ssh to do everything else assuming you have it connected to the your router or use a wireless USB dongle.
Once you get it setup, the book goes over in nice detail, how to work on the rPi. If you're familiar with Linux, you don't need to worry about Chapter 3. If not though, it's a nice little primer on how to work through the terminal.
The software section is fairly useful, although I haven't really used most of the stuff as I didn't really see a need for the software myself. If you want some of it yourself, it'll be useful.
The Python section was nice and gets you going but you'll want a more comprehensive book on Python if you're learning.
The last section on GPIO was okay and it was in an early release form and needs more work. I can't really say much about it since I don't have the hardware to interface with it yet but it looked useful.

As an unfinished book, I thought it was pretty good where everything was in a more polished form. There are parts that are missing towards the end of this portion and notes for the author himself but it's expected of an early release title. I look forward to the completed version.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Review of Git Pocket Guide by Richard E. Silverman

At work, we are getting ready to start using Git for some code tracking and since I've never used Git before, I thought this would be a great reference to have around at work. It's good timing because I have been interested in trying things out at home on some other projects I have been tinkering with.
The first chapter does a good job in getting you acclimated to some of the basic terminology. I used SVN for a short while on a project and only learned the bare minimum to update my repository and check in a few edits I made for a project so this chapter was useful in getting me going.
The 8 or 9 chapters or so really just goes over the basics you need to know for using a Git as a way to track your coding changes and it has been very useful. It's basic enough that it gets you going.
The last few chapters I haven't really delved into as much but I can see them being useful for those that need it. I'm not at that point yet but I can assume it's good.
Then the final chapter is like a FAQ and is nice.
I would recommend this to anyone that is new to Git like I am.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

My Review of The GunBrick Book by Jeff Boen

I have been a fan of LEGO for a long time and this really piqued my interest. I was a little worried because of the look of the finished projects and it's something you really should take into account. The finished models look quite real, especially from a distance and an abundance of caution should be taken on where you keep these.
The book itself does an excellent job explaining how to make each model. I really was impressed by the quality of the pictures and the level of detail for each gun model. It gives a full bill of materials so you know what you need to build one. Then it goes through and gives you great pictures of how to build each gun.
What was really interesting is that they also "work" in the sense that you can pull the top of the gun back or pull the trigger and it will go back into place because of the rubber bands that are used to allow movement.
The final model is a working rubber band gun and is fun, although you need to make sure not to aim at people or animals (according to the book). They do a good job warning people of the potential hazards but come on, it's pretty obvious and they're just covering for themselves.
Overall, it's an excellent book to make realistic looking LEGO models of guns.

I need to disclose that I received this book through the O'Reilly Blogger review program.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Python Cookbook by David Beazley and Brian K. Jones

For those learning Python, personally, I would recommend Learning Python by Mark Lutz but as a companion book, this Python Cookbook is wonderful!
It'll help you learn a little bit about Python if you're starting out but once you get the basics down, the Cookbook series are THE way to go.
Working with file I/O? This book has a recipe for you. Doing networking? This book has a recipe for you. Need to process through data from various file formats? This book has a recipe for you.
If anything, look through the TOC to see if there's anything that might be useful and chances are, you'll find it in this book.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who uses Python or will be using it more in the future.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic version of this book because I am a part of the wonderful O'Reilly Blogger Review Program. These are just my opinions of the book.