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.