Category Archives: Book Review

Review: “Google Apps Script, 2nd Ed” by James Ferreira; O’Reilly Media

http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920032557.do?sortby=publicationDateI’ve taken way longer to write this review than I intended to, but frustration kept me from getting through all of the examples in a timely manner. I struggled with code examples that didn’t work and other things that didn’t work the way the book said they would.

Granted that Google Apps Script is probably a moving target and the version I’m working with is obviously a bit different from what the author was using. I also found that my ebook reader did not properly render some of the code snippets for some reason. I switched from the .mobi format to the .epub format and that helped.

I have given up on trying to follow the code examples; I found them hard to follow the way the author is progressively building them and changing them along the way. I can not recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t have a thorough understanding of JavaScript and some experience with web development; this is not a book for beginners. I would recommend that you refer to the author’s Drive site for this book as you work through the examples (http://goo.gl/zqy3VQ).  You’ll need to open them from the site in order to copy and paste them.  If you try to download them, they will be in .json compressed format and you won’t be able to open them in Apps Script.

Reviewer’s Note:  I am a member of the O’Reilly Blogger Review program and received a free copy of “Google Apps Script, 2nd Ed” which was used to write this review.

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Review: “Business Matters” by Elizabeth Frick

Business MattersThis is a review of “Business Matters”, which is based on the author’s blog of the same name.

I’ll have to be honest, I put off doing this review because I was conflicted about this book and because I wanted to take some time to absorb it.

Based on the description of the book, I expected a practical guide to help freelance writers improve their business acumen. To be fair, there are certainly strong elements of that.

But this book is also very much, if not more, a motivational book with tips and anecdotes from the author’s experience. It’s understandable, since the material was adapted from the author’s blog. It’s very well organized, but it still reads very much like a blog and somewhat less like a “how-to” book.

There is a lot of good information in here, if you make a little effort to sift the material. The author provides many useful references but also takes the time to explain the essentials of what she’s referencing. The book is mainly targeted at the freelance technical writing business, with a specific slant toward medical writing and editing. Some of the ideas can be applied to other independent businesses. Continue reading

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Review: “WordPress: The Missing Manual”

wptmmReview: “WordPress: The Missing Manual”
by Matthew MacDonald; O’Reilly Media

The Missing Manual series covers practical how-to information for popular topics for which there is no official manual. This book covers the popular WordPress software that powers blogs and websites worldwide. I am reviewing the Mobi e-book version for the Kindle.

I highly recommend this e-book to anyone with an interest in blogging using WordPress. This book is mainly targeted at users who intend to run the WordPress software on their own web server, but even those (like me!) who use the free WordPress site (http://wordpress.com) can get a lot of useful how-to information out of this e-book.

In fact, “WordPress: The Missing Manual” can take you step-by-step from signing up for a free WordPress blog to your own customized and professional WordPress site complete with the plug-ins you’ll need to monetize your blog. Appendix A contains the crucial how-to you’ll need to migrate your existing blog — and more importantly, your followers — from WordPress.com to your new custom site. There is plenty of advice along the way about how to set up your blog’s layout and how to run your blog professionally. Continue reading

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Review: “Python Cookbook” by David Beazley and Brian K. Jones; O’Reilly Media

http://shop.oreilly.com/product/0636920027072.doThe “Python Cookbook” is a book that brings the Python scripting language to O’Reilly’s popular “Cookbook” format.  Each Cookbook provides a series of “Recipes” that teach users common techniques that can be used to become productive quickly and as a reference to those who might’ve forgotten how to do something.

I reviewed this book in the Mobi e-book format.  Reading it on Kindle for PC, the Table of Contents only shows the major sections rather than the individual recipes and this made it harder to find what I was looking for.  This is apparently a limitation of Kindle for PC, since my Kindle 3 and Kindle for Android had no such issue.

When I use an O’Reilly “Cookbook”, I judge it according to its’ usefulness:  Can I become productive quickly?  Is it easy to find what I need?  Does it provide helpful tips?  Does it teach me where to find the answers to my questions?  Yes to all of the above.

This book is not targeted at new Python programmers, but that’s where I’m at.  The best way for me to learn a new scripting language is to dive right in and try to write something useful, and that was my goal for the “Python Cookbook”.  I also had “Learning Python” handy to cover any of the basics.

My first Python script was written to read in lists of subnets from two separate files and check that every subnet in list B was also in list A.

I used Recipe 13.3 to parse the command line options.  Recipe 5.1 showed me how to read and write files.  Recipe 2.11 taught me how to strip carriage returns out of my lines.  Recipe 1.10, “Removing Duplicates from a Sequence while Maintaining Order”, was very helpful and I was able to reuse the code in my own script.  Recipe 2.14, “Combining and Concatenating Strings”, helped me with my print statements.  Considering this was the first Python script I ever wrote and that it ran, I consider both it and the “Python Cookbook” a success.

I had a bit more trouble with my second script.  I was trying to write a script to find the subnet address given an interface address in CIDR notation.  Recipe 11.4 introduced the ipaddress module, but this module refused to accept a string variable containing the interface in CIDR notation.  I ended up installing another module (netaddr) I found via Google and things went better after that.  I suspect the problem was that I was using ActivePython 2.7.2.5 [64 bit] and this book was written for Python 3.

As a DNS professional I was disappointed that there were no DNS-related recipes in the Network and Web Programming section, but Web-related topics were well-represented in the book.

The “Python Cookbook” doesn’t seem to have quite the depth and organization of the “Perl Cookbook” but I’m sure I will rely on it heavily as I learn to use Python.  It did allow me to be productive very quickly and it passes the “Cookbook” standard with flying colors.  Any book that can get me to the point of writing a working, useful script in less than a day is worth using.  I recommend this book to anyone who has a basic understanding of Python and wants to get past “Hello, World” and “Eat Spam” as fast as possible.

Reviewer’s Note:  I am a member of the O’Reilly Blogger Review program and received a free copy of the “Python Cookbook” which was used to write this review.
I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

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