Jun 152012

It takes but one look at modern handheld computers to be amazed by what is possible – a few years ago, dual core CPUs were rare beasts even on the desktop. This ever-rising amount of computational power has, of course, taken its toll on the mobile industry – resource-effective development is less important.
embedded front Making Embedded Systems   the review embedded rev Making Embedded Systems   the review

The book starts out by looking at what makes an embedded system, and at how embedded systems are built and brought up. This is continued in chapter five, which takes a look.at efficient ways to structure your embedded system.

In chapters four and six, the book takes a high level look.at how an embedded system interacts with its surroundings. Topics like ports, polling, etc are covered – please be aware that electrical engineering is not taught here.

Chapter number 7 is a bit of an oddball, as it loks at ways to update the software of a system which has already been deployed. This sounds weird at firszt, but can be highly useful.

Finally, the last three chapters look at various methods for optimizing application code. The information in these is useful for all kinds of coding, and definitely good to know.
it should not be surprising that this is not an easy reading title. Nevertheless, the author has done her best – the book is well written.
Given the large range of topics covered,

In the end, Elecia White’s book makes for an interesting read. If you ever wondered about how code is written on the really small boxes, this is the place to go! The price of 34 USD is fine – sadly, electronics are not covered…

Oct 192011

One thing is constant among most countries: public broadcast annoying everyone who owns a TV, extorting a tax for their usually very mediocre produce. But why is this so?
front Comparing Media Systems   the review back Comparing Media Systems   the review

This book, published by the University of Cambridge, starts by looking at the media landscape of the past, breaking it into three distinct models.

Model number one is dubbed the “Polarized Pluralist Model”, and describes the media systems seen in mediterranean states such as Italy. Next up is the “Democratic Corporatist Model”, which is prevalent in most of continental Europe. Finally, the US “liberal” model is introduced.

After this introduction, the book moves on to differentiating the models in dimensions such as political influence, government subsidies and amount of unionization of staff. Even though these chapters do get a bit repetitive, they contain loads of interesting anecdotes which give extra food for thought.

A final chapter “rounds off” the tome by looking at what the future will hold for the various European media systems discussed.

From a text point of view, the book is – like most universitarian literature – too long for my taste. Nevertheless, it remains readable even for non-native speakers and contains quite a few interesting tables:
in Comparing Media Systems   the review

This book is ideal for all those who ever had to deal with public broadcasting and/or wonder how the news gets to their doorstep (and live in Canada, the USA or Western Europe) – the price of 30$ is ok.

P.S. The introduction is available in PDF form for free…

Oct 042011

In today’s mobile market, little is as important as a good user interface design. Unfortunately, most books on the topic tend to take one “way” and then ride it home – can Lukas Mathis’s book provide a broader overview of the GUI design field?
front Designed for Use   the review back Designed for Use   the review

Designed for Use is split up into three parts, which each are made up of chapters explaining techniques and ideas used to accomplish user interface design.

Part 1 starts out with the design of applications – topics covered here are not directly related to the layout of forms, but rather to things like deciding which features are needed and how they should be grouped.

Part 2 looks at the layout of the individual forms, and also covers “new-age” things like animation and the design of mobile user interfaces.

Finally, Part 3 looks at things to do after the first version of the app has been released. In this part of the book, expect coverage of concepts like dealing with customer requests, adding and removing features, and so on.

As with almost all O’Reilly-published books, a number of images are included to make the text easier to read and understand. Paper quality was high as always; a huge amount of web references makes “further reading” easy:
in Designed for Use   the review

In the end, it is hard not to like Designed for Use. The book presents a plethora of design methods which are sure to inspire everybody – the price of 30$ is more than justified.

Mar 192011

Before the PlayBook tablet by Research in Motion, ActionScript was a language mainly used by Flash designers for adding a bit of “brains” to their animations. Unfortunately, the BlackBerry tablet changed that – ActionScript now is interesting for classic programmers, too. Can O’Reilly’s classic satisfy the needs of this clientele?
front Learning ActionScript 3.0   the review back Learning ActionScript 3.0   the review

The first chapters are best described as Programming for Dummies – not only do they show the syntax of AS, they also explain the concepts behind the idioms in painstaking detail. Seasoned IT vets will have issues not falling asleep here…

Part 2 focuses onh all things graphics: topics like pixel graphics, vector graphics and motion are explained in considerable detail. This treatise is very interesting, and contains many examples. However, it suffers from two weaknesses: first of all, it is focused on people programming games or graphic demos. The second and more significant weakness is the dependency on Flash CS – if you use Flash Builder, many of the examples can not be used.

Text, Sound and video get one chapter each. The same is valid for file IO and XML processing.

Our review is based on the second edition of the book. As usual for O’Reilly, it is well-written and contains loads of images. This time, the book is printed in color:
in Learning ActionScript 3.0   the review

All in all, the book provides a great overview of the possibilities of ActionScript. Unfortunately, it is not perfectly suited for PlayBook developers – it does not explain the QNX controls or the Flash Builder IDE. However, developers who need to create a PlayBook app ASAP should invest the 32$ the book costs at Amazon’s – there is no better way to get up to speed with ActionScript quickly…

Nov 182010

Tons of books have been written on the topic of selling desktop apps – when it comes to mobile, the bookshelves remain mostly empty. O’Reilly’s latest work is focused on mobile apps in general and the App Store in specific – does it make sense?
appsavvy App Savvy   the review appsavvy 001 App Savvy   the review

Ken Yarmosh starts out by looking at the process for creating an app. For him, this starts out at processing the idea – and finding out whether pursuing it actually makes sense.

When the idea is workable, the next step involves design and UI. Even though the tools shown are focused on the iPhone, the lessons learned here are valid on all platforms.

The next chapter looks at managing the development process. If you do the development yourself, the value of that is limited – but one never knows when scaling up is due. The chapter after that looks at the publishing process in iTunes.

chapters eight and nine are very interesting. Chapter 8 looks at the marketing process, while Chapter 9 analyzes various ways to keep a product line alive after its initial launch.

Finally, one or two interviews with prominent iPhone developers are at the end of each chapter.

As usual for O’Reilly, the book is well written and is made up of decent quality paper. The only issue I had was the permanent cross-referencing to the marketing chapter at the end – it seriously disturbed reading flow for me.

In the end, a seasoned and experienced developer who is interested in PR will probably find little new in this book. Rookies, on the other hand, must buy this book irregardless of which platform they end up targeting. If you are inexperienced in handling the iTunes store, the book also is worth its price…

Sep 192010

Neither technology nor management books are new – we have reviewed loads of both types on the Tamoggemon Content Network over the years. O’Reilly’s “the productive programmer” wants to change the genre – can it stack up?
productivebook t The Productive Programmer   book review productivebook 001 t The Productive Programmer   book review

Neal Ford chose to subdivide the book into two parts. Part number one looks at various interesting tools which make your work easier. Think about things like virtual desktops, multiple clipboards and so on – even though the small things may not make too much of a difference at first glance, the long-term effects of a minute a day have been documented here in the past.

Part two looks at things which programmers can do to make their lives simpler. This is the part of the tome which I didn’t really like – very little of the information is applicable for C and C++ – most of it is for dynamic languages like Ruby, with an occasional comment about Java.

As usual for O’Reilly, the book is easy to read and has a decently high paper quality.

In the end, the book contains a lot of small yet interesting hints – but unfortunately does not leave me 100% satisfied. If you expected a huge performance increase, forget it – on the other hand, the current price of about 35$ is not that steep…

Jul 032010

Whenever yours truly gets a book pitch on “social impacts of handheld computing”, experience has told me to just blacklist the publisher – in 99.9% of the cases, the content is written by an organization who wants to leech money off mobile users by talking them into believing some kind of nonsense and paying for a “cure”. However, Marshall Cavendish is a reputable printing house…which is why I gave their book the benefit of the doubt.
magic blackberry front The magic BlackBerry   the review magic blackberry back The magic BlackBerry   the review

David Thompson is a well-known author for self-help books. The intention of this work is to make you communicate more effectively using mobile email.

He achieves this by telling the fictive story of an employee working at an airline. He gets a “magic BlackBerry”, which then makes him think about the way he has communicated with his peers and managers in the past.

Topics covered include things like relationship flexibility, when to call rather than reply and the ever-famous “waiting-before-replying”.

As already said above, the book is very easy to read. Its layout furthermore emphasizes key passages:
magic blackberry side The magic BlackBerry   the review

If you do a lot of mobile email, definitely slip this book into your next Amazon order. Even though it won’t tell you much new, the 10$ are a small price for overthinking your messaging habits…

Mar 012010

I first saw Brian Fling’s book on Mobile Design and Development on a local connection. Mark A. M. Kramer, an Austrian maven of the mobile computer scene read and praised it – can the tome stack up in the largely empty area of mobile user interface design books?
front Mobile Design and Development – the review back Mobile Design and Development – the review

Brian starts out by looking at the history of mobile and the mobile landscape as it is today. Long-term followers will not find much new stuff here, but it nevertheless makes for an interesting read.

He then moves on to “mobile strategy”. Topics include questions like “What is special about mobile”, the influence of “context” also is explained in some detail. Finally, various options for creating a mobile app are explained – some of them are somewhat obscure and definitely aren’t something you deal with every day.

The next part analyzes the design process for mobile applications. These chapters are what make the book really interesting – you are introduced to design, prototyping and user testing methods for touchscreen and non-touchscreen applications.

The second half of the book looks at the design and creation of mobile web sites: frameworks, compatibility et al get covered in extreme detail. Native application developers are largely left twiddling their thumbs…

As usual for O’Reilly, the book is well-written and readable even for non-native English speakers. Code examples are provided in various web languages; an ample amount of images is included for clarification where beneficial.

In the end, Mobile Design and Development is a great book if you want to create a mobile web app. Creators of native applications can’t use half of the book: if you are interested in the mobile design process, it is a good if somewhat paper-heavy tutorial. Web heads, on the other hand, should buy it straight away…the 23$ shouldn’t hurt

Dec 142009

PackT can be considered the newest kid on the block of tech publishing – consider them the APress of “design-related technologies”. Their book on “User Programming for Busy Programmers” hit my desk. But can the 80-page booklet stack up?
front User Training for Busy Programmers   the review back User Training for Busy Programmers   the review

William Rice starts out by looking at a few “common myths” of the trade. What is user training, what isn’t it? Who needs to be trained?

Afterward, the book takes a strictly wizard-like approach. A repeating template not dissimilar to the one found in use cases takes you step-to-step from nothing to running user demo, which can be deployed to third-party instructors.

Style-wise, PackT is different from other, more “established” publishers. Their visual presentation is more “to the bone”, and less playful – the whole book didn’t contain a single image. Nevertheless, it was well written and easy to understand.

In the end, I predict that PackT has a bright future ahead of it. This book fulfills its need – if you have just been enlisted to teach at an university or often write manuals and online help systems, you definitely can benefit from it. The price of 13$ for the paperback is ok…

Feb 092009

Flash-based devices have always been vulnerable for all things forensics – as flash chips are time-consuming to delete, most operating systems do not invest the time and power needed for a thorough delete. This allows data to be recovered…and is what Jonathan’s book is all about!
front iPhone forensics – the review back iPhone forensics – the review

Jonathan starts out by looking at the legal implications of forensic research, and also at the iPhone’s hardware. Especially the latter section is well-written and is ideal for people whe haven”t got too much iPhone experience (coverage: up to 3G iPhone, iPod 2G is excluded).

The next parts of the book look at custom firmware and desktop forensics. While the firmware creation process could be explained better and requires a Mac to some extent, I nevertheless had no major issues getting it up and running. Some of the information revealed is shocking: for example, did you know that the iPhone saves a png file showing the last state of each and every application?

iPhone forensics ends with a few source code listings and further legal advice…

As usual for all things O’Reilly, the book is well-written and has decent paper quality. Screenshots, figures and tables are provided in ample amounts to make grasping the content easier. Windows users can follow most of the steps outlined with no or minimal extra effort – there is no need to keep a Mac around…
inside iPhone forensics – the review

In the end, iPhone forensics is an excellent book which will leave you wanting to bury your iPhone (or, to a lesser extent, your iPod touch) under a rock. Jonathan Zdziarsky has done an excellent job – if you are interested in the topic of forensics, the slightly-steep 26$ are well-spent!