Book Review: multipliers – how the best leaders make everyone smarter

This was an excellent book from the beginning to end. The book introduces the concept of multipliers and diminishers. It also does a great job providing many examples of both. By the end, you realize there are characteristics of both diminisher and multiplier within you, however, we all try to be multipliers to some extent because we want our teams to succeed with us. I especially liked the aspect as described in the book that sometimes you have to be a diminisher – sometimes the performance is so bad the team needs to be reset, ego’s are too high and production now suffers from too many “pre-madonna’s”.  In the end, you have to realize you have smart people working for you and challenge them. Give them responsibility, give them a challenge, and most of all, allow them to grow!

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do – Steve Jobs



Book Review: jQuery Hotshot

Did you ever go to a web site and think, wow, how did they do that? Or, wouldn’t that be cool to write? I know I do.

Well, this book is filled with 10 small projects you can use in real life. So unlike an API book where it focuses on the small granular API calls this book focuses on completed solutions.

It starts off in the preface with a high level summary of what jQuery is and the basic concepts of the API so you really don’t even have to know jQuery to read this book. You do however need to know HTML and JavaScript basics but I will add, all of the source code is available and the massive 296 page book does a great job going step by step. The beauty of the book is it covers a lot of areas for where jQuery can be used – from developing games to building your own jQuery. Many of the techniques used in the book are very creative and well thought through.  Each project has plenty of screen shots and narrative to help you digest the content. Did I mention all of the source code is downloadable? Yep, so you can casually read the book and then go back and play with the finished source code if you wanted.

From beginner to advanced this book is a valuable resource to see how different things can be done with jQuery. It mixes some really good JavaScript API’s along with jQuery API’s to create real life projects.

Well done Dan Wellman.

Book Review: Creating an MP3 Player with HTML5

Don’t let the size of this book fool you, the content is extremely well written and while providing the very basics of programming in HTML5 it also highlights many tips and tricks all throughout the book. As the title states, the book is a step by step guide for creating the MP3 player from scratch in HTML5 and JavaScript. It covers a lot of material from page to page but presents it in a very easy to read way. I actually read the book from front to back first and then I went through and actually wrote the code and skimmed back through the book. The entire process took less than a couple of hours, if that. I am a pretty experienced programmer so much of the information was not new to me but I really liked the way the author has written this and I actually learned a few tips around the HTML5 player object. If you are trying to learn HTML5 I think books like this are excellent. Any book that is written in the “by example” format is a great way to learn programming.

Book review: If Not Mistaken by Ben Langhinrichs

If Not Mistaken Ebook By Ben Langhinrichs

Since I got my iPad I have really enjoyed reading short stories and articles. I even purchased a few larger books but I am really liking the short stories and eBooks. This book is by an industry colleague (Ben Langhinrichs), and when I saw his blog post about the book I had to give it a go. It is a very short story but don’t let that fool you. I started reading this and was captivated from the first page on. Ben is clearly a closet author and has an amazing talent. The story itself is a little strange but the way Ben structures the sentences and the dialog is absolute perfection. For 99 cents this is a steal. I hope to see more eBooks by Ben in the future.


Book Review: Mastering XPages: A Step-by-Step Guide to XPages Application Development and the XSP Language

When I first got this book in the mail I was blown away with the size of it. I was shocked to see the 750 page book on my desk and the first thing I thought was, oh great another massive book that will just take up space. Boy was I wrong!

This is one of the best authored technical books I have had the pleasure to read. Very well structured, well written, and extremely easy to follow. XPages is not the simplest thing to understand and this book does a great job in showing you how easy and amazing the XPages technology really is. From basic to very advanced topics, this book is literally for any skill level as it will definitely end up being an invaluable reference for all of your projects.

Review on Amazon (link):

XPages itself is a marvel in the rapid application development space and this book carries suit. I got the book about two weeks ago and have already read most of it and have created many of the reference projects to play with. The best thing I like about the book is it is the real thing. From installing Domino Designer to a full reference section, the book covers anything and everything related to learning XPages, XSP, and even the Domino document model. This is hands down the single best resource I can find for learning the technology. The authors did a wonderful job explaining every aspect of XPages development. I have been personally doing a lot of web based development in Dojo and the way XPages integrates with Dojo is brilliant. You will inherently learn about the capabilities of Dojo just by reading this book, and there is an entire section dedicated to Dojo. This book is much more than just a book about XPages and XSP, it clearly shows how RAD based development for web based projects should be done. With this book you will hit on every major aspect of enterprise web development: internationalization, security, performance, extensibility and themes. They even cover running your applications off line in the Lotus Notes client!

For the Lotus Notes developer it shows how you can leverage your knowledge of the Domino platform, agents, formula language, and the back-end classes. This is not your traditional Domino development world so be prepared to learn a new approach but leverage what you already know.

Great job to the authors, Martin, Mark, and Tony for this information packed, 750 page gem of knowledge!

Dojo and Duck Typing

JavaScript is powerful yet unruly language but through creativity, standards, and best practices you can control the unruliness. Dojo has put a lot of this into consideration and the topic I am writing about today is a technique called Duck Typing.  In the book, Dojo The Definitive Guide, there is a chapter dedicated to utilities and within that chapter there is a section on type checking.

“Duck typing is based upon the saying that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a dck, then its a duck.”

Dojo comes with a bunch of methods to help with this, like isString(), isArray(), isFunction(), isObject(), isArrayLike(), isAlien().

These kind of functions can make your code a lot more safe if you expect a certain type in your function and use them to test that you received what you expected.  Unlike in Java where you can use actual interfaces and class types, you do not have that in JavaScript.

Book Review: Making it Big in Software

This book was captivating from the preface.  I knew it would be a good read after the first chapter.   This book is a must read for software professionals, students, and managers in the software industry.

The book gave some very interesting quotes from the industries most successful people.  Chapter 2 has the “reality checks” section and it is something I can definitely relate with.  The Lotus community is an interesting group where “compatibility” and “new” must coexist peacefully – so in short somethings get widely accepted while others fade away.

“Great innovations, brilliant new technology, and breakthrough ideas are truly great only if people use them and find them valuable.”

If you are in school or nearing your degree completion Chapter 4 and Chapter 5 are absolute must reads.  The chapter on resumes is critical to anyone applying or changing jobs and the following chapter (Chapter 5) is even more critical with the tips for the interview process.  Great stuff!

By the time I got to Chapter 15 I realized this book was more than just “making it big in software”.  This book is a guide for making it big in any company!

The ending chapters are what I consider the areas where I have been personally focusing my career on for the past 5 years – Patents, Publishing, Presenting, etc.  I do believe in the myself that I can in fact master any technology or new idea and I think that is important for longevity in this field.  I started my blog to make my writing style better and in my own opinion at least I feel it has gotten a little better over the years.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who has a job!

Eclipse Rich Client Platform, Second Edition

I just read from Chris’s blog the second edition for the ever so popular book Eclipse Rich Client Platform can be pre-ordered at this time.  Check out the books site and pre-order your copy today.  This series has been what I consider the books to get your head around what Eclipse really offers, if you are serious about Eclipse or any of the products based on Eclipse then this book is for you.  This is not a book review and I could of course be wrong about promoting this but I am pretty sure from this case of authors and editors the information within will be well worth it.

Book Review: IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.1

Book: IBM Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.1, The Upgraders Guide.

I will start by saying this book is a good resource for anyone wanting to know what features are in Lotus Notes and Domino 8.5.1.  The book pretty much covers most areas you would expect in Lotus Notes and is a great overall summary with many examples.  I really love the format of the book, it was very easy to follow, very well written, and easy to read.  I loved the appendix!  The different chapters about add-on products was a great benefit. There were at times I felt like I read some things in one chapter and almost the same thing in another chapter with little value added.  I really wish there was more around development techniques and best practices and in general I would have preferred a little more depth in some areas.  For instance, there was a lot of material about Composite Applications but most of the information was based on 8.0.x stuff.

There is also a free chapter you can preview: Chapter 8 – which is an extracted Chapter that anyone can check out here, it covers a lot of information and should be quite useful for developers.

Ok, here is my constructive feedback.  I will first say that the product documentation is something that needs to be addressed and I can see why many of these areas were not covered, but if you follow the yellowverse you will see the many blogs from IBMer’s, partners, and customers talking about these topics.  Since this is an “upgraders guide” it was difficult for me to figure out how hard I should judge on some of the areas.  The book clearly hits end user, admins, and developers so I took the liberty to just throw it all out there!

End user and Administrative areas:

Managed Settings – using Domino policies you can push down Eclipse plug-in preferences.  They definitely should have mentioned this or walked through the policy screen like they did the Widget policies.

LiveText, Toolbox, and Widgets – arguably one of the most popular areas of the 8.x release and I see a small mention of it in this book.  This probably deserves its own chapter considering the new options that were added in 8.5.1.  Creating your own recognizers is also a popular topic in the forums.

Serviceability – it would have been nice if the book included a chapter on serviceability.  For instance, what the directory structures are, where to find logs, how to look at and evaluate the output from the IBM support assistant.  In my experience this stuff is very valuable to companies and admins supporting a rich client.

Developer areas: being a developer myself I would have wanted to get some detailed information about the following areas.  It looks like the title of the book was changed from 8.5 to 8.5.1 because the developer chapter only talks about 8.5 and really the content is based on 8.0.  So I would update this chapter in a revision to include some of the 8.5.1 enhancements.

XPages – even though this could be an entire book on its own, I think it warranted at least its own chapter.  With the introduction to XPages on the client in 8.5.1 this should have been clearly highlighted! You will have to settle for the yellowverse, product documentation and the Designer Wiki.

Eclipse plug-in development – It would have been nice to have a chapter to primer the Eclipse/Java developers – or the want-to-be’s.  plugins, Java UI, extensions.  On Page 151, the screen shot not the CAE Palette in 8.5.1.  It looks like a palette from 8.0 with all of the views in the system loaded into it.

Composite applications – None of the following was mentioned in the book: Container framework, Containers (Document and View, HOD, Symphony, Web), NSF Update Site.NTF, Side bar control.  I recommend hitting the Composite Application Wiki, Lotus Expeditor Wiki, and Designer Wiki for these areas.

Lotus Symphony – even though Symphony could be its own book.  It would have been nice to see integration with Composite Applications or how to extend Symphony with Eclipse and the JUNO API’s.

Lotus Expeditor – it would have been nice if they mentioned how Portal can manage composite applications for role based application support and also explain the value-add over base Eclipse.

Lastly, for many of the areas I mention about Composite Applications you can get it from the CA Wiki: What’s new in Lotus Notes 8.5.1 & Expeditor 6.2.1.  The Domino Designer wiki is filled with XPage material – not too mention many of the business partner bloggers constantly write about XPages.

Also, this review and opinion is my own personal opinion and does not reflect the opinion of my employer or anyone else.