Archive for the ‘Book Reviews’ Category

In a meeting the other day we decided to bring in some of our customers and have them take a look at a new website we are building for them. I immediately thought of this book so I got it and read in a weekend. Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug is “The Do-it-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems”. I love one of Steve’s other books, Don’t Make Me Think which is a great primer on building interfaces with good usability.

Rocket Surgery Made Easy is a short, easy read, just my kind of book. After reading this book I felt I was ready to sit down with a user and get feedback from them on our site. Steve is a veteran in doing usability testing and he imparts his wisdom in a easy to absorb way.

Three big take-aways from this book are:
– How to test any design, on a web page or hand drawn.
– How to find the most important problems
– And how to fix the problems you’ve found, using his “The least you can do” approach.

If you don’t have any experience in usability testing, but find yourself needing to do so, this is the book for you.

We have a new ColdFusion book! The CF community has not been blessed with an abundency of printed materials, so I was excited when I heard this book was coming out. Adobe ColdFusion Anthology is a compilation of Fusion Authority Quarterly Update articles. FAQU is a great publication that has contributions from many smart ColdFusion developers.

This book is 476 and covers a lot of interesting things. I’ve been using CFCs for years but I learned some new things in Michael Dinowitz’s chapters on Components. There are articles on all the major frameworks, there is even one on the new FW/1 framework.

Pete Freitag has a good article on image processing that also covers creating your own captchas. Did you know ColdFusion can read EXIF data?!

I also found John Mason’s article on BlazeDS interesting since I’ve never used BlazeDS before. I’ve always been confused about the differences between BlazeDS and LiveCycle Data Services, and this article helped clear some of that up.

This isn’t a beginner book, I’ll bet every CF developer out there could learn a few things from this book. Also they’ve done a nice job with the editing, everything is clearly explained.

Adobe ColdFusion Anthology

I just finished one of the books I received for Christmas, More Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky. This book is the 2nd compilation of blog articles from Joel’s popular software development blog.

I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised how often Joel had me laughing out loud, he really is a good writer. The book is broken down into nine sections.

  • Managing People
  • Advice to Potential Programmers
  • The Impact of Design
  • Managing Large Projects
  • Programming Advice
  • Starting a Software Business
  • Running a Software Business
  • Releasing Software
  • Revising Software

Joel has a lot of experience in programming and in running a software business, and has lots of interesting stories to tell. In fact chapter one is titled My First BillG Review, its a story about Joel’s first meeting with Bill Gates, where Bill reviewed Joel’s 500 page spec on Excel Basic.

Joel covers a lot of interesting topics, including finding and keeping great developers, different management styles, running a software business, and revising code.

I especially liked his thoughts on estimating. He uses something called Evidence Based Scheduling. EBS is a system where you keep track of estimated hours vs actual hours. The math gets a little complicated, you can read about in detail on Joel’s site (or the book), but basically its a way to accurately estimate projects. Regardless of if the developer estimating tends to over or under estimate, the formula works all this out. It sounds like a really neat system. Joel’s popular project management software FogBugz supports EBS.

All the content of the book is available on his blog for free, but it is nicely organized in the book and it has some updates. Its a bargain at $16 on Amazon, and I enjoy reading stuff like this in book format rather than on a computer screen. This is a book that I will be hanging on to.

I had heard of this book a few years ago, and have had it on my Amazon wishlist for some time. So when fellow ColdFusion programmer Mike Henke offered me a copy, I quickly accepted. Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is a short read, designed to be read in under 4 hours.
Continue reading ‘Book review: Don’t Make Me Think!’ »

My Job Went to India - book coverDespite the alarmist title, I loved this book. The author, Chad Fowler, spent a year and a half in India setting up his company’s new software development center. Chad’s task was to interview and select 25 people who would form the “seed team” of a development shop that would eventually employ 250 people. The book contains his thoughts on the steps you need to take to ensure your job is not one of the many IT jobs that are moving over seas. Because of his experience there he is in a good position to expound on the differences between IT services performed here and abroad.

There are 52 bite sized chapters that are usually around 2-4 pages each. Its very easy to get through this book, the small chapters make it easy to read just a few pages whenever you can find time. Most chapters end with an “Act on It!” section where Chad gives you a short list action items that will help you implement the topic of the chapter.

Some of my favorite chapters are:
Continue reading ‘Book Review: My Job Went to India’ »

A few months ago I decided to go on a book binge and acquired a stack of books about two feet tall. It includes classics such as The Pragmatic Progammer and Practices of an Agile Developer, as well as some on Java, Asterisk, Extreme Programming, Linux Firewalls, and a NASCAR book thrown in for good measure.

I’ve gotten through a couple, and will be posting reviews of a few of them. This week I finished Apache Security, from O’Reilly. I found this book while browsing the programming section of Borders (the programming section of my local Borders is amazing!), and I’ve found it to be a real gem.
Continue reading ‘Book Review – Apache Security’ »