Books

WordPress Visual Quickstart Guide

The book I used to get started with WordPress – which is what this site is running on – is WordPress: Visual Quickstart Guide, by Jessica Neuman Beck and Matt Beck.

I bought a hard copy of the Second Edition at Tattered Cover a year or two ago, browsing after making another purchase there.  Now I see the Third Edition is already out, and a pdf of the Second Edition is available online for free.

This demonstrates why it has become problematic to buy hard copies of technical books: things change too quickly!  Since getting into tablets has led to an interest in e-books, I have learned that O’Reilly — my favorite publisher of technical books – often offers them at a discount, DRM-free, and in several different formats.  I’ve been a tablet-owner for less than a year, but already have over twenty of their titles!Watch Brothers (2015) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

It should come as no surprise to learn that a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD weighs considerably less than 15 books.  Plus they have news, email, facebook, and weather apps!

So it is more than just a “book;” in my mind this particular title represents the end of an era.  However even though I’ve become a big fan of e-books, it’s nice to have something that I can read without a computer.

My Four Joomla! Books

I have four hard-copy books about Joomla!  They are all obsolete!

Combined they weigh in at about 5.4 lbs.!  About as much as four 8.9″ Kindle Fire HDs.

Here is the list, in the order in which I bought them:

  1. Joomla! a User’s Guide Building a Successful Joomla! Powered Website (Prentice Hall), by Barrie North
  2. Learning Joomla! 1.5 Extension Development (Pact Publishing), by Joseph LeBlanc
  3. Mastering Joomla! 1.5 Extension and Framework Development (Pact Publishing), by James Kennard
  4. Using Joomla! Building Powerful and Efficient Websites (O’Reilly), by Ron Severdia and Kenneth Crowder

Would you care to guess which one is the best?  Actually that is not really a fair question.

It’s not fair because, the first and last books describe how to use Joomla!, while the second and third – the two published by Pact – describe how to write Joomla! extensions how to reduce weight quickly.  Comparing one type with the other is much like comparing apples to cars.

Breaking it down, the first and last are about the same.  The only reason I bought the last one was because it was an O’Reilly book, and in general those are very high quality – I have learned a lot from O’Reilly books!  I was hoping it would cover some of the extension development, but it is true to its name, “Using….”  It has more detail, though, so I put it before Barrie’s book.

Regarding the two Pact books, the third one listed is much better than the second one.  For one thing, Learning Joomla! 1.5 has only 161 pages, while Mastering Joomla! 1.5 is 470 pages long.  In addition to going into much more depth, the Mastering book also covers the Joomla! Model View Controller (MVC) API, which I did not find to be very intuitive.  In contrast, the Learning book shows how to write extensions the 1.1 way, with only very little coverage of the MVC API.  Frankly, I found it to be disappointing.

So I rank the books as follows:

  1. Mastering Joomla! 1.5 Extension and Framework Development (Pact Publishing), by James Kennard
  2. Using Joomla! Building Powerful and Efficient Websites (O’Reilly), by Ron Severdia and Kenneth Crowder
  3. Joomla! a User’s Guide Building a Successful Joomla! Powered Website (Prentice Hall), by Barrie North
  4. Learning Joomla! 1.5 Extension Development (Pact Publishing), by Joseph LeBlanc

Even though they are obsolete!

How I Learned XHTML

Learning XHTML was straight-forward enough: I bought the book HTML & XHTML: The Definitive Guide, published by O’Reilly, and created a site by hand-coding it using vim.

The site I built, tomh.info is still up, pretty much the same as when I first created it back in 2002 or so.

Despite google’s admonitions to make it more mobile friendly, I haven’t updated it. This is because I like it just the way it is, and consider it my “cave wall painting” on the web.

So visit tomh.info if you like, or don’t. Just don’t expect it to look good on your phone.

I have other sites for that how to lose weight quickly.

The C Programming Language

The Assembler, Fortran, Snobol, Cobol, PL/1, and Pascal books are all gone, but I still have this one, “The C Programming Language,”   by Kernigan and Ritchie, affectionately known as “K & R.”

And I just want to say one thing about it, and that is, there are a lot of different indentation styles, but when it comes to server-side programming languages, I for one do not care for the “K&R braces” style.  It’s not consistent!

Servers and Browsers

When it comes to server-side languages like C, PHP, and Java, I prefer the Allman Style, and it’s nice to know I am not the only one.  White space and consistency are important!

However, when it comes to browser-side code — and CSS: I am looking at you — I find myself using the K & R style. This is, of course, because there is very little need to nest CSS, and hence no need for the ambiguity (and I admit it is very slight) we see in their book.

Java and JavaScript

At first this left me in a bit of a quandary when it comes to everyone’s new darling, JavaScript. Because JS works hand-in-hand with CSS, it’s only natural to follow the same policy.

So for S&G I started using the K&R-style braces on some JS. I hereby admit that it is working well!

For one thing, I am learning it does indeed have some appeal when working on large projects. This is because we typically have many windows open so real estate is at a premium.

And for another, most, if not all, text editors and IDEs these days make it easy to find pairs of matching parentheses. So wake up to find out that consistent vertical alignment of braces is no longer of high importance.

Mixing Styles

Moreover, using both styles this way actually has a bit of an advantage, because it is immediately and glaringly obvious whether I am working on server or client code. My plan is to continue using this hybrid policy, at least until I start using Node.js, anyway….