Monday, September 28, 2015

Making users awesome book review

Kathy did what she usual does with her books... lots of descriptive pictures and images!

"Badass making users awesome" highlights what product-developers should actually worry about and that simply is how to make their users badass. The book clearly specifies through out that your goal should not be to make your users good at using your app or product but to make your users better at what your app is meant for.

The book goes ahead to give detailed steps on how to make ones users badass or in other words make your users better. It highlights how organisations generally "think they are awesome" and how their products help make their users awesome. Most organisations have very little intersection when it comes to how they make their users awesome and this is owed to the fact that such organisations focus on the wrong thing... other competing organisations.

A certain chapter of the book titled "The challenge" centres on what organisations or developers should be focusing on, and that is, the bigger picture. Organisations should ask themselves what the bigger context is in which it and its competitors are a subset of? The book states that by having this shift in perspective organisations will begin to see what users use their products for and by extension how they can make their users better at what they do.

The chapter titled "What experts do" delves into the science of badass. It shows how organisation or developers can apply certain techniques to their processes in order to make their users badass! The central theme to this chapter is the question "What did those who did become expert do differently from those who wanted to but didn’t?". And it suggests that the answer to that question is... yup, you guessed right, practice and lots of it. The book actually refers to it as deliberate practice.

"Badass making users awesome" is a great book and ideal for someone who has had quite some time developing products and needs to know how to finally build that highly sought after awesome product that makes its users awesome.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


HTML 5 Up and Running by Mark Pilgrim is a simple straight-to-point type of book. It talks about the evolution of HTML 5, giving a sense of how most web standards are formulated. The book gives quite a good number of examples that explain how to use the features present in HTML 5 (they are a bit shallow though).

The book is 200 pages long with close to 80 pages dedicated to video and form components as they are found in HTML 5, the rest of the book talks about things like rendering images in a browser, offline capabilities and storage. As expected this book would be more apppealing to web designers than developers, so if you are a web designer and you haven't tried out the HTML 5 features (not indirectly) on any thing you are building then you should grab a copy of this and dive into the beautiful world of HTML 5. You will no longer need to write scripts to create a date picker as HTML 5 already provides one for you.

The book also discusses HTML 5 features that will enable you develop rich and efficient content for mobile browsers and that is what i find most interesting.

HTML 5 gives you a very good head start into using HTML 5 for web development but you may need to get more literature on it to get a real hang of this industry changing standard.


I have heard a alot of stories about the history of computers and all the people involved in it. I have even come across several movies that talk about how computers evolved and all that but i have never come across anything as detailed in computer history as this book called hackers by Steven Levy.

hackers takes you on a journey back into time and all the way back into the future of computer hardware and software. To be specific it starts with how computers and the people who loved them related way back in the fifties. With such details as some rarely talked about or known hackers, their family backgrounds, their interests and relationships (not with the opposite sex but with computers and fellow hackers) one gets a true feeling and understanding of what it took to hack computers at that time.

Anyone who presently hacks computer hardware or software should read this book, trust me, you feel good and hack even better when you read this ;-).

the book has a total of 483 pages with four (4) sections and twenty (20) chapters as presented below:

CAMBRIDGE: The Fifties and Sixties
Chapter 1
The Tech Model Railroad Club
Chapter 2
The Hacker Ethic
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Greenblatt and Gosper
Chapter 5
The Midnight Computer Wiring Society
Chapter 6
Winners and Losers
Chapter 7

Chapter 8
Revolt in 2100
Chapter 9
Every Man a God
Chapter 10
The Homebrew Computer Club
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
THE SIERRAS: The Eighties
Chapter 14
The Wizard and the Princess
Chapter 15
The Brotherhood
Chapter 16
The Third Generation
Chapter 17
Summer Camp
Chapter 18

Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Wizard vs. Wizards
The Last of the True Hackers
Afterword: Ten Years After
Afterword: 2010
Acknowledgments .

Reading this book was fun and very enlightening, though i feel the author should have focused a little more on recent hacker history.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hello, Android (Third Edition) by Ed Burnette

There has been a lot of talk about Android, Google's mobile development platform. Infact it was all the talk that got me interested in the Android platform. Got to the official Android site, downloaded the SDK, put some code together and occasionally running into problems here and there. It's fun learning a new technology and that's why i find IT so interesting. For most people this kind of experience in learning a new technology is just not it for them. They prefer to have all the tips tricks and potential problems spelt out in one place, so they do not have to surf the internet form one end to another in search of solutions. A good book on any topic does just that. Hello, Android is a book most people new to Android will find interesting. You can get the book from the Oreilly store

Hello, Android (Third Edition) covers Android version 2.2 (Froyo) and has been broken into four major sections namely:

I - Introducing Android
II - Android Basics
III - Beyond the Basics
IV - The Next Generation

This makes the book an excellent companion for experienced Android developers and those new to the platform.

Introducing Android
This section as the name states, introduces the reader to the Android development platform. It walks the reader through all the steps required to install the tools required to get up and running with Android development. The author uses the eclipse IDE for illustrating all the examples in the book primarily because its free (yeah, alot of java IDEs are free) and it enjoys development support from Google. This section goes further to show the reader how to download, install and configure the Android SDK. The author does a good job at explaining the platforms key concepts, which gets the reader thinking in the Android way of developing mobile applications.

Beyond the Basics
This section explains what an Android begginer will find the most interesting. The reader learns how to create a user interface covering things like how to create an opening screen, adding menus, themes and how to debug an Android application (very imortant). 2D graphics and multimedia handling are also covered in this section. File operations are also treated here and it touches on both internal and external memory.

Beyond the Basics
For a new developer this section contains topics that any one would start getting curious about after learning the basics of Android. This section also serves as a very good entry point for intermediate developers looking to add some more skills to their "skill box". Topics like networking, location basics, SQL (Android uses SQLite) and 3D graphics are explored.

The Next Generation
Touch screen devices bring a whole new dimention to mobile application development and any book which attempts to cover the breadth of the Android Platform without diving into touch screen programming, will be far from an attempt to cover the breadth of the platform. The author dedicates around 12 pages for touch screen programming. Common gestures like pinch-zoom and drag are explained with code samples. This section ends with some tips from the author on how best to publish applications in the android market.

Each chapter ends with a Fast Forward section which i find very useful and an honest aknowledgement by the author that most people do not read technical books in sequence. They tend to start off chapter by chapter and then jump from one interesting topic to another. The author makes this easier to do by giving the reader a guide just in case they get jumping from one topic to another (for sure they will).

The book also uses a sudoku game example through most of the book to illustrate how the reader can implement each topic being learnt. It also contains alot of code samples with links to full code samples online. Reading the book is made easier and more interesting with alot of screen shots showing how the sample applications run in the emulator.

The Android Platform is more of the new kid on the mobile platform block and things keep changing at lightening speed, therefore there is a big gap when it comes to literature covering Android.

The book would be the best for anyone new to development on Google's Mobile Platform, a good reference for intermediate developers but it might not tickle the fancy of advanced Android developers. No wonder the book is sub-titled "Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform".