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 efficient ways to structure your embedded system.

In chapters four and six, the book takes a high level 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…

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…

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.

Traditionally, programming books were built to emulate teaching courses. This made them well suited for people who wanted to learn the whole platform on a step by step basis, but made finding specific content difficult.
windows phone recipies front Windows Phone 7 Recipes   the review windows phone recipies back Windows Phone 7 Recipes   the review

Cookbooks like the one which is subject off this review take a different approach. They provide groups of recipies which provide worked solutions for.common problems faced by developers.

The authors courses to start their book by looking at the basics of Windows Phone Seven development. This group of record intensives the platform as whole, and also explains the xaml used for generating a basic page.

After that, Silverlight GUI programming is explained in considerable detail. The authors also cover Expression blend in some detail.

The chapters 5 and 6 look at sensors and the interpretation of touchscreen gestures. After rhat, the multimedia facilities of the OS are explained in a group of recipies, as is the isolated syorage subsystem.

The two final chapters look at networking and testing. Even though no Mango-specific features are treated, the book does a good gob at explaining the features.

Finally, a single recipe explains the MVVM pattern. Unit testing is handled in another.

Unfortunately, it looks like the editing process for this book was cut short for some reason. While the first three chapters were use well readable, later chapters were missing words and sometimes fealty unedited. However, the text remains understandable even for non native speakers.
windows phone recipies Windows Phone 7 Recipes   the review

In the end, thjs tome is ideal for all those who tend to be in the learning-by-doing camp. The multitude of recipies ensures that most of the features of WP7 get covered – the price of 28USD is justified.

A variety of books have been published on Windows Phone 7 – so far, I have not found one which is well-suited to beginners. Can APress’s Beginner’s book stack up?

Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development review front Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development   the review Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development review back Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development   the review

The book is divided into two large blocks: block one provides a rough overview of the platform, while the second block knocks out some topics for more detailed treatment.

The introduction of the actual development process takes place in the chapters two and three. The authors chose a relatively complex example which used Azure, but barely cover XAML – this leads to a lot of not so useful information floating round your head. Debugging and distributing also get covered in the first block.

After that, the first detailled topic covered is the accelerometer. It is followed by two chapters looking at application bars and the web browser control.

Themes, Localization and integrating your app into the OS get covered too. Other topics include the Isolated Storage system, media and the GPS service. Finally, a few short chapters on reactive extensions and security were included, leading to the following TOC:

  1. Introducing Windows Phone 7 and the Windows Phone Platform
  2. Building Windows Phone 7 Applications
  3. Using Cloud Services As Data Stores
  4. Catching and Debugging Errors
  5. Packaging, Publishing, and Managing Applications
  6. Working with the Accelerometer
  7. Application Bar
  8. WebBrowser Control
  9. Working with Controls and Themes
  10. Integrating Applications with the Windows Phone OS
  11. Creating Trial Applications
  12. Internationalization
  13. Isolated Storage
  14. Using Location Services
  15. Media
  16. Working with the Camera and Photos
  17. Push Notifications
  18. Reactive Extensions for .NET
  19. Security

In general, APress’s books have been excellently edited. Unfortunately, this book was not too satisfying – some code blocks are missing, and some sentences are unclear. Nevertheles, the book contains an ample amount of images and remains understandable even for non-native speakers.
Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development review ebook Beginning Windows Phone 7 Development   the review

Cutting a long story short: if you want to buy but one book on WP7, take the sister book on Recipies. If you, on the other hand, are looking for a more classic tutorial type of tome, buying this one will serve you well. The price of 24$ is ok.

Traditionally, creating a 3D game for a mobile device required the developer to write a full engine of his own. Microsoft’s XNA originally was intended for the XBOX, but was mobilized with Windows Phone 7. Can the PackT book stack up?
front 3D Graphics with XNA Game Studio 4 – the review back 3D Graphics with XNA Game Studio 4 – the review

As usual for PackT, the book is organized in a “workshop-style” fashion. This means that the book should be read from A to Z, following the steps of the developer on your workstation.

The first chapter starts out with a look at the process of 3D rendering in XNA. Do not expect any mathematical explanations of the rendering process anywhere in the book – but do expect your spaceship model flying across the screen after Chapter 1.

After that, the author dedicates multiple chapters to shaders. He starts out with an introduction to HLSL, and goes on to show various shader applications ranging from coloring to shadows and terrain effects.

The chapters six and seven look at techniques like billboards and terrain generation. Reading these chapters will allow you to understand how a 3D game is implemented if you see it in action – definitely a worthwhile read. The final chapters of the book look at various effects like post processors, and at animation of models using the XNA framework.

Unfortunately, Windows Phone 7 is not mentioned in the book. As it supports but a subset of the full XNA standard, developers should expect some “porting effort” when trying to mobilize the algorithms shown here.

PackT produces its books in a JIT fashion. Thus, the picture quality is a bit less than what one can expect from offset printing – but the difference is in no way significant.
in 3D Graphics with XNA Game Studio 4 – the review

In the end, Rahul Sood’s book is ideally suited for developers who want to create a 3D game, and are not interested in the mathematical processes of 3D rendering. For them, this book and about 30 hours of time is all it takes for a decent-looking XNA game. The price of 40$ is ok…

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…

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…

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…

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…

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

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…

Introductory books for Visual Basic .NET are dime-a-dozen. Unfortunately, this is not true for books which are focused on the mobile aspects of the language. APress’s tome is a classic – can it still stack up?
net compact framework book front The definitve guide to the .NET Compact Framework   the review net compact framework book back The definitve guide to the .NET Compact Framework   the review

Larry Roof and Dan Fergus start their text with a thorough look at the 2003-ish mobile device landscape, the .NET Compact Framework in general and also provide a few hints on UI design. Afterwards, topics like controls, files and XML get covered in painstaking detail.

Once this is done, the book goes on to provide a very thorough introduction to databases. If you ever wondered about how to keep databases in sync, use SQLCE or whatever – your answers should be in here.

Loose ends like help systems, P/Invoke, generating reports with third-party components and even networking are also treated in individual chapters. While this coverage can not be called complete in any way, it nevertheless provides interesting starting points for further study.

Finally, a few appendices cover “small stuff” which didn’t fit anywhere else…

The book’s presentation is somewhat atypical: it is divided into independent chapters, which provide you with a dense mix of code and explanations. It’s a bit strange at first, but understandable – being a non-native English speaker, I had no issues understanding the tome.

Even though the book is now hopelessly outdated in some aspects, I nevertheless consider it a must-have for every Visual Basic developer. If you are developing mobile apps, head over to Amazon and cough up the 21.5$

O’Reilly has had a long tradition of publishing small and slim portable reference books. As C++ is an extremely common programming language in mobile, I was given a sample copy of their Pocket Reference. Size-wise, it is about as big as three PDAs next to another…
front OReilly C++ Pocket Reference   the review back OReilly C++ Pocket Reference   the review

As this book is not intended as a learning but rather a reference tool, reading it from start to end is not as easy as with other books. However, I tried and succeeded – if you already have a pretty good understanding of C/C++ and object-oriented programming, you should be able to grasp the concepts within a few minutes of thinking around.

O’Reilly has put a lot of work into the index. If you are looking for something, you will usually be able to find the relevant piece of text very quickly.

Please let me put this in writing once again: you are NOT able to learn C++ from this book. Novices, look elsewhere! People familiar with Java may have a chance, but are also advised to look elsewhere.

Text-wise, there is nothing to bicker about. The book is clear (for a reference), and contains enough tables and graphs to visualize stuff where needed:
inside OReilly C++ Pocket Reference   the review

Cutting a long story short: the 10$ this book costs are well invested, especially if you tend to program offline a lot (netbook) and have a nasty habit of forgetting rarely used syntax elements. The book covers all important things except for using C code in C++ programs – this is a purchase you will not regret IF you are already proficient in C and have at least basic knowledge of object-oriented programming.

Microsoft C# is a difficult language: its neither C, C++ nor Java, but looks similar to all three of them. It nevertheless provides an easier transitional path to .NET for people who know C or Java (for them, VB is completely new) – can APress’s Beginning C# 2008 show you the way?
front Beginning C# 2008   the review back Beginning C# 2008   the review

The book starts out by looking at the basics of the .NET framework – what is CIL, why are things implemented the way they are and so on. The next two chapters look at variables and strings: this is not ideal for beginners, as it does not allow you to start coding immediately.

Afterwards, the book looks at exceptions and object-oriented programming. Generic data structures and delegates also get a chapter of their own. When this is done, chapters look at multithreading, data storage, databases and LINQ – every important piece of C# gets covered except for P/Invoke.

Christian Gross’s text structure is very “head-heavy”. Blocks start out with a bunch of code, which gets explained afterward: things like syntax samples are used rarely. This means that quite a bit of thinking is needed to get into some concepts, which means that casual reading is not as easy as it is with other books.

In the end, the Amazon price of 30$ voids further discussion – if you are interested in C#, you are unlikely to find a cheaper book which is not “just a reference”. Even though the text structure is not optimal for my taste, I nevertheless got everything I needed…

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