Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Manning makes good on cancelled book

An update to my previous post about Manning: they've now officially cancelled the CouchDB in Action book. To their credit, they are taking good care of customers (like me) who had already ordered the MEAP edition. We have been offered the choice of (1) getting our money back or (2) a replacement book or eBook (depending on our original order) AND another eBook free. I am very happy with this arrangement and have already taken the replacement offer for other eBooks. I did, however, check the eBooks' starting and (projected) publication dates. I picked books which had at least 4 or 5 chapters already available and I made sure that the book was being actively worked upon. Manning seems to have several books that have drifted off into the figurative weeds (for example see Taming Text, started in June 2008!)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Obama and the Oil Spill

Great op-ed piece in the NY Times about how Obama is blowing the opportunity to use the Gulf oil disaster to lead the country to real, long-range solutions (which would help prevent disasters like this in the future):

Obama and the Oil Spill

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Manning going downhill fast

I'm becoming more and more disappointed with Manning Publications. They used to be a great source of eBooks on cutting edge technologies by leaders in the field. They are the publisher for some of the leading tech reference. Books such as Spring In Action, Groovy In Action and Ant In Action are tech "classics".

Lately, however, I've noticed that their book times are greatly increasing, author quality is decreasing, authors are unknown in the community, books are being threatened with cancellation, there is more and more advertising of "vaporware" (books with only 1 or 2 small chapters), and eBook releases are poorly screened for even minimal formatting quality.

For examples:

Just days ago I received an email from Manning describing how the authors of Couch DB in Action have fallen so far behind in their progress that the content is already out-of-date. Manning is debating whether to proceed with the existing content, entirely rewrite it or cancel it. There is no mention of what happens to customers who purchased the early access (MEAP) version (as I did) if the book is cancelled.

Then this morning, I received an update to Spring Integration in Action, usually a good and welcome thing. Unfortunately, the formatting of this version has some serious problems that were not present in the previous version. The text size varies wildly from chapter to chapter and, in those chapters were it is greatly increased, many of the figures are obscuring adjacent text and several of the figures are just not visible at all.

Now, of course, it must be acknowledged that this is an Early Access version of the eBook and various formatting, font, and figure problems must be expected for these drafts. However, to be useful at all, there must be some minimal standard of readability; which there was in the first MEAP version of the eBook that I received. The loss of this basic readability in the update gives the impression that no one is even reviewing the product before releasing it.

And, finally, to add insult to injury, Manning sent me a link to an online survey asking frequent customers for feedback. I patiently and completely filled out the form but when I tried to submit it, it claimed that I had not answered a couple of questions and refused to take my submission. Rechecking the form showed that all questions had been completely answered! Manning remains completely oblivious to my disappointments with them.

Manning used to be great but, in my opinion, they are going downhill fast!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

99 Problems In Clojure - part 1: problems 1-17+

Recently, I ran across an interesting blog by someone with the username 'wmacgyver' (real name Mac Liaw?) who was translating and adapting a set of 99 Prolog exercises into Clojure.

Like wmacgyver, I played with the first 17 (or so) exercises and have posted a gist of my answers here. I intend (hope) to continue working on the rest whenever I can get some time.

wmacgyer's blog with the exercise post can be found here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Recent Clojure talk at the Tucson JUG

A couple weeks ago I gave the monthly presentation at the Tucson JUG on the programming language Clojure. Only six JUG members showed up but they were very interested in the language and kept me talking for over an hour beyond my initially allotted hour.

There are many reasons why Clojure has really caught on in the last year or so. For me, it's a well-designed and pragmatic amalgam of Lisp, concurrent techniques, and functional programming built on the JVM. It also helps that there's a great book, a friendly and helpful community, and dozens of enthusiastic side projects.

My slides (as a PDF file) are available in the Tucson JUG's Google group area:

Note that my presentation relied on material from the Clojure community, including the website, forums, and the terrific book "Programming Clojure" by Stuart Halloway.