Sunday, October 21, 2007


Head First SQL – A Learner’s Guide, by Lynn Beighley. O’Reilly

I would like to begin with an admission: I have been a huge fan of the Head First Series of books since I read the “Design Patterns’” book and I enthusiastically recommended them whenever somebody asks me about a topic covered by the series. The Head First books are pretty much unique in their presentation style, so don’t be put off at first glance!

Head First SQL is specifically aimed at people who currently know little or nothing about SQL (Structured Query Language), database theory and schema design. It makes no assumptions about the reader having any experience of databases under the hood; it is very much a beginner’s first book. If you already write SQL as part of your job then I’d be surprised (and possibly worried!) if you will learn anything new.

All the SQL topics discussed are database vendor agnostic and therefore transferable between different database systems. It covers all the standard things you would expect to find: selects, inserts, updates, deletes, joins, where-filters, grouping, ordering etc.

From a personal perspective, I would have dearly liked the book to start at Chapter 11, “The Top Ten Topics (we didn’t cover)”. One topic that is given just 3 short paragraphs is ‘Indexing’. Given that this is a beginners book (and not database specific) you might think that the topic should be left for more advanced books, and I agree to an extent. Admittedly, indexing is an implementation detail and does not have anything to do with a domain model, but it is so often overlooked or misunderstood by developers. I think at least a high level knowledge of indexes and retrieval mechanisms would be beneficial.

If you are already an enterprise developer this book will not contain anything you do not already know, but I would definitely recommend this book to someone who is just starting to learn SQL coding. I am hoping that O’Reilly follow this up with an advanced guide to SQL.

Disclosure: The Perth .NET User Group is a member of the O'Reilly User Group and Professional Association Program. O’Reilly make copies of their books available for user group libraries, and the copy reviewed here was kindly donated by O’Reilly.


New Horse in the .NET Language Stables

Last week, Microsoft announced that F# is going to be a first class .NET language citizen. I believe this is being driven partly by the prospect of multi-cores and cheaper parallelism. There is a Getting Started page at the Microsoft Research link.

Monday, October 15, 2007


High Performance Web Sites

High Performance Web Sites is a recently released (Sept 2007) O'Reilly book by Steve Souders, that I'm itching to get my hands on. There is also a short but very useful synopsis over at the Yahoo Developer Network here. Good stuff!


ACM Classic Books Series

The ACM have several classic computer books available as downloadable PDF's here. You will need to create a free web account if you are not already an ACM member.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Another Excellent User Group Meeting

We had another full Perth .NET user group presentation with speaker Nick Randolph last Thursday (Oct 4th) . Turnout was excellent, with 46 people (including a few latecomers), turning up to listen to Nick talk about the upcoming release of Visual Studio 2008. Here are a couple of photos:

Many thanks to Nick Randolph for delivering a great, demo packed session. Our next meeting is on Thursday, November 1st at the usual time of 5:30pm, with a session on WCF with Brian Madsen. I'll have a few t-shirts and assorted goodies from RedGate to give out.

Thanks again to Excom for providing our monthly meeting venue.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Free Introduction to Ruby on Rails

Want a free, downloadable introduction to Ruby on Rails? Go here.


SQL Server Best Practices

This excellent SQL Server resource can be found at SQL Server Best Practices, a collection of whitepapers, scripts and top ten lists for SQL Server 2005.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Eric Sink on the Business of Software. Eric Sink. Apress (Book Review)

Eric Sink on the Business of Software is a selection of Eric’s essays from his website and blog. He explores the business concerns that programmers face in small software development shops and starting out on their own. Note: much of the material in this book is available online.

This relaxed, easy to read and sometimes offbeat book is a candid recollection of Eric’s successes and failures in starting his own Independent Software Vendor (ISV), SourceGear. Eric founded SourceGear, in his own words, “somewhat by accident”, and he relates the joys and pitfalls he experienced along the path of starting your own ISV.

I have read Eric’s blog for several years, and I have always enjoyed his insights and commentary on a diverse range of subject matter, usually with a software development or business angle. [for example, his series of posts on Source Control HowTo, especially the section on Branching and Merging].

He covers issues such as hiring staff, finances and marketing in a style aimed at programmers, interspersed with anecdotes and humor.

Eric is honest and right on the mark when he says “Don’t take anybody’s guidelines too seriously”, as what works for one person in one situation might not apply in another.
Chapter 4 “Finance for Geeks” was particularly interesting and contains basic accounting information you should be aware of if you are setting up a business venture.

It is often said that successful business people are those that learn from their mistakes, and in chapter 7, “Make More Mistakes”, Eric describes several examples where he has made a few ‘whoppers’ and learned from them the hard way! Admitting your own mistakes is not always easy, learning from them and moving on to something else is one of the traits that distinguish successful businesses from those that fail.

I particularly liked Eric’s ‘conversational’ writing style and his ability to weave ideas familiar to ‘geeks’ into the text, such as his NetHack analogy of the “Gauntlets of Fumbling”. If you have never played NetHack, I won’t try to explain…just Google it! Definitely worth reading.

Disclosure: The Perth .NET User Group is a member of the Apress User Group Program. Apress make copies of their books available for review, and the copy reviewed here was kindly donated by them


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