What books to buy?

<…>

Along those lines, avoid “Head First”, a little too detractingly silly
for me.
<…>

That’s true… if you want a reference book, or if you prefer
boring,“serious”
and “professional” style (or if you are looking for some cure for
insomnia).
On the other hand, if you are looking for a book which would help to
learn and
remember: DO consider “Head First”. These are written by people who know
great deal about how the brain works and teaching/learning.
Kathy Sierra’s blog at http://headrush.typepad.com/ is worth reading
too…

As for Ruby/RubyonRails, I’d say “Agile Web D. with Ruby on
Rails”
and “Programming Ruby” both are ‘must-have’ and “Ruby for Rails” is
very
welcome addition to these.

Regards,
Rimantas

<…>

But on the negative side are the use of juvenile speech,
anthropomorphising of concepts (interviews with design patterns, for
example), silly pictures, etc.
<…>

There is a sound reason for this:

http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/01/your_users_brai.html
http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/10/words_pictures_.html

“Head First” books make little sense if you are already an expert in
the field but when
you try to learn something new the age, professional status and
college degree just
doesn’t matter - we all have legacy brains.

However, this is off-topic already, so I’ll stop here :slight_smile:

Regards,
Rimantas

On 15 Oct 2006, at 21:59, Rimantas L. wrote:

On the other hand, if you are looking for a book which would help
to learn and
remember: DO consider “Head First”. These are written by people who
know
great deal about how the brain works and teaching/learning.
Kathy Sierra’s blog at http://headrush.typepad.com/ is worth
reading too…

Head First has some aspects of value, but also some serious
annoyances for anyone with an attention span better than that of a
goldfish.

One the plus side are: multiple restatements in different formats
(pictorial, descriptive, and use of analogies), use of exercises of
different lengths, and probably a lot more that I passed over.

But on the negative side are the use of juvenile speech,
anthropomorphising of concepts (interviews with design patterns, for
example), silly pictures, etc. Humour has value in teaching, but it
has to be genuinely funny. Using the vocabulary of your audience
also helps - but it certainly isn’t my vocabulary being deployed. If
you are a teen, then it might hit the mark; but anyone with a college
degree, or in a professional position, should find it annoying - like
at least two of us on this list do. The Head First series has its
place in teaching, but it would be more applicable if the language
was toned down a bit, and the books were just that bit shorter (please).

Paul

On 16 Oct 2006, at 10:24, Rimantas L. wrote:

<…>

But on the negative side are the use of juvenile speech,
anthropomorphising of concepts (interviews with design patterns,
for example), silly pictures, etc.

There is a sound reason for this:

http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/01/
your_users_brai.html

Précis: tutorials should be written in a conversational, rather than
a “formal” style.

One thing from this article that surprised me: “Most importantly,
ignore the advice your high school writing teacher gave you–that you
must never “write the way you talk.”” Funny, the advice MY high
school teacher gave me was to always write the way that I talk. Must
be a difference between the American public school system and the
British “public” school system.

http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/10/
words_pictures_.html

My personal reinterpretation of this: tutorial information should be
conveyed in multiple media for best comprehension. Words and
pictures to illustrate every concept is the example in the article,
but I’d expand it to ALL media; the more the merrier.

Moving on from that, both articles are fine sources of information
which I thoroughly agree with. However, they don’t apply to the
criticisms quoted above. The Head First books do not use a normal
conversational style - they descend into a “jive talk” version of
English, which certainly isn’t how I, or anyone else I know, talks.

Secondly, illustrations are fine. In fact, they are excellent. But
take a look at the proportion of “silly pictures”, mostly faked up
photos of people in 50s style clothes, that don’t actually apply to
any of the points being made. Irrelevant pictures don’t count; they
just bulk out the page count, and, frankly, I’d far rather a slim
tutorial book than a fat one that covers exactly the same ground.

“Head First” books make little sense if you are already an expert
in the field but when you try to learn something new the age,
professional status and college degree just doesn’t matter - we all
have legacy brains.

I have no idea what you think you mean by “legacy brains” - but we
sure all learn the same way. My criticism is that the Head First
house style is aimed at some notion of how a teenager talks and
behaves, which doesn’t correspond to reality, and doesn’t work
outside of that notional teenagers cultural background. Furthermore,
it gets in the way of the typical post-college user, because it poses
exactly the same barriers against assimilation as Kathy rails against
in Sun’s formal reference books.

As Kathy says in one of the articles, just because the authors of a
book were responsible for Microsoft Bob doesn’t mean that their ideas
are bad :-).

However, this is off-topic already, so I’ll stop here :slight_smile:

This isn’t really off-topic: the disparaging of Head First was made
in parallel with some expressed desires to improve Chris P.'s
introductory work, and the two topic cross over. “Learning to
Program” needs exactly the improvements that Kathy is talking about,
as it lack illustration, examples and exercises (as well as more
detailed criticisms that can be made of the flow and the programming
style used) - but the world doesn’t need a “Head First Ruby”.

Paul

I would suggest that you try the following Freely available books before
typing your CCV.

http://pspxworld.com/BOOK/PROGRAMMING/RUBY.php

On 10/15/06, Kyrre Nygård [email protected] wrote:

Thank you all for such wonderful advice!

My background is basically just simple shell scripting.

I wish to avoid PDF because I don’t want to hurt my eyes too much.

I have that problem too.

So anyway, how come nobody mentioned O’Reilly?
I thought they were good at it!

Well the Ruby Cookbook is a great book for when you just need to get
stuff done,
but the nature of book writing for Ruby is that there are a couple of
great texts
like the Pickaxe, Ruby for Rails etc. and they have run away with the
mindshare.

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