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+ - Generative Art a practical guide using processing

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sexybiggetje writes "A piece of algorithmic art and a bright orange cover, that's how Matt Pearson's book “generative art, a practical guide to processing” greets you. This book dives into the world of art generated by, often very simple, math and lots of recursion. The author focusses on the Processing language and toolkit which provides an easy and complete environment for designers and programmers to work with.

The book starts out with a preface containing a small introduction to the level of knowledge required for the book. The author explains that this book is suited for someone that has knowledge of both designing and programming, but you don't have to be an expert at both. You don't need to be a wizard at math neither, as later in the book you are presented with a postcard which on the back has all the trigonometry Matt has ever needed during his endeavor in generative art. I have found that the book really matches this tone set in the preface to the book. The book isn't just your average text book neither, it's illustrated with artwork related to the currently presented methodology. Next to the rich artwork present throughout the pages the author and publisher have accomplished a nice design in all chapters. The black and white texts are alternated with black and gray pages with orderly visual violence.

Inside the introduction of the book you will be presented with the required background knowledge for the topic of the book, which consists of both simple theory and the beginnings in Processing code. The author once again lets you know how easy it is to do some simple algorithmic art and that the code shouldn't scare you away as a non-programmer. Even as a seasoned programmer I can value this book for it's simplicity and it's orderly chaotic code.

Most of the theory discussed in the book isn't limited to the Processing language, but can be applied to any other visualisation language like nodebox or vvvv as well. Albeit being a very thorough and practal guide to processing you shouldn't be scared to try out other platforms as well, the author explains his choice for Processing as it being the easiest solution if you're looking for a low learning curve and are new to programming. Also pointed out here is the street credit that the language and toolkit have built up during the past few years.

I would recommend this book to anyway wanting to grasp the world of programmatic arts or the data visualisation world. Although only touching a small part of data visualisation in the latter part of the book I think it's still useful to learn Processing for this purpose using the basics explained in this book. A great starter for many companies or enthusiasts dabbling in this field. You shouldn't expect too much interactivity from the samples provided in this book, but with the basics being there it shouldn't be any problem touching this surface yourself. Last but not least the guide ends with a large chapter about fractals, this is what you were waiting for right? It's good that this is the last chapter, both for it's complexity (or rather simplicity trough repetition) and the fact that most people think of fractals when talking about generative art, giving the author a chance to show you the other aspects as well.

The book is available in stores, online retailers and directly from the publisher."

+ - How a $138,000 Mercedes-Benz Sedan Saved Google+

Submitted by theodp
theodp (442580) writes "'I've had a pretty good 2011', says Google Sr. VP of Social Vic Gundotra in the new Driven to Distraction commercial for Mercedes-Benz, adding that it might have been different had his S63 AMG Sedan (MSRP $138,000) not been equipped with 'magical software' that stopped his Benz from slamming into a stopped car at 45 mph in a moment of distraction. Bradley Horowitz, Gundotra's Google+ co-lead, also gave Mercedes a shout-out in a post ('I am also indebted to Mercedes for keeping my friend and partner safe and sound!'). While Gundotra's Google-branded ad is perhaps the softest-sell of the series of 'unscripted accounts of survival', an ad exec used the nascent Google+ to let Gundotra know that the car-maker was oh-so-excited about getting his endorsement ('Mercedes-Benz thanks you Vic! TV spot starts airing this week! We will share exact times very soon!'). Mercedes-Benz released the Gundotra ad on YouTube just one full day after the Google+ launch grabbed headlines, so perhaps all those reports of Google's cluelessness about business interest in Google+ should be taken with a grain of salt!"

+ - Social Networking for Business by Rawn Shaw

Submitted by
Martijn de Boer
Martijn de Boer writes "Modern times call for modern business, social networking is playing a huge part in that. There is a lot to learn about participating in this form of digital networking, yet there have been numerous articles on the net about all facets already. Social Networking for Business packs all this information in a single well written guide for your social networking project.

Many companies nowadays participate in social networks, some even base their core business around them. A few years ago there were not really full time jobs in this field, and the people managing a social group where doing it as a side job to their regular activities. This book aims to educate its reader in a broad range of activities, be it a foundation for a full time job, side activity or a long lasting project, it has you covered.
The author Rawn Shah draws from his experience as a manager for IBM and its DeveloperWorks communities and actively participating in the biggest players on the market.

The book's sub-title “Choosing the right tools and resources to fit your needs” is accurately titled, because author doesn't tell you to follow a specific path or mind set, but rather defines the possibilities and resources out there. Provided you take some time to study this book, you will be provided with an advantage over others aiming to get into this field. The well written style of the book provides a clear insight for which little info-graphics are needed. Most information is formatted into tables and just regular text with a little chart here and there. The eleven chapters really have got much information packed in them, and are presented in a logical order. The last two chapters of the book provided, at least for me, the most interesting information. These chapters talk about measuring social environments. The reason this chapter is so interesting, is that there is so much information you can measure to provide an idea about the impact of social networks and how they can earn you revenue. The author does explain very clearly what can and what can not be monitored, and that it's hard to calculate a conversion ratio for this information.

Overall I think this book is a great asset to your personal education, and can help you really understand how to manage social communities from start to finish. I see how this book can give you the confidence to go into the position of community manager, but businesses are still learning what the word “social” means. The book gives you plenty of knowledge to justify a real management plan for your social projects. I think the publisher Wharton School Publishing really has yet another gem to their already huge collection of business related books.

Being a developer for a medium sized company where projects are led by lead developers, I already recommended this book to my peers, and will continue to do so in the future as this is the only book I know of that touches so much information in this field and it still manages to keep all this in just over 160 pages. It's a quick read and I highly recommend it for almost all business professionals, ranging from technical leads to management when dealing with anything remotely related to social business."
Book Reviews

+ - Book review: The Art of Scalability

Submitted by
Martijn de Boer
Martijn de Boer writes "The Art of Scalability
Martin L. Abbott & Michael T. Fisher

Creating high performance growing networks is really a special skill managers and network architects should posses to be ready for the future. The Art of Scalability is a book written for these kinds of functions, and prepares you for the present and the imminent future. Scalability is achieved by principles that work on many levels within enterprises, wether it's processes, organizational structure or setting up your project, this book covers it all.

The sub-title for this book is "Scalable Web Architecture, Processes and Organizations for the Modern Enterprise" which is basically a catchy title for project managers and decision makers. It's just catchy enough to grab the book from a shelf and start digging into the table of contents, which is exactly the spot where you get hooked and decide to get the book.
The book is written by two experts on the subject; both of them have a strong background in large corporations dealing with scalability. Throughout the book the authors shine a good light on tools and cases used for making a project scalable.

The book is divided into four sections which follow the process of starting a scalable project. First off you will need to know everything about strategy, organizational structure, the kind of people your organization needs and how to manage your team.
The second part focuses on the how's and why's of scalability, aspects of planning for continuity, crisis and incident management. The later chapters in this second part talk about risks, how to value risk and the importance of testing to make educated conclusions about how far to scale your project, a notable mention here is chapter 19 which focuses on tradeoffs in development speed or doing things the right way, often an underestimated point in these businesses.
Architecting scalable solutions is the third part of the book, mainly taking a more technical approach to the matter. This part talks about containing faults and breaking up applications so they scale well. This goes all the way to scaling the database backend for your application to caching objects and making synchronous versus asynchronous calls to your application.
While most of the book is good for preparation, I think the fourth part of the book crosses the boundary from preparation to being very useful during the process as a fallback to your knowledge. It's titled accordingly “Solving other issues and challenges” and mainly focuses on things you will come across during the first and perhaps even later stages, providing solutions for unforeseen costs of data storage to monitoring your application for user experience, speed and the processes you will have to implement for this.

If you have read this far, and are thinking about how complex scalability really is, then you have found the right book. The clear writing style and detailed writing of numerous pitfalls for such big projects make this book a valuable asset to your knowledge base. It's also written in a challenging way, and between the lines there is also some humor (evident for instance in the reference to Rain Man in chapter 18), making it a fun way to learn or build upon a great skill set needed by organizations in the not so distant future.
I feel very positively about the writing style of the book, but despite there being some illustrations there could be some more diagrams of organizational structure and the architecture of projects as I didn't find the illustrations adding much to the context.

The short appendixes to the book are mostly about calculating capacity for cpu power, bandwidth, etcetera. These appendixes actually provide sample calculations which are useful to backup your analysis when you need to make a bill of materials for your superiors and can also be used to better grasp the size of a project. Numbers mostly provide a context for the people above you, and I think these extra pieces of content could have deserved another part in the book, but perhaps it's better off as some food for thought.

Before starting with this book, I had not much prior knowledge about scaling projects other then some technical ideas of implementation. I always hate it when I know I'm just scratching the surface of something, and need to satisfy my urge to learn more about the subject. The Art of Scalability really helped me accomplish that, and provided much more background information then I expected. I was really surprised by the pieces about cloud computing, it's such a buzzword nowadays but the texts give it a real context.

If you are looking to set up a project or are generally interested by the concepts of scalability, then this is the right book for you. It's an appropiate recommendation for most businesses, because this knowledge can only be used to your advantage and just takes a little bit of time to read trough. It's a heavy subject, but once you finish the book you will be able to make a decision about architecture based on a good foundation of background information rooted in real situations.

The book is available on Safari Books online, the publishers portal and other popular retailers."
Book Reviews

+ - ModSecurity 2.5 by Magnus Mischel

Submitted by
Martijn de Boer
Martijn de Boer writes "For a long time now the web has been served by Apache's webserver software, because the amount of servers and internet usage is still growing more and more important every day securing your server has become a task in the forefront of business. This book has been written to illustrate and educate you the ease of use and inner workings of the ModSecurity module for the most widespread webserver.

The cover reads “Prevent web application hacking with this easy-to-use guide” and sticks with this claim to provide you with a good pathway to secure your webserver. The book is aimed at system administrators ranging from enthusiasts running a webserver at home to your friendly administrators at a large company. Most of the book requires only familiarity with using the linux shell and basic Apache configurations, but earlier encounters with some technicalities like regular expressions may be of help during your reading period.

Throughout the chapters the author takes you from the different methods of installing ModSecurity and the basics of creating your first rules to the discovery and reporting of your possible intrusions. Generally providing solutions for example geolocating the origin of the hack, and automatically scanning uploaded files for viruses, the author Magnus Mischel proofs that his background in Internet Security makes his book a valuable asset to your bookshelf.
In the chapters found later in the book, the author shows how to use some commonly used tools to fingerprint your server and provides you with recipes on how to prevent these methods of gathering information about your server. There is also a lot of information about the impact of rules on the performance of your server. Because the impact is different in every situation, you will be guided around some tools to measure the performance and you will learn how to interpret this data.

Chapter 5 talks about Virtual Patching, a method of preventing misuse by intercepting bad traffic and creating a set of rules for this. This chapter is by far the best piece of information I have found on how this actually works, and how you implement such rules and configuration, and why you should use the method of virtual patching in your situation. Basically the author takes out all the question marks you will have about this method of quickly applying rules and provides a case which is fully illustrated with a lot of background information about the process of finding a insecure piece of code to solving this with a set of rules.

When Packt Publishing contacted me if I would like to review another book for them, I picked this one out of the new releases because using ModSecurity has never been a priority for me. After seeing the title and table of contents I realised that you can never start too early to dive into this subject, and start preventing misuse before it causes more trouble then you can handle, trouble always finds you at the worst times. The author has divided the book in logical chapters, and the depth of information builds up equally from beginning to end. For instance, the second chapter takes you trough the basics of regular expressions, but because you will encounter them during rule creation Appendix B will educate you with all specifics of creating those expressions.
As a developer running local test servers, I have found this book very interesting and a great resource on a for me grey area of server security. I am pleasantly surprised by the clarity of the book, the writing style makes you really want to dive into your webserver to apply your newly gained insight to ModSecurity."

+ - Service Oriented Architecture with Java

Submitted by
Martijn de Boer
Martijn de Boer writes "The book has been written to provide the reader with a short introduction to the concepts of Service Oriented Architecture with Java. The book covers the theory and analysis from the start and is progressing to a more intermediate level slowly throughout the different chapters. This book has been written for software architects and programmers of the Java language who have an interest in building software using SOA concepts in their applications. The cover hints to a series called “From Technologies to Solutions”, and that is exactly what this book tries to do, it tries to explain the SOA technology with different case studies and a path for solutions for your applications.

When I ordered the copy of the book, I was under the impression that I was required some familiarity with terms used in the world of SOA but I was rather fond of the easy explanation of terms in the first chapter. The first chapter starts off with a small introduction to the role of software architecture when thinking about a software project. The chapter covers alternatives to SOA and tries to get the reader onto the right path for the rest of the book.

Later on in the book different subjects pass, the first few chapters start off with the basics of using XML as a communication layer. The third chapter introduces the audience to different implementations of web services in the Java world including the most familiar names as Apache Axis, Spring and XFire. The reader will be shown and guided to the install process of these web services and is being shown around the process of working with the software. The pros and cons of every piece of software are shown when following the steps throughout the chapters.

The book ends with chapters providing case studies of real world examples of SOA and alternatives. I have found this to be the most informative section of the book when looking to make decisions on how to architect a software project as it provides several examples on when to use which aspect of SOA. The different case studies allow you to put some weight and foundations into your decisions. The last chapter of the book is basically a conclusion of what we have learned throughout the book and provides a clear summary of goals of using service oriented architecture.

The reader is expected to have understanding of Java to follow the examples throughout the book. Examples are demonstrated on Windows machines, but could be followed on any other platform as well without having the hassle of setting up a different environment. That is one of the advantages of Service Oriented Architecture with Java, because it basically can be ran everywhere.
When you work your way throughout the book, you will discover different clearly illustrated diagrams and other informational graphics. There are more than enough images to make the image not a boring theory book, as the images often provide a better understanding of different explanations of architecture and setups throughout the book.

The book covers a small setup with Apache Axis 1.3 and mentions to use this opposed to the more recent 2.0 version because more software is being implemented on top of the 1.x series of said web service. However because the reader is starting to learn about SOA, it would have been great to see some of the differences and read why 2.0 hasn't been adopted much yet. I would have liked to see a bigger comparison between those two versions, but as the authors point out, there is a great community for both versions which provides a lot more background information if you want to look further into the more technical information that isn't provided in the book yet.
This book is a good way to get your feet wet in using web services to build and architect powerful Java applications for your business. I am no big Java developer yet, and I needed this book to navigate me through the different pieces of software available, it succeeded very well at that point. I was fond of the clear writing style, which has always been the case by books from Packt Publishing. The book also has been written in a logical order, putting case studies at the end of the book so they are better to follow. Most technical books I own are written in a way that allows you to jump from chapter to chapter in an order that you need them, but I found this book to be a solid line of information of which the difficulty grade builds up from beginning to end. As a developer and software architect I am really appreciating how well this book has been written for this audience, it's almost as if it was written especially for me and the knowledge I had of service oriented architecture before starting with this book."

Asynchronous inputs are at the root of our race problems. -- D. Winker and F. Prosser