Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: DIY Bookbinding

DIY Bookbinding
Bind your own book by hand
By Brian Sawyer

is a short (32 pages) article that teaches you how to bind your own books. Whether you find the idea of binding your own books exciting, or you just want a way to preserve your magazines or other printed material, DIY Bookbinding is a book for you.

Brian Sawyer takes you step-by-step through the bookbinding process, from pulling the pages out of a perfect bound book, all the way up through putting in the endsheets. If you're interested in binding your own books, this book has some great information.

The Good
High quality photos and step-by-step instructions make this guide an excellent how-to. The amount of literature available on the internet dealing with book binding is somewhat limited, so the concentrated information here is quite welcome.

The Bad
I wished this article had more illustrations to accompany or replace some of the photographs. The important aspects of the photos ended out obscuring some of the more important details. Of course that means that there are reference images, so that's a good thing.

The Bottom Line
If you're interested in book binding, whether as a hobby, or just to preserve your magazines or other papers, you should buy this book. With the information in this guide, you can easily make back the $5 cover price, or make presents (journals, personalized books, etc.) of a high enough quality that will make this a good buy.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Review: The Book of Ruby

The Book of Ruby, by Huw Collingbourne, is an interesting introduction to the language of Ruby. And a great choice for the advanced programmer who wants to pick up Ruby.

If you check out the Table of Contents you can see that after the introduction to Ruby, the author provides plenty of instruction on how Ruby deals with classes, and then moves to strings and other common data types. After discussing data types, The Book of Ruby goes on to present different flows (loops, if-else statements) and grouping (blocks, methods) and then drops into a fairly powerful Ruby construct called Symbols. You'll also find information on marshaling data, and storing it to disk either by marshaling or YAML data.

Overall this was an interesting book - I liked having several small programs to work with, which let you focus on a single concept. My biggest issue with this book is jumping straight from an introductory "Hello World!" program into classes. For the novice programmer, this approach is probably like jumping in the deep end and I would have to recommend picking up another book to learn how to program. When reading The Book of Ruby you won't be entertained or bored, merely informed. I'd say this book is best suited for reference material, and would be a great addition to your reference library.

Book Review: The Myths of Innovation

The Myths of Innovation, by Scott Berkun, is an interesting read. In this book he argues that the word innovation is overused, and that true innovation is a hard thing. He provides examples of true innovators, (Ford, Edison, Jobs, Brin and Paige) and explains how we build myths around the men.

I really enjoyed Berkun's take on the term innovation. He does a wonderful job of persuading the reader that innovation isn't just something that you do on a daily basis, but that it's more of a process. I found his arguments compelling. There were many thought provoking points, and I think my favorite was "Creativity has more to do with being fearless than intelligent or any other adjective superficially associated with it." His arguments and examples helped me to sort of "meta-think", or think about the ways that people think about the world. I think the most eye-opening parts of the book are when he tries to shed the aura of mystique from around the innovators of the past and the present. One of the points he made is that there's no magic moment of innovation - as humans we just build up the idea that there was one magic moment when Bell invented the telephone, or Newton discovered gravity, or Copernicus developed his heliocentric theory.

I think that anyone who has ideas should read this book. If you want to invent something, or be the next Mark Zuckerberg, then you should read the Myths of Innovation. If you are a knowledge worker (programmer, artist, etc. - or if you just want to be one), you should read this book. The Myths of Innovation was a good read, and helps pull mythic figures of the past off their pedestals.