Book Reviews

Freakonomics
Steven D. Levitt et al
Last edited on: 30/01/2011 - 12:32

Freakonomics is the work of Harvard graduate Steven D Levitt and journalist Stephen J Dubner. Levitt is known chiefly as an economist with a speciality in crime; his brand of statistical analysis has been used to detect sumo wrestlers fixing their bouts, and correlate the drop in crime in US cities to the passing of pro-abortion legislation.

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Red Plenty
Francis Spufford
Last edited on: 22/01/2011 - 11:46

Red Plenty is not a work of fiction according to its author Francis Spufford. His very first words make that abundantly clear. The book charts the progress of the Soviet Union from the late 50s to the late 60s during a period of huge economic, political, ideological, sociological and technical change. Spufford has, like many of his contemporaries since it is the vogue thing to do, woven historically accurate figures from this period with figures invented from scratch, and some who are a synthesis of prominent contemporaneous individuals.

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You Cannot Live As I Have Lived and Not End Up Like This: The Thoroughly Disgraceful Life and Times of Willie Donaldson
Terence Blacker
Last edited on: 14/01/2011 - 23:09

Back in 1988 I moved into the flat of my dreams in Elm Park Mansions in Chelsea. I had the pleasure of being a Chelsea-ite for 15 years until I moved out in 2003. Almost every day of my stay in EPM I would see the same neighbour walking over the courtyard or up and down Park Walk with his trademark military upright gait. He cut a somewhat cadaverous sight with his sunken cheeks and Professor Wallofski male pattern baldness, always bedecked in the same blazer, open shirt and creased slacks that had the sort of shabbiness only the toffs can carry off.

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Drupal 6 Social Networking
Michael Keith Peacock
Last edited on: 01/11/2009 - 13:23

Drupal has been used as a starting point for numerous social networking sites, and by that fact it is hardly surprising that Packt Publishing identified this area for another of their niche Drupal 6 products. The social networking phenomenon has been gaining momentum in recent years, but it is difficult to imagine how further sites in an already crowded market can be sustained. Then there's the startling usage figures published by a Harvard study highlighting that 90% of content is generated by 10% of 'power' users on such sites.

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Drupal 6 Themes
Ric Shreves
Last edited on: 01/11/2009 - 11:48

Once a developer has completed his or her first Drupal website build, they will step back and admire their handiwork. But that self-satisfaction will be short-lived. They will soon start finding fault with their own graft. It looks too 'Drupally'! The theme isn't quite what I wanted! It looks like 2000 other websites on the Internet! At that point its time to remedy these shortcomings. But fear not, the solution is not as difficult as may first appear - Drupal 6 Themes is here to rescue you.

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Using Drupal
Angela Byron et al
Last edited on: 01/11/2009 - 11:45

Anyone considering the development of a Drupal website for the first time has a plethora of instruction manuals to consider before parting with their hard-earned cash. Industry insiders know that any title published under the O'Reilly banner will undoubtedly be good, and Using Drupal doesn't buck that particular trend. Obviously any reference book cannot possibly cater for every reader's circumstance, so it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses before committing to a purchase.

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Drupal Multimedia
Aaron Winborn
Last edited on: 01/11/2009 - 11:43

The Drupal book market is flourishing, particularly from the Packt Publishing House. Some of the books appear to be searching for a readership, and their potential target market somewhat limited. Drupal Multimedia is one such example. In a nutshell, the book primarily walks through the installation and configuration of a collection of standard Drupal modules. Now there's nothing wrong with that per se, and indeed many other books are doing the same thing, but much of what is being said is familiar territory to most Drupal-ers, and most is also extremely rudimentary.

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Learning Joomla! 1.5 Extension Development
Joseph LeBlanc
Last edited on: 30/10/2009 - 16:23

If you are looking for a quick tour on how to develop a Joomla 1.5 Extension, then this is a good starting point. Unfortunately this lightweight book is very sketchy and suffers from problems. Firstly, there are bugs in the code - by no means difficult to fix for a PHP coder of experience, but it is an annoyance nevertheless. Secondly, there are omissions in the code - some functionality has been missed out of the walk-through example in the book. Thirdly, important topics are not discussed at all, such as client side and server side validation.

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Joomla! for Dummies
Steve Holzner Ph.D et al
Last edited on: 30/10/2009 - 16:22

What is this? A review of a for Dummies book? Yep - no snobbery on this website. Content Management Systems (CMS) are the flavour of the moment in the IT industry and there is a clamour to jump aboard the bandwagon. Any fresh-faced CMS enthusiast may be overawed by the bewildering choice of products (open source and commercial) and may also be wondering what all the fuss is about. It would be a recommendation for anyone ready to make the leap into CMS to consider an open source product for starters.

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Joomla! Cash
Brandon Dawson
Last edited on: 30/10/2009 - 16:19

This is actually a misnomer. Joomla! Cash should really be retitled How to Market your Website using a Content Management System, but Hey, I'll Throw in a Little Joomla!. That's not to totally denigrate author Brandon Dawson's efforts - some of what he is saying is laudable and would be useful for any website developer. The reality of it is though there is precious little Joomla! in this book and it is difficult to understand how it became to be published on such a threadbare premise.

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