Monday, 31 May 2010

JavaScript: The Good Parts

The reader of "JavaScript: The Good Parts" by Douglas Crockford will get a very good idea of why JavaScript is considered a runt among programming languages. Crockford does his best to model good programming patterns and style in JavaScript. It is unfortunate and telling that the book is so thin. Crockford neither pulls his jabs at the language nor dumps on it unfairly, but gives a clear rationale for his opinions.

Like JavaScript, the book is more sure of what it is not than of what it really wants to be. Readers should read the preface seriously before going further -- but ignore the contradictory second sentence stating it is for programmers working with JavaScript for the first time. The book will interest language nerds, but it really should be read by intermediate JavaScript programmers who spend too much time debugging code they should never have written.

The short chapters make the book a relatively quick read, despite the somewhat advanced level of the material compared to other JavaScript books. Upon first glance at the size of the book, I was reminded of The Little Schemer (a tutorial on the Scheme programming language). Crockford's writing is easy to read, as if you were collecting thorough notes over a long series of lunch time talks. Incidentally, the structure of the book is unlike "Little Schemer" but Crockford does touch on functional programming techniques.

This book has a strong overtone of frustration with JavaScript. That isn't a criticism of Crockford, but sprinkled throughout the material are the tell-tale signs of what could have been, or should have been, but can never, ever be. It truly gets to a head in Chapter 9, titled "Style", in which 11 paragraphs in three pages start with "I". It is personal for Crockford.

Readers should be aware that there is virtually no error checking in the code. While omitting error checks is a common practice in trade book code samples, Crockford is making a point of illustrating good coding practice. The absence of a disclaimer is odd, but several of Crockford's examples do deal specifically with faulty conditional expressions. Take his warning in the preface to heart again here: "JavaScript: The Good Parts" won't tell you everything you should be doing to write good code.

JavaScript: The Good Parts is not a real reference, but if you do sporadic JavaScript programming it may be a book you will pick up again several times. That's because it is small enough and concise enough to act as a quick reference to the stuff that really is worth using, and some of the parts that really are best avoided.

Friday, 28 May 2010

New SwissGear Wired Laptop Backpack for 17-Inch Notebook

I've had the backpack for 2 years now and I'm very happy with it. For 15" laptops, it's perfect. I've even carried 2 laptops in it. But typically, my load consisted of a laptop and text books.

The construction is top notch and after 2 years of daily abuse and heavy loads, there are no signs of wear. My previous backpack came unstiched at the shoulder strap a few months in.

Depending on the load, the bag is pretty comfortable. The shoulder straps are wide and the sternum strap helps keep things in place. The bag also employs something called airflow which basically means there's a gap between the bag and your back. This helps cut down on the infamous sweat stripe you can get with other packs.

The "wired" feature is pretty over rated. It is handy plugging the headphones into the shoulder strap, but since there is no access to the media player, it's a bit of a hassle if you need to adjust the media player for any reason. Also, you have to be aware to take the headphones out of your ears or unplug them from the pack if you move the pack further than your cord can reach. Not a huge issue, but I've forgotten a few times and had the headphones ripped out of my ears a few times. Currently, I'm stashing an external hd in the media pocket.

My 17" HP Pavilion barely fits in the laptop compartment. I can zip up the bag, but it's pretty tight. I haven't taken a seam cutter to the bag yet, as suggested by someone else. I think I can live with it as-is for now.

The built in caribiner and cell pouch are nice touches as well.

Overall, I'm very happy with the bag and don't see my replacing it anytime soon.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Targus CityGear Chicago Backpack Case for 15.4 Inch Notebooks TCG650

The Targus CityGear Los Angeles 18.4inch Notebook Carrying Case is very well made, sharp looking and overall very nice. I bought the case because the Toshiba site said my new Toshiba 18.4 inch screen Qosmio laptop would fit into it. Not exactly correct information. Although I've now seen some sites that have changed the info from 18.4 to 17 inch maximum.

For my laptop it is a very tight fit..hard to get the laptop in to or out of and it would be a time consuming nightmare to take it through TSA airport checkpoints as you would have to remove the laptop for screening. The laptop compartment is in the middle of the case (obviously to provide padding/protection) and is top loading only. This would take forever. I realize my laptop is big and I would probably never take it on a plane but others might have laptops as big or almost as big that need to travel with their machines.

Be ready to get frustrated at the difficulty you will encounter when minutes count getting through security. For just a good case to protect or store your big laptop, I think this one is great. I would recommend it for that purpose only. Unfortunately, I have not found another large case for my may have to improvise by getting something even larger that's on wheels in case I ever travel with it on a plane and hope I could find something big enough for the machine but small enough to carry on.

For anything smaller than an 18.4inch, the case is worth the money. I gave it a 5 star rating because it's a quality case and Targus is a good brand.

Monday, 10 May 2010

New ProBlogger Book 2nd Edition Available

Darren from ProBlogger has just released his 2nd edition book: ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income. I'm sure this is well worth the read for new and experienced bloggers looking to get into blogging or to take their blogging to a whole new level. I haven't read the first edition but this was one of the books that I wanted to read and never got around to, so I'm going to read it this time around.

It's available for $16.95 on

(Yes that is of course a referral link - you know how much I love Amazon's Associates program right?)