Saturday, April 9, 2011

Books! & The Oatmeal

I'm not really much of a reader, which I realize really needs to change if I ever want to turn into a true nerd. Honestly, I used to love reading but I just have since found something that I would rather do than it. (The internet....and computers.) But if  I started reading about computers, maybe I could kind of get the best of both worlds, and get valuable information that would frankly be more useful than a fiction book.

With that in mind, while waiting for the Oatmeal---

Wait, I didn't tell you? Yeah, I totally met The Oatmeal (aka Matthew Inman). I saw he was coming to town on a book signing for his new book "5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth," so I preordered it and marked the day on the calendar. When the day came, I was expecting it to be like 30 people or so that showed up and kinda snickered together in a circle. "Bearodactyl, roflolmao." (Not as an insult to Matthew...I just thought...come on, a webcomic? People may read them, but how many people go to see their writer? Especially in my area.) But it turns out, there was a shit ton of people that liked the Oaty goodness, and even though I showed up half an hour early, I still ended up being one of the last people to get a seat in a packed room.

Anyway, Oatthew....I mean Mattmeal is a really cool guy. He did a presentation type deal with how The Oatmeal got to where it was today, some of his favorite strips and answered some questions, and it was really hilarious. Plus, the guy is a really smart; first of all, he codes the website and draws the comics, secondly, he really knows how to make it work from a business standpoint. All in all, it was fun. But the longest part was waiting like 2 hours after the Q&A was done to get my book signed....and after all that time, all I had to say to Oatthew was "Keep drawing bears." (Ugh. This is why when I meet someone famous, I usually just go with the standard "I love your work! Your work is great! Keep it up!" speech.)
Oh god what a terrible sidetrack. Anyway, while I was waiting for the Oaty signature, I ended out perusing the "Computers" section of the bookstore, and I made a list of books I'd like to buy and read in the near future.
  • Ubuntu (or Linux period, really) 
  • HTML5+CSS3 (emphasis on CSS3)
  • Python
  • Java
  • SQL/PHP (either/or)
As noble as this is, I just wish I could pick the right books. I went to a bookstore today (which, believe me, was a big enough achievement in and of itself) and I looked through the (poor) selection they had, and some of them just made me facepalm. I picked up an Ubuntu book, thumbed through it, and 3/4 of the way through, they were just getting to things like cd. I flipped open an HTML5 book and the last chapter was on adding a favicon.

I want a book that will reinforce whatever basics I might have missed to lay a firm foundation, but also one that goes into the finer intricacies. I want a book that is aimed for an intermediate rather than a beginner. (I'm not saying I'm an intermediate in all the areas, but I'd much rather Google search a little to catch up than read an entire book I already know).

Which is a very terrible desire, I'm finding, because there are a fuck ton of books written for beginners. And when I'm talking about beginners, I'm talking about people that have never even booted into Ubuntu before. And then there are books for the well learned people (the people that have been programming in Python for a decade, for example) explaining how to optimize or how to do something...unknown to me (I can pick these books out by their title, which usually sounds like a school course), but there really isn't anything for the middle ground...or at least it's more rare.

A while ago, I was watching thisweekinlinux and he had a huge bookcase of books all pertaining to computers that he could pull out at any time. That's what I want. What I don't really want is a book I can read, know, and be done with forever. I'd like a reference book, really, that contains enough data to get me to the next stage of understanding these subjects but not one that is impossible to understand (i.e., preferably more of a "___ for dummies" rather than a textbook), and that I can keep and pull out if I ever need to look up something.


It's hard because I've really searched around (on some of them) and haven't really found a consensus. If you pick any Linux book on Amazon, someone in the comments will say "THE ONLY LINUX BOOK YOU'LL EVER NEED." It's not that I don't want to buy books I won't need, it's that I don't want to buy books I don't need. Computer books run $30-$50 each, so if I buy one in all 5 categories above that teaches me what I already know, I probably won't try again.

This is me expressing frustration. I'll probably end out buying books and posting them here, hopefully they'll be good. *coughAnySuggestionsWouldBeWelcomecough*


-Bry

PS - OH MY GOD people need to stop with "there are better resources online"/"read the man pages". Look, I get that things like Linux are always changing, but the fact of the matter is, sometimes books serve the purpose better, especially if you're just getting started. "The medium is the message," and since our society still uses print as the medium for teaching, it tends to be better at that.

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