Book Review – IoT Solutions in Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite (Apress)


  • Full Title: IoT Solutions in Microsoft’s Azure IoT Suite: Data Acquisition and Analysis in the Real World
  • Author: Scott Klein
  • Paperback: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1st edition (April 22, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 1484221427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1484221426

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding every day with newly connected devices continually coming on line. Processes that benefit from having mini-computers attached to them are being discovered all the time as more data is being generated. Storing, analyzing, and reporting on this data is what Microsoft’s cloud-based system (the Microsoft Azure IoT Suite) has been constructed to do.
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Book Review – ASP.NET MVC 4 Mobile Websites Succinctly (Syncfusion Inc.)

ASP.NET MVC 4 Mobile Websites Succinctly

Author: Lyle Luppes

Paperback: 87 pages

Publisher: Syncfusion Inc. (2012)

Language: English

Formats: Amazon Kindle and PDF

Price: Free

I was curious to read ASP.NET MVC 4 Mobile Websites Succinctly as the title really intrigued me. I thought it was solely about creating mobile websites using the Mobile Application template in ASP.NET MVC 4. And while that is an option that is mentioned in this book it is really about more than that.

Author Lyle Luppes takes the reader through the creation of a mobile website while using the Internet Application template and Razor view engine. This template comes with the following meta tag built into the Layout pages:

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width" />;

By using functionality that Microsoft provides right out of the box we can see immediately how easy it is to create a new mobile website or to add mobile support to an existing one.

Throughout the book we build out our MVC mobile site and the majority of this done by adding jQuery Mobile options to our website. If you are unfamiliar with jQuery then this book will do little to get you started. However, if you have used it in the past and are familiar with the syntax then this book gives a good overview of what is available to developers who use jQuery Mobile.

One of the strengths of the book is also one of its weaknesses. The text has lots of examples of what you can do with MVC 4 and jQuery Mobile. However, they mostly focus on the Apple line-up of products, especially the iPad and iPhone. The copy could have done with more mention of things to look out for when developing for other platforms – especially Android and Windows Phone.

Overall the book is an excellent introduction to incorporating jQuery Mobile into your MVC 4 applications so that you can easily make your websites mobile friendly. I know that I will refer to it again over the coming months to use many of the tips mentioned in this book within my future projects.

Visit the Syncfusion website to download ASP.NET MVC 4 Mobile Websites Succinctly or to see the entire Succinctly Series.

Disclaimer: In the interest of full disclosure I have received compensation from Syncfusion for this book review. However, Syncfusion had no editorial control over the writing of this blog post and did not instruct me on what I could or could not say in my review. In fact I have been meaning to read the Syncfusion books for some time and their offer was the impetus I needed to get started,

Being a Technical Reviewer

I was contacted last month by UK publishing house Packt Publishing about being a Technical Reviewer for their recently-published book WordPress Mobile Applications with PhoneGap (ISBN: 1849519862). I accepted even though I did not know a lot about the subject. However, the whole experience was a learning process for me in terms of both how the publishing world works and about the technologies I was reviewing.

WordPress Mobile Applications with PhoneGap book coverThe book is positioned as a way to:

  • Discover how we can leverage WordPress as a content management system and serve content to mobile apps by exposing its API
  • Learn how to build geolocation mobile applications using WordPress and PhoneGap
  • Step-by-step instructions on how you can make use of jQuery and jQuery mobile to provide an interface between WordPress and your PhoneGap app

The reviewing process is pretty straightforward. The chapters are sent to you by email as the book is being written and they are usually in Microsoft Word format. The chapters are early drafts and usually contain typos and formatting errors. Eventually those will be corrected by the book’s editors. Your job is to review the code and text for technical accuracy. You also make sure the chapter structure is logical and easy to follow for readers. Any corrections/clarifications/notes you make are placed in Comment tags as you do not edit the text directly. After you finish your review you then fill out an opinion questionnaire about the chapter you just read. The editors want to know what you would like to see more of, less of, if there were important topics that were missed and your overall score out of 10.

If you are interested in being a Technical Reviewer for Packt you can check out their Reviewing for Packt information page. Although you do not get paid to be a reviewer you will receive acknowledgement on both the “Credits” page and the “About The Reviewers” page where they will include a short biography about you. This is a great promotional tool for you as you can mention your blog/website address and Twitter accounts if you wish. As well, you will receive both a paper copy and an eBook copy of the book you reviewed. You will also get an eBook copy of any other book in their catalogue.

Being a Technical Reviewer is a great way to learn more about a topic and to see how the publishing industry works. It is also a neat way to see how books are put together and you can learn many useful writing tips which will help your writing in other areas including making you a better blogger. It will also especially help if you are interested in writing a technical book in the future. As a Technical Reviewer you will gain a publishing credit and it might just make your book proposal that much more enticing to prospective editors.

Book Review – Windows Phone 7 Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach (Apress)

Windows Phone 7 Recipes: A Problem-Solution Approach

  • Author: Fabio Claudio Ferracchiati, Emanuele Garofalo
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (May 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1430233710
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430233718

I was looking forward to reading this book since I learned about it. I find sometimes I encounter a problem when I am coding a Windows Phone 7 (WP7) app but I am unsure about how to find the answer. Sometimes the index helps or I just browse to a section of a book I think will help. But mostly you have to hunt around to find a complete answer to your problem.

Windows Phone 7 Recipes focuses on common problems faced by most developers and then proceeds to show what the solution is. Each chapter delves into these problems to demonstrate not only what the answer is but how it was derived, the code you need to implement it on your project and how to run the compiled code on your WP7 phone.

This book goes from introductory problems to things that can be pretty complex. So, it is nice to see that this book devotes full chapters to both gestures and sensors. There is also a chapter on working with the cloud to deal with feed readers and push notifications. Finally there is also a chapter on testing to ensure your apps can get into the Windows Marketplace on first pass through.

The only drawback with the book is that it could have covered some other topics that present problems for WP7 developers. Things like XNA are only mentioned in passing. As well, binding to external sources like XML files could have easily found a home in this book. My final quibble is that the book does not mention whether source code for the chapter examples are available for download on the cover or in the book. I had to browse to the book’s page on to confirm that they are available.

Overall though this book is an excellent resource for helping to solve those common problems we all run into while creating WP7 apps.

Book Review – Pro Expression Blend 4 (Apress)

Pro Expression Blend 4

  • Author: Andrew Troelsen
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 1 edition (March 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 143023377X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1430233770

I got my first exposure to Microsoft Expression Blend when I read Beginning Silverlight 3 by Robert Lair. In the book I learned some basic animation and how to make a Silverlight interface look better by using Expression Blend.

Fast forward to Pro Expression Blend 4 by Andrew Troelsen and my Expression Blend skills were sent through the roof. This book is a great tool for anyone wishing to ramp up their knowledge of Expression Blend – which is the preferred user interface designer for both Silverlight and WPF projects. I also found this book useful in designing apps for Windows Phone 7 which also uses XAML-based code.

Perhaps this may be a good spot to say that Expression Blend is part of Microsoft Expression Studio. This is not a free product and it can be quite expensive to get all the tools you may need that are demonstrated in this book. Although you can get 60-day trial versions of some aspects of the studio, some things in this book may not be available to you unless you have purchased this product.

The first section of the book takes you on a detailed walk through of the IDE and helps you learn all the tools. This in-depth session makes getting around the IDE easier which allows you to get onto the more enjoyable task of developing.

The second section then leads you through a series of demos where you can put your skills to the test and learn all the intricacies of the IDE. The last chapter of this section gives you an in-depth look at SketchFlow which was a product that I did not have a lot of experience with beforehand but I gained some useful insight into how this could be used in future projects.

There are labs and code examples using both XAML and C# but this book is mostly based in theory so the code snippets do not dominate the book. This book straddles the line between being accessible to both developers and designers who want to use Expression Blend 4. It also ranges in skill levels between novices and professionals. I think it does so successfully that it can be used by anyone wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the tool.