Alan Berg's articles

Book review: BIRT: A Field Guide to Reporting by Diana Peh, Alethea Hannemann, Nola Haque

The creation and generation of well presented and delivered reports is a specialized profession that requires the correct skills, mentality and tools. An excellent free software example of such a tool set is the Eclipse-based Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools (BIRT) system for web applications.

Book review: Agile Java Development with Spring, Hibernate and Eclipse by Anil Hemrajani

The book Agile Java Development with Spring, Hibernate and Eclipse by Anil Hemrajani is a book for developers which effectively weaves an understandable lesson based on a realistic, but imaginary timesheet project. This book describes the combination of agile project mentality and Java programming and is a welcome addition to my personal library and the Java biased development audience as a whole.

Book review: Red Hat Fedora Core 6 Unleashed by Andrew Hudson, Paul Hudson

Red Hat Fedora Core currently at version 6 is a popular GNU/Linux distribution competing with the likes of Ubuntu, Knoppix and Mandrivia. With a large, active and well publicized development community via the Red Hat-sponsored Fedora project, the distribution is well balanced and user friendly with the expected applications and polish with graphically intuitive helper tools. The book Red Hat Fedora Core 6 Unleashed published by Sams and authored by Andrew and Paul Hudson reflects the many aspects of this rich platform in a grandiose 1100 pages, DVD included.

Vega Strike

If you are tired of a purely blast or be blasted space fighter simulators, if you like making virtual money and a strong story line—and, yes okay, fighting your way from A to B in large virtual universes—then Vega Strike or one of its mods may be just the free software game for you.

Book review: Pro Apache XML by Poornachandra Sarang, Ph.D.

Pro Apache XML, authored by Poornachandra Sarang, PhD, and published by Apress, clearly explains XML, and, in specific, the Apache Software Foundation-related projects. eXtensible Markup Language (XML) is a human readable, machine-understandable text format. Web services send XML messages and XML acts as the underlying structure in configuration files for many modern frameworks and thus applications. In fact, the next quality-jump in the office suite is XML (zip compressed) document formats that are, in theory, easily translatable into other formats.

Book review: The Definitive Guide to GCC, Second Edition by William von Hagen

Without the GNU Compiler collection GCC it would be difficult to imagine that free software would have had such a rapid penetration into the market place. Historically speaking, having a free high quality set of compilers acted as a bootstrap for the highly active GNU project and beyond and was thus an important, the important, winning factor. If you want to use GCC (including version 4) to its utmost, The Definitive Guide to GCC, Second Edition, written by William von Hagen and published by Apress, is almost certainly for you.

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Book review: Embedded Linux Primer by Christopher Hallinan

Embedded Linux sits in telephones, cookers, cars, and best of all in my camera and wireless router. I have no real idea of how many pieces of hardware sit under Linux’s careful and motherly control, but it must be quite dominant and I’m sure would easily be in the hundreds of millions and yes, I hear you shout that I underestimate.

Fun with free software astronomy

Astronomy software comes in many forms—from the details of computer intensive Grid computing of the distribution of stars (okay that’s astrophysics) to rendering the night sky in artistically detailed and sumptuous graphics. Being a devoted backseat observer to the evolution of the Universe in general and GNU/Linux software in specific, I thought it was time to show off what I consider to be the elite of desktop elegance. I will describe the installation and use of two astronomy related software packages: Stellarium and Celestia. These packages are visually appealing and fun to use.

Book review: Self service Linux by Mark Wilding, Dan Behman

Linux is by reputation and in reality a highly stable platform. Being free software means that you can see its inner actions without the lead coat of proprietary license shielding. Problem determination with transparent source, if mastered within the Linux environment, enables the problem solver to focus efficiently on the issues at hand. New administrators tend to take longer to solve the more horribly tricky and very infrequent issues than those that have burnt their wizened fingers on the obtuse over the course of long years.

Bzflags

The aim of this article is to introduce the reader to Bzflags. Bzflags is a free software multiplayer 3D tank game that is frantic, full of immediate action, with a kill or be killed emphasis. The game is best served in multiplayer mode where you can hunt in packs, fight to the last ounce while chatting. Instant violent fun, gratification for those of you that need to let off steam and clear your minds living for the moment.

Book review: How Linux Works by Brian Ward

Ok, so you are a Linux user or a power user. The question then is what does it take to become a valid, omnipotent, root-enabled superuser? One potential answer is read the book How Linux Works, by Brian Ward and published by No Starch Press, by the last word of the last chapter you may or may not have been transformed, a wizard waiting to be born.

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Book review: Wicked Cool Shell Scripts by Dave Taylor

Wicked Cool Shell Scripts by Dave Taylor is a book that delights my force for good hacker’s instinct. Listing 101 viable Bourne shell (sh) example scripts succinctly, one is hard pressed to find a better starting point to enabling your intellectual problem solving physique to gain meaningful contact with real world coding. If you enjoy pimping the Linux, Unix and Mac OS X command line into customized heaven you may find this is one of the main books for you.

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Book review: OpenVPN: Building and Integrating Virtual Private Networks by Markus Feilner

Virtual Private Networking enables secure online communication over TCP/IP networks such as the Internet and Extranets and between road warriors and there online bases. VPN’s are the stock and blood of many distributed organizations. The technologies involved are relatively easy to use and widely applied. OpenVPN is one suitably viable and mature (James Yonan started the project in 2001), and open source instance. When properly deployed the server has a significant and beneficial impact on the security of your organizations online communication.

Book review: Managing and Customizing OpenCMS 6 Websites by Matt Butcher

If you want to create a free software content management server fast and starting with zero knowledge, and then vigorously and systematically play with a Java based web application, then the book Managing and Customizing OpenCMS 6 by Matt Butcher is the accurate, project orientated and a pragmatic book that you are looking for.

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Flying high with FlightGear

FlightGear is a top notch and highly accurate free software flight simulator. The software has no kill or be killed situations. Don’t expect arcade like dogfights and precision bombing. Such features are not included. However, with a large range of planes to choose from and with most of the world covered by accurate maps expect a realistic experience as near to a holodeck as software only can allow.

Book review: Moodle E-Learning Course Development by William H. Rice IV

Within the Education biosphere, there are a number of significant free software Course Management Systems. Moodle is one and a popular one at that. The book Moodle E-Learning Course Development by William H. Rice IV is a serious, practical guide to getting a Moodle installation off the ground and imparting the relevant knowledge required for a teacher or an administrator to create a well-balanced online PHP based learning environment.

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Book review: AJAX and PHP: Building Responsive Web Applications by Christian Darie, Bogdan Brinzarea, Flip Chereches-Tosa

The big unstoppable trendy Web 2.0 train is at full steam, allegedly knocking downing the walls of conventional website buildings. Sure, the technologies used may date back to the beginning of the century (wow that sounds like a long time ago!). However, thanks to the publicity and dare I say hype, we are now sitting at the beginning of the second internet bubble.

Book review: Pro PHP Security by Chris Snyder and Michael Southwell

Good security is the basis of any viable website. With the internet being the most public of places, broken systems cost—money, reputations and possibly customer identities are the currency. Pro PHP Security, published by Apress and written by Chris Snyder and Michael Southwell, is a detailed and authoritive account of the security details that effect a successful deployment of a PHP website. The book ranges from the almost theoretical to the highly practical such as SQL injection attack hardening and validating user input.

Book review: Pro Perl Parsing by Christopher M. Frenz

Pro Perl Parsing is a well-written tome on the subject of various ways of pulling information out of sources such as the HTML, RSS, XML, CSV, the command line and text. More correctly put, the book discusses the extraction of data and some analysis via Perl. The author Christopher M. Frenz understands the value of using CPAN modules and describes parsing through pleasantly brief code examples.

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