MySQL and JSP Web Applications

Almost every web developer uses PHP and MySQL these days. Because it is such a popular combination, most web users think that all dynamic sites utilize both. Since it is not the only choice, I picked up this book as a reference for integrating PHP and MySQL code with JSP pages (SAP connector) for a client. Since this book follows the popular step-by-step scheme, we’ll start from the beginning.

The author of the book, James Turner, begins with the fundamentals of Java Server Pages (JSP). He goes into detail on JDBC, Tomcat and basic database interaction. Later he explains JavaBeans and discusses Servlets and the features and functionality they can add to JSP.

MySQL and JSP Web Applications

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Teach Yourself CSS in 24 Hours

Usually I am quite skeptical when it comes to the types of books that claim to “teach you something in 24 hours”. SAMS Publishing hired a guru-like author to write this book. Kynn Bartlett is a participant in the W3C technical working group ( and the infamous HTML Writers Guild.


“Teach Yourself CSS in 24 Hours”, starts off with the basics of CSS scripting. The book discusses what Cascading Style Sheets are, how they are supported among the different browsers (and platforms) and how they are used with HTML.

Part I is a general introduction to CSS. Part II begins by explaining the CSS Box Model and inheriting properties of CSS classes (“The Core Principles of CSS”). Part III continues with styling text, backgrounds, lists, tables and general page layout and webdesign using Cascading Style Sheets.

Once you have completed Part III, you have spent a total of 18 hours learning CSS. That sounds like learning at the speed of light, but trust me with this book, it’s very possible.

Having only six hours left to master CSS you continue with Part IV, which covers CSS and printing, Internationalization, user interface, CSS and JavaScript and last but not least, CSS and XML.

My Job Went to India

My Job Went to India
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The Pragmatic Programmers sent me the above titled book for review. My first initial take was that this book would bash India and the other countries who are leading the way in (stealing American’s jobs) offshore outsourcing. This topic has become literally the hottest discussion topic in the IT field. (see our sister site).

The subtitle for this book, “52 Ways to Save Your Job” is really more appropriate for the book. I guess Mr. Fowler threw in India for shock value.

The first chapter of the book explains the author’s journey to India to create a “seed team” for offshore development. He looks to hire 25 initially with an ultimate goal of hiring 250.

After the initial chapter the balance of the book focuses on the subtitle above. It is the balance of the book that has led me to share this book with my entire team at work. It describes in detail what I have been teaching my people for years now, its not about the hands-down work, it is about marketing, learning the business and selling yourself. Or, as our CIO puts it, being employable versus being employed.

The chapters I found most interesting are:

  • Supply and Demand — you can/t compete on price
  • Coding don’t cut it anymore — learning the business is what keeps your job, your job
  • Love it or leave it — find your passion
  • Understand business basics — this allows you to create value for yourself
  • Mind reader — think ahead, think way ahead
  • Marketing perceptions — perception is reality
  • Being present — clients want to see you — this is something the offshore worker cannot provide (yes I know there is video conferencing but its not the same)
  • Lead ’em — lead the offshore workers
  • Manage /em — manage the offshore workers

My conclusion is that this book is an absolutely essential read for all levels of IT workers. The book is a short read at 185 pages and is easy to read as well. The book is priced a little higher than I would like; it should be priced in the $15 range. The only negative is that some of the chapters are too light in actionable steps. Consider this an intro and then go research the topics that you find interesting and rewarding.

Product Rating:

The Pragmatic Programmers



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Excellent book for keeping your job.

A little pricey, could go more indepth on some topics.

Bottom Line:
Absolutely worth a read for any IT worker.

Mastering phpMyAdmin 2.8

Browsing through your favorite library, or online store, you might say to yourself, “A book about phpMyAdmin? What’s there that I don’t know already?”.

Mastering phpMyAdmin 2.8
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Well I’ll tell you. Having worked with phpMyAdmin for the last seven years, I did only know about 10% of the options which are available in phpMyAdmin, if you want to use it to the fullest extent – and so promises the cover, “Increase your MySQL productivity and control by discovering the real power of phpMyAdmin.”

On a sidenote, this is to my knowledge the only book solely about phpMyAdmin – while there are at least a thousand books on MySQL. Most of those books also cover a very basic installation of phpMyAdmin. But none of those to this extend!

The author of this book, Marc Delisle, is an active contributor to the phpMyAdmin project since December 1998. Thanks to him, we get phpMyAdmin in the language we appreciate the most today. He created the first multi-lingual version of phpMyAdmin in ’98.

Why we use phpMyAdmin

The reason why we use phpMyAdmin today is because there is this web hosting account with a database – which in 99% of all cases is MySQL – and when dynamic websites are build, tables in the databases need to be created, then data is entered and the developer has to check up what’s under the hood when the applications (or a set of scripts) around it are build.

More than often database administrators also manage the setup of databases and users through phpMyAdmin because it is so much more convenient than typing in long commands using MySQL client interface.

But it does not matter what phpMyAdmin is used for, the installation is often soon neglected once the initial stage is mastered and the development gets past it and the applications are built.

Transcending CSS: the fine art of web design

Transcending CSS is quite the book! Andy Clarke did an amazing job with this book. It really doesn’t fall under the category of ‘traditional CSS book’, but rather a design book, which mentions CSS and markup. Never the less, it is my first 5 of 5 book, of 2007.

Transcending CSS: the fine art of web design
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First off, is this book for you? This book is really for someone who already knows how to code in standard compliant markup, as well as CSS. This book concentrates on design aspects of the web, and for each design situation, it explains how things would work with CSS. So if you already know html, and know your way around CSS pretty well, this book is a must have. If not, then you might as well go learn how to do things first.

Transcending CSS is not strictly a CSS book, it takes elements of a design book, and throws in pieces of CSS knowledge, and goodies into the mix. As the author says, the principles of this book, are to “allow web designers to focus on their creative goals without being preoccupied with technical constraints” The title really explains the idea of the book.

The book has four chapters, all go over a different aspect, or idea of how to transcend CSS. The first chapter is titled ‘Discovery’, this chapter looks at the way most people work, and kind of gives an idea on how things should be, or the way things are best done. Chapter two is titled ‘Process’, and talks about how to apply things that you learned in the first chapter. Chapter three is called Inspiration, and it talks about searching for, finding, and applying inspiration. This is really my favorite portion of the book, it mentions a lot of things, that I wouldn’t have thought about inspiration which are extremely helpful. Then the final chapter is called ‘Transcendence’, and it talks about applying code to well thought out design.

I suggest, that anybody looking to get better at web design, should read this book. Just about everything about this book is great. The content is amazing, the design is excellent, but there is one downside. That downside is price. This book weighs in at a whopping $49.99 USD. This is a little pricey for a book, but it is really, well worth the price. If you’re looking to save money on it, check out Amazon.

My final thoughts on this book are very positive. I absolutely loved it, and I would have to rank it as my all time #1 favorite book. I give it a 5 of 5 rating, and suggest it to anyone and everyone, who knows basic xhtml/css.

Beginning Ruby on Rails Review

If you’ve been looking to start up your own web app like many people, you may have heard about Ruby on Rails before. Ruby on Rails is a ruby framework made especially for implementation of websites on the web. In the last year or so Ruby on Rails has been on fire and only a few books have emerged that are really great. This book isn’t the best book on the topic that you will find but it’s really a decent book.

Beginning Ruby on Rails
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As with all of the other Wrox books I’ve read in the past, this book jumps right into the teaching. Now the only real prerequisite to reading this book is that you should probably know html before you get started. Otherwise you will be pretty confused in the later chapters.

The first chapters starts with a bang, and explains how to install Ruby on Rails on your local computer. This is followed by a long set of tutorials that teach you how to write ruby. Granted it is all very basic stuff the book makes sure that the reader understands everything before moving on. So by the time you actually get to the part of the book where the building of the web app is started you should understand and know how to use ruby.

The actual Rails part of the book starts on chapter 4 and it runs you through very basics of starting a Rails project. Once you’re through with that you will move on to the next chapter which teaches you how to make the most basic of a web app, something that you wouldn’t put out to the public but something that you should be able to learn from quite quickly.

After that you will learn how databases react with Rails. The book explains how the databases are connected, and goes over basic database design. It really explains things quite well.

The last few chapters are about improving the back-end of a Rails app, implementing ajax in all of your pages, and goes through and explains unit testing. The part about unit testing was a little bit confusing for me and hard to follow, but I eventually got what it was all about.

So this book is good for anyone who already knows html and really wants to get their own web application up and running. It is a little hard to follow at times, but if you keep reading on you will find that things make sense after a while. The book isn’t priced to high it rings in at a $35 price-tag, but that is cheap compared to some of the other Ruby on Rails books that are out there.