Review: Starting Out With C++: Early Objects, Student Value Edition (9th Edition) book

I got into Oregon State University’s post-bacc computer science degree program! Fall quarter begins September 21st, 2016 and I’m excited to start. (More on that later!)

This post, however, is about the book I needed for the first class, CS 161. The book, “Starting Out With C++: Early Objects (9th Edition)”, is available on Amazon, but it is expensive. And it has a 1-2 week processing wait.

That wasn’t gonna cut it – class starts next week.

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I wanted a real dead tree book, not an ebook, and I live too far from OSU to “rent” the book from their bookstore for the quarter. My search led me to something called the “Student Value Edition” of Starting out with C++: Early Objects”.

The “Student Value Edition” is significantly cheaper than the usual version. But it had no reviews, and I couldn’t find anyone else talking about it online, so I was kind of hesitant to order it.

(I ordered it anyway.)

I’m happy to report that this book is the real deal.

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It arrived 3 days after I ordered it. It’s basically an unbound stack of papers 1.5 inches thick. Nothing holds it together except for the plastic sleeve it arrives in.

Other than that, though, it’s exactly the same content you’d get with an actual binding and cover. It’s in color, printed on both sides, and the individual pages are thin(ish) but probably no thinner than what’s in the actual book.

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An inexpensive 2″ slant-ring binder like this one solved the lack of binding problem.

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And there you have it – a slightly more affordable way to get CS 161’s book in paper format.

As for the book’s actual content, I’ll be working through it over the next 11 weeks and I’ll let you all know what I think. I’ve read the first two chapters and it looks like it’ll be a solid introduction to computer science fundamentals textbook.

If you’re starting CS161 soon and want to save some money on the book, check out the “Student Value Edition” of Starting out with C++: Early Objects”.

Book Review: You Don’t Know JS – Scope & Closures by Kyle Simpson

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Scope & Closures by Kyle Simpson

If you’re an intermediate JavaScripter who’s tired of weighty tomes and arcane examples, You Don’t Know JS – Scope & Closures by Kyle Simpson is right up your alley. This smart book takes a laser-focused look at scope and closures in JavaScript.

My rating: 5/5

Who it’s for: Intermediate JavaScripters. If you’ve heard of scope, closures, JS compiling theory, but aren’t sure you really understand them as well as you should, then this book is for you.

Review

Let me preface this review by saying I’m not a big fan of coding books.

I have been frustrated by out-of-date books, untested code, and overly complex explanations from coding wizards who have long since forgotten what it’s like to be a newbie. I’ve always been more of an in-the-trenches doer than an ivory tower studier, anyway.

So, I wasn’t expecting to like Kyle Simpson’s You Don’t Know JS: Scope & Closures book so much. A programmer friend insisted I read it, and 87 pages of golden JS secrets and epiphanies later, I’m glad I did.

This book is…

  1. Brief. No long-winded explanations or storytelling.
  2. Focused. One topic, explored deeply FTW.
  3. Short examples, usually just a handful of lines total.
  4. Easy-to-follow examples with good style choices, such as verbose variable names and comments listing the expected result.
  5. Concepts are explained and re-explained before moving on. This is complicated stuff for us intermediate JavaScripters, and he takes the time to attack topics from multiple angles.

Highlights

You Don’t Know JS – Scope & Closures covers:

  • variables: declaring, setting, and updating
  • scope
  • lexing
  • hoisting
  • closures
  • how the JavaScript compiler reads code
  • tokenizing

This book deserves credit for explaining the compiler’s process of operations in a way that actually clicked for me.

I also loved the short examples. They were easy to follow, none of that 30+ lines of code spread across two pages stuff you see in other books.

The book’s small size is a plus.  I took it with me on a day trip – hooray for books that aren’t the size of my laptop.

Criticisms?

The only thing I might say is that some examples in the book are like, “Yeah, duh, don’t do it that way” but to be honest, I probably had to be told some of these “duh” things myself when I was starting out a few years ago.

Overall, I’d give this book an A+. It fits into the vast gulf between “total n00b” and “JavaScript Jedi”.

Check it out on Amazon.com for the current price (as well as any coupons and deals that might be running).

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