Top critical review
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Sadly no better in real print than on Kindle.
on 1 October 2013
I originally bought this to put on my new Kindle, where upon it immediately proved to me that standard Kindles and any technical books containing graphics and images just simply do not go together. All I will say about the Kindle version is avoid it like the plague as the images are unreadable and going back and forward between pages results in random jumps in the text.
Then - joy of joys - they released it as a proper book in paperback.
So I bought it, still hoping it was going to be a good book but almost instantly I started reading it, my hopes that it would be better than the Kindle version were dashed.
The main reasons are the large number of quite basic errors, mistakes and serious omissions the book contains.
For example the author states that the COM port on a Windows PC is always COM3. Now I am at a loss to understand where he gets that idea from. I can only assume he's never plugged his own Arduino UNO into any PC. This particular error really rankled with me as it just simply totally incorrect.
Being that the UNO has an on-board USB port, the Windows PC to which it is connected will allocate a suitable COM port number upon the connection being successfully made. The PC will also allocate a different COM port to a different UNO when connected. I have several UNOs (as well as MEGAs, NANOs and MINIs)and their ranges are from COM9 to COM30! It will then remember that port for that particular board too.
There are also errors which appear to be due to a severe lack of efficient proof reading. One annoying example is stating that the long data type has the range of 2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,647.
A range of 1?
I think not as it should have been -2,147,483,647.
Am I being picky? I think not since this is a technical education book and these sort of errors should not get into print especially as this is a 'getting started' book.
Then there the sweeping comments such as appear in the Maths function section. Under the functions "sin, cos, tan" the statement "Perform trigonometric functions. They are not often used." is made.
What a ridiculous assumption. Simply because the author doesn't use them is no reason to make such a sweeping generalisation about major mathematical terms.
Then there's the LOOP() function which although used from early on in the book doesn't get a definitive mention until page 77!
I was also disappointed overall by the way the book jumps about through topics without being overly clear about many of them. Introducing the IF command without introducing the ELSE command at the same time is really ensuring that the fullest use of the IF command is not achieved.
The book feel like one that could have been and should have been several hundred impressive pages long but that was hacked about mercilessly finally arriving at the stunted and unimpressive form that it is today.
Everything is often too curt and often too uninformative. How you can expect to squeeze useful information on using LCDs into 5 pages is beyond me when barely explaining how to use them is crazy.
I know this called "Getting started with sketches" but so much of importance is either ignored, skirted round or simply of no use to a new Arduino programmer.
And I would hardly call the SETUP and LOOP functions as boilerplate code as that is defined as any text that is or can be reused in new contexts or applications without being greatly changed from the original. Totally wrong in the case of the Arduino IDE.
So no, I'm afraid that this book simply does not succeed as it should. If there are other editions in the pipeline then PLEASE make sure that they help the newcomer and not leave them with more questions than at the outset.