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Apache CloudStack Cloud Computing
Apache CloudStack Cloud Computing
by Navin Sabharwal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Apache CloudStack .. the "great contender", 17 Sept. 2013
As far as cloud computing is concerned we are living in "interesting times".There are several competing frameworks and technologies, both commercial and open source. Two of the more widely known open source technologies are OpenStack and CloudStack. OpenStack's origins are NASA and Rackspace based, CloudStack's origins are Citrix based. Of the commercial offerings two of the major ones are Amazon's AWS and Microsoft's Azure. It is, of course, possible to create hybrid cloud solutions. For instance, Peter Lopez, Disney Interactive's system architect has developed a private cloud by stitching together technology from both OpenStack and cloudstack. An interesting comparison of OpenStack vs. Cloudstack (if you're interested) can be found at the following URL [...]

This particular book focuses entirely on CloudStack. Starting with a good yet concise overview of cloud computing and the technologies underpinning cloud computing, the "way that CloudStack does it", is described in very practical and understandable terms. The networking architecture description was particularly clear, importantly so for novices as this can be a very confusing topic. The chapters covering basic installation and configuration were pretty standard and workmanlike as one might expect in a book of this nature. The networking chapter was clear and provided a good overview, as did the chapter covering CloudStack storage. I felt that the section covering the use of OpenStack (Swift) storage as a means for providing secondary storage to CloudStack could have been more detailed. As a general observation the configuration and administration details were mostly GUI oriented. Examples showing the use of e.g. shell scripts of Python scripts would have been most welcome. The chapter on Service Offerings and Virtual Machines was very short. I would have liked much more detail on the use of CloudStack with different Hypervisors. The chapter covering Domains, Accounts, Projects and Users could have been expanded, and , once again some bash or Python script examples would have been of great help. The final chapters on high availability, performance tuning and scaling were of an overview / introductory nature and could form the starting point for a much more advanced performance and troubleshooting oriented book.

Overall I felt that this was a very good book, that dealt with a difficult subject clearly and in a way suitable for those entering this area for the first time. I would recommend it both for technologists wishing to get a fairly in depth feel for CloudStack and its capabilities, and for novice CloudStack administrators. With an "administratorish" hat on examples of configuration and administration scripts would have been of great value. Sometimes studying a script carefully can tell you a lot more than "wading through a whole lot of GUI snapshots".
Apache CloudStack Cloud Computing

Raspberry Pi for Secret Agents
Raspberry Pi for Secret Agents
by Stefan Sjogelid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars James Bond and the RaspberryPi, 10 Jun. 2013
This is a useful cookbook with a "provocative title".
If I were a professional secret agent I hope that I would be using considerably more powerful techniques than those described in this book. However, I suspect that if I was to start experimenting with such techniques I would probably get a visit from those "strange men in grey macs that don't officially exist" and feel that they "know what's best for me - on behalf of whatever the current elite they represent is". Nonetheless, in an age where "those that know best" feel that they have a "God given right" (literally in some cases I suspect given my impressions of the spectrum of psychological profiles individuals attracted to the "shady orgranisations" we are alluding to might have) it is important to develop secure unofficial channels of communication. The argument - "if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear" is a very specious one. Think of some of the atrocious things championed by those who "think they know what's best" e.g. Eugenics (championed in the US before the second world war ... and a source of inspiration for those who believed in the extermination and sterilisation of e.g. the mentally ill, homosexuals, members of other races and cultures), think of McCarthyism and the nasty witchunts that characterised it ( and also think of various US politicians who began their careers as McCarthyite "stooges") ... you get my point.

It is also, at times, important to be able to record in both audio and video format with various individuals and organisation so that they cannot later be "plausibly denied". Being a "whistleblower" involves often difficult and often painful choices, and being subject to often vindictive and spiteful treatment by the powerful and secretive when some of their more nasty goings on are brought into the glare of public scrutiny.

The RaspberryPi and associated small Linux platforms are a useful starting point for the serious development of "spook proof" communications systems, recording and data transmission systems.
Of course it can be argued that the use and deployment of such systems is subversive and illegal.
How many of you are aware of the assertion by a senior Microsoft executive that open source developers are commnists and worse [...], and, I can envisage scenarious where it most certainly would be. However, I can also envisage scenarios involving "potential conflict with state interests" where it can be argued that it would not be.
I am thinking for example of labour disputes in which a right wing government is using the intelligence services to defeat a large scale trade union organised protest. See e.g.[...]
and also, [...]
Also, and this particularly aposite consider the case of David Snowden [see e.g.[...]

So, what practical projects does this book provide for those who wish to use "spook like technology" for their own (let us hope socially useful for context see e.g. [...]) purposes.
Here I am thinking of legitimate trade union activities, protection of human rights and civil liberties, unmasking the corruption of the "good and the great" especially bankers and politicians.
The sections on audio and video are a good starting point. The audio section illustrates some useful applications of audio including voice distortion (albeit simplistic), but does not cover such techniques as e.g voice encryption that will produce audio like signals that can be used in conjunction with mobile phones. The chapter on webcam and video wizardy is also a useful starting point and can form the starting point for many useful projects, not only "spookish ones" e.g. in monitoring of e.g. bird and animal behaviour as part of a school or University project.

The section on monitoring of WiFi networks and the use of the Wireshark protocol analyser, once again should be thought of as a "starter for 10" , to be followed up by more extensive reading and research. I felt that the use of the word "pranks" in the title was unwise, implying as it does that "snooping" around in your current local "WiFi" neighbourhood is just some kind of "light hearted jape" ... Personally I would have preferred a title along the lines of e.g. "exploring and monitoring WiFi" networks and systems. I have not use Ettercap before and must therefore thank the author for making me aware of it and its various uses. The Wireshark section was little more than a brief overview and I would hope that it will serve to inspire those who have not used Wireshark "in anger" to "dig deeper"

The final chapter had some intriguing topics ... but was disappointingly brief.
The section on AdHoc networks ( a topic that I find of great interest and have looked into fairly extensively and even given the odd course and presentation on) was extremely brief.
The section on GPS was useful and I enjoyed the section on using communications between a smartphone (Android in the example used in the book) and a RaspberryPi.
The final part on data encryption barely scratched the surface.

So there you have it. A useful book for the curious and inventive, especially reasonably bright teenagers with a technical disposition. Not much use for spies though. However, you never know.
When I read my copy of "Spycatcher" in the days when "they were trying to ban its publication" what surprised me was the apparent "sheer technological incompetence" of the "spying fraternity". Maybe this book might be of use to them ... though I suspect they are probably better resourced and technically competent these days. Would it be possible to use this book as a jumping of point for developing applications to "outspook the spooks". Definitiely yes ... though do be careful and do be discreet. Play safe and conduct small "private" experiments with close and trusted friends. Also do check out the law in your part of the world as regards the use of advanced encryption technologies and the monitoring of radio communications. Also remember when sending "secret data" its not the volume but the quality. Indulge in thought experiments concerning the creation of "secret communications channels". Once when teaching an embedded Linux kernel and device driver programming course to a group of "technical communications specialists" one of the exercises involved "hacking a keyboard driver" Much to my amusement one of the class hacked into a colleague's computer and had that person's keyboard LEDs "flashing morse code". I am sure that given a bit more time he could have had the keyboard LEDs "flashing encrypted morse code", and with multiple LEDs could even have devised multiple channel communication. Now there's a little challenge - not too easy, not too difficult ... Let me know how you get on ...
Oh, and by the way .. you could adapt it to send morse from a RaspberryPi to a mobile phone and then "further afield" .... I think you get the picture.

Also, there are many interesting add on boards for the RaspberryPi that can serve as starting points for devising some of your own. How about a board with some interesting encryption or image processing software programmed into an FPGA device ?

Of course it is also possible to read this book in a more "playful sense" and as a starting point for many interesting projects that are perfectly harmless. If this is the spirit in which you are approaching the book then I can heartily recommend it to you.

Good luck and happy reading. Take care and be both sensible and socially responsible.

Raspberry Pi for Secret Agents

Raspberry Pi Networking Cookbook
Raspberry Pi Networking Cookbook
by Rick Golden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £21.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Networking with the RaspberryPi, 25 Mar. 2013
Raspberry Pi Networking Cookbook
RaspberryPi Networking Cookbook
I must say that I was rather intrigued when I first came across the title of this book. Admittedly I had my own biases and expectations as to what I might find inside its covers. I was even more intrigued by the "blurb" on the front cover of "An epic collection of practical and engaging recipes for the RaspberryPi". Those of you who watch UK TV may be aware of a recent series of adverts concerning "somewhat deluded individuals" who, inspired by discovering bargains into propel themselves into quaintly ridiculous adventures e.g. surfing on an inflatable crocodile, joining a group of astronauts on a space mission equipped with a bicycle helmet " .. because they feel so "epic". Tricky word "epic" maybe better avoided.
This, slim little volume, did contain some useful 'recipes' , but not as many as I might have hoped for. The, obligatory, recipe on 'Installation and Setup' was competent and to the point, and is covered here, I am assuming, for the sake of completeness.
The recipe on remote access via SSH concentrated mainly on remote access via SSH from a PC running Microsoft Windows of some ilk using Putty. Putty is an excellent piece of software and is certainly something the RaspberryPi community should be aware of, so lots of plus points here. Configuring the RaspberryPi for SSH access was demonstrated by demonstrating the use of the command line rasp-config tool.
The next recipe is mainly concerned with installing updates as well as new software packages for the "official" Raspbian Linux distribution - which is Debian based, and, therefore, uses apt, the Advanced Packaging Tool via a text oriented front end called aptitude. Interestingly this recipe also covers the 'testing' package distribution, as you might have guessed, is primarily for testing. However, and this is what makes it interesting to the "adventurous" it does contain the most cutting-edge versions of Raspberry Pi software available from the "official" Raspbian Linux distribution. OK some brownie points here as any self-respecting "RaspberryPian" should be a competent user of apt.
The next recipe concerns file sharing - basically making files on remote machines that are network accessible from the RaspberryPi look as if they were local to the raspberryPi itself, and, in this case mounting files on a USB drive connected to the RaspberryPi so that they become part of the file system. This recipe does a pretty good job of explaining the "mysteries" of the mount command and editing /etc/fstab to automate the mounting of shared disks and folders at boot time. The parts of this recipe that interested me the most was the part covering mounting shared files on a Windows based PC and setting up a RaspberryPi as a Samba file server so that a RaspberryPi can be mounted as a network disk on a Windows PC, and also sharing a USB disk attached to the raspberryPi via Samba. Lots of brownie points here as I am someone who would rather "make his windows PC more Linux like" than make his Linux machine more windows PC friendly.
So far so good, but hardly epic (well, maybe the Samba part was "epicish"). So what's left ...
Well, only one more section, entitled "Advanced Networking". This section contains recipes covering a number of interesting things such as creating a firewall, connecting remotely to the desktop, setting up a web server on the raspberryPi (Apache is covered in depth and then the differences between installing Apache and lighttpd and nginx are briefly surveyed.), installing a wiki and creating a wireless access point. Firewall creation makes use of the command line tool ufw (uncomplicated firewall) - which, I must admit was new to me ... so, once again, some brownie points. The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is another protocol I have not really used before, and the recipe explaining how to install xrdp on the RaspberryPi was an "excuse to play", and to point Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection application at a RaspberryPi and to enjoy the sight of a RaspberryPi desktop running on a Windows Machine. The recipe covering setting up MediaWiki was pretty competent and provided an opportunity to review and refresh my knowledge of this particular web application. The final recipe, the icing on the cake if you will covered setting up the RaspberryPi as a wireless access point with hostapd. This makes it possible to configure the Raspberry Pi to be a network hub for other wireless devices, and this was exciting as I could see how I could devise interesting sensors and home automation devices based on Microchip's new WiFi technology modules and various PIC processors (both big and small), and also all kinds of interesting remote sensor based projects sprang to mind, and similarly with Atmel WiFi solutions and Silicon Labs solutions.
With my appetite "whetted" what more goodies were there in store for me ? Sadly "there were none".
All in all this is a "most useful little cookbook" ... Epic it is not. Gastronomically speaking it would fall well short of "Julia Child's" standards and it is certainly no "Larousse Gastronomique" of the embedded Linux networking world.
What would I have liked to have been included and why ?
This is the part that is both easy and difficult. Easy because there are so many interesting networking recipes that could have been added. Difficult, because it is easy to criticise "omissions" without being faced with the reality of putting together a useful collection of recipes in the first place. As a result I would rate this book at somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. My perspective on the RaspberryPi is that it is a cheap and reasonably powerful "small embedded Linux platform" with a strong social network and active community behind it. There are other embedded Linux systems not that much more expensive and with a more impressive range of features and peripherals. The unique aspect of the RaspberryPi is that its goal is to "stimulate" an interest in computing in the young by enabling them to do "interesting things with it", albeit that the learning curve for mastering embedded Linux systems is quite steep. Networking, in this context, is very much a "means to an end". Most of the recipes covered in this book apply to Linux platforms in general and, pursuing the Cookbook metaphor they are more of the "how to bone a duck, how to prepare a good pastry, how to make a good stock. What is lacking are the "Lobster Thermidor" or "Mousse au Chocolat" or "Baba au Rhum" recipes. In other words, starting off with the technical details lets "conjure up" some exciting and inspiring applications that depend on having mastered the technical recipes and then putting them to some "exciting use". Maybe, instead of confining networking to TCP/IP ethernet and WiFi this cookery book should have included other networking technologies such as e.g. SPI, I2C, RS485, Lin and CAN, or included some aspects of Industrial Ethernet, or maybe included some recipes involving understanding and modifying interesting demo programs written e.g. using the Python 'Twisted' network programming framework. I would also have liked some recipes covering IPv6 and also 6lowPan, especially a recipe involving the linux-zigbee project e.g. Raspberry Pi daughterboard with ATmega128RFA1 microcontroller (with 802.15.4/6LoWPAN mesh networking capability) [...], or, e.g. [...]
Another recipe might have explored building RaspberryPi clusters for parallel computing , see e.g. [...] and then used that to e.g. do some interesting graphics processing or feature recognition.

OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook
OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook
by Kevin Jackson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £30.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook, 25 Mar. 2013
OpenStack Cloud Computing Cookbook
In the Slideshare presentation describing use of OpenStack at CERN Tim Bell recommends this book (slide 20 - Buy the book rather than Guru mentoring) .. and supplement by following mailing lists and participating in the OpenStack community .. and / or obtaining Enterprise support.
[...] That in my opinion is probably as good a recommendation as a book can get. I will, nevertheless, in this "little review" try and convey something of the "flavour" of the book and why I, in particular like it. The company I work for , First Technology Transfer, seems to be coping with the recession currently, despite the pathetic lack of help from the "Tory and Liberal public school and Oxbridge elite currently attempting to run this little island" for small and medium sized businesses, and even less help from the, oh so socially minded, banks, by being able to develop and deliver advanced highly tailored course that, typically, span multiple subjects e.g. in the case of OpenStack .. how might it be used together with Nginx and Python. [Well that's enough of the political soap boxing ... back to the book review]. Technical books such as those published by companies such as Packt are very helpful to us. They often can provide insights and ideas that we can merge with other reference materials and with some of our other course modules. To paraphrase Malvolio's "some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them" it can be said of technical books that "some are extended technical manuals, some are truly enlightening and can make complex technologies easier to understand, some are inspiration and provide delightful (in as much as technical topics can be considered delightful ... lets not discuss this here), and, some are inspirational and provide starting points for completely novel research and exploration initiatives.
This particular book provides the details expected of a well written manual and guidance on how to explore OpenStack based Cloud computing "in the privacy" of one's own, virtual, cloud. As many, wiser than I, have advised ... "get the basic system working first, understand it and then worry about scaling and tuning it". On top of this I might also add master the skills of doing "back of envelope calculations" so as to estimate the costs, risks and benefits of embarking on large scale cloud computing application deployment. If you look up the following links you will get an idea of what I am alluding to.
2.[...]a copy of Jon Bentley's famous "The Back of the Envelope" article published in his Programming Pearls series in the ACM. [Note: This paper is also included in Jon Bentley's Programming Pearls book (2nd Ed.) published by Addison Wesley in 1999]
If anyone has some nice Cloud Computing estimating scenarios and use cases with well thought out back of envelope calculations I would love to hear from you and study your examples.
In this book the emphasis is on "getting to know OpenStack" rather than getting to grips with "petabyte sized deployments". [Note: As an aside, if you plan on becoming an OpenStack guru you might care to investigate Rackspace's OpenStack certification program [...] (valid for 1 year at a price of $200.00 (US)), or you might simply follow the advice of the folks at Cern i.e. "get a good book and learn from your peers" ]

What comes across in this book is the extensive practical knowledge of the author. OpenStack is a complex product built out of many parts. Each part comes with a fairly hefty learning curve, which can be somewhat discouraging for a novice. If you think configuring and administering Apache is hard then "think again", OpenStack is a much tougher proposition. In this book the mysteries of installing the various elements that make up OpenStack are covered in sufficient detail as to make it quite clear how these various components fit together. Although one might quibble about the order in which these various parts are covered e.g. should OpenStack networking be covered before OpenStack Compute administration such quibbles are purely a matter of "personal taste". This moderately hefty tome covers pretty nearly everything one might expect to have covered
Installation and administration of OpenStack Compute
The Keystone OpenStack identity service
OpenStack storage - installation, usage and administration ( a "meaty" topic covered in an agreeably digestible way")
Glance (the OpenStack Image service ) - not images as in "pictures" but a service that makes it possible to register, discover, and retrieve virtual machine images
Nova volumes - a persistent storage that can be attached to running OpenStack Compute instances - so that the data persists (does not disappear) when the instances are terminated
Horizon - the Open Stack Dashboard - which provides a GUI (Graphical User Interface) [ for those that like such things ] for managing OpenStack environments and instances.
OpenStack networking - essential for administrators and support staff working for ISPs that provide an OpenStack hosting service [ Although this might not be everybody's point of view I felt that this section needed expanding]
Provisioning, monitoring and troubleshooting - tools and case studies. This is a vast topic and I sympathise with the hard job both author and editor must have had in selecting a representative yet reasonably comprehensive collection of tools and examples. These include MAAS (Metal As A Service), Galera (for MySQL clustering) [ personally I would have gone for PostgreSQL ... but that's just my own preference]. HAProxy for load balancing [ Load balancing is a complex subject and I would have appreciated some coverage of Nginx, if only because my company FTT [...]has developed and delivered several Nginx courses over the past 6 months and are working on an Nginx module for our upcoming OpenStack courses], Munin and Collectd for monitoring instances, StatsD/Graphite for monitoring the storage service and Hyperic for monitoring MySQL [ Here I learned some useful things as I have not experimented with StatsD or Hyperic before]
The last section , on troubleshooting was disappointingly thin. Maybe an OpenStack Troubleshooting Cookbook will provide a more extensive set of examples, heuristics and guidelines.
Overall I rate this book highly. "Gripes wise" - as a consultant, teacher and course developer I am very keen on diagrams, and this is probably my major gripe concerning this book "Not Enough Diagrams"

Raspberry Pi Media Center
Raspberry Pi Media Center
by Sam Nazarko
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A RaspberryPi Media Center, 19 Mar. 2013
Hi there,
It seems that reviews published on do not make it to and vice versa ...
This review was published on first ... and, so, I am republishing it here in case you may find it of interest ...
I also moderately often order French and German technical books via Amazon ... and I suspect that reviews of these books probably do no make it on to the French or German Amazon sites ...

Here it is .. "fresh from the US of A" ...

It is said that a wise Imperial College professor of computer science was once asked whether he was overawed by some of his very gifted young students. His reply was along the lines that youth, genius and energy can by well matched by experience and cunning. I take this to mean that in many scientific and engineering disciplines truly original discoveries are rare and that what appear to be novel research or software engineering techniques often turn out to be applications or "rediscoveries" of things that were known earlier.

This book is written by a young computer scientist studying at one of the other illustrious London University colleges - Kings College in this case. The "about the author" section states that he started using computers since the age of four and has over the course of his childhood and adolescence developed a "huge passion for them". This book falls into the category of presenting and organising much complex material (both procedures and background information) .. so that our Imperial College Professor's "mystique" will stay "unblemished".

The RaspberryPi is an interesting "little Linux" board that uses a Broadcom variant of ARM. This Broadcom processor is relatively well endowed with audio and video processing hardware, and it is no surprise that the champion and developer of the RaspberryPi work for Broadcom. What an excellent way to recruit a team of enthusiastic and free application developers and testers for your brand new processor design. Also think of the "marketing kudos" earned by basking in the warm glow of "encouraging young computer scientists in schools" by making a very cheap yet powerful computing device available for use by students and teachers.

The only problem with acquiring mastery of the RaspberryPi is the steep learning curve involved in mastering Linux and the various application frameworks and tools that are available for it. One way of making progress and obtaining some satisfaction by running "entertaining" applications is to follow the tried and trusted "cookbook" approach. This particular book provides fairly detailed instructions about setting up a RaspberryPi as a media center.

In essence the book is a "vade mecum" for Raspbmc, a Linux distribution that has been built specifically for running the XBMC open source media center. This distribution can be expanded by installing various Debian (another Linux distribution) packages., if you want your RaspberryPi media center to do "other things". Not being a "Media Center" expert I found some of the sections such as those describing how to control a Raspbmc installation connected to an HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) - which will enable the Raspbmc setup to be controlled e.g. by an XBox controller or a suitable TV remote controller and installing and setting up the BBC iPolayer very useful. The section on content management and configuring Raspbmc to play content from e.g. AFP (Apple Filing Protocol - which is used for sharing content over a network from Mac OSX systems) and AirPlay, as well as the section on remote streaming (streaming (sending) media from a computer to the Raspbmc) meant that I now had no excuse for exploring this "brave new multimedia world". The only problem with acquiring lots of media content is how to organise it.
Almost in the "Aladdinian" sense of "your wish is my command" there is a chapter covering setting up the database management system, MySQL, on a server machine (MacOSX, Windows or Linux) and getting XBMC (which, you will remember) is running on the RaspberryPi to use that database instead of its own internal SQLite-based implementation. Finally, as if anticipating the wishes of the "media addicted" there are two chapters covering the use of PVR (Personal Video Recording) using the Raspbmc, and conversion of various media types to formats that can be played in the Raspbmc.

In summary, I found this a slim but very useful volume, packed with information that I would have had to spend quite a few hours pulling together from the web. In addition the book did strike a good balance between the needs of relative novices and experts. If you are a schoolteacher and want to introduce the RaspberryPi to students who are not "particularly enamoured of programming" and are more artistically inclined then this is a "particular effective 'hearts and minds' Trojan horse [ in a good sense I hasten to add ]. If you are a really inspiring teacher you can use some of the procedures covered in this book to introduce a whole variety of interesting concepts such as distributed file systems (NFS in this case), relational databases (MySQL and SQLite), data compression and decompression, multi-tasking operating systems, and even TCP/IP. If you are thinking about giving someone a RaspberryPi as a present and they are not "electronics or programming" enthusiasts then you might do worse than bundling your gift with a copy of this useful 'little volume'.

As you might gather I like this book and feel that it fills an important niche in the RaspberryPi "ecosystem"

Hope you find this review helpful

Raspberry Pi Home Automation with Arduino
Raspberry Pi Home Automation with Arduino
by Andrew K. Dennis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

8 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "A little book that could ", 18 Feb. 2013
Hello gentle readers ... "This is scribendor 'quilling'"
As someone who runs a technical training company and a small technical bookshop it should come as no surprise that I would be interested in just this kind of book ... Raspberry Pi Home Automation with Arduino
Actually I came across it via a discussion thread in LinkedIn ... thanks due to Kevin ..
So, following Kevin's example I expressed an interest and obtained a review copy.
Actually I quite a fan of Packt publishing ... Many's the time that some of their books have provided timely material that has helped me in developing one esoteric course or other. The most recent one being an nginx course ... ran recently for a large internet retailer in the US.

I really like the book ... and posted reviews on LinkedIn (RaspberryPi workshops group) and Facebook.
Without any more ado here is the review (political sermon and all).

A review of a nice little book dealing with "would you believe it" - Home Automation !!!

RaspberryPi - Home automation ...
It is still "early days" for the RaspberryPi .. "the little Linux board that could"
As with many successful "open source'ish" initiatives the RasPi has thrived on the basis of an active network of enthusiasts ably "nudged" by Liz Eben ... the partner and supporter of the "inventor of the RasPi.

Home automation is one of those topics that attracts both professionals, "big electronica", as well as amateurs. This book is firmly aimed at amateurs.
If you were to do home automation really professionally then you would probably implement something like BACNET or KNX ... not so easy !!

Hobbyists want projects that are relatively easy to build, to program and to understand.
This book "fits the bill".

Of particular interest is that it makes extensive use of the Arduino Bridge Shield developed by "Cooking Hacks" a Spanish company, Libelium, that sells a variety of AdHoc sensor networking systems and hubs (Waspmote) as well as Arduino add ons. Its good to see that there are Spanish
companies doing good things in the "electronics sector" , despite the terrible damage done to the Spanish economy by those "evil bankers and ... their politician and big business lackeys" [ Here endeth this particular sermon ... ], and who, in general have very little understanding of the needs and problems faced by small high tech enterprises, to quote from my ( fairly useless ) small business manager "I don't really understand what your company is doing ... " when I was trying to explain some of the advanced embedded and real time courses we were developing and running.

Particularly interesting for some will be the inclusion of the arduPi library by Cooking Hacks, which makes it possible to write Arduino applications and use them on the Raspberry Pi without needing a separate microcontroller such as an Uno board. I wish I had "thought of that".

The book starts of with typical Arduino like projects such as flashing an LED and obtaining temperature readings ... designed to provide background knowledg and to build up confidence.
It then goes on to cover some basic (from the point of view of home automation) projects, starting off with the construction of a thermostat controller which can save readings to an Sqlite database. These readings can then be retrieved via a web browser courtesy of HTSQL (HypertextStructure Query Language). HTSQL is something that is worth knowing about.

Having mastered the basics it is time to go on to another fairly standard home automation application, namely "curtain automation" - that can open and close the curtains based on the ambient light level value.

As they say in the cartoons "That's all folks".
Well not quite, because there is a wrapup chapter with useful follow on suggestions.

I liked this book. "Genius level" hackers and engineers may "frown upon it" ... but it is not meant for such people, even though I think that there are things in there that they may not necessarily know about already.

For STEM teachers, college teachers and for use on introductory embedded systems courses it is a treasure trove of examples and resources. It will also, I feel help overcome the feeling by many owners of RaspberryPi's expressed in words such as "well, now I've got it what can I do with it".

When I have time I will port my Microchip multitasking programming notes (that implement a garden sprinkler controlled by a PIC16/PIC18 .. and even a PIC24 or a PIC32 if you want to get ambitious and add ethernet and a touch screen) to the Raspberry Pi.

For the more technically minded ... send me an email and we can start discussing more "exotic" home automation systems that support BACNET and/or KNX.

.. and, fame at last ... there was an appreciative comment on the review posted in LinkedIn (in the RaspberryPi workshops group) ...
"I like the review, very amusing indeed. You could not be more right in saying "well, now I've got it what can I do with it", I know a lot of people with that exact problem, perhaps I can point them in the direction of this book now" ... thank you Peter.

And, finally , a plug for a little book I am funding via Kickstarter - USB Microchip Programming - go take a look if you feel inclined to do so.
[...].Donations would be especially welcome, however, technical suggestions and interesting case studies and code snippets would also be very much appreciated.

Thank you kind readers

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