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Amazon S3 Essentials
Amazon S3 Essentials
by Sunil Gulabani
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.99

4.0 out of 5 stars This book aims to teach you about Amazon S3 quickly, and certainly succeeds., 23 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Amazon S3 Essentials (Paperback)
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on www DOT i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

As the technology world increasingly migrates to the cloud, knowledge of Amazon Simple Storage Service should prove useful. Does this book help?

Aimed at developers and architects, it has around 90 working pages, split over 5 chapters. Some basic knowledge of Java (or similar) is required to understand the example code.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 Know-How about S3

The book opens by describing Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) as online object storage, accessible via REST and SOAP web service interfaces, and BitTorrent. The various advantages of S3 are discussed (e.g. backup, archive, huge storage, highly scalable, elastic pricing, and security).

The chapter then discusses some basic concepts that are used throughout the book. A bucket is a container where files (objects) are uploaded. Buckets can contain nested folders and subfolders. An object is a stored file. A key is assigned when an object is created, and used to retrieve the object.

Next, a useful list of S3 functionality is given, including:
*Allows website hosting – pay for what use (useful for start-ups)
*Scalability – ‘unlimited’ storage
*Reliability – guarantees 99.9% uptime
*Security – strong authentication mechanism
*Standard interfaces – access via REST and SOAP

The chapter ends with a brief look at some different ways S3 can be used, including: file hosting, website hosting, and data backup. A useful diagram shows how S3 integrates with other Amazon components (e.g. Elastic Cloud Compute [EC2]) for a more complete picture.

This chapter provides a useful overview of what S3 is, its basic components, and its advantages.

The chapter is easy to read, with helpful diagrams and step-by-step walkthroughs (in later chapters). These traits apply to the whole of the book.
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Conclusion

This book aims to teach you about Amazon S3 quickly, and certainly succeeds. The book is very easy to read, with plenty of screenshots to support the many step-by-step walkthroughs. There are useful explanations of what S3 is, and how to use it (via the management console and programmatically). As cloud computing becomes increasingly popular, knowledge of S3 should be ever more useful.

I have two concerns. Firstly, the code should be commented and discussed (that said, it is not too difficult to understand). Secondly, the subject matter seems to be too isolated, I would have liked more discussion on its integration with the other Amazon technologies such as EC2.

It should be noted that Amazon Web Services also provide some very readable S3 tutorials. If you want to know what S3 is, its advantages, and how to use it follow this link to a helpful tutorial.
http://docs.aws.amazon.com/AmazonS3/latest/gsg/GetStartedWithS3.html.


Zero Bugs and Program Faster
Zero Bugs and Program Faster
by Kate Thompson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.22

5.0 out of 5 stars This book should be on the bookshelf on every serious developer having aspirations to become a better programmer., 3 Jun. 2016
This book aims to show you how to become a better programmer. How does it fare?

To my mind, to become a seasoned programmer typically requires between 2 to 5 years of development experience. Along the way you will learn, often by trial and error, how to overcome various pitfalls.

Often times you learn to be a good programmer by avoiding all the various bad practices. In many ways this book condenses this learning experience by highlighting the major problems together with their solution.

The book consists of two sections. The first section is concerned with topics that can impede the creation of better code. The section is divided into 40 chapters, each between 1 to 3 pages in length, and contains amusing/worrying stories, helpful diagrams, useful references, warnings, and solutions.

The topics covered include:

*Heed the Compiler Warnings
*Reusable Code
*Cyclomatic Complexity
*Using Other People’s Code
*Be Your Own Worst Enemy
*Discoverability
*Bad APIs Cause Bugs
*Lessons from Lisp
*Parallel Processing
*von Neumann

The second half of the book presents snippets of code that you can learn lessons from. Various real-world code is discussed with a short commentary, again each piece is between 1 to 3 pages in length. The code is written in various languages (e.g. COBOL, Java, Assembly), and covers a range of historical ‘problems’. Most of the code will be readable by experienced programmers.

The book is suitable for programmers of all levels. New programmers will be able to learn preferred approaches from the start. Experience programmers will welcome a refresher course, and might pick up some new observations. Intermediate-level programmers will fall between these two points.

Conclusion

This book aims to show you how to become a better programmer, and succeeds generously. The book has useful discussions, stories, quotes, diagrams, references, and code samples. The author’s style is intelligent, reflective, funny, serious, and philosophical – all of which aids the understanding of the points being made.

You can acquire the skills needed to become an experience programmer the hard way (years of development experience) or the easier way (reading this book), either way you will learn the lessons on the path to becoming an experienced programmer – I suggest you take the short route.

This book should be on the bookshelf on every serious developer having aspirations to become a better programmer. It deserves to be read by a wide audience. Highly recommended


Apache Cassandra Essentials
Apache Cassandra Essentials
by Nitin Padalia
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.20

4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, this is a useful overview of Cassandra, its internals and functionality., 28 May 2016
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on www DOT i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

This book aims to explain the core concepts of Cassandra, how does it fare?

The growth of Big Data has highlighted the scalability limits of relational databases. Several NoSQL databases have arisen to fill this niche, one of the more popular ones is Cassandra.

The book is aimed at developers working with Cassandra wanting a more in-depth understanding. To get the most out of this book, a basic understanding of Cassandra is required, together with an appreciation of Java code and database systems.
The book is relatively short, containing 146 working pages, spread over seven chapters.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 Getting Your Cassandra Cluster Ready

The book opens with a comprehensive guide to installing Cassandra, covering the prerequisites (e.g. memory requirements), before downloading Cassandra source code, compiling and installing it. Instructions are also provided on installing a precompiled binary. The content of the various directories is outlined.

The chapter next looks at the various configuration files, including: cluster, data partitioning, storage, client and security. The major content of each is briefly discussed.

The chapter ends with details on running a Cassandra server, both on a single node and on a cluster of nodes. The Cassandra nodetool utility is used to check and monitor the cluster.

This chapter provides a useful introduction to getting your Cassandra cluster up and running.

The chapter is generally easy to read, with plenty of hands-on detail, useful tables and diagrams, and reusable scripts. There are occasional grammar problems, a recurring problem. Some terms are used without being defined (e.g. NoSQL). These traits apply to the whole of the book.
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Conclusion

This book aims to explain the core concepts of Cassandra, and generally succeeds. The book is easy to read, with plenty of hands-on detail, useful tables and diagrams, and helpful scripts.

This is not a book for the complete Cassandra novice. Additionally, to get the most from the book, an understanding of Java code, and database systems is needed. Some knowledge of related terms is assumed (e.g. NoSQL, normalization), since these are not defined. Occasionally, there is bad grammar, but nothing too onerous. Sometimes the topics in a chapter are not introduced or linked together – making it difficult to make sense of.

The book contains a mixture of both developer and administrator tasks, this seems to be the norm with NoSQL databases, whereas these areas are distinct in relational database environments.

The book would benefit from a section on where to go next to get further information (e.g. websites, newsletters, forums etc).

Overall, this is a useful overview of Cassandra, its internals and functionality.


QlikView Essentials
QlikView Essentials
by Chandraish Sinha
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars If you’re new to QlikView, buy this book. Highly recommended., 19 May 2016
This review is from: QlikView Essentials (Paperback)
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on www DOT i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

This book aims to introduce you to QlikView, covering the whole application lifecycle, how does it fare?

QlikView is an increasing popular tool for data visualization. This book is aims to introduce you to the “...basics of QlikView, and then dive into loading data, performing transformations, creating visualizations, and deployment of the application”. The book is relatively small, having around 140 working pages spread over 8 chapters.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 QlikView Fundamentals

The book opens with a brief overview of the QlikView components, namely:
*QlikView Desktop – development tool
*QlikView Server – analytic engine
*QlikView Publisher – loads data, and distribution service

Details are provided on where to download, and how to install a personal edition of QlikView Desktop. This is followed with an overview of QlikView basics (data is held in RAM, associations used to discover table relationships based on common field names, development is via QlikView Desktop).

The chapter continues with an outline of the steps in the development of a QlikView application. These steps form the other chapters of the book. The example used throughout the book is based on the well-known Adventure works 2012 database. There’s a brief overview of the user requirements for the example QlikView application, before showing details of the various tables, their columns, and relationships. There’s a brief look at star and snowflake schemas, stating they are particularly amenable to reporting since they require less joins.

The chapter ends with details on how to download a QlikViewEssentials zip file from the publisher, this is unzipped, and its files used in the development of the subsequent QlikView application.

This chapter provides a useful overview of what QlikView is, its components, and how to install it. The lifecycle of a QlikView application is outlined before introducing the application that will be built in the remainder of the book.

This chapter is easy to read, well written, with a good flow, and has plenty of helpful diagrams. These traits apply to the whole of the book.
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Conclusion

This book aims to introduce you to QlikView, covering the whole application lifecycle – and certainly succeeds. The book is easy to read, well written, has a sharp focus, with lots of helpful diagrams, and an easy flow between chapters. The book is very practical, with plenty of hands-on step-by-step walkthroughs.

If you’re new to QlikView, buy this book. Highly recommended.


Big Data and The Internet of Things: Enterprise Information Architecture for A New Age
Big Data and The Internet of Things: Enterprise Information Architecture for A New Age
by Robert Stackowiak
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The book should certainly help people analyse and design systems (not just Big Data ones)., 10 May 2016
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on www DOT i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

This book aims to show you how to implement a Big Data and Internet of Things project, with the subtitle “Enterprise Information Architecture for A New Age”.

This book guides you through the steps required to analyse and extend an existing architecture (based on a data warehouse), to one involving Big Data. The content is project/analysis focused rather than technical.

The book is targeted at “... enterprise architects and information architects, as well as anyone tasked with designing and building these solutions or concerned about the ultimate success of such projects”. Some knowledge of IT systems/architecture is needed, since various terms are used without being defined (e.g. third normal form).

The book is relatively small, containing around 180 working pages, split over 8 chapters.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 Big Data Solutions and the Internet of Things

The book opens with a look at how we arrived at Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT), giving some history, and explaining that much existing technology is still appropriate in new solutions (e.g. databases). The importance of getting business buy-in is emphasised for successful projects, else the errors of the past may repeat with the newer architectures.

Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) and data marts are discussed, outlining their advantages and disadvantages, before noting that increasing volumes of unstructured data required a new approach, involving NoSQL databases and Hadoop. NoSQL databases store data that doesn’t map neatly into the traditional relational database management systems (RDBMS). The 4 main types of NoSQL databases are outlined (i.e. key-value, column, document, graph), before looking at scalability and high availability.

Hadoop is the most popular Big Data platform. The importance of Google’s technology papers is noted in the development of Hadoop’s distributed file system (HDFS), and its distributed parallel programming algorithm (MapReduce). Next, many of Hadoop’s popular tools are highlighted (e.g. Hive, Sqoop). It’s expected that a growing number of sensors and devices will provide steaming data, this is the heart of the Internet of Things. This voluminous data will drive Big Data processing.

The chapter ends with an overview of the methodology for developing and deploying projects (this is what this book is really about). The popular ‘The Open Group Architectural Framework’ (TOGAF) model is briefly examined, noting it forms the basis of the authors’ own methodology – which is then outlined (with each of the 7 stages forming a subsequent book chapter).

This chapter provides a useful overview of the history and drivers of IT systems, culminating in the current Big Data and IoT systems. The iterative methodology for developing and deploying projects is outlined, showing you what to expect from the rest of the book. In essence the book is about defining the current system, defining your required system, and then taking steps to bridge the two.

The chapter is generally easy to read, with helpful diagrams to support the text. It touches a wide-range of topics but only in a cursory manner. Various vendor products are identified in passing. Some knowledge of IT systems/architecture is needed since various terms are used but not defined (e.g. ACID, named node) – perhaps links to further information could have been included. These traits apply to the whole book.
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Conclusion

This book aims to show you how to implement a Big Data and Internet of Things project, and succeeds. It contains details of the steps to undertake to analyse and extend an existing architecture (based on a data warehouse) to one based on Hadoop technologies. The emphasis is on project planning and analysis rather than technology.

It is easy to read, with good explanations, and useful diagrams to support the text. The outline agendas and questions included should prove useful in creating your own systems. The book is based on a seven-step methodology, which itself is based on the popular ‘The Open Group Architectural Framework’ (TOGAF).

Many sections can be read without reference to Big Data and IoT, in which case it reads like a good traditional system analysis book, except it’s more agile and less comprehensive - since various steps in traditional methodologies are omitted. Undoubtedly the book oversimplifies the details, but does so to provide an achievable approach.

Some knowledge of IT systems/architecture is needed to get the most out of this book, since various terms are used without being defined (e.g. third normal form, ACID, RDDs, named node). Perhaps links to further information could have been included - I note there is an appendix of references, but these are not annotated.

The book’s title in itself is misleading, this is a book largely about analysis and design. I suspect Big Data and Internet of Things were added because they’re the latest ‘must have’ technologies, and of course they sell...

I enjoyed this book, it took me back to my 1987 SSADM analysis course! The book should certainly help people analyse and design systems (not just Big Data ones).


PowerShell for SQL Server Essentials
PowerShell for SQL Server Essentials
by Donabel Santos
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, this is a useful introduction to PowerShell, and its usage for SQL Server. Recommended., 3 May 2016
This book aims to introduce you to PowerShell and how it can be used with SQL Server. How well does it do it?

PowerShell is Microsoft’s preferred scripting tool, useful for task automation and integration across products. It’s often specified as a tool which DBAs are eager to learn about. With growing numbers of servers, a tool that helps with admin is to be welcomed.

The book is aimed at SQL Server administrators, and might be useful for developers too. To get the most out of this book, some basic awareness of scripting is needed.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 Getting Started with PowerShell

The book opens with a brief history of PowerShell, being a replacement for a diverse collection of tools (e.g. VB Script). PowerShell eventually became the tool of choice for automation and integration between Microsoft products.

The chapter continues with a look at the PowerShell environment, both the console and the GUI (Integrated Scripting Environment – ISE) are discussed. The importance of execution policies and how they impact running local or remote scripts is explained. The various versions of PowerShell are listed together with their salient features.

Next, cmdlets are discussed, these form the core of PowerShell, performing specific tasks. The cmdlet Verb-Noun naming convention is described (e.g. Get-Help), which makes it easier to guess a command.

PowerShell providers, which allow access to a data store, are briefly discussed. Extending PowerShell with snap-ins or (preferred) modules is examined. The ability to chain together cmdlets using pipes is noted (similar to Unix).

There’s a useful overview of PowerShell scripting basics, including a table showing the scripting components and their meaning. Saving and running a script is shown.

The chapter ends with a helpful section on where and how to get help, this is of paramount importance to the beginner. The use of partial command-name search is noted.

The chapter provides a very helpful introduction to PowerShell, its environments and usage. The chapter is useful irrespective of SQL Server. Some awareness of scripting/PowerShell is assumed, so it’s not a book for the complete beginner. Some terms are used before being defined (e.g. cmdlets)

The chapter is well written, with useful website links, tables, screenshots, and summary. The chapter has lots of useful tips (e.g. downgrade session version). These traits apply to the whole book.
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Conclusion

This book aims to introduce you to PowerShell and how it can be used with SQL Server, and succeeds. The book is well written, easy to read, with useful website links, and screenshots. The book is filled with useful incidental tips, and contains plenty of template code that could form the basis of your own code. Some understanding of scripting in general is assumed.

With all the different versions of the various software mentioned (e.g. SQL Server, PowerShell, Windows, .NET), I found the topic (but not the book) a bit messy. It would have been useful to have included examples of scheduling PowerShell scripts using SQL Server Agent and Windows Task Scheduler. The book’s title should reflect the main versions of software used (i.e. SQL Server 2014, and PowerShell v4).

PowerShell is undoubtedly a useful tool for task automation and product integration, and is a valuable addition to your toolbox. There is much more to learn of course, but this book is a great starting place.

Overall, this is a useful introduction to PowerShell, and its usage for SQL Server. Recommended.


Practical DevOps
Practical DevOps
by Joakim Verona
Edition: Paperback
Price: £28.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall, this is a useful introduction and overview to DevOps., 26 April 2016
This review is from: Practical DevOps (Paperback)
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on www DOT i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

This book aims to provide an introduction to DevOps from a practical perspective, how does it fare?

DevOps is a skill increasingly in demand, it’s purpose is ‘...to make faster, more correct releases by bringing people working with different disciplines closer together.’

The book is aimed at developers and system administrators. While no previous knowledge of DevOps is required, some background knowledge of Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Puppet etc is needed to get the most out of the book. It contains 210 working pages, spread over 10 chapters.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 Introduction to DevOps and Continuous Delivery

The book opens with some history about DevOps, being a combination of the words ‘development’ and ‘operation’, it’s concerned with removing the wall between the two. It overlaps with Agile, automation and continuous delivery. The importance of communication, shared tools, cooperation between roles, and the meaning of waiting is discussed (waiting suggests something is wrong).

The chapter continues with a look at the different cycles within Agile, including Scrum, and Kanban, explaining DevOps supports all cycles, and encourages cooperation between groups. Some examples of how DevOps benefits Agile cycles are given (e.g. faster regular deployments). The importance of doing Agile/DevOps for improved measurable results rather than just following the steps (i.e. cargo cults), is noted. DevOps aims to make interaction with new systems faster and easier, for everyone.

The chapter ends with a brief look at how DevOps interacts with other ways of working. Typically, Agile or Lean frameworks work well with DevOps (since it came from Agile), however ITIL sometimes has problems, since it can be viewed as less flexible.

This chapter provides a useful background about what DevOps is, where it came from, and how it interacts with other frameworks. The emphasis on interaction and communication is noted.

The chapter is easy to read, well written, with useful diagrams, and helpful links to other chapters. It’s apparent that some knowledge of Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Puppet etc is needed to get the most out of the book. Perhaps these terms should have been defined here to ensure all reader are at the same level? I note Kanban is described in chapter 9. These traits apply to the whole of the book.
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Conclusion

This book aims to provide an introduction to DevOps from a practical perspective, and succeeds. The book is generally easy to read, well written, with useful diagrams, and helpful links to other chapters. The place of DevOps in the various stages of the Continuous Delivery pipeline is described well, and there are plenty of practical example problems and suggested solutions.

It’s apparent that some background knowledge of Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Puppet etc is needed to get the most out of the book. It would have been useful to have defined some of these basic terms in Chapter 1, to ensure all readers are at the same assumed level of understanding.

Some chapters, for example Chapter 3, have areas that aren’t cohesive, with subsections appearing without sufficient context or linkage.

If you come from a Windows development/admin background you can expect a few more problems reading the text than if you’re from a Unix/Java background.

Overall, this is a useful introduction and overview to DevOps.


SQL Server AlwaysOn Revealed
SQL Server AlwaysOn Revealed
by Peter Carter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars For value-for-money, buy the author’s Pro SQL Server Administration book. If interested only in AlwaysOn, then get this book., 12 April 2016
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on www DOT i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

This slim book is devoted to AlwaysOn, SQL Server’s High Availability and Disaster Recovery solution and aims to show you how to use this technology to reduce or eliminate system downtime.

The back cover says the book: “...is adapted from Peter Carter’s Pro SQL Server Administration...” This is something of an understatement, since the text is lifted straight from that book. Its six chapters of this book are Chapters 11, 12 and 13 of Pro SQL Server Administration. This book is also from Apress and when I reviewed it I awarded a 5-star rating concluding: I’ve reviewed more than 30 SQL Server books over the last three years, and this is the best SQL Server administration book I’ve read.

The book is aimed at DBAs, and perhaps curious developers. To get the most from this book you need some existing awareness of High Availability (HA), and Disaster Recovery (DR).

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 High Availability and Disaster Recovery Concepts

The book opens with a look at the levels of availability (i.e. uptime), measured with reference to the number of nines (e.g. 5 nines is 99.999% availability). The importance of Service-Level Agreements is noted, with their specified availabilities and financial penalties. The standard HA terms Recovery Point Objective (RPO – how much data loss is acceptable) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO – how long the application can be unavailable) are examined.

The chapter continues with a look at the cost of downtime, explaining it’s often easier to negotiate an acceptable level of downtime when its costs are specified. Tangible and intangible costs are briefly discussed. The chapter ends with a brief look at the types of standby servers (i.e. Hot, Warm, and Cold).

This chapter provides a helpful introduction to High Availability and Disaster Recovery concepts. There’s an interesting table showing the cost of downtime against the cost of the solution, for the various levels of availability – a useful logical approach to help determine your availability solution. Two of the savings calculations seem to be wrong, the value $525,474 should read $525,074, and the value $520,334 should read $520,344.

The chapter is easy to read, very well written, with useful discussions, diagrams, code, tables, inter-chapter references, and chapter summary. These traits apply to the whole of the book.
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Conclusion

This book aims to explain AlwaysOn, SQL Server’s High Availability and Disaster Recovery solution, and certainly succeeds. The book is easy to read, with useful explanations and discussions, step-by-step walkthroughs, and plenty of relevant screenshots. In many ways it reads like listening to a true expert discuss the technology, providing many of the tips he’s collected along the way.

Providing some troubleshooting scripts would have been useful for investigating problems. Although not stated, this book is based on SQL Server 2014 - with SQL Server 2016’s imminent release (next month?!) I wonder if this book’s release is badly timed.

For value-for-money, buy the author’s Pro SQL Server Administration book. If you’re interested only in AlwaysOn, then get this book. Highly recommended.


Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Business Intelligence Development Beginner's Guide
Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Business Intelligence Development Beginner's Guide
by Reza Rad
Edition: Paperback
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This book provides a great entry point to learning Microsoft’s BI tools. Recommended., 6 April 2016
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on www DOT i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

This book aims to explore Microsoft’s Business Intelligence (BI) tools and is targeted at beginners. This sounds like a contradiction.

The book is aimed at: “...BI professionals (consultants, architects, and developers) who want to become familiar with Microsoft BI tools”.

So, belying its title, it is not a book for the complete beginner, some knowledge of databases and architecture, is required to get the most from the book.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 Data Warehouse Design

The book opens with a look at the initial steps in creating a BI system, designing the data warehouse, which is optimized for reporting and analysis, and is used to help with decision making.

The chapter continues with a look at the architecture and components of a BI system. Data from various source systems is extracted, transformed and loaded (ETL) into the data warehouse. A common ETL tool is SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). From the data warehouse, another structure is created, using SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS), which is either file-based (OLAP cube) or memory-based (tabular model). Next, data visualization is discussed, this is what the user sees, and such tools include SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS), Excel, and Power View. Master Data Management (MDM) maintains the definitive version of reference data, accessible via the Master Data Services (DMS). Finally, the Data Quality Services (DQS) component is used to maintain and improve data quality.

Next, the chapter looks at building a data warehouse, emphasising its denormalized flattened tables, which improve report query performance. The section then discusses dimensional modelling, defining some salient terms: fact/measure (business numbers/amounts), dimension (descriptions), attributes (columns), fact table (facts with links to dimensions), and grain (level of fact table detail). The star and snowflake schemas are explained, the latter has a degree of normalization in the dimension tables. The star schema is preferred for performance reasons.

Next, a small data warehouse is designed, based on sales information for a chain of supermarkets. Various business questions (e.g. what reports are needed) help decide the scope of the work, together with the level of data to store (the grain). Next, the various steps of Kimball’s best practices are followed: choose business process, identify grain, design dimensions, design facts. Some optimizations are discussed (e.g. replacing strings, using integer surrogate keys in the fact table).

The chapter ends with a look at different types of facts (transactional, snapshot, accumulating), and types of dimension (outriggers, role playing, degenerate). Finally, slowly changing dimensions are explained (0: no change accepted, 1: overwrite old value, 2: add a new record to preserve history).

This chapter provides a useful overview of what BI is, its major components, how they fit together, and provides a helpful walkthrough of an example data warehouse. It’s noted that data warehouse design is a critical step.

The chapter is generally easy to read, with useful explanations, helpful diagrams, inter-chapter references, and website links. The book requires some previous knowledge of databases systems (OLAP in particular). These traits apply to the whole of the book.
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Conclusion

This book aims to explore Microsoft’s Business Intelligence (BI) tools, and succeeds. The book is generally easy to read, with useful explanations, practical step-by-step walkthroughs, helpful screenshots, inter-chapter references, and website links.

There is much more to learn about Microsoft’s BI tools, many of the components discussed here have many other options that have not been discussed, but the book does provide a useful entry point to the most commonly used BI components.

The book does require some previous knowledge of databases systems, so it’s not a guide for the complete beginner - contrary to its title. Sometimes, insufficient information is provided before an example walkthrough (i.e. why we do something), however, useful information is provided after the walkthrough. There are a few areas of bad grammar but nothing too onerous.

It might have been useful to include some comment on the growing importance of Big Data, and Machine Learning. I do wonder if they might lead to the decline of proprietary data warehouses and BI tools in the near future.

If you have some knowledge of database systems (OLAP in particular), this book provides a great entry point to learning Microsoft’s BI tools. Recommended.


The Digital Revolution (Synthesis Lectures on Emerging Engineering Technologies)
The Digital Revolution (Synthesis Lectures on Emerging Engineering Technologies)
by Bob Merritt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £33.95

2.0 out of 5 stars Overall, it’s like the curate’s egg, informative and interesting, in parts..., 1 April 2016
Hi,

I have written a detailed chapter-by-chapter review of this book on www DOT i-programmer DOT info, the first and last parts of this review are given here. For my review of all chapters, search i-programmer DOT info for STIRK together with the book's title.

This book aims to discuss the current progress and the social impact of the Digital Revolution, how does it fare?
The book is for anyone interested in the progress and impact of the existing and forthcoming Digital Revolutions. It’s a relatively small book, consisting of around 100 working pages, spread over 19 chapters.

Below is a chapter-by-chapter exploration of the topics covered.

Chapter 1 The Next Technology Wave

The author suggests we are at an historic point in the development of technologies. Several technologies are accelerating at a speed that society may not be able to assimilate satisfactorily. The acceleration comes from the doubling of technology capabilities every 2 years, and the increasing ability of computers to emulate ‘human intellect’. If the future rate of change mirrors that of the last 50 years, mankind will see machines with personalities indistinguishable from humans, in the lifetime of the majority of people living today. However there is disagreement if this trend will continue.

Current progress is shown by the use of exoskeletons and other devices driven by human thought connected to the brain. Research is active in deciphering brain activity with the hope of providing finer grained control. Other research relates to linking together multiple human brains to provide faster collaboration and potentially accelerated biological evolution of human intellect. It’s suggested the Industrial Revolution can be used as a template for the impact of change.
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Conclusion

This book aims to discuss the current progress and the social impact of the Digital Revolution. It certainly covers a wide range of technology, machine, and brain related topics. The book’s content is interesting and brief, and I found several areas that I wanted to explore further.

Overall, I found the book awkward to read, I wanted something more direct, rather than having to tease out the book’s messages. Troublesome factors included:
* Wanders off topic too often (e.g. Brain-Machine Interface talks about computers controlling the takeoff of planes, and diagnosing medical conditions remotely – but not in context of Brain-Machine Interface, let’s keep the focus!)
* No roadmap (only the table of contents, the introduction is generic and not related to book’s content)
* It takes too long to define terms (e.g. ‘uncanny valley’, ‘noosphere’)
* Chapter content not cohesive enough (due to above)
* Too much repetition

Perhaps an editor would have solved these concerns?

Overall, it’s like the curate’s egg, informative and interesting, in parts.


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