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tragically flawed in proofreading
on 24 November 2013
I apologise for this lengthy diatribe, but this book must be an example of so many things that are bad about self-publishing. It is far worse than the Robson GCSE Computing text(2012). Most text books about Python have been comprehensively proofread and edited by professional publishing companies - and the difference is immediately obvious.
I understand that many people are struggling with specific difficulties in writing and spelling - and this author may or may not be one of those people - but publishers and/or editors have a responsibility to support authors in this situation and should not allow texts to be published with such glaring errors.
The reason I am so incensed is because I bought this book thinking I could adopt it in the classroom. The content is well thought out and I am sure the author is a good Python programmer, but the writing is simply deplorable. I began thinking that I could recommend the book to my students. I have ended up using it to demonstrate how NOT to use a word processor and why it is so important to attend to English lessons. It is embarrassing.
The author is apparently a teacher of some years' standing. Heaven help the students who follow this example in their course work - and what sort of school employs someone who makes such elementary mistakes?
Pages 123-4 include a sample controlled assessment question and sample solution comments. There are 22 errors or questionable items - including 8 incorrect spellings of "metre" ("meter"), a missing currency symbol, questionable absence of apostrophes, incorrect words, e.g. "The table below shows how price structure." [It should be "... the structure.".] Similarly - "Your each customer should allow the user to:".
The author has obviously used a word processing package, but without regard for maintaining consistency of layout and format. He has, for example, not used correct indenting and tab measurement for numbering and has failed to format basic page layouts according to standard conventions; page numbering really should be laid out differently for odd and even pages. This is, however, a minor complaint compared to some of the other issues that just leap out of the pages.
Amazon.co.uk has printed this book and really should get it checked again before any further printing - it makes the company look shoddy and amateurish. I spend a great deal of money with Amazon.co.uk and I find this just insulting. Very odd indeed.
The content of this book is certainly useful and I have found it helpful up to a point, but the standard of English used is so bad as to be at best annoying, sometimes very distracting, but on occasions just incomprehensible. The inside cover details refer to an editor by name. This must either be a fiction or someone who was not up to her best on the day she sent this book for proofreading. Almost every page has at least one error, although this would be a blessing in some cases. On Page 14, for example, I can find 14 places where I would make changes. Even on page 3 - "About the Author" - I should say that the use of the definite article is distinctly odd, e.g. "He read for the B.Sc in ..." should be "He read for a BSc in ..." [Brunel University says "BSc"] and "He obtained the qualified teacher status (QTS) at ...".
Throughout the book there are numerous examples of errors in the use of articles (often omitted altogether), spelling and typing errors - some of which have been erroneously corrected by a spell checker, e.g. p.14 "exaction" should be "execution"; plural forms are sometimes used instead of singulars, e.g. "codes" instead of "code" [uncountable noun form]; typing errors sometimes produce phrases that make no sense and require a certain amount of head scratching before the meaning emerges, e.g. p.17 "quite of the person ..." should be ""quite often the person ...". In fact this comes from a paragraph that is, in itself, strange. The first sentence is not a complete sentence. The second sentence is erroneously combined with the third, which contains three/four items that I should change. (I should try never to say it, but perhaps "different to" has gained enough currency to make it acceptable as an alternative to "different from".)
The last sentence, however, seems correct!
A further major irritation for me is the constant use of conversational phrases in a formal classroom textbook, e.g. "Seen that" (instead of "seeing that", but it would be much better to use "because"); "some" instead of "a" (this was always a basic error when I taught EFL/ESOL in the UK and abroad) and - worst of all - "It turns out ... ". This is an entirely unnecessary phrase used incessantly - sometimes in consecutive paragraphs. It is very irritating in his YouTube videos, but finding the same phrase in the text is just awkward in the extreme.
I am still trying to use the book for myself, but, when there are so many errors in the text, it is becoming difficult to trust the technical aspects as well.
As a final example - on page 53, 4.3 "Saving your program code" - Dawkins writes "You know that you are in script mode if you have the three chevrons (>>>) and the blinking cursor." As far as I understand, this is, in fact, the "interactive" mode. This fundamental confusion may be a legacy issue - especially since three of the four texts in the bibliography were written when Python was a less frequently used language, IDLE was not necessarily the first option for most programmers (who might have used Emacs or something similar) and version 3 was only just emerging.
It does, however, make one feel a little insecure as to the veracity of the rest of the text.