Saturday, 31 May 2014

Books , O'Reilly Reviews , Tech

Java 8 Pocket Guide

More "Java" than "Java 8" ★★☆☆☆

A "pocket guide" for something like Java is always going to be a difficult book. It's got to be succinct enough to allow easy access to salient points while simultaneously proving the depth that this complex platform deserves. A book that is perfect for experts is unlikely to appeal to beginners too, and therein lies the problem with the Java 8 Pocket Guide.

I was hoping for a speedy "leg-up" on new features in Java SE 8, having been a long-term Java developer. Sadly this book doesn't quite meet that need. There is Java 8 material here: a tour of the new Date and Time API and a good overview of Lambdas (although only a passing reference to method references, and pretty much nothing about the new collections streams).

But I'd like to see further detail on the library: a list of package names isn't enough! The Concurrency chapter was interesting, but would've been so much more informative with more detailed examples. (And those examples that are present need reviewing further: I'm sure the author meant to invoke thread.start() instead of to spawn a new thread.)

If you're coming back to Java from a long time away and need a reminder about the syntax and style of the language, or if you're new to Java and need an aide memoir to keep beside your IDE, the Pocket Guide might be perfect. Experts looking for a reference to what's new in Java SE 8 should look elsewhere.

[Note: I received a free copy of this book through the O'Reilly Reader Review Program.]

Posted by pab at 19:50 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!



Another day, another island; another island with a special place in my heart.

sound-of-kerrera.jpgWithout Kerrera there would be no Oban. Separating the town from the Sound of Mull, the island acts as a huge natural breakwater, providing this "Gateway to the Isles" with its own ready-made harbour.

I first visited back in 1999. I was a hopeless romantic. I took the ferry from the mainland and embarked on a walk around the island's perimeter. Three quarters of the way round I sat on a rock to eat my sandwiches, the water gently lapping away at my feet.

Here I came up with the idea for the Model Boat Club. Imagine a young couple, hopelessly in love. On a warm summer's day they walk round a small island and stop off for a picnic in the bay. As the food is finished, a model boat comes into view. It rounds the rocks and heads straight towards the couple. Attached to its mast is a neatly wrapped box. Attached to the box is a label bearing the girl's name. She unwraps it to find a jewellery box. Her heart beats faster. Seeing that she's too nervous to look inside, the boy takes it from her, tilts open the lid and asks "the question". Of course she says "yes". The boat slips silently away.

model-boat-club-bay.jpgIt occurred to me that if you're going to spend a significant sum on an engagement ring, you may as well propose in style. You can draw a direct line between that time moment on the island of Kerrera and an evening on at Tan-y-Bwlch seven years later.

We saw plenty more on Kerrera today including parrots, a peacock and a turkey; Gylen Castle and one of the world's best tea-rooms. But the highlight for me was taking Emma to an unnamed bay on the island's southern tip to tell her the beginnings of the story that ended with me sketching a lych gate on a boulder on a beach south of Aberystwyth.

Posted by pab at 18:05 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!