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The Best Way to Learn Expand / Collapse
Posted Thursday, May 3, 2012 10:54 PM



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Comments posted to this topic are about the item The Best Way to Learn

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Post #1295050
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 12:44 AM
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Most commonly used features, programing problems, etc would have been handy perhaps. However, usually one just goes with it and when seeing something of interest that is what you learn or more commonly, when facing a problem.

A couple of month ago I learned about connecting ssrs to a wcf. I didnt want calculation logic in two places, it was already in the application service layer and it would be redundant to include the same logic into another place, the database. So the data source of my ssrs report for this project was my wcf services. Perhaps that's something sql- / reporting people should know about in case you don't. However, there are many things one should know about...
Post #1295067
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 1:42 AM
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I've got a number of e-books on my Kindle and for me text books don't work well on that.

If they are explicit Kindle books then you can at least navigate to the table of contents and then on to specific pages.

If they are PDFs then navigation just doesn't work. You can't dip into the book as you would with a physical book. This means that you can't stumble across content speculatively.

The Kindle format translation service doesn't like PDFs.

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Post #1295076
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 4:03 AM
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I'm not into e-books. While they might come in handy profesionnally (not carrying 32lbs of SQL books is much more comfortable), nothing beats turning a real page of your new favorite novel on a holiday.

Including video and audio in e-books might be added value, but I am worried that not everyone will benefit - I'm afraid publishers will block content from access from other countries, something we see with audio/video content already, and I think I've seen something similar on Amazon as well....
Post #1295118
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 4:16 AM
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Training videos in e-books is a great idea!

I've always loved books and read voraciously. I never thought I'd take to a Kindle given the tactile pleasure of browsing, buying, collecting and eventually reading books.

I have to say that the Kindle is probably my best ever IT purchase. Apart from my previous comment on text books I'd say the only downside is that it has increased the speed at which I read. Not always a good thing when you've got a really good book.

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Post #1295123
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 6:36 AM
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I've had Kindles since they first came out and tried viewing pdfs on them - I eevn bought a Kindle DX, hoping that would be better, but pdf was still too small a print size. I've converted the pdfs to .mobi and they are more readable, but a lot of the ones I read are ones I downloaded from Safari and they have annoying footers and background images with my account info to help to protect them from being passed around. Safari sent out an email that they are swtiching to ePub format.
I have a Kindle Fire now and the pdf experience is better using a pdf app I purchased (Adobe wasn't very good on the Fire) but it is still a little hard to manage the screen if I need to change the type size. The app is good because I can add notes, underline, and do other things.
For me, it would be good to have a format where I could resize the fonts and have the screen adjust. Maybe an option to enlarge the screenshots of examples. Links to outside references would be good, but not crucial for me. The Silk built in browser now has a feature for viewing content on webpages, where you can have a new screen come up with larger text and no menus, etc. That is really nice.
I use my Kindle for tech books as a way of just reading thru them to get familiar with things or refresh my memory or to be able to read something without being at my computer or tying to manage a 1000 page book in bed. I do miss the ability to flip thru a book to find something, but I think that for me a book in two formats would be good- one a physical book where I can flip thru, navigate chapters, etc. The other a digital format where I can read the book conveniently and where I can search for terms- that is one advantage that a digital format has over the physical format. If I could only choose one format, I would choose digital for most. I could read on my Kindle and read in the Kindle reader on my desktop computer and have it on one monitor to show the book and use the other monitor for working thru examples. I like the ability to search, underline, highlight passages in the digital format.
Post #1295171
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 7:21 AM



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I've always had a healthy technical bookshelf at home, but the problem has always been having to (remember to) cart the books from place to place. Especially challenging as a contractor.
I read a lot anyway, especially on the daily bus journey, and my conversion to an ebook reader was inevitable. I agree with the comment on the rate of reading now - my Kobo allows me to read in places where I wouldn't normally bother due to the hassle of carrying a book.
I have recently started obtaining technical manuals in both epub and print format, and now prefer to purchase from suppliers where this is an option. My introduction to Manning publications with the purchase of the excellent 'Deep Dives' volumes was a revelation. They sell in electronic, paper or both formats, and offer an excellent early access program which releases chapters as they are written. I know that Amazon do sell selected ebooks, but a dedicated sales channel would make them easier to find.
I do read the technical manuals on my Kobo, but it really depends on the content type. For reference material (eg SQL 2008 Administration) where it's really just to refresh my memory or look up an item, the Kobo is OK, but for learning material (eg. Powershell in a month of Sundays) with code samples, it is more of a challenge. I currently buy the former as ebook only, and the latter in both formats.
I find the PDF formats to be good only on traditional PCs and the larger format tablets at the moment. The current generation of ebook readers doesn't really cope well (Kobo is especially bad with these). Fortunately, the excellent free conversion/library tool Calibre does a pretty good job of translating them to epub/mobi format.
The one thing that really doesn't translate well at the moment is diagrams. With a traditional book, diagrams are placed not necessarily adjacent to the text describing them (for printing efficiency/constraints) and it is relatively easy to flip forward or back to the section of text that a diagram applies to. With ebooks, there are less of these printing constraints, but the books are inevitably just straight electronic copies of the print versions, so reading can get a bit fragmented. I don't see this changing in the future, but it would be good if the diagrams could be embedded with links to the relevant text (and vice versa).

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Post #1295220
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 7:22 AM

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a pre-chapter quiz that could let you know if it's even worth reading that section

Now that's an interesting idea, a skills test that could dynamically change the content of the book, showing only what you needed to learn and hiding the chapters you already have competency in. (while still having the content available somewhere should you wish to read it)

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Post #1295222
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 7:38 AM

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Videos would be great, however, examples which are more practical would be even better. All too often I've found that the examples in most books hardly ever relate to a situation you'd encounter in your job! A brief blurb at the end of each section named "Laymans Terms" would also be ideal. What did the chapter you just read really mean? It should be written in a manner that if you had to explain it to a coworker, they'd understand it and think "oh yeah, that made sense"

Setting up transactional replication for example. Reading a book in that was helpful but the gotchas that occur in real life usage is not really mentioned (like what automagically happens when you add a new article to an existing publication in an OLTP system - and SQL decides to take a brand new snapshot of the entire publication, locking each table as it bcps out the data to the network). All I can say is THANK GOD for this website :)

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Post #1295236
Posted Friday, May 4, 2012 7:43 AM


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I find the approach taken to a book does more to learn the subject than volumes of content.

For example, years ago I was trying to learn C, and had one or two of the various “teach yourself…” books on the subject. While reading through them, I came across (and purchased) the K&R book on C. I gained more by reading that first chapter than I had from all my efforts with the other books. I tossed them aside and continued on with K&R. I’ve found that books written in a similar format worked much better for me (The AWK Programming Language, The Kornshell; Command and Programming Language).

My take away from that had been the format was important, and that these books were written by the people who wrote the software.

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Post #1295244
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