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How to Technical Review

I am in the middle of my fourth technical review, and wonder if I am taking the best approach to technical review in general.  I want to ensure that I produce a good quality review (after all, I relied on reviewers doing the same for me and my first book).

I make several reads through a chapter, attempting to hyper-focus on a particular thing through each read.  On my first read though, I am reading what the author has to say on a topic, and looking for anything I consider to be dangerous commentary, incorrectly stated, or just plain wrong.  The second read is where I concentrate on the code itself; is it consistent throughout in form, is it correct, could it be improved?  Finally, I read through once more, and look for grammatical mistakes, typos, and incorrectly formatted text — once again ensuring that a format stays consistent throughout the book.

How does this approach compare to how others do their technical reviews?  I am looking for comments so as to refine and improve my technique.

Categories: Books Tags: ,

Response to Critics

I know I am not supposed to let the reviews of my book get to me, but I have read a couple that really bother me, and I feel I have to get some of my feelings off of my chest lest I sound off with a response directly at a reader.

First, if you are the type of person who finds it necessary to write a review that gives an awful rating, be man (or woman) enough to indicate your name and not conceal your identity behind an Anonymous Reader moniker. It must be incredibly difficult to bad mouth someone’s hard work (two years in my case) and not put your name or face out there for criticism of your own.

Second, if you are going to write a scathing review of my book, there are two things you might consider doing so as not to lose all credibility with the rest of the viewing audience: correct your grammar and get your facts straight. Let’s face it, you are writing at most 80 to 150 words, so how hard is it to make sure that you use the word “inexcusable” and not “unexcusable” – and for the record, I had a power surge at my house which brought my servers (and the downloadable examples) down without my knowledge. I am sorry to everyone (except maybe Mr. Anonymous Reader) for the several day outage that occurred because of this happening. Next, here are some facts about my examples: there are 163 numbered examples (and god only knows how many others), eight numbered examples are CSS, 24 are XHTML or XHTML fragments, 80 are JavaScript, 46 are PHP, and five are miscellaneous.

To make these numbers a little bit clearer, 49% of the examples are JavaScript and 28% are PHP, while only 4.9% of these examples are CSS. How 4.9% of my examples constitutes the “actual focus [being] on use of CSS to produce desired page appearance with multiple browser types” is beyond me. Did the reader of this particular review even read the whole book? Did this particular reader actually read the code, and the comments included with the code that explain and discuss what is going on? Also on a side note, everyone should read the whole sentence that I just quoted from out loud just to hear how broken and “Neanderthal” it sounds – I almost expect there to be a grunt at the end.

Third (and finally for this “petite” rant of mine), do not inconvenience yourself with writing a review when you have no sense of humor whatsoever. Now that I ponder those reviews, perhaps I should not bother evaluating the reviews from the Amazon sites in other countries. After all, Germans really do not have a sense of humor (and I will be proving my point if any Germans get upset by this remark). I was attempting to be witty and intellectual with some of my chapter and section titles – maybe I am simply too droll for the common man. Either this or my cleverness must not have translated all that well when read by people in different cultures.

So much for not attacking reviews directly! Seriously, though, is it too much to ask for better reviewers (and I would not mind better reviews either, for that matter)?

Categories: Books, General Rants Tags: , ,

Pictures from my book release party

February 5, 2008 Leave a comment

Here are several pictures from my book release party that my wife surprised me with. She is a wonderful woman, and I am lucky to have her!

Dessert for the party!

Dessert for the party!

A glance at some of the people I am lucky enough to call family and friends.

A glance at some of the people I am lucky enough to call family and friends.

I cannot believe I am actually signing a book I wrote!  I hope this is not the last time this ever happens...

I cannot believe I am actually signing a book I wrote! I hope this is not the last time this ever happens…

My kids had to pose with my cover before they could leave.

My kids had to pose with my cover before they could leave.

Categories: Books Tags: , ,

Book Released

January 28, 2008 Leave a comment

The book is officially released today, and what that means (as far as I understand this whole process) is that it is in O’Reilly’s warehouse and ready to be shipped. Amazon should have it in stock in a day or so (yea!) and brick and mortar stores should have it in stock in a couple of weeks, or however long it takes them to send their trucks out, pick up the books, and deliver them to stores.

I reserve the right to celebrate until I have my first copy in my hands, which I hope will be today! (Come on, FedEx!)

Categories: Books Tags:

The Book Is Done

October 2, 2007 Leave a comment

I just wanted to write a quick blog and note that today I submitted the final draft of my preface, and have now turned in the final draft of everything. I am done writing!

This has been a very long and tiring journey, and I just look forward to being able to spend more time with my family now, especially on weekends.

Technical specs:

  • I wrote 855 pages
  • There are 23 chapters
  • There are 4 appendices
  • There is a preface
  • I have been told that there will be a table of contents and an index.
  • I submitted my original proposal for this book 21 months ago.

If all goes well in production, it should come out in January. Ajax: The Definitive Guide can be found here, O’Reilly’s home for the book that will have all of the examples for download once the book is published. Stay tuned.

Categories: Books Tags: ,

Chapter 7

August 23, 2006 Leave a comment

Well, Chapter 7 is finally done. I wanted it to only take 4 days and it took 7. At this rate, there is no way I will make the September 1 deadline. Chapter 7 was (I thought) the shortest of the remaining chapters for the deadline, and it took 7 days! How do all of these other authors do it?

Does writing just come easier to them than it does to me? I thought I was a decent writer. Not great…I haven’t had an English class in 11 years, but good enough to write a book. I look at other writer’s books, though, and they all seem to be more thorough with their material. I want to discuss the XMLHttpRequest object and I write a couple of paragraphs, other writers write a page and a half.

Do I just not have what it takes to wax eloquently? Maybe not. I don’t have pithy introductions to chapters. No good anecdotes to share.

I just don’t know…

Categories: Books Tags:

Chapter 6

August 15, 2006 Leave a comment

This chapter has been just a pain to write. I don’t understand it. I knew the material I was writing about pretty well. I just had to reference some text when it came to all of those tables. And, yes, there are a lot of tables in this chapter (16 to be exact), but that shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did. I am finally done writing it, and I have moved on to Chapter 7. Hopefully this will be easier. I need to write one chapter every 4 days to hit my next milestone on time. I figure that I will have to write between 100 – 150 pages to accomplish that. So about 6 – 9 pages a day have to be cranked out. (No problem, he says in his most sarcastic voice.)

I am greatly indebted already to my entire family for all the support they are giving to Sarah and me. I couldn’t keep doing this without all of you. Thank you!

Well, it is early, so I think I’ll turn in.

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