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John Bokma MexIT
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Some ideas for your book wish list

Monday, July 20, 2009 | 0 comments

Soon after I started Perl help in exchange for books it became a huge success. At first I was expecting a lot of "can you please do my home work" requests but those have been rare. The majority of help requests are split between people who want me to do a code review and people who need a tool that assists them with their research, have discovered that Perl would be a good option to code the tool, but have no experience with Perl programming. And my biggest supplier of books, for over 9 months now, is an employee of a company who wants a better program to do his work and is paying for this Perl program out of his own pocket. And the 6 books I received today via Amazon are in exchange for another series of improvements per his specification I made to the program.

Threshold - The collected stories of Roger Zelazny

Sometime in the mid-70's my brother gave me "De weg naar Amber" - literal "The Road to Amber" - the Dutch translation of "The Guns of Avalon" as a birthday present. Or actually, my mother probably had bought the book for him to give as a present because at that time I was a child, and he's almost 4 years younger than me.

Cover of "De weg naar Amber" (The Guns of Avalon).

My mother back then was quite aware of my taste in books. Moreover, since our local library had an age limit on novels: you had to be 13 years of age to read the works of Jack Vance, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Roger Zelazny, etc., she weekly visited the library to supply my thirst for more SF.

And while I can't recall the exact year, it's one of the birthday presents I clearly and fondly remember. Since it was the second book in a series of five I used some of the money I had gotten as a birthday present to buy the first book. The series had made such an impression on me that years later I convinced my Dutch language teacher, a huge fan of "Lord of the Rings" to such an extent that he was nick named (behind his back) "the hobbit", to borrow the five books from me and read them (but he was not impressed). Moreover, when I started my own company in 1994 I named it after the home of the main characters in the Amber series: Castle Amber.

So when I learned that NESFA Press had just published two volumes of collected stories by Roger Zelazny and that four more volumes were planned I immediately added the first 2 volumes to my wish list. And today the first volume, "Threshold", arrived, and the book looks fantastic; in my opinion well worth what some might consider a steep price of 29 US dollars; I can't wait to have all six volumes.

By the way, if you like the Amber series you might want to give "Mordant's Need, volume I: The Mirror of Her Dreams" and "Mordant's Need, volume II: A Man Rides Through", both by Stephen R. Donaldson, a try.

The Frogs and Toads of North America

I've always been quite interested in amphibians, and now and then we meet a few while hiking in Mexico. Since the amphibian wild life is much more diverse in Mexico compared to the Netherlands, where I was born, I am currently only to identify a few species.

Photo I took of a tree frog in a barranca near Pinoltepec.
Photo I took of a tree frog in a barranca near Pinoltepec.

So no surprise that I am asking for books on frogs and toads. Sadly, so far I haven't been able to find a book that exclusively covers frogs and toads of Mexico, please post a comment if you know of any.

Same tree frog as above, now resting on a leaf.
Same tree frog as above, now resting on a leaf.

Another reason why I am asking for books on frogs and toads is that I want to learn to make better photos of those animals. After browsing "The Frogs and Toads of North America" I am happily to say that this book will be of quite some help because the photos are wonderfull and large. And there are a lot of them. Moreover there is also a CD included with recordings of frog and toad calls.

Rules of Prey, Shadow Prey, Eyes of Prey

Quite some time ago I bought "Invisible Prey" by John Sandford at Sanborns located in Centro Comercial Las Americas, Xalapa, and after I had read it, I wanted more. So now and then I ask for another book in the series whenever someone wants some help with Perl in exchange for books. And since I didn't have the first 3 books in the series last month I had asked for those:

  1. Rules of Prey by John Sandford, ISBN 978-0425-20581-5
  2. Shadow Prey by John Sandford, ISBN 978-0-425-20884-7
  3. Eyes of Prey by John Sandford, ISBN 978-0-425-21443-5

I do like the new design of the cover but I really don't like the publisher's (Berkley's ) choice to make the first book 1.5 cm taller compared to the other 2 books; most likely to make it stick out in bookstores, but it doesn't look nice in a bookcase at home, in my opinion.

Anyway, I can't wait to get started in "Rules of Prey", but first I want to finish volume two (The Confusion), which I am currently reading, and three (The System of the World) of the Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson. I do like Lucas Davenport as a character, but my favorite is still Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch, the literary character created by Michael Connelly.

Regular Expressions Cookbook

Last but not least: Regular Expression Cookbook; how could I resist adding such a book to my wish list as a seasoned Perl programmer even when I probably could come up with most (if not all) by myself given enough time. The book is a typical O'Reilly, an animal on the cover - one I did recognize this time - and uses RepKover, a must for any reference book in my opinion.

Another good reason to me for requesting this book is that I am working very hard to become a seasoned Python programmer as well. And while Python has support for regular expressions via the re module, which I have already used in several projects, the support provided by this module is a subset of what Perl supports out of the box, so for me it's good to see how to do things in Python.

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