March 24, 2017

Preview of CMS Made Simple 1.6 – Beginners Guide

I’ve just received the book, CMS Made Simple 1.6 – Beginners Guide and will be doing a full review of it soon. In the meantime I just wanted to give a brief overview of the book, of which I have high expectations. I’ve been using CMS Made Simple to make web sites for over 4 years. It is very competent CMS but there has been a real lack of documentation. Even the CMS Made Simple website lacks complete documentation so I was very happy to hear that a beginner’s guide had recently been published.

The book takes a “case study” approach which is actually a very good way to present the information you would need to build a site using CMS Made Simple. I’ve only skimmed through the book but have already gained a fairly good appreciation for the approach the author takes.

Stay tuned for my complete review that will be forthcoming.

You may also visit the Packt Publishing website to see more of this book including a sample chapter.


Review of WordPress Bible by Aaron Brazell

WordPress Bible
Attempting to write a book about WordPress must be a daunting task since the WordPress development team tirelessly keeps moving the platform forward and is always adding powerful new features. Write a book today and parts of it will be out of date within a few months. That’s why if you’re going to write a book on WordPress, it might be a good idea to include as your Technical Editor someone who is actually a lead developer with the WordPress project. Wisely, Aaron Brazell did just that in choosing Mark Jaquith as the Technical Editor for the WordPress Bible which lends amazing credibility to the pages in this book.

I have been working with WordPress for a number of years and have produced over 2-dozen client websites using WP. My learning curve included spending lots of time in the WP forums (least productive), reading the WP Codex (more productive) and just getting my hands dirty by experimenting and building (most productive). I’ve been patiently waiting for the day that a book would be written for WordPress developers that goes way beyond the “Idiot” books out there. I wanted a book that was easy to understand but got into the deep stuff instead of just the superficial topics that most of the available books cover. My day has arrived because WordPress Bible is the book I’ve been waiting for.

The author, Aaron Brazell, has an excellent writing style that does not require you to have a degree in computer sciences to understand. This book will take a beginner and lead him through advanced topics with ease. However an advanced developer will also be enlightened and surprised by the depth of material covered and the breadth of topics included in this volume.

The book is organized by Parts and Chapters. Each “Part” contains chapters of related material. As an example, Part 2 is about Working with Plugins and contains chapters dealing with Extending WordPress with Plugins, Widgetizing WordPress, Understanding the WordPress Database Class and Dissecting the Loop and WP_Query.

WordPress Hooks are perhaps the single most important reason that WordPress is so extendable. The author goes into great detail about hooks and includes a reference to WordPress hooks in the appendix.

Computer books can frequently be written by knowledgeable people who are simply unable to convey their expertise on a subject in understandable terms. Aaron Brazell is an knowledgeable person who writes very well and does not suffer that weakness. The WordPress Bible is a joy to read and after having done so, you will have a deep understanding of everything WordPress.

I have many dozens of computer books on my shelves most of which have been agonizing to read. This book is one that is at the top of the pile both in readability but also in the value of information contained. If you work with WordPress, you won’t regret buying this book. It’s an amazingly complete resource.

The WordPress Bible is available from Amazon.

Sylvania Light Flute – LED task light

Sylvania light fluteOsram Sylvania Products Inc 72261 Led Light Flute – SilverWhile strolling the aisles of BJ’s the other day, I discovered this great LED task light called the Light Flute. It’s made by Sylvania and it is just one of the coolest LED lights I”ve seen. What makes it so great is its overall design and functionality.

The case of the light is made of anodized aluminum which is light and strong. It feels very sturdy and the end-cap unscrews to reveal the 3-AAA batteries that power 4-white LED lights. The innovative mounting base allows for several different mounting options… magnetic, adhesive and screw mounting.

The slender light is 8.5″ long and about the diameter of your little finger. It can be mounted just about anywhere and is great for mounting under your desk when trying to re-route cables. It could also be used as emergency lighting, as an under-counter light, closet lighting… the list could go on and on.

The Light Flutes were sold as packs of 2 for about $17 at BJ’s and are also available from Amazon.com.

I haven’t had them long enough to comment on how long the batteries will last, but LED lights are generally pretty efficient so I would expect a minimum of 10-12 hours of continuous light and perhaps much more. I’ll update this post once I have a better idea of battery life.