What I thought of “Instant Android Fragmentation Management How-to”

I was recently contacted by the marketing team from Packt Publishing and asked if I could write a review for one of their new ebooks, so here it is!

This book gives a brief yet comprehensive overview of some of the processes you can follow to improve your applications chance of working on the varying versions of android that are currently in existence.

Having developed apps that work perfectly fine on my Galaxy S2 2.3.3, only to find they don’t work on a hardware identical S2 with 4.0, I certainly feel the pain of OS fragmentation!

The book discusses some of the approaches you can take using the android compatibility library, fragments, loaders and action bars that enable you to write against the latest APIs but still have a good chance of having your app work on previous versions.

Things I liked about this book

  • A short and focused read, I got through it in around an hour.
  • Lots of code examples and references to external reading material.
  • The reference to ActionBarSherlock I felt was very much needed, as always if there are open source alternatives that work better, we should adopt them rather than struggle!

Things I didn’t like

  • I did feel that having some more screenshots would have helped emphasised the topic in discussion, whilst there were some screenshots throughout I did constantly find myself thinking “what should this actually look like?”
  • The chapters could have done with a more expanded overview, particularly the loaders section as it jumped right into creating one before explaining what it is, and how it differs from other non-UI asynchronous mechanisms like async tasks.

All in all I rate this as 4/5. The ebook is very reasonably priced and for the price of a few beers it’d certainly worth it, even for the discussions on ActionBarSherlock and Fragments. If your struggling to support multiple android versions, this book is a good starting point for you.

The Dark Tower 3 : Wastelands

I’ve just finished reading the third instalment in Steven King’ masterpiece fantasy series, and I must conclude each instalment in the series just gets better and better.

If you don’t want to know about the plot, then don’t read this part. The book picks up a few weeks after the previous, with the trio making their way from the beach inland.

They soon discover that there are multiple doors in Roland’s’ land, all interconnected via a “beam”, when they encounter a new door they realise they must travel along this path, and where the paths all meet, lies the dark tower.

There are several good mini-plots along the way, but I don’t want to repeat those.

I must say, an absolutely fabulous book, quite a big read with around 600 pages, but I didn’t even notice them fly by. Really looking forward to the next chapter even if it is over 800 pages.

Monster Island; a zombie novel

I’ve got a habit of deciding which books to purchase by how good the covers are, or by entrusting what is written on the back of the book, this time I followed this tradition.

I’ve been a fan of traditional zombie stories for some time now, and by traditional I mean “proper” zombies, slow dumb ones, not these fast running zombies of recent films.

I was rather sceptical about another one of those mediocre post-apocalyptic America stories, but this one had a good twist, a zombie with a concious mind.

I have to agree with some of the theories passed in this book, the major one being that nations with a history of violence such as some of the African nations would be the best survivors in a global zombie invasion, due to firearms being commonplace in the society. Obviously, this is not a statement to say that Africans spend all their time shooting each other, its merely a viable suggestion that nations with large stockpiles of firearms would do better than those without, such as the British.

Another interesting theory is the notion of a concious zombie, ie one that is able to think and react, and to also communicate. It is said that the time between when a human dies from a zombie bite, to the time they wake reanimated as a zombie, there is no breathing done, meaning the brain becomes almost completely dead. However this novel introduces a character that is able to connect himself to a ventilator after being bitten and is fed oxygen through the transformation, thus retaining his conciousness.

Not wanting to go into the depth of the story too much, as that is the whole point of reading yourself, this is a brief overview of what happens.

A group of Somalian fighters, along with a UN weapons inspector travel to New York City in the hope of finding drugs for the ill warlord back home. They come across this Doctor Zombie and end up shooting him in the head. He regenerates, called by his master and builds a huge zombie temple in the middle of central park by calling on the hundreds of thousands of NYC zombies telepathically. The good guys battle with him and the story concludes, I don’t want to give away the ending.

Anyway, this is my first review so I hope you have enjoyed it, and feel free to let me know what you have thought of the book!

The sequel and prequel sound very enticing