Planet Ruby Books & Screencasts

Updated Saturday, 09 September 2017 07:30
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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Saturday, 19 August 2017
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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Friday, 18 August 2017
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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Thursday, 17 August 2017
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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Monday, 14 August 2017
Happy Processor!


Happy Processor!



Happy Processor!

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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Friday, 04 August 2017
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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Thursday, 03 August 2017
Kolmas Ruby kirja pian kaupoissa - ennakotilaukset...


Kolmas Ruby kirja pian kaupoissa - ennakotilaukset helloruby.com/fi



Kolmas Ruby kirja pian kaupoissa - ennakotilaukset helloruby.com/fi

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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Wednesday, 02 August 2017
Tulosta oma lukujärjestys (tai väritä oma versio!)...


Tulosta oma lukujärjestys (tai väritä oma versio!) osoitteessa helloruby.com/fi



Tulosta oma lukujärjestys (tai väritä oma versio!) osoitteessa helloruby.com/fi

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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Tuesday, 01 August 2017
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Rails Apps News ++ Daniel Kehoe ( Feed )
Wednesday, 05 July 2017
'Learn Ruby on Rails' Updated for Rails 5.1

I’ve completed the Rails 5.1 update for Book Two of my book series Learn Ruby on Rails.

It’s important to have an accurate and up-to-date tutorial for beginners getting started with Rails. I’ve updated all the code examples in the book for Rails 5.1.

The book show

I’ve completed the Rails 5.1 update for Book Two of my book series Learn Ruby on Rails.

It’s important to have an accurate and up-to-date tutorial for beginners getting started with Rails. I’ve updated all the code examples in the book for Rails 5.1.

The book shows how to integrate Bootstrap with Rails for layout and styling. Rails 5.1 drops jQuery which is required by Bootstrap so I’ve updated the book to show how to add a jQuery gem and modify the application.js manifest.

In previous editions of the book, I used the SimpleForm gem because I liked the elegance and simplicity of the form helpers in SimpleForm. It made forms a little easier for beginners. However the release of Rails 5.1 broke SimpleForm and it took a few weeks for a new release of SimpleForm to resolve the Rails 5.1 issues. I’ve decided to eliminate the dependency on SimpleForm, so the new edition of the book uses the new form_with helper.

The updates to the Learn Ruby on Rails book were made possible by contributors to my recent Kickstarter campaign for Rails Composer.

Successful Kickstarter

On June 5, 2017 we successfully concluded a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to update Rails Composer for Rails 5.1. 122 backers pledged $6,963. I’m always awed at the community support for the project. Thank you!

With support from the community, I will work on a new version of Ra

On June 5, 2017 we successfully concluded a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to update Rails Composer for Rails 5.1. 122 backers pledged $6,963. I’m always awed at the community support for the project. Thank you!

With support from the community, I will work on a new version of Rails Composer and update the RailsApps example applications for Rails 5.1.

Rails 5.1 requires extensive changes to the RailsApps example applications. All of the example applications use Bootstrap for layout and styling. Bootstrap requires jQuery but Rails 5.1 drops jQuery so we’ve got to add a jQuery gem and modify the application.js manifest to restore the jQuery dependency.

In Rails 5.1, the familiar form_for and form_tag helpers are replaced by a new consolidated form_with helper. The form_for and form_tag helpers will be deprecated in a future version of Rails so we have to take them out. Forms are ubiquitous in every web application. We’ll have to rework every form in every example application.

Before I tackle the updates to Rails Composer and the RailsApps example applications, I’ll update Book Two of my book series Learn Ruby on Rails. Beginners starting with Rails need an accurate and up-to-date tutorial to get started with Rails.

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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Thursday, 29 June 2017
Summe rvacation time in the North! BRB!


Summe rvacation time in the North! BRB!



Summe rvacation time in the North! BRB!

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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Friday, 23 June 2017
Happy midsummer!


Happy midsummer!



Happy midsummer!

Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous

We've just launched the Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous ebook!

At ten chapters and over 500 pages of content, Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous is the most ambitious Learn Enough tutorial yet.

As a special launch discount, for the next week you can get th

We've just launched the Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous ebook!

At ten chapters and over 500 pages of content, Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous is the most ambitious Learn Enough tutorial yet.

As a special launch discount, for the next week you can get the ebook for only $19 (regular price $24). Every purchase includes all three common ebook formats (PDF, EPUB, MOBI/Kindle).

Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous teaches not only Cascading Style Sheets, the design language of the World Wide Web, but also the often-neglected complementary subject of page layout.

No other front-end development tutorial puts everything together in quite the same way. By the end, you'll be able to design, build, and deploy a full, industrial-strength website.

It's the fastest route to having a marketable Web skill that we know of.

I'd like to add, on a personal note, that I learned a ton from coauthoring this tutorial with Learn Enough cofounder Lee Donahoe, who was the real brains behind the operation.

Believe me when I tell you that, whether you're a newbie or an experienced developer, you need to know the basics of CSS & Layout in the way only a real designer & front-end developer like Lee can teach it.

You don't have to take my word for it, either. One reader of an early draft wrote in to say:

I have only just finished reading the first four chapters, but I have to say that they are the best four chapters on CSS/Layout that I have ever read. Well done! Very much looking forward to reading the remaining chapters.

Another reader (a member of the Learn Enough Society) agreed:

This tutorial is brilliant, though. Can't wait to actually make my own proper website soon.

If you're already convinced, you can buy the ebook now for $19. But for those who like the nitty-gritty details, here's a chapter-by-chapter description of what you get:

In Chapter 1, you'll learn the basics of CSS declarations and values by starting with a few super-simple elements, with a particular focus on applying the DRY principle ("Don't Repeat Yourself"). In other words, you'll start by doing it right.

In Chapter 2, you'll learn CSS conventions that are important to get right at the beginning of a project, with a focus on managing complexity and maintaining flexibility by choosing good names for things. Most CSS tutorials ignore this essential aspect of good site design.

Chapter 3 introduces two of the most important kinds of CSS values: colors and sizes. These lay an essential foundation for Chapter 4 on the box model (which determines how different elements fit together on the page).

In Chapter 5 and Chapter 6, you'll take the page that you've been working on and factor it into a layout using a templating system called Jekyll, which lets you build professional-grade websites that are easy to maintain and update. This is the same static site builder used by the Obama '12 campaign to build the fundraising website that raised $250 million.

In Chapter 7, you'll learn how to make flexible page layouts using flexbox, adding layouts for a photo gallery page (to be filled in in Learn Enough JavaScript to Be Dangerous) and a blog with posts. This is cutting-edge stuff that I hadn't even heard of. (This is why you're glad Lee is the main author, not me.)

In Chapter 8, you’ll add the blog itself, thereby learning how to use Jekyll to make a professional-grade blog without black-box solutions like Wordpress or Tumblr. You'll have complete control over design and content, plus free hosting anywhere that can serve static HTML (like GitHub Pages).

Then, because a large and growing amount of web traffic comes from mobile devices, in Chapter 9 you'll learn the basics of using CSS and media queries to make mobile-friendly sites without violating the DRY principle.

Finally, in Chapter 10 you'll learn how to add the kinds of little details (like custom fonts and meta tags) that make a site feel complete. The result will be an industrial-strength, nicely styled site deployed to the live Web.

By the end, you'll have a complete grounding in the basics of front-end development.

If you're like me, you'll wonder how you ever did without it.

Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous is also a living document—we're always fixing little typos and bugs, and polishing things up here and there. When you buy the ebook, you get these updates for free (for life!) just by downloading the latest version.

We also offer a full 60-day money-back guarantee, no questions asked.

Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous has been a long time in the making, and I'm thrilled with the result.

It's the best all-in-one introduction to front-end development I know of.

I hope you enjoy it!

Cheers,

Michael

P.S. Remember, buy the Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous ebook in the next week and get it for only $19 (full price $24).

Discuss this post on Hacker News

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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Thursday, 11 May 2017
China’s largest design award goes to Hello Ruby founder Linda Liukas
China’s largest design award goes to Hello Ruby founder Linda Liukas
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Rails Apps News ++ Daniel Kehoe ( Feed )
Tuesday, 02 May 2017
Kickstarter for Rails Composer

At the end of April I was invited to speak about Rails Composer at the RubyHACK conference in Salt Lake City. Half the audience already knew about Rails Composer and everyone was very enthusiastic. Judging from the response, Rails Composer has become a popular tool for Rails developers.

Af

At the end of April I was invited to speak about Rails Composer at the RubyHACK conference in Salt Lake City. Half the audience already knew about Rails Composer and everyone was very enthusiastic. Judging from the response, Rails Composer has become a popular tool for Rails developers.

After the conference, RubyHACK participant Ian Mercaldi wrote a great blog post on “Starting New Apps With Rails Composer”.

The Kickstarter Campaign

Rails 5.1 is out and I’d like to update Rails Composer to include JavaScript frameworks:

  • React
  • Angular
  • Vue.js

I’d like to ask you to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign to update Rails Composer for Rails 5.1 and add options for JavaScript frameworks. In 2015 I was able to raise $8,505 through a Kickstarter campaign to add Bootstrap templates to Rails Composer. I’m hoping to raise half that amount with the current Kickstarter campaign. If you contribute, there are great rewards such as the Capstone Rails Tutorials and subscriptions to Chris Oliver’s GoRails screencasts and Michael Hartl’s Learn Enough Society.

The community of Rails developers keeps Rails Composer going with its enthusiasm. It’d be great if you can help with a contribution to the Kickstarter campaign.

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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Sunday, 23 April 2017
When will the book be available in German?
Good news - the book is now available in German :) You can order one here and visit the website...
Good news - the book is now available in German :) You can order one here and visit the website...
Are there key answers for the activity in the book?
Hi, Yes! You can find suggested answers at www.helloruby.com/answers
Hi, Yes! You can find suggested answers at http://www.helloruby.com/answers
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Rails Test Prescriptions ++ Noel Rappin ( Feed )
Wednesday, 01 March 2017
Books I Liked In 2016 Part Two

Here’s part two of my 2016 “Books I Liked List”. This is the list of books I really, really liked, for the list of books I just liked one “really” worth, head here. All the book titles like to the Kindle edition of the book, so enjoy.

All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

I

Here’s part two of my 2016 “Books I Liked List”. This is the list of books I really, really liked, for the list of books I just liked one “really” worth, head here. All the book titles like to the Kindle edition of the book, so enjoy.

All The Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

I really did like this book quite a bit, though not as much as other people: you’ll find several online lists that have it as the best or one of the two or three best books of the year. (It was also one of three books on both these lists to be nominated for a Nebula Award for best Novel.) (Though now that I think about it, we’ve also got a Novella nominee in here.)

The book features two characters, he’s basically a mad scientist, she’s basically a magician. They meet in middle school, bonding over separate childhoods that are Roald Dahl levels of bad, and come back into each other’s lives as adults trying to prevent the end of the world. So, it’s throwing all kinds of different tropes together and seeing what works. Most of it works, the book is very clever. I think my quibbles were with the first part of the book — the childhoods are really grim. Overall, though, I really liked it.

Barsk: The Elephants' Graveyard by Lawrence M. Schoen

I already wrote a review this one and I don’t know that I can improve on it:

Every year, it seems, there’s one book I read that stands out for the sheer audacity and weirdness of its premise. I usually call that my “if you only read one” book, as in “if you only read one book about anthropomorphic sentient elephants who can talk to the dead and are part of a space empire of other anthropomorphic species, make it Barsk.”

You probably are either all-in or totally out based on that description. (We do eventually learn how all the talking animals came to be, if that helps. Or hurts). The elephants, who have been exiled to a single planet, are the sole creators of the drug that lets some people speak to the dead. The rest of the alliance has basically had enough and are willing to go to great lengths to recover the drug. In addition to being totally bonkers, the book is really clever, the characters are memorable, and the ending lands. So pretty much everything I look for in a book.

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

Wow, did I love this book, which is book two in a trilogy of what seem to be loosely connected novels in the same world. The series takes place in a fantasy world where the old gods have been killed, and the empire they supported overrun by the people it formerly ruled. In this book, a general of the new rulers heads to the former stronghold of the god of war, now a source for a very precious metal. The question becomes whether the old god of war is as dead as promised. Or if the god is poised to, you know, destroy the world.

The book winds up being a mystery, a thriller, a very cool fantasy setting, and eventually resolves to a philosophical debate about the nature of soldiers, as the general comes to terms with her past actions. This one is really special.

A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers

This is a sequel to A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, a book I liked but found a little slight. In this one, Lovelace, the AI that escaped at the end of the first book goes off to live her life, by highly illegally being dowloaded into a physical body. She’s helped by Pepper, an engineer who is paying forward for the way in which an AI saved her life and helped her escape from a terrifying situation.

The book is surprisingly warm, it’s about being human, but not in the kind of flashy way that a lot of SF treats AI, but in a quieter way, with friendships and tea, and worries about the memory capacity of a physical brain. Pepper’s quest to recover the AI that saved her resolves in a tremendously satisfying and kind of sweet way. I read this book at a time when a book about people simply being kind to each other despite differences felt particularly important, and it was just a super helpful world to escape into.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire is terrifyingly prolific. In the last eighteen months, unless I’m miscounting, she has published books in 7 different series (Toby Day, InCrypted, Velveteen, Feed, Parasitology, Indexed, Wayward Children), plus a standalone or two. This one could be the best. The only reason I’m okay with the fact that she and John Rogers aren’t collaborating on making this a TV series right this moment is that Rogers is busy working on the far-flung Patrick Rothfuss empire.

This book takes place at a… retreat for children that have gone off and have portal fantasy adventures (think Narnia), and have escaped, left, or otherwise been rejected by their fantasy world. Each child has gone to different world, and there is kind of a taxonomy of fantasy worlds that’s pretty great. The plot itself is a murder mystery, and it’s perfectly good, but the setting, the variety of the cast of characters, the sheer joy with which McGuire showers us with incidental details about fantasy worlds, those are the real star.

Four Roads Cross by Max Gladstone

Okay, look, I rave about this series pretty much at a drop of a hat. This is because the books are great and I enjoy them tremendously. They was also engineered in a lab to appeal to me. (Industrial or post-industrial tech with magic, theology with gods that interact with people, unusual magic system treated in-world like science, somewhat satirical tone… since you asked. You didn’t ask).

This book is a direct sequel to Three Parts Dead, and incidentally catches up on the characters from Last First Snow and Two Roads Cross. (I think there’s a slight reference to the characters in Full Fathom Five . In this world, magic, law, and finance are all intertwined, and the events at the end of Three Parts Dead have left the god Kos Everlasting in a vulnerable position. Concerns over whether Kos will actually meet his godly/legal obligations lead to the possibility of the what is in essence a credit run, “bankrupting” Kos, who is decidedly too big to fail — reference to Lehman Brothers and that ilk decidedly intentional. Tara, who we last saw saving Kos in Three Parts Dead has to do so again.

If the description above makes the book sound like vegetables, it’s not. It’s funny and clever, and the characters are interesting — Gladstone’s ability to throw in amazing details that are just background is nearly Pratchett-esq. I don’t want to spoil it, but at one point in the book Gladstone has this amazing offhand reference about zombies, which is something I’ve never seen but is cool and perfect for this world. About ten pages later, he follows that up with something equally neat about vampires.

I love these books. As part of the shift to Gladstone being published by Tor.com, all of them are available digitally for $2.99, and there’s a five book e-omnibus coming out soon. You should totally read this.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois McMaster Bujold

Okay, this is the umpteenth book in Bujold’s Vokosigan saga, the main span of which covers some 40 years in the lives of her main characters. As much as I love this book, it is decidedly not a great place to start the series, there’s just too much implied backstory. Start with The Warrior’s Apprentice or maybe Shards of Honor, or maybe Brothers In Arms.

This book takes place a short time after the death of Count Aral Vorkosigan, which was basically an epilogue in the most recent book in the series chronologically (which is not the most recent book published, but if I start explaining every little bit we will be here all day). Cordelia, the Countess Vorkosigan, is grieving, surviving, trying to wonder what to do with the rest of her life (she’s about 70 with a 120 year expected life span). It turns out, in a reveal that is part-retcon, part something that the author had discussed widely outside the books, that she and her husband had actually be part of a somewhat secret poly relationship with a shared partner, the title character, Admiral Oliver Jole. (It’s kind of fun to read various synopsis of the book try to delicately walk around the exact nature of the relationship).

And… Jole and Cordelia discover that they still have feelings for each other even without Aral. And that’s the story. I like this book, I love these characters and would happily read them just having pleasant chats about their lives. Which is good because that’s basically what we get here. There’s very little external plot, but its all charming and witty and charismatic as all hell.

Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

It’s World War One, and it turns out the the turn of the century spiritualists were right. Even more so, the British Army has been able to militarize spiritualism by binding soldiers to have their ghosts report back to trained mediums after death. This proves to be an important source of military intelligence, and therefore becomes a target of the German army.

We seem to be setting up our main characters as a young couple. Ginger, a medium in the spirit corps, and Benjamin, an officer with British intelligence. Very quickly however (maybe this is a spoiler, it happens really early), Benjamin is mysteriously killed. His ghost has no information, but it’s all very suspicious, and Ginger ends up trying to fulfill his mission, solve his murder, and protect the Spirit Corps.

Kowal is very good at this, she’s a very precise sentence-by-sentence writer and plotter, and she’s also very good at writing couples who actually seem to love and respect each other. In this particular case, this skill makes Benjamin and Ginger’s interactions somewhat bittersweet, what with him being dead and a ghost and all. It’s all very well done and satisfying

Necessity by Jo Walton

This series was last years winner of the “If you only read one” award, and honestly if it wasn’t for Barsk it’d still be a strong contender, what with the Greek Gods, alien planets, time travel, AI robots, all bouncing around the same story. At the end of Book Two, Zeus had moved Athene and Apollo’s experiment in good civic management to another planet. As the book opens, they are about to receive their first visiting spaceship from Earth (they’ve already made contact with a couple of alien races), which might lead to some awkward conversation about how the ancient Greeks wound up on another planet.

So this is not a little bit bonkers, in the best way, and Walton’s characters continue to argue about philosophical points of justice and goodness. Once again, we get to see Sokrates debate with robots. It’s pretty great, and a satisfying end to the series. I have no idea what muse made Walton want to write about this combination of things, but I’m glad it did.

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

The middle book of the trilogy that started with The Fifth Season, and which feels like it’s not just good, but historically good. As in, potential to be a cornerstone work that gets read and referenced for decades. The series concerns a planet where extinction-level geological events happen regularly, and people need to survive anyway. Essun, our main character, is an orogene, meaning she has the ability to both cause and prevent earthquakes. In The Fifth Season, we learn how orogenes are both vital and despised. The book is about oppression and fear, and, I guess, survival in the face of both of them.

Without giving too much away, The Obelisk Gate trades the three separate plot threads over time for a somewhat more conventional three character threads at mostly the same time. It’s still beautifully written, and contains the quote “No voting on who gets to be people”, which I cite in my head at least once a week these days. It’s a little middle bookish, and I’m not completely sure I understand how all the supernatural forces are coming together here. It’s still fantastic, and I can’t wait for the final book.

Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer

Some of the books on this list I think have very wide appeal. I think nearly everybody reading this will like Every Heart a Doorway or A Close and Common Orbit. Others, while I enjoy them very much, I suspect are probably a bit more narrow.

Which brings us to Too Like The Lightning, which is a dense SF novel that does not wait around for the reader to catch up with what’s going on. Its a deliberate attempt to have a world 400 years in the future that is as disconcerting and strange to us as we would be to somebody from the 1600s. (Most SF futures cheat for good reasons, and persist ideas that the reader is likely to be comfortable with to keep the story moving along).

A summary of the word building and plot defies my ability to summarize, and possibly my memory, no idea what I’m going to do when the second book comes out. Our main character, we come to learn, is a notorious criminal, sentenced to wander the world serving others more or less anonymously. We eventually come to understand that he’s become part of one or more plots to control what passes for the world government, while also hiding a boy whose seemingly supernatural abilities might make the whole society moot anyway.

I’m not even scratching the surface. We have transcontinental driverless cars. A culture that responds to every death by trying to eradicate the cause. Some elaborate and baroque governmental structures. A different view of gender. A strain of classical thought winding through all of it. It’s also structurally inventive going back and forth through characters viewpoints and different kinds of storytelling — this was definitely a book where I regretted the limitations of Kindle formatting.

There’s a lot of book here. I found it fascinating and unique and it compelled me to try and figure out what the hell was up. You should try it if this was at all compelling.

Underground Airlines by Ben H. Winters

To stroll past the elephant in the room. Underground Airlines came out at almost the same time as The Underground Railroad, and they are both genre books about slavery. Ben Winters, who wrote Underground Airlines, is white, Colson Whitehead, author of The Underground Railroad, is black. This got more awkward when an article about Winters made it sound like Winters was the first person to ever use SF to write about slavery, a ridiculous statement that Winters couldn’t back away from fast enough. Anyway, I feel a little bad about liking this book more than Whitehead’s, but this book is much more of a plot-based thriller, and I tend to like those. You should still read them both.

Underground Airlines is an alternate history, still taking place in 2016. We eventually learn that Lincoln was killed en route to Washington in 1861, and a pre-existing compromise proposal was hastily passed to avoid chaos. As a result, no Civil War, but slavery was protected from the federal government in those states that already have it. By 2016, four of those states persist in being slave states, though the preferred term is PBL — persons bound by law.

Our main character, Victor, is an escaped slave who is being blackmailed by the US Marshall service to help them to recover other escaped slaves. He’s, as you might imagine, somewhat conflicted by the work. On the trail of one of his quarries, he discovers a larger conspiracy that will affect the future of the US and of slavery. (A very disturbing larger conspiracy, as it turns out…)

What Winters does really well in this book is imagine how horrifying slavery would be when joined to the modern day surveillance state. When we finally do get a glimpse of what slave life is like, it’s chilling. He also touches on what the US might be like if it had to adapt to actual slave states alongside modern liberal democracy. Like Whitehead, he does not skimp on the idea that slavery requires a lot of violence to sustain it. In general, none of the other 46 states purchase goods from the four slave states, for example. And then there will be a throwaway reference to whether PBLs can play pro football. It all manages to echo both Civil War-era slavery and modern-day police and racial tension in way that’s very effective.

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Rails Test Prescriptions ++ Noel Rappin ( Feed )
Tuesday, 07 February 2017
Books I Liked in 2016, Part 1.
Books 2016: Part One

This is part one of my “books that made me happy in 2016”. As usual, we’re doing this in two parts. This one is the books I liked, the next post is the books I really liked.

I had a hard time separating the list this year, there were a lot of likable books, so there ar

Books 2016: Part One

This is part one of my “books that made me happy in 2016”. As usual, we’re doing this in two parts. This one is the books I liked, the next post is the books I really liked.

I had a hard time separating the list this year, there were a lot of likable books, so there are kind of a lot here. In alphabetical order by title.

Act Like It by Lucy Parker

I went back and forth about whether to include this in the list, it’s a little “one of these things is not like the others”, but ultimately I decided I did really like it and who cares. Anyway, this is a straight out romance novel, a romantic comedy basically, featuring a cranky London West End leading man and his much nicer co-star. They are asked to pretend to be dating to prevent tabloid gossip. And well, you know where it’s going from there. It’s not surprising, but it is charming and funny.

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

Binti won the Hugo and Nebula for best Novella. It’s an extremely well done story about a young girl, the first of the Himba people to study at the galaxy’s premiere university. On the trip there, she’s immediately placed in a unique and horrific situation, which she solves with the help of her wits and her indistinguishable-from-magic technology (not a dig, the far-futuristic tech of the story is a strength). It’s elevated because of Okorafor’s very well-observed description of Binti, and how she struggles with being of her home even when she is not at her home. It’s a wonderful story, and I’m sure we’ll be talking about the sequel here next year.

Borderline by Mishell Baker

Book one in a series called “The Arcadia Project”, Arcadia being the land of the Fae. This is a portal fantasy, where the magical creatures from the other side have soulmates on our side. When they meet, the human gains tremendous creativity, and the, for lack of a better word, fairy, also becomes more powerful and more individually willful.

Our main character, Millie, has Borderline Personality Disorder, and recently lost a leg in a suicide attempt. She’s recruited to the group that manages Arcadians on our world, and naturally immediately gets tangled in a complex and dangerous plot.

Baker does a really great job of explaining Millie’s actions; her BPD often causes her to make seemingly irrational decisions, and and Baker explains why that happens in a way that keeps Millie sympathetic. The magic and portal setup is interesting, and even the soulmate part leads to some interesting character work.

Brute Force by K. B. Spangler

Book four in the Rachel Peng series, mentioned here multiple times in the past. The series concerns a group of people who have been implanted with chips allowing them tremendous mental control over electricity and electronics. This one is a kidnapping case, prominently featuring some extreme anti-government militia groups. It doesn’t have all the intrigue of the others, but it is still a tense, well-told story.

The Dark Forest/Death’s End by Cixin Liu

The final two books of the trilogy originally written in Chinese that started with The Three Body Problem, also recently recommended by no less a personage that Barack Obama. The first book ended with the knowledge that Earth was 400 years away from being invaded by an advanced alien fleet, and that those aliens had been using faster-than-light particles to sabotage advanced physics research. The Dark Forest is largely about solving that problem, focusing on a small group of people called “Wallfacers” who are tasked with creating defenses against the fleet. Death’s End is sort of hard to characterize, but it’s basically what happens next until the heat death of the universe.

In many ways, these books are like the greatest Golden Age SF novels ever written. The physics speculation, and the ideas about how truly advanced star-faring cultures would defend themselves are mind-bending. It also has characters. I think. None of them spring to mind at the moment. Anyway, if you like really neat speculation on the makeup of the universe, and are inclined to cut a little slack on characterization, these books are well worth your time.

The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells

This is the first in a two-book series that Wells says will be her last novels about the Raksura, which the book blurb describes as “shape-shifting creatures of flight that live in large family groups”, and I’m not even going to try to improve on that. Except maybe to mention the claws.

I love this world. It’s huge and ancient and strange and filled will all kinds of amazing and unique creatures, starting with the Raksura themselves. On top of that, the characters that we’ve been following for four books and a bunch of short stories are great. This book is only half the story, it ends in mid-stream.

A Gathering Of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Book two in Schwab’s “Shades of Magic” series, which is kind of the fantasy equivalent of Stross’ Merchant Prince series, in that it involves people who can walk between several different earths. This book spends a lot of time in “Red London” the Earth that has the healthiest relationship with magic, and at least for most of the time is about a competition to determine the best magical practitioner in the world. Red London is, I think, the best creation of the series, so I’m glad the book mostly takes place there. I don’t enjoy the actual plot of the series quite as much, but I’m still looking forward to book three and whatever Schwab decides to do next.

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn

I like superheroes in novels, which is probably a weird thing to like. Anyway, this is a very light, very fun superhero story. This is a world with very few superheroes, and what is generally a specific job they do—fighting against magical demon breaches, rather than punching out random muggers. Our main character, Evie Tanaka, is the personal assistant and childhood friend of San Francisco’s main superhero. Except of course, she has powers that she can’t quite control. And there are plots and betrayal afoot. And a kind of charming romantic plot. This pretty much defines “It’s light but cute. But light. But cute.”

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

Okay, there’s a magical library that stands between all the alternate universes and collects variant books and fiction from them. Our heroine is one of the librarians, and she has an assistant who turns out to be — well, I won’t spoil it, but it’s got some fantasy resonance. We head to a kind of a steampunk alternate world with magic, and a Sherlock Holmes pastiche, and honestly this book seems like it was designed in a lab to appeal to a particular personality type. Since I significantly overlap with that type, I certainly get the appeal.

Lois Lane: Double Down by Gwenda Bond

This series remains a lot of fun. It’s a little bit too bad that the off-stage “Smallville Guy” that Lois continues to correspond with is way more interesting than Lois’ actual on-stage friends. But Bond has a great grasp on Lois as a character, and the bit at the end where Smallville Guy pledges to be the kind of hero Lois deserves feels like the best kind of Lois/Clark dynamic (If I’m remembering correctly, this book also hints that Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor exist in it’s world…) I read a few media tie-in books that I liked this year. This one was the best.

The Liberation by Ian Tregellis

This is book three of the Alchemy Wars trilogy, which we discussed last year. It’s an alternate-history fantasy where the Dutch took over the world with the help of alchemically powered and controlled robots, called Clakkers. At the end of book 2, many Clakkers were freed from their compulsions to serve, which much chaos promised.

The Liberation delivers the chaos. And a pretty satisfying conclusion to the trilogy (though I do wonder what happens to the rest of the world that isn’t Amsterdam). I’ve really enjoyed Tregellis’ last couple of books after being kind of lukewarm on an earlier series. His books have been all over and I’m looking forward to where he goes next.

Luna: New Moon, by Ian McDonald

This one gets glibly described as “Game of Thrones in Space”. Which is a) glib, and b) a perfectly awesome thing to be, and hey, if somebody was going to write Game of Thrones in space (and somebody was, of course, going to), Ian McDonald is a good choice.

The book is actually more a modern Moon Is A Harsh Mistress with more modern takes on both technology and libertarianism. The moon cultures are interesting and based on a variety of underlying earth cultures, the politics are generally clear enough to follow (though there are a lot of names). Like a lot of intrigue and conflict stories, you don’t really root for any of the characters, but there are definitely some you’ll root against. I’m waiting for the second (and final) book here and hoping that it sticks the landing.

The Nightmare Stacks by Charlie Stross

It’s book seven of “The Laundry Files” series, which is a series where computation is demonic magic, or possibly vice versa. And at long last, this book moves from being a secret history to being an alternate history, as the Lovecraftian horrors that our heroes have been fighting have done something that is too public to cover up. (It’s not Stross’ fault that what probably seemed like a dystopia nightmare when he plotted it is now starting to seem kind of like escapism…) Anyway, Stross has been working on expanding this world for some time, and it all pays off here, as things go gloriously wrong and set up the long-awaited endgame for the series. CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, which has been teased since the beginning of the series as the end of the world, finally comes out to play.

Penric’s Demon, Penric and the Shaman, and Penric’s Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold

These three novellas all take place in Bujold’s Chalion universe, one of my favorite fantasy settings. The Chalion novels have a unique and interesting set of gods and demons. These stories start with Penric somewhat accidentally becoming possessed with a demon, which is somewhat more benign in Chalion than you are probably expecting. The demon has been moving from person to person for lifetimes, and has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience, and a personality that is somewhat strong willed. These stories are charming and have likable characters solving interesting problems.

Stiletto by Daniel O'Malley

Sequel to The Rook, a book I really, loved. This is kind of a sideways sequel, in that it spins out of the direct end of The Rook, but follows a largely different class of characters. The Rook was a) a debut novel, b) with a very unique tone that c) threatened to, but never quite went off the rails. As a result, I was a little nervous about this book, especially since it has taken some time to come out.

I shouldn’t have worried, this one keeps both the silliness and the seriousness of the original. It might not be quite as pitch-perfect, or quite as focused, but it’s still pretty great, and I still like its unique magic and science mix.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Oprah Book Club book and National Book Award winner, so obviously a lot of people liked it even more than I did. As you’ve probably heard, the main conceit of this book is that the Underground Railroad is a real thing, with tracks and engines and stations and everything, and the story is about Cora, who runs out of slavery, and uses the Railroad to travel the country.

The writing is never less than brilliant, and Whitehead does a very powerful job of underscoring that slavery necessitates a huge amount of violence and compliance across an entire society to be viable. The book’s descriptions are often matter-of-fact descriptions of horrific things, where the style underscores how awful the society is.

There’s another bit of genre in the book, in that all of Cora’s various stops are not just fictional, but ahistorical — built from real events, but not from that time or place. For example, there was medical experimentation, but not in South Carolina when Cora goes through it. In other words, the various environments Cora goes through are extremely stylized representations of history. I’m not criticizing — they are interesting, but it does give the book a weird feel of being on the edge of being magic realism without ever quite being magic realism.

It’s a really interesting book, with at least one outstanding moment toward the end.

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Rails Tutorial News ++ Michael Hartl ( Feed )
Wednesday, 01 February 2017
Learn Enough Dev Environment to Be Dangerous

We've just released Learn Enough Dev Environment to Be Dangerous, a free tutorial on setting up a proper environment for doing software development.

In addition to being available online, the ebook downloads are free as well.

For those who prefer the convenience of direct delivery

We've just released Learn Enough Dev Environment to Be Dangerous, a free tutorial on setting up a proper environment for doing software development.

In addition to being available online, the ebook downloads are free as well.

For those who prefer the convenience of direct delivery to their Kindle, we've made the tutorial available for Amazon's minimum $0.99 purchase price here.

At around 20 pages, Learn Enough Dev Environment is short and sweet—a great complement to the other Learn Enough tutorials, the Ruby on Rails Tutorial, and the Learn Enough Society.

While Learn Enough Dev Environment to Be Dangerous covers easier setup options like cloud IDEs and virtual machines, I especially recommend it for macOS and Linux users who are ready for the more challenging task of configuring their native environments.

Learn Enough Dev Environment to Be Dangerous is a living document, and we plan to keep it up-to-date as development environments evolve. Please feel free to pass it around as a resource to any of your friends or colleagues who want to get started learning about software development.

Finally, suggestions are welcome, so please let us know if you have any favorite dev environment tricks you'd like to see included!

P.S. For reference, here are the Learn Enough Dev Environment to Be Dangerous links again: online, free downloads, Amazon purchase. Enjoy!

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Rails Tutorial News ++ Michael Hartl ( Feed )
Thursday, 19 January 2017
Learn Enough HTML on Amazon.com

In preparation for the upcoming release of Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous, which is going to be awesome, I've just published Learn Enough HTML to Be Dangerous on Amazon.com.

As with previous Amazon releases, for the first week you can get the Kindle edition of Learn Enough H

In preparation for the upcoming release of Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous, which is going to be awesome, I've just published Learn Enough HTML to Be Dangerous on Amazon.com.

As with previous Amazon releases, for the first week you can get the Kindle edition of Learn Enough HTML to Be Dangerous for 20% off.

With its sequel Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous due out within a few weeks, now is the perfect time to brush up on your HTML, including full integration with Git and GitHub Pages.

If you've already read the online version of the HTML tutorial, it would be much-appreciated if you could leave a review at Amazon. Thanks!

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Rails Tutorial News ++ Michael Hartl ( Feed )
Thursday, 05 January 2017
Learn Enough Git on Amazon.com

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here at Learn Enough, we're hard at work on the next two titles in our nine-part intro sequence: Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous and Learn Enough JavaScript to Be Dangerous.

read more

Happy New Year, everyone!

Here at Learn Enough, we're hard at work on the next two titles in our nine-part intro sequence: Learn Enough CSS & Layout to Be Dangerous and Learn Enough JavaScript to Be Dangerous.

read more
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Hello Ruby ++ Linda Liukas ( Feed )
Monday, 19 December 2016

pluto.models/1.4.0, feed.parser/1.0.0, feed.filter/1.1.1 - Ruby/2.0.0 (2014-11-13/x86_64-linux) on Rails/4.2.0 (production)