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Theo Moore Questions... Morphology? Longevity? Incept dates?

I’ve been a professional developer/automated test software engineer for 10 years, and I’ve always seemed to move from discipline to discipline. First VB6, then .Net, now Java. Over the years, I’ve read a ton of books.

I was recently offered the chance to review Safari Books Online and I jumped at the chance. I love tech books. I always have several I am reading at any given time (don’t we all?), and I often pick up books on topics for which I don’t even currently have any particular use (I like to stay “in touch”). Needless to say, I end up with a quite a bookshelf of books in a fully, half-read, or not really needed state all of the time.

To be honest, I’ve used Safari books before. A previous employer provided us with a license for Safari. I was a traveling consultant at the time and I found that my access to Safari was priceless. Imagine having (more or less) instant access to a HUGE library of the best in the technical book world. Sometimes, the client would mention something we might want to be working on (Ruby even came up once even though it was a .Net shop). I could go back to my room that night and great resources were right at my fingertips. I could (and did) often educate myself on the topic at hand literally overnight so I could provide the best service to my client and represent my employer well.

Prior to this review, I’d always used the web-based PC interface, and it works quite well. I especially liked the bookshelf feature, which would keep the books I was currently reading in a convenient location. I also appreciated the note feature, which would allow me to make notes at specific places in the book and refer to them later. When I found a code example or explanation that was particularly useful, I could make note of it for later. Very handy.

I got to use the mobile interface for this review, too, I love it. I am using an iPhone 3G and I simply love the immediate access to the books. I expected the interface to be slow, perhaps hard to read, etc….all the things you’d expect in a small screen interface. I was wrong. With the iPhone at least, the interface is clean and slick. I can get at the same notes, favourites, etc., that I get in the web. Very handy for those notes I mentioned before. I can read my books on the train, in the car, etc.

My only complaint is with the mobile version if the Bookbag app for the iPhone. It simply didn’t work for me. I tried removing/reinstall, rebooting (both warm and cold), but it just wouldn’t work (I enter my credentials but the app shuts itself down without ever logging in. I was hoping that it would provide even more features than the browser-based, but honestly, the browser-based works wonderfully. The only thing I really wanted to see was how the Bookbag app actually stores the books on the phone and how it works when the connection is poor (i.e., on the Edge network). I think the reception for the Bookbag app is universally lukewarm given it has only a two star rating on iTunes.

I’d also like to thank the Safari Books people for the chance to review their service. It’s easy and fun to review a product that is this good.

As a special offer:
For a limited time, Safari Books Online is offering GeekswithBlogs readers a 15 day free trial, plus a 15% discount on a monthly subscription for a full year. Learn more and start your free trial at this link.

Posted on Friday, May 1, 2009 7:37 AM | Back to top


Comments on this post: Safari books online: tech library in your pocket

# re: Safari books online: tech library in your pocket
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Maybe the reason why the Bookbag feature didn't work is that you may not be using the product that provides tokens for download.

You can search/read on the mobile phone without tokens.
Left by Sylvia on May 04, 2009 9:19 AM

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