Being a technologist all my life I’ve come to realize one thing: “to be good at what you do you can never stop learning”. (I also think to remain youthful at any age it’s important to never stop learning but that’s another conversation altogether.)
With that in mind you’re often confronted with a task that you don’t know the answer to. But if you know where to look for the answer chances are you find it quickly enough (yeah.. thank you Mr. Obvious). I’m doing some work with SQL Reporting and quite frankly my SQL query Kung Fu is weak. But there’s hundreds of books on the topic and available for me to review and here’s a few tips that will hopefully improve my SQL query Kung-Fu and become useful to you as well.
Doing the Book Search
Yes the web has everything and yes you can usually Google it up and find it on someone’s blog, some tutorial, some KB or something. But often you know what you really need is a good book to wrap your hands around and get up to speed. This week has been one of those items where I knew I could find the answer online (and got a few bits and pieces) but really needed a solid understanding and I wasn’t going to get that without diving into a good book. So I started looking. First I hit Amazon and did a search and then sorted based on reviews and found a few books that I thought would do the trick. So then I went to BarnesandNoble.com to see if they were instock anywhere near to my office (There’s a university nearby so they have a reasonable tech book collection.. reasonable being key). They had a couple SQL server data analysis books but not the ones I wanted “SQL Server Data Analysis with SQL and Excel”. Okay so now I don’t really know if this is the book for me or not. If they had it at the bookstore I could check it out before buying it. So now what?
Google’s Book Search
http://books.google.com was next. I went there and searched for my book and found a great deal of it available there! Ofcourse you get about half a page into a topic and find the next 6 pages missing but atleast you know this is probably the book for me.. But now we need to order the book and although I’m an amazon prime member and get free 2 day delivery, that’s not going to be until Tuesday and I want the book before the weekend. So I drop the extra bucks and get it overnighted but still my project is on hold..
Getting the book TODAY!
I really need this done today and being a proud iphone user and knowing amazon has Kindle for the iphone I thought Hrm… 3” display can’t be that bad… Yeah a few reviews on tech books say it really is so that’s out. Next is ofcourse O’Reilly’s safari books online (www.safaribooksonline.com) but they’re only O’Reilly… NOT!
Turns out they had all the books I needed and for $10 a month I got them today and am getting my project completed today (after this blog post goes up).
So here’s the Magic sauce to finding your book today and not tomorrow.
1. Identify the book you want by going to amazon.com and searching reviews.
2. Checkout the book online using books.google.com and reading through those books they have excerpts of online (amazon has a couple pages but I found google more comprehensive).
3. Check Safaribooksonline.com to see your book is there. Their search sucks though so you’re going to want to do a few searches before giving up on it not being there. They have all kinds of books and publishers listed there so it’s a good chance your book is there.
4. Get the book on safari and have a good at it. (for $10 a month you get 5 books so you can think of it as a $2 preview as to whether you’ll buy the book or not and it’s better to spend $2 to test a book than $50 to find out it stinks…)
5. Buy the book if you’re like me and need those physical pages to thumbnail and sticky note (I never write in my books though, I think that ruins them personally and somehow offensive) or to read in your ‘private library’ and you know the room I’m referring too.. it has great lighting, privacy and comfortable seating for one… yeah when you leave the room you flush and wash your hands (you do wash your hands, right?).
So that’s the tip, the golden nugget, the secret sauce in this blog post. get the reviews on amazon, read it on google and then trial it on safari and finally go buy it and get it shipped to you if you find it bookshelf worthy.