Thursday, April 26, 2012

Books vs. e-Books for DBA's

As most people still do I learned to read using books. WhooHoo!

Books are nice. Besides reading them they are also a nice decoration on your shelf. There is a brilliant TED talk by Chip Kidd on this subject.

But sometimes books have drawbacks. This is where I have to start the comparison with vinyl records (Yes, you're still reading a database oriented blog). Vinyl records look nice and are still being sold and yes I also still use them. The drawback is that car dealers start to look puzzeled if you ask them if your new multimedia system in your car is able to play your old Led Zeppelin records. The market for portable record players is small, and that's for a good reason.

The problem with books about databases is that they get old very soon. The MySQL 5.1 Cluster Certification Study Guide was printed by lulu.com which made it possible to quickly update the material. This made sure that the material wasn't outdated when you bought it.

I like to use books as reference material, but I tend to use Google more often and the books stay on the bookshelf and are getting old and dusty. One of the reasons for this is that taking books with me just for reference is not an option judging by the weight of it.

At Percona Live UK I got a voucher from O'reilly to get a free e-Book. So I chose 'SQL and Relational Theory'. I started to read it on my laptop with FBreader and on my iPhone using Stanza. Both my phone and laptop are not really made for reading. So I bought an Sony Reader, which is made for reading.

Reading 'SQL and Relational Theory' on the Sony Reader is nice. The only annoyance is that the examples are like this:
SELECT COUNT(*) | SELECT COUNT(col1)
FROM tbl1       | FROM tbl1
And with line wrapping it looks like this:
SELECT COUNT(*) | 
SELECT COUNT(col1)
FROM tbl1       | 
FROM tbl1
Which is not very readable.
The book is very theoretical as you might expect, but nonetheless it's a very good read.

The Sony Reader is not very suitable for reading whitepapers in PDF format  as most whitepapers are in A4 or Letter format which is too big for the device. Of course software like Calibre can covert some of those.
(Oracle, Percona, others… please also publish your whitepapers in a format more suitable for an eReader)

The device itself is very nice. The battery time and e-Ink display are good (especially if you compare them with an tablet).

Unfortunately it doesn't increase my reading speed and it doesn't give me more time to read.

I'm looking forward to read some other database books in e-Book format.  I think the next one on my list is High Performance MySQL.

I planned to publish this post when I finished reading SQL and Relation Theory, but I thought now might be a better time as O'Reilly has a discount for that book and other books by C.J. Date.

The Sony Reader runs a modified Android (yes it's possible to root it to play angry birds on it). It also has a webbrowser, but itsn't well suited for reading Planet MySQL or Planet MariaDB. Using the webbrowser to download the MP3 for the OurSQL Podcast and then playing it does work flawlessly. I tried to download the EPUB file for the MySQL Reference Manual, but that failed so I used USB for that.

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