Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Textbooks, code, college, and Running Rabbit

CHAPTER TITLE: How I used Java code to create my library of Japanese publishers, and turned my professor on to Peachpit Press computer books
What does Java, phonebook manga, and what many may consider the deplorable state of college textbooks, have in common?

Let me start with a little story. 1996, I think I started my official Computer Art class. I credit this with getting me involved in Digital Art and Computer Design.

The professor reintroduced us to (what was the Mac model desktop at this time?) early-generation QuarkXpress <--- Man, I enjoyed that software!
(It's a desktop publisher, of sorts. This is before Microsoft Publisher and Adobe InDesign. And when many were using WordPerfect)

We all know that college gives us wonderful learning experiences, and we may or may not agree on the value of that education, but I think we can pretty much agree that most college textbooks are a HUGE RIPOFF.

Case in point: the professor introduced us to what I used to term 'The Running Rabbit Books' because I forgot the publisher.
These were inexpensive, yet comprehensive volumes written by various writers on any software application, operating system and code at the time.

Fast forward 4 - 5 years later:
The books (there were two used in class) proved so informative, that when I majored in Web Design, I bought the Peachpit books at Borders to supplement the required texts.

In one coding class, we had to build a database entirely from Java, highlighting favorite books. I was obsessed with Japanese phonebook manga (Brick-wide, dictionary pages amount, serial comics) and the scarcity of them in the North American/Canadian book market.

Our required textbook was rife with misprints and errors. To a coder, that's death. One colon, one comma, and the whole application refuses to run! Not to mention there are hundreds of lines of code to search for!

I used my Java Peachpit text, reading the highlighted code in red, and where one might run into problems. At one point, the professor stopped by the auditorium-length desk and flipped through my Peachpit Press book. He made a sound, asked me a question, I answered, and he said he may just use the series next term!

Oh, and I nailed the assignment.

God Bless Them, those books helped me get a B+ average in those IT classes!

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