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Sams Publishing has somewhere in the neighborhood of 4711 books on the “Teach Yourself to [do x] in 24 hours” series. Teach Yourself to trim your nose hair, Teach Yourself to Empty Portable Toilets… that kind of thing.
I’ve never been particularly fond of the books, but I do occassionally use them as a reference source.
My biggest problem with them is that they are so forced into the whole 24 hour thing. Sometimes, they’ll drag out a very simply topic over 3 chapters to fill them out, and other times they’ll skip on important things, or make the assumptions that you already know what’s going on.
Here’s an example: Right now I’m finishing reading Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache in 24 Hours. They also have another book Teach Yourself PHP in 24 Hours. Notice how they can have two books covering the same topics? The first one is really crud. There is one chapter on MySQL and one on Apache, and the other 21 are PHP…. and not very good. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d give the book a 4 on readability, and being able to take what they’re teaching you and turning into real world action.
I’m hoping the one dedicated to PHP is better. I’d really like to get a decent book on MySQL. Knowing those two pieces will help if I ever want to do any sort of database backed webpage.
With my new webhost, I now have access to many of the PHP driven applications such as WordPress (this journal), Xoops (content management), phpBB (forum), etc. Being able to understand what’s going on under the hood is a good thing.
I was already able to tweak this blog a bit, just by figuring out the php code without any book and a few online references. I couldn’t start it from scratch though, which I’ll eventually be able to do with some more training.
BTW, ignore this line here. My blog is supposed to interpret LiveJournal tags (because of one of my addons). It’s what allows me to cross post my excerpts to LJ as well. So I’m going to try and add a LJ User tag to Math5, since she just tagged me a 20 random facts quiz. If this works, we should see her name as a link. If it doesn’t, you can just ignore it.