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UsableThought
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on: March 20, 2009, 05:10:33 AM

Hi Steve,

FYI, I found the forum by Googling.

I am impressed and grateful that you have taken the time to set up a workable forum like this. Obviously it makes the experience of all of us using the book not only more educational but more fun.

I do have a comment on the book itself. It may be out of place here; if so, I apologize. The comment is essentially this: As a former technical writer, and a current professional writer of 25+ years' experience, including helping expert authors develop & write books, I do wish that some of the topics had a little more high-level context than they have been given.

Knowing how much concerted and painstaking effort it takes to produce a quality manuscript & get it through the editorial & production process in a timely manner, and thenceforth out into the real world, I don't fault you or your editors in any way - what I'm talking about here is a relatively small deal. That said, here are just two quick examples of what I would wish for if a further edition ever came out:

"Bit Operators," pp. 67 - 73 (I'm using the 1st printing, if that matters) - I've scripted for many years and although I did the exercises in a beginners' C book for fun, never did any actual programming with C. So bitwise & masking operations are new to me. Since I am learning Objective-C for my own reasons, I like to pick and choose what I focus on. Here, I looked up bitwise operations in Wikipedia and got the distinct impression that they are not likely to be something I will use any time soon - so I skipped this section. I am confident that if down the road I do need this info, I can pick it up. My very small point here is, I would have been very appreciative of a paragraph at the start of this section telling me the context for this aspect of the language - Wikipedia is nice, but I have to interpret what I find there & I might get the wrong idea. Whereas you could probably write a few sentences that would deftly explain when bitwise operations are most useful, when not, in the context of real-world programming. This would be a huge help for those of us feeling our way.

In the "Memory Management" chapter - this chapter opens with a short discussion of "The Autorelease Pool," then jumps to "Reference Counting." As a reader, I got lost trying to connect these two topics. In fact I stayed lost, because it was never quite clear to me what related to what. I then went over to Aaron Hillegass's explanation of memory management in "Cocoa Programming For Mac OS X," and it was no more helpful - in this case I think it is because Aaron is offering such a streamlined approach to the subject that the connecting details aren't quite clear. Finally I went to the Apple developer site, grabbed the PDF from there on memory management in Objective C, and found it much clearer than both books - the writing is full of typos and grammar mistakes, but the progression through the topic is immaculate.

Here my request again would be very simple - what would have helped me as a reader at the start of this chapter would have been just a few sentences at the end of the autorelease topic, or perhaps at the beginning of the reference counting topic, explaining how autorelease is related to reference counting - without necessarily going into great detail. A small thing, yes ... but I would find it super-helpful.

So ... those are 2 examples. Probably there are other places in the book where readers could benefit from similar high-level info, whether it's to place a topic in the context of real-world programming, or to show how topics relate to each other.   

Again, I think this is a super book & a super forum - my points here are offered not for this book, really, but down the road if time permits and another book is in the offing.
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skochan
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Reply #1 on: March 20, 2009, 05:59:45 AM

Thanks for your feedback.  I'll definitely keep your suggestions in mind for a next edition (if there is one!).  In the meantime, the motivation for using bit operators has been addressed in another post on this forum:

http://classroomm.com/objective-c/index.php?topic=217.0

Cheers,

Steve Kochan
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