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Shelfari: Book reviews on your book blog

.net alternatives by Michel Grootjans

I’ve been using Safari books online for a few months now. This is my first experience with an online library so I’d like to share my experience.

As my colleagues can confirm, I’m a fervent reader of technical books, always looking for that extra scrap of information that would give me that insight to move forward. So I’m always looking for new titles to read. Safari books online has an amazing choice of technical books. I was amazed by the sheer number of books I could choose from. I regularly receive emails notifying me of new books added to the collection, so it keeps growing.

I read parts of NHibernate in action, The Zen of CSS design and others.

With that much information at hand, what is more important than having good search capabilities. The search engine doesn’t only return book titles, but also the content inside the books, which is a big help. This is one point where online books shine. Have you ever been looking for a certain passage you know is in one of your books, but you can’t quite find it. Here’s one way to easily find it.

I’m mainly focused on .net technology right now, but I’m always curious about other technical landscapes, like Ruby on Rails. These are not necessarily the books I would buy, but the ones I would like to browse through in a library just out of curiosity. Safari books online is a very good way to do that while you’re relaxing in your living room with a glass of wine. I tried the Head First Rails, and I promptly had the urge to put my hands back on the keyboard to do some RoR.

I really enjoy holding a book. I like flipping through the pages, going forward and backward, taking the occasional note. At first I was curious to see how online reading would compare to holding a real book. I found myself looking for navigation help. I quickly realized the interface is mainly focused on point-and-click interaction. As a geek, I prefer using keyboard shortcuts, and I wasn’t able to find any of these intuitively. After searching in the help section, I found a shortcut that should have worked but didn’t. Forward and backward are supposed to be CTRL-1 and CTRL-2. 1 and 2 however don’t exist on my keyboard because I have a Belgian keyboard (that’s AZERTY). Numbers are available only by holding the SHIFT key.

All in all a solid reference and a good source for new information. Note that for a limited time, Safari Books Online is offering GeekswithBlogs readers a 15 day free trial, plus a 15% discount on a monthly subscription for a full year. Learn more and start your free trial at: http://www.safaribooksonline.com/geeks/mobile/?cid=200904-my-geeks-blog.

Posted on Wednesday, May 20, 2009 9:57 PM | Back to top


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