Thursday, January 25, 2007

NXT Books...(minor rant)

So I went to Barnes and Noble and out of curiousity, I looked for books about the NXT. I know some are coming out, but haven't seen what actually is out.

Well, it took some looking - NXT is under robotics which is under technology, I found two books:

LEGO Mindstorms NXT: The Mayan Adventure, by Jim Kelley (with help from Brian Davis)

LEGO Mindstorms NXT: Hacker's Guide, by Dave Prochnow

Now, I will preface this by a blog entry that is in the NXT Step last month about the books - turns out that there was a dismissive remark by Prochnow referring to Kelly's book trying to show how the Hacker's is better.

Well, after browsing, I determined that the Hacker's Guide wasn't all that impressive. For a book that was 450+ pages, it was surprising that any mention of the NXT doesn't happen until about page 80. The hacking I saw was making custom wires with phone jacks - um, I know about that from Philo's website and that's FREE!

There is mention of an in-depth guide to the NXT programming language, but all I found was a listing of the commands with basic information on each command - no depth.

But that's the running story of this book - if this was billed as an overall look at the LEGO product, maybe it has some worth. But honestly, I was turned off by it, or maybe hacked off. That was probably because of the Mega-Bloks reference in the book - as a resource. Um, nothing like not knowing enough of your readership to say something completely out of line.

On the other hand, the Mayan Adventure is not bad at all - unlike the Hacker's Guide, it doesn't use cool and fluffy copy that has nothing to do with the subject. What it does do is create a story with a hook to get readers interested - a problem is presented, and then the solution presented in an engaging manner. The process is discussed in programming and building, and through this approach, a reader gets an understanding of the NXT. That's what I want.

So what do I recommend? As a person, I recommend the Mayan Adventure. As an AFOL, I recommend the Mayan Adventure.

BrickJournal hasn't done book reviews yet...maybe that's a good thing:-)

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