Tag Archives: book-review

Review: Squid Proxy Server 3.1 Beginner’s Guide, by Kulbir Saini

I just got done reading “Squid Proxy Server 3.1 Beginner’s Guide” by Kulbir Saini, from Packt Publishing.

(Full disclosure: Packt sends me free books on the condition that I review them. However, I’m under no obligation to say nice things, and they keep sending me books even when I say harsh things.)

Quick version: The writing style is ideal for a beginner – clear descriptions of concepts, rich in step-by-step examples and section reviews/summaries to clarify why you just did what you did. Frequent exercises reinforce concepts. Saini writes like a teacher.

Saini’s writing style suggests to me that he’s been teaching this material for quite some time. Every concept has copious examples and suggested exercises to help you remember what you’ve learned. Concepts are clearly defined, clearly explained, and then illustrated before moving on to another concept. Previous concepts are reintroduced and incorporated into the new ones as you go along, so that idea builds upon idea.

This is a book to be read in order, but aso is structured so that someone at an intermediate level can go back and use individual sections as reference.

I love reading technical books that aren’t dry and boring, and which inspire me to be a better writer. Oh, yes, and I learned a lot about Squid, too.

I presume that the content isn’t really quite so specific that it’s only for 3.1, but having not used Squid for an extended time, I can’t say for sure.

The book starts with clear descriptions of the general concepts of proxying, but very quickly gets hands-on and specific to Squid. This is how I like it, because I learn by examples and doing.

So, on the whole, I give this book a firm thumbs up. I’m always a little hesitant doing a review of a book on a technology I don’t know by an author I don’t know, because I make it a firm rule to say the book stinks if it stinks. So it’s always a joy to read a book like this that exceeds my expectations, and turns out to be not just ok, but actually really well written.

CakePHP Application Development


As I’ve mentioned before, we’re using CakePHP for our development at work. Cake was the first formal MVC framework that I’d worked with, although at Asbury we had developed an MVC framework in house, almost unbeknownst to us. That is to say, we developed a sane web app framework, and weren’t aware that someone had already given a name to the pattern. Shame on us for not doing our research a little better.

Also, the other half of the web team had started working with RoR before I left, but I didn’t really look at it seriously.

CakePHP is one of many PHP MVC frameworks, and, naturally, there are a variety of opinions as to which one is the best. I can’t claim to have done a careful comparison. How did I choose Cake? I like to hire people smarter than myself, and trust their judgement. This was the recommendation that came up from that team of smarter people. And I certainly have to admit that Cake really works with the way I think, and is very much the effect that we were trying to achieve with our framework at Asbury. We didn’t quite get there, but we were headed very much in the right direction.

The CakePHP book from Packt Publishing was very helpful as an overview of what was possible. It has practical examples of what can be done, and has careful explanation of each step. In conjunction with the amazing online documentation, it provides a solid footing for jumping right in to writing Cake apps the first week.

One place the online docs are sorely lacking is the V part of MVC. The online docs are for programmers, not for designers – or perhaps “written by” is the better thing to say there. Either way, the section about views and layouts is still rather weak, although it’s being worked on. The Packt book is a good supplement to this, although it makes more sense on second reading, after a little hands-on experience with the Views stuff.

In short, recommended. 4-out-of-5-stars. Anupom and Ahsanul have done a good job of giving an introduction to Cake app dev in this book, and I’d recommend this as a desk-side reference as you start developing in Cake.

As to the other frameworks – yes, I’ve heard that there’s others that are better. One thing that is obvious, looking at the various frameworks, is that all of them are crazy active – they are all improving by leaps and bounds, and pretty much every feature comparison I’ve looked at is way out of date, and inundated by comments saying “yeah, that’s how it was 6 weeks ago, but you should take a look now!” So I’m pretty sure that the jury is still out on this, and that there will be still several years to watch these things before one emerges as a clear leader – if, indeed, that ever happens. It hasn’t in any other language (with the exception of Ruby) so I don’t know why we’d expect it with PHP.