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where to find technical audio books

Robin Clark
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Joined: Dec 17, 2003
Posts: 81
I would eagerly purchase books about computing and programming that are in audio format. I realize that books that contain actual code samples would not be pleasant in audio format, but there are many books that could be successfully done this way. I am thinking of books like "The Practice of Programming" and "The Pragmatic Programmer".
When I listen to audio content I learn it very deeply. It is amazing to me how much I retain when I learn this way. However, there are very few technical books in this format.
I've seen a banner advertisement on this website about an audio book for learning Java. Does anyone know much about this? I would have ordered it already but the only way to pay was thru Paypal and I had a problem with Paypal at one time.
Maybe I am one of the few people who learns this way, but if not, there could be a good market for this type of content.
Does anyone have recommendations on audio books that I could acquire that might quench my thirst?
Kathy Sierra
Cowgirl and Author
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Joined: Oct 10, 2002
Posts: 1572
I think it's a wonderful idea. Right now, I don't know of any, but there might be some I haven't heard about. Several years ago, there was a book (very, very old now) called "Talk Java to Me" that was a small printed book with most of the content on the Audio CD. We've been thinking of an audio CD but haven't gotten around to it because not enough people have expressed an interest.
Hmmm... we'll look into this a little more, and see if we can find anything out there or whether we might do something like that ourselves.
We are definitely (and seriously) considering video, though. Would you be at all interested in video/DVD for Java? It wouldn't be a screen-recording video of someone typing code. It would include animations, diagrams, discussions, etc.
cheers,
Kathy
Robin Clark
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Joined: Dec 17, 2003
Posts: 81
Thanks for your reply Kathy. I would totally be interested in video. I have the DVD for the fellow who does the hardware repair and troubleshooting -- the book that has 15 different editions and I just love it. I am very interested in alternative forms of learning. Once I read aloud seven chapters of a book on Linux for my husband to listen to in the car. He wouldn't listen to it because he said it put him to sleep! I have every audio book I could find on alternative/accelerated learning. I think that they have helped me a great deal.
Kathy Sierra
Cowgirl and Author
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Joined: Oct 10, 2002
Posts: 1572
Howdy Robin,
Thanks for your reply! I can relate to the car story... when I moved from Los Angeles to Colorado a few years ago (to work for Sun), I had to be ready the day I got here. So I got a bunch of audio tapes from the JavaOne conference, and played them all the way over here (more than 1000 miles).
By the time I reached the Continental Divide, my teenager daughter was so sick of Java she couldn't stand it. But at one point, I stopped the tape and asked out loud, "Wait... how could that possibly work?" and my daughter said, "Oh my GOD! I almost answered you!" She admitted that she now knew way more about Java than she ever wanted to.
So I'm convinced now that audio can work... even when you don't want it to.
And my footnote: about 40 miles from our destination, I pulled into a little store for gas and she got a Seventeen Magazine. We're back on the highway, about 5 miles down the road again when she sceams and drops the magazine like it's a hot coal. Turns out there was an article--in the magazine--about how a high school in Florida was using Java rings (and the Java dogtags, watches, etc.) to authenticate students into certain parts of the school (library, cafeteria, etc.).
That's when I knew Java had arrived. When something appears in a teen fashion magazine, it's gone mainstream. I don't care how many enterprise servers it runs on--when it shows up next to an ad for acne medicine and prom dresses...THEN you can count on it.
Anyway, thanks Robin. I'm going to get going on this.
cheers.
Kathy
Kishore Dandu
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Joined: Jul 10, 2001
Posts: 1934
I think thats a great idea.
When ever I am reading or practising stuff from a new book, I get a feeling the same book in audio format will be helpful(in the sense of a long commute and to get the nuts and bolds to stay in the mind).
A good one would be related to "J2EE basics". Just a thought.
Kishore.


Kishore
SCJP, blog
Dmitry Melnik
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Joined: Dec 18, 2003
Posts: 328
Hm... I would be interested in a "Learn methodology X in your car" type of audio-books. That's a usefull thing to listen to while driving.
Joe McIntyre
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Joined: Nov 20, 2003
Posts: 121
I passed Sun's Certified Programmer for the Java 2 Platform test by making my own audio tapes. I found that audio tapes are much better for reinforcing something you've already read than they are for learning it in the first place. I used the Sybex book "The Complete Java 2 Certification Study Guide", which is an excellent book and sufficient for passing the exam without the need for any other study aids. But I would make the audio tapes as I went through the book, speaking slowly the things I needed to memorize and pausing for a few seconds between ideas.
I think video (DVD) is an excellent idea, and would probably work much better than audio. The problem with audio is software development is too visual, and you have to have a lot of "extraneous dialogue" on the audio tape to compensate for things that really should have been presented visually.
The nice thing about video is that it can maintain a lot of context. For example, suppose you use the actual code for a java class to teach how to code an EJB or something like that. As you talk about a certain method, you highlight the method with a yellow background (just like using a highlighting pen to highlight a sentence of a real book). Just think about the enormous amount of information that is effortlessly communicated using this ridiculously simple technique. Although not conciously aware of it, the reader associates the method with its vertical position in the class (that is, if you scroll through the code of the whole class, this method may be found (say) about 30% down from the top). I realize this sounds ridiculous, but think about referring back to a book you've actually studied in the past. I don't know about the rest of you, but when I refer back to that Java 2 Cert Guide I mentioned above, I often know just about which part of the book to flip to in order to find a template "switch" statement, though I often can't recall the template itself. I can often remember much other "extraneous" info as well, such as (say) that the page I'm looking for has a lot of handwritten notes in the inside margin. I believe that this info is actually not "extraneous" at all, but rather serves as a "peg" onto which our memory hangs, just like a coat hangs on a peg in the closet. Sometimes, when I have trouble trying to remember something, it helps if I think of where I actually was (at the desk in my study?) when I "learned" it in the first place. Often, the problem is NOT that I didn't "learn" or "remember" the thing... the memory is there... somewhere in the HashTable of my brain... the problem is I seem to have lost the "HashTable key" that I need in order to retrieve the "HashTable data". Video can go a long ways toward solving this problem, because as I said, it provides lots of context that your mind can use to fix the location of the information you will need to retrieve later on. Perhaps the first step you need to go through to remember the name of that method is remembering (visualizing) that it's about 30% down from the top of the code.
Joe McIntyre
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Joined: Nov 20, 2003
Posts: 121
There's a fascinating book that talks about some of these things by the way. It's "The Memory Book" by Harry Lorayne and Jerry Lucas. If you ever want to memorize 500 digits of pi, this book will teach you systems for doing so. Anyone can do it. Frankly, I don't believe in "photographic memory" or any of that other mumbo jumbo. But after reading this book, I do believe in memory and learning techniques.
What's really fascinating is that if you ask someone who has memorized 500 digits of pi what the 77th digit is, they will be able to tell you, but only after discovering it by starting at the first digit and working their way through the list until the get to the 77th entry. It is at this point that you realize that the book is doing nothing more than teaching you a "gray matter" implementation of a linked list. And there are analogous techniques for implementing "gray matter" versions of other data structures as well (I think only 2 kinds of data structures are described in the book).
 
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