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Matthew Helmke (dot) Net Posts

Fewer Reviews from Me

Amazon has banned incentivized reviews, meaning it is now prohibited to post a review of a product that you received for free or that you received payment for writing. I’ve seen this coming and I agree with it in principle. From a practical standpoint, it won’t affect me greatly as my review queue is down to only one book and I’ve not been requesting nor receiving books to review for a while. I will continue to review stuff I buy, both here and on Amazon, when I find something really exciting. I may still review free books on this blog,…

The Official Ubuntu Book, ninth edition

I was privileged to again lead the team that updated The Official Ubuntu Book for this ninth edition. The book continues to serve as a quality introduction for newcomers to Ubuntu, both the software and the community that surrounds it.

Starting a New Job

Starting today, I’m very excited to be working as a technical writer for Canonical. It is a thrill to be able to earn money while learning and writing about something that I am already passionate about: Ubuntu. Some readers of my blog may not know this: Canonical is the company that provides support and resources to help the open source community make Ubuntu and promote its use across a multitude of devices and use cases.

A Blind Willie Johnson cover

I don’t think I have mentioned my YouTube channel on this blog. It is time. I recorded a couple covers of Blind Willie Johnson songs this week as my most recent contributions. In this video, I mention a really cool collection of covers that I supported on Kickstarter a few years back that was released just recently. Check it out with this song, the links I provide from it, and please know you are invited to also check out any of the songs I have recorded. (I also take requests from time to time, although there is a queue and…

Fighting Shadows

Fighting Shadows is set in Morocco. It is a fictional account that tells the story of one young man’s attempt to find justice after receiving a brutal beating during a political protest. Set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring throughout North Africa, the book attempts to demonstrate in narrative some of the reasons why the uprising never took hold to the point of revolution or civil war, like happened other countries such as Libya, Tunisia, and Egypt. The story begins on that fateful day, February 20, 2011, starting with Farid and his participation in a protest in the town…

Two Python Books

I like Python. I like its internal consistency. I like its design that all but ensures there is one right way to write almost anything and that any good Python programmer can figure that way out and use it. I have reviewed several Python-focused books and expect to do so in the future. So, this review will not be about the language itself, but about how well each of the two books included cover the language and provide interesting use cases. There are two books in this review: Learn to Program with Minecraft: Transform Your World with the Power of…

Slashdot Effect

The Slashdot Effect isn’t what it used to be (or maybe I’m not terribly interesting…possible). This blog was linked to from the beginning of an article a couple days ago. On Thursday, this blog had 178 views. On January 26, 2009, we had 7,120 views, which is the highest number recorded since I switched to WordPress and my stats were reset, mostly because StumbleUpon listed this post. Before that, back in 2008 we had more than 20,000 visitors in one day when I posted this.

The Manga Guide to Physiology

I’m re-using this first paragraph introduction from the last review I wrote for a book in this series: This is one of several atypical educational books that use graphic art to help teach difficult concepts or illustrate the action and another wonderful entry in the “Manga Guide to…” series that I have been reviewing.  I keep requesting review copies of each title in the series as they come out, and I have yet to be disappointed. This is an impressive series that consistently makes very difficult academic topics more interesting and a little easier for students. I would not consider these…

An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram Language

It was the Fall of 1988. I was a freshman at the University of Arizona. One of my classes was honors calculus. My professor, whose name is long forgotten, included in the course a new computer program called Mathematica. I remember, both because it was interesting and new and because it required me to purchase an additional book for the course. The book had a black cover, white text, and a colorful image that I can’t quite recall. The author of that program and book was Stephen Wolfram, the same person who has written An Elementary Introduction to the Wolfram…

Ubuntu Unleashed 2016

I was the sole editor and contributor of new content for Ubuntu Unleashed 2016 Edition. This book is intended for intermediate to advanced users.