Author Archives: Jessica Baker

Top 10 Resources for Electrical Engineers

It can be a serious challenge for electrical engineers to keep up with the fast pace of change in their field. Thankfully there are many excellent resources available online for them. Here is our top 10 pick.

IEEE Spectrum

This is one of the most comprehensive online resources for electrical engineers. It is updated regularly with well written articles about all aspects of the engineering world.

Electronics Engineering Video Blog

The EEVBlog is a highly entertaining website run by Australian electronics design engineer David L. Jones. He has over two decades’ worth of experience in the industry and is now a full time blogger with a very successful YouTube channel. Definitely one to look at and enjoy his unscripted, highly informative and entertaining videos.


This is an excellent site for all engineering enthusiasts who want to know more about the art of hacking. Although the public has come to associate the word hacking with illegal activity, its proper meaning is the art of adapting something to use it in a way for which it was not originally intended. It is a light hearted, but technically highly informative blog looking at the world of hacking.

Circuit Specialists

If you are looking for electronic components this is a great place to start. The company has been established for over 40 years. Their blog is regularly updated and has a lot of interesting articles.

Electronics Weekly

Electronics Weekly has been established for over 50 years, and is the longest established magazine in the industry. It is a UK site which has a huge amount of information about the electronics industry. This includes informative articles, videos and job listings.

New Electronics

This is another UK based website which provides comprehensive information for the electronics industry. It has been established for over 40 years and is a reliable resource with regularly updated articles.


Coursera is an online education resource which partners with top educational institutions to bring online courses to the public. This is not just a site which is aimed at electrical engineers, but is an excellent resource for many disciplines. The courses are available to everyone and some people qualify for financial aid. All courses are taken online and can be worked through at your own pace.


Element 14

It is very easy to spend a great deal of time on the Element 14 website – it has a huge amount of articles on a wide range of topics. There are lots of excellent video tutorials too. It has a very active online community so that you can interact with fellow enthusiasts.


You definitely have to take a look at this site. It is a very different concept to the others that we have listed here. It covers many different subjects – you will find recipes and craft projects side by side with engineering projects. The idea for the site originated in the lab at MIT. The site lets you explore, document and share your creations. It is a great way to learn though collaboration with the online community.

Stack Exchange

This is another great site for getting ideas for projects. This is a free site for any electrical engineering enthusiast which uses a question and answer format.

10 Ways to Find the Best Books to Read on Your Subject

We live in an age where we are overwhelmed with choice. It can sometimes take a great deal of time to find a great book to read on your subject, but thanks to the age of the internet it is now simple to find great books. You just have to know how to look. Here are some great sites to use

1. Goodreads

This is one of the best known community review based sites to help you find books. It was launched in 2007 to use reader reviews to build up a system of book recommendation. The original idea was that if you are looking for a book, you really want to ask a friend for a recommendation. The concept grew rapidly and now you can not only see which books your friends are reading, but ask for personal recommendations based upon your reading preferences. There are now more than 50 million users making this one of the largest sites of its kind.


2. Look at Prestige College Sites

One way to find great books on your subject is to see which books are recommended by the prestigious colleges. Many of these colleges now have online open source learning. You can find out which books the recommend by going to their website and looking which are on the reading list.

3. Take a Look at Coursera

Coursera is an online learning resource where you can find great online courses from great colleges such as Harvard and Yale. For some of this you can access the reading lists online.

4. Go to a Book Store

This may seem like obvious advice, but there is nothing quite like seeing the book for yourself before you buy it. The assistants in the book store may lead you to a great book about your subject. If a book isn’t in stock, they can usually order it for you.

5. Visit the Library

What could be better than a free source of books? We sometimes forget this very obvious resource. A library may have exactly what you are looking for, and of course the biggest benefit is that you can either use the library facilities and read the book there, or borrow it and take it home for free.

6. Amazon

This is the biggest online resource for the purchase of books. Another excellent facility is that you can rent textbooks – this can be considerably cheaper than buying new books.

7. Shop at Alibris

Alibris is another well-established book seller online which has been in business since 1998. Not only do they have a huge selection of books available, but they support Independent Book Sellers. They have new and used books for sale.

8. Look at Chegg

This is a site which offers big discounts on student textbooks. Readers can leave a review, and books can be either purchased or rented.

9. Get a Great Deal on Abebooks

This is another site offering a huge choice of textbooks for sale and for rent. You can also sell old textbooks here.

10. Ask Your Friends

This is the most traditional method! The internet has opened up a big wide world, but sometimes there is no substitute for simply asking your friends for suggestions.



5 Books That Can Help You Learn Machine Learning

Machine learning is one of the most innovative and potentially life changing technologies in the world of science today. It is the science of how machines can learn to make their own decisions and take actions themselves. This is the kind of technology which we will see increasingly in the future in our everyday lives. It is already used in a huge range of applications such as fraud protection and product recommendation on websites. The technology is also being used to develop the technology for products such as self-driving cars.

Here are some recommendations of great books to help you learn more about Machine Learning. Some are designed for the beginner, whilst others are for those looking for a more advanced examination of the subject.

Python Machine Learning by Sebastion Raschka

This is a bestselling book in the field of machine learning. It is a complex subject which requires a solid basis in coding before the student can move on to learning the more advanced elements. One of the excellent points about this book is that it gives a solid foundation in the coding concepts required for the subject.

It is well written and explains the subject to the reader in a very understandable format.

Fundamentals of Machine Learning for Predictive Data Analytics by John D. Kelleher

This is an excellent book which explains the basics of the concepts of the science of machine learning. It is a good book for someone beginning to learn this branch of science. However, if you don’t have a solid background in Python you may wish to read Python Machine Learning first before studying this book.

Data Analytics Made Accessible by Anil Maheshwari

This book is an ideal place to start if you want to start learning about the field of machine learning. The writing style is very accessible and is easy for the non-scientist to understand. Machine learning is an important concept to understand for people in many disciplines. Artificial intelligence is becoming a very important element of our world and it is of interest to people in many different occupations, including entrepreneurs and business people.

This book is not for you if you are looking for a highly technical explanation of the subject. It is designed for those who have an interest, but want more of an overview.

A great advantage about this book is that it is low cost, and may even be available free for subscribers to Kindle Unlimited.

Machine Learning: The Art and Science of Algorithms That Make Sense of Data By Peter Flach

This is a good book for someone looking to be taken from the basics to the more complex theory of machine learning. It is still an introductory text, but it has much more discussion of theory than the “Data Analytics Made Accessible” book which is at a more basic level.

Machine Learning for Dummies

The “For Dummies series is always a good place to start if you want to get a basic view of any subject, and this one is well written for the beginner. It gives readers a good start to see whether they want to explore the subject further.

5 Books That Young Entrepreneurs Should Read: Part 2

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

The problem with many books about business is that they just talk in generalities and motivational sound bites. You sit and read them and feel very positive at the time, but they really give you nothing concrete to help you go out and create and build your own business.

What we like most about this book by Chris Guillebeau is that it gives you so many practical examples of real life success stories. The author has taken an unconventional path. He has never had what he describes as a “real job,” but has achieved what few have rarely done – visited 175 countries and created an income to sustain the lifestyle that he desires.

He interviewed successful entrepreneurs who had all used $100 or less to start their business. Lack of funds is often seen as a barrier to anyone starting their own business, but this book dispels the myth that you need large amounts of money to start your journey as an entrepreneur.

A lot of books about business are so generic and vague it is difficult to glean anything of value from them. “The $100 Startup” is the exact opposite of this. Chris Guillebeau wants to give his readers specific details of how others became successful in order to help the reader learn from their experience.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

We thought for a long time about whether or not to include the classic “How to Win Friends and Influence People” on this list. It is such an obvious choice and we wanted to give readers something different to think about. However, we decided we really couldn’t leave this out.

It is a classic for a reason. It is one of the best books for entrepreneurs ever written. It may have been first published in 1937 (and has undergone a number of revisions), but it is still very relevant now. It has sold over 100 million copies and helped countless people on their road to success.

The book actually delivers on its promise. It is essentially an examination of how human relationships can be studied and we can all learn how to build better connections with people. This is one of the most essential lessons that any entrepreneur can learn.

The world of business has changed a great deal since the book was written, but the fundamental ideas still hold true. There is also an updated version for the present day “How to Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age”. This is a revised edition which relates the original ideas to the present day and makes it relevant to the age of the internet and social media.

The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (Management of Innovation and Change)

This is another classic book which is recommended for anyone wanting to make a success of their own business. Clayton M. Christenson examines the question of why companies do not keep up with the latest technology, and how this causes their ultimate downfall. Even the most successful companies have become victims of this concept of disruptive innovation

“The Innovator’s Dilemma” has been cited by some of the most successful business people in the world, including Steve Jobs and Jeff Bezos.

5 Books That Young Entrepreneurs Should Read: Part 1

There are so many books for entrepreneurs it can be difficult to decide which ones are the most releant for young people starting out in business. We have a pretty strong focus on tech on this website, but we’d like to emphasize that there are many paths to success, and not all of them lead to tech. A close friend started up NJ Flood and Fire Restoration and has had a significant amount of success.  This is not a tech company and relies largely on sufficient marketing and excellent customer service.  With that said, here are the top 5 which we think are essential reading for the young entrepreneur.

The 4 Hour Workweek, Expanded and Updated

This modern classic is required reading for any young entrepreneur who wants to see things a little differently. Tim Ferriss set the publishing world alight with this innovative approach to business and lifestyle. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to take an unconventional approach as to how lifestyle and entrepreurship can live in harmony to create your ideal day to day life.

Tim Ferriss was a very successful businessman early in life. He created a very successful business and was making money, but found that the fact that his life was consumed with work made him miserable. He sought a way to enjoy success, but without total burn out.

If Tim Ferriss wants to find out a solution to a problem, he examines it personally right down to the finest detail. His gives some excellent practical examples and email templates which are tried and tested in his own business.

This book will open your eyes to a different way of thinking. Don’t get seduced by the title. He really isn’t suggesting everyone can work 4 hours a week and make millions. What he is advocating is a very innovative way of achieving a balance between work and living.

Finding Success in Failure: True Confessions from 10 Years of Startup Mistakes

This is an excellent book which is highly recommended for young entrepreneurs starting out. Written by Lucas Carlson, who successful built a company which he ultimately sold to a Fortune 500 Company, this book shows that reducing your chances of failure is a key element of eventual success.

Carlson uses his own experiences in tandem with interviewing highly successful business people to find out how they have turned failure into triumph. He took a huge chance on giving up his employment but went on to raise $10 million worth of venture capital to start his business. He teaches us that fear has to be faced or it will stop us from getting where we need to be.

This is a particularly valuable book as it is written in a practical way and does not gloss over the hard work required to be a success, or the pitfalls that you will encounter. Instead it gives a realistic view of building a business whilst giving valuable insight as to how to minimize the inevitable failures that you will encounter.

What Are the Best Books on Computer Science for Young Programmers?

There are so many books available which are aimed at people wanting to learn more about computer science. Here are our recommendations for some books which will give a good start to young people wanting to know more about this fascinating and complex subject

Introduction to Algorithms by Thomas H. Cormen

Anyone studying computer science needs a very solid foundation in the understanding of algorithms. This book is an excellent place to start for the young computer scientist. This text book is aimed at beginners at first year college level.

To describe this book as comprehensive is an understatement. With 1312 pages this book is going to be one of the heaviest on your shelf.

Although many of the elements of computer science change very rapidly which make books out of date very quickly, the fundamental principles of algorithms remain constant. This is significant because it means that an excellent text book like this can remain relevant for many years.

Computer Science Illuminated by Nell Dale and John Lewis

This is an excellent over view of computer science for the young programmer. Computer science is a huge subject and no one text book will be able to cover very much ground, but Computer Science Illuminated does a great job of covering the basics of a lot of the principles of this discipline.

This book is now in its 5th edition and has been updated to include sections on Google+ and Facebook as well as a comprehensive update on HTML5.

Readers will also have access to a comprehensive website which has a lot of very useful information.

The C ++ Programming Language by Bjarne Stroustrop

This is one of the best C ++ programming books for young computer scientists. This is a very comprehensive book and it does assume that the reader has a solid basis in programming already – it is not for the absolute beginner, but serves as an advanced text book for those wanting to get a more in-depth knowledge of the C ++programming language.

Think Like a Programmer: An Introduction to Creative Problem Solving by V. Anton Spraul

This book is not a conventional text book. The aim of the book is to enable young programmers to think differently when approaching problems. Programming is very obviously a science, but this book gets the young person to think about the concept that it is also very much an art as well.

One of the problems which computer science students have is that they find it very difficult to write a complete program from beginning to end. A student can know the theory very well, but the difficulty comes when the start to try and apply it to a problem. This book encourages the student to think differently and start to be able to apply the knowledge they have and actually apply it in a practical way.

Hacking: The Art of Exploitation by John Erickson

This is one of the best books available which covers the art of creative problem solving in programing – or “hacking” as it is commonly known. This isn’t a book for the absolute beginner, as to get the most out of it the reader needs to have at least a basic understanding of programming.

The book aims to get the reader to think differently about problem solving and how computers actually work. There are a lot of practical examples as well as detailed technical explanations.

How to Become a Computer Programmer Without a College Degree

You may be surprised to learn that there are many computer programmers working in this high tech industry without a college degree. The college route is the traditional way, but this does not mean that it is a requirement for those who want to make a living as a computer programmer.

It is more than possible these days to have a wide range of careers without a college degree. The rising costs of attending college are making more and more people look into different options. There is an abundance of training available online and many people are self-taught in the skills required to be a computer programmer.

If you are determined to make a break from the traditional route and not pursue a college degree you do have to be aware of certain obstacles that you may face. Whilst many employers will consider candidates without a college degree, there is no doubt that some will simply not have them on their short list of candidates. The most difficult part about becoming a computer programmer will probably be in getting your first break.

Once you have experience and a portfolio, many employers will not consider the lack of a college degree to be an important factor. If you are a talented computer programmer and you can prove that you are, the lack of college qualifications will not hold you back. However, the problem is, how do you get your first break?

The market place is competitive for everyone. You have to think about how to make your skills and talents look appealing to prospective employers. There are many ways that you can do that, starting with building up a great portfolio which showcases your talents. Think about the things which you are most interested in and where your strengths lie.

It is a good idea to build a personal website to showcase your work. Make sure that the site is well structured and presents your work in a well-organized and user friendly way. Adding a blog to your website can also help you represent your ideas and projects in an accessible way.

Consider whether to participate in an open source project. This will show any prospective employer that you are able to collaborate and work with other programmers.

Another idea if you are good at teaching others would be to have your own YouTube Channel. You can link this to your website and make videos which are relevant to your particular area of expertise. This will show any employer that you are prepared to commit time to your talent, and that you can go over and above what many people are prepared to do. Anything which shows initiative and indicates that you can think outside the box will be attractive to prospective employers.

Employers are always looking for experience – but how do you get that when you haven’t yet landed your first job? The answer is to start small. One idea is that you could work on projects for family and friends. You can also look to freelance sites to take on small projects (probably at a low fee), simply to gain experience.

A Reading List for Self-Taught Java Programmers

If you are a Java Programmer who is looking to build up your library collection here are some suggestions of the best books out there about this fascinating language.

Java A Beginner’s Guide by Herbert Schlidt

This is an excellent guide for programmers who are new to Java. It is a beginners guide to Java, but to get the most out of it the reader does need to have some basic programming knowledge.

This book is well laid out, with useful features such as chapter opening lists specifying what you will learn in that section, and quizzes at the end of each chapter so that you can test what you have learned.

Head First Java by Kathy Sierra

This book is aimed at readers who are new to both Java and programming. It does a very good job of explaining the basic principles of Java in an easy to understand format. Some readers will enjoy the irreverent approach, but if you are looking for formal text book style then this is not the book for you!

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship by Robert C. Martin

Every programmer knows that clean code is essential to writing a great program. This bestselling book will challenge the reader to think about how they can identify what is right and what is wrong about the many examples of code which are given in the text. It helps them to recognize the difference between good code and bad code so that they ultimately become better programmers in any language, including Java.

Effective Java by Joshua Bloch

This book is designed for the experienced Java programmer who wants to improve upon their existing skills. The author, Joshua Bloch, is one of the most respected authorizes on this subject – he has led the design and implementation of many Java systems. This book will be relevant to even the most experienced Java designer.

Java 8 in Action: Lambdas, Streams and Functional Style Programming by Raoul-Gabriel Urma

This book is designed for readers who are already familiar with Java programming, but who want to learn about Java 8. It has a very clear format which is easy to follow, and has lots of examples to help the reader understand the game changing concepts of Java 8. The chapters are well thought out and give the reader just enough information without being overwhelming.

Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code by Martin Fowler

This is another book which concentrates on the concept of how important it is to write clean code. Over the year many millions of lines of code have been written. Much of it is flawed and not as robust as it should be. This means that many programs are difficult to maintain and extend. A technique known as refactoring has emerged to improve existing code. This book has 76 examples of how you can use refactoring to bring new life to old code.

Paper vs Digital Reading – How to Figure out What’s Best for You: Part 2

The Paper Book Just Won’t Give Up

Digital books are unlikely ever to completely take over and make paper books extinct. Paper books have a very long history, and are most likely to still be with us many years into the future. Why might you still want to make the choice to read a paper book?

We have become accustomed to reading from computer screens – digital readers are an extension of this. They give the reader a more compact and convenient way to read a book. However, they also give us the opportunity to get distracted very easily. The Kindle Fire and the iPad both gives us the ability to search the internet, check our email or post on Facebook. This makes it very easy to get distracted from the thing which we were aiming to do in the first place – actually just read a book. How can you keep concentrating on that new bestseller you have just downloaded, if you are constantly thinking about what your latest news feed is saying?

One way to get over the distraction problem is to buy a dedicated digital reader which does not allow you access to the internet. There are plenty of options for this, the most popular of which is the Amazon Kindle.

Even if we get over the information overwhelm problem we will still keep coming back to paper books. Why? Sometimes it just feels so much better to read a paper book!

One very different thing with reading on a digital eBook is that you have much less of a sense of place than you do with a paper book. What we mean is that with a book you have much more of a sense of where you are in the story. A digital reader may have markings at the bottom of the page, but somehow it just doesn’t seem the same.

Studies have shown that it is more difficult to take in and retain information from a digital reader than it is from reading a traditional paper book. You may not get the depth of understanding and enjoyment from reading from a screen as you do from a paper book.

Lack of sleep is a serious issue and many researchers believe that reading from a digital source can inhibit sleep and cause sleep patterns to be disrupted. Sleep disorders are thought to be responsible for many other serious health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. The light emitted from a digital reader is known to disrupt the production of melatonin – a hormone which is important in establishing sleep patterns. Some studies have shown that people who read a digital reader have sleep patterns which include less time in deep sleep, so that they wake up less well rested. It’s something to think about as to whether your late night screen reading is making you more tired.

Studies have shown that reading a paper book can actually make you more relaxed and fall into a deeper sleep more quickly – the exact opposite of reading a digital book.

Your choice of reading media may also have a serious effect on your stress level. Studies have shown that reading a traditional paper book can reduce heart rate and help people to relax. EBook readers may have the opposite effect. The ability to switch from one thing to another on a digital book can heighten levels of stress.

Only you can decide whether a digital or a paper book is the best choice. A digital book is a very convenient thing, but there really is nothing like holding a real paper book in your hands and settling down to read. You just don’t get that warm feeling that you get with your favorite paper novel. The best solution? Maybe just not to make a choice. An eBook reader can be really inexpensive these days. There is no need to take a risk – just go ahead and buy one and try it out. We bet you never completely turn your back on the traditional paper book. Somehow that just wouldn’t feel right.

Paper vs Digital Reading – How to Figure out What’s Best for You: Part 1

The way that we read books and information has changed dramatically over the past decade. It is not so long ago that it you wanted to read anything we had books, newspapers and magazines. Paper was the only option. The only choice in books was whether to select the paperback or the hardback version.

The digital age has changed all that. Now the traditional paper media which served us for so many years is being over taken by digital readers. How do you figure out which is the best option for you? Really the only way is to try out a digital reader for yourself and see if you like it, but there are definitely some pro and cons that may help you make a choice between the two.

The Attraction of Digital Readers

There are many who would say that reading in the digital age has increased choice. You have a potential library of millions of books to choose from. However, that amount of choice has created problems of its own. The digital age gives us the ability to select a book quickly. We have lots of help with our choice from reviews from fellow readers. We can log into a multitude of different sites to find out what our friends are reading to see if we want to make a choice from their recommendations. The whole process can take minutes or hours depending upon how caught up in all the reviews you want to get.

The choice can at times be overwhelming, at other times appealing. With the digital age, instant gratification is perfectly possible. No having to wait for delivery or driving out to your favorite book store.

You can own thousands of books on one simple reader. Think of all that saved space in your home. No more shelves of books that you read once, or buy on impulse and never read at all, taking up valuable square footage in your apartment. One small digital reader is all you need.

The impact on the environment is also less if you buy a digital book and leave the book on the shelf in the store. The environmental impact of the publication of a traditional paper book is much more than that of the digital alternative.

So far the digital book seems to be the ideal answer. Why would we ever want to read a paper book when the digital age offers us this incredibly convenient alternative with a choice of millions of books within our reach?