The people at Packt Publishing recently sent me an ebook copy of Raúl Garreta and Guillermo Moncecchi’s book, Learning scikit-learn: Machine Learning in Python to review. Machine learning isn’t a topic I’m very familiar with, but I gave the book a shot as it sounded interesting. I’ll start off with my quick review for those of you with little time:

Quick Review

  • Why I picked it up: This book was a review copy, but I’m actually interested in just about any Python programming book
  • Why I finished it: The book is well written and while I don’t understand a lot of it, the gist of the text was interesting…and I skimmed a lot.
  • I’d give it to: Someone who uses Python for scientific purposes or machine learning

If you found that intriguing, then feel free to read the full review! (more…)

A few years ago, a fellow named Zed Shaw created a website called Learn Python the Hard Way that a lot of people praised. The website is made up of lots of short exercises that help beginner programmers learn the various nuances of Python but in bit-sized chunks. He kept updating it from time to time and eventually Addison-Wesley turned it into a book by the same name. I was recently given a copy of the PDF version of the book to review. Here’s the quick version:

Quick Review

  • Why I picked it up: I received this book specifically to review it, although I was interested in reading it anyway just from what I’d heard about the site
  • Why I finished it: The book’s chapters are short…and technically, I skimmed a lot of it
  • I’d give it to: Someone who wants to learn Python and who has no previous experience with any other language


The Real Python: Advanced Web Development, featuring Django 1.6 KickStarter campaign released a preview chapter today called “Software Craftmanship”. It is the first chapter from the book. The PDF download consists of 33 pages.

You can go get it too by going to the following address: If you haven’t already, you can still support their Kickstarter for 3 more days.

I recently received a copy of Kivy: Interactive Applications in Python by Roberto Ulloa. This is currently the only book about Kivy. Kivy is a cross-platform GUI toolkit that will run on Linux, Windows, and OS X as well as Android and iOS. In fact, the people behind Kivy emphasize that this is aimed primarily at mobile programming. Kivy supports multitouch and has a very active group of programmers. You can read more about Kivy on their project’s home page. I will be reviewing the PDF version of the book.

Here’s my quick review for those of you without a lot of time:

Quick Review

  • Why I picked it up: I received this book as payment for helping with the reviewing of another Packt book, but I would have bought it myself because I am interested in learning Python for Android/iOS and I like learning about Python GUI toolkits.
  • Why I finished it: The book is short and I was optimistic that it would get better.
  • I’d give it to: Someone who already knows Python and the basics of Kivy, although I don’t think I would recommend it.


Last night I received an email about a new Python-related Kickstarter. The Real Python crew added a new author to write a book entirely about Django 1.6. This is a subject that I keep meaning to get into and haven’t had the opportunity to do so. Hopefully by backing this project, I’ll finally learn Django.

I have been impressed with the quality of their previous projects, so I feel that I can safely endorse these authors. I’m sure the project will be of high quality and well worth your time and money. Plus it’s fun to support these guys who want to share their knowledge. If you’re interested in supporting the project you can go to the following address:

Note: They are already fully funded at this point and some of the support levels are already full, so if you want to get in early, now is the time!

There aren’t very many Tkinter books in existence, which is something I’ve always found a little odd as it is the GUI toolkit that is included with Python. Basically you have Grayson’s Python and Tkinter Programming from 2000 or Roseman’s Modern Tkinter for Busy Python Developers from 2012. I reviewed the latter here, if you’re interested. There are other books that include Tkinter programming (like Core Python or Programming Python), but those texts are not Tkinter focused books. This brings us to 2013′s release of Tkinter GUI Application Development HOTSHOT by Bhaskar Chaudhary, the 3rd book about Tkinter in the last 13 years! Today, you can read my review of this interesting book.

Full disclosure: Packt Publishing asked me to be a technical reviewer of this book, so I received a free copy after the review process was finished.

Here’s the quick review for those of you without a lot of time:

Quick Review

  • Why I picked it up: Technically, I didn’t as I received it as “payment” for helping edit the book, but I would have picked it up just because there are so few Tkinter books and I find GUI programming a fascinating subject.
  • Why I finished it: The book has lots of fun fully-functional applications, so I kept reading just to see what the author would come up with next.
  • I’d give it to: Programmers that want to jump into GUI application development feet first – this book has lots of good examples of applications without the spaghetti code!


Packt Publishing recently contacted me about reviewing their new book, Instant Flask Web Development by Ron DuPlain. They sent me an ebook copy and I just finished it up. I always strive to give an honest opinion about the Python books I read as I want my readers to know whether or not a book is worthy of their hard-earned cash. If you don’t have much time for a review, then you can check out my short one below. If you have a few minutes, you can read the rest!

Quick Review

  • Why I picked it up: I’ve been interested in learning Flask (and web development in general) for a while now and this book just dropped in my lap.
  • Why I finished it: It’s short and has a lot of interesting little recipes and tips.
  • I’d give it to: I would give this book to someone who already knows Python and probably knows a little about web programming too.


This Contest is now over!

Packt Publishing has asked me to run a run a contest for them to give away their new book: Instant Flask Web Development by Ron DuPlain. It has been receiving favorable reviews on Amazon and I plan to release a review of the book soon.

I have 3 digital copies of the book to give away. Here’s a little information regarding what the book covers:


  • Manage your project dependencies using virtualenv
  • Understand how Flask provides URL routing and web request handling
  • Recognize how Flask serves static files on disk
  • Learn about modeling, storing, and querying data with SQLAlchemy
  • Present HTML forms and validate input with WTForms
  • Build a page layout with Twitter Bootstrap using a base Jinja template
  • Create, recall, update, delete, and list database records
  • Build custom template filters in Jinja to format data
  • Authenticate users and maintain sessions

How to Enter?

All you need to do is head on over to the book page and look through the product description of the book and drop a line via the comments below this post to let us know what interests you the most about this book. It’s that simple.

Winners will get an e-copy of the Book.


The contest will close on November 15th, 2013 at 12:01 p.m. CST. Winners will be contacted by the email they used when commenting! Don’t worry, I’m the only one who can see your email address on this blog.


Earlier this year, Packt Publishing asked me to be a technical reviewer of one of their upcoming books, “Building Machine Learning Systems with Python” by Willi Richert and Luis Pedro Coelho. Now the book is available for purchase and they have asked me to write a little about it. I haven’t read through the finished product myself, so I don’t know if the authors followed any of my advice, but I should note that English appeared to be their second language, so the book will likely be a little rough.

However, the content is interesting and I thought it was fairly comprehensive. They appeared to know what they were talking about. A lot of this book is over my head as I am not a scientist or engineer in the topic that this book covers. Basically, this book is about data mining using scikit-learn, mahotas and jug. You will learn about such heady topics as computer vision, basket analysis, how to classify data, etc.

You can check the book out on Packt’s website or on Amazon.

UPDATE (2013-08-22) – One of the authors commented on this post to let me know that they’ve cleaned up the text.

Some people don’t realize this, but there are a lot of free books about the Python programming language. Yes, some of them aren’t that great, but there’s a lot of really good resources out here that are free. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the free books and other resources you can use for my favorite programming language. (more…)

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