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Getting Started with the Internet of Things

Publisher: O'Reilly

Reading this book takes me back to younger days of hacking on a Commodore-64, a platform that has recently made somewhat of a comeback. By "hacking" I mean typing in code from magazines and trying my hand at writing BASIC programs to do things that seemed incredibly interesting in the early '80s. These things included writing my name or inane messages on the screen, or trying to recreate the Infocom text adventure games I loved playing back then. When it was all said and done, I'd save programs to a tape (like a cassette tape) and call it a day. Even with what amounted to wildly powerful computing hardware for those days, and a high-level language like BASIC, it was easy to feel like you were controlling the machine. Getting Started with the Internet of Things updates this feeling for a new generation and lets you control machines linked to the rich ecosystem of the Web.

The machine in this case is a device called a Netduino Plus, part of a family of devices that will be familiar to regular readers of MAKE Magazine. Programming these simple devices to perform the modern equivalent of writing inane messages on the screen is outlined in Chapter 1, with the embedded programming equivalent of "Hello World," where the Netduino contains a program that writes out "Hello World" to your connected PC. It's deceptively simple, because the big idea here involves deploying code to a device, much as developers wrote code to control the early computing devices, toys, and games we continue to love today. That's not saying you'll leap from a Netduino Plus to creating a game console, but the basic principles are the same. Getting Started with the Internet of Things gives you the fundamentals and building blocks for developing any kind of "smart" device connected to the Web. What you do after the initial push is limited only by your imagination.

The book is written clearly and aimed at moderately skilled developers. If you don't have some grasp of object-oriented programming and .NET, you're going to have a hard time following along with the code samples. Getting Started with the Internet of Things is very Windows-centric, drawing examples from .NET and free tools on Windows for development. References are made to running similar development efforts on Mac or Linux, but you'll be happiest if you can read through the book with a Windows machine at hand. If you've never done any programming, this isn't the place to start. That said, you'll learn a heck of a lot about networking here, including the basic syntax of REST and the nature of web applications and services. Getting Started with the Internet of Things reinforces the ideas behind the composition of the Web, giving you sample programs to leverage your Netduino as both a device for taking external Web data and passing it on as a client, or a device that acts as a server and reports its current state or some other local input to a client.

Packed with code samples and linked to a community that seems invested in continuing the dialogue started in these pages, Getting Started with the Internet of Things is, in fact, a great place to start if you're interested in tackling embedded programming and device development. With all the talk about web services and cloud, it's easy to forget that the Web is still just a mesh of interconnected devices. Getting Started with the Internet of Things shows you how to transform a humble piece of hardware, to participate in what the Web has to offer. Whether you're serious about the tradecraft behind this for career development, or just a curious Maker interested in dabbling, Getting Started with the Internet of Things is an essential companion to the Netduino Plus and a great place to get started with lower-level programming.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated