|The Official BBC micro:bit User Guide|
Author: Gareth Halfacree
An official guide! Who could resist?
After that lead in, presumably you are expecting a bad review. On the contrary, this is quite a good book, but only if you are looking for what it is telling you. That is, this is a good book for the right reader.
First I need to comment on the "official" part of the title. It seems that the Micro:bit Educational Foundation gave its blessing to the book, but there is no sign that there is any special input from them so "official" seems to be more a sales gimmick than any special status. If you find another book that doesn't have the term "official", it is worth considering on its merits.
The first part of the book is a general guide to the micro:bit. After a tour of the board in Chapter 1 we are guided though getting it connected with USB or battery power in Chapter 2. Chapter 3 gets us to work with the web site to run your first program. All good if you don't have a clue or don't have a mentor to show you how.
Part III is a collection of chapters that are focus on fairly arbitrary topics and take a project approach. Chapter 8 looks at the built-in radio. Not using it as Bluetooth or WiFi, but as an ad-hoc custom point-to-point network. There is a tiny section on Bluetooth, but basically it directs you to a website. Chapter 9 is about using the micro:bit with the Raspberry Pi, which is really an exercise in communicating over a serial port. While this is a moderately useful technique in practice, I'm not sure its relevant in a beginner's book. After all, you are struggling to come to terms with the micro:bit and it seems a bit hard to throw in another computer to the mix.
Chapter 10 is titled "Building Circuits" and is a basic guide to the pins that you can use on the micro:bit. Nothing complicated - buttons, an LED output and reading analog input. Just about enough to get you started, but far from enough to get you to the end of the road or to stop you blowing up some devices despite the warnings.
Chapter 11 is a catalog of things you can buy to extend the micro:bit. This is likely to go out of date quite quickly and it would be better to visit one of the main resellers on the web and have a look.
Chapter 12 is a detour into wearable computing, including the use of conductive thread. The project is a rain sensing hat - neat but hardly useful as most of us have a rain sensing head. Apart from a certain level of disbelief, it is a good starter project, but most wearables seem to involve flashing LEDs and light strips rather than conductive thread.
Finally, in Chapter 13 we have a look at teaching and other resources.
This raises the question of who this book is aimed at?
I can see that teachers struggling to get to grips with the micro:bit might find this a good starting point. I can also see parents finding it useful. I'm not so sure about children as the book doesn't major on excitement and stimulating projects - but this isn't what it promises. The best description of this book is "mostly helpful" if you are a complete beginner, but even in this case you might well need the help of a mentor to get through.
|Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 April 2018 )|