The following guest blog was written by Maximilian Hartmann, a student at ETH Zurich.
Students or anyone willing to advance in new fields of study are constantly seeking quality and preferably free sources of education to start out with. Nowadays, YouTube is one of the first places to look for in-depth tutorials about anything without spending a dime, just to get a first glimpse of the topic to hopefully confirm one’s initial interest.
From my point of view, all this graphical and audio-based material is awesome but still not entirely sufficient to quench one’s thirst for knowledge, especially when you get stuck and need a reliable source to fall back onto. That’s why I am personally always on the lookout for nicely written books, or in the age of the Internet, mostly e-books that give the reader a structured overview of an entire topic. After a seemingly endless amount of time trying to find my lecturer’s books on torrent sites or basically any corner of the deep web (joking), I decided to look in a different direction. I used my profound Google tech skills, including the command “filetype:pdf” and some keywords related to the scripting language Python and the statistical computing project R to finally stumble upon the Succinctly series. Even though there was a huge variety of openly available e-books on the first page of the Google search results (nobody is so desperate to dig deeper than that), the books provided by the Succinctly series impressed me not only by their cover design but also by their high-quality authors. For example, I was already familiar with Jason Cannon, the author of Python Succinctly, through books he had written about Linux as well as his YouTube channel where he provides additional free Linux-related tutorials.
I am not a big programmer myself. My study is not linked to computer science nor heavy scripting. Nevertheless, my own impression is that nobody can completely avoid being confronted by it in the long run, especially in today’s increasingly digitized world. Also, everybody has tedious tasks they would rather assign to a computer to do while having a beer. The Succinctly series books provided me with a solid foundation to be able to write small scripts and fostered my general interest in programming, even to this day. Because of the Succinctly series, I was able to write a Python script to read, compare, and graphically output radio spectrometry data for my bachelor’s thesis. For this I want to thank everybody involved who made this possible and continues to provide quality content.