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TheLinuxGurus.org: Assembly Language Step-by-Step: Programming with DOS and Linux [Book Review]

Sep 24, 2000, 16:00 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David Culp)

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"This book takes an odd approach to assembly language, it is designed to teach someone to program in assembly as their FIRST computer language. That is one daunting task, but one to which Mr. Duntemann rises. Mr. Duntemann comes up with some very creative ways to teach assembly and the concepts behind programming in general. As I have said many times on this site, in real life I am a science teacher. I teach middle school science to disinterested teenagers. One of the most powerful teaching aids (in my opinion) are metaphors. If I can take a complex subject and relate it somehow to something familiar to my students they can internalize the concept easier. Mr. Duntemann takes the same approach throughout this book. You start out in Chapter one relating what a computer does to how you plan a typical Saturday. Generally by making a list of tasks to perform and then performing those tasks in order until finished. The metaphor is a very powerful one and brings computers and what they do down to a more personal level for most people."

"Mr. Duntemann takes the process of teaching assembly at a very slow pace and layers each new concept on top of the previous concepts. If you are pretty experienced and been doing this sort of thing for awhile then this may frustrate you reading about bytes, words, RAM and other common terms, however, remember this is designed to take a non-programmer from nothing to programming in assembly language. In fact, you do not even begin meeting machine instructions (on a formal basis) until chapter seven and do not meet your first real life assembly program until chapter 8. That is the beauty of the book, Mr. Duntemann does not assume anything, he leads you step-by-step (gee, thats in the title isn't it) through everything. Have you ever been sitting in calculus class and the professor throws a gargantuan problem on the board and solves it in three steps saying "Of course, it just naturally follows that......." between each step and it just does not naturally follow in your mind (or anyone else's but the instructor)? Many computer and technical books follow the same pattern, but trust me, Mr. Duntemann does not."

"Look at the title, it does say DOS and Linux right? Now, look at the table of contents. You may notice something a bit odd, Linux takes up two entire chapters, at the very end of the book! Are we, as Linux people getting ripped off, or cheated? Well, no, I will explain. Actually, I will explain in the authors own words."

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