Gas station without pumps

2018 December 30

Book is done (for now anyway)

Filed under: Circuits course — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:38
Tags: ,

I released the final version of the book today, with all my edits from the summer and fall. No more edits are expected until summer 2019—unless a big error is found that I need to correct quickly.

Although I’ve raised the minimum price (to $5.99 from $4.99), the coupon LeanpubHolidaySaleHoHoHo is good through 2019 Jan 1 for the old price.

Students in BME 51A for Winter 2019 should have gotten their coupons for free copies.

Anyone who bought the book or used a free coupon in the past can get the new version for free.  The URL is now, though the old URL should re-direct.

I’m offering a token payment for the first report of any error (25¢ per error, and I’ll scale that up for bigger errors).  For students or tutors in the class, I’ll pay cash at the end of BME 51B.  For anyone else, I’ll pay by PayPal.

The book now has

603 pages
302 figures
12 tables
475 index entries
142 references



  1. Looking through the front matter, I got to “URL-based test equipment” and I don’t know what “URL-based” would mean in general, let alone for test equipment. It looks like you later refer to USB-based digilent hardware; is “URL” here a typo for “USB” or am I completely missing something? If it’s not a typo, perhaps an example like “e.g. ExampleCorp LabWidget” or “e.g.” would clarify.

    Only because you have asked for feedback and I regret not having had time to put down these thoughts earlier, I’ll provide some of my thoughts about the front matter.

    The front matter and at least the first chapter seems implicitly to shift target audience from paragraph to paragraph. Have you considered moving most of the material to end matter? Especially the suggestions on how to design a course around the book feel to me like they would more naturally fit in an afterward. Additionally, I am not sure about the purpose of “Unfortunately, bioengineering students have been conditioned… It is my hope that the extra gravitas of the textbook format will make students more willing to do the reading and the homework ahead of time, so that lab time can be used more productively.” The purpose of saying that, I would venture to guess, is either to justify to yourself taking the time to write the book, or to try to spur students to do what they need to do, but it’s not clear that either purpose is well-served by the inclusion.

    I’ve found the most effective prologues and introductions speak directly to the reader, including direct second person references. Your tone is generally informal, which makes the reader new to the book (the most obvious target of the front matter) less sure where he or she is really being directly addressed when you refer to your audiences in the third person. I’d suggest re-reading the “Why I wrote this book” and following text, and for each paragraph and idea asking “what benefit does this particular part carry, and for whom?”

    “Don’t be too helpful” is really out of place as it stands. In its current voice, it should be part of the instructions for setting up a course based on the book, which I argue would more clearly belong to end matter as meta-information. Where it stands, you are really writing an apology (in the classic sense) for not hand-holding, but for where it stands, addressing it directly to the reader as “Why you may find this book not helpful” and recasting the prose to fit that header, instead of as instruction (in this context, for whom?), might improve it.

    I’m making some rather direct suggestions here as if I were your editor, and I don’t mean to imply any obligation to do anything with any of these ideas. I appreciate the time you’ve put into the book and have learned a lot following your blog. Good work and thank you!

    Comment by Michael Johnson — 2018 December 30 @ 19:48 | Reply

    • It is a typo—it should have been “USB-based”. It occurs 4 times in the Preface, so I owe you $1 for that.

      The first chapter is intended for the students in a class, but Preface is intended more for instructors or those trying to choose a book for themselves.
      The preface has had somewhat less attention than most of the book, because it is not assigned to the students in my classes to read. I’ll fix the typos right away (since I can do that without changing the date of the release), but a rethink of the Preface will probably wait until the summer. I’ll try to make the audience for the Preface clearer and more consistent, but I won’t move it to an Appendix—I think that instructors need to read the Preface before looking at most of the book, rather than afterwards.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2018 December 30 @ 22:55 | Reply

      • No need to pay me! Probably my autodidact point of view makes me most sensitive to my confusion about voice in the front matter; since I’m not being assigned reading I don’t have a prompt to skip it. ☺

        Comment by Michael Johnson — 2018 December 31 @ 05:17 | Reply

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