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UK freelance journalist, author
and writer Sean McManus

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Just published: New Edition of The Customer Service Pocketbook

07 November 2013


Book cover: The Customer Service PocketbookA new edition of The Customer Service Pocketbook has just come out, bringing the pocket-sized guide up to date with today's business culture and customer service technologies.

I first updated the book in 2002 from the 1991 edition written by the late Tony Newby. It was interesting how much business culture had changed in that time, not so much in terms of technologies (which are continuously changing), but in terms of social norms. In particular, people at all levels have far more autonomy and responsibility at work now than they used to, as organisations have become flatter, and employees have been trusted more and more to use their common sense to offer great customer service.

The book has sold consistently well and is often used by large corporates for their internal training programmes. The new edition builds on the previous edition, and reflects further cultural and technological changes. The widespread use of social media, for example, means that customer service often takes place in public and organisations need to be able to use technologies like Twitter and Facebook to listen to and respond to customers. For this new edition, I also felt there was potential to provide more detailed guidance on how great customer service can be delivered in person and on the phone too. The earlier editions included some questionnaires and quizzes and in response to reader feedback, these have been scaled back significantly.

If you'd like to take a look inside, I've uploaded a free sample chapter PDF of The Customer Service Pocketbook, including the table of contents and a complete chapter.

If you're interested in writing a review of the book for your blog or Amazon, please contact me. I have a limited number of copies available for this purpose.

The new edition is out now. You can find links to order it here (including a form you can use to order any of my books in an offline book shop).

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Raspberry Pi, Scratch and Minecraft at the Gadget Show

03 November 2013


On Saturday, I went to Earls Court in London for the Gadget Show Live at Christmas. I took along my Raspberry Pi and was a guest on the For Dummies booth, where I demonstrated the Pi running Minecraft, Scratch and Python.

Lots of visitors dropped by for a chat, many of them dragged to the stand by their children who made a beeline for Minecraft. I was demonstrating a Python program I'd made to build mazes in Minecraft. (You can find out more about my Minecraft Maze Maker, which will feature in the upcoming book Raspberry Pi Projects, here.) The children enjoyed playing the maze, while the adults were interested to see what the Minecraft craze was all about, and how it can provide an introduction to programming.

Demonstrating Minecraft on the booth

I also demonstrated Scratch, and it was wonderful to see young people who were so enthusiastic about it. Many of them had encountered it through schools and had made games using it, although their parents hadn't seen it. Many of the parents remembered having programmable (or even self-assembly) computers when they were young. I met people who grew up on the ZX Spectrum, ZX81, Vic 20, Amstrad CPC and BBC computers, and who were looking for tools that would give their children the same opportunities to begin programming. I felt that many of them were inspired by Scratch and the Raspberry Pi and many said they'd look into setting up one or the other at home for the family.

For many people there, it was the first time they'd seen a Raspberry Pi. Most people had heard of it, but many of them didn't really understand what it was, or why it was special. People seemed to think it cost about £80, which is I think because that's the bundle price at a major retailer at the moment, and they were astonished to learn the real price of the unit alone. If we had had some Raspberry Pi computers for sale, they would have sold like hot Pi. I enjoyed chatting to people and telling them more about what the Raspberry Pi can do.

Meeting The For Dummies Man

Some people dropped by to chat about what they could do with their Raspberry Pi having already bought one. I had a couple of friends who bought a Raspberry Pi and didn't really know what to do with it once they'd got it, and I had them in mind as I wrote Raspberry Pi For Dummies, so I knew this was a common situation. I talked them through some of the great things other people are doing with their Raspberry Pis, and I hope that they decided to take out the Pi for a play when they got home.

On Friday, my co-author Mike Cook was at the show and demonstrated the Blast Off hardware project in the book too, showing how the Raspberry Pi can be used together with your own electronic circuits.

We made the official Gadget Show Live Christmas Gift Guide, which was lovely to see. The guide included a shot of Raspberry Pi For Dummies and said: "Give someone the gift of knowledge this year with one of the excellent titles in the For Dummies range, offering clear and concise solutions to all sorts of tech problems."

It was the first time I've presented the Raspberry Pi or Raspberry Pi For Dummies at a show like that, and it was a great experience. My voice is hoarse today from having to speak over the loud speakers opposite all day, and my legs ached at the end of the day, but it was wonderful to chat to other Raspberry Pi, Minecraft and Scratch enthusiasts, and to introduce others to these technologies for the first time. Thank you to everyone who stopped by for a chat, and special thanks to those who supported the book by buying a copy. Thanks also to Wiley for the opportunity, and to Polly, Lorna and Craig in particular. Thanks also to my wife Karen who spent all day helping out on the booth too.

You can find out more about Raspberry Pi For Dummies here. If you follow that link, you can also download a free sampler from the book, and the cut-out-and-glue-together paper case I had one of my Raspberry Pis in. I've collected together links to online retailers stocking my books here.

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Download a free chapter of Scratch Programming in Easy Steps

01 November 2013


Book cover: Scratch Programming in easy steps Scratch Programming in Easy Steps was published a couple of weeks ago, and I now have a free chapter for you! It's the first chapter from the book, which introduces Scratch and gets you started with the programming language, including making your first simple program.

I was delighted that Mitchel Resnick, from the team at MIT that made Scratch, agreed to let me reproduce an article he wrote for Edsurge as a foreword to the book. It is inspiring to read his take on how Scratch is helping young people to not only learn to program, but also to build their thinking and communication skills. I've included the foreword in the free sample too.

To give you a taste of what else is in the book, the free PDF sampler also includes the table of contents, the index, and the introduction I wrote for the book, but later removed to make room for one more short project.

You can view and download the sampler below. Thank you for sharing it and helping to spread the word!

There's more information on the book (including playable projects) here, and you can find links to buy the book from various shops here.

Scratch Programming in Easy Steps PDF Sampler


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Books by Sean McManus

Scratch Programming in Easy 

Steps

Scratch Programming in Easy Steps

Raspberry Pi For Dummies

Raspberry Pi For Dummies

Learn to program with the Scratch programming language, widely used in schools and colleges.

Set up your Pi, master Linux, learn Scratch and Python, and create your own electronics projects.

Super Skills: How to 

Code

Super Skills: How to Code

Web Design in Easy Steps

Web Design in Easy Steps

Learn how to code with this great new book, which guides you through 10 easy lessons to build up your coding skills.

Learn the layout, design and navigation techniques that make a great website. Then build your own using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

More books

©Sean McManus. www.sean.co.uk.