How easy is it to run the examples in the book? Do I need to set up a cluster on multiple machines or is it something I can do on a single (Windows) machine? One of the drawbacks of Hadoop seems to be it's hard to set up, how does Storm compare?
I would say fairly easy, but of course I'm a bit biased. You should be able to run each of the examples in what's called "local mode". This allows you to simulate a cluster in-process and is very useful for development and testing. We cover running topologies both locally and on an actual cluster in the book. Chapters 2 - 4 are all local mode and chapter 5 covers the transition from local mode to running topologies remotely. I personally haven't done much development with Hadoop so I wouldn't be able to speak to the comparison. Sean or Peter might be able to provide you more info on that.
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Building a Better World in your Backyard by Paul Wheaton and Shawn Klassen-Koop