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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Steve Krug
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Make An Impression -- A Good One

This book shows how to make an impression -- a good one. Not a glitzy one, but one that the users will appreciate. This is one of only two books on Web design that I recommend (I have read dozens). This is not some doctoral tome with tons of pictures (it does have many good pictures, but they are useful ones). This is not the latest full-page flash artist scheme. This is good, quick, hands-on knowledge -- just like a good Webpage should be. Read it and prosper.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Adobe Illustrator 10 Classroom in a Book
Publisher: Adobe Press
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Best beginners supplement to product manual

After first determining why I needed Illustrator when I already had Photoshop, I picked up this book because of my positive experience with another book from this Classroom in a Book series (Photoshop 7.0). And this book does not disappoint in the least bit either.
It follows a tutorial style approach to teaching how to use Illustrator (both Mac and Windows versions). The book is mostly black and white with all the relevant color pictures tucked between lesson 12 and 13. It hasn't caused me any problems as I follow along on the computer as I read the book (I have a color monitor).
In 15 lessons, this book does an excellent job of teaching you how to use Illustrator 10 without having to be in a classroom. All lesson files are on the CD-ROM that comes with the book. The book starts off with explaining how to use the Work Area and builds from the basic to the more complex topics. The basic topics of creating shapes, painting, drawing, working with brushes are followed by the more difficult topics of transforming objects, working with type, blending shapes and colors, etc.
Even though the two programs Photoshop and Illustrator are coming closer with each new version, the main differences between them are to do with whether you want to start with an existing photo and modify it for print & web or you want to start from scratch and create illustrations and artwork for print & web. I am oversimplifying here but this explanation helps me keep the differences between these two programs straight in my head.
The technological differences are that Photoshop uses bitmaps to represent images and Illustrator uses vectors (and complex mathematical equations) to represent the images. Of course, you don't need to bother with this part as it is irrelevant to using the tools effectively.
I use both Photoshop and Illustrator for basic web design but mostly stay with Photoshop. The reason for this is that I am a photographer and have never been good at artwork so I use Illustrator mostly as a hobby to improve my creativity in this area. It has been a lot of fun for me and I hope the same for you! Have fun learning to use this amazing and cool tool! And don't forget to check out Adobe's website for their latest release of Adobe CS (Creative Suite) that includes the next version of Illustrator after Illustrator 10.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Executable UML: A Foundation for Model Driven Architecture
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Stephen J. Mellor, Marc J. Balcer, Stephen Mellor, Marc Balcer
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
New Notation, Old Failures

The book recasts Shlaer-Mellor OOA into UML notation while preserving all advantages and failures of the first. The authors failed to realized that in contemporary, commoditized software market the winner is not the product that has the greater number of functional requirements implemented (they will all do), but the one that has better addressed non-functional requirements and software engineering "-ilities". Both non-functional requirements and "-ilities" originate design forces that can only be addressed by the model compiler. Not surprisingly, the authors delegate the OOA of model compilation domain to another, yet to be written tome. The authors' analogies to high-level language compilation are, at best, incomplete. One must always remember that after decades of research a new compiler must still be built for every advanced "metal". Contemporary distributed object-oriented systems present a continuously changing landscape of such "metal".Executable UML will be useful to System Engineers interested in "animating" functional requirements and analysis-level concurrencies. However, no incremental way of building OOA models has been suggested. It seems that the authors subscribe to "just do it" approach. The view-of-participated-objects (invented by Ivar Jacobson and popularized by Mike Ackroyd) could be a better alternative.Software engineers may find some of the terminology confusing. A subsystem, for example, is not defined as a center of execution, but as a subdomain.Overall, the book presents little added value to already skilled in Shlaer-Mellor OOA. For the newcommer to the world of translational methodology, the book raises a false hope for the out-of-the-box model compilation -- the claims of exponential growth in model compiler availability have already been made in the past.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Introduction to Algorithms, Second Edition
Publisher: The MIT Press
Authors: Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, Clifford Stein
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Psuedo Code made worse by poor teaching

I used this book as part of a graduate class in Algorithms and hated the psuedo code because it didn't read as clearlyor unambiguously as the "real" code I have been reading asa professional developer for over a dozen years. After teachingmyself and corresponding with the authors,I see the difficultyI had stemmed partly from the way my teacher used the book.The pseudo code makes reference to other bits of code in otherparts of the book. Its not always clear that these parts do
appear in the index. If the course had followed the book more closely that would have been evident.
The author's point isn't completely lost though. If I had carefully read the introductory material I would have pickedthat up.