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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Microsoft ADO.NET (Core Reference)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: David Sceppa
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Good Helpful Book

Learning ADO.NET is a fun, but non-trivial task. David has an amazing way of writing stuff that is cool and compelling. This book has helped me learn soo much that I have bought it for 3 of my friends b/c they always kept borrowing it and I needed it around. His whole idea of 'questions that should be asked' is great and it's straightforward enough for a beginner but also caters to advanced developers.
I have most of the books that I could find on ADO.NET and this is by far the best one I've read.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint
Publisher: Graphics Pr
Authors: Edward R. Tufte
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Information Guru Indicts Presentation Software

Edward Tufte is the foremost advocate of communicating complex data simply and clearly in the world today. It was naturally only a matter of time before he cast a critical eye on the software most responsible for dumbing down information transfer across the fruited plains---PowerPoint.
Don't worry: Tufte's criticisms of the software package are not the latest round of Microsoft-bashing from an academic elite practically wed to its Macs.
Rather, Tufte sets his sights on bigger and more rewarding game: how presenters have watered down their presentation styles to suit off-the-rack presentation templates provided by this software package.
His thesis is as simple and elegant as his goal of streamlined, impactful communication. PowerPoint lacks the resolution necessary to convey a rich stream of information to the presentation audience.
If you're inclined to defend the software, ask yourself if you've endured the following in a PowerPoint slideshow:
- An unending stream of bullet lists or "talking points" consisting of a handful of words per slide
- Branding (logos, headers, footers, titles etc) which takes up a large portion of available slide real estate
- "Sesame Street" style animations which obscure rather than illuminate the subject matter
- Distracting audio cues which draw the audience's attention away from the speaker and toward "the machine that goes, 'PING'"
Or try a simpler exercise: Think back to the best talk or pitch you can recall. Was PowerPoint employed? I suspect not; and for good reason, as Tufte argues.
Sadly, thanks to the ubiquity of the software, the abuse of PowerPoint has consequences far beyond bored audiences. In a particularly powerful section of the essay, Tufte demonstrates how PowerPoint contributed to the space shuttle Columbia disaster.
Since my purchase of this pamphlet, I have shared it widely with my PowerPoint-happy colleagues. The result, I'm happy to say, has been far more impactful and dynamic presentations which do not shirk on the data.
Once my dog-eared copy circulates widely enough (or enough freeloaders buy their own), my company may well break off the shackles of boring meetings and overly-slick sales pitches once and for all.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Digital Character Design and Painting: The Photoshop CS Edition (Graphics Series)
Publisher: Charles River Media
Authors: Don Seegmiller
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Informative and Inspirational

This must be one of the best books available on the process of using Photoshop to create original paintings. For that matter, many of the techniques described can also apply to other photo-editing programs. The section of the book about designing characters was enlightening, but I was more impressed with the way the author demonstrated digital painting methods. If you have an interest in art and a desire to create convincing paintings with a computer that goes beyond just using special effects filters, you'll find this book informative and inspirational.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Authors: John L. Hennessy, David A. Patterson, David Goldberg
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Too much, too little

It's ironic that I have a 1000 word review limit here, but the authors of this book couldn't make themselves stop after the first 1136 official pages of this book. No, online appendices add yet another 250 pages! The book is littered with examples with calculation errors, or cryptic examples such as the description of time-constrained scaling on p. 621: "the ideal running time is the same, 1 hour, so the problem size is cube root of 10 times n." Excuse me, some explanation or, better yet, proofreading, are in order here. In the same chapter, on p. 557, we have to wade through tables of state changes, only to find numerous variants of FSM representations of the same material on subsequent pages. No wonder this volume is so big! Lack of proofreading, revisions or excisions, and years of accretion has made this a nasty book to use for an advanced course. It's so big, students can't carry it to class. It's so big, even professors of graduate computer science courses comment on how unfocused it's become. It's so big, there should be fat mama jokes about it. It may be the only thing of its kind out there, but it's only worth 2 stars in its present state.