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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C++ Primer (4th Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Stanley B. Lippman, Josée Lajoie, Barbara E. Moo
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Complete reference, but exteremly disorganized

I use this book all the time as a reference, but if you are learning C++, this is probably one of the worst books you can get. It is highly disorganized and would discourage any student of C++. The authors routinely refer to subjects that have not been discussed or are covered a few chapters ahead.
But as a reference to c++, if you are already a C++ programmer, it is probably one of the best ANSI C++ books out there and subjects are covered clearly, that is if you already know C++.
For a beginner I recommend Object-Oriented Programming in C++ (4th Edition) by Robert Lafore.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint
Publisher: Graphics Pr
Authors: Edward R. Tufte
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Problem analyzed - solution not offered

Edward Tufte has his own fan club of people looking on how to present visual information. However, his work is largely on how to present information graphically in print. That's the first mistake of this book, and it's illustrated by Tufte's favorite infographic (not shown in this pamphlet) - the contemporary illustration showing the decimation of Napoleon's troops as they invaded Russia in 1812.

While this is great way of illustrating a large number of figures, it just doesn't work in PowerPoint. And the reason is that in print, you can expect the reader to pore over one of your points at his own rate, whereas in a presentation you have to present bite-size pieces so that audiences can get the idea immediately.

Presenters don't even get this basic idea, so don't expect PowerPoint presentations to be good. In fact, there's a cult of "bad is good enough," which makes me wonder how many other facets of doing business would people admit to be "good enough."

Other "faults" of PowerPoint are shown here. The Gettysburg address as a PowerPoint presentation was manufactured as a joke, so it's hardly a damning indictment of the program. The authors of the NASA slides which downplayed dangers to the Space Shuttle could also have downplayed them in a written report, and probably did. At the meeting where the slides were shown numerous people had concerns, but they felt that any dangers were just brushed aside.

Until you have a culture of doing better in presentations, no one will be happy. People have no idea how to present giving priority to the message and nothing but.

Tufte says that presentations are bad, like no one else knew that. But most presenters are in companies that don't value good presentations and make no effort on finding out how to create them.

Until that culture changes we will always have bad presentations and people complaining about them.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Adobe InDesign cs Bible
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Galen Gruman, Galen Gruman
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
stay away..

I knew this book had serious problems when, as early as page 7, the author stated "Select the Content tool (the hand), then click in the new frame to hold the story's headline. Type the words..."

In the Tool Window, there are two hand-icons. The first one, an icon with a hand over it, reads "button tool." One cannot click on the button tool, click on a frame, and type text. The second icon resembling a hand is not called the content tool, but the "Hand Tool." Even so, clicking on the hand tool, and immediately clicking on a frame, does not allow one to type text. What "hand" is the author talking about?

I did a search on the InDesign Help website for "content tool" and there were *zero* finds. Even in the index of this 900 page book there was no reference to Content tool (under content *or* tool, the two most logical places to look) But yet, there on page 7, the author clearly states "select the Content tool."

Another error on pages 5-7. The authors' X and Y coordinates do not match up with the figures in the book. If you open InDesign and type 4p6 for X and Y, the frame is no where near where it appears in the book's figures.

One major error and one major omission -- all by page 7. I recommend printing off the tutorial/help that comes with the application instead of purchasing this book. It will save you a lot of time and frustration.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Web Navigation: Designing the User Experience
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jennifer Fleming
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent place to start

If you're an old hand at web design, this book is mostly valuable for it's pointers to examples. It can connect you with people and ideas, and is therefore worth your scanning time. But the book is at it's best as a guide for people just getting started, just learning how to think about design for networked media. It's a better starting point than some other books because it recognizes that you can't think about web navigation in isolation -- navigation is a topic that sticks out into almost every aspect of the user experience. So, starting with navigation, Jennifer Fleming steps back and addresses everything from understanding user needs to usability testing. It's a broad (and therefore sometimes shallow by necessity) foundation from which to build a design approach. Lots of research, lots of examples, lots of pointers. A shotgun, not a rifle.