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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Business Intelligence Roadmap: The Complete Project Lifecycle for Decision-Support Applications
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Larissa T. Moss, Shaku Atre
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
This map covers a lot of territory


This book is impressive in its scope! Starting with the business justification of the project, Moss and Atre emphasize requirements, metadata, and extraction/transformation/ and load. In each chapter is a good overview, things to consider, relation to other steps of the plan, and a clear list of deliverables and the personnel (the roles) involved in each of the steps. Each chapter also offers rules of thumb that could only have been come from someone experienced with setting up a Business Intelligence Solution. Perhaps most important to a project manager tempted to cut out a step, is a warning about the risk of omitting the step.
Each chapter should NOT be thought of as an in-depth analysis of the topic (for example, there are just 4 pages discussing the star versus the snowflake schema when discussing database design), but rather as a map of the steps that need to be done. I was particularly impressed with the metadata discussions, which emphasize testing of the metadata repository, the role of metadata in navigation and context-sensitive-help at the element level, and the use of multiple sources to generate the metadata. The common emphasis on reviews, involvement of the business sponsors, and testing throughout the process was great! The discussion on three parallel development tracks seemed optimistic, as I was not sure that the application track is completely independent of the Extraction/transformation/load steps until the final implementation step. The book probably also should have emphasized security earlier in the process. This book offers a good plan, and I would be happy if our Business Intelligence projects followed the plan laid out here!!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Peopleware : Productive Projects and Teams, 2nd Ed.
Publisher: Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated
Authors: Tom Demarco, Timothy Lister
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great software requires the right environment


The authors have 20+ years of experience studying successful and unsuccessful software projects. With humour and charm and insight they explain all of the common mistakes and misunderstandings that occur in projects, and how to avoid them. The focus is on the people and the team and how to make them successful.
When I worked on OS/2 at Microsoft, Peter Neupert (now at drugstore.com) had been newly put in charge of the OS/2 project, and he brought Tom DeMarco in to speak to us. The 1st edition of this book was published in 1987, so I think it was in 1987 or 1988. All the wisdom of DeMarco and Lister was no match for the fact that IBM and Microsoft had quite divergent goals for OS/2, so it was doomed to failure. When I read this second edition last year, I was very impressed by how closely their observations matched my experience from 14 years at Microsoft working on OS/2, MS-DOS, Windows 95, Internet Explorer, Java, and MSN.
A must-read for any software development manager and any executive that manages software development efforts.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Radia Perlman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
The Other Great Networking Book


The networking universe is not purely TCP/IP. There is a ton of wacky stuff out there that even your friendly Cisco instructor likes to gloss over. Who uses CLNP or DECnet, anyway? And Ethernet just works, doesn't it?
Well, people do use them, Ethernet doesn't just work and one day you'll need to know what the hell is happening on your multi-vendor multi-protocol network, whereupon Radia Perlman will save your hide.
When I was recently posted abroad I had to decide which technical books to put in storage until my return and which to bring with me. I had about 150 such books, but I could take three at most. I took two: Perlman and Stevens TCP/IP vol 1. I've not missed the others yet.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Steve Krug
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Quit wasting time listening to the "experts" and read this


Quit wasting time listening to the "experts" and find out yourself with this book
Couple of great points-- We don't read pages. We scan them. Sad but true...(sad for those who labor hours over graphics and sadder for those bustin' their nut to write web friendly and readable copy)
The exception as Krug points out are news stories, reports, or product descriptions. "But even then, if the document is longer than a few paragraphs, we're likely to print it out because it's easier and faster to read on paper than on a screen." I found that out when my magazine -AboutBizz Magazine decided to put our print magazine online. We spent months redesigning www.AboutBizz.com (I wish I would've found Steve's book two years ago when we started the redesigns -- it would've saved us hours and hours of waste!) We find that our printer friendly pages are always the most accessed pages.
He states that we scan because we're usually in a hurry and we're really only interested in a fraction of what's on the webpage. We only look for what matches our interests and the rest of it is ignored. He does a great job of proving this by showing HOW the eye scans your webpage --(If you don't have your logo in the top right corner after reading this then you must pass go and cannot collect your $200.)
Krug has another "Fact of Life" where he states We don't figure out how things work. We muddle through it. I wholeheartedly agree. I for years have referred to this as the "scrunch factor". We've all done it...it's when you see or read something, and if you don't quit "get it" or understand what they message conveyed is or can't connect the dots in your minds eye, then you scrunch -- your forehead wrinkles, eyebrows drop, eye's look critical -if you're married then you've possibly seen this look from your spouse ;)
Of the most value is where Steve describes how you can run your own cheap and inexpensive focus study group using a few people, a number of choice questions, and a simple camcorder. After reading this, you will walk away realizing that ANYONE can do their own research and have real answers to how people their website.
It reminded me of a passage out of the classic book, TESTED ADVERTISING METHODS by John Caples. Early on in the book Caples talks about how in years to come who more advertisers will use more scientific methods to get better results with their ads. He talks about how every person had an opinion on what works...long copy, short copy, headlines, no headlines, sketches, etc.. Let me quote the book,
"Not long after that I began to work on mail order advertising. Each advertisement was tested. Results were tabulated. Each advertisement and each publication had to prove itself in actual sales. I know now that much of the talk (of other people) I heard was just talk. Too often, the ad men were stating opinions, not facts. And in many cases, the opinions were not even the boiled-down opinions of a large group of people. They were personal opinions. If the real foundation of those opinions could be discovered by psychoanalysis, it would be laughable in many cases. An artist might favor blue backgrounds in advertisements because blue was his mothers favorite color. A copywriter might recommend short copy because his wife once said, 'I would never read all that small print, and I don't think anybody else would, either.'..."
If you are in the midst of designing your website, or trying to get someone to pay attention to it, you will find plenty of "experts" telling you what works. Remember what Caples says, keep my words in mind, do yourself a large favor, go out and buy "Don't Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability" by Steve Krug and find out YOURSELF what works. It's a no-brainer.
Pros: You'll never find in another book this great inexpensive method to do focus study researchCons: Wish he would have given examples how the eye scans applies to HTML email
The Bottom Line: Use the information found on creating your own focus study -- & you may change the way your site looks...Why? Because the USER will tell you what really is working.