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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Excel Data Analysis: Your Visual Blueprint for Creating and Analyzing Data, Charts and PivotTables
Publisher: Visual
Authors: Jinjer Simon, Jinjer Simon
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Quick and Dirty- but Immensely Practical


The "Read Less - Learn More" trademark on the cover encapsulates the essence of what any reader can get out of this very non-traditional software user's guide.
Although I am an MBA grad and am knowledgeable of data analysis techniques, I had always considered myself a novice user of Excel. I recently found myself in a predicament where I had to quickly learn the more complicated Excel features of data analysis in preparation for an interview for a position with a market research firm. In a panic, I went to the local B&N bookstore and bought a copy of the old stand-by Dummies Series- "Excel Data Analysis" (I'll refer to it as "DS"), as well as the book in this review (I'll refer to it as Visual Blueprint, "VB").
The thing about this book that really appealed to me was the logical and clean (uncluttered) explanation of each of the topics presented. It's a very user-friendly manual to follow along with the use of a computer (to go through the exercises).
Progressive screen-shots are always located at the bottom half of each page, in successive order from left to right with clearly labeled numbered steps to follow. The examples that are shown in the screen shots are simple but very illustrative.
On the top half of each left page is an introduction of the topic being covered and what the main processes are to accomplish the particular task. On the top half of each right page are additional methods of application and extra hints and descriptions of the syntaxes for functions that can be used.
The arrangement of the graphics and the text work very well together and allow the reader to efficiently grasp each of the concepts being presented. What would normally be covered by a traditional user's manual in five to ten pages (reading from top to bottom- large text sections interspersed by graphics), this reference does the same in either two pages or four pages maximum. The way the editors have laid out this manual was very clever; not only does the reader have a lot less pages to get lost in (especially when trying to work through the examples with a computer) but also the topics are presented concisely and as simply as possible.
I relied heavily on this book to prepare myself for an Excel test given by the company I was interviewing with. I spent at least 90% of my time referring to VB, and where necessary, I spent 10% of my time referring to DS for supplementary information. I studied over a period of one week and passed the test well enough to be hired!
As enthusiastic as I am about this book, it is far from perfect with regards to being an ultimate and comprehensive manual for Excel. (That said, however, the Appendices are full of useful information...keystroke and navigation shortcuts as well as a handy reference for VBA and function syntaxes / commands....much more than is included in DS.) Additionally, as another reviewer had written previously, I can corroborate that I had found a few minor errors (formula calculations in examples, syntaxes), but not in such a large amount as to dissuaded one from using this book. My other negative is that the examples provided on the included CD were poorly referenced in the Manual; some examples, I couldn't find on the CD. Again, this didn't happen often.
I gave this book a perfect score, not because it is an authoritative and fully comprehensive manual on Excel Data Analysis (it isn't), but because it delivers on empowering readers to learn the software in much less time than traditional manuals can deliver. VB is quick and dirty- but it works!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Grokking the GIMP
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Carey Bunks
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Simply the best


I bought this to fulfill my need for a "real" graphic-manipulations-program, and boy was it a good buy!Now I'm the one ruling the show (concerning pics), and make my collegues that use the latest-and-greates Photoshop look rather bleak... BUY IT.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Neural Networks: A Comprehensive Foundation (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Simon Haykin
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A reliable Neural Network reference book


This book is a recommended book for NN course. Many classmates regret to buy it initially as they find the book very unapproachable. I share the same view until one of my lecturers has painstakingly explained the concepts behind back-propagation and regularization. This book is one of the few where you can find the steps involved in implementing Optimal Brain Surgery. (Table 4.6). This book may discourage beginner.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference (2nd Edition)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Danny Goodman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Just essential


I make my living creating web pages, coding web pages, and fixing other people's web pages. This book goes with me everywhere. It is clearly arranged, well written, well indexed and everything else that you would want from a reference book. If you have to deal with websites on the client side on any level beyond "beginner" (or pre-DHTML 3.0 browsers) this book is a must. I just hope that the author will bring out an updated version when Netscape 6 is released.