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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Design of Sites: Patterns, Principles, and Processes for Crafting a Customer-Centered Web Experience
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Douglas K. van Duyne, James A. Landay, Jason I. Hong
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Substance over flash, usability over 'pop'

I admit it; I'm a sucker for web design books. Whenever a book comes out on the subject, I tend to rush to buy it, hoping it can show me how to improve my craft, and make the designs I create better and more effective. Most of the time I'm disappointed because the book is simply a paean to whatever the latest and 'greatest' is in the world of hip and hot design.
I don't want to know how to make what's hip and hot...I can figure that out for myself. What I want is to see how I can implement proven strategies that help users (my users) get things done as they use the product. And that's the true strength of this book; it's what it's all about. With almost 100 'patterns' of website design, this book breaks it down in simple, easy-to-get terms, that I, a technical usability specialist can understand and then turn around and reproduce. It's almost like a cookbook, in the sense that the book shows me:
1) What the patterns is, how it's used in the real world, and different flavors of it2) Why the pattern is good, how it's been successful, and in some cases how it's been refined.3) How the pattern works, what are it's components, and what does it need to be successful4) And finally, what other patterns it's like, and how by incorporating parts of other patterns, I can strengthen my users' experience.
I want this...I don't have time to be reinventing the wheel every time my employer or a client wants a site. I need to be able to pick up a reference book and see exactly what a `community' site (or one of a hundred other types of sites) is like, so I have a good starting place to work from as I delve into what the project sponsor wants. This book helps me by already doing the leg-work of research into best practices, common features, and pitfalls. By giving me that already, I don't have to spend time doing figuring that stuff already out, and rather can spend time doing what's important...listening to my client, employer, and user base to figure out how to meet their specific needs, and make them all happy.
That's easily worth the price of admission.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: An Embedded Software Primer
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: David E. Simon
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Good Reading for embedded developers

I've been working with embedded systems for 10 years, and found lots of info, I hadn't seen or read before. The chapters on hardware is good info, and the review of RTOS architectures and core functions was a nice refresher. If you're new to embedded system design, then I'd highly recommend this book to nail down the basics.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: JUnit Recipes : Practical Methods for Programmer Testing
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: J. B. Rainsberger
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Tasty recipes for success

Sometimes the tiniest things are the most useful. Nails, screws, paperclips and post-its are all small, simple objects that are used a thousand different ways. So it is with JUnit -- a small and really very simple testing tool that can find its way into every corner of your Java development.

Rainsberger's book is a compendium of those thousand ways that JUnit can be used (well, OK, more like 130 ways). Each recipe starts with a solid motivation and includes a worthwhile discussion afterwards. You quickly realize that the author is sharing hard-won experience with you on every page. There are sections on testing standalone code of every description, as well as detailed sections on testing servlets, EJBs, and other less tractable components.

I've been using JUnit for years, but I picked up quite a few useful tips from this enjoyable book. Highly recommended.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Access 2000 Developer's Handbook Volume 1: Desktop Edition
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Paul Litwin, Ken Getz, Mike Gilbert
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Probably good if read like a novel

This book is a paradox. It's huge and filled with lots of information. It weighs a lot and has lots of pages.

WHY then, do I refer to it time and time again and never find anything I am looking for?

After attempting to use this book as a reference guide for the past few years, I have given up. It simply does not have the information I am looking for. I am tired of being in a bind while developing an Access tool, grabbing this and looking for a topic, only NOT to find it.

This book DOES have information, though. Lots of it. Used as a reference guide, it trepidates close to offering solutions to common problems. Scan through it and it will *touch* upon topics I need to know about, then veer off into some unknown space that is not what I need. Then I end up going to google groups where I find what I need quickly.

And that reminds me. The index leaves a lot to be desired. The words are large and, for long topics, it is easy to get lost because it is difficult to see which sections are indented (some sections are so long there are no indentations).

Just the other day I was trying to learn more about Access's .Text versus .Value property for textboxes. Surely, in a book of this size, there MUST be a paragraph devoted to it, right?

If so, I'd like to know where it is. Google groups...found it.

So as a reference guide, this book sucks.

HOWEVER, if this book was read from cover-to-cover and the material memorized, THAT would probably yield some good learnings. But I don't use computer reference books that way at all. This book would be way too big and dry for that.

Bottom line, I spent 59 bucks on this thing and it takes up a lot of room on my bookshelf. It would probably be a good book if read cover-to-cover. I can't think of 1 topic this book has helped me through during the development of Access tools.