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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Embedded Systems Design: An Introduction to Processes, Tools and Techniques
Publisher: CMP Books
Authors: Arnold Berger, Arnold S. Berger
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Informative overview of system design

This book should provide a valuable reference for anyone interested in designing reliable embedded systems. This book covers a broad range of topics including selecting the best hardware, interrupt requirements, debugging methodologies and performance analysis. The book also includes many references to more in-depth resources for those wanting more detail than what is covered in this introductory work. A very informative read!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects (With CD-ROM)
Publisher: CMP Books
Authors: Trish Meyer, Chris Meyer
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Motion Graphics with AE is Perfect

"Creating Motion Graphics with After Effects" is a rare tome indeed. The book is an indispensible reference library that can be referred to when in a bind. The book acts as a great addition to Abobe's documentation, but takes the concept a step ahead.
The book also allows the AE user to add new skills and tricks to their bag. The book's elegent design is intuitive and cross-referenced and allows for learning in a myriad of ways.
CHAPTERS: The chapters are laid out in a logical way covering the broad aspects of AE. This allows the user to pick up the book and brush up on features that they need to learn or might have forgotten.
IN CHAPTER TUTORIALS: The authors also supply tuorial artwork and movies on the accompanying CD-ROM, allowing the reader to follow along with the concepts in each chapter. This is done without excluding people who might just want to read and learn without doing.
CD-ROM PDF TUTORIALS: These are my favorite. The authors have chosen some great effects that you see on current TV everyday, and they have broken them into tutorial Adobe PDF files on the CD. The files are listed according to difficulty in the book, and are tagged "Step-by-Step" or "Guided Tour." The simple presence of these is great, but the fact that they are beautiful designs make them extraordinary.
On top of all of this, the books also supplies a neat little history of the After Effects team originating with their days at CoSA.
All in all a terrifically designed book by a couple of terrific motion graphic designers, Trish & Chris Meyers.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning VB.NET (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Richard Blair, Jonathan Crossland, Matthew Reynolds, Thearon Willis
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Avoid this book...

I am EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED with this book -- here's why:

Problem #1:
This book was written by four different authors. It appears that some of the writers could not agree whether this book was to be designed for complete "beginners" (who want to learn the language) -- or if it was to be written for seasoned developers who simply wanted a rapid review of how VB.NET functions.

This confusion can be clearly seen by looking examining the first six chapters.

Chapters 1, 2, & 3: These are designed strictly with the beginner in mind. For example, chapter 1 takes the reader on a gentle review of the programming development environment. Chapter two intros carefully the idea of storing information in the computers memory in the form of ones and zeros by using the concept of a variable. It then proceeds and describes data types, etc. If you get the idea, these first few chapters are designed strictly for beginners.

Chapter 4, 5, & 6: This is a huge switch from being designed for beginners. Chapter four rapidly intros the idea of beginning and advanced object-oriented programming concepts, such as inheritance, polymorphism, read / write properties, constructors, namespaces, and more! Not good for the beginner who is likely to enjoy the first couple of chapters, buy they book, then panic when they get here. (Chapter four provides only a single example of object-oriented behavior -- either you get it the first time, or it's mostly a lost cause.)

Chapter 5 reads like a story and provides zero coding examples.

Chapter 6 starts out for beginners again, but then makes a rapid transition in the middle of the chapter by providing a complex example without much explanation again.

Very frustrating to say the least...

Problem #2:
Many of the chapters provide a very brief intro to some important concepts, such as database, XML, and others. At the very end of the book, the authors STRONLY HINT at the idea that the concepts taught within their book will not prepare you for actual programming experience -- thus they provide you with a commercial to buy additional books, which they "promise" to actually teach you something worthwhile.

Take my mind, if the author's don't believe in their product -- NEITHER SHOULD YOU.

Problem #3:
Some chapters try to use a single programming example that was designed to teach only a single concept. However, in order to "save time" on the author's part, they try to keep use the same example through the entire chapter. Thus, one will find themselves constantly deleting code, moving code, and trying to "debug" unnecessarily complex programs -- in order to hopefully master a new concept.

My final words -- find a book that is truly interested in teaching you VB.NET. This book is NOT it. If you buy it, I feel very sorry for you -- you have my sympathies...

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Mail and Internet Surveys : The Tailored Design Method
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Don A. Dillman
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Misnamed, Lacking Scientific Methodology

Well, this may be "the book" when it comes to surveys, but it still lacks a lot. First, I found the chapters on writing questions and organizing a questionnaire to be very useful. However, it looks like the author only added a couple chapters about Internet surveys, instead of reviewing his decades-old book in terms of the impact of the Internet. For example, I don't find it particularly useful to discuss how to fold a survey, or how to distribute it by mail, when it's being administered on-line!
Furthermore, this book is lacking any real scientific methodology. I suspect this is a result of the nature of the field, but survey designers should at least try to employ some good experimental design approaches. For example, this book does not help me at all to ensure that the survey actually gives me information that I need. While he does give information on writing interpretable questions, he has no recommendations on how to determine the goals of the survey, how to design questions that will address those goals, how to arrange questions in the survey to ensure good data that addresses those goals, etc. And what about statistical accuracy, and how certain types of questions are easier to measure? Any suggestions on how to evaluate free-response questions? Why isn't there an entire chapter on "How to avoid bias and inaccuracy in responses", instead of having suggestions scattered around the text?
This book has a lot of useful sociological hints on how to increase the response rate from a population. However, this isn't the most important aspect of surveys---it sorely lacks the scientific basis for the design and evaluation of the "experiment" that is the survey. Without this, it doesn't matter how many people respond, because the data will be useless.