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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Speech and Language Processing: An Introduction to Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics and Speech Recognition
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Daniel Jurafsky, James H. Martin
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
all advanced students in speech science -- don't miss it!

A really fine textbook for advanced students and researchers. It could profitably enhance graduate course sequences following my own text "Acoustics of Speech Communication: Fundamentals, Speech Perception Theory and Technology", Allyn & Bacon, 1999, ISBN-0-205-19887-2.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Software Engineering: A Practitioner's Approach
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies
Authors: Roger S. Pressman
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Mediocre at best

I bought this book for an undergraduate course in software engineering. I was thoroughly unimpressed by the book. Pressman attempts to cover too many topics within SE and ends up doing none well. Topics such as documentation, client/server architectures, and internet design are sketchy at best. I think that most of the useful information in this book could be condensed into about 200 pages. I'd think twice about tossing down the bills for this particular text, especially if you are a student and not a professional.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Revised Core Rulebook (Star Wars Roleplaying Game)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Authors: Bill Slavicsek, Andy Collins, J.D. Wiker, Steve Sansweet
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5

What WoTC did in this version of SW RPG (called 3e SW or d20 SW), they did well. Admittedly, SW 3e is a port of D&D 3e. If you throw out the argument that SW "deserves its own system", then this book does an excellent job of delivering a fun, streamlined, and cinematic feel of the Star Wars galaxy.
Die hard fans of the old game will undoubtedly claim "classes, levels, XP, and d20s are for D&D" but this can never be an argument against a role playing system of any kind.
Having run several sessions with the new product, I can say the game captures the feel of blaster fights, chases, encounters with strange creatures and NPCs, and the balance of the Force.
However, some things are left out. And in a world like Star Wars, leaving them out hamstrings GMs completely.
The vehicle and starship rules in their entirety span 25 pages, or less than 10% of the book! For longtime SW fans, it is nearly impossible to create classic cinematic scenes among characters of different "scales" (that is to say, characters running from vehicles, or vehicles running from starships, or starfighters running from Star Destroyers) with any level of satisfaction. The movies blend these scales together seamlessly, and the movies also demand that characters fight, and run, on foot, in vehicles, and in starships.
In short, the Starship/Vehicle rules aren't there... and to make up for it a supplement for Starships will be out later in 2001. I won't fault the designers for this. They worked hard to make this all happen in one year, and they've done as good a job as possible.
I have to fault WoTC corporate, for not putting more designers on the team, and refusing to perhaps launch multiple books so GMs have a guide to run these scenes, (such as the old PHB and DM Guide combo) even if Players are only "introduced" to the rules in the PHB.
Instead, GMs are on their own to craft inconsistent rules that they can't possibly playtest too well. The Internet SW RPG community is already fragmented due to this, with different groups making different mods, making characters from different GMs basically incompatible.
So I give the book 3 stars, because what they've completed (an RPG without vehicles and starships) is fantastic. What WoTC has left us with is an incomplete work, however, and I hope they remedy that as soon as they can.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sams Teach Yourself Active Server Pages 3.0 in 21 Days
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Scott Mitchell, James Atkinson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
What can i say, a great book

The following email body was sent to the author,Scott Mitchell:
Hello Scott,
I'm far from a programmer, but have been trying for years to prove that wrong. Various courses, both formal and informal have all added up to an impressing list of educational attempts to bring my computing skills out of the dark ages, with varying success.
However, I picked up your book, Teach Yourself Active Server Pages 3.0 in 21 Days , a while back and things are changing. No, your own career is not yet threatened by any hotshot from the East and North. Rest easy.
However, for some reason, while slogging through your book, I'm starting to get it. I'm now about half way through (no, that doesn't mean 11.5 days), and I'm anticipating some of your code before I read it. This gives me immense joy to know that I'm at least beginning to think in the right direction.
I can't give you all the credit; those years of never getting it are finally paying off. But the way you have written your book, the method you've followed, the examples you employ are all helping me to get a grasp of what's going on. And for the first time, I can see what direction I should be heading. And I attribute that to the way you perform an analysis on each example in your book. So, Thank You. Thank you for taking the time and effort to lay out something that I, at least, can comprehend. I'm looking forward to the rest of where you'll be taking me in this book,and then I think I may be tackling one of your other projects. Or maybe not. It depends on needs of course, but in a world of what was once thought of as simply a sea of darkness, I'm seeing some light. Thanks.
Craig Waugh