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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Practical Statecharts in C/C++: Quantum Programming for Embedded Systems with CDROM
Publisher: CMP Books
Authors: Miro Samek
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Thank you Miro Samek.


I seldom write reviews. This book changed my life, and I've been developing embedded software for twenty-five years. Samek's nested finite state machines, which he calls Hierarchical State Machines (HSMs) give the embedded software architect a framework arguably as fundamental as an RTOS. If you are creating event-driven embedded software where objects have member variables representing their state at any given time, this book is required reading.
For those of you unfamiliar with state machines, the book gets you up to speed in a hurry. For those of you unfamiliar with the advantages of state machines, especially HSMs, permit me to summarize. They allow you to create design diagrams (the book uses UML-plus) that map directly and clearly to code, they let you keep the code and diagrams in sync more easily, they allow you to create better designs because you are thinking in terms of events, states, and transitions as well as in terms of objects, they allow you to have more effective reviews, and they allow you to create more testable code since events serve as inputs and states serve as outputs. To some degree, object-oriented design without HSMs provides those benefits, but state machines let you define the complete set of events and state transitions so you can test more rigorously and more completely - and more automatically.
By the way, the book does read well and read quickly. After your first read, as you begin using HSMs to design software, you will reference sections of the book and begin acquiring a more in-depth understanding of the details. You'll find yourself talking with your peers about the book, and then they'll read it. Soon you'll be enjoying collaborative design based on use cases that spawn statecharts, classes (each HSM is an object), and real-time constraints. Read the book, use the book, and enjoy a new level of software engineering.
Other books I recommend highly: Bloch - Effective Java, Brooks - Mythical Man Month, DeMarco and Lister - Peopleware, Howlett - Visual Interface Design for Windows, Kaner - Lessons Learned in Software Testing, Kaner - Testing Computer Software, McConnell - Rapid Development, McConnell - Code Complete, McGuire - Debugging the Development Process, Meyers - Effective C++, Microsoft, Windows User Experience (reference book), Norman - The Design of Everyday Things, Riel - Object-Oriented Design Heuristics (Want to learn OO? Read this), Strunk and White - Elements of Style, Vermeulen - The Elements of Java Style



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Modern Operating Systems (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Andrew Tanenbaum
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
An ok book but sloppy in places


Tanenbaum's book has several errors that really give the impression he is not a clear thinker. For example, in the edition I read (1993), the monitors implementation in C was completely wrong, and he thinks that you can deadlock if a printer manager errantly loses a lock (indeed no, under precise definitions, there is no circular wait). In my brief encounter with this book I ran across two conceptual errors. I wonder how many total errors are in this book?



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Dark Side Sourcebook (Star Wars Roleplaying Game)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Authors: Bill Slavicsek, J.D. Wiker
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Is it EVIL?


To clear up the confusion of one of the previous reviewers, it should be mentioned that the Dark Side Sourcebook was published *before* the Revised Core Rulebook, and thus uses the older, obsolete ruleset. Fortunately, there is an update file to be found at the Star Wars section of the Wizards of the Coast website that addresses these changes, and brings it in line with the new rules.
That being said, I liked this book back then, and I still like it now. The DSSB really set the stage for the high-quality, full-color, hardcover books that would later become the standard.
I really enjoyed the sections on Dark Side Spirits and Possession, but I think my favorite part was the large selection of Dark Side characters. There is also a wide range of new Dark Side force skills, new feats, mutated beasts, killer droids, and deadly weapons... and not to mention the comprehensive history of the Sith tradition itself, starting from its break with the Jedi Order over 25,000 years prior to the events of the movies.
In short, this is still a solid book, and if you're an evil player, or simply an evil GM, this one is for you.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java Concepts
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Cay Horstmann
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Bad Book!!!


This book was bad..... in organization, setup, explanation, and examples.... If you want a good java book, LEWIS and LOFTUS is great. I regretfully have to buy BIG JAVA another Horstman great for a class. I sure hope its better than this one!