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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Jakob Nielsen
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Jakob Nielsen is a Hammer

Jakob Nielsen is a hammer (read engineer) and to him everything Web-related--as the saying goes-- "looks like a nail (read schematic)."
Although he raises some interesting points, Nielsen stumbles in that he views the Web as a labyrinth of reference materials. To him, designing Web usability is a mater of properly navigating and indexing these reference material sites. Lacking is his understanding of visual design, interactivity, human psychology and medium convergence. As a result, he unashamedly and arrogantly disregards these aspects of not only the design of effective usability, but also the design of effective user experience as a whole.
Granted, the Web started out as tool for sharing electronic documentation. Today, however, it has evolved into a medium to deliver multimedia, as well.
"Designing Web Usability" is somewhat pathetic in that it seems to be pushing for a status quo that stays in the realm of old-school thinking. There is too much emphasis on giving the user total control without boundaries. He is apparently unfamiliar with the notion that certain boundaries are helpful in many cases. This realm is safe and familiar to those that are having trouble adapting to a view of the Internet as a confluence of not only information, but of communications mediums as well.
If the Internet is viewed as a structure, then certainly some nails are good--and Nielsen does raise some good points as they relate to his area of expertise--information architecture. There are, however, many other components of an effective Web structure that Nielsen glosses over. This is unfortunate in that Nielsen has wide influence. In terms of his overview of information architecture, he is not nearly as detailed as Louis Rosenfeld & Peter Morville are in "Information Architecture for the World Wide Web."
Effective usability does NOT equal effective user experience. Usability is a part, but not the whole. To have a complete perspective, it would be advisable to read more broadly, and from other schools of thought.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Active Directory Cookbook for Windows Server 2003 and Windows 2000
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Robbie Allen
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Very good help for administrators

I bought the book "Active Directory Cookbook" a few weeks ago, and it is G R E A T. It explains a lot of functionalities, most of them often used when automatically administrating an MS AD-environment. Nevertheless the examples do not only explain how to use the interfaces via scripts (thanx for the perl examples), it also yields to good explanations, how the ADS and its fields are used. So this book is a good teacher of using ADS via scripting.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sun Certified Enterprise Architect for J2EE Study Guide (Exam 310-051)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Paul Allen, Joseph Bambara
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Sloppy writing and poor editing

This book reads as if it were written entirely between the hours of 2&5AM. It is more like an 11th hour paper one would write all night in college to barely make the deadline, than a well structured book that is written and rewritten to achieve its purpose. This is disturbing since the goal of reading it is to obtain a certification in software architecture, a discipline that demands quality execution to ensure success. The book is repeative across chapters, unstructured within any given chapter, poorly defines concepts and terms and generally frustrates the reader with obfuscated and needlessly complicated sentence structure. The content can be moderately useful if the reader has the patience to read and re-read passages when necessary. A heavily edited and refined second edition could succeed if the need to dwell on poorly written passages and definitions was totally eliminated. Proper grammar and spelling would be a nice touch too.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C++ for Dummies (4th Edition, Completely Revised)
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Stephen Randy Davis
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best Introduction to C++ I've Ever Read

I can't believe the trashing this book has received! For someone with an understanding of the basics of C, I can think of no better introduction to C++. Davis' witty and engaging style makes potentially tricky concepts like Polymorphism easier to understand than any other book I have read on the subject!
The book almost reads like a novel, you laugh BUT YOU ALSO LEARN!! After reading this book and the companion More C++ for Dummies, I am well on the way to understanding: Inheritance, Polymorphism, IO Streams, Templates, Error Handling etc...
I wish I could write this in luminous letters five feet high....
B U Y T H I S B O O K !!!