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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Non-Designer's Design Book, Second Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Robin Williams
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Definitely for "non-designers"

As the book states, it's for "non-designers" -- like secretaries who have to write a newsletter for their boss. Williams certainly speaks to non-designers. To be fair, I already have a background in design -- part of which came from Design 101 when I was in college. I am an artist, and I am already aware of the basics, and much more.
It's "classic" Williams: simple, yet effective samples, clean design, and clear and concise explanations. The gist of the book is the principles of design -- proximity, alignment, repetition and constrast. I knew that already, so this book didn't hold my attention.I really like Robin Williams' work, but this one was a disappointment for me. I certainly recommend it to a beginner, but for someone with experience, it was 5 minutes worth of reading...er, skimming.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Professional Step-By- Step.
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Michael Halvorson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Superb step-by-step directions.

I have a modest background in programming but I wanted to get a firm foundation on the basics of VB again. I haven't seen many other books which are as clearly explained and laid out as this one. The author knows how to teach. Every example was beautifully explained and left no question about how to proceed without being overly verbose. This book covers many of the procedures I'd probably need in day to day VB coding on the job. This is definitely recommended for conscientious beginners or those looking for a carefully written refresher. All code examples are included on the CD and although there were remarkably few typos there is an errata page available on the publishers website.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Rules of Play : Game Design Fundamentals
Publisher: The MIT Press
Authors: Katie Salen, Eric Zimmerman
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Dodge this bullet!

As a life-long game designer, I've worked on dozens of projects from multi-million dollar blockbusters to academic experimentation & pure research. The current glut of high brow nonsense being passed on as educational literature appalls me. Case in point: The authors here have laughable credentials. Furthermore, anyone with the internet can get this "information" for free. Cashing in on a gullible public has become a ubiquitous pastime in the game literature pyramid scheme, don't fall victim to it's wrath.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C++ Primer (4th Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Stanley B. Lippman, Josée Lajoie, Barbara E. Moo
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Covers it all, but jumps around a lot

I am in the beginner to intermetiate level in C++. This book is very challenging; I am able to keep up with it, but it takes some concentration and work.
I bought this book about a year ago and find that I use it more than any of the other C++ books I own (5 others). I use it so much because it goes into great detail in explaining the theories behind the code. On the down side, there are very few complete programs listed (if any) and the subjects jump around the book a lot (e.g., STL string). However, I find this helps in my understanding by forcing me to completely digest the subject before being able to make the code work in my programs.
If you are looking for code snippets, this is not for you. If you are looking for explanations, buy it!
There is also an Answer Book available ("C++ Primer Answer Book" by Clovis L. Tondo and Bruce P. Leung) that answers all the exercises in the book. Together, the two books are unbeatable for understanding this complex subject.