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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Final Fantasy X-2 Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Brady Games
Authors: Dan Birlew
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
NOT a strategy guide


I cannot believe some of the high ratings people have given this book. This is by far the worst guide I have ever read. There are so many things wrong with it I can't even imagine how anyone would see it as worthy praise. I can't even see how Dan Birlew would allow this to go into print with his name on it.
First of all, there are several instances where it does not give important information. As any one of the other bad reviews will tell you, there is an amazing item in the game that can only be found by talking to some guy in Kilika in every single chapter . . . and the book doesn't tell you this until the last chapter. A little late, don't you think? But that mistake has already been pointed out, so I don't want to beat it to death. However, there are several other important oversights.
Take the "Blue Bullet" skills, for instance. The book lists all the skills and the enemies from which you can get them, but it doesn't tell you HOW to get them. For example, it does not tell you that a Malboro only uses "bad breath" after its health has been affected ten times. Also, it does not tell you that support skills like "mighty guard" and "white wind" can only be learned when the enemy is confused. I wasted so much time trying to get these enemies to use their skills on me and finally had to resort to online guides.
Also, the book says that the only way to get the Mascot dressphere is by getting all 15 "episode completes" in chapter 5, but it doesn't specifically say how to get these "episode completes." The first time I went through the game I only sold 9 out of 10 of Tobli's tickets because the guide said the only reward for selling all ten was an item. Not until later did I learn that 9 out of 10 wasn't good enough for an episode complete. The second time through the game I skipped some annoyingly long CommSphere scenes in chapter 4. The book said that this prevented 100% completion, but it did not say that it prevented episode completion. 3rd time through I skipped animations that I had already seen twice . . . that's not allowed either, apparently. You'd think the book would tell you if you had to sit and watch the whole scene.
But wait; there's more. There is a dungeon in the chocobo ranch that the guide never explains how to open. It does say that at the end of it you can get an important item, but that's all it says. Never is anything mentioned about how to get through this difficult dungeon or how to open it. Along the same lines there is a dungeon in Bevelle with normal enemies that are tougher than the final boss. All the book says about this dungeon is, "characters should be at level 99 with over 9000HP." One would think that specific strategies might come in handy for such difficult enemies. After all this is suppose to be "STRATEGY" guide.
But even if the book isn't giving me all the information, at least the info it is giving me is correct, right? Wrong. Almost on ever page there is some sort of misprint in text or organization or maps, and these are not little mistakes. They are huge and are immediately obvious to anyone who plays the game. For instance, there is an enemy called a Node that will give you a very important item if you defeat it. The book says it has 30,000 HP so I figure I'd give it a shot. An hour later the enemy is still alive after pummeling it with my strongest spells, so I Scan it. Turns out it has 300,000 HP not 30,000. What a difference one zero can make.
And as long as we're pointing out the mistake in calling this a "strategy guide," I'd like to call into question the strategies that it does list. Quite often, the strategies are overly complicated or require levels that characters haven't yet reached. Spending time leveling up characters is not strategy; it is merely a substitution for strategy. Heck, I don't need a book to tell me that being level 99 is better than level 30.
In conclusion, this book is NOT a strategy guide because it either does not list any strategy or the strategy it does list is questionable. This book is NOT even a walkthrough because it skips important steps. It is obvious that no one at Brady Games actually tried to use this guide. If they had they would have realized that this book is nothing more than a waste of 347 pages and a waste of 16 dollars. I do not advice anyone to buy this guide! If you are reading this review you obviously have the internet, so use an online guide. These guides are copious and constantly updated by input from the users. Perhaps if everyone starts using these online guides the competition would hold the official guides to higher standards.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Macromedia Flash MX ActionScripting: Advanced Training from the Source
Publisher: Macromedia Press
Authors: Derek Franklin, Jobe Makar
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best of the Best


I am an Open Source programmer who uses PHP, MySQL and PostgreSQL on a daily basis. I bought this book in hopes of capitalizing on the benefits of Flash. The book is clear and provides you with the source code to kick off your project. I highly recommend it.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Adobe Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Scott Kelby
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Not just for photographers


Yes, I own virtually every design software reference book published, and this one is a standout! Well organized, simple, and easy to use, it doesn't leave my desk.
I'm a designer, not a photographer, and it is extremely helpful it prepping, color correcting, and getting great effects. Would love to see so much more from Mr. Kelby in this same effective, easy to use style.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Agile and Iterative Development: A Manager's Guide
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Craig Larman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Thorough and poigniant


The following is a letter I wrote to someone about this book:

Carlton, You should get hold of Craig Larman's book "Iterative and Agile Management". It has some of the best information about the failings of up-front requirements that I have seen. He quotes from dozens of different peer-reviewed research studies that date back to the 70's and 80's showing that the vast majority of software project failure can be traced to up-front requirements and waterfall mentality.

This information is so significant that I can't believe it's not more widely known. These research studies were done by some of the best people in the industry, including people like Fred Brooks, Capers Jones, and Tom Gilb.

There are 50 pages of such information, all very easy to read. Show it to your managers. Show them the report that the U.S. Department of Defense lost nearly half their major software projects in the 70's and 80's because of up-front requirements analysis.