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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Speed Up Your Site: Web Site Optimization
Publisher: Pearson Education
Authors: Andrew B. King
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An ESSENTIAL Book for Any Serious Web Designer

Andy King, the guru behind WebReference.com and JavaScript.com, sent me a review copy of his new book "Speed Up Your Site: Web Site Optimization" a few weeks ago, and it absolutely knocked my socks off.
If you aren't familiar with Web site optimization (WSO), it's a series of techniques that minimize Web page file sizes and maximize page display speeds. In other words, WSO is simple stuff you can do to the Web pages you create to make those pages load faster. After all, people HATE waiting for slow Web pages.
What King has done in "Speed Up Your Site" is not only assemble pretty much every WSO technique known to man, he's also collected the research and conducted the interviews explaining WHY these techniques actually work.
While the entire book is exceptional, the four chapters in "Part II - Optimizing Markup: HTML and XHTML" are absolutely worth their weight in gold. It is in these four chapters that King shows you, step-by-step, how to clean up HTML bloat; minimize HTTP requests; tighten up comma-delimited attributes; speed up table rendering; and much, much more. And the results will ASTOUND you.
For example, using the techniques in just these four chapters alone, I was able to make my NetSquirrel.com homepage 26.5% smaller and load 42.9% faster. Words can't describe how cool that is.
The four chapters in Part II of King's book are accessible to ANYONE who knows simple HTML. That's not quite true for the next five chapters. In "Part III - DHTML Optimization: CSS and JavaScript," King shows you how to optimize your CSS and speed up your JS download and execution speeds. Of course, if [like me] you don't know CSS or JS from a hole in the ground, these five chapters aren't going to be much help to you. CSS and JS aren't topics for the weak of heart, and optimization only makes those topics that much more complex. But, if you *DO* know CSS and JS, King offers step-by-step instructions and real-world examples that show you what you need to do to maximize your page display speeds.
Let me also put in a plug for Chapter 15 - Keyword Optimization. This chapter shows you how to fine tune your page's meta keywords so that you can attract both search engines and, more importantly, visitors. Every Web design book tells you that you need to use meta keywords. King actually shows you how to find the meta keywords that yield the highest results. Instead of paying someone else lots of money to attract visitors to your site, follow the 10 steps that King outlines in this chapter. You'll save yourself both time and, more importantly, LOTS of money.
As I said earlier, Andy King's "Speed Up Your Site" absolutely knocked my socks off. There are a squillion Web design books out there, but this one belongs on the bookshelf of every serious Web designer.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Handbook of Usability Testing: How to Plan, Design, and Conduct Effective Tests
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Jeffrey Rubin
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
A jump-start into usability testing

This handbook is certainly worth the time reading, if not for the very practical examples offered. As a handbook, I would have expected a more scientific approach, but as far as it goes, the examples given make up for it. It gives you examples of acceptance criteria and, for instance, different settings of the usability environment with pro's and con's.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Elizabeth Castro
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Extremely Helpful...very suprising

I would recommend this book to beginners and experts alike. While the information in the book may be below the most advanced expert programmers it is well thought out and put into terms that even the most novice of HTML programmers can read and understand. Learning is the name of the game and E. Castro has proven to be on top of her game in this book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java Cookbook, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Ian F. Darwin
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Good to see how others would do something...

I'm very into a method of programming called "R&D"... that stands for "Rob And Duplicate". I'd rather not invent or reinvent something if I can "borrow" someone else's solution. Given that as my mindset, I LOVE this book!
While the hardcore reference books are necessary, all too often the beleaguered developer is left asking for a simple example of how something works in a real program. Sometimes it's nice just to be able to see a class (like the Java I/O classes) used in the context of a complete solution. From there, you can figure out how to start using the class in your own program. That's the real value of this book. I may conceptually understand what a class does, but it's sometimes hard to translate that knowledge into syntactically correct code. Seeing an example helps me get a grasp of how it is really used.
For Notes/Domino 5 developers, this is an extremely useful book. Many Notes/Domino developers are used to using and sharing solutions that have already been coded and solved by others. This book will feel very natural to them. It allows you to get a core set of code working, and then from there you can expand to work into a complete coding solution.
ConclusionRegardless of where you are at in your Java career, you should have this book. If you're a Java newbie, it will help you bridge the gap between reference manuals and real programs. If you're an experienced Java programmer, it will give you different perspectives on how a problem could be solved.