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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Speech and Language Processing: An Introduction to Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics and Speech Recognition
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Daniel Jurafsky, James H. Martin
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Not bad but overrated: broad and shallow

GENERAL IDEA: Broad coverage but it lacks depth and details - particularly practical details. That is, the presentation is often too sketchy, mainly because it approaches too many subjects for its available space. I would not say that this book is strong on theory either. It is quite obvious that it avoids getting too formal and rigurous, probably to remain attractive for non-specialists too.
CASE STUDY: One specific problem I had with the Hidden Markov Models, that are supperficially presented (or spread I could say) in several separate sections of the book, so it's not been a pleasure trying to actually understand them properly and completely as a fundamental concept, to make them work in my particular application.
TITLE: The book's title IS misleading because it starts with "Speeech" and this book's main subject is not speech but (written) language. Actually there are only a few chapters on speech.
CONCLUSION: Get this book if you are looking for a good overview of the field. As soon as you need in-depth coverage of some particular topic you will look for additional resources.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum : Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Alan Cooper
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great introduction to a new approach to software development

Those who have read Alan Cooper's _About Face_ know that he writes a readable, well-organized book, and his latest follows that model. In it, he advocates a very different approach to developing software than is currently widely in use. He likens the process he advocates to that used for making motion pictures. In both cases, the production portion (location shooting for movies; coding for software) is extremely expensive and done by specialists. In both cases significant time (about 5 times the production time) is spent on post-production activities (editing, scoring, advertising, distribution, etc. for movies; functionality, performance, and usability testing, user documentation, support strategies, training for software). However, in pre-production (scriptwriting, storyboarding, location selection, casting, etc. for movies; interaction design, audience analysis, environment analysis, etc. for software) there is a huge difference.
A movie may spend two years in pre-production for a film that takes six weeks to shoot and six months in post-production. Software development efforts typically spend extremely little time designing, and begin coding early in the process. Cooper suggests that having a thoroughly-researched and completely documented design saves a lot of expensive production time and resource because the coders are focussed on what needs to be done and has been agreed to and don't need to guess or assume anything.
If I had to find a shortcoming of this book, and it's a minor one, I would have liked to have seen more specifics on the techniques he describes as being successful in the Interaction Design process.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A+ Certification for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Ron Gilster
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Don't count on it

For overall scope of material, and fairly good writing (meaning the explanations and descriptions are good enough), I would have given it a 5. But the fact that there are so many factual errors in the first half alone (I haven't even gotten to the software part yet) earns it the low rating. You can't have a study guide for an expensive exam like this and have what i consider to be stupid mistakes. You can't say that PII Xeon goes in a Slot 1 mounting on one page, and a Slot 2 on another. It's confusing and misleading for a beginner, which is who this book is supposedly geared to. You just wind up confused and double-checking everything anyway, so you might as well use another book all together. It's too bad because it's a great format.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Certified Developer Study Guide
Publisher: Macromedia Press
Authors: Matt Voerman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A good resource book

I found this book to be a very good resource for preparation of the exam. It provides a broad range of topics, and although it doesn't go heavily deep into each topic, it gives you an idea of what will be on the exam.

I think anyone who decides to take the exam must not only rely on this book but other resource as well. I found Moock's Essential Actionscript 2.0 and the flash documentation to be pretty helpful as well.

My score on the exam was a 78%, and although I expected it to be higher, it just goes to show the difficulty of the exam. But all in all, I was pleased with this book.