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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Data Structures & Algorithms in Java (Mitchell Waite Signature Series)
Publisher: Waite Group Press
Authors: Mitchell Waite, Robert Lafore
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Data Structures & Algorithms In JAVA

Finally a computer science textbook designed for instructors who want to facilitate learning instead of confusion! The accompanying CD transforms abstract learning into learning that is more tactile and intuitive. A GREAT BOOK!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Macromedia Flash MX 2004 ActionScript Bible
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Robert Reinhardt, Joey Lott, Robert Reinhardt, Joey Lott
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Excellent Examples, Mediocre Reference

I find the book useful but hard to use as a reference. I agree that the examples are detailed and easy to follow and I like the book for fully exploring a topic (e.g., video). As a reference, it's too hard to drill down into the single fact that I need. For example, when I tried to lookup the syntax for AttachMovie, I couldn't find it, just examples. Also, the index is incomplete and lacking the most obvious terms such as 'remoting' which can be found in chapter 35, sending and loading data. For a reference, the O'Reilly book ActionScript - The Definitive Guide is much better (too bad it hasn't been updated to MX2004).

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Publisher: Graphics Press
Authors: Edward R. Tufte
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Superb Introduction to Quantitative Information Display

Prof. Tufte uses an excellent assortment of charts and graphics to illustrate his points. I found this book to be a quick read; and one I could return to for years to come, as the principles he describes are quite applicable to web site design. I would recommend this book, in fact, I was impressed enough to sign up for the design seminar.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Excel Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips and Tools
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Raina Hawley
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
How to Do More

Microsoft Excel is an extremely powerful tool. Yet most users have only scratched the surface of its power, using only a small part of its capabilities.

Excel Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools by David & Raina Hawley, shows readers how to do more, and how to do things better, with the market-leading spreadsheet. The word "hack" here refers to its original meaning in computers. A hack was either a "quick and dirty solution" or a "clever way of doing things", and didn't refer to breaking into systems. This book presents 100 different hacks spread over eight categories, covering the basics; built-in features; naming hacks; pivot tables; charts; formulas and functions; macros; and connecting Excel to the rest of the world.

Individually, none of these hacks may cause you to run down the street shouting "Eureka", but together they should help just about every Excel user. I consider myself an expert user, working with spreadsheets for over twenty years and teaching classes in Excel and 1-2-3, yet I was still able to learn a lot from this book. In some cases, it was genuinely new information (Hack #50, Explode a Single Slice from a Pie Chart or Hack #99, Access SOAP Web Services from Excel). In other cases, it showed how to use a tool I knew about in some different way (Hack #41, Create Custom Functions Using Names or Hack #78, Construct Mega-Formulas). A couple of times, it served as a reminder to use some tool that I had been neglecting (Hack #6, Customize the Template Dialog and Default Workbook).

Some of the hacks are usability tips, showing how other tools (such as pivot tables) will be more useful if you lay out data in a certain way. Several tips help if you develop spreadsheets for others to use, limiting their capacity to screw things up. Sometimes, the hacks may just spur you to further thought, making you think "Gee, if you can use this tool to do this, maybe with just a little more work I can get it do that!"

The hacks are self-contained, so you don't have to read the book cover-to-cover. If a particular topic doesn't interest you, it won't hurt to jump ahead, or even skip a particular chapter. You don't need to type in long, complicated listings either. You can download the sample code for all the hacks from the authors' website. The authors do Excel training and application work in western Australia, and their website is crammed with more Excel material.

Who should read this book? The ideal audience is the broad middle class of Excel users. You shouldn't give it to a beginner, because they are still learning about the forest while this book looks at individual trees. Super power users, who may know ninety of these hacks already, won't get that much of it either, but they should be writing the books, not reading them. But for everyone in between, the book is sure to teach something you didn't know about Excel.