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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Introduction to Algorithms, Second Edition
Publisher: The MIT Press
Authors: Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, Clifford Stein
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best all-around book of its sort

I have been teaching undergrad and graduate Computer Science for about a decade, and on those occasions when I have tried other books for my Algorithms courses, both my students and I find ourselves saying that we should have used that big white one.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Jakob Nielsen
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
You think it's all common sense, huh?

Sure, designing web sites is not simple. You know you shouldn't use marquees or pink text against a light green background. You know those things and a few others and you think you don't need a book to tell you how to create a website when all you need is common sense. Wrong! I didn't think there were techniques to this art, but there are. Nielsen doesn't give you these basics mentioned above - not at all. He gives you theories and amazing full colour examples which perfectly exemplify every point he so correctly makes. I bought this book thinking that it would tell me things I've already learned in all these 4 years of webdesigning, but instead I found myslef not able to put it down! I've learned a lot from it and you will too, no matter how experienced a designer you may be.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Excel 2000 Formulas
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: John Walkenbach
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Amazing - BUY IT !

I already had a reputation at work as the Excel Wizard, so I was a little cautious about investing in a 'how-to' book on the subject. I have to say though, that Excel 2000 Formulas is worth every last cent and more. Even skimming through the early chapters, where I doubted I would find anything new, I chanced upon several easy tips I'd not known before.
Excel 2000 Formulas is arranged in a simple-to-reference way and the page layout is excellent, giving easy-on-the-eye icon notes, references and tips. Even so, I quickly found myself grabbing a colored highlighter to pick out the bits that were important to me. The author also has a flowing style of writing so you don't feel you're working through a manual, It's more like a fun day out, with new discoveries on every page.
Particulary interesting and useful was John Walkenbach's section on creating megaformulas. Though I was already familiar with the concept, and have used it to good effect at work, I found Walkenbach's methods even more concise and precise. In no time at all, you're building a relatively simple 229 character formula that does the work of 51 intermediary formulas. Not only is this more efficient and streamlined, it saves space in the workbook, thus making calculation quicker and more effective. Also of great value was the section on debugging formulas.
VBA had always remained something of a mystery to me (excluding elementary macros) until I got stuck into 'Excel 2000'. Now (with a bit of prompting from John Walkenbach) I'm really getting the hang of it, and finding, again, that I can streamline my workbooks and impress my colleagues. I've already bought 'Excel 2000 Power Programming with VBA' by the same author, and look forward to improving my skills in this area.
If ever there was a technical book that deserves more than five stars, this is it. If you need to improve your Excel skills, there's no other book you should consider - Excel 2000 Formulas has it all.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Introduction to Electrodynamics (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: David J. Griffiths
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A Very Good Book With Flaws

I have taught from Griffiths' Introduction to Electrodynamics twice now. It is a very good book. The selection of topics is good, and the mathematics is clear. The prose is enjoyable. A few problems follow each section. These problems need the material just covered. The end of the chapter problems can be very challenging. This distribution of problems is very helpful. There are useful references to American Journal of Physics. Time with Griffiths is very well spent.
Here are a few flaws. The first half of the book is much more complete. Perhaps, Griffiths became weary after chapter 7. There are indications. Figures and references are fewer. Surprisingly, the third edition did not correct this imbalance. It is essentially the second edition with some renumbering of sections and problems (making the second edition less valuable as a used book). An even bigger surprise is that in the third edition some examples became problems!
The text is often too brief. If you want the full text of subtle arguments, go to Purcell. Compare, for example, the two discussions of the average field, or the two discussions on multipole expansions.
A more striking difference between Purcell and Griffiths is the special relativity connection. In Purcell it is the heart of the discussion of magnetism. With just the transformation of forces between frames, magnetism appears. In Griffiths it is the last chapter. Griffiths is very formal with superscripts and subscripts unleased in full force.
The book (like Jackson) is often a vehicle to teach mathematical physics. There is very little real life electricity and magnetism in Griffiths, e.g. no bubble jet printers in electrostatics, no magnetic tape in magnetism. We need to look elsewhere for practical matters.