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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Jakob Nielsen, Marie Tahir
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Unusable Usability

This book contains a bit of practical information on usability but the deconstructions are excessive and narrow minded. Nielsen's opinions seem entirely subjective as well as rigid when he dismisses elements on pages that are useful and popular (such as amazon.com's much used Friends and Favorites) as being frivolous and useless. I get the impression from reading Nielsen's advice that community, interactivity, visual appeal, fun, and anything else that is not 100% utilitarian and "down to business" is unacceptable.
A Nielsen approved home page must fit a cookie cutter template that he has decided makes it as efficient as possible. This advice in this book consistently ignores the purpose of the "illegal" design or interactive element. The idea here is to stick to a basic template and make the content fit those specifications, even if those elements are working and serve a purpose. Otherwise, you are detracting from the home page's purpose and usability. This makes no sense.
It is possible and preferable to create a visually interesting home page complete with clever innovative content, catch phrases, or interactive features that is perfectly useable and certainly more enjoyable.

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
The definitive reference for data structures and algorithms

While working as a software engineer, my supervisor, who also wrote programs for a living, had a book on his shelf, "Data Structures and Algorithms", written by Horowitz and Sahni. It was one of the most tattered-looking hardback books I had ever seen! (a true indicator of the worth of a book). Moreover, I view the Cormer, Leiserson, Rivest book as an updated version of this book, in that it has the same core content of data structures and algorithms, and presents the algorithms in psuedocode instead of a GPL like C++. I find this book, however, not only better written than its predecessor, but also containing a number of advanced chapters (e.g. computational geometry and parallel computation) that reflects the explosion of the study of algorithms over the past 20 years. If I had to choose one book on data structures and algorithms to have on my shelf it would be this one, as no other modern text compares with it in terms of its breadth and depth of the subject material. However, for those students or practitioners who prefer to learn about data structures and algorithms within the context of a progromming language, I recommend Mark Weiss's book on data structures and algorithms, both in Java and in C++. His book seems less developed and rigorous, but he gives good examples, explanations, and more practical insights.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The C++ Programming Language (Special 3rd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Bjarne Stroustrup
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Definitely not for beginners!

This is a great book. No doubt about it. It is a must have for intermediate and advanced C++ programmers. This book gives great advice in the design and implementation of a C++ program. I also highly recommend this book for those who want to get into Stroustrups head and see how and why he developed this language.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Video Poker: Optimum Play
Publisher: Conjelco
Authors: Dan Paymar
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Useful if you want to play video poker.

I purchased this book because I saw a TV show that said "Video poker can be beat". I found this hard to believe but it is apparently true on some machines with perfect play. Ah, there is the rub. Along with the book I bought a computer program that teaches you how to play and shows you each error you make. It isn't real hard to learn how to play perfectly but requires a person that can really keep focused for hours on end. Most folks with the intellect to learn this could make much more money doing something (anything ?) else but if you have to gamble this is your best shot. This book with Frugal Gambler and some real effort will make your Vegas trips more fun. I don't think Vegas casinos enjoy losing so I wonder how long this will last ?