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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Information Theory, Inference & Learning Algorithms
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Authors: David J. C. MacKay
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good book - but few arguments need revision from theorists


This review concerns only the coding theory part.
If you want to know what's presently going on in the field of coding theory with solid technical foundation, this is the book. The importance of this book is it answers why people have been going into new directions into coding theory and provides good information about LDPC codes, turbo codes and decoding algorithms. People have solved some problems that arise in coding field without going into depths of mathematics. Till early 1990's research in coding was intensely mathematical. People thought the packing problem was the answer to the coding problem. However Mackay answers the conventional thought was wrong when one tries to attain shannon limit. He gives an argument based on GV bound (warning: This argument may not be entirely true).
Now the bad part of the book. Mackay bases his entire book on the basis that algebraic codes cannot exceed GV bound. This is wrong. If you look at Madhu Sudan's notes at MIT (The prestigious Nevenlinna award winner), he says random codes are not always the best. Specifically he cites an argument which states AG codes exceed GV bound at a faster pace. So packing problem still has a relevance to coding problem as it could help attain shannon limit at a faster pace than random codes. (Warning: Madhu does not state anything about size of blocks. But my feeling is that AG codes since they exceed GV bound faster than random codes one could achieve shannon limit with comparitively smaller blocks). So still mathematicians could hope to contribute to practical coding theory while enriching mathematics.
Inspite of this, the book is a must have for engineers and computer scientists.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Designing Web-Based Training : How to Teach Anyone Anything Anywhere Anytime
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: William Horton
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Distilled wisdom of a design guru


Designing Web-Based Training comprehensively teaches just what the title suggests, distilling the design experience of hundreds of hours of CBT/WBT. It will not take you to the cutting edge of web technology (which changes too fast, so no book will), but you will emerge with a rock-solid foundation. The technical level is probably optimal, and therefore a bit low for an engineer. The style is quite light and enjoyable, and I appreciated the humor.
I was particularly impressed that an entire chapter is devoted to localization: here in Europe, a constant complaint is that Americans neglect the needs of other languages and cultures.
Note that there is nothing here about the business of WBT, e.g. project management, vendor management, selling projects to internal management, or the business of training in general. A few other books cover those topics admirably; this one focuses on design.
Horton gets out of including design and development methodology by calling it a religious issue. Maybe so, but that will affect your design. Chapter 5 "Organize Learning Sequences" hints at a learning object being part of a bigger picture, but I found little to help me with large-scale courseware production, in which databases are needed for tracking objectives, test questions, and even content. Why do these books always assume that you are making just one course in a vacuum? The IEEE, IMS, and AICC learning technology standards are mentioned a few times, but the newer SCORM not at all.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: CCNA Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide, 4th Edition (640-801)
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Todd Lammle, Sybex
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Some Reviewers Leave Alot to be Desired As Well


This is the latest in a edition in a series of books from Lammle and Sybex that has allowed many thousands of IT professionals pass the CCNA Exam. Whatever opinion is expressed and from whatever quarter it cannot be denied that the CCNA is a benchmark exam in the world of IT certification.
I am very mystified by the last review as to how the reviewer gained so much knowledge from such an imperfect source to be so imbued with the technical knowledge to be critical to the level he has. As to writing style that is of course a matter of taste. The whole effect gives the impression of one of those alleged "spoiler reviews" which eventually get drowned in a sea of stars in a few months.
The CCNA exam has evolved as has the various study volumes and as any exam certification hopefull knows there is not one title that can contain it all. The current CCNA exam needs at least two good sources of information beside the Cisco site, hands on or at the very least simulator experience and detailed study or experience to succeed. Cisco Press is indeed an excellent source as well. It has often amazed me how little outlay is expected in some quarters for such a prize certification considering that this exam can be the cornerstone of many an IT career not to mention futher Cisco qualifications, is a couple of books and a simulator so much??? Even if it is RouterSim!
If your serious about study instead of semantics then buy, read and study, study some more and get on!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: JavaScript for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide (4th Edition)
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Tom Negrino, Dori Smith
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
JavaScript requires a left-brained treatment.


The book glosses over the basics of JavaScript: the bracket is introduced in two contexts without any explanation (in one instance, the left and right brackets serve as conventional C-style array index delimiters, in another as some sort of string search delimiter). I'm going to have to resort to the Web or to another book to find out. If you want to learn about the JS language, don't buy this book. It's written with a right-brained, Macintosh rules!, drag-and-drop bent. It does not include a decent appendix/glossary section. I wish I could comment further on the book, but I gave up and have already returned the rag to CostCo, in disgust. I'm tempted to give it one star, just to bring the average down and to discourage other buyers.