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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: A Practical Guide to Information Systems Strategic Planning
Publisher: CRC Press
Authors: Anita Cassidy
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Right on Target! Great Examples for Constructing an IS Plan!


My graduate IS/IT Strategic Planning course did not assign a text book on writing up an IS/IT Strategic Plan, so I had to track one down on my own. After reviewing at least a dozen books, I found Cassidy's to be the most practical with multiple and varied examples of the critical ideas, sections & components found within an IS Strategic Plan. There are many great examples of Mission and Vission statements and detailed sections on ROI analysis, executive summaries and the entire planning process, etc. The graphics & exhibits are easily understood and well organized, as is the entire book. In fact, other students actually purchased this book during the semester at my recommendation and our professor is looking to add this book as required reading for the course! It is especially good for those who have little to no experience putting together an entire IS plan from ground zero. Thorough, to the point, terrific examples and extremely well organized is how I would sum up this book. It will serve both students and IS/IT professionals extremely well.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, John Brant, William Opdyke, Don Roberts
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Integral for development


I was fortunate enough to work with Martin on a project at Netscape a few years ago. I have been able to leverage what I learned there in many ways since. In a modern iterative and incremental process, refactoring can be a phase of each iteration. So say you do some analysis, design, code, testing in your first iteration. There can also be a refactoring stage added to "clean up the code" and shift the design. Usually people are doing this anyway in the design and coding stages.
However, decoupling refactoring in the spiral process can separate concerns so that the next iteration can cleanly focus upon drilling down further or adding functionality as it should.
So obviously the notion of refactoring is critical to development. This book serves as a beginning for a similar literature that exists for design in the form of patterns.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Joel on Software: And on Diverse and Occasionally Related Matters That Will Prove of Interest to Software Developers, Designers, and Managers, and to Those Who, Whether by Good Fortune or Ill Luck, Work with Them in Some Capacity
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Joel Spolsky
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A very helpful read for managers and developers alike


This book is a collection of essays and blog rants by Joel Spolsky, who makes a splash here and starts a flame there over something he said that somebody else took the wrong way. You can read his essays online, but I prefer to hold a book in my hands and spare my eyes. I put enough strain on them every day.

Joel is an opinionated person, and he is vocal in delivering his opinions. What I appreciate is that he knows what he's talking about. You might disagree with him on some points (I do), but it helps to see other people's perspective on project management, coding purity, passion for software, employee relations, etc. In fact, I think this book is about forging your own opinion about things you'll read about.

For example, I disagree with Joel on his definition of "bloatware." In my opinion, ICQ is a perfect example of "bloatware": a product that has no direction, no consistency of UI, and-worst of all-comes full of crap such as silly online games, "extras" and other junk.

I particularly enjoyed his essays on project and people management. In fact, had this book been written a few year ago, I would've bought a copy for each of my managers from the previous job.

Sales reps committing to ridiculous deadlines ("Next week!"), developers slaving evenings and week-ends to save the company's face over unrealistic promises pulled out of thin air, then flying sales reps over to Puerto Rico to celebrate their "achievements" and a "successful quarter", and so forth. Sounds familiar to anyone? I wish my managers understood that the only people who can give time estimates are the ones who are going to write code! They would've learned a lot of other useful things about software shops from this book.

I saw a review that this book had too much of a marketing pitch of the products Joel develops for living. I didn't think so. If you want a book full of marketing pitches, read Use Case Driven Object Modeling with UML. I could hardly sit through that one.

In closing, I'd like to point out the book is not for Microsoft zealots only. It's for developers and project managers from all walks of the IT industry. There's enough substance there about Windows and Unix, open source and proprietary code.

Enjoy reading!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: OpenGL(R) Programming Guide: The Official Guide to Learning OpenGL, Version 1.2 (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Mason Woo, Jackie Neider, Tom Davis, Dave Shreiner, OpenGL Architecture Review Board
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
The best OpenGL book on the market ...unfortunately.


If you have a degree in Computer Science or Mathematics, this is the OpenGL book for you; otherwise, you'll want to start with something substantially simpler.
Even for those with the requisite pre-education, some parts of the book gloss over details a little too much, leaving you to experiment with the demonstration software to work out what things do. For example, the description of texture blending modes is very skimpy--if you want to know the difference between alpha, luminance and intensity textures, you'll need to look elsewhere.
Another problem is that the arrangement of information is sometimes perverse; while it may make sense from a reference point of view, learners will need to skip around in the book to learn things in a logical order. For instance, you're told how to define texture coordinate arrays, and texture mipmap generation is explained in detail, long before the book has gotten around to explaining how to actually paint a texture on a polygon.
Finally, with OpenGL at version 1.4, the book is in need of an update. I wish I could recommend a better book, but at the time of writing this really does seem to be the best one available.