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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Firebird Book: A Reference for Database Developers
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Helen Borrie
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent book but...

This book is excellent for understanding what Firebird can do and how you can do it by hand (not with IBExpert or any other database administration tool). It doesn't show how you can use it with Delphi, Builder or any other programming languaje. It doesn't have step by step instructions, either a lot of screen illustrations (it has about 5). Well my Delphi friends, with this book now we have half the way to heaven :-) but what about the other half? :-(


Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Building Better Products with Finite Element Analysis
Publisher: OnWord Press (Acquired Titles)
Authors: Vince Adams, Abraham Askenazi
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A "MUST" book for every engineering team.

Building better products with FEA presents an alternative to the highly mathematical treatments that are normally associated with this topic. With a minimum of mathematical formulae and plenty of practical examples, the novice analyst can gain a thorough understanding of the techniques and know-how that is required to perform a successful analysis. In addition the book concentrates on the fundamental reason for FEA: to enable the designer to understand how his product behaves and to go on to make better designs.
The book starts by giving an overview of the common types of classical engineering analysis including, free body diagrams, moments of inertia, stress and strain, beam theory, failure theories and dynamic analysis. After this introduction there is no more mathematics to be found in the book. The next chapter discusses the capabilities and limitations of both h-element and p-element codes. The critical distinction between correctness and accuracy is also made clear.
In part 2 the basic types of modelling are covered with plenty of examples showing how in practical terms the modelling should be carried out. The effect of choosing different constraint systems is clearly demonstrated. There is an extremely useful section on how to build CAD models that are "Finite Element friendly"; something that is rarely discussed in other works. In chapter 8 boundary conditions are discussed in more detail and good use is made of example models showing how different constraint systems affect the answer; sometimes very dramatically. The techniques necessary for a successful part optimisation are covered, from concept design selection through fine tuning to local sensitivity analysis.
In part 3 more complex analysis issues are tackled, including joints, welds & press-fits. Non- linear, modal and dynamic analysis are covered briefly but in sufficient detail for the analyst to get started in these difficult fields.
The final part of the book covers how to choose the correct FEA system for your needs and how to successfully integrate finite element analysis into the design process. Hardware requirements are discussed in general terms. Finally some predictions are made for the future of structural analysis.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to designers and analysts who wish to get the most out of their analysis. It distils many years of finite element expertise into a highly readable book which should be on the shelf of all product designers who use, or wish to use, finite element analysis tools. It should also be read by engineering managers who wish to appreciate the potential pitfalls of FEA, and so fully reap the benefits rather than getting 'pretty pictures'.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Balancing Agility and Discipline: A Guide for the Perplexed
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Barry Boehm, Richard Turner
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Reality Check. Nothing new but worth of saying out loud.

Balancing Agility and Discipline focuses on saying out loud what people in the trenches have been thinking all along. There's still no silver bullet -- we need a well balanced tool bag instead of a multipurpose hi-tech hammer.
The authors start the journey by describing the fundamental differences between traditional, plan-driven approaches and the latest agile methods. This is a great introduction and paves the way for the discussion to follow. However, occasionally the text uses the term "agile process" too loosely when really talking about the extreme characteristics of XP.
Next, Boehm and Turner set out to describe a typical day in the life of two teams; one agile and the other not so. However, these stories didn't quite reach the level of detail I was expecting.
The authors continue by presenting two case studies of projects where a plan-driven method was streamlined using agile techniques and an agile method was scaled up with some plan-driven elements. The subject is of great interest and the authors' approach is definitely valid.
A decision tool for customizing an appropriate mix of agile and plan-driven ingredients is explained. The tool itself is largely based on Boehm's earlier work and focuses on risk management. The authors illustrate the mechanics of the tool by presenting a family of applications of varying levels of stability and complexity. The rationale behind the thought process for composing the optimal method is valid and built on well-known truths.
The last third of the book is populated by numerous appendices. The first appendix introduces some popular agile and plan-driven processes and maturity models in the form of two-page summaries and comparison tables. The summaries serve as useful reminders but nothing more. The rest of the appendices, however, provide a short but valuable collection of tools for balancing the software development process and some empirical data on the costs and benefits of agility.
In summary, I would classify Balancing Agility and Discipline as a suggested reading for both agilists and sceptics. It's not necessarily a classic but it certainly serves as a useful reminder of things the industry has learnt the hard way and shouldn't be taken too lightly. Agile methods promote retrospectives. Boehm and Turner suggest extending that retrospective a bit farther.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Search Engine Optimization for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Peter Kent
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Holy Grail of Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization can be a pretty overwhelming subject. Based on the fees that SEO companies charge, I assumed that SEO was right up there with rocket science. However, I would compare reading Peter Kent's book to pulling away the curtain and seeing a little old man acting as the great and powerful Oz. Peter Kent does an excellent job brushing aside all of the complex notions of SEO and revealing the rather simplistic, yet precise, concepts behind each of the techniques. This book will explain SEO, tell you exactly which techniques to implement, and guide you safely through all of the SEO landmines.