Sponsored links


Valid XHTML 1.0!
Valid CSS!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Code Complete
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Steve McConnell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Thank you Steve.


I can't say thanks enough times. I'm both a college student and an established developer. This book put me on the right track. Putting it's ideas into use not only skyrocketed my performance as a developer, but also changed the way I learn and listen in school. Steve, I wish I could meet you just to shake your hand and tell you thanks face to face. Developers, students, look no farther for books on code construction. If you want to know how to do things right, this is you bible.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Linux for Non-Geeks
Publisher: No Starch Press
Authors: Rickford Grant
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Good for "Pre-geeks" too


I initially dismissed this book because the publisher's comments made it sound too basic for my needs. However, after taking a look through it at the store, I changed my mind and got myself a copy. I have been using a Linux system for a while now, so I already knew the basics, but was curious about learning a little more. I suppose you could say I wanted to learn how to get started as a "geek." Fortunately, the author does not leave out people like me, because the book also works well as a primer for using commands, learning how to compile programs, and setting up a wireless card. The book also finally made it clear to me how to install fonts, which (to be honest) had been a point of confusion for me. There's also a great chapter on setting up APT, which is something I had been wanting to do for some time. All in all, the book has been a great help to me. I also liked the interestingly placed references to Vonnegut's "Sirens of Titan" snuck in here and there.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning UNIX Operating System, Fifth Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jerry Peek, Grace Todino-Gonguet, John Strang
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Handy Start Book


As a PC (DOS/Windows) person my whole life, I was looking for a "newbie" explanation of UNIX for a web class I was about to take. This did the job perfectly, and is small enough to carry in my briefcase for fast reference. It could have gone a bit deeper with only a few more pages, but for what I wanted, it was (and is) great.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Science, math, music, thought and some really bad jokes


I first tried to read GEB aged about 24. I did stunningly badly at maths and science in school (failed Maths, Physics *and* Applied Maths) and had never taken an interest in that kind of thing - but I did like Bach, and had just met my first computer geek friends. It has to be said that for the utter novice, Hofstadter is wonderful at making his subject matter seem not just interesting but vital, accessible and beautiful. He leads you into the knotty topic of logic via some brilliantly conceived exercises, and his explanations of how all this stuff knits together are dense but totally clear. If any book made me ashamed of not knowing more about maths, logic, computer science and AI, and yet also enabled me to find out, it's this one. And for somebody who had always been allergic to such topics, that has to be good. It's truly an incredible feat of thought and imagination.
So why didn't I give it five stars? Cause, in many ways, I'm a small, mean-minded individual. My quibble with Hofstadter - and I *know* this is pathetic, given the kind of creative leap necessary to conceive a volume like this one - is that his sense of humour, exemplified in the, erm, humorous dialogues that punctuate the discursive chapters, is, well, sort of, ponderous. I'm well aware that he wanted to make the book *show* what he meant as much as *say* it. But I find the dialogues clever, rather than genuinely funny or illuminating (Borges would have understood that it's better to *describe* this kind of textual game-playing than actually carry it out). I'm not entirely convinced by some of Hofstadter's theories about the nature of consciousness (particularly after having read Andrew Hodges' wonderful biography of Alan Turing) and hence I find some of his propositions about AI a bit dubious.
But what do I know? I'm a lit guy poking around the edge of a subject I know very little about. The only thing I feel qualified to speak out about loud and bold are the literary qualities of the book. There's an excess of cuteness. I could've used more salt. (I also don't really buy Hofstadter's reasons in the preface to the new edition about why he didn't bother to revise the text - surely a few hundred footnotes would have been a great boon, but then I speak as a lover of footnotes.)
Don't let that put you off. If you're a professional scientist, philosopher or musician you *might* be disappointed. If you're none of these things, then this is probably the ultimate popular science book of the past 30 years. It deserves a place on the coffee table of every thinking person.