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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Simulations and the Future of Learning : An Innovative (and Perhaps Revolutionary) Approach to e-Learning
Publisher: Pfeiffer
Authors: Clark Aldrich
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Rupesh Goel

Clark has written a book both simple and detailed - for both the specialists and the generalists - in the big, bad, and exciting world of simulations.
Sometimes the process IS the product - if you believe that you will love the notes in the book from Clark's developer's diary - he brilliantly captures the tradeoffs of design, technology, learning, legal and commercial issues, in the process of creating the simulations.
I recommend this to anyone serious about simulations development or use.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Firefox and Thunderbird Garage (The Garage Series)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Chris Hofmann, Marcia Knous, John Hedtke
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
For Beginners

Ever since software stopped shipping with printed user manuals, users new to a software package typically look for an introductory text to familiarize themselves with the program if that program is not self-explanatory. For those new users to FireFox and Thunderbird, this title provides just such an introduction. For the most part, this title overviews the programs from the perspective of the user, covering the basic interface and dialogs spawned by toolbar and menu items. Readers should not expect to get any deeper into the applications than what is immediately available within the Options dialogs.

In regards to the FireFox section of this title, showing the information they do in a straight-forward manner would have resulted a text one third as long as what they printed. To flesh this out, the authors have both taken the position that readers are not only new to FireFox, but new to internet browsing in general, and have added both very remedial information as well as a huge amount of filler. For instance, an entire chapter appropriately titled "Websites to Waste Your Time With" does nothing more than provide you eight solid pages of links to web sites that you can - waste your time with. Another chapter appears to be a dedicated advertisement for a blog managing extension download. And as a last example, one chapter has a two page table that covers what each toolbar button does, including a picture, name, and description (such as "New Window: Does the same as the File | New Windows command").

For the Thunderbird section, much of the same fluffed up information as presented in the FireFox section can be found. However, as an email client is a more complicated application than a browser, this section can serve as an excellent Wizard (if you will) for guiding the user thru the often difficult task of account setup and migration, as well as learning how to use the Thunderbird interface instead of your current email program.

Only those that are looking for a beginners guide for FireFox and Thunderbird should consider this title. The book definitely covers the basics of the applications and does so in a way that is easy for the reader to understand and follow. Those that just want the facts and would prefer not to have to sift thru fluff and personal opinion may find this text trying at times, but will get the information they need. Much of the information presented in the book is also presented for free in the on-line help included with both applications, but readers will find value in the extra programs and links presented throughout the chapters.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Access 2002 Developer's Handbook Set
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Paul Litwin, Ken Getz, Mike Gunderloy
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
If you develop in Access this is the set for you

I am working on an large Access 2000 application and while Access is not my favorite environment (lots of bugs) this set has been extremely useful to me and the other developer of this project. If you develop for Access get this set. We use this set so much that the books are falling part!!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Open Source Licensing : Software Freedom and Intellectual Property Law
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Lawrence Rosen
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good material, but not for the stated audience...

If you're looking to get an in-depth understanding of open source licensing and all the issues surrounding it, you should read Open Source Licensing by Lawrence Rosen (Prentice Hall).

Chapter list: Freedom and Open Source; Intellectual Property; Distribution of Software; Taxonomy of Licenses; Academic Licenses; Reciprocity and the GPL; The Mozilla Public License (MPL); The Common Public License (CPL); The OSL and the AFL; Choosing an Open Source License; Shared Source, Eventual Source, and Other Licensing Models; Open Source Litigation; Open Standards; The Open Source Paradigm; Appendices; Index

On the positive side, this book will teach you more about licensing than you thought existed. This book deals with all the legal issues that either have arisen or could become a problem as open source continues to make inroads against commercial software. The analysis is detailed as only a lawyer can do it. Another positive aspect of the book is that the author covers how different open source licenses mesh with each other. You may be forced into choosing a certain type of license if you've incorporated software that already uses a license that you're expected to apply to your software. All good stuff.

On the negative side, I don't think the book delivers on its promise to present "a plain-English guide to open source law for developers, managers, users, and lawyers". I see this as a book by a lawyer for lawyers needing to understand software licensing and how open source licensing fits into that. Companies that are building a business model around open source will need this material, but the typical developer and nearly all users will be bored to death as individual words are pulled out and dissected as for potential legal interpretations that could be applied.

I'm inclined to rank this a little higher than I'd like just because there's not a lot of material about this subject, and the author *does* cover it in great detail. But if you think you're going to get an easy-to-digest explanation of open source licensing, you will probably be disappointed.