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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Brady Games
Authors: Dan Birlew
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Nothing short of an absolute disgrace, kupo!

This is apparently Square's way of forcing people to start using their PlayOnline website. Basically the entire "real" walkthrough of the game -- which should be included within these pages -- exists only on their website. All of the vital information was then hacked out and the rest was published as this guide. There is *nothing* more irritating than shelling out money for a guide and then reading nothing but website referrals over and over, literally a half dozen times on *each* page: "To find out what you REALLY bought this guide for, go to PlayOnline!"
Here's a hint for all involved: People play console games so they don't have to be bothered with running their PC all the time. Pausing your game to run to your PC all the time kinda defeats the whole purpose of a console game.
I can only imagine that Square pushed Brady into doing this as a tactic to force people to use their website, since the online version is *this exact guide* without the important stuff hacked out of it. I can hardly imagine a company wanting to release a print guide in this format. All I can say is, I hope they don't foist this on us for the next FF chapter.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Software Testing Fundamentals : Methods and Metrics
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Marnie L. Hutcheson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Unique perspective aimed at product line testing

Traditional software testing focuses two key metrics - defect removal efficiency and, in mature environments, defect density. This book takes a different approach that, on first read, may seem like anarchy to experienced test professionals who work on internal projects. However, when you stop and consider the context in which Ms. Hutcheson is using, the methods and metrics she sets forth make perfect sense.
The context is delivery of commercial products or getting company-critical applications rolled out for purposes of competitive advantage. Within this context she defines the following goals: (1) first to market with the product, (2) optimum pricing model, (3) products with the right features, (4) keeping unacceptable bugs to an absolute minimum. For the last she has a corollary, "Make sure your bugs are less expensive and less irritating than your competitor's", which is not the 'party line' in testing, especially in organizations that strive for zero defects, but is realistic, and especially so when time-to-market is critical. In some ways this book reflects software testing in marketing-driven product development. This is further reinforced by the following definitions and objectives:- definition of quality is customer satisfaction.- system for achieving quality is constant refinement.- measure of quality is the profit.- target goal of the quality process is a hit every time.
Achieving the above within the software testing domain does require a departure from conventional thinking and methods, and how to go about achieving them is thoroughly covered in the body of the book. The key approach is to develop a test strategy that is based on 'Most Important Tests'. Supporting activities covered include building a test inventory, managing risk, and a feedback loop of data analysis.
In addition to being aligned to product line development, this book's approach can also be easily tailored to rapid, iterative development approaches such as agile methods. If you are working in an internal development environment that uses 'heavier' development lifecycles this book is not going to fit; however, if you work in a product-oriented environment this book will not only change your thinking, but will provide the basis for an integrated development-marketing approach that could make a real difference in competitive advantage.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows Scripting Self-Paced Learning Guide
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Ed Wilson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
This book is AWESOME!

This is the book to use to learn VBScript if you are a network administrator, or a consultant. If you are a "real developer" or if you are a web devleoper, then do not bother. I am in the first group. I have read / looked at several books on vbscript, but they were all too confusing. In many cases, they simply copied Microsoft's documentation --- which lets be honest, dude if I could read that stuff, then I would not be buying a book.

What do I like about the book. Well he starts immediately with things that will help me. The first script in the book shows how to list all the admin tools installed on the server. Secondly, I like his stories. The book is actually fun to read, I guess that is why one reviewer, said it was scripting for dummies. I for one, will admit I own several dummies books, and they are fun to read. I actually like Mr. Wilson's sense of humor.

Back to the book. The book is not comprehensive. But I do not want or need a comprehensive book on scripting. I need help automating my Windows network --- and this fits the bill nicely. The labs are awesome --- starting out step by step in the first labs, and later in the book, he makes you think --- but not so much you can not complete the lab. The CD that comes with the book has ALL the scripts in the book, as well as an electronic version of the book. I have copied that version to my laptop, and keep it with me for reference.

Buy the book. You will be glad you did.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Steve Krug
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Best Website Usability Book Out There

Mr. Krug thoughtfully points out usability issues that every web developer should be aware of, and his points are well-considered ones. But there are some serious flaws. To begin with is his definition of "usability" -- usability for whom? Mr. Krug completely ignores web accessibility issues for persons with disabilities. The web-viewing public he is concerned with have no disabilities that make reading pages difficult or impossible, do not use assistive technologies, or do not use old browsers. The author fails to mention that approximately 20% of web surfers have some form of disability, and fails to suggest online or book resources for learning more about this issue. Designing for ALL surfers is not, as he would put it, 'rocket surgery'. Is he really unaware of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines as put forth by the W3C or of section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act? His sections about navigation are absurdly one-sided. Does he truly think that javascripted navigation, or navigation with tabs are universally usable?
Secondly, the author is still stuck in largely tables-based HTML presentation methods. Usability means building a site that works on hand-held and telephonic devices as well as assistive interenet devices. This can be accomplished through XHTML and Cascading Style Sheets. In fact, separating markup from presentation is a large part of what Mr. Krug should be discussing, but doesn't.
Thirdly, Mr. Krug's examples are of large, well-branded sites. That's fine, but his comments and suggestions seem best-suited to those sites, not small business or other small-site needs. This shows in his lack of information about designing pages that will expedite search engine effectiveness. In fact, he outright dismisses the usefulness of the introductory paragraph often found on homepages as "happy talk", stating that "happy talk must die" (p. 46). Many search engines print this paragraph, or a portion of it, as part of the information you see when you're searching for a topic. Why not tell developers how to utilize this paragraph to advantage? Is it because his examples are large sites with well-known branding that don't require additional information? The wording of that paragraph can make or break a search engine user's decision about visiting a site.
Even though it is painfully lacking in some very vital information, Mr. Krug's book is worth reading. However, a savvy developer will not take everything he says as gospel, but will continue to learn more about what usability *really* is, what new developments are coming 'round the bend, and will seek out more fully-rounded information before committing development hours and money just to end up with a half-usable site.