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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Adobe Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Scott Kelby
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best Photoshop Book!


Best Photoshop book I ever bought. Excellent step by step intructions.95% of what in this book is what I need to use daily.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Elizabeth Castro
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Good but hard for students to follow


I read the excellent reviews of this book, ordered it then adopted it for college level course as an intro to HTML after my other book went out of print. After 2 semester now I find the book is very difficult for students to follow to build their own web sites. Examples are not complete enought and I have to fill in a lot of things for my students. My students range from Junior and Seniors at a University to Grad students from a wide range of disciplines.

I now realize this book is not clear enough to really help those new to HTML.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web
Publisher: Pearson Education
Authors: Christina Wodtke
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Lack of focus


When reading the book I was briefly enthralled by her critical take on the standard (guru) guidelines for good site design - but it should have been a warning on what was to come: a mixing of usability, design and information architecture. Off course the three disciplines mingle in every site development, but in a book called Information Architecture it should dedicate all its pages to that subject - but all too often I find myself halfway through a chapter before realizing that it is mainly about design and usability (or even project management) and only secondly about information architecture.
Another thing that seriously degrades the focus is what I see as a shameless attempt to make the book thicker by including non relevant material. On pages describing the organizing of content she manages to use up half a page with a picture of her husband with the caption "Looks cold, doesn't he?".
She could also have spent more time organizing the book's content. With chapters named "Making It All Up, Writing It All Down", "All Together Now" and "Eat Me, Drink Me, Push Me" it is impossible to navigate in, impossible to look for some kind of principle behind the organizing of the content.
The book should have been called "Site Development: IA, Design and Usability for the newcomer".



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Fundamentals of Database Systems, Fourth Edition
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Authors: Ramez Elmasri, Shamkant B. Navathe
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Not what I was looking for


I used FUNDAMENTALS OF DATABASE SYSTEMS (Third Edition) in a graduate class I took on databases, and I've kept referring to the book since then. As a student, I'll admit that it was tough to get through this book at times. It's dense and almost impenetrable, but it packs a huge amount of information and is amazingly comprehensive.
It puts theory well ahead of practical matters, which gives the novice a good foundation from which to really get a firm handle on how all these pieces fit together. The assumption is that the student knows nothing, even B-trees are devoted several pages of explanation. The student who does know nothing will doubtless find this wealth of data to be overwhelming at first (as I did). But stick at it. This textbook is not for people looking at how to simply plug things into Microsoft Access. It's for programmers seriously looking to gain a strong background in what the fundamental elements of database components and systems are.
The text starts off simply, merely explaining in general terms what databases are and who will use them. Then we quickly move into modeling how relational databases work. Data Modeling and Entity-Relationship Models are described in-depth, and the book comes back to ER modeling and mapping repeatedly. Object Models are covered, as well as the best ways of sorting records and the best way to index tables. The authors offer a wealth of information concerning the SQL language -- so much so, that there's much that I simply haven't used since reading about it, although I'm sure that more advanced database programmers in the audience will find it very enlightening.
It continues on with Object-Oriented Database technologies, functional dependencies, and normal forms (first, second, third and Boyce-Codd normal form). Higher system views of database architecture are also discussed, giving us an understanding of how different parts are working together. Optimization, recovery, maintenance and security are naturally touched on, as are distributed databases and the basic client/server architecture relationship. As you can see, this is all very theoretical, although some real-life explanations and examples are brought in. But it is by building up a solid knowledge base that will allow the reader to truly understand systems when encountered in the classroom or in the workplace.
I've only touched on a handful of things that the book details in its 1000+ pages. It's packed with mathematical formulas, computer science algorithms, schema design, and the minutua of every database operation. Its approach doesn't make things easy, but it does contain everything you'd want to know about a given item. I had to read various sections multiple times for my coursework, obviously, but every time I studied a passage, I would uncover details and concepts that I had missed the last time. Even now as reference material, I always find myself learning (or relearning) something when consulting this book.
Although in my current job I don't require a massive amount of database knowledge, I still find this an extremely useful reference guide. To be perfectly honest, I don't know if I would find this text helpful if I hadn't taken a course that taught from it. It's certainly intimidating to a beginner. But if you're a moderate to intermediate database programmer, you'll find this an invaluable guide to filling in the gaps in your knowledge. It may be a bit too dense and scary to serve as your only teacher, but you'll probably find it an important one.