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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: On Intelligence
Publisher: Times Books
Authors: Jeff Hawkins, Sandra Blakeslee
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Thought provoking and truly fascinating.

Jeff Hawkins' day job has been the creation of the Palm Pilot and the Handspring Treo, along with the Grafitti writing system used on those devices. His "hobby" - and a very serious one it seems from this book - is studying how the human brain works.

Hawkins has been bothered by the lack of a unifying theory of what the brain actually does that makes it intelligent and the absense of a good book on the topic for the lay-person. On Intelligence is his response to those concerns. The book is one big hypothesis on what is going on inside all of our heads that separates us from even the fastest computers. The crux of the issue is that our brains are pattern storage and pattern recognition devices that use those two functions to incessantly make predictions about what is coming next in the world around us.

The evidence and explanations that Hawkins offers up are compelling and fascinating and his theory conceptually makes sense when you think about it. In the end Hawkins happily admits - and we as the reader need to remember - that what he is doing is offering up a hypothesis for science to work with, prove and disprove as the study of the human mind advances.

Highly recommended for the interested lay-person by an interested lay-person.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: SpamAssassin
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Alan Schwartz
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Less than I wanted

I'm sure that the Spamassassin developers are doing the best they can, but the sad fact is that the spammers are winning the war.

I don't think there really is a good solution for spam right now. Blacklists don't work, Bayesian filters don't work - nothing works well enough to stop spam entirely.

Still, Spamassassin is useful, and because it is configurable (and open source), you at least have complete control. That assumes, of course, that you understand how it works. That's the reason to buy a book like this, but I was a bit disappointed in that area. I'm not sure yet whether the fault is Spamassassin - maybe it's just not as configurable as it should be - or this book just not explaining things very well.

For example, I note that an awful lot of the spam I get is from certain IP blocks. I don't want to block out large ranges arbitrarily, but I thought it might be interesting to increase the Spamassassin score if the sender was in one of those ranges.

Well, if there is a way to do that, I still haven't figured it out. It could be me - maybe I just haven't read things carefully enough - but I didn't feel that I understood Spamassassin after reading this. Maybe this needs to be a bigger book - only about 100 pages are devoted to configuration and modifying rules, the rest is installation advice.

On the other hand, there's nothing else out there, and this isn't totally without value. If you are using Spamassassin, you may want to pick this up - it could be a long wait for anything better.

Product: Book - Turtleback
Title: Color Index: Over 1100 Color Combinations, CMYK and RGB Formulas, for Print and Web Media
Publisher: How Design Books
Authors: Jim Krause
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Very handy, but only 1100 combinations, not 11000

As a graphic designer, I already have a good sense of what colors go together. However, this indespensible little book can speed up the process of design. I can't tell you how many times I've picked it up, found the color scheme that worked with a certain project, and punched in the RGB or CMYK numbers that accompany each color scheme. The book is divided into color scheme "types" depending on the mood. For example, sections include Progressive, Muted, Browser Safe (useful for web design), etc. And at the price it's being sold for, can you go wrong? The other books in the series are great too, but this is the "must have" volume in the series. Hope that helps.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Lucene in Action (In Action series)
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: Erik Hatcher, Otis Gospodnetic
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent book written by experts

The authors are extremely helpful and active in the lucene mailing lists/faq. It's a pleasure to have a book written by people with not only practical experience using lucene, but actually develop the code itself. This book does an excellent job of introducing lucene and providing practical applications for it. A must have for any lucene user.