Sponsored links

Valid XHTML 1.0!
Valid CSS!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Big Red Fez: How To Make Any Web Site Better
Publisher: Free Press
Authors: Seth Godin
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An Appealing Concept

Author of several brisk, witty, and informative business books, Seth Godin has a unique gift for locking in on a core concept and then explaining why and how it can guide and inform thinking about an important business issue. In this volume, he focuses on "how to make any Web site better." His dual metaphors explain the meaning and significance of the title. Preferring a marketer's version of a Web site to that of an engineer, he suggests that "One of the best ways to remind yourself about what's really going on [when someone visits a Web site] is to think of a monkey in a big red fez...The best way to motivate the monkey [to take a desired action], of course, is to use a banana. Whenever a monkey walks into a new situation, all it wants to know is, 'Where's the banana?' If the banana isn't easy to see, easy to get and obvious, the monkey is going to lose interest. But if you can make it clear to the monkey what's in it for him, odds are he'll do what you want." Obviously, the monkey is the Web site visitor and the banana is the incentive mechanism.
Godin uses a number of different real-world Web sites to illustrate what is and is not effective; he also explains why. (Presumably many of those responsible for the ineffective Web sites have read this book and made the necessary revisions since it first appeared about 18 months ago.) One of the book's most interesting points concerns the quite different mentalities of the engineer and the marketer. The former assumes that smart people have plenty of time, know precisely what they want from their online surfing, and can make a considered decision if provided with sufficient data. In stunning contrast, the marketer assumes that people are busy, ill informed, impatient, not very thoughtful and eager to click on to something RIGHT NOW. The marketer also believes that if you don't give the visitor the right object (or objective) to click on to immediately, the visitor will hit the "Back" button and leave.
I presume to add another difference: I think that most visually complicated Web sites resemble the front page of the U.S.A. Today newspaper (especially the Friday/Saturday/Sunday edition) whereas the most effective Web sites resemble the most effective billboards along a highway. Percentages vary but research studies suggest that online surfers spend about 90% of their time visiting the same ten Web sites Also, that after a unsatisfying experience, the percentage is even higher; that is, approximately 95% of online surfers never return to that Web site.
One substantial benefit this book provides which I did not anticipate when I began to read it is that the same principles which Godin recommends to increase a Web site's effectiveness are also relevant to the design of marketing and sales collateral materials such as direct mail solicitations and printed brochures. Because of the immense clutter through which messages of various kinds struggle to reach their destination, and because this clutter is certain to become even greater, Godin's concept of what he calls a "purple cow" (explained in a book of the same name) has compelling importance: become and then remain remarkable for as long as possible. Web sites, letterhead, business cards, products, services...indeed contact and communication in any form...must attract and reward attention or are certain to fail. Period.
Those who are responsible for Web sites or who heavily depend on Web sites to help achieve their business objectives are strongly urged to check out all of those which Godin features in his book. Also be alert to various lists of award-winning Web sites, especially those selected by online surfers rather than by technicians. For example, the finalists in competition for the 1st Annual Web Site Award sponsored by WIRED magazine.
One final point: This year's Purple Cow may well be a Plaid Kangaroo in 2004.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Starting an eBay Business for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Marsha Collier
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Some interesting information, but lacking vital elements

I was really disappointed in the section about where to find items to sell. I know that is the big "secret" to ebay business, finding cheap items to sell at a higher price, but if this book is supposed to help you start a business, that should be included. Also, the information on taxes, etc was very confusing. I had to go online and learn about it for myself, and when I found the answers, it was so simple and could have easily been added to this book. This book seemed sort of thrown together and half hearted. I haven't used it at all since I bought it last year.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: How Computers Work, Seventh Edition
Publisher: Que
Authors: Ron White, Timothy Edward Downs
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Most Incredible Book Ever Written For PC Enthusiasts!!

Ron White really did a good job on writing the millenium edition book of "How Computers Work". The book starts off with the history of computers, and even includes a section on the Internet. I'm one of those people that is totally into Technology, and I'm really impressed by this book. I was happy to see two pages about how palm PC's work, because I own one, and always wondered how they work. Computers are starting to play a more & more important part in the world today. I really suggest anyone who has used a computer before to read it. I got interested in this book when I started wondering: "Man, these machines can do so much, just how complex are their insides???" So, I think you should all read this book if you are into computer or want to just learn how they work.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: ShaderX3: Advanced Rendering with DirectX and OpenGL
Publisher: Charles River Media
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Up To Date View of the State of the Art

This book is a collection of forty-seven articles around the common theme of shading images in real time. Many of these effects have been common in the movie world for many years, but in that application the shading can be done on very expensive machines and the time it takes to produce an image is not important because the resulting image is to be shown on screen rather than immediately on a display. Now, with the increasing power in the PC's in widespread use, these techniques are being brought down to the standard desktop.

In this book a wide selection of authors discuss the start of the art in shading. They are, for the most part, active professionally in the graphics display business. A number of them work for ATI, the video card manufacturer, a number work for gaming companies, or for companies producing software used in gaming.

This approach provides for a fast time to print, rather than one author taking a year to write the book. In this industry a year is a lifetime, well, at least a generation in the software.