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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: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Perfect for the general to professional web page designs


I have thumbed through several HTML references, and this is the only one I really use.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Head First Design Patterns
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Elisabeth Freeman, Eric Freeman, Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent engaging read on best prac in OO Design


I have to admit: I was skeptical, at first. I stumbled on a Head First book a year or two ago, flipped through the pages, and put it back on the shelf: it seemed too simplistic for me.

A few weeks ago I was browsing computer books at a local Borders and stumbled on a lineup of several "Head First" titles. "If O'Reilly keeps publishing this stuff, someone must be buying it", I thought. I picked up one of them, started reading... I could not put the book down: it is rare when a computer book is so much fun and yet so informative and mature!

This book possess the magic of making you to learn without you really noticing it. Yeah, I know, "No pain, no gain." Well, somehow the authors manage to keep you engaged, even with such an abstract material. What I am trying to say is that you don't feel like you need to concentrate on the reading because all the action keeps you focused. In each chapter the authors in a quite unimposing and subtle manner introduce a problem, so you almost don't see it coming. Most importantly, you don't feel that you are studying, but still, you are learning!

Authors by the means of visualization and conversations of quite a few characters -- the Master and the Student, the Guru and the Developer, and others -- make you learn the material almost "by the way". Why? I think because these characters represent familiar voices in your head that sound surprised, sarcastic, annoyed, excited, and frustrated when you are trying to digest new material. They force you to look at the problems and patterns in many different ways, and this is the essence of internalizing. The questions and answers are flying right in front of you, and they are neither boring nor trivial, so you are not falling asleep. Pictures make it even more real, and plenty of coded examples add necessary precision. Most importantly, using this style of writing the authors increase internalization of somewhat complex and abstract material much faster than others that I am familiar with.

The "Head First: Design Patterns" book covers the familiar GOF patterns, but unlike many of the patterns books, it does not have a separate condensed patterns catalog. The patterns appear as natural solutions to natural problems. What's remarkable is that they seem just one of the courses in this feast of object-oriented thinking. Indeed, this book talks about the wisdom of object-oriented design as about the design patterns themselves. This feels natural: the patterns do represent some of the best practices in the object-oriented design.

The only complaint I have is about the Appendix: the authors cramped in almost as many design patterns in its 20 pages as they did in the preceding 600. I understand that to cover the rest of the patterns could take another book and another year, but I'd rather wait for the sequel.

I believe that both experienced and novice readers will benefit from this enjoyable and engaging book, but you definitely will be more perceptive to the wisdom of this writing if you have matured through developing, maintaining, and extending of object-oriented systems. All in all, I love this book and can't wait to start reading another "Head First" pearl.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
If you enjoy thinking, this book is for you.


This book was originally published in 1980 and reissued in 1989. I read it for the first time in 1981 and have re-read parts of it numerous times over the years. It is challenging and very enjoyable if you like logic, mathematics, music or just about any intellectual activity. Don't expect to absorb it all in a single reading, or maybe even in multiple readings. Do expect to read slowly, to stop and think frequently, to keep a pencil and pad handy and to use your mind. Also expect to learn some truly amazing mathematical philosophy if you're not already a mathematician. This book won, and truly deserved, the Pulitzer Prize. It would be difficult to find a better value



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Cocoa(R) Programming for Mac(R) OS X (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Aaron Hillegass
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Better than the O'Reilly Cocoa books


After tediously working through two O'Reilly books on Cocoa programming, I bought this book based on review recommendations. I was confused through both O'Reilly books, but Hillegass finally made sense. This book is solid, and made me feel like I was accomplishing learning throughout the book. Hillegass uses great analogies, informative history tidbits, and well thought out examples. Additionally, he puts in programming challenges at the end of many chapters that give the student a new goal to use information learned in the chapter. In short, Hillegass is a great TEACHER, a qualification often lacking in other programming books.