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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Authors: Richard Phillips Feynman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Quantum Physics Less All the Math

Richard Feynman stands out from other physicists in his witty ability to explain physical phenomenons in a simplistic way. Quantum physics (or quantum theory) is by far the most fascinating yet the most perplexing subject ever studied in recent-to-present history. I was lucky to have come acorss Feynman's "QED" while I was taking undergraduate quantum physics. Feynman adroitly explains the path of an electron without discussing vectoral analysis. He clearly conveys the ideas behind quantum theory by translating the obscure mathematical notations and manipulations into plain language understood by readers who are not in the science field.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XML Bible (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Elliotte Rusty Harold
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Tedious, with unnecessarily super-sized examples

A good technical book should not be a doorstop. Instead, the book needs to explain the topics concisely, use brief and coherent examples that illustrate the text, and where alternative implementations are available, explain the alternatives briefly but save the detailed exposition for the recommended path. Instead, this book just uses lots of paper to provide far too detailed examples with little bits of explanatory material squeezed in...that go into way too much detail themselves. Also: It's BORRRRING. Yuck.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning Perl, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Teaches Perl Syntax, not how to program

This book is excellent for the experienced programmer that wants to learn Perl. Like other reviewers said, it assumes prior knowledge from the reader. I see this as a strength, not a weakness. I already know what data structures are and how to use them, this book goes to the point, how to do what I need to do in Perl.
Recently we had a process at work that generated some text files with some shorter than expected lines, this text files were used as input for another process, this second process was choking when getting to the short lines. I wrote a program to identify those short lines, being an experienced Java programmer, I did this in Java, but I was aware that Perl was good at this kind of thing. I decided to get the Llama book after that, to take the plunge and learn Perl. After reading only a couple of chapters, I was able to reimplement the process to identify short lines as a Perl script with 1/5 of the code (just as an exercise, the process that was generating the short lines was successfully debugged before this).
If you are an experienced programmer looking to learn Perl, this is the book for you, if you don't have much programming experience, I would look elsewhere.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum : Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Alan Cooper
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Better treatments exist elsewhere

Cooper's book is old news. Check out Don Norman's Psychology of Everday Things for a more general, and more original treatment. The topic of user-centered design has been floating around in the area of human factors psychology for years, with many successful applications. Simply put, there isn't much new in this book.
And the assertion that engineers lie at the root of the problem is naive. The true problem in devising usable systems that are also commercially viable and are delivered on time and within budget lies in a team approach, with users, developers, engineers, marketers, - ALL STAKEHOLDERS - involved in the process.