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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows XP Inside Out, Second Edition (Inside Out)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Ed Bott, Carl Siechert, Craig Stinson
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
an ad for microsoft: superficial, key elements absent


All advertisings are free and short, except this one, called 'Windows XP inside out'. An the price is expensive...!
Unfortunately, this book is more out than in: it is SUPERFICIAL and MISSES a lot of CRUCIAL POINTS! So the title is simply fallacious and false! Like the pretentious `Conquer Windows XP. These catchy phrases are here only to attract buyers, like all flashy and impressive slogans!
The main and inexcusable drawbacks are:
1) It misses important and crucial points: it doesn't `dig into XP and really put your PC at work', like it want us to believe!!! This is clearly the main negative point since the principal reason for buying this book is precisely to master XP. For example, it doesn't explain how to improve a DSL connection ..., what are all the useful tools that come with XP Professional (included in the Support folder of the XP CD-ROM), booting with Linux and the list goes on.
2) It barely scratches the surface for non-obvious, important issues and topics. For example, it has only a few pages about Windows Script Host and invites the reader to go elsewhere!!! Other topics, like internet, networking are only superficially touched in many important aspects.
3) The book is not coherent since from one side it explains the obvious, although it labels itself as destined for intermediate to advanced users and doesn't explain the uncommon elements.
4) Many `tricks, tips' and elements are obvious. For example, the book wastes time and space to indicate what the desktop, an icon, the taskbar and the start button are!!! It also `tells' you to `click on an icon to perform the related action'! So one may pretend that this book is destined for everyone. But, first, the book clearly indicates (in the first paragraph of the cover page): "hey you know your way around your desktop-so know dig into windows xp'. Second, the level is clearly stated as `intermediate/advanced'. Third, even if we consider the book as being for everyone, then why it doesn't explain what is less obvious. It's the major drawback explained below.
5) Many non-obvious elements are not explained! For example, the author talks about %systemroot%, but explains nothing. Although it explains what an icon is!!! Unfortunately, the index has nothing for this word. It's only by reading other chapters that apparently have nothing to do that the reader can know what this means. An the list continues.
6) It pretends to provide useful software but gives in reality useless elements.The CD-ROM is a commercial for Microsoft and third-party products. It gives you for example Partition Magic demo and some other trial versions but a) they are known (they can be found in virtually every magazine CD) and 2) they are not really useful (they're only demos!).However, it exist a lot of software that is really useful and free for cleaning the registry, increasing download speed, increasing DSL connection speed and so on. But the CD(ROM doesn't provide them or even indicates where to find them.
7) The books deals with the Home and Professional edition but it doesn't clearly distinguish what is specific to the Professional edition.So the reader tries what the book ways, but find that it doesn't work or appear as expected. There is only a small indication at the beginning of the specific part to tell it's only for the Professional version!!! But in the middle, there are elements for both versions! And then for only one. So it's really confusing and time-consuming.
8) Lack of critical view. The ad-in-disguise also shows in the objectivity and the comments. One of the main points may be the privacy. The author completely misses crucial issues, like information transmitted to Microsoft or third-party companies without the user's knowledge or acceptance and so on.The author has an overly optimistic view of the software, not only XP, but Internet Explorer and other Microsoft products. For example, it considers that you can select your search engine with Explorer while actually you can only select one source among a very limited list!!! (It however exists a tip to select the search engine you want, and not the one Microsoft proposes.)For finding help, it always refers to Microsoft or the like. No comment.
9) There is an electronic version of the book in the Cd-ROM. And then? If the book is itself of very limited usefulness...
So if you really want to know Windows XP, tweaking, optimization, and the liken don't buy this ad looking like a `book'.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Modern Applied Statistics with S
Publisher: Springer
Authors: W.N. Venables, B.D. Ripley
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
R deserves the coverage it gets here


Another reviewer wrote "I suspect most practicioners use S+". He should have been at the UserR! 2004 conference in Vienna this past March, with 500 or so enthusiastic R users including many from big industry (financial, pharmaceutical). And Ripley is the number-one contributor to the R Help mailing list by a long way. So it is completely appropriate that R is so prominant. Many of us appreciate open source not only for its cost ($0) but also its transparency. The reviewer should take another look at R.

As for the book, it is my data anlysis bible. It gets me started in a correct direction, with very well-explained and worked out examples, which I then adapt to my own datasets. The writing couldn't be clearer, and the references to primary sources as well as non-computational statistics texts I have found to be excellent. This is the one book to own if you are more than a beginner.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: PMP Certification for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Peter Nathan, Gerald Everett Jones, Peter Nathan, Gerald Everett Jones
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Too many errors


I initially thought this book would be pretty good - and I liked the MS Project exam preparation plan on the CD. However, as I got farther along in the book, I began to notice errors in the text as well as in answers given to questions - even in the math problems. I also found an error on the highly-touted 'wall chart' from the author's web site, where in the Schedule Development process, there are two extra process inputs listed. I ended up switching to the Kim Heldman book - which I'm finding to be much better. This Dummies book was a disappointment - and not very professional.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Balancing Agility and Discipline: A Guide for the Perplexed
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Barry Boehm, Richard Turner
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
More balanced than perplexed


Sometimes we want to have things to be black and white, but working at extremes has shown to be the failure path.
That is why IT systems have buffers, project plans have slacks, and mathematical models are most precise when they are fuzzy.
That is why we are most happy with systems where form follows function and the interface follows the user. In the same way Barry displays ways to pick an appropriate method for each project making clear that there is no single solution, but that all models aim at advantages and disadvantages.

Ask a plummer:
- picking the right tool will help to finish the task in the quickest and most reliable manner.

Ask a Karateka or a boxer:
- if you are well-balanced you are unlikely to fall over and happy to sustain hits.

Barry makes sense of it all for IT projects, lists existing knowledge and in my view his book is building the foundation of acceptance for agile methodologies and combining them with proper methods for documentation and project management with a focus on preemptive risk management.

He favors to approach projects by looking at the risks and how to overcome them thus solving the biggest problem in IT projects: "taking a risk-driven approach is a pragmatic means of reconciling the strengths and weaknesses of disciplined and agile methods." (Boehm, B. and Turner, R. (2004), p. xiv)

I was perplexed, by the clarity and and combinations of the principles listed in this book, which is indeed very well balanced and applicable.