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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: PMP Certification for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Peter Nathan, Gerald Everett Jones, Peter Nathan, Gerald Everett Jones
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Fair Book, Bad Test Bank


I had intended to give this book zero stars and a recommendation that you never, ever buy or use it. But as I wrote I decided that it does have some redeeming value as a study aid, although not in ways the authors intended.
I bought this book as an additional sample PMP exam. I had just completed an online PMP course and was waiting to take the exam itself. In the terminology of PM, the book is of (somewhat) high grade and (extremely) low quality. It is seriously flawed both technically and literarily but its approach of taking the PM process linearly through making a movie and taking the PMP test is refreshing -- although not totally effective. Many of the movie examples were interesting and vividly demonstrated the PM principle.
However, it is riddled with factual errors and is an utter disaster in terms of its editing. As a project, the book demonstrates very bad PM technique -- and should be deemed a failure. The authors obviously failed in the PM Quality and Control processes. Why should anyone take the advice of PM's who fail so badly in THEIR OWN literary work? Is this the PMI way of Project Management?
For those who say these errors don't matter, will you accept this level of error in the projects you manage? [Shudder!] I would suggest that if the material which I know about is inaccurate it calls into question the accuracy of the material I don't know! What level of 'error' is acceptible? PM is still more art than science, full of ambiguity, with many techniques extant, but the book often disagrees with other PM training, and not infrequently with the PMBOK 'bible' itself.
Typos, misspellings, and serious grammatical errors abound! The editor (if there was one!) really, really blew it! I can't believe anyone checked the proofs! There are many places where a correction was attempted but the 'wrong' text was left intact (like following the period!). There are references to non-existent figures and figures that are never referenced. It is also somewhat 'convoluted' in terms of its organization and logical progression. All of these should certainly have been on the project's 'activity list'.
The math is absurd -- and often wrong. Many equations substitute the summation (sigma) symbol for division and a lack of parenthesis or other groupings make the associations incorrect. The book often confuses 'standard deviation' and 'variance'. If you don't know the formulas beforehand, this book won't help you! And if you rely on these, you'll get the answer wrong!
I never did find a useful arrangement for the wall chart. It appeared to be organized randomly and there was no good way to tape it together to get other than a 'spaghetti' view of process interactions, although the 'spaghetti' did help clarify some relationships.
The sample test/CD -- the real reason I bought the book -- is almost unusable in that many (most!?) of the questions have serious typos, syntax, semantic, or editing errors which renders them ridiculous. Some questions have no answers, or the answer given is incorrect. Some answers make no sense in context, for example, using 'not' in the question when all answers would require 'is'. The auxiliary images and charts could not be displayed.
The situation improved slightly with the errata file from the Wiley Website, but that introduced another set of bugs, different typos, and still didn't display the correct auxiliaries. I finally printed the image files!
Based on my PMP test (which I passed), the book's sample questions are simply weird and bear little relationship to the test I took. My questions were straight forward and much less subtle than the samples. The book was trying to be 'clever' if not comical with its questions. It was not particularly successful. Since each PMP test is randomly generated from a master set, each test will differ. But I suspect only slightly.
So why is there any redeeming value? Reading the book and taking the sample test allowed (encouraged!?) me to review my understanding of PM and PMBOK. Each time I discovered a supposed error, researching it made me dig deeper into the 'truth' and thus reinforced my knowledge. In that sense, the book is useful.... But you have to devote the time! By itself, the book is worthless -- except as a bad example.
I assume that subsequent printings of the book will correct many of the most glaring errors, so if you plan to buy this book wait for the second printing.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Jef Raskin
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Fundamentals and Futurist speculation


Raskins' "The Humane Interface" is cut from the same cloth as Alan Cooper's "About Face", Jeff Johnson's "GUI Bloopers", and Bruce Tognazzini's "Tog on Interface". I prefer Johnson's books to the others due to its thoroughness, even-handedness and case-study orientation. As in Cooper's and Tognazzini's books, many of Raskin's recommendations are tried and true, whereas others are much more speculative.
Raskin thoroughly grounds his book in cognitive theory, which for a cognitive scientist like me, is highly refreshing. Others might not appreciate the theory as much, but this is clearly the meat of the science of UI design. But this is not a book on cognitive psychology, so it quickly moves on to discuss "cognetics", which he describes as the ergonomics of the mind. Like most UI designers, Raskin has semantic qualms with the term "intuitive", but introduces "affordances" as a stand-in. An affordance is simply something that's familiar from your earlier experiences. Combined with "visibility", they form the backbone of easy-to-use-out-of-the-box UI design. Raskin quite rightly denies the zero-sum nature of design for novice versus design for experts, claiming you can build well for both by following the domain. There's an excellent discussion of Fitt's Law, which predicts how long it will take to land a mouse on a screen object based on size and distance. I also appreciated the clear explanation of the GOMS keystroke model and his subsequent application of information theory to the design of a farenheit-celsius converter.
Getting more concrete, Raskin delivers the obligatory rant against modes. In a novel twist, he then introduces a nifty notation of the elementary actions of today's GUI's (mouse down, key clicks, selection, mouse movement, etc.), which brings him much closer to the engineering side of interface design than any of the competing books. There is an excellent description of in-text search, using emacs (the text editor of choice for the world's programmers) as an example. The section on commands and transformers, the basis of the Unix operating system and software design within it, indicate that emacs wasn't the only thing Raskin picked up before he designed the Mac UI.
I was completely unconvinced by Raskin's radical suggestions for redesigning (really discarding) the notion of file. I can't imagine making his concept of LEAP work in practice. I'm not even sure I understood the description. I was equally unimpressed by his "Zoomworld" suggestions for navigation.
"The Humane Interface" doesn't break much new ground, but its solid foundations and smattering of sharp insights make it a worthwhile edition to any UI designer's bookshelf.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Security Warrior
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Cyrus Peikari, Anton Chuvakin
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great Book! Recommended for true security professionals


This book rocks! If you are a neophyte to host/LAN/internet security, I suggest starting out with Hacking Exposed. But if you are ready for something more, this is it. I especially liked the step-by-step on how to compromise a WEP-secured wireless network.
I would have rated this 4.5 stars, but half stars were not offered. My one minor complaint is the weak discussion of hacking PKI on pp. 359-360. I suspect this is most likely due to the fact that the DoD, Microsoft and anal-retentive small companies like mine have bothered to deploy PKI. Little if any exploits are known at this point.
I suspect by the second edition of this book the authors will have many more PKI exploits to discuss.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Effective C++: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Programs and Design (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Scott Meyers
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
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