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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Writing Effective Use Cases
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Alistair Cockburn
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Finally - Something I can use


Finally, a book that explains, in plain english, what a use case is and how to write one. I just got a new position at work and since writing use cases is foreign ground for me, I tried to read a few books to get a grasp of how to write a use case. Unfortunately all I kept finding were books on syntax, diagramming or even worse - books to cure insomnia. This book stays open on my desk and has helped me to succeed at my new position.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Little SAS Book: A Primer, Third Edition
Publisher: SAS Publishing
Authors: Lora D. Delwiche, Susan J. Slaughter
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
SAS APPEAL



SAS APPEAL
One of the best introductions to SAS, the "little purple book" is now in its 3rd edition (November 2003; ISBN: = 1590473337). Compared with the previous version (this one)," the 3rd edition includes more information on preparing reports and tables, and exporting data. However, the basic format and organization is the same.

This book is organized into 8 chapters, with six appendices, and an index. The overall organization is clear-- one topic leads clearly to the next (contrast this with the overly concise "Getting Started with the SQL Procedure," also by SAS). The book clearly assumes no previous SAS knowledge, although covering operating systems (e.g., Windows, your local workstation or mainframe) is beyond the book's scope. Previous experience with any data entry, data management, or programming will be very helpful, but is not essential. Each chapter is organized into two-page topics (these range from 7 topics in the MACRO chapter to 20 in the overly long data entry chapter) with introductory paragraphs, examples that include a small data set, and programming related to the topic. Programming language related to the new topic is shaded to distinguish it from material already covered or otherwise irrelevant. Because of the mini-data sets for each topic, you don't have to keep returning to datasets presented at the beginning only (as you do with some introductory texts). The reason for using the language, the data, the example, and the output are all there on the 2 facing pages; it's very easy to use.

In 217 well-written pages, the book advances from the very introductory (e.g., every SAS line ends with a semicolon; think of columns as variables, and rows as observations) to techniques (e.g., the chapter on MACROS) and programming "tricks" useful to those with years of experience (the too-brief chapter on debugging programs, the section on the always difficult MERGE statement). This is the challenge of an introductory book: It needs to teach the basics, but not so basic that one can finish the entire book in a couple of hours. Delwiche and Slaughter handle this task superbly. Chapter 1, for example, explains basic SAS concepts (the database, the data step, procedures, viewing and printing output), and a few pages on SAS for Windows. (The authors occasionally refer to SAS for Windows ("PC SAS"); this is valuable for those who have this software but otherwise extraneous.) Still, after nearly 15 years of SAS experience, I turn to this book when I want a concise yet easily understood explanation of something I may have not used for awhile. After mastering this book, I recommend that users follow it with the somewhat more advanced "SAS Programming for Researchers and Social Scientists" (Paul Spector) and/or "Cody's Data Cleaning Techniques (Ron Cody).

Chapters are as follows (I've added a sample topic in parentheses after each chapter title):

1. Getting Started Using SAS Software ("The Two Parts of a SAS Program")
2. Getting Your Data into the SAS System ("Reading Raw Data...")
3. Working with Your Data ("Subsetting Your Data")
4. Sorting, Printing, and Summarizing Your Data ("Summarizing Your Rata with PROC MEANS")
5. Modifying and Combining SAS Data Sets (Combining Data Sets Using a One-to-Many Match Merge")
6. Writing Flexible Code with the SAS Macro Facility ("Macro Concepts")
7. Using Basic Statistical Procedures ("Using PROC REG for Simple Regression Analysis")
8. Debugging Your SAS Programs ("DATA Step Produces Wrong Results but No Error Message")

The book's main problem is Chapter 2. The lengthy material on inputting data will be irrelevant for most students, as datasets are often already prepared. Still, because one may sometimes need to create a dataset, the chapter is useful. In addition, chapter 8, doesn't contain include enough on error detection and debugging programs, an extremely important SAS skill that helps one detect and distinguish programming and dataset errors. Also the Appendix on resources, "Where to Go from Here," mentions SAS Institute published books only, although this is partly due to the paucity of well written SAS books by independent authors when the second edition came out in 1998 (compared with today). Overall, while this much-loved book is much loved by those who took their first SAS steps with it. I recommend the new edition (3rd) edition; it has more topics and is more current, for only slightly more money.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Steve Krug
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good book I am glad I read it.


I liked this book a lot. I liked the way the author rewrote some web pages and then displayed them so the reader could understand better. This book made me rethink my stand on pop-up menus and reexamine taglines. The author wrote this book for beginners and advanced users. So yes Mr. Krug does talk about how good tabs are for navigation. But aren't they. The only thing that did not interest me a whole lot was the last four chapters which were about web design teams, how to do usability testing and then what to do with the results. This is only a hobby for now and I have no budget. But in the author's defense he does talk about how to do testing on 10 cents a day. I think this book has helped my site and I am glad that I bought it.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors:
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Long and complicated


This set of books goes into DEEP detail on how the OS works. Reading it reminds me of reading a Cisco operating manual. So many terms, and the fact that everything is done differently in W2K make this a very hard book to read.
I'm the Sys admin for my company, I've been using this set more as a reference instead of reading the whole thing. It's a very difficult set to read, deffinatly not for a begginer