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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Real Process Improvement Using the CMMI
Publisher: Auerbach Publications
Authors: Michael West
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Unexpected gem - read before leaping!

If you're expecting a book that shows how to implement the CMMI, or even one that gushes about its benefits you're in for a surprise. Yes, this book does show how to achieve process improvement by using the CMMI as a model, but it differs greatly from the recipe approaches of similar books that will have you marching over a cliff instead of improving your organization. The author does this by uncovering fallacies and the blind paths the CMMI (or any process improvement initiative) represents.
Here's what to expect from this book, and why you should read it cover-to-cover before embarking on a CMMI implementation or other process improvement initiative. How to spot and avoid common pitfalls such as:
- focusing on the process instead of the benefits, which of course, can be counterproductive when the process itself is applied blindly and without regard for real efficiency.
- avoiding the 'when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail' effect; i.e., attempting to apply the CMMI to everything
- mis-diagnosing problems with the process and applying the wrong solution; for example, scope creep in a project causes a reaction that often results in claims that the requirements management process is broken when the real problem is a lack of discipline or standards (not the same as a process)
Besides showing what does not work, and forcing you to look at your real goals before embarking on a CMMI implementation or process improvement initiative, the author leads you through a realistic appraisal of your goals and objectives, and shows you how to accomplish them. He is a strong proponent of using a systems view, and shows how to apply systems thinking principles to achieving your goals and objectives. This is the real value of this book, and why it's a sanity check for any organization that is about to embark on any improvement initiative.
Of course, if you are going to implement the CMMI, in whole or relevant parts to improve your capability, this book provides a clear roadmap for doing just that. Do not let my previous remarks lead you to believe that this book is anti-CMMI because it's not. It's merely anti-unrealism.
Regardless of your end goals, much of the material in this book applies to any activity, from strategic planning to process improvement to embracing a methodology. It's one of the best books I've read, and one that anyone contemplating CMMI should read before they read anything else about that model.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java 2 Programmer Exam Cram (310-035)
Publisher: Que
Authors: William Brogden, Marcus Green, Ed Tittel
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good for pre-exam review

Not everyone seeking certification is new to Java and object oriented programming. For more experienced developers, it can often be tedious to wade through a certification guide suitable for the Java beginner. It is this audience that is particularly well served by Brogden and Green's book.
This book is concise. There is little effort wasted in going into more detail than necessary in the explanation of concepts the reader should already be familiar with. What you get is the information needed to pass the exam, and little else.
Among the highlights are test taking tips, handy alerts which stress material likely to be covered by exam questions, where to go to find additional resources, and a tear-out "Cram Sheet" presenting a condensed collection of relevant facts. The book comes with a CD containing practice tests and an electronic version of the text.
Each chapter concludes with a set of sample questions testing the material taught in that chapter. Two comprehensive example tests round out the book. This brings up my only real complaint, which is that the end-of-chapter questions have the answer immediately following each question, instead of in a separate section away from the questions.
If you are an experienced OO or Java developer planning to take the exam, or if you are seeking a companion for another exam guide, this is the book for you. The included electronic version of the book is very much appreciated and something more publishers should take note of.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Accelerated C++: Practical Programming by Example
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Andrew Koenig, Barbara E. Moo
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Refreshingly new and very good indeed!

This is a nice change for the better! Instead of introducing the basics and then going on to class design, inheritance, and polymorphism, Andrew and Barbara delay things such as class design until the latter part of the book and instead launch straight into use of the STL, illustrated with practical examples of how to use STL containers and algorithms to solve programming problems.
As far as I am concerned, this is definitely a change for the better. Most programming projects I see heavily abuse inheritance to do things that would have better been done with templates and, as a rule, most C++ projects continue to ignore the STL, even though it is probably the most fundamental contribution to C++ programmer productivity in years. Following this book, readers are encouraged to use STL from the word go, which is as it should be.
The language and flow of the book are excellent, and the presentation is very lucid. What really shines through is that both authors are experts on the topic and really know what they are talking about. The explanations of language features are complete, correct, and precise. There is none of the muddled exposition that I find in so many other C++ books. The teaching experience that Andrew and Barbara have gained over the years is truly reflected in the prose. The book anticipates many questions and typically answers them just at the right time, namely, when the question is just about to pop into the reader's head.
Information density of the book is high. A lot of information is packed into few words, so the reader has to concentrate on what is being said, and skipping paragraphs is not something that I would recommend. The concentration, however, is well repaid by the large amount of solid knowledge that is imparted: I believe that no other C++ book manages to convey as much information per page as this one.
To me, the target audience are people who have done some programming in other languages and do not know C++. (I would not recommend the book for people who have never programmed before, unless they are very determined readers.) More seasoned C++ programmers also will get good value. And, if you are an experienced C++ programmer, but haven't much used the standard library up to now, there is still plenty of meat to be found: there are enough gems of advice in the book for it appeal to people who have considerable C++ experience.
This is an excellent effort from two experts in the field. I recommend it!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: FrameMaker(R) 7: The Complete Reference
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Sarah S. S. O'Keefe, Sheila A. A. Loring
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Complete Reference Frame Maker 7 by O'Keefe and Loring

This work is perfect for anyone seeking to become conversant with the latest software productivity tools. The authors describe products, content creation and sample templates in simple English. They teach how to work with structured documents, manipulate text, formatting and tag methodologies.The mechanics of tabular design , text and the set-up for book files are described in considerable detail with pertinent illustrations. The command "Select File.book" is explained.The authors illustrate how to save a pdf file:At the "File"- SELECT "SAVE AS" TYPE "File name.pdf" SAVE
Important template insignias are illustrated utilizing largediagrams and pointers to key locations on the screen. This book is a solid value if you know little about template organization and design and you need to learn fast.