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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Information Architecture: Blueprints for the Web
Publisher: Pearson Education
Authors: Christina Wodtke
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I begin to know what Information Architecture is all about

In the previous, I thought information architecture (IA) is just about organizing the content, defining the labels and designing the navigation schemes. After reading this book, I understand IA is much much broader and useful than I can imagine.
This book explains why we need IA and shows us steps and examples of how to do it well.
The first few chapters of the book are about some basic user experience design and usability knowledge. They are useful if you are new to this field.
After that few chapters, the book becomes more and more exciting. The author started to teach us the foundation of many IA techniques including user interviews, card sort exercise, meta data, controlled vocabulary, personas and scenarios, task analysis, web UI design and diagramming.
Personally, I love chapter 9 - "Making It All Up, Writing It All Down" so much. It is about diagramming and documentation. It makes me understand that there are a lot of stuffs I have to prepare before I really build a web site.
The example on re-organizing the Digital Web Magazine in chapter 10 also opens my eyes.
Thank you, Christina!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Debugging Applications for Microsoft .NET and Microsoft Windows
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: John Robbins
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Below the belt...

I bought this book to get a complete knowledge of the .NET framework debugging and got nothing. May be the .NET in the title applies to the fact that the author is using the VS.NET. If you have got the author's previous book on debugging then there is no need to waste money on this one.
It discusses mainly C/C++ debugging in a typical MFC style (ASSERT/VERIFY etc).
Here is the content at a glance:
1. Bugs: Where they come From and How you Solve Them2. Getting Started Debugging3. Debugging During Coding
4. Operating System Debugging Support and How Win32 Debuggers Work5. Advanced Debugger Usage with Visual Studio .NET6. Advanced .NET Debugging with Visual Studio .NET7. Advanced Native Code Techniques with Visual Studio .NET8. Advanced Native Code Techniques with WinDGB
9. Extending the Visual Studio .NET IDE10. Managed Exception Monitoring11. Flow Tracing
12. Finding Source and Line Information with Just a Crash Address13. Crash Handlers14. Debugging Windows Services and DLLs That Load into Services15. Multithreaded Deadlocks16. Automated Testing17. The Debug C Run-Time Library and Memory Management18. FastTrace: A High-Performance Tracing Tool for Server Applications19. Smoothing the Working Set
As you can tell, there is hardly a .NET stuff to pay for, so for those of us owing the author's previous debugging book, this is just a second edition with .NET appended to confuse buyers!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Agile and Iterative Development: A Manager's Guide
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Craig Larman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I wish I had had this book ten years ago

During the spring semester 2004, I am teaching a course in software engineering. As a major class project, we are developing an application that will scan C/C++ code looking for potential security problems. In my opinion, there is only one way that a class of this type can develop a project of any significance. That is using an agile/iterative development model, where there is a little design, a little coding, a little testing and then go back to design. When I taught software engineering last spring, we used the same model, but were not as agile. Our iterations were longer and we pushed some of the more difficult tasks to the end. As the students noted, "we coded carefully at the start, but then just wanted to get it done at the end." While this scenario might seem to be a problem, I found it gratifying, because it is just like the real world. The authors of this book are also firmly set in the world of software development. While reading it, I was constantly saying to myself, "It is about time." The reason for this singular conversation was that they completely disrespect the waterfall model of software development. In retrospect the use of the waterfall model is similar to the strict use of the word engineering in software development. Namely, the beliefs that the practice of building software development is just like building a bridge or a building. By thinking that all of the parameters can first be determined and then you build the software, an enormous amount of time, effort and expense had been wasted. Software development is a very dynamic process, one where circumstances are in a constant state of oscillation that gets damped down to a limit point as the project nears completion. The waterfall model is one that is implicitly taught in school as well, but the only way we get away with it is because most of the programs that students write are small, well within the bounds of having hard parameters. Therefore, it is possible to completely design the program before coding it. In my experience with students fresh out of college, the two concepts they have the most difficulty with in their first job is the constantly changing requirements and the fact that they will know only a small part of the complete application they are building. And so, all educators must place more emphasis on dealing with changing requirements, and this book is an excellent place to start. Fortunately, the movement towards object-oriented programming and encapsulation has made the change to iterative development easier. A programmer no longer has to be as concerned about possible data and method interactions/conflicts as they had to be when everything was visible to all. I was sold on the iterative method of software development over a decade ago, when I started a job as a software developer. We were building a new product and received changing requirements on a weekly and sometimes almost daily basis. Quite frankly, we had no choice but to adopt an agile development style. I wish I had had this book with me at that time, it would have saved us a lot of stumbling around as we tried to deal with everything.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Enterprise JavaBeans, Fourth Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Richard Monson-Haefel, Bill Burke, Sacha Labourey
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Finished reading and still need explanation.

I read and believed the 5 star reviews. Then found out that I do NOT have a comprehensive step by step tutorial, or even explanation. It doesn't matter that the other books like Roman's are worse (they are). This book tries to give you the whole picture, of all versions, supposedly with a certain project in mind, but never with a complete picture of what needs to be DONE. If you ever bought the "Java Beans" from o'Reilly, this is about the same. Many words, going around and around. It is NOT a book for: "OK I want to make an enterprise site. Here's the architecture of the site. Here's how EJB makes it easy. Let's use this tool here, and get to work". Sorry. (I really am)