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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Jakob Nielsen
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Common sense reasoning

I'm a designer and I design web sites for a living, and this book didn't click with me. The topics in the book are repeated over and over and over and over again--simplicity and usability.A better theme would've been "achieving beauty from simplicity".While this is a good lesson to learn, unfortunately this makes for boring reading, and Nielson isn't even witty when compared to Edward Tufte.
Pros: Great academic reading, pages are in full color, great for web designers who can't design and need to conform to common everyday looking web sites.
Cons: Expensive for the little insights of do's and don'ts, too much of the insights are really just common sense.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Data Structures & Algorithms in Java (Mitchell Waite Signature Series)
Publisher: Waite Group Press
Authors: Mitchell Waite, Robert Lafore
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent desktop reference.

A great reference book, I was up and running using hashes and linked lists in no time. Clear & consise with several examples.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Larry Ullman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
One of the Best Programming Books I've ever Had.

I am a seasoned computer programmer that was looking for a good introduction to PHP and MySQL development. Essentially I needed to create a database driven website where I could also accept credit card payments and do shopping cart stuff. This would be my first foray into Internet Programming (or is it scripting).

Firstly you'll want some prior programming experience to get the most out of this book. Therefore if you need ultra detailed explanations, then this book isn't really for you. If you have programming experience, then the book moves along at a good pace without getting burdened on lengthy explanations.

Chapter 1 starts off with a good introduction to PHP and variable types. Chapter 2 and you're creating forms and handling the submitted data. MySQL is covered from Chapter 4, and before you know it you're covering topics like Sessions and Cookies, Regular Expressions and debugging techniques. What I really like about the book is that Larry shows a couple of different ways to accomplish a particular task. E.G. In the earlier chapters, Larry uses hard-coded values for the <FORM> action property. Later on we learn about using server variables. Other stuff like submitting a form to a different page or to the same page and processing there so that you can put a little comment next to a field to indicate that it needs to be filled in etc. This is one small example, but basically all the topics follow this general principle.

Larry is also kind enough to mention Database and Internet security and some simple techniques to ensure your 'sensitive' files are not in the public domain. Also the tips section in the chapters are really good and has often prompted me to do further reading.

Larry's last 3 chapters cover useful real world examples such as shopping cart, user registration and content management. Each of these chapters range from 40 to 50 pages whereas other books might devote upto 5 times as much. Larry manages to cover these topics very well in a short space and he doesn't leave you short changed.

The book is very well written, flows well and covers most of your PHP topics. Infact I believe the information presented here would cover the programming requirements of nearly 90% of existing websites today (not including flash stuff). Apart from one of the best programming books I've purchased, Larry actually takes the time to answer questions in his forum about his books and any problems you might have.

NOTE: This is a great addition to your library, and even though the book is a couple of years old, it is still worth the purchase.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Graphic Java 2, Volume 2: Swing (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: David Geary
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
It is definitly overrated.

I own 3 books on Swing...and I never reference this one. This book's content is badly organized, and the information is badly presented. If your skeptical, grab a really good Swing book like "John Zukowski's Definitive Guide to Swing for Java 2", and pace yourself on the speed you grasp the subject matter, and hands down you'll learn faster with Zukowski's book. It's not enough to have all the info in a book, it's how it's presented and explained. I'm a fan of the Core Java books, so I was excited about this one, but ended up disappointed.