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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: JUnit Recipes : Practical Methods for Programmer Testing
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: J. B. Rainsberger
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Tasty Morsels from Rainsberger

This thick volume (700 pages including good references and reading list) is aimed at three groups: Java developers in general, JUnit users, and lastly software testers. It is very useful to all three groups, and is marked as **** as a software tester (am I in a minority of one?). It may merit top marks for the other two readership groups.

JUnit is one of a series of language-dependent packages for those engaged in Test Driven Development. Important points to draw out are that this is describing both the building blocks for JUnit, and a process. The authors (important contributions from Scott Stirling and others, in addition to J. B. Rainsberger) make little in the way of assumptions. Not every reader will be an expert Java programmer, nor will everyone have used JUnit before.

Starting from the notion of building little tests as coding progresses, some tough questions are introduced early-on. How is production code to be separated from testing code? It is great having a fully rounded regression pack available, but is it possible to invoke only a subset of the tests available? Real questions from genuine situations that scratch where it itches! All this from the three principles of JUnit; create an object, invoke a method and test the result. Practical examples abound, and there are coded examples, for the most part very clear. Later on, some parts were beyond my level of Java technical understanding (particularly testing JavaBeans), but some testing points still emerge.

To build in the future-proofing of test packs, 're-factoring' is mentioned both early, and often. There are also some very common testing items. Here is one for a taster: if a module / class / object has no noticeable effect, why test it (and perhaps more pertinently, why code it!) There is also the idea that some items are not building blocks, and are too simple to test. This is surely worth considering.

Development can learn from testing. This volume shows that all the traffic is not one way, and is a valuable addition to (some of) those engaged in software development.

Peter Morgan, Bath, UK (morganp@supanet.com)

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Digital Design: Principles and Practices and Xilinx 4.2i Student Package (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: John F. Wakerly
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent text for students and electronic types

As a recent EE graduate, I must say this text has been useful to me throughout my college career and on the job. The author describes logic gates and K-maps in a straightforward, humorous manner. Ok, so the jokes are corny...it is far too easy, however, to find other books that are too boring to read.
The book comes with good practical examples, points out caveats, and even covers "racing," an important, yet glossed over topic in other texts.
I highly recommend this text.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Digital Photography Expert Techniques (O'Reilly Digital Studio)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Ken Milburn
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An Enduring Book

So you've gone and spent some time learning the intricacies of Photoshop. Does that knowledge and your digital camera make you an expert on digital photography? Probably not!
It is true that for digital photography, Photoshop is the standard, and knowledge of it is necessary. But not sufficient. This, basically, is the motivator of Milburn's book. He assumes you're conversant with the mechanics of Photoshop. But now that you have that down, his book concentrates on higher level skills. He has acquired these over 20 years as a digital photographer, from back when tools were totally primitive.
The book is replete with tips on image composition. In the process, you learn to appreciate and use many perhaps hitherto obscure capabilities of Photoshop. Like being able to reduce noise in JPEGs. Or precise edge sharpening. Or painting with filters. And so on. Chances are that an introductory Photoshop book may have given these only cursory attention.
Most Photoshop books are the equivalent of books on grammar and syntax. This book is about writing essays.
The book is also a fun read. The visuals are dazzling! Printed on high quality glossy paper that will still be as fresh decades from now. Deliberately so. There is a timeless quality about the book. Its techniques will still be applicable years hence. Future versions of Photoshop will have at least the capabilities of the current Photoshop. And even if Photoshop gets supplanted by another product, that will be a superset of today's.
Of course, there is no doubt that new techniques will be invented. And those will necessitate new texts. But digital photography is a mature enough field, as documented by this book, that it may endure.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Photoshop Elements 3 For Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Deke McClelland, Galen Fott
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best yet

I've had all three versions of Photoshop Elements, and I always get this book to go with the new version. As usual the authors have done an excellent job of updating the book covering all the new features. If you want an inexpensive friendly book about Photoshop Elements 3, this it it.