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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Hackers and Painters: Big Ideas from the Computer Age
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Paul Graham
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Thought Provoking Essays

This book with its series of essays reminds one of similar O'Reilly books like The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which contained essays about Open Source and Peer-to-Peer : Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies, a book containing essays about peer to peer networking. This time around, the subject of the essays is programming. The first essay about Nerds is dead on and reminds me of my junior high school days as one of the "uncool ones." The next one, "Hackers and Painters" comapres the two and shows how each are artists in their own right, a perspective I hadn't thought about before but one that makes sense, and one that other essays throughout the book refers to.
There are also essays about "ways to create your own wealth," and not from a standpoint of hot to get rich necessarily, but if that happens along the way, all the better. And related to that are Graham's thoughts on creating a succesful startup company, a "foolproof way" of getting rid of spam, what programming languages will be like in 100 years (and it makes one wonder if there will even be programming languages around then as we know them today), even a couple essays on how web based software could be the next "killer ap" and how Microsoft may get eclisped as the dominant company of today, just as they eclipsed IBM way back when.
Graham clearly offers some interesting ideas and comments in his essays, ones that you might not always agree with, but ones you have to at least consider and respect.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Simulations and the Future of Learning : An Innovative (and Perhaps Revolutionary) Approach to e-Learning
Publisher: Pfeiffer
Authors: Clark Aldrich
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An easy read that will have you thinking for a long time.

This book has a great casual style that makes it accessible to anyone, yet the ideas are significant.
It's pretty cool - he describes the process he went through to create a game to help people learn leadership skills. What I found interesting is how he came to define leadership, since he had to do it in a way that would permit 'quantization' and definition as a simulation. He admits that the ideas are not new, but I think his perspective is a fresh one. The way he has put them together is definitely new. The result is a visualization of leadership that plays on in your mind - great stuff.
It is also an interesting account of the process he went through when designing his simulation/game. When organized and well written, accounts of groups solving complex problems can be very illuminating, and this one certainly succeeds there too.
I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in leadership; e-Learning; and problem-solving.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Inmates Are Running the Asylum : Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Alan Cooper
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Agree or not, this is an important book

You might be familiar with Cooper's previous, and fairly influential, book "About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design." Cooper is also known as "The Father of Visual Basic" for his work on the original version of Visual Basic for Microsoft.
This latest book goes way beyond the nuts-and-bolts concerns of Cooper's "About Face" book--in fact, it's not really a nuts-and-bolts book at all. Programmers are not the target audience. Rather, "The Inmates Are Running the Asylum" is about the insanity that results from the lack of a proper design process, run by trained professionals, in the software life cycle. That brief description really does not do the book justice, though. This is a manifesto, a call to change for the whole industry. I predict (or perhaps "hope" would be a better word) that in ten years, this book will be viewed as a major milestone for the software industry, on par with Frederick Brooks's "The Mythical Man Month", Codd's relational theory papers, Constantine and Yourdon's "Structured Design", DeMarco's "Peopleware", and McConnell's "Code Complete." I know I'm going out on a limb with a statement like that, but I think this an important book.
I highly recommend this book. It's an easy read, not a technical book. Just to temper some of my hyperbole, this is by no means a perfect book, and many will disagree with Cooper's assessment of and approach to the problems at hand. I certainly have had my disagreements with Cooper in the past. But this book, in my opinion, is generally right on. Even if you don't agree, you won't be able to ignore the floodgates that I hope it opens. Check it out.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XDoclet in Action (In Action series)
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: Craig Walls, Norman Richards
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent XDoclet resourse

This book is great for developers who want to learn XDoclet from scratch and XDoclet power users. It is also divided up in such a way that, depending on where you are in the XDoclet learning curve, there is always a natural place to start.
It begins by covering code generation in general and why it can be beneficial. It then give some basic examples of how to integrate XDoclet (and Ant) into your project to generate code.
A good chuck of the book after this is broken down into the different domains XDoclet supports - servlets, EJBs, Hibernate, custom JSP tags, etc. As a Hibernate user, I have found XDoclet very useful, but having this book by side would have made getting started much easier!
This brings me to the last big thing I like about this book's organization - about the last third of the book is strictly reference. So, even if you are an XDoclet expert, it still makes a very handy desk reference for the tags.
So, if you want to learn XDoclet or if you want to become a more effecient XDoclet user, but this book.