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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Humane Interface: New Directions for Designing Interactive Systems
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Jef Raskin
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5

I read this book hoping for some insight into good design. I expected a pragmatic, psychology based perspective on users and technical design. Instead, I found the equivalent of a time- motion study on user interaction with technology. That's not a bad thing. Raskin sites some interesting studies on how people are able to work with various input devices. However, I found his negative tone put me off. Everytime he sited a study, he also complained about what was wrong with it. He thinks his designs ideas are superior to many of these, but he sited few scientific studies that backed up his claims.
Raskin constantly praises one of his earlier projects, the Canon Cat. If it was so wonderful, why weren't more of those ideas emulated in future designs? I'm sure there are some valid reasons, but I think his designs are not quite as wonderful as he seems to think they are.
On a different note, I think some of the writing must have been done a while back. Many of the problems considered date much farther back than the year 2000 publication date. Where some of those problems still exist today, many have been solved or inproved by current software.
If you're looking for a good book on the psychology of good design, I'd recommend Norman's, "The Design of Everyday Things." If you would like more practical software design tips, "Designing From Both Sides of the Screen" is pretty good...especially the first half, which has lots of fun examples.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft ADO.NET Step by Step
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Rebecca M. Riordan
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Not for Starters

Well I have to say I was disappointed with this book. I was expecting to gain a lot of knowledge from this book on ADO.net which is completely different than ADO. Now yes there was a lot of coding mistakes in the C# line however if you notice in the review above everyone that has given this book a bad review said their language of choice was C#. This book is also highly pointed towards VB and you can tell that in chapter 1. But the coding mistake were pretty obvious and I have yet to see a book on coding without a few coding mistakes printed unless it is on it's second or third edition. Also you must set everything up exactly as the defaults specify. You must use the version of the nortwind database that comes with the book. The traditional one that comes with SQL server will not work. Reason is everything is hard coded in. However this is typical of any Microsoft book. I am a Certified Trainer and the manual they give you to use to teach new students with shows you everything hard coded in. I start my class usually saying I will show you this twice. Once the way the book shows you and then the right way.
What I was disappointed about is the lack of explanation of things. For example why use a DataAdapter over a DataReader everyone one of the examples with the Adapter I could do with less code and more efficient with the DataReader instead. I still have yet to find an ADO book that explains this. Her coverage on the different properties method and events in this book I think have less information than just looking in the SDK for .net. I think that is what disappointed me the most. I can't even use this book as a desk reference. I find more information in the SDK on a specific method. I was really looking for explanations of these things and how they work and why should we use one over the other.
One of the other things that really disappointed me is the way the samples were done. Many times I find myself writing code throughout the whole chapter and taking her word for everything through the whole chapter then you do not execute the code until the last page of the chapter. By then your wondering what was that code I typed in 40 - 50 pages ago and what was it doing?
Another thing I really didn't like was all the WYSWIG VS.net tools examples. It is like using front page with a dummies book. Click here, Set this property to this and then run your code. Well ok, that fine and dandy but why did I just do this and what does it get me. Also any experienced coder remembers all the problems with their apps by using those tools in VS 6 what a nightmare trying to track down problems after using one of those. I would have rather had more text telling me why I was doing this rather than pictures and instructions.
They last thing I think could really help is clean up the code. It is too long. An example of what I mean is in chapter 4. When producing messages on when the adapter fires its events.The book shows you:string strMsg;
strMsg = "Beginning update...";this.txtMessages.Text += strMsg;
this could easily be one line of code or 2 if you insist on declaring the string variable. This is just a small example but it could really be cleaned up in a lot of places.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Active Directory, Second Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Alistair G. Lowe-Norris, Robbie Allen
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Worst book I ever bought

What can I say, I learned more about Active Directory from a scripting book than I did this one. The author beat around the bush and never seemed to get to the point. Too much fluff and not enough "need-to-know" information. Currently reading the Thomson Learning MCSE Active Directory book, and its much better, although still not perfect. Even if you are looking for a reference, this isn't it. Maybe the Active Directory Cookbook?

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: SQL Server Query Performance Tuning Distilled
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Sajal Dam
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Look at the last chapter

Dam starts off by describing quite general problems that might arise in any relational database. He also wants you to inject some rigour into your efforts, by defining fundamental baseline metrics for your system usage. Then, when trying ideas described later in the book, you can get objective quantitative feedback on their efficacies.

Of course, the bulk of the book is specific to SQL Server. But you should keep in mind that Dam is not primarily offering a bunch of quick tips on performance improvement. To be sure, the chapters do indeed give specific suggestions that you can try. But a more sophisticated reader can get an understanding of the broad constraints of SQL Server and a rough but good idea of its internal workings. You don't need source code for this.

It sbould also be said that you need a good knowledge of SQL and the theory of relational databases, before venturing into the book. Some chapters (like on blocking and deadlock analysis) will considerably test this background.

But the last chapter may be welcomed by some of you. It summarises the book by offering a detailed list of best practices. If you want to quickly gauge what the book has to offer, read the last chapter first.