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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Data Structures & Algorithms in Java (Mitchell Waite Signature Series)
Publisher: Waite Group Press
Authors: Mitchell Waite, Robert Lafore
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Truly Awful

I bought this book a couple of years ago as a reference for a data structures class I was taking. While the teacher used another book (based on C++) for teaching his class, it was MUCH easier to understand these subject with this book. The different structures and algorithms are clearly presented and implemented and the workshop applet included are crucial for understanding visually these algorithms and structures. Still, it lacks examples that truly take power of different features that Java has that makes creating these structures easier. For example, the stack data structure is explained using an integer array, which is fine for structures with an specific size, but lack the expandabilty that features like inheritance, encapsulation and polymorphism can offer. If instead of using an integer array, a class with a generic Object (which is the superclass of all the classes in Java) class was used, all the examples in this book would be prepared for real world situations, instead of readiness for an specific data type and/or size. Nevertheless, I still recomend this book to everyone that wants to learn data structures easily with little pain, but lots of gain.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
understanding the design pattern tools is key...

First of all let me qualify my critique by saying that I use this book heavily and am grateful for it - every programmer should digest and drink in the material in this seminal and valuable book. However one must understand the boundaries of Design Patterns.
Object Oriented Programming has been the New Wave of the 80's and 90's.The initial rah-rah over encapsulation-inheritance-polymorphism faded when their benefits were hard to extract.The design patterns are one step above O-O. Heavily founded in the the main "tricks" behind the design patterns, are also the facets of O-O1. interface2. dynamic binding (or polymorphism)2. inheritance3. aggregation (or composition)
So in the future when there is the next new wave in software, I expect our paradigms to shift to something else. In short, it is a great book, but it is not in the same league as (say) a Mathematics book which will stay current for a very, very long time.
(As a Christian myself, I liked John Vlissides unashamed quotes from the Bible on the first pageJoshua 24:15 "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD")
How to read the book rapidly if you are a visually oriented person. I am a slow learner but was able to read this book in two hours:1. First, understand intimately how the four "tricks" work, mentioned above. 2. Do not read in serial fashion from page 1 till end. Instead look at the structure diagram for a design pattern; meditate on it until you are blocked whereupon read the text to find the answer.

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: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Retaking the Asylum

Anyone who has "chips" in their lives can appreciate Alan Cooper's The Inmates Are Running the Asylum. Cooper, a former programmer and inventor of Visual Basic, has written an interesting study of the frustration that many people in today's technological world are feeling. He articulates these frustrations in what he calls "cognitive friction" or the lack of intuitiveness that seems to be designed into many of the products that we all are using on a daily basis. He speaks to the issue of who is designing the products that we use. It is not the end-user but the software/hardware engineers who rarely, if ever, get the opportunity to interact with those who have to make these products function in every day life. He also addresses the concept of interaction design rather than interface design. As the technology becomes increasingly complex, users will expect that rather than having to conform to the program in order to interface with a product they will want software and hardware that they can interact with instead. For an interesting look into why software has turned out the way it has I would recommend reading The Inmates Are Running the Asylum.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Non-Designer's Design Book, Second Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Robin Williams
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
C.R.A.P.---Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity

This was a great book. It covered everything I wanted to know to make my work get that professional look. I could have used a little more typographic coverage, but that's really not the scope of this book. Anyhow, if you want to make your stuff look professional, read this book.