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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: User and Task Analysis for Interface Design
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: JoAnn T. Hackos, Janice C. Redish
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Read it before you need it.

If there is one strong message in this book, it is: Go talk to the people who will use your product. It's an important message. Software designers and writers spend too much time with each other developing clever tricks, while the poor user, often left to self-train with a poorly written manual, gives up in frustration. The authors follow their own advice--in addition to telling you how to conduct a site visit to the end users, there are clear instructions (based on experience) on planning a visit, structuring questions, how to make the site visit useful for both the analyzers and the users, and figuring out what the user said and what it means about the product. There are reminders about release forms and examples of the forms themselves. Case studies help make the points clear and undestandable. A thoroughly readable book in clear and simple language that can be started anywhere for quick help, or read cover to cover for a complete course.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Code Complete, Second Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Steve McConnell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Required Reading

This book is so fundamental and common sense you might take it for granted. Don't make that mistake, buy a copy.

This book covers a wide range of material, from variable declaration to variable naming to software design and probably everything else concerning software construction. This book talks a lot about style, but it is backed up with hard facts not just personal preference.

The examples are written in several languages (such as C++, Java, and VB). It includes a very meaty chapter on design, as well as chapters on classes, high quality routines, and refactoring. Even though this is book is not mainly about design, it is the best design book I have read!

Each chapter has an Additional Resources section so you know where to go for more. The resources are also online on the authors website which is extremely handy.

This book teaches you how you can write good and self-describing code. I wished every program I've had to read had been written by programmers who read this book and applied that knowledge. If you're a manager buy copies for all your programmers. It will be the best investment you ever made in your programmers and projects.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit for Software Development Managers
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Mary Poppendieck, Tom Poppendieck
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Awesome book!

I had pretty much the same feeling reading this book and Lean Thinking, as I did when I first started reading up on agile methods. It all felt like common sense and that's a comment I hear from a lot of people new to lean/agile. However, I feel, and have experienced, that there is a huge gap between viewing or perceiving something as common sense and actually applying that common sense to the work you are doing. Also, both this book and Lean Thinking put these principles and practices into a different perspective by showing how they have worked in the manufacturing business. Seeing the parallels between the work done in manufacturing a bicycle and crafting a software program is pretty powerful.
Mary and Tom do a great job in the book of presenting specific tools for applying all this "common sense". They start by introducing the seven principles of lean thinking when applied to software development:
1. Eliminate waste 2. Amplify learning 3. Decide as late as possible 4. Deliver as fast as possible 5. Empower the team 6. Build integrity in 7. See the whole
The rest of the book presents the 22 thinking tools that are all tied to the seven principles. Mary and Tom use a lot of real world examples of the usage of these tools and they do a very good job of explaining how each of them could fit into an agile ecosystem.
The book is pretty compact and the authors have clearly eliminated all waste from it because I was never bored.
I can't recommend it enough!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Microsoft Windows XP Professional: Exam 70 270 (With CD-ROM)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Microsoft Corporation
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Could Be Better

It's a given that no one study guide will give you the understanding to pass the associated MCSE exam, but this barely qualifies as a study guide. For someone who has never worked with Windows before and has never seen XP before, this might be a good "Windows XP for Dummies"-like book. It does quickly gloss over most of the basics of the OS, how to network it and even how to deploy it, but falls short of even being a How-To for people looking to support and not wanting to study for the exam. A good example of just how much information this book lacks is to take the practice exam off the included CD-ROM. Less than five questions into the practice exam, the information needed to get the question right is not even covered in the book.
My suggestion would be to anyone who is looking to prep for the exam is to read the XP Resource Kit, the on-line help, and Microsoft's Readiness Review for XP - and leave this book on the shelf.