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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Cocoa(R) Programming for Mac(R) OS X (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Aaron Hillegass
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Well done step by step tutorial

This book falls somewhere inbetween Beginner and Intermediate. It's a beginners book in that it assumes no background in Cocoa or Objective-C. It's kind of intermediate in that having at least programming experience in some language will be of great help.

The book does not start with a lot of philosophy, instead it goes through a step-by-step process to wrtie the first application. This is done with some good explanations and a lot of screen shots.

The author is a teacher of Cocoa, and he wrote this book to use in his classes. After writing the firt edition he used it for a couple of years, enough to understand where the problems might lie. Now he's done a second edition based on what he learned in teaching the first book, and the changes that Apple has made in the software.

This book is tutorial, not a reference book. It leads you through the process step by step. Then there is a fairly extensive index so that you can look up points later. Highly Recommended.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Seize the Work Day: Using the Tablet PC to Take Total Control of Your Work and Meeting Day
Publisher: New Academy Publishing
Authors: Michael Linenberger
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Seize the Work Day

No need to look any further, this is the book you've been waiting for. If you have a Tablet PC or are thinking about buying one, the book you need is Seize the Work Day: Using the Tablet PC to Take Total Control of Your Work and Meeting Day by Michael Linenberger. This is by far the best book written on the subject. I had already read several of the available how-to books and idiot's and dummies' type guides on the subject before discovering Linenberger's masterpiece. I read the book during a weekend trip and have been using it as a reference since. The author's enthusiasm is infectious, and you'll find yourself getting caught up in it, configuring your tablet to work like a PDA, buying a portfolio case to carry it, taking and storing your notes as digital ink. Although it would undoubtedly be best if one could follow his advice to the letter, some of us will not be able to put all of his recommendations into practice. Even if you can't follow all of his suggestions- perhaps your organization's IT department won't agree to allow your Tablet PC on their network, or for whatever other reasons you decide not to use your Tablet PC as your primary desktop computer, or you decide you can't live without your PDA- there is still a tremendous amount of useful information in this book. There are plenty of good books out there about Tablet PCs, Windows Journal, FranklinCovey PlanPlus, FranklinCovey TabletPlanner, Microsoft OneNote and the other software the author discusses; but this is the one book that puts it all together for you, comparing them, discussing the advantages and limitations of each, and offering valuable tips and workarounds to overcome program shortcomings. Obviously the optimum software program has not yet arrived, but Linenberger helps you get the most out of what's available now and makes you feel confident about the future of the Tablet PC. Some of the information is already dated, but he provides updates on his website. This book is definitely worthy of updating and reprinting. Hopefully, an updated version is already on the horizon, or better yet- and please listen to this, Amazon.com- I really love your books, but a valuable book like this that is bound to be referred to again and again would be really terrific to have as a downloadable version. After all, why carry a Tablet PC and a book about getting the most out of your Tablet PC- when you could have the book right there on your Tablet PC?

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Revised Core Rulebook (Star Wars Roleplaying Game)
Publisher: Wizards of the Coast
Authors: Bill Slavicsek, Andy Collins, J.D. Wiker, Steve Sansweet
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Move over, D&D...

First off, let me say that if you are one of those people who, for some reason, is absolutely rabid about hating the D20 system, or one of those people who just hates Wizards of the Coast, well, that's a pretty narrow view. This is first and foremost a D20 product, and has all the advantages and disadvantages that comes with that. If you can't get past that, you're definitely missing out.
Aesthetically, this is one beautiful book. It's full-color throughout, with tons of illustrations and pictures from the movies, most of which are relevant to whatever is discussed on that page. The style is clean, attention-grabbing, easy to read, and most importantly, it catches the spirit of Star Wars.
But how does it work, you ask? Very well. Combat is fast and deadly, as it should be. The setting is far more skill-oriented than D&D, which is a welcome change. The universe is huge, and it lends itself to roleplaying and the rulebook takes advantage of that by allowing you to be anyone, go virtually anywhere, and do almost anything. There is no magic, of course, and the way the Force is integrated into the basic fabric of the game is particularly welcome.
There are no less than 17 player races and 9 character classes, including two Jedi classes, to choose from. The book gives good advice on character creation and gamemastering. There is an extensive list of personal weaponry, armor, and mundane (yet high-tech) items. There is a vast list of creatures and character archetypes for the PCs to encounter, some friendly, some not. Ever wanted to see if you could be like Obi-Wan and fight the insect-like Acklay in the arena?
My money's on the Acklay.
There are a few down sides. I don't particularly like the starship combat system. It works, but it could definitely be better. The capital ships are simply ridiculously fragile. When something like a Star Destroyer shows up on the scene, the enemy should scatter; that just doesn't happen here unless you modify the stats (which is what I did). I would have also liked to have seen a more in-depth discussion of Droids as a player character choice.
Overall, though, I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you already like Star Wars. And who doesnt?! Try it out; you just might find yourself rushing to put away your sword in favor of a blaster pistol. Enjoy.

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
Great Ideas, Not Always Well Presented

The culture of software development is changing, but grudgingly. The short-sighted notion "It's better to be first with something bad than second with something perfect" has been discredited after too long a reign as the New Paradigm of the Information Age ("It's brilliant because it's counter-intuitive!"), and instead has been exposed for what it is: bad business and a lousy way to treat customers. Alan Cooper's book helps make sense of things as software developers, after decades of coding for each other, are forced to begin acknowledging the cold and strange outside world of Real Life Users.
Cooper's writing is generally clear and easy to follow. He documents his points well and uses numerous true-to-life examples to illustrate the concepts. The ATM analysis, for example, is both effective and memorabl: Why DOES the ATM list account types you don't have, permitting an invalid selection? Why can't you return to a previous screen to correct mistakes, instead of starting over from scratch? Why doesn't the system give you an error message that helps you understand the problem, rather than "Unable to complete transaction"? No one even bothers to ask these questions, Cooper points out, because we've accepted the default structure of ATM screens--which were created for the convenience of coders and system engineers, rather than users.
Cooper also performs a valuable service in demolishing that old standby programmers' excuse: "We don't call any of the shots-it's all management's fault!" Bull. Half the managers in the computer industry are former coders themselves (and laboring under an outmoded and faulty mental model of how software development must occur, by the way). The other half are so non-technical that they're at the mercy of the coders, who are free to decide which features are most important, which will take too long, and ultimately, which will or won't make the cut for the next release. Coders ARE driving this bus, if occasionally from the back seat, and they need to take responsibility for what they produce-and be humble enough to admit that an indispensable part of the development process (interface/interaction design) is beyond their abilities.
That said, Cooper's writing style itself is less than perfect. He presents many compelling case histories, but at times he seems to lean too heavily on insider stories, as if showing off his contacts and expertise in the industry. And, of course, Cooper is far too much in love with his "dancing bear" metaphor; long before you've reached the halfway point, you'll be muttering, "One page...just ONE page without a `dancing bearware' reference, PLEASE! That's all I ask!"
But the messages and lessons in this book are too important to ignore. As Cooper tries to remind us, it is everyday users-not the power users, not even the "computer literate"-who are the core audience. They're the ones you have to design for: a successful interaction design, rather than a burgeoning list of clever features, is what will determine your product's success or failure.