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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: MP - Systems Analysis & Design w/Proj Cases CD
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/Irwin
Authors: Jeffrey L Whitten, Lonnie D. Bentley, Kevin Dittman, Jeffrey Whitten, Lonnie Bentley, Kevin Dittman
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
It just doesn't work

(based on 4th edition, 692pp) If you've never studied the fundamental concepts of SDLC, this book will teach you standards when using CASE tools/Project Management software, how to create your first Requirements Statement and how to facilitate between Users, Owners, Vendors, Steering Committees, Programmers, Network Admins, Interface Designers, DB Admins and misc Managers.
Examples of Gane & Sarson (the book's standard), DeMarco/Yourdon and SSADM/IDEF0 shapes and diagramming methods are used for diagramming Data, Processes, Networks and Objects. The redudancy of the text prevented me from madly flipping back and forth to try and keep everything in memory - THANK YOU! It's like having a pre-hyperlink referal manual.
While SAaDM 4th ed. also thoroughly delves into the core theory & logic of Database/Process/Network modeling, Object Modeling, Input/Output/Interface Prototyping and Project Management, it is not a replacement for experience. Consider it a comprenhensive, illustrated encyclopedia or HOWTO that builds off of the project's Objectives/Constraints by cross referencing the technology behind Data, Process, Interface and Geography with human Owners, Users, Designers and Builders. Each cell of that cross reference has requirements, methods, an outcome & a deliverable which compiles to a standardized, template-based Requirements Statement that you would be proud to submit to the boss.
The downfalls: A) It can't cover the remaining SDLC phases (part 3: Implementation & Support is covered in about 35 pages), but the title already tells us that.B) Many of the methods use very similar terms and templates, (e.g. the difference between a Data Flow Diagram & a Data Model, or the reason we have a Decomposition Diagram AND a Context Diagram). With experience, every part of this book reveals neccessity, but a first-time reader would benefit from sidebars like "Why Decomp Diags differ from Context Diags" or "Common mistakes of translating an Entity Relationship Diagram into a Data Flow Diagram".
Finally, 140 pages of the book reveal essential Organizational Behavior habits that every System Architect should learn: Project & Process Management Techniques, Fact-finding, Feasibility & Cost Analysis, Joint Application Development and Interpersonal Skills.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Photoshop 7 Down & Dirty Tricks
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Scott Kelby
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
cool, no-nonsense book on creating "wow" effects

While it is relatively easy to discover how to do most of the effects contained in this book (try searching the internet), this book provides the convenience of a concise, one-stop resource. The time and effort to collect the same number and quality of tips makes the book well worth its price. Take note that this book does not guide you through the basics of Photoshop; instead, it shows you step-by-step how to create cool effects without too much background information. This method is ideal for Photoshop beginners who just want to jump right in and start designing.

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
Four solid design principles and then an intro to type

I've taken a few introductory graphic design courses and I learned more from this 190-page book than I did in any one of the courses. The trouble I found with the courses was that they were either 1) too "exploratoryEand nebulousEThere is no right or wrong way to design,Eor 2) focused on use of software tools. What I was looking for were some solid principles that I could apply to anything I was designing, whether is be a graphical user interface or a form.

And that's exactly what I found in this book. The author presents four basic principles of design:

Clear examples are presented of how to apply these principles when designing web sites, logos, newsletters, business cards, letterhead, forms, posters and more. Often, there are also examples of designs where one or more of the principles were not used so you can compare and see the affect of applying the principle(s).

After the principles of design are covered, the book tackles designing with type for another 50 pages. The author separates type into 6 categories. She explains that, due to the huge variety of type, there are hundreds of typefaces that won't fit neatly into any one of these 6 categories, but it is a useful way to start grouping type and heightening your awareness. The book explains how to identify the similarities and differences in type, and then describes how to combine different typefaces.

Throughout the book there are little self quizzes (with answers provided at the back) so you can gauge your comprehension of the material.

If you want a more in-depth discussion on type, the same author has another excellent book titled The Non-Designer's Type Book. I recommend reading this in addition to The Non-Designer's Design Book. I also recommend The PC Is Not A Typewriter. The books all have a lot of useful information presented in a clear and concise writing style.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Programming Windows, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Charles Petzold
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Thorough and Easy to Use

He gives you all of his examples with the CD, and lists everything step by step. If you currently know C and want to learn windows programming, this book is a MUST for you. He teaches you everything that you need to know to program in Windows. Examples were extremely helpful. Warning, if you want a book to just "gloss" over and teach you, then this isn't it, and you probably won't find one for Windows programming. If you want to really learn step by step, then you will love this book.