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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C: A Reference Manual (5th Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Samuel P. Harbison, Guy L. Steele
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The only C reference needed

I've professionally developed in C for 15 years and this is the only C book I ever take to clients. I've owned the 2nd and 4th editions and both rock; wore out the first one. Never owned K&R, never needed it, but it always seemed a bit thin. H&S has just enough samples to help figure out the reference material.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Content Critical: Gaining Competitive Advantage through High-Quality Web Content
Publisher: Financial Times Prentice Hall
Authors: Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great ideas, somewhat wordy and repetitive presentation

This book is primarily about web site design, although that may not be very obvious from the title. I wish many more web site authors and publishers would read this sort of book, though.
The overall premise is that the job of producing and running a web site has a lot in common with traditional paper publishing. Central to this idea, and the inspiration for the title, is that whatever the site, people actually visit it to read words. Not to look at pictures. Not to admire layout or coo at dynamic navigation menus. To find and read content. Everything else is at best irrelevant, at worst a distracting nuisance or even a reason to leave the site completely.
I wholeheartedly agree with this, and generally follow with the recommendations that the author makes about how to encourage and profit from this understanding: keep things simple, short, and fresh; understand your readers; make it easy to find stuff; treat editing and publishing as key business functions and so on.
What I find slightly disappointing is that the book itself doesn't entirely embody these values. The style is repetitive and often long-winded. As a well-edited web site or a conference presentation this would pack a much more powerful punch. I felt I understood the essential message quite early in the book, and finished reading it mostly out of duty.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
overrated, but still very good

This book tries to explore several interrelated and complicated questions. These are "what makes a self?", "how is a self related to computers and formal systems?", "how is meaning created?" and "to what extent is self-reference essential for meaning?". To try and answer these questions (and he admits that there are currently no satisfactory answers), the author embarks on a journey touching physics, maths, art, biology, computer science, cognitive science, music, Zen etc etc etc. This is a huge book in terms of length, scope and meaning. That's probably why it's been quite popular for over 20 years.
The book starts with an introduction to formal systems as rules for manipulating objects which can be represented as strings. He then links up to mathematical concepts to see how we can examine these systems and attach representation to them. Recursion is also introduced along with TNT (a special system of basic number theory), as well as some non-formal ways of thinking about systems (such as Zen).
In the second part of the book, computers and cognitive science are linked to formal systems. Finally, using TNT as an example, Godel's incompleteness theorem is explained in a manner that's relatively easy for the layman to understand, as well as its implications with respect to meaning. Then, the book talks about self-reference on a more general sense as well as the progresses in AI and what this all has to do with the search for meaning and the investigation of our thinking selves.
This may sound like a huge heap of tpoics and it is - but that's what makes the book special - its ways of connecting things from Godel's incompleteness theorem to Escher's self-referential prints to Bach's finely structured music which gives the "formal system" of musical notes an extra meaning.
One of the enjoyable things about the book is that each chapter has a dialogue before it which introduces the subject in an easy and intuitive matter. The dialogues carry along the Socratic tradition with the main players being Achilles and the Tortoise.
The book has hundreds of tables, diagrams and drawings to allow all readers to ponder at their level.
Even if you don't agree with many of Hofstadter's theories, I hope you will still consider this a great book. It combines humour, philosophy, science and keen observation in an enriching way.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Brady Games
Authors: Dan Birlew
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Absolutely Pathetic

Why the heck would anybody make a statagy guide, then have all the info on the internet? I bought the book so I wouldn't have to be logging onto my computer to figure this stuff out!!!! And my computer is totally in a different room from the playstation. This book is definately getting returned and isn't worth the paper its printed on. Any thing in that book you can figure out pretty much on your own. DO NOT BUY...if I could I would give this book -5 stars.