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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Excel Data Analysis: Your Visual Blueprint for Creating and Analyzing Data, Charts and PivotTables
Publisher: Visual
Authors: Jinjer Simon, Jinjer Simon
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Quick and Dirty- but Immensely Practical

The "Read Less - Learn More" trademark on the cover encapsulates the essence of what any reader can get out of this very non-traditional software user's guide.
Although I am an MBA grad and am knowledgeable of data analysis techniques, I had always considered myself a novice user of Excel. I recently found myself in a predicament where I had to quickly learn the more complicated Excel features of data analysis in preparation for an interview for a position with a market research firm. In a panic, I went to the local B&N bookstore and bought a copy of the old stand-by Dummies Series- "Excel Data Analysis" (I'll refer to it as "DS"), as well as the book in this review (I'll refer to it as Visual Blueprint, "VB").
The thing about this book that really appealed to me was the logical and clean (uncluttered) explanation of each of the topics presented. It's a very user-friendly manual to follow along with the use of a computer (to go through the exercises).
Progressive screen-shots are always located at the bottom half of each page, in successive order from left to right with clearly labeled numbered steps to follow. The examples that are shown in the screen shots are simple but very illustrative.
On the top half of each left page is an introduction of the topic being covered and what the main processes are to accomplish the particular task. On the top half of each right page are additional methods of application and extra hints and descriptions of the syntaxes for functions that can be used.
The arrangement of the graphics and the text work very well together and allow the reader to efficiently grasp each of the concepts being presented. What would normally be covered by a traditional user's manual in five to ten pages (reading from top to bottom- large text sections interspersed by graphics), this reference does the same in either two pages or four pages maximum. The way the editors have laid out this manual was very clever; not only does the reader have a lot less pages to get lost in (especially when trying to work through the examples with a computer) but also the topics are presented concisely and as simply as possible.
I relied heavily on this book to prepare myself for an Excel test given by the company I was interviewing with. I spent at least 90% of my time referring to VB, and where necessary, I spent 10% of my time referring to DS for supplementary information. I studied over a period of one week and passed the test well enough to be hired!
As enthusiastic as I am about this book, it is far from perfect with regards to being an ultimate and comprehensive manual for Excel. (That said, however, the Appendices are full of useful information...keystroke and navigation shortcuts as well as a handy reference for VBA and function syntaxes / commands....much more than is included in DS.) Additionally, as another reviewer had written previously, I can corroborate that I had found a few minor errors (formula calculations in examples, syntaxes), but not in such a large amount as to dissuaded one from using this book. My other negative is that the examples provided on the included CD were poorly referenced in the Manual; some examples, I couldn't find on the CD. Again, this didn't happen often.
I gave this book a perfect score, not because it is an authoritative and fully comprehensive manual on Excel Data Analysis (it isn't), but because it delivers on empowering readers to learn the software in much less time than traditional manuals can deliver. VB is quick and dirty- but it works!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Statistics for Managers Using Microsoft Excel (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: David M. Levine, David Stephan, Timothy C. Krehbiel, Mark L. Berenson, Mark L Berenson
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Bring on the confusion and mistakes

A worse textbook I have not seen. It's riddled with mistakes and misprints. The authors should be ashamed. The examples are virtually impossible to follow. Unfortunately, most students don't have a choice but if you do go with Statistical Techniques in Business and Economics (Mason, Lind & Marchal).

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Financial Modeling - 2nd Edition
Publisher: The MIT Press
Authors: Simon Benninga
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
HMMM, We didn't discuss this at KFBS

Fascinating work. Should be used in a course at your local B-school. Sit down, read it and enjoy, you may learn something that you will use one day.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Nessus Network Auditing (Jay Beale's Open Source Security)
Publisher: Syngress
Authors: Renaud Deraison, Noam Rathaus, HD Moore, Raven Alder, George Theall, Andy Johnston, Jimmy Alderson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Required reading for network administrators

The purpose of Nessus is to provide an Open Source Solution for network auditing on all Unix like systems. This book not only details using Nessus but also comes with a CD containing the program, as well as Ethereal, Snort, and Newt (a port of the program to the Windows environment).

What is a network assessment? At its basic level it is an attempt to detect a live system and then identify the computing environment, services, applications, and vulnerabilities on that system. Basically there are two types of assessment - internal and external. An internal assessment is done over the local network and external is done from outside the LAN. Nessus will do both types and the book details how to do either, or both of them.

The authors do an excellent job of detailing installation, setup, and how to interpret the results of a scan as well as various factors that can affect the report. One of the parts not to be missed is the discussion of not only the benefits but also the potential problems of scanning your system. Some of the vulnerability types scanned for include buffer overflows, default passwords, backdoors, information leaks, and denial of service.

The Nessus scripting language is covered in detail in Appendix A instead of the main portion of the book; a choice I appreciated very much as it allowed the flow of the book to not be interrupted by such a highly technical section. With Open Source products there generally is no organized technical support phone number you can call of help. So, the authors include information on how to get help via the Nessus User Community, mailing lists, and archives.

Nessus Network Auditing is a highly recommended book for anyone interested in auditing their network to find potential problems before they become reality.