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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Multimedia for Learning: Methods and Development (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Allyn & Bacon
Authors: Stephen M. Alessi, Stanley R. Trollip
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The First Book on My Reading List!

If I could only put one multimedia learning book on my bookshelf, this would be it. The "General Principles" section provides one of the best overviews I've read of Behavioral, Cognitive, and Constructivist approaches to learning (although I do think they misrepresent the Instructional Systems Design process and treat it as a purely Behavioralist approach). This section also presents an excellent overview of the learning process. The book moves on to discuss methodologies and learning sequences at an unparalleled level, including a brilliant discussion of simulations and educational games. The book closes with an overview of an approach to Design and Development that's worth reading, but far less valuable than the previous sections. Of all my design books, this one has the most dog-eared pages and underlined text; the chapter-level bibliographies alone are worth the book's price! Anyone looking to delve deep into multimedia design for learning should have this book on his or her shelf.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C++ How to Program (4th Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Harvey M. Deitel, Paul J. Deitel
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best C++ Book Yet

I have always been a fan of the Deitel series and have read quite a few books - C, C++ and Java How 2 Program as well as H.M. Deitel's book on OPerating Systems. I have little doubts in recommending this book to anyone starting C++.
So much to say about this book, however I'll limit myself to a few points which I found salient:
This book does not keep referring to C, so you won't get bugged down. (In case you want to learn C, try 'C How to Program' by the same authors.)
This book has been written keeping the beginner in mind (beginner = someone new to programming). So, it contains good, solid, perfect, working code you can try out.
Each page is littered with observations on Good Programming Practices and Software Engineering. That helps in refinement of code, so you need not buy another book to find out how to code 'effectively'.
The exercise questions are elaborate and will keep the reader busy for hours on end. But all that's time that's spent usefully.
And this book does not leave out those who already know C++. It's as good as any book for an intermediate level programmer.
An excellent book. Buy this one, it's certain that this will be the last C++ book you'll need.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Wicked Cool Shell Scripts
Publisher: No Starch Press
Authors: Dave Taylor
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Surprised me

I often take a dim view of books that use superlatives in their titles. I also don't think there is anything "wicked cool" about shell scripting in general: if you need anything complex at all, Perl or something else is probably a much better way to to it. Shell scripting gets awfully nasty awfully fast.
However, I was wrong. Yes, shell scripting is an abominable way to approach most of the tasks this book explores. Just the same, the author does it "wicked cool" and you can learn a lot both from how he sees the problem and the other Unix tools he uses as part of the script. So while you might shudder at the idea of writing a link-checker in Bash, the author's clever use of Lynx's "traverse" flag is something you might make use of elsewhere. You'll find useful things like that throughout the book, and even if you'd rather write it in Perl or whatever, the logic is worth examining.
Mac OS X users will appreciate that a whole chapter is devoted to that. There's nothing particularly deep there, nothing you will be surprised by, but it's nice to see Mac get specific mention. That brings up another important point: shells are different and Unixes are different. The author does pay a lot of attention to the differences that can cause problems for your scripts when they need to run on different platforms.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Howard Rheingold
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Learn what life will be like in the 21st century

Howard Rheingold has the gift of being able to tell the future. Not like a gypsy peering into a crystal ball, but like an astute observer with the brilliant ability to integrate and analyze seemingly disparate phenomena into a cohesive look at the world ahead.
Rheingold has been involved with computer technology for enough decades to be able to tell the difference between hype and significant events, and his experience shines through in Smart Mobs. I found gems of insight in every chapter of Smart Mobs, and the book has changed the way I look at the networked world.
As a book reviewer, I tons of business/technology books in the mail. Most get skimmed and discarded. Smart Mobs is a keeper.