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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Peopleware : Productive Projects and Teams, 2nd Ed.
Publisher: Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated
Authors: Tom Demarco, Timothy Lister
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
All PM's need to read this

As summer interns at Microsoft, my friends and I used to take "field trips" to the company supply room to stock up on school supplies. Among the floppy disks, mouse pads, and post-it notes was a stack of small paperback books, so I took one home to read.
The book was Peopleware, by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister. This book was one of the most influential books I've ever read. The best way to describe it would be as an Anti-Dilbert Manifesto.
Ever wonder why everybody at Microsoft gets their own office, with walls and a door that shuts? It's in there. Why do managers give so much leeway to their teams to get things done? That's in there too. Why are there so many jelled SWAT teams at Microsoft that are remarkably productive? Mainly because Bill Gates has built a company full of managers who read Peopleware. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It is the one thing every software manager needs to read... not just once, but once a year.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 16/e
Publisher: Que
Authors: Scott Mueller
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
An old companion becomes less necessary

I have purchased three of the last five revisions of this book, and bought the latest as a matter of course when it first became available. It's the first one where I have wished that I had looked at it physically before purchase, because I would have not purchased it had I done so.

For many years, this volume has been an industry standard, on the desktops of tech support personnel, PC purchasing agents, vocational educators, and hobbyists. It has grown like Topsy with each revision, steadily becoming larger and larger as more and more detail regarding newer releases in x86-compatible desktop and mobile CPUs, bus types, form factors, and compatibility issues evolved. However, previous standards are described often in mind-numbing and wordy detail as well. While some editing has taken place, it's not nearly enough.

If you have one of the last two or three editions of this book, don't buy this one. It's just more paper weighing down your already sagging bookshelf. If you are starting from scratch, this may still be a useful book, but be warned: it's a colossal aggregation of data, much of it of historical interest only.

Much of the "legacy" data is of primary interest to embedded systems designers and developers, but Mueller is strictly a desktop person: embedded people will be frustrated with this volume. Also, Mueller is wholly Microsoft-centric, meaning that there is a lot of DOS and NT stuff in here but no Unix, Unix-like (Linux or Free/Open/NetBSD), or embeddable (VxWorks or QNX) information whatsoever. Considering the average Linux user is going to be far more likely to need this type of knowledge than the average Windows user, one gets the idea that Mueller is just not comfortable with or even conversant with other environments than Microsoft and has elected to dodge the issue. Previously there was a "Linux Edition" of the book, where an outside team simply edited out the Microsoft discussion and put in some coverage of Linux video and sound configuration and some generic boilerplate. I find it a little disturbing because one simply can't consider oneself a computing professional in 2004 without a fair level of Unix competency:it just isn't credible.

Although the text is often shovelware, the accompanying DVD is a disappointment as the bundled software for disk testing and partitioning included in previous editions' disks is no longer included. Some previous editions had some very useful stuff including a fully functioning commercial partitioning program.

In my opinion the book should be blue-pencilled down to about 700 pages with much of the remainder put in .pdf format and put on the DVD. Very classy would be providing a DVD and a bootable CD with a live OS enabling network and web access, disk utilities and so forth. We used to highly value the QNX Demo Disk floppies, the images for which are sadly no longer on the excellent QNX website, and perhaps QNX would allow their OS to be used for a flavorful and functional live CD to enable access of the outside world, M$ file systems on hard drives for copying or repair, and formatting and partitioning of hard disks and rewritable media. A DOS-based bootable CD might be less featureful but would at least enable disk repair and file editing and could be made with FreeDOS. Also, given the nature of the work, perhaps printing the book on "Bible paper" with a ruggedized but flexible cover-such as the Machinery's Handbook and other professional reference works-would be a better choice than the current consumer-quality binding used on most Que hardbacks.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Neural Networks: A Comprehensive Foundation (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Simon Haykin
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Informative and masterfully written.

A wonderfully well written, insightful, treatment of artificial neural networks. Beginning from the basics, the author sets forth both a technological and historical perspective for the understanding this multidisiplinary subject area. The book is written from a practical engineering perspective and comprehensively spans the entire discipline of modern neural network theory. A+

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Data Warehouse Toolkit: Practical Techniques for Building Dimensional Data Warehouses
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Ralph Kimball
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Suddenly the topic of Data Warehousing makes sense

All the good reviews are true: this is a FANTASTIC book. Within a couple of days you will understand DW design completely, especially if you have experience in normal OLAP database design, as it makes a great contrast. Kimball's writing style -- showing how to apply DW design to real-world business problems -- makes the material really sink in, unlike reading a reference book. (You need to actually read this book cover-to-cover -- and it's a great read if you are a Database geek!) And yet you can still use it as a reference book. The companion books by him are fantastic additions to this..