Friday, November 27, 2009

Several Book Reviews

97 Things Every Project Manager Should Know by Barbee Davis. Published by O’Reilly. ISBN 0596804164.

This is a terrific collection of small articles on many aspects of project management and successful team leadership. There are a large number of authors involved in this work, so the articles’ voices vary, but each one is very well written and clear.

I loved Neal Ford’s and James Graham’s articles on productivity and finding good individuals, and William Mills’ Meetings Don’t Write Code certainly fit right in with my core philosophy.

The book’s very easy to read and has a lot of valuable insight. Highly recommended!

Elements of Programming by Alexander Stepanov and Paul McJones. Pub by Addison Wesley. ISBN 032163537X.

Serious approaches to algorithms for the hardcore computer science geek. Heavy on math, low on applicability for me and my line of work – but I’m sure lots of folks will find it very useful. Lots of concise, in-depth discussion of foundational knowledge, and plenty of exercises to help evolve your skills.

The tone’s exceedingly dry and academic, and I got very tired of the authors repeated assertions that you need to be using a “real programming language such as C++.” Guess all the value-providing projects I’ve helped roll out in Perl, Java, C#, and other languages haven’t counted.

That said, this is a wonderful book for those interested in raising their skills in hardcore algorithms.

The CSS Anthology, 3rd ed by Rachel Andrew. Pub by Sitepoint, ISBN 0980576806

It’s Sitepoint, it’s CSS, it’s pure goodness in full color. Another amazing book from Sitepoint that is clear, concise, example-driven, and highly useful. I love how many of the topics are written in a before/after or progressive style. It’s a great mix between a cookbook and tutorial approach.

There’s enough content here to make this book useful to CSS novices or advanced folks.

The Manga Guide to Calculus, Hiroyuki Kojima, et. al. Pub by No Starch Press, ISBN 1593271948.

The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology, by Takemura Masaharu, et. al Pub by No Starch Press, ISBN 1593272022.

Both these books follow the same great approach as the Manga Guide to Physics I reviewed some time ago: Break a complex idea down in to small pieces, clearly explain it with practical examples, and use the fun Manga comic style to wrap the entire concept in a great story.

I never took calculus in high school or college, yet I was able to get through the Guide and come out at the end with a pretty fair understanding of it. Moreover, I actually enjoyed the learning journey!

My nine year-old daughter loves these books and always reads through them after I’m done. She’s not coming away from the books with great knowledge of the concepts, but she’s finding them interesting, fun, and is less intimidated with the subjects. I think that’s a big win because these guides are laying some good ground work for her to come back to later.

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