Rocket Surgery Made Easy
Author: Steve Krug
Publisher: New Riders, 2009
Pages: 168
ISBN: 978-0321657299
Aimed at: Web owners who haven't really thought much about it
Rating: 1
Pros: A catchy title and an amusing cover
Cons: Lack of content
Reviewed by: Ian Elliot

Despite a clever title this book fails to tell anything surprising to anyone with even half a brain.

Author: Steve Krug
Publisher: New Riders, 2009
Pages: 168
ISBN: 978-0321657299
Aimed at: Web owners who haven't really thought much about it
Rating: 1
Pros: A catchy title and an amusing cover
Cons: Lack of content
Reviewed by:Ian Elliot

The title is quite clever "Rocket Surgery Made Easy" a cross between "Rocket Science" and "Brain Surgery" both icons of the difficult and complex. Does this book succeed in making its chosen subject "Finding and fixing usability problems" seem easy? Yes it does, but this is because the topic isn't anything like rocket science or brain surgery.

To summarize this book basically says - have a look at how people use your website, notice what they do wrong/find difficult and fix it. That's it. While it is true that if you fail to do any usability testing you are probably missing a trick - the trick isn't a difficult one.

In a slim 150 page book with a big font size and plenty of cartoon illustrations we are mostly presented with the obvious in a slick and sometimes smug style.

A couple of pages are devoted to organising an observation room to be used by volunteer website users and the following is included in the advice:

"snacks. One excellent way to make the observation room pleasant ... is to provide food. Don't scrimp on snacks!... If your team is partial to granola bars and Twizzlers, give then granola bars and Twizzlers..."

If you really are not up to organising a meeting then you might need some help with snacks and getting some handouts printed to keep the session under control and focused but if you do then I'm not sure what you are doing in this business and I predict you probably won't survive much longer.

You might think that the topic of fixing usability problems might be a bit tougher but this is only covered in a few pages at the end of the book and amounts to another collection of homely sayings and good intentions. Nothing about referential transparency, nothing about using analytics to work out what might be causing problems, no psychology, no statistics, no programming, no design principle, no it certainly isn't rocket science.

If you want an easy read that tells you what should be obvious but you never bothered to think about then you might find this book a good investment but to any programmer, or anyone with enough of a brain to have surgery on, this is drivel.


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The Art of Unit Testing

Author: Roy Osherove
Publisher: Manning
Pages: 296
ISBN: 978-1617290893
Audience: C# users and others using statically typed languages
Rating: 5
Reviewer: Alex Armstrong

If you don't already use unit testing, this book is a complete and clear guide to the idea and how to implement it.



Modern Tkinter for Busy Python Developers

Author: Mark Roseman
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Pages: 147
ISBN:B0071QDNLO
Aimed at: Intermediate developers
Rating: 4
Pros: Engaging writing and explanations; good screenshots; decent code
Cons: Gets dry by the end; some of the examples are incomplete or confusing
Reviewed by: Michael Driscoll

I [ ... ]


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