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D. Burrowes (San Carlos, CA United States)

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About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design
About Face: The Essentials of User Interface Design
by Alan Cooper
Edition: Paperback
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.92

3.0 out of 5 stars A promising "alpha" draft, July 21 1998
This book leaves me with extremely mixed feelings. It makes some reall good points and paints some very good examples. On the other hand, it is much too thick, by which I mean that there is too much redundancy in it. Sometiems I'd realize that the last couple pages coupld have been said (better) in a single paragraph. I also felt he presented his points badly. Often, his presentation pattern is: "assert, talk, explain why he asserted, back up assertion" or something like that. This made me say "This is idiocy!" only to find, (say) 10 pages later that he had good reasons for making the assertion. If this presentation order were reversed, I think he would sound more credible and be more convincing. There are other minor flaws: too many places where opinion is presented as fact, a lot of "Gosh, why are folks so stupid that they haven't produced quasi-smart gadgets like this?" when it is by no means clear that such things can actually be d! one, realistically. He never mentions who the audience for his suggestions are (presumably the average computer user doing the average thing). Yet, ihs blanket statements can't possibly be applied to all classes of software and users this simply. Having said all that, I'll repeat the opening: there are a lot of good ideas here. If this were software, I'd call this an alpha: it has all the right stuff, but it just needs cleaning up and debugging. I hope there is a second, significantly revised, version of the book done at some point.

Computers as Theatre
Computers as Theatre
by Brenda Laurel
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 26.71
32 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good ideas, but I felt the book lacked a clear focus., May 23 1998
This review is from: Computers as Theatre (Paperback)
I finished reading "Computers as Theater" by Brenda Laural yesterday. The book has many good ideas in it, and it may well be worth reading just to pick these up.
It is also one of those books which does not do a good job of unifying its material, in my opinion. Rather than being a progression of ideas that builds to some intellectual climax, it meanders through various interesting points not quite aimlessly. The book introduces two useful diagrams: 'flying wedges' which describe how the space of possibilities in a drama go from the 'possible' to converge on the 'necessary', and 'freytag triangles', which measures the rise and fall of a plot. If these are used to describe this book (a slight abuse?), it doesn't fare well. The freytag diagram never peaks, and the wedge doesn't converge to the 'necessary'. This may be because the objectives for the book were not clear. As a reader, I didn't realize she was not (mostly) speaking to the modern commercial software world for quite a while into the book. The book also ended with two chapters about virtual reality (the substance, not the hype), and I was left wondering if perhaps *this* was what the book was really about (if so, I didn't see it coming).
All that said: there are many good ideas in the book, some of which will make you stop and think for a while (e.g. those diagrams). It is valuable because of this. As an individual, I simply wish the book had been better structured, for I'd have gotten more out of it.

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