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P. O'Beirne Systems Ltd "Spreadsheet consultant" (Gorey, Ireland)

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Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand
Killer Web Content: Make the Sale, Deliver the Service, Build the Brand
by Gerry McGovern
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical guidance on the hard work of good content, 12 Dec. 2006
Gerry has a blog with sensible views on web marketing and his new book "Killer Web Content" focuses precisely on the important feature of web sites. OK, there are a few basic hygiene factors for web sites such as page title and seeded related key words, but really the whole point is content and how it is delivered to meet the needs of the visitor to the page. He tells you 'less is more', i.e. cut the filler. Switch the focus away from your own PR to what the customer wants: "Your customers have a small set of words that summarize what they care about. Find those words, and you're half way to success". Larry English, the Data Quality expert, would support Gerry on why you need to replace the generic term 'users' with more precise role names.

Gerry's book is full of direct, no-nonsense advice. He tells you as much what to stop doing as what to do. Writing about the words that customers care about, he gives you practical tools and plans to do this. Of course, he covers blogs, search engine behaviour, quotes from real life case studies, and mercilessly analyses real web sites. It's good, I'm glad I bought it.

Coping with IS/IT Risk Management: The Recipes of Experienced Project Managers (Practitioner Series)
Coping with IS/IT Risk Management: The Recipes of Experienced Project Managers (Practitioner Series)
by Tony Moynihan
Edition: Paperback
Price: £94.50

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Candid interviews give 37 recipes for coping with reality, 31 July 2002
Candid interviews with twenty experienced project managers are the central feature of this book from Prof. Tony Moynihan of the School of Computer Applications at Dublin City University. His method of interviewing and simulating situations extracted key insights from these veteran solution providers as to how they really cope with messy reality.
Project managers can read this book as if it were like their informal networking, swapping stories over the bar with their peers. Students can see how real life situations arise and what coping mechanisms are brought to bear to manage the chaos of real life. The professional researcher will home in on the chapters where the methodology is revealed, that of eliciting personal constructs.
The examples chosen come from the small-scale 2-month to 2-year projects that most commercial implementations focus on. Read and enjoy this refreshing set of candid-camera snapshots!
Tony Moynihan's aim was to tackle the problem of finding out the basis for people's actions when they are better at doing the work than describing how they work. Intuitive knowledge is always richer in information than any external description of it. So, in part 1 he interviewed 14 experienced systems consultants, implementers and developers, to identify the factors that matter to them.
The key question was "What makes different projects different?" He gives five interviews verbatim, showing how he repeated combinations of questions to arrive at the scale of weighting that the interviewees applied to each factor, and in what way combining them created new threats or opportunities.
He gives a table of 113 constructs obtained from this analysis. This showed the importance of non-technical, more "political" constructs such as commitment, control, support, and stability. He then compares these to risk factors identified in the Information Systems project management literature.
In part 2, he explored with twenty more project managers (PMs) some situations which featured the most frequently mentioned concepts in more or less risky combinations, and provides the actual transcripts of the conversations. These are quite revealing!
This is the best part of the book. Many times, they say "I'll give you an example" and then relate some horrendous yarn that explains why they are so touchy about that point. To illustrate the "hidden agenda" concept that they all dig for like sniffer dogs after contraband, one tells the story of an airport that deliberately bought less efficient gate allocation software because they wanted to use the tool to justify buying a new terminal.
In part 3, he explains his method and reflects back on the research material provided to provide common coping strategies or recipes. Quotations are collected under each heading to show how they are talked about. Students embarking on their first industrial project assignment would be well advised to read these for some vicarious experience of the issues of ownership and control, the problems of change and learning; ending with the "Doomsday scenario", projects you should walk away from!
In part 4, he presents the material from other points of view ... interorganizational trust; agency theory; planned organizational change; capability; action, rationality and control; requirements uncertainty. The researcher will be interested in the chapter "What's the book really been about", on knowledge elicitation.
Finally, the appendices included a detailed listing of the "recipes for success" (or at least avoiding disaster), with the evidence for each shown backed up by the interview notes....

Howard Hodgkin
Howard Hodgkin
by Andrew Graham-Dixon
Edition: Hardcover

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A readable, sensitive and comprehensive treatment of Hodgkin, 23 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Howard Hodgkin (Hardcover)
The very dust-jacket with its dynamic detail from Hodgkin's Old Sky strikes the right note in this intelligently presented and visually seductive review of the painter's career. The excellent quality of the illustrations, their logical placing directly opposite the pertinent text, marginal page references, the choice of type-face and the luxury -feel paper all make the mere handling of the book a real pleasure.
Far from being of mere coffee-table appeal, however, the author's cool authoritative voice makes one feel that here is a critic in whose hands one is safe. Such a gem of wisdom as ' whatever residue of inexplicability lodges in a work of art is also its only hope of an afterlife' establishes his impeccable credentials as a discerning critic. Graham-Dixon deals with Hodgkin's seminal influences, his eclecticism, his evolving theatrical style, his preoccupation with the vagaries of memory and its transmutation into art. 'Hodgkin does not set out to paint what the world looks like, but what it feels like.' His work has the quality of intimacy which makes its own demands on the viewer who would engage with it, Graham-Dixon observes in a book which is lucid and comprehensive without ever wearying the reader.
Review by Megan O'Beirne, visual artist

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