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A. J. HAWKEN "Tony Hawken" (London - UK)
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Chemistry 1 for OCR with CD-ROM (Cambridge OCR Advanced Sciences)
Chemistry 1 for OCR with CD-ROM (Cambridge OCR Advanced Sciences)
by David Acaster
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.52

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well illustrated book with many useful questions, 6 Sep 2014
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I too have taught some chemistry and must disagree with the opinions of the other reviewer. I must concede that the book by Ritchie and Gent is extremely good. But then, so is this one. The book is extremely clear and readable and has some excellent illustrations to back up the text. The style of presentation is different to that of Ritchie and Gent - there is more to read. This does not make the book user-unfriendly - just a sad indication that many students are not prepared to read more than a few sentences of text. Whereas the book by Ritchie and Gent is made up of two page spreads that are self contained with more questions withing the two pages, in this book each topic typically takes 4-5 pages of text to read with a few questions and examples. This is followed by up to two pages of questions that cover the material previously discussed.

As for illustrations, this is possibly the best illustrated chemistry aimed at this level of student. I have yet to identify those important concepts that have not been explained properly. You will always find in a modern text of this type, short and concise explanations of the concepts being discussed. It is this that makes the text more user-friendly and attractive to current students. If you want more detailed explanations you will have to look at some older A level texts from about 15 - 20 years ago.


CREE XML-T6 Led 1000 Lumens mini Flashlight Torch
CREE XML-T6 Led 1000 Lumens mini Flashlight Torch
Offered by super-shop
Price: £9.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Small cheap torch that is very bright., 1 July 2014
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This is possibly the smallest torch I own and it is much brighter than the others. It is also the cheapest (currently £3.74). It feels robust and is convenient as it can easily fit in a pocket. I cannot understand other reviewers who are slating this torch, using the argument that it is far too cheap to be able to output 1000 lumens. I think perhaps they are upset that they have paid an arm and a leg for a much more expensive torch. I would recommend its purchase precisely because it is cheap and seams to work well. I really don't care if I am not getting the full 1000 lumens.


Up and Running with C++
Up and Running with C++
by Jan Graba
Edition: Paperback
Price: £54.74

1.0 out of 5 stars Hugely expensive and out-of-date, 18 Jun 2014
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It really surprises me that this book is still being reprinted and sold on Amazon at a hugely inflated price. When it was first published (1998) the ANSI 1998 standard had just arrived. This brought in considerable changes to the language. This book does not show this. This is more typical of a book written in the late 1980's by someone familiar with C programming and chooses where possible to write programs as you would in C but with a few additions such as stream input and output and then later on in the book introduce classes.

The object oriented stuff starts with chapter 7 (Classes in C++). Even here it starts with struct which is available in C, but talks about it as if it is only available in C++. Later chapters talk about inheritance etc. So, you do get some object-oriented programming.

Included in the book are full program listings. This may be useful once or twice if you want the reader to see where things go. But, I do feel that in many cases snippets of code would have been better.

I really fail to see why this book still has a market, given that it was out-of-date when it was first published. It is time for publishers to remove such books. I have in the last week been clearing out computing books from my library. This is one of those that has to go.


The Sams Teach Yourself the Internet in 24 Hours (Sams Teach Yourself...in 24 Hours)
The Sams Teach Yourself the Internet in 24 Hours (Sams Teach Yourself...in 24 Hours)
by Ned Snell
Edition: Paperback
Price: £2.24

1.0 out of 5 stars Well past its sell-by-date., 14 Jun 2014
This book is now 12 years old and is still being reprinted to be sold on Amazon. The nature of all Internet books is that they are liable to date very fast. This is especially the case with this book. Over 90% of this book is of no use to anyone, unless you want to be reminded about how things were 12 or more years ago. Here you can learn about dial up Modems, ISPs that are no longer popular or even around, web browsers that are now well out-of-date. I am sure that there is a market for this type of book. But, it needs to be brought up-to-date. Even at the time when this book was published it was of very limited use. This is because it is so general, merely as a prop to give suggestions to new uses of the Internet, advising them about the many ways they could make use of this resource.


BTEC National IT Practitioners: Book 2: Student Book Specialist Units
BTEC National IT Practitioners: Book 2: Student Book Specialist Units
by J. Lawson
Edition: Paperback

1.0 out of 5 stars simplistic texbook that relates to the old syllabus., 28 Jan 2014
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This is the second volume of a 2 volume set. It has 9 chapters that covers 9 units from the pre-2010 syllabus.

Each chapter starts with a two-page spread that contains a very basic list of aims, and on the second page a break down of the assessment criteria for the unit and on what page you can find relevant material.

For the purposes of this review, I have read two chapters in detail - unit5 (Advanced Database skills), and unit 10 (Client-side customisation of Web Pages).

Unit 5 contains no advanced database. It starts with a very superficial introduction of relational databases. On page 32 there is a coloured box that defines relational database. This is confused because it is not clear from this description whether a relational database is so named because it is made up of tables, or is it the fact that there are relationships that connect these tables. It is in fact the former. Relation is the technical term for a table. It later talks about key fields, entities, and referential integrity. When it comes to referential integrity, the entire discussion is from a Microsoft perspective. That is, how do you specify what happens in Microsoft Access if referential integrity is violated.

It later talks about data redundancy, and normal forms. The discussion on normal forms is very badly done, and there is no mention of functional dependancies, although I did see a mention of dependencies, but no examples to indicate what these are. In fact the eample about first normal form is wrong. On page 37 there are two example tables - both are described as unnormalised tables. This is a nonsense. All tables are by definition in at least first normal form. The author has gone out of their way to contrive a set of data that is a total mess, with no indication of how to sort it out.

If the data for ORDERS were rewritten as ORDERS (customer reference, customer telephone, product number, product description, quantity, estimated delivery date) you could have a good chance of ending up with a table containing atomic data only. You just have to work out the primary key. This would be quite easy if you knew how to use functional dependencies.

The rest of the chapter is pure Microsoft Access. You get shown the basics of creating a database and how to perform queries using QBE. Why not cover SQL?

Unit 10, covers in the main CSS with a bit of javascript added. It assumes you already know about web pages and HTML, as there is very little mention of this. So, either you have done this before (BTEC first) and can remember it, or you literally are just taking someone elses web page and are modifying it so that it can make use of a style sheet. On page 99, there is a section called "Uses of CSS". There is no discussion, just some code examples to perform different functions. I expect the author intends the students to use these for cut and paste for their own style sheets. This is teaching of the worst kind. The remainder of the chapter covers some javascript. This too is done by list example code with very little explanation.

There are much better books to buy. This is one to avoid.


BTEC Nationals IT Practitioners: Student Book 2
BTEC Nationals IT Practitioners: Student Book 2
by Mrs Diane Sutherland
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.38

2.0 out of 5 stars Book is skimpy and content is poor, 12 Aug 2013
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It never seems to amaze me how skimpy recent ICT books are. This is just over 200 pages and represents a years work.

On the basis of 1 chapter (unit 11 Data Analysis and Design), I can conclude that the content is rubbish.

The chapter starts with a case study - someone who is supposed to be an IT Support/ Analyst. I suppose this sort of thing is supposed to get students thinking of possible carears in IT. Given that the persons current salary is only £10,500, although realistic for many such BTEC students, it is not going to pursuade them that an IT carear is for them. The example is horribly contrived.

This is followed by a page which summarise assessment criteria - so yet another wasted page.

There then follows much misinformation about database and design. On page 46 the author starts giving a historical introduction to database - starting with the hierarchical model, then the network model. Why bother when none of these students will ever see such a database. On page 48 it starts talking about the advantages and disadvantages of the network model. It starts by stating that the relational data model was designed to remove the problems of data redundancy, update and deletion anomalies typical of the network and hierarchical databases. This is not true. You can if the design is good, end up with a database using the network model which is no worse than that that can be implemented using a RDBMS. The main reason for the relational model is that the database is essentially much simpler and easier to maintain. In fact until say 20 years ago network databases were very popular because they were much faster - this is no longer the case.

The second bit of poor writing is also on page 48. It states that a disadvantage of using a relational database is that it can only implement one-many relationships. This is also true of the two previous database models. All many-many relationships have to be implemented indirectly.

There is one true fact on this page. Here they state that it is easier to query across several tables. In both the Hierarchical and Network databases it was necessary to write a program which can move through the records one at a time using a procedural style data manipulation language. Whereas if you use say SQL for your database it is declarative and much easier to write queries. You don't have to be a professional programmer to do this.

In the next section (Logical data modelling), they state that logical data modelling is most frequently used when developing a relational database - Implying that this was not the case for say a network database.

Having mentioned the logical design, they then proceed to talk about conceptual desgn. Isn't this totally illogical as you should do the conceptual design before the logical design.

There is also alot of useless waffle in this short section including some made up words such as "databased" - as in "Listening to what people tell you happens in the area that will be databased". In fact most of this chapter is just painfull to read and is in most cases wrong. There is much useless talk and very little description about how to go about a design.

It is just after I had initially despaired by reading the beginning of this chapter, that all of a sudden it dramatically improves.

Another section, which I usually would expect to pull to pieces is normalisation (should be spelt normalization). This is on page 53 and although is different from some of the awful descriptions that you find in similar books, is still poor. Starting with first normal form, They say "A table is in first normal form if it has a unique identifier and a set of other attributes. Whilst not incorrect, it is inadequate. You also need to state that all of the attributes are atomic or "single-valued". Also, it should have mentioned that the unique identifier or key could comprise two or more attributes.

Likewise, the definitions given for 2NF and 3NF are not incorrect, but could have been explained in a clearer manner.

The appropriate definitions for RDBMS follow. Unlike most similar books these are correct and a big improvement over similar books. They actually mention superkey and candidate key - unheard of for any other similar level book that I have seen.

Whilst there is an improvement in accuracy of facts, the book is still difficult to follow. It would be much improved if there were a simple example of a design that was followed through from start to finish. So, why not take the 1NF design on page 56 and further normalize this - starting by writing down the functional dependencies. This design could also be examined for update and deletion anomalies. Then when the design has been further normalized show that these problems have gone.

I should imagine that many students will find much of this material difficult to follow. It should be rewritten removing useless waffle and incorrect information. In its place should be some simple worked examples.

In conclusion this chapter has sufficient to indicate the sorts of things that you should be doing. But not nearly enough to understand what you are doing.


IB Mathematics Higher Level Course Book: Oxford IB Diploma Programme (International Baccalaureate)
IB Mathematics Higher Level Course Book: Oxford IB Diploma Programme (International Baccalaureate)
by Josip Harcet
Edition: Paperback
Price: £42.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most attractive IB HL maths book, 1 Jun 2013
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I own and have used a number of IB maths books. Out of all the IB maths books that I have seen this is easily the most atrractive, most interesting and well organized book.

Firstly, the presentation is excellent. The contents of the book are full colour including many coloured photographs.

The book is well organized. It is split into 15 chapters. The start of each chapter begins with a section called "Before you start". This is to make sure that you have the basic knowledge to be able to make the most of the material in the chapter that follows; it includes a "skills check", where you can quickly test yourself. The chapter is split into easily manageable sections - a few pages, followed by a short exercise. It also includes investigations and these appear in a blue box to separate them from the rest of the text. I note that it is one of the core philosophies of IB, and IB mathematics in particular that students should spend time carrying out investigations in this manner. Pity most text books and schools teaching IB don't follow this example. Each chapter also has sections in it referring to the "Theory of Knowledge" component of the course. Some schools teach this as a separate topic. This book embeds TOK in various places within each chapter. At the end of each chapter is a review exercise that is much longer than the previous ones, and a chapter summary.

Within the text of each chapter, where appropriate, there are examples of how to use a graphics display calculator (GDC). In this case, within the book, the CASIO Nspire is used. But, for those people that don't own one of these, there is a CD_ROM provided. Notes on how to use other popular GDCs are to be found here. Also on the CD-ROM is a complete copy of the book in PDF format, practice exam papers, and powerpoint presentations.

Chapter 13 "Exploration", discusses an area that is new to IB mathematics. Students now have to explore a topic of their choice and then write it up as part of the final assessment. This is a short chapter. It is here just to give some advice about the exploration. It does not for instance give an example of such an exploration.

Chapter 14, the last chapter, is really an appendix. It is called "Prior knowledge" and is quite a large chapter that contains inportant mathematical knowledge that is required to do the IB maths at higher level. This would be really useful for students to go through in the summer holiday just before they start the IB.

This is by far the best IB HL mathematics book that I have seen. Not only does it cover the syllabus well, it also makes the course interesting.


BTEC First for ICT Practitioners
BTEC First for ICT Practitioners
by Richard McGill
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best BTEC first ICT book, 24 May 2013
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To start with this book is the most attractively produced book that covers BTEC first ICT. It also covers the most specialist units. There are 12 units covered in the book (2 core and 10 specialist). There is also a CD-ROM with the book that contains additional units in PDF format.

The writing for each unit is extremely concise - typically 24 - 45 pages for the specialist units. Although I feel that they need more pages to describe the material, I do feel that the authors have done extremely well packing so much in, in so few pages. There are very few wasted words and certainly no useless waffle.

I have looked at the chapters on web site development, and software development and design in the most detail. These two chapter alone state why the book is much better than the competition. Both of these give a good discussion about the design and development of web pages and programs respectively. Admittedly when it comes to coding there are not nearly enough pages. Many more things however are described in this book that you will not find in similarly titled books. So, the coding in HTML and Visual Basic respectively is a bit fast and on the brief side. So, additional books will have to be used.

What is good about this book that is lacking in the competition, is that there is a decent section at the end of each chapter called "Further reading". I could have possibly suggested some better books in the reading list, but still a very good step in the right direction.


BTEC First for ICT Practitioners
BTEC First for ICT Practitioners
by K Mary Reid
Edition: Paperback
Price: £23.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Book is a good size and has sufficient depth, 24 May 2013
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There are currently very few books to choose from for this course. Some of them are very skimpy and lack sufficient depth. This book covers the two core units and 5.5 specialist units. Also, there are another 2.5 units that you can download. You need to have studied 4 specialist units to pass the diploma. Also, I should note that this book is of a decent size and goes into sufficient depth for this level of course.

So, if a college chooses this book, they give themselves some choice as to which units they can do. The first two topics (core) cover material from GCSE (IT/Computing), but in more depth. So, for instance chapter 2 (computer systems), as well as telling you about the characteristics of different types of computer hardware, there is a more practical section on setting up and configuring a computer system.

Amongst the specialist units, I am glad to see that they chosen one that involves some programming (unit 7). The overview of the software process is quite clearly laid out. The chosen language is Visual Basic. I suppose that this is a common choice where programming is taught, now that most colleges have managed to ditch Pascal. The examples of programming is quite fast paced. But then, I suppose it has to be to keep down the size of the book. So, any one programming using this book, will probably need to have access to books that specifically teach Visual Basic. In the design, I notice that there is an emphasis of using flowcharts and pseudocode. Whilst it is neccessary to know about flowcharts, I don't feel that they are good for representing a high-level design. The pseudocode in this book looks far too much like the Visual Basic that they will be coding their programs in. Some may find this confusing, as there is virtually no difference between the pseudocode and the Visual Basic code.

I also quite liked the chapter on Website design. The chapter starts by giving you an overview of the WWW, the format of webpages, legislation and the construction of a web site. Various methods are briefly discussed - the bulp being the coding of web pages in HTML. As with the programming, the material here is too fast and the snippets of HTML too large to take in in one go. You will definitely need another book to develope your HTML skills - such as HTML in easy steps (Mike Mcgrath).

Chapters 9 (Database software), and 10 (Spreadsheet software), cover similar material to that studied at GCSE, but the presentation is generally alot better than you will often see in many GCSE books.

Overall this is a good book without too many faults, so is certainly one to consider using if you are studying the BTEC first ICT diploma course.


BTEC First ICT Practitioners: Core units and selected specialist units for the BTEC First Certificate and Diploma for ICT Practitioners
BTEC First ICT Practitioners: Core units and selected specialist units for the BTEC First Certificate and Diploma for ICT Practitioners
by Sharon Yull
Edition: Paperback
Price: £18.72

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring and shallow, 24 May 2013
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A BTEC first course in ICT has the potential to be really boring and shallow like the GCSE ICT courses that are about to be scrapped. This book covers the 2 core units and 5 additional specialist units. With the exception of the specialist unit Networking essentials, the specialist units chosen are soft options and are those subjects that you will find in the GCSE ICT. Website development (unit 4) could have the potential to be interesting, but is given the same treatment you usually have at GCSE - namely a description of legislation concerning computing such as the data protection act, copyright and other types of misuses of a computer, followed by a brief description of web page creation. This is a few pages about Microsoft frontpage, followed by a short descption of HTML coding. This is merely enough to get one started.

The chapter that covers database software (Unit 9) centres around the use of Microsoft Access. This is merely a brief description of those components that make up an Access database. There is an attempt at some theory - talk about file-based systems and how if you use these there are potential problems. There is no discussion here that tells you how a database can overcome these problems. What you get instead is a list of things that you are expected to do if you create a database. One of these says "Nominate a primary key". Here it does not tell you what a key is let alone a primary key. I suppose that you are just supposed to know what this is.

Excluding the contents, preface and index, there are 263 pages. This is supposed to be adequate for a 1 year course. For those people who have studied ICT, this course as presented by this book is possibly worse. I would suggest that firstly if you are to study on a BTEC first course, you check with the college to find out what units they cover. If they are the ones covered here - avoid the course. Secondly, do not waste your money by buying this book.


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