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UK Bookworm "UK Bookworm" (UK)

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Building Websites with Joomla! 1.5
Building Websites with Joomla! 1.5
by Hagen Graf
Edition: Paperback
Price: £27.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A waste of money (apart from the donation to Joomla), 23 July 2008
I was misled into buying this book by the first reviewer. I found the book incredibly superficial, badly written and badly edited. I was not expecting to get all that much from the first chapters as I have been using Joomla for several years, but if you're new to Joomla you'd be far better off reading some of the online tutorials than this book. The later chapters which I bought the book for (for example on creating templates) are so superficial and random as to be completely unusable.

That this books is so poor is a real shame as Joomla is a truly amazing content management system and deserves a far better book than this.

I don't know how Packt go about choosing their authors and quality control, but if I were them I'd have another think.

The only positive out of this is that some of the purchase price goes to Joomla as a donation, but frankly you'd be better off donating to Joomla directly.

The Evolution of Co-Operation (Penguin Press Science)
The Evolution of Co-Operation (Penguin Press Science)
by Robert Axelrod
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.84

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An "ah ha" type read. A game-theoretical analysis of how co-operation can defeat selfishness., 23 July 2008
I have to admit this is not a riveting read. It is largely a factual description of experiments Axelrod carried out over a number of years, with a variety of experts competing to find the most successful tactics in games of iterated prisoner's dilemma.


However the outcome of the research is truly eye-opening and fascinating. Unlike a single round game of prisoner's dilemma (where co-operation is, to say the least, dangerous), the most successful tactics were to co-operate rather than act selfishly, unless that co-operative behaviour was abused by the other player (in which case neither player would do very well). Axelrod also shows how co-operation can spread through a network squeezing out selfish behaviour.

You know the book has to be worth a read when Richard Dawkin's, author of the Selfish Gene, writes in the introduction:

"THIS IS A book of optimism. But it is believable, realistic optimism... As Darwinians we start pessimistically by assuming deep selfishness, pitiless indifference to suffering, ruthless heed to individual success. And yet from such warped beginnings, something that is in effect, if not necessarily in intention, close to amicable brotherhood and sisterhood can come. This is the uplifting message of Robert Axelrod's remarkable book."

There we are, a book to save Dawkins from himself - has to be good.

Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business and Everyday Life
Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business and Everyday Life
by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and Enlightening, 19 July 2008
I agree with the first reviewer: this is one of the best popular science books I have ever read.

In addition to the mathematics of networks it also explains a range of business and economic phenomena such as first mover advantage.

It also explains why economies, left entirely to their own devices, invariably end up looking hugely lopsided as in South America. (Barabasi points out that the original work by Pareto on power law distributions was done on the distribution of money.)

If there is a disappointment it is that the theory is so strong descriptively but weak predictively. If I remember rightly, Barabasi comes up with three predictors of whether a node will end up as powerful hub, which are how long it's been around, the number of links it already has and "fitness". The "fitness" one, which would potentially be the interesting one, is left so bland as to be almost useless.

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