Monday, February 25, 2008

Writing effective book reviews

I was looking at today.... I admit, I like to see how my books are doing. I saw that April Well's book "Everyday Oracle DBA" was on the top 100 (which is a bit rare for that book) and I opened the books page to just take a gander. Let me be clear at the outset that I do not know April, I have no monitary interest in this book in any form whatever. In fact, I have not read her book, so I have no idea if it has any merit.

The book has one Amazon review with a single star. This is the sum of the review:

April J. Wells had done a good job for his earlier 11i DBA book but this book is not good for any level of DBA.

I have more than a few problems with this review.

1. This is a worthless review. What does it say? Nothing at all. Tell me why this book is no good. Give me some examples and some detail. Why waste your time and mine with a pointless review that has nothing to say but some very huge sweeping unsupported statement.

2. Don't embarrass yourself writing a review by saying stupid things. Now, we all say stupid things, I'm probably at the front of the line in that department. If you have something of substance to say, then I can forgive a spelling error, a grammar error or even a mistake. However, within the context of this totally worthless review are two huge errors that just make me cringe. First, APRIL is a Female. Note that the reviewer calls her a male (...his 11i DBA book...). Second, someone tell the reviewer that the product is called 11g NOT 11i.

I don't mind an objective and fair review, even one that is tough. I personally think it should be a requirement that every reviewer of any work be required to at least write a 10 page white paper on some related subject and have it scrutinized by a vast audience. Then, you are qualified to be a critic, in my mind.

I could go on. I've seen a number of examples of this kind but I don't have time right now to ferret them out.

Hidden nugget, if you made it through here.... Did you know that 11g RMAN now offers substitution variables? Now, for example, you can do something like this:

backup as compressed backupset database tag '&1' plus archivelog delete input;

And start rman like this:

rman target=/ @backup.cmd using 'GOLD_COPY'

and it will create a backup with tag = gold_copy

Thats your nibble of 11g for today!! :-)

What do you think?


Gary Myers said...

While you are right in that she is female, she did actually do an earlier book for DBAs on 11i Oracle Applications (Oracle 11i E-Business Suite from the Front Lines) not 11g (DB Server).

Don Burleson said...

Hi Robert,

>> I've seen a number of examples of this kind but I don't have time right now to ferret them out.

Tell me about it. There have been people encouraging folks to gove one-star review to Oracle books, regardless if they read them or not.

Amazon has Oracle, they should only allow reviews by customer who actually purchased the book!

Robert Freeman said...

I did look up her books Gary and saw the 11i one... I debated if he meant that, but he said DBA... I suppose he might have meant apps dba..

La belle mère said...

Robert Freeman has done a good job with her older posts, but this post is not good for any level of blogger ;-)

Robert Freeman said...

Funny baby!! :-)

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