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A' Level Computing 4th Ed - P.M. Heathcote

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Genre: Computer / IT

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      23.06.2001 00:38
      Very helpful



      [UPDATE AT BOTTOM] For some unknown reason there are very few A-Level computing books available and many people doing A-Level computing will have this book or if you are planning to go on to A-Level soon you will more than likely get this book when you start. I’ll cut to the chase and say that I really do not like this book. There are many reasons for this and I have listed and described them below: - Firstly - When and if you get this book you will see a colourful painting on the front cover. Straight away you know that this is going to be a school textbook. The painting has absolutely nothing to do with computers and is the only colour that you will see in this book. The painting is about a landscape it is good but it’s more suited for a wall not a book. There could be many reasons for this coloured painting, either because somebody noticed that there was no colour in the book itself and quickly shoved something in. Another reason could be that the author thought that if you were finding it hard to understand something and you needed something to turn to, to clear your mind, the cover is the only place. Whatever the reason for this painting it was wrong. Straight away this tells students that this is just going to be another typical schoolbook grey and old-fashioned. The front cover should have had a picture created on the computer such as laser lights, amazing 3D objects, complicated imagery, bolder colours, 21st century computer effects etc, not some uninteresting painting. If I saw this book in a book shop I would not pick it up. - Reason 2 - This second reason is the fact that the author is a teacher and works for the AQA examining board, in other words works for the government. Computing and IT Teachers are hopeless, they can barely write decent teaching notes, they are stressed, and they generally have poor experience with computers, well that’s what my teachers have shown me so far this year and a friend, some
      where here on dooyoo, that goes to another six form college agrees. In my IT (not computing) class we’re using a similar book by the same author and I am having to teach the teacher most of the time, so how on earth do they expect us to like a book that is written by a teacher?! I have read many computer books (specific to different software packages) that are not written by teachers and I have to say I think that they should be the ones writing these computing books, they have the time, they will be able to research a great deal more, they understand computers so much better they are not government run or paid (or stressed). I’ll continue a bit more in the 4th section. - Reason 3 - The third reason is to do with the layout and err, colour. Well as I said before there really is no colour apart from the cover’s painting this means that the only colours left are again typical textbook style colours. Have you guessed them, yep grey, black and white. I have read many computer books and I have to say that the layout (bold headings and structured writing…), colour and coloured pictures keep me interested. Perhaps I prefer books that way because when I was a kid that’s how I was taught and that’s how I have continued to read and understand books. A textbooks number 1 priority should be to keep the reader interested. The layout of this book is messy. Its not obvious to what your reading about, your reading a definition which in this book has been turned into an essay, you quickly get confused by many things. The index doesn’t have everything listed so if you have read something and know it’s in the book the index probably wont help. - Final Reason - This final reason is to do with the actual content of the book and the way it is written. I find it almost impossible to understand anything in this book. As I said before, you start reading a definition of something and its turned into one massive essay
      that really isn’t needed, for example this book covers Pascal as a beginners programming language and try’s to define things like Variables, data types, loops etc. and I cant make head nor tail of it, luckily I have invested in JavaScript and Visual Basic books which define these so much better. If I hadn’t of bought these book s I’d have probably quit Computing by now. Pascal is meant to be the easiest programming language you learn for the concepts of future programming, this author on the other hand has made it like rocket science! My dad who’s got 4 degrees and one masters degree all to do with computing, electronics and maths cannot understand this book either and completely agrees with me. Another problem with this book, the questions at the end of each section have nothing to do with what you’ve read, they are more complicated and make you stressed at the fact you cant answer the question you have to use your brain and finally work out that actually the questions aren’t in English and do not make sense at all. Well now we can move on to the tiny bit of clip art used perhaps this was another rushed part, well the clip art is as interesting as the Microsoft Clip art you got with Office 95, because that’s what it is. Continued from section 2 – I am not picking on teachers as though they are sad and grey in fact some are in the 21st century but they should not write books especially not for computing. I think that the syllabus writers should contact people that write excellent computer books to write an excellent A-Level computing textbook. - Conclusion - Well if you can keep well away from this book, if you cannot avoid it do what I did put the book to one side and buy JavaScript, Visual Basic and a technicians reference guides / books. They describe concepts and things in the computing syllabus so much better. I have absolutely no idea why teachers like this book and why they are making it h
      ard for themselves, they could get much better results from their students all because of an author change. I think that A-Level computing books should be like ABC books, simple, step-by-step just like a Dreamweaver or FrontPage (WSYWIG HTML editors) book. I learnt HTML from a step-by-step book and if I can do that then I should be able to learn everything that way. The problem is that teachers hate being told that they are wrong and don’t change because of short-term embarrassments. Now I know why they use eggs. This book has had little effort put into it to even make it remotely interesting. This book doesn’t even have potential; if you know of a paper-recycling centre, consider it an option. [UPDATE] I have just found a copy of the Letts edition of this book (3rd Edition) and it is allmost the same, the Author has only updated screen shots for the new Windows Interface, eddited and added a few bits and bobs here and there. Now I wish there were minus points on dooyoo, I would expect a whole new book, the fourth edition should just be a re-print of the 3rd edition. Obviously they do not learn from their mistakes or peoples comments. Hope this helps. Feel free to leave comments e.g. disagree / agree


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    • Product Details

      This is the 4th edition of the best-selling book previously published by Letts. It offers comprehensive coverage of the AQA 'A' Level Computing specification for 2001-2002, and is also suitable for other 'A' Level Computing courses. It is arranged in 5 modules corresponding to the AQA specification. Exercises and questions from past exam papers are given at the end of each chapter. The answers and a complete set of OHP masters can be downloaded from the Payne-Gallway web site.

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