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Reviewed by Major Keary
I know that Linux users are unlikely to use Excel, but spreadsheet technology has been around since, so to speak, Bill wore short trousers with a pop hole. Apart from the addition of a GUI and other bells and whistles, spreadsheet applications still work in much the same way as they did in the days of VisiCalc (1979) and SuperCalc (1981).
These days spreadsheet-specific literature is almost entirely Excelcentric. Head First Excel, in spite of that focus, is a good introduction to any spreadsheet application regardless of origin or native operating system. The book is not a compendium of step 1, 2, …how-to instructions, but employs "the latest research in cognitive science and learning theory". The introduction is well worth reading just for its insights. Another feature of the series is provision for making notes, and doing exercises, in the books.
OpenOffice Calc implements most of Excel's functions; for most users they are parallel, the main difference being in nomenclature (for example, Pivot Tables in Excel are called DataPilots in Calc). Head First Excel presents a series of discussions with exercises and annotated solutions. There are also questions-and-answers that help clarify concepts and functions.
It's a pity that a Head First Calc is not available, but Head First Excel is commended to anyone who wants a sound and effective self-teaching resource. Regardless of which spreadsheet application, this title is well worth examination as a primary learning tool.
Michael Milton: Head First Excel
Published by O'Reilly, 402 pp., RRP AU$ 57.95
This title can be purchased from the Australian distributor at <www.computer.bookcentre.com.au> A discount can be redeemed by entering the following code at the checkout: PLANET