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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: An Introduction to Support Vector Machines and Other Kernel-based Learning Methods
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Authors: Nello Cristianini, John Shawe-Taylor
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A delightful book to learn support vector machines

This is a first book introducing support vector learning, a very hot area in machine learning, data mining, and statistics. Aside from Burges (1998)'s tutorial article and Vapnik (1995)'s book, this book by two authors actively working in this field is a welcome addition which is likely to become a standard reference and a textbook among students and researchers who want to learn this important subject. Besides tutoring systematically on the standard theory such as large margin hyperplane, nonlinear kernel classifiers, and support vector regression, this book also deals with growing new areas in this field such as random processes. More interestingly, this book discusses a lot of applications which I consider very imoportant and healthy for the advance of this field, such as medical diagnosis, image analysis, and bioinformatics. In all, I strongly recommend this book for students, and young researchers who want to learn. I'm sure a lot of people will find this book a wise investment, since it provides a handy and timely review of a rapidly growing field.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: MCSD Self-Paced Training Kit: Analyzing Requirements and Defining Microsoft .NET Solution Architectures, Exam 70-300
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Corporation
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Mediocre study aid

Microsoft has a hard earned reputation of producing verbose self-paced training books that only partially cover the exam objectives. True to form, Microsoft has written a mediocre book that will not adequately prepare you for the new exam (70-300).
Unlike the previous book, which was pathetic and laughable, this one is merely mediocre. Gone are the fictional character dialog, bad jokes, full page meeting agendas, and concerns about late employees. This book covers, in depth, MSF. Other exam objectives are basically ignored or given little coverage.
Included is a CDROM with solutions documents in the form of excel spreadsheets, word documents (specifications), and visio charts. Basically, you walk away with word and excel files you can adapt for your own use. Unfortunately, the samples and documents are only a subset of the MSF templates you can download from Microsoft's website.
Still, the book tries to explain the MSF architecture approach, which makes use of UML, specifications, interviews, memos, and group hugs (MSF Team Model). As a result, much of the coverage is how to produce project documents and artifacts.
I would second the recommendations of the exam cram book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Larry Ullman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Author answers questions on his forum

I've never met an author who actually answered queries to his website but Larry Ullman gave me one suggestion after another while I struggled with a problem. It took about ten replies from him before I finally got it solved. His replies were so timely the problem was resolved within a week.
As a novice PHP writer I've tried several books, most of them more expensive, but this is one of the best.
Two criticisms: there is too much detail. I'd like to fool around with one or two lines of code at a time, building it up gradually into something that really works. Ullman breaks it down pretty well, but his bites are still a bit too big for me.
The other criticism is in design. Examples of code from the book are reproduced in about four-point text, so keep your magnifying glass at the ready.
Still, if you want to make web pags like the one you're reading, you'll be able to do most of it with this book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Windows 2000 & Windows Server 2003 Clustering & Load Balancing
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Robert Shimonski
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Some glaring windows 2003 errors

I had high hopes for this book however there are some glaring errors that make me wonder if the author truely tested the 2003 cluster environment. For instance in setting up MSDTC he tells us to use comclust.exe which is the 2000 way. This does not work on windows 2003. Also the book doesn't address the fact that sql 2000 will not install on 2003 as a virtual server without errors, and that a client alias work around is necessary, along with sql SP3a. All of this was a fact even on the beta and rc2 version of windows 2003 he used for the testing. If find it hard to believe the author has ever done a real sql 2000 cluster on windows 2003 outside of a testlab and without named instances(which are fundamental to production sql cluster, especially active/active).