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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java 2: The Complete Reference, Fifth Edition
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Herbert Schildt
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Both a learning aid and a reference book

I have always enjoyed Osborne's "Complete Reference" series, and this book is no exception. Designed as both a learning aid and a reference book, I found that material was both easy to lookup and the text was engaging enough to read through.
The book starts out with an overview of Java, including a discussion of OOP. If you're an experienced OO Programmer, you'll probably be a bit bored. Really the first 6 chapters cover all the basics of creating a Java program (including data types, operators, classes, and control statements). After this initial discussion, the book gets a bit more complicated by diving into inheritance, threads, and I/O.
What I really enjoyed about this book is the rest of it: after this discussion on Java language principles, the rest of the book is a how-to on the various Java libraries. For example, in the chapter on the java.util library, there is a section on the HashSet class. There is a description of the class (including various overloaded constructors) and a good example of how to use it. Think O'Reilly's Java In A Nutshell but with a lot more instruction and examples.
Another thing I really enjoyed about the reference section of this book, is that "gotchas" are clearly outlined. Where there are tricky little things you wouldn't think about, or differences in how Java behaves depending on what your might expect, this book explains these issues. In any case, the reference section covers the java.lang, java.util, java.io libraries in addition to providing detailed discussion of using networking and AWT libraries.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming Perl (3rd Edition)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen, Jon Orwant
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
reference for perl users....

I have both the first (perl 4) and second editions (perl 5) of the camel book. As a reference, it is the bible. This is why I'm never without it. But this assumed a degree of understanding with it. The previous version had sections of good, powerful, and even useful examples. Without these, I find this version lacking.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Programming Windows, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Charles Petzold
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5

I bought this book after having read the glowing reviews about it. I really didn't like it. I was learning the Win32 API - perhaps the book is better for experienced Win32 programmers. My primary complaint was that, in the code examples, it presented the material it was trying to illustrate alongside copious amounts of material that had never been discussed. The part you were trying to learn was sandwiched among many unrecognizable things. This fact made the code examples almost worthless to me. In addition, the book leaves out the subject of the Windows Common Controls entirely.
There seems to be a shortage of good books on the Win32 API. I don't think the Platform SDK documentation does a good job of helping students learn it either. There is another Win32 API book, Win32 Programming, by Rector and Newcomer, that I liked better than Petzold. I also prefer it to digging through the Platform SDK.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: IT Systems Management: Designing, Implementing, and Managing World-Class Infrastructures
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Rich Schiesser
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A framework for IT success

Managing today's complex IT infrastructures can be a serious challenge without a framework for success. Mr. Schiesser's book offers one such framework: people, process and technology. This comprehensive structure addresses the three critical dimensions of any IT environment. In the people section, you'll learn how to gain executive support; organize and staff your department; and understand what it takes to deliver good customer service. Twelve critical processes, including production acceptance, change management, problem management and disaster recovery are all presented in an easy-to-understand format including case studies from Rich's own experiences. The final technology section tells you how to put it all together to achieve meaningful results. If you were to simply follow the advice presented in this book, your IT infrastructure would probably be orders of magnitude better than most out there today.