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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: MCSE Windows XP Professional Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram 70-270)
Publisher: Que
Authors: Dan Balter, Derek Melber, Ed Tittel
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Exam Cram 2 is the best.

This is my first time using Exam Cram to study for a certification, and I am so glad it was recommmended to me. It really breaks everything down into terms anyone could understand and learn. The book has really made me feel more comfortable about taking this exam, and I plan to use Exam Cram again in the future.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Practical WebObjects
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Charles Hill, Sacha Mallais
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A must have book.

This is not a beginner's guide, but any WebObjects developer beyond the complete novice will find this book full of practical advice. If you are just starting out buy Joshua Marker's Quick Pro Guide but get Practical WebObjects too. When you need more detail than the QP Guide supplies, Practical WebObjects will be there for you.

The sections on the request-response loop and editing context locking alone are well worth the price of admission. Each chapter clearly details its subject's processes and pitfalls in a way the benefits even the most seasoned WebObjects developer.

The book offers advice and solutions to many common development tasks with code and resources from the community (WOCode, Project Wonder, Eclipse/WOLips) and its own Practical WebObjects framework. So although this book was written by two authors, it is clear that there was a concerted attempt to include the <em>best practices</em> for developing WebObjects applications, regardless of where they came from.

If it is not obvious at this point, I highly recommend this book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning Perl, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A retrospective from a Unix user and casual programmer

I've been a Unix user for seven+ years, and have some programming experience, although I am by no means really knowledgable about either. When I entered my most recent job, I needed to learn Perl fast, and so I used this book to help me get started.
From a self-teaching perspective, I found this book to be exactly what I needed. I'll admit that the first chapter (a general description of the Perl language) was not very helpful, but I found the division of the rest of the book by small pieces of the syntax (scalars, arrays, hashes, regular functions, i/o, etc.) to suit my needs, which tended to be along the lines of: I need to do x right now. I learned the easy stuff really quickly, and I still use the book as a constant reference.
Now, it is just a beginner's text, so it is not an ideal complete reference, and you won't learn anything particularly nifty. However, if you need to both learn how to program and actually do some programming at the same time (i.e. not in a class-room setting), Learning Perl can be a wonderful text.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Practical Statecharts in C/C++: Quantum Programming for Embedded Systems with CDROM
Publisher: CMP Books
Authors: Miro Samek
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent, thoughtful and technical treatise on statecharts

Since I am not from the embedded system world, I was a bit apprehensive about approaching this book. While I can see that author Miro Samek has a directed target for his audience, I strongly feel that this book is a "must read" for technical developers in all areas who want to improve their program design abilities or developers who want to understand the philosophy, use, and implementation of statecharts intimately.
As the title indicates, this book brings the topic of statecharts from the realm of expensive design tools to the PRACTICAL realm, illustrating its points with full examples and extensive commentary.
Essentially Samek postulates that the slow adoption by developers of best practices by statechart design is due to lack of understanding of the fundamental nature of statecharts and how it is perceived as requiring expensive tools to use well. Samek insightfully discusses how statecharts as a best practice embody "behavioral inheritance" as a fundamental design concept that stands as a peer alongside the conventional pillars of object-oriented programming, namely inheritance, encapsulation, and polymorphism.
The book is very technical and written in an academic style, with ample references to original sources as well as detailed code reviews and many reader exercises. I would caution anyone from approaching this book as a quick or light read. For me, it took a seriousness and good understanding of C and C++ to follow Samek's examples and achieve the "a-ha", which was always worth it in the end.
The two basic parts of the text are (1) an explanation of statecharts and their methodological implications, and (2) a description of how to apply statecharts as a data structure in real applications, namely embedded as control strategies for "active objects." In several places in the text, Samek makes an analogy between statechart (and active object) semantics and quantum mechanics. This parallel was an interesting philosophical argument, but didn't add much for me in terms of accepting his "quantum framework" as a best practice -- I was sold by his methodological arguments he had presented already.
Speaking from experience in writing a book about using statecharts to build simulations, I can say Samek is a visionary who extended my perception of statecharts several steps. I know I will be quoting from it and referring to it in my work to come. This book has earned a prominent place on my bookshelf, and I would heartily recommend it to any other developer who wants to create correct, verifiable, scaleable, and solid designs (which should be ALL developers!).