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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Windows NT Shell Scripting
Publisher: Pearson Education
Authors: Timothy Hill
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A real "eye opener"

On of the few books that cover Windows NT shell scripting, or more commonly known as DOS batch files. This book will certaining remove any notion that the CMD shell is just another variation of the DOS shell. The books describes the CMD shell as more similar to a UNIX shell than a DOS shell, enabling you to preform some advanced administration tasks through Command Line scripts. The book also provides a detailed reference for standard Windows NT commands, and Windows NT Resource Kit commands.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Firefox and Thunderbird Garage (The Garage Series)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Chris Hofmann, Marcia Knous, John Hedtke
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great for those new to browsers and email clients

This is an excellent volume for newcomers.

Unlike `Firefox Hacks' which has information for beginners, power users, programmers and web designers `F & T' is squarely and firmly a beginner's book - though it has some material useful for those who have been using the software for a short time. `F & T' provides its value by covering both the Firefox browser and the Thunderbird email client with just under two thirds of the book devoted to Firefox.

The book starts with a chapter devoted to the absolute beginning covering such topics as why and what is Firefox as well as installation, importing settings and bookmarks from other browsers and finding your way around the window. `F & T' then continues, explaining in a careful, step by step manner, all that a user might need to know about browsing the net with Firefox.

When I first noticed that `F & T' devoted almost twice as much space to Firefox as Thunderbird I feared that the Thunderbird section had been added to pad the book out without really covering the software properly. Fortunately my fears were unfounded, it is just that Thunderbird is that little bit simpler. Not being a Thunderbird user (I use Google Mail in Firefox) I fired it up and worked through the second section of the book. I discovered that `F & T' covers all the necessary information for getting the best out of Thunderbird for the average user and that little bit more that makes you feel like a power user.

The book finishes with four appendices that cover the shortcuts and menu commands for each program, one on hacking the preferences using about:config and editing the user.js file and a final one that covers digital certificates.

After reading this book and working through about half the chapters I have yet to find any egregious errors or appalling editing. Overall the style is good, though sometimes a little flippant and sometimes a little dry, it feels like there was a good strong hand editing. I find the `dirty' font used in some headings a little hard to read in the sidebars. I appreciate the stylistic quirkiness and `garage' feel but it might have been better a few points larger for my aging eyes. The body type is also a little light for reading in less than ideal lighting.

This is not really a book for geeks. I suspect that anyone who reads Slashdot would think it too basic and too plodding. Having once again found myself supporting "the average user" I'm realising that books for users who have no real interest or expertise in computers need to be basic and step by step. `F & T' seems to me to be perfectly pitched for a book I would recommend to my mother or a friend who wanted a book to help them move away from proprietary `net tools to these open source programs. The `Garage' series seems to be growing as an alternative to that other series of books for beginners, and one that doesn't feel the need to treat users as dummies. While the `Garage' series are definitely pitched at the beginner, they assume a decent level of intelligence and some ability to explore on your own.

If you would like a closer look at the book then you can visit the Prentice Hall site for the book for the table of contents, preface, foreword and two example chapters. Like all Prentice Hall book pages all of these apart from the table of contents are PDF files.

I currently work on a large campus supporting Macintosh users where I find the most common browser unstable and lacking in features and the most common email client just a little buggy and lacking in good support (neither are the free products provided by Apple). I think that a quick install and a copy of this book would solve a number of my problems. I would recommend this volume to all those who want a good beginner to mid level user volume on two excellent pieces of software. I would prefer to recommend this book to a beginner than any other on the topic I have seen as it doesn't attempt to cover too much of the learning curve, rather it goes for width, covering both pieces of software and more of each that might be of interest to the early user.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java 2: The Complete Reference, Fifth Edition
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Herbert Schildt
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Herbert Schildt is the Best

This is the best programming book I have ever read in my life. Period.I was a PROLOG programmer before reading this, but then as I read the book I fell in love with Java and switched to Java.Don't even hesitate to buy it.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Tricks of the Windows Game Programming Gurus
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Andre Lamothe
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Good Book but code is FILLED with bugs

The book itself is really good but unfortunately alot of the code is buggy as hell. First of all the source code from the early chapters have lots of useless code that you dont need till a few chapters later. You can cut out about 200 lines of code from them. And worst of all is that code from the later chapters wont even compile half the time. Andre could easily fix this by posting updated code on his site but for some reason refuses to. Also Andre seems to insist on using straight C instead of C++ which is kind of aggravating. I would only suggest this book to a complete beginner.