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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Wonderfully done

This is by far one of the finest and most useful books in my library. It is a rare occasion that I find a book which not only shows you how it should be done, but also recognizes some of the pitfalls that are possible even with very solid designs. A fantastic reference and tool. I highly recommend.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning Programming for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Wally Wang, Wallace Wang
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I learned it! I really did!

I highly recommend Wallace Wang's Beginning Programming for Dummies to anyone looking to learn programming for the first time. I'm a technical writer who is terrible at math and not very bright in general. Fortunately, as Mr. Wang assures me in the first chapter, you don't have to be a math genius to be a good programmer. You just have to be curious and willing to spend a lot of time practicing. One thing that sets Dummies books apart is their ability to make the boring part of a subject (its dullness or seeming difficulty is why you need the book in the first place) seem fun. Wang employs his extensive gifts as a comedian to make memorizing terms like "REM," "CLS," and "FOR...NEXT" feel deceptively fun. After finishing this book (it took about a month of daily to semi-daily study to digest), I have a good grasp of programming in general, and QBASIC in particular. I'm making my own QBASIC program to master the language (it's a psychologist who asks you questions and then belittles you). And, because QBASIC comes free with every PC, you don't have to buy anything extra to learn it. Once I master QBASIC, I'll easily be able to move on to Visual Basic, and then maybe dabble in some C, Java, and HTML/XML.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, Second Edition (All-in-One)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Shon Harris, Shon Harris
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
More than a study guide

I thought I was just buying a CISSP study guide, but it has turned out to be much, much more. There is a huge section that has really helped me out at my job that just deals with HIPAA. The information, table, and compliancy chart is amazing! This piece was a real bonus to what the book already provided for the exam.
The material seems extremely well written and laid out in one of the most understandable and comprehensive ways I have ever seen. It does not seem to be the ordinary study guide or security book. I do think I will use this as a reference even after the test, which is quite unusual.
This is really a home run for McGraw-Hill and this author!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Eclipse: Building Commercial-Quality Plug-ins (Eclipse Series)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Eric Clayberg, Dan Rubel
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Not a book for dummies

This borders on being one of the best computer books I've ever worked with. It does an excellent job of covering the topic in the sense that the example that you build is extensive enough that you really learn how to do the job. It's filled with excellent best-practice tips and tricks and it really helped me get to grips with the Eclipse environment.

But as I said, it only borders on being great. It has several serious failings.

1) The code examples (even those downloaded from the the website) are devoid of decent comments explaining why things are done or what methods in a class are new and what are implementations of interfaces or overrides of super classes. This makes figuring out what is going on very difficult and unless you write the examples yourself, you are going to have a tough time with this.

2) There are large sections of the book (especially in Chapter 7) where the authors take for granted that you will figure out what is happening from the code. That's fine, but put comments in the quoted code to help. That they don't do.

3) There are several places in the code examples where you have to figure out why you are getting warnings and more often than not they are because of deprecated methods that are no longer applicable in Eclipse 3.0. Although the book has a disclaimer warning you of this, it is unacceptable to me that the book claims to cover 3.0 and then doesn't do it properly.

Having said that, I got a lot out of this book. It's really valuable, but be prepared to sit with the book, a browser open on the author's web-site for the errata, and a lot of focus on looking at the Eclipse documentation.

This book will take you a good 4 weeks to work through if you go cover to cover. And I'm talking 4 weeks of full working days. It's excellent material but I think the presentation could use a little work.