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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A+ Certification for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Ron Gilster
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
"A+ Certificatio for Dummies" does the job!

If you have some experience on the subject matter, this is an excellent refresher book. It is lite and direct without loosing the reader in unnecessary jargon and complexity. If you're a novice, you're going to need more...a lot more. Someone without computer troubleshooting experience is going to find the A+ exam extremely difficult, if not impossible. And this book cannot substitute for real hands-on. CompTIA has changed the A+ test and I don't know how relative this book will be to people taking the new test.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: MCDST Self-Paced Training Kit (Exam 70-272): Supporting Users and Troubleshooting Desktop Applications on a Microsoft Windows XP Operating System
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Walter Glenn
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Poor correlation between objective review & practice questio

More like a cook book, e.g. recipes for opening menus/sub-menus. "Objective review" question explanations are keyed to book. "Practice questions" on CD are keyed to courses offered through Microsoft and not the book. Many practice question subjects, e.g. Software Security Policies, VPNs, IEEE1394 pin/power supply, modification of boot.ini, Active Directory, WinXP power options, not covered.If objective review questions represent actual exam -great. If the practice tests on CD represent exam - you need other study material.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Practical Cryptography
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Niels Ferguson, Bruce Schneier
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Beethoven and Schubert's "Learn to play piano already"

Two of the leading world cryptographers take their time to show engineers of all kinds, not just programmers, how the security is to be implemented.
To quote: "one of the reasons for writing this book: to get other people to understand the insidious nature of security, and how important is to do it right."
The whole point of the book is to show how would the authors have built an encryption system if everything's to be done right. This means secure communication channel, key negotiation, random number generation and public key encryption. Basically what you have in this book is a blueprint for the best possible crypto system.
The authors describe a few cryptographic primitives, like block ciphers and hash functions, but not a whole lot and nothing in details. The authors just pick one of each (explaining exactly why the one they picked is the best) and stick with it throughout the book.
The book has surprisingly little math, if any. No details of any existing protocol in particular.
A lot of (literally dozens) attacks described, at any point, on any part, and for each a cure is proposed or "no cure possible" conclusion is made. Pretty informative.
Lots of advises, some more technical, some more philosophical. Lots of auxiliary info, like patents on crypto, dancing pigs :), implementation notes etc. Some chapters are about a dozen pages long. A touch, but it makes you think.
Oh, and it describes Mr. Schneier's new Yarrow random generator, and what's more - a shiny new extension to it called Fortuna. Fascinating stuff if you ask me.
There are some minor downsides too.
First, the pseudocode which is used for describing algorithms is strikingly bad. Dear authors of computer books, even if you don't want to take any language's side, please make your code readable for programmers.
Second, a few times the book goes like this: "there is that thingy, it's green and it does things". What ? I think if you even mention things, making a consistent view of what it is at least would be nice. To be specific, the book mentions but never even tries to explain: UMAC, OCB, CCM. There is a few more but I wouldn't mind omitting details on those as they are specifically marked as "stay clear off". I could have googled for them for sure, but what is the point of the book then ?
Third, some of the advises, especially on programming side don't stand. I found the most useful advises the ones that begin with "Niels once had..." and "We found useful...", i.e. the advises from the field. Some other advises are too general. In the very same time the authors say something like "we (the world) don't have a clue how to write secure software". I fully agree, but why trying to squeeze in a small book thus useless advises ? Like for instance, first they say "wipe any information as soon as you no longer need it" and then "assertion failures should always lead to an abort of a program". Cleanup, huh ? Shall we just say that writing quality software takes no less books than designing proper crypto ?
So, the book gets 5 out of 5, because it (1) delivers exactly what it advertises (2) provides an good coverage on the topic and (3) the authors are but the best cryptographers there are.
Recommended for anyone.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 with ASP, ColdFusion, and PHP : Training from the Source
Publisher: Macromedia Press
Authors: Jeffrey Bardzell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Even a technophobe can use this book.

I recently purchased Dreamweaver MX and found that I could not use it at all. I puchased this book based upon a recommendation from a friend. Now, less than a month later, I have a basic website up and running. If you want to see what this book helped me do, go to, "www.MrGustafson.com" I highly recommend this book. Do not waste your money on any others.