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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Enterprise Messaging Using JMS and IBM(R) WebSphere(R) (IBM Press Book)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Kareem Yusuf
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Fully supports the latest JMS versions

Java Messaging System arises out of the need to have loosely coupled objects associated in a J2EE architecture be able to communicate asynchronously with each other. In part because these objects might be physically quite distant from each other, like an application client and a web container that are both on the Internet. The objects may have variable loads and so the buffering of messages is preferable if any object is too busy to attend to an incoming message. Plus, objects may have intermittent connectivity to the net. Especially if mobile/nomadic computing takes off.
In any of these scenarios, IBM sees a need for a web server, mediating between applications and a large database (DB2 in IBM's case). That server or container is WebSphere. The bulk of the book therefore deals with how WebSphere implements JMS. The book makes explicitly clear that IBM's implementation fully satisfies the JMS versions 1.02b and 1.1 APIs. Which means that a third party client application that can handle these versions can send and receive messages to WebSphere via JMS. You can consider this as an extra enabling inducement for independent software vendors to write code that hooks to WebSphere.
Various examples are given; the book terms these JMS scenarios. Most importantly is how to use Enterprise Java Beans to swap messages via JMS. For commercial applications, another example shows the ability to encrypt the messages.
Now hopefully, ISVs will partake of the book's offerings.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: MCSE Self-Paced Training Kit: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Core Requirements, Exams 70-290, 70-291, 70-293, 70-294
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Zacler. Craig, J.C. MacKin, Ian McLean, Microsoft Corporation, Dan Holme, Orin Thomas
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
1500 practice questions and 15% off exam fee discounts!

Just the sheer number of practice questions alone makes it worthwhile to buy this set from Microsoft but adding the 15% off exam fee discount voucher makes it really hard to resist buying this set. If you actually take all 4 exams and buy this set from Amazon, your cost is 60% off the list price! But after comparing the number of practice questions from other vendors, I found that it is definitely worth buying this set.
Even though these books are intended to train you in the Windows Server 2003 Operating System, I found that it is better to have either 'Windows Server 2003 Administrator's Companion' from Microsoft or 'Mastering Windows Server 2003' from Sybex as a reference guide and use this set mostly for review and exam preparation. After comparing the two reference books, I found the book from Sybex to be better as its coverage is more extensive than the book from Microsoft.
The four exams covered in this set are 'Managing and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Environment', 'Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure', 'Planning and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure', and 'Planning, Implementing, and Maintaining a Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Active Directory Infrastructure'. They are exams 70-290, 70-291, 70-293, and 70-294 respectively.
The books are made of very thin paper and are all paperback editions. This makes it easy to carry the individual books around. This is especially important considering that there are 4000 pages in the whole set and imagine what the hardcover editions with heavy paper would feel like! There are 2 CDs that come with the set. One has a 180 day trial version of Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition and the other has the 1500 practice exam questions and several good ebooks. All four books are in searchable and printable electronic formats that are supposed to be Pocket PC-ready. The extra ebooks are 'Microsoft Encyclopedia of Security', 'Microsoft Encyclopedia of Networking, Second Edition', and 'Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Sampler'. This last ebook contains excerpts from other Microsoft reference books. But the first two are worth quite a few dollars if you purchase them separately! There are several white papers and miscellaneous software on the second CD-ROM on top of what I already described above.
This training kit assumes that the readers have a minimum of 12 to 18 months of administering Windows technologies in a networked environment and an understanding of Active Directory. I am still looking for a good book on Active Directory Infrastructure.
Each book has its own unique and specific hardware requirements but to illustrate, they recommend that you have two computers to learn from the 70-290 book. One computer needs to have the server installed with a specific name (Server01) and the domain controller in a specific domain. This may make it difficult to use a work computer for training purposes unless your boss lets you have a dedicated computer or these requirements don't affect what's already on the server. The other computer should ideally have a Windows XP client for the optional hands-on exercises.
Each book follows a lesson style format with each chapter having several lessons. Every lesson has an estimated time at the beginning that may not be that accurate depending on your level of experience. Each lesson has several tasks with the concepts and the step by step instructions explained in a easy to understand manner.
Beginners may be able to do okay with the 70-290 book but intermediate to advanced users will definitely be more comfortable with the other three books. I am finding the 70-291 and 70-293 the hardest probably due to my background.
Overall, I think this set is definitely worth purchasing as I haven't run into any good competing books yet. But the price and the number of questions included make it extremely WORTHWHILE to purchase this set. Not to mention the additional free ebooks that you would have to pay for otherwise! If you are planning on taking the MCSA/MCSE exams, definitely get this set. If you are just trying to learn Windows Server 2003 from this set, I believe that there are better books out there. Good luck with your training and exams!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Code Complete
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Steve McConnell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great Book; Even Applicable to Web Development

The book is fantastic. I have no formal training as a programmer, so this book helped me develop a much stronger understand of not just how to program, but how to program well.
As for the applicability of this book given the advent of the web: the book is still useful.
A web application may not be one big compiled program, but it is, some claim, an object that has urls as methods and get/post/cookie data as arugments. While web programming is different from monolithic programming in may ways, the lessons I've learned from this book have helped a great deal in the development of several web applications.
Sure, a new edition would be welcomed, but it is not required.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beyond Software Architecture: Creating and Sustaining Winning Solutions
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Luke Hohmann
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Required Reading for Software Industry Execs

As a business person in the process of starting a software company, I found this book very useful. I use the word useful because it seamlessly weaves theory with practical advice. Although some of the concepts in the book are not novel, the way in which they are spelled out is. I find myself constantly revisiting chapters in the book and using them as a point of reference. It acts as a clear and constant reminder of best practices and the importance of solid, cost effective software development. It also provided me with the tools necessary to work more effectively with technical people and understand where they are coming from. It is required (I ask nicely)reading for my developers. I would recommend this to both technical and businesspeople.