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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Access 2000 Developer's Handbook Volume 1: Desktop Edition
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Paul Litwin, Ken Getz, Mike Gilbert
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An Essential Book for Access 2000 Automation and VBA

I purchased this book on the recommendation of our local Access SIG group leader. He spoke highly of authors' Access 97 Handbook. I am new to Access and VBA. I was anxious to come up to speed quickly. I first purchased "Sams Teach Yourself Microsoft Access 2000 in 21 days" by Paul Cassel and Pamela Palmer. That book put me on the right path. After almost completing that book, I started tackling some complex automation projects. This book accelerated my learning to an amazing degree. This handbook explains the ADO Model, the Object Model and Automation very clearly and logically. The examples are excellent and the companion CD is really useful.
The only topic this book does not cover is the DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange). On the other hand, after reading the book, I realized that the DDE is not necessary for automation since the Object Model is more powerful and efficient.
I recommend this book to anyone who has the need to use VBA for automation and for extending the standard capability of Access 2000.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: High Performance MySQL
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jeremy D. Zawodny, Derek J. Balling
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Not bad, but should also discuss limitations

MySQL has been gaining many adherents in recent years. The attraction of its open source and free nature is compelling to many. So much so that it is part of the so-called LAMP, with Linux, Apache and PHP. It does not have many advanced features that Oracle and IBM's dB2 possess. But what it has often suffices for many purposes. The intent of this book is to go beyond the material often covered in an introductory MySQL text, whose main purpose is to teach syntax.
The book shows how you can tune the performance by adjusting the sizes of various buffers, and other tweaks. Combine this with a means of load balancing and you have a database capable of mission critical commercial applications. It also discusses backups. Mundane, actually. But you need to be able to do this, in anticipation of the inevitable crash. If you need a mirror, the replication capability comes in handy. The book shows how to easily do this.
But for a book that talks about advanced features, it would have been nice if it had briefly spent some time explaining certain crucial features currently lacking. Like no means of doing stored procedures. This is an important optimisation ability in other databases. Another thing lacking (except in a very limited context) is foreign keys. In the theory of databases, this is extensively used, and other databases do implement this.
Granted, the company MySQL.com is continuously adding functionality. In time, MySQL will probably have the above items. But until then, a book like this would usefully serve its readers by also explaining the current limitations.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Classical Electrodynamics
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: John David Jackson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
If only one has the background

I used Jackson for my graduate level advanced electrodynamics class. I was befuddled the first semester but made a good grade. Between the first and second semesters I had to study for and take the qualifiers. I used Jeans and Smythe's Static and Dynamic Electricity and found these to be excellent though difficult texts. As a corollary I also re-studied the required mathematics. Now I understood where Jackson was coming from! I was able to not only solve all the problems in the electostatics and Maxwell equations sections of Jackson but also my studies from Smythe and Jeans covered much of the second semester of Jackson also. When I took the second semester I was able to breeze through solving the problems and taking the tests to such an extent that my professors, who had trouble with the problems, wondered what had happened. It did not hurt that a close friend and I had recently built a radio telescope array in the hills of Tennessee during vacation thereby obtaining a nearly irreproducible knowledge of antenna theory. In my opinion, Jackson is mostly a guideline for studying electrodynamics. Once the student has the background Jackson is both fun and enlightening. Therein lies the difficulty. I have noticed that many libraries have "put up" or gotten rid of their Jeans and Smythes and other classical texts. The new books are not really a substitute. Since many professors did not really learn electrodynamics that well themselves, this make it truly difficult to obtain a really great grounding in the subject. I did not truly understand the difference until I was doing a lot of computational electrodynamics years later. Regardless of how one goes about it, somehow the student must get the required background before really using Jackson in any meaningful fashion. Current education in physics has made this more not less difficult.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows XP Inside Out, Second Edition (Inside Out)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Ed Bott, Carl Siechert, Craig Stinson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Safe, sound, useful tips that make your XP shine

After reading through titles like "Hacking XP" and "XP Hacks" and "XP for Power Users" and finding no satisfaction in any of them, I came across this thick volume which I had initally ignored because it was thick and it was published by Microsoft. I was skeptical what an official MS book would say about Windows XP.

I'm glad I overcame my suspicion and picked up this book, which I ended up buying. It's worth every penny, let me tell ya. It's packed with information both beginners and advanced users can use anytime, any place, in any mood. From wi-fi setup to taking full advantage of Windows Firewall to finetuning performance to interface customization, this book has it all. Best of all, the tips are 1) extremely useful and practical, 2) totally safe (unlike those in some other books which can really wreak havoc on your PC -- probably a conspiracy by some to make unwary users hate XP?), and 3) easily accessible and understandable. The three authors, veterans of the computer press, write very well and I, not a computer geek by trade or nature, actually felt happy reading through this book.

The only downside is this is a very thick book at over 1300 pages. It's packed with step-by-step guides and clear screenshots, so be prepared to spend a lot of time. Also, because it's big, a lot of real gems are buried, so be prepared to highlight a lot, too.

I agree with other reviewers: this is the best XP power user's guide, bar none. Be sure to get this "2nd edition" which was published just recently.