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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Maya Character Animation, 2nd Edition
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Jae-Jin Choi, Sybex
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best Maya 5 Book Out There...

I was about to buy the first edition of this book, until I heard about the impending second, which was literally just published in March 2004 (and the cover that Amazon.com shows is slightly incorrect; the sax player is replaced with another character, but, oddly, the background is exactly the same).
The major plus I have to give this book is the sheer fact that everything is in *color,* and it is neither too basic, nor too advanced. There are plenty of step-by-step tutorials for everything from modeling to animation.
I have only really scratched the surface of this book (after all, it was only recently published), and if you're savvy enough to have found this book here in Amazon.com (searching for "Maya Character Animation" only yields the first edition of this book; I clicked on the author's name to find the 2nd edition), I would certainly suggest picking it up. If you only buy one intermediate-to-advanced Maya 5 book, then I'd suggest this one.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Securing Web Services with WS-Security : Demystifying WS-Security, WS-Policy, SAML, XML Signature, and XML Encryption
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Jothy Rosenberg, David Remy
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Very good read for early developers, architects and managers

Having been a software architect with special focus on security and also being involved in developement of various XML related security standards, I believe, this book gives a good insight into many of the fundamental concepts related to Secure Web Services. It is a very easy read with lots of history behind some of the standards and specifications created. I would have liked a few more references - a section by itself would have been useful in addition to the inlining of references which are very useful too.I don't think I saw a clear distinction of standards and specifications. To understand this, you may want to read this white paper - http://www.sun.com/software/whitepapers/webservices/securing_webservices.pdf
This is also a good book for developers who would want to understand and get started Secure Web Services. I would certainly put this book first before getting your hands into coding.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Introduction to Electrodynamics (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: David J. Griffiths
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Undergrad E&M Standard for Greatness.

Interesting. Insightful. Conceptually Complete. Great Mathematical Notation. Great Explanations. All of these and more could be said about David Griffiths' incredible book on Introductory E&M. David's writing style is next to none, the text is never boring and extremely insightful. The various chapters are structured extremely well. It "flows" extrodinarily well from section to section. He conveys very well the enormous and far reaching applicability of the science of E&M. Griffiths often uses physical arguments by analogy instead of mathematical rigour to convey many physical ideas. He treats the math like it should be treated in physics, as a language to work with ideas, not as a hindrance blocking their meaning. His mathematical notation is so completely natural and reader friendly, you get used to it very quickly. The examples are insightful and the problems, while challenging, are well thought out.
Every diamond has its fault, and this textbook's fault is its lack of a student solutions manual and answers in the back. However, the quality of writing GREATLY overwealms this fault, hence the 5 star rating. With this textbook, a good instructor, and a little hard work, you WILL learn E&M.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning VB.NET (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Richard Blair, Jonathan Crossland, Matthew Reynolds, Thearon Willis
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Perfect for the absolute beginner!

This book is for beginner programmers who have chosen Visual Basic .NET as their first programming language. It is also intended for programmers experienced in another programming language, but who are new to Windows programming.
The book begins with step by step instructions on how to install Visual Basic .NET. Next, there is a brief introduction on how to write Visual Basic .NET code, and a description of what the .NET framework is. The next chapter teaches how to control the flow of applications using loops and branching structures. You will then learn how to create windows, screens, and how to add menus to your applications.
Visual Basic .NET is the first version of Visual Basic to provide full object oriented capabilities, making it among the most powerful windows development tools. The book teaches you what object oriented programming is and how to use it in your applications.
Chapter 15 and 16 introduce database access with Visual Basic .NET. You will learn what a database is, how to write simple SQL statements, and how to use ADO.NET to access Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access databases. The final three chapters show how to create applications for the web using web forms, XML, and web services such as SOAP, "Simple Object Access Protocol".
Like all Wrox Press beginner programming books, this book is written in a clear and easy to learn manner. Each chapter contains plenty of sample code examples and an end of chapter test.
If you are new to programming, or new to Windows programming, "Beginning Visual Basic .NET" is an excellent first step in aquiring the knowledge needed to develop Windows applications.