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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: ASP in a Nutshell, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: A. Keyton Weissinger
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Remember, it's a reference book

Keep in mind that this, and all "....in a Nutshell" books are designed to be reference material, not how to books. From that standpoint, this is an excellant desk reference for any ASP developer. After using another book to ease into ASP, this one became my standby for day to day development. If you are looking for something to teach you ASP, look elsewhere and then buy this one when you're done.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Martin Fowler
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Good, but not great

This book has been getting a lot of hype -the followup to Fowler's seminal Refactoring, enterprise edition of the GoF, etc etc.
It's a dense and informative read. If you didnt know anything about cricket, you will by the end, as all its examples are basd on the game. I, sadly, find cricket deadly dull as a consequence of having it force fed at me in the UK educational system. This may bias me against the examples somewhat.
As to the content, well, it is a set of patterns focused on 'enterprise' applications. In this context, enterprise means server-side code connected to a database, usually with a Web Front end. Martin goes into superb depth on how to map from databases to java and .net objects, making you think about whether or not the stuff that your framework of choice gives you is the right tool for the job. Sadly, all that does is make you more aware of the failings of EJB, JDBC, whatever .NET has. Because, unless you are going to roll your own database bridge by hand, you are going to have to run with what they give you -whether it [stinks] or not.
I dont do much O/R mapping. I hand it off to tools like Castor and worry about my real problems: shipping web services to implausible deadlines to be managed by an operations team that phone me whenever something goes wrong. So my problems are web service related 'good API design', and 'executional patterns': how to design code that is easily tested, what is a good strategy for implementing configuration information, what is a good XML format for future flexibility. I also have to worry about the client side: how to architect a client that works well over long haul and intermittent links, and how to present this to the user.
Martin's book doesnt cover these kind of problems. I do like his critique of Entity EJBs (as opposed to session beans), where he observes that because EJBs are all distributable, people tend to do just that, leading to performance problems that are very profitable to him as a consultant.
The implicit message is that these days, he is spending his time tuning object to DB linkages, and not worrying about all the other aspects of the problem. Another reviewer mentioned security, but my concern is about designing for high availablity, a series of practises that focus on redundancy, caching, and interdependencies and self-diagnosis of faults, rather than caring about minutae of O/R binding.
So I'm giving the book 3-stars, as it doesn't suit my problems. Maybe it suits other people better.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming & Customizing PICmicro Microcontrollers
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics
Authors: Myke Predko
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Mind Numbingly Technical

It's a great book, no question. But Predko gets so bogged down in technical minutia that it's incredibly frustrating for beginners with little or no knowledge of the PIC and Assembly Language programming. It does include a programmer and tons of software along with some primers in basic electronics and programming theory, but it all suffers from hyper technical jargon and glosses over topics useful to beginners with this preconceived notion that you already know these things, so why waste time here?
Ironically enough, Predko's claim that complaints about the First Edition being overly technical was his inspiration to write the second. Amazing, I can only imagine what the First Edition looked like.
I don't mean to be completely negative though, it's a great book with a lot of added value (via the programmer and software) It definitely has a place on your bookshelf if you're interested in PIC programming and has a great collection of experiments, including ultrasonic range finding that are just enthralling. The best.
Buy it, but if you are a beginner plan on going though it after you have read a more basic introduction to the PIC and Assembly. IMO, that's the only way a beginner will truly appreciate this book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Head First Design Patterns
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Elisabeth Freeman, Eric Freeman, Bert Bates, Kathy Sierra
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
If you can pick only one DP book, pick this one

If you want to learn design patterns, read this book first. It has the most clear discussion of design patterns I have ever seen. The technical material is presented with true wit and sarcasim, which makes this book hard to put down. It also has a good dose of general practical advice for object oriented design.