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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming Jakarta Struts, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Chuck Cavaness
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Money down the tubes!

The sample code is incomplete and scattered all throughout the book, and half of the code you need to create the sample application is not discussed in the book. Give this one a pass and buy a different book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2 Study Guide (Exam 310-035 & 310-027)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The best certification guide ever written

This book has a lot of reviews, so I was asking myself, what extra information I can add, which nobody has covered in their reviews?

To add more useful information, let me give you some relevant facts about me; I hold -until this moment- six professional certificates, they are:

1) IBM Certified Database Administrator - DB2 UDB V8.1 for Linux, UNIX and Windows
2) IBM Certified System Administrator - WebSphere Application Server V5.0
3) IBM Certified for e-business - Solution Technologist
4) IBM Certified Solution Designer - DB2 Business Intelligence v8
5) Oracle9i Database Administrator Certified Associate
6) Sun Certified Java Programmer

I am mentioning this only to show that I have great experience in professional exams, and I have read a lot of certification materials in my years of experience, which allow me to judge whether the preparation book is good or not.

So, Among all the certification books I have read, I found this book the best certification preparation guide I have ever read. The best points for this book are:

1) Exam questions resemblance, the real exam questions are very very similar to the questions of the book.
2) The two bonus exams are very much like the real exam.
3) Excellent coverage of all the exam objectives.
4) Well organization of objectives' coverage.
5) The brilliant "Exam Watch" tips, which warn you of exam tricks.

Note 1: This book is not meant for learning Java, and you should know the syntax of the language prior to reading the book; the writers menion this clearly as their focus is on the exam only.
Note 2: My review applies to the Sun Certified Programmer exam only; the developer exam is not covered.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Applying UML and Patterns : An Introduction to Object-Oriented Analysis and Design and Iterative Development (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Craig Larman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
An Excellent Place to Start

Applying UML and Patterns is a great introduction to UML and Object Oriented Analysis and Design. It has a nice slow curve to help introduce newcomers. Each chapter builds upon the concepts and examples of previous chapters to help walk the reader through the process. A point of sale system is used as a consistent example throughout the book. Each chapter adds new features to this system, while simultaniously introducing the reader to new UML concepts. Each new idea is accompanied by several example diagrams with notes to highlight important concepts. Each chapter also includes a quote that should appeal to one's inner computer geek.
The linear progression of this book does have its downsides, however. It is difficult to find specific information, or to start in the middle. Each section assumes you've read everything up to that point, and those expecting to use the book as a refresher or reference may find it difficult to find the information they desire. Similarly, one may confuse the notes on the example diagrams as a part of the diagram if not familiar with the style of the notes.
Overall it is a very well written book that should prove very useful to those new to UML and OOA/D. Those already familiar with the topic should probably look for a less structured source, but beginners should definitely give this book a try.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Francesco Balena
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Overall, Excellent

Balena has done a great service by writing this book. His explanation is clear, concise and very few authors can write the way he does---complicating things brought to down-to-earth level. This book is both great for programmers trying to learn VB for the first time and also for experienced programmers. He explains how and why things should be done in certain ways... and I greatly appreciate that... which enables me to understand VB better. Experienced programmers can also learn as there are simple things that they may have overlooked; easier ways to perform certain tasks than one would imagine. Well-written. To me, this book is a good investment.