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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Challenging Contest

This book is a history of cryptology with many undated sections compared to the older famous, The Code Breakers, book. Especially, the section on asymmetrical systems and the history of PGP are presented. It is not a Helen Gains styled mathematical book, however.
But, it is much more than boring history. . .
The best section is the contest to break progressively more difficult ciphers. The contest was won long ago, but I tried it anyway and it was a wonderful experience. Very challenging and I always learn more by doing the problems in technical books anyway, than just reading the history. The answers are not always in English, which is much more realistic. Telling you this will not spoil it for you, because that hint is given in the book anyway.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Final Fantasy VIII Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Bradygames
Authors: David Cassady
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An awesome guide for an awesome game!!!!

I love FFVIII!!! And every time I play Final Fantasy VIII, I use this guide for everything!!! I can get through the entire game and sidequests with this guide. I love all the pictures, maps, and illustrations and at the back of the guide, it shows color maps of every area. I love how they have two different world maps in this guide. One map is in the front of the guide and one is in the back. One map is for the towns and dungeons and the other map is for the draw points which is so helpful, especially when you want to find the island closest to heaven/hell. I never play this game without this guide, it's so useful!!!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Designing Embedded Hardware
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: John Catsoulis
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great Book

I assume I'm the real target reader for this book. I've been programming microprocessors and microcontrollers for 20+ years now, but I'm a hardware dunce. The book starts pretty much from Square 1 of simple electronics. The challenge of writing such chapters is to remember what it's like for a raw novice. An author should explain things and not skip ahead.
What I really wanted this book for was the chapter on simple Electronics rather than all the rest. It could use work. Current is represented in equations as "I". The author neglects to mention that. He just springs it on you in an equation. He also doesn't explain how he got the formula for the voltage divider. It's presented as some "magic" formula where he should taken just a few more steps to show how he got the formula (Ohm's Law, plus the bit about current in R1 and R2 being equal). Some of his other descriptions seem vague and incomplete (like inductors). That being said, I did learn stuff from that chapter so it was helpful.
I have a feeling many professionals are skipping this chapter and moving on to the meatier ones on how to hook stuff up, so their ratings are higher. There's some sage advice in the book (like disabling the brown-out voltage reset on 3.3V PICs as they are set at 4 volts!).
The emphasis is totally on hardware. You won't find any code listings for playing with the devices once it's hooked up, but that should be no problem for the intended audience. But if you were ever sitting there with a microcontroller in one hand and a DC motor on the other and wanting to know how to hook it all up, this is a good book for it.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XSLT : Programmer's Reference (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Michael Kay
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
XSLT covers everything and is very readable

Much more helpful than the spec. Well organized and very comprehendable. A must-have for any XSLT developers!