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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
Publisher: Anchor
Authors: SIMON SINGH
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Fascinating and FUN


I must admit to some bias, since I am a former cryptanalyst myself (I cracked Captain Midnight's secret code when I was 12 years old--that was the beginning and end of my career--and I was delighted to see a picture of the Code-o-Graph which I never had to order, in Singh's new book). The Code Book is every bit as fascinating as Fermat's Enigma, and it was a treasure-trove of annecdotes which spiced my conversation every day while I was reading it, such as Churchill's inadvertent encouragement of the German military to adopt Scherbius' new Enigma machine by describing in one of his books how the British had broken German codes during WW I, a fact of which Germany was unaware until then.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Crystal Reports 8.5: The Complete Reference
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: George Peck, George Peck
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Poor Index, Missing key concepts, Garbage...


I frequently use these reviews to select books of all types. I consider myself a power user able to learn rapidly from good texts. This book has not been very helpful for my work in Crystal Reports.

I need to be able to program Crystal Reports to perform a variety of complex reporting on databases that are completely denormalized. Thus, the ability to parse strings and execute stored procedures is critical.

This book completely fails to provide the information about built-in commands that I need. For instance, no information about string commands is present. No discussion of the use of arrays in Crystal Reports is provided.

I was deeply disappointed with this book.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Unix Power Tools, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Shelley Powers, Tim O'Reilly, Mike Loukides
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Not your average tome!


This is easily the largest O'Reilly book I have seen, but it's worth it. It's chock full of 45 chapters devoted to nearly all topics in the Unix world. It's helpful for a wide range of skill levels. My only problem with it is that it's a bit out of date (1997), but as Unix draws on a 30 year tradition, most of the tips and tricks work as advertised on the latest Linux distros.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Oracle PL/SQL Programming, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Steven Feuerstein
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Be careful


Most of us have had to learn PL/SQL at some point in our Oracle careers, and I am sure many of you have become quite expert. On the other hand, some of you may be new to this world of PL/SQL and are looking for a basic text that will educate you in the use of this language.
The "Bible" for PL/SQL programming has long been the earlier editions of this book, and Steven Feuerstein has been considered the guru of PL/SQL programming for as many years as I can remember. Steven has completely revised his best-known work into a new, third edition. I thought that it was time to take a look at this new edition and see what it has to offer both groups. Here is what I found.
Steven now provides complete coverage of PL/SQL from Oracle RDBMS version 7.3.4 through Oracle9i Release 2. He has incorporated all the information from his book PL/SQL Guide to Oracle8i New Features into this book. He has added a new chapter on database triggers and included especially useful information on DDL triggers and database event triggers. He has added new content on the PL/SQL runtime architecture, creating and running PL/SQL programs, and calling Java methods from within PL/SQL. He has integrated all the new Oracle9i features throughout the text, instead of placing them in a separate chapter.
In order to make the book fit into 1,000 pages, some of the example code was removed and can be found on O'Reilly's Web site at www.oreilly.com/catalog/oraclep3 as a zipped file. About 300 files are available. Approximately 200 pages that were pruned from the second edition that still have some utility are also available there.
The book is organized much the same way as previous editions, with a few changes. There are 23 chapters divided into six parts:
Part I: Programming in PL/SQL. These three chapters orient you to PL/SQL, its history, utility, and basic programming constructs.Part II: PL/SQL Program Structure. Conditional, sequential, iterative control structures, and exceptions are covered in these three chapters.Part III: PL/SQL Program Data. Six chapters cover how to manipulate data within PL/SQL procedures and functions. Strings, numbers, datatypes, including the new Oracle9i datatypes, and records and collections are also discussed.Part IV: SQL in PL/SQL. There are three chapters that cover transactions, data retrieval, and the use of dynamic SQL.Part V: PL/SQL Application Construction. The four chapters in this part discuss procedures and functions, packages, triggers, and managing PL/SQL applications.Part VI: Advanced PL/SQL Topics. There are four final chapters that cover the runtime architecture, object-orientation in PL/SQL, PL/SQL and Java, and external procedure calls.
Steven states in his preface that the three objectives of this book are to1. take full advantage of the features of PL/SQL,2. use PL/SQL to solve your problems, and3. write efficient, maintainable code.
Each chapter has been crafted to address these three objectives. His writing style is clear, succinct, and reads like he is sitting next to you chatting about the new things he's learned. The book is absolutely full of code examples. Most of the examples are posed as practical programming problems. He carefully walks you through the lines of example code, clearly explaining the logic used for each step of the program, and points out version-based differences. Steve is also not afraid to express an opinion and will tell you exactly why he chooses a particular method for solving a problem. Notes explaining tips and traps proliferate the book.
So, what do I think about this new edition? His book has the most comprehensive coverage of PL/SQL that I have ever seen. The code examples achieve a level of sophistication that is truly elegant. For a PL/SQL beginner, this book can be the source of all PL/SQL wisdom. Even if you have been programming with PL/SQL for a time, I think you will find the information on Oracle9i new features useful and will find many nuggets of information that can be used immediately to improve your code.