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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Guru's Guide to Transact-SQL
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ken Henderson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The best darn T SQL book on the planet


I read all the magazines and buy all the books. This is hands down the best of them all. It taught me advanced techniques that no one else did. The explanations and the narrative are par excellence. I really love this one: "The advice I usually give people thinking about using cursors is not to." Ha Ha! The book is loaded with little gems like this. It's not just a "how-to" book, but a "why" book as well. He doesn't just tell you how to do something, he shows you, then he explains why and how it works. Great stuff. A book every T SQL developer should have.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Reviewer is mistaken


Douglas Hofstadter's imaginative and engaging GEB:EGB asks the question, "Can machines be conscious?" and answers in effect, "Certainly, because we ourselves are such machines." And there is no doubt that he earned his Pulitzer Prize for this fascinating book.
But watch out! His reliance on imagination actually masks the real problem.
The "real problem" is this: mind can't arise _simply_ from self-reference and self-representation, because reference and representation presume the existence of a mind to begin with. Only minds refer and represent; _resemblances_ (even fancy ones like "isomorphisms") aren't references/representations.
And in Hofstadter's undeniably well-presented examples, his reliance on imagination serves to distract from the absolutely crucial fact that the reference and the representation are always provided by a mind _outside_ the system in question: the reader. A formal system complex enough to "represent itself" doesn't become conscious; it takes a mind _outside_ the system to "see" the isomorphisms in question as references/representations. The system _itself_ can't do so unless mind is _already_ there -- so Hofstadter's bootstrapping "explanation" fails.
As an _argument_, then, GEB:EGB is a tremendous begging of the question. Invoking Godel's Theorems and waving one's hands about "strange loops" doesn't alter the fact that Godel's Theorem itself delivers a killing blow to "computational" theories of consciousness: semantics is _not_ reducible to syntax; truth is not reducible to provability within a formal system; reason is not reducible to purely formal logic; meaning is not reducible to isomorphism; and mind is not reducible to computation. (And indeed, this reading has much more in common with what Godel himself thought he had shown than does Hofstadter's attempt to reinterpret Godel's work in favor of strong AI.)
But GEB:EGB is still a remarkable intellectual accomplishment and a joy to read. Just be careful!



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Numerical Recipes in C : The Art of Scientific Computing
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Authors: William H. Press, Brian P. Flannery, Saul A. Teukolsky, William T. Vetterling
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Software ASCII source on CD-ROM and other software


Contrary to another review, the source code in ASCII text is available on the CD-ROM, but one needs a Windows platform to unpack it.
I was able to compile the small set of software I tried in MS VC++ 6.0. Its arrays are 1-based, and it uses mostly floats instead of doubles. I saw no comments in the code; I got the impression that helps to sell the book. The code also makes heavy use of preprocessor macros.
Those who want better code should refer to the Guide to Available Mathematical Software (GAMS) at http://gams.nist.gov/ GAMS-referenced software might be higher quality code, but this Numerical Recipes book is very valuable in understanding the algorithms, especially if you do not spend a large part of your professional life engrossed in their details.
This book is much more understandable than the other texts on Numerical Algorithms I have read; it frequently is even enjoyable-- a rarity in such texts.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning Perl, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
All in all a good book, with poor writing style


This is a complete rewrite of the second edition, plus the addition of another author. The format is good for reference, if that's how you learn. But it takes away from the rather eloquent writing and by-example approach that Randal Schwartz has been doing. Randal is a wonderful writer, and the Second Edition is much more suitable, as it provides a follow-by-example method, building more complex issues as the book progresses. It's clear that Randal is a good teacher.
I recommend anyone that really wants to learn perl, do so by using the Second Edition. While it may not have all the reference material available in the third, it does a wonderful job and will prepare you for more advanced learning, plus you can probably purchase the Second Edition now at a good discount.