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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Mastering Windows Server 2003
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Christa Anderson, Michele Beveridge, C. A. Callahan, Lisa Justice
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Fine book, CD version is limp!

I am the Publisher of an IT Pro computer imprint that has tried producing competing books to Mr Minasi's for many years. Having published computer books since 1994, I can say with considerable experience that there are few computer books that stand the test of time and remain head and shoulders above the rest from edition to edition: MASTERING is one of those titles. Mark and his coauthors have set a standard that they should be proud of. Reviewers who complain about the fact that the book is too long and dense (excuse me, why did you buy a 1700-page book???), repeated information from his earlier editions (I suppose you'd be happier if MS changed every feature each time rather than making progressive improvements???), etc., make me believe that a certain audience hypercriticality and sour grapes must be part of the cost of success. My advice to potential buyers: pay attention to the audience that has spoken by buying this book over 2 to 1 over all others in this edition as well as the others. If this is not a five-star computer book, I don't know what is!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Essential COM
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Don Box
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
If are not a C++ expert look away now

Assuming you are a C++ expert and you want to learn about COM then this is the book for you. After you read it though, get a book on ATL to learn how to do COM with C++. This book (along with Inside COM) are fundamental to an understanding of COM from the C++ perspective but in reality you need ATL to become productive.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Marty Neumeier
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Doesn't Bridge the Gap

I purchased this book because of all the good reviews, but if you are a graphic designer, this is waaay too basic. It gives you an outline of what branding isn't, but doesn't go much into what branding Is, or any critical information on how to build a brand. Honestly, it left me more perplexed than before! I did learn a couple of things hence the three stars, for instance, logo's are dead, and icons or avatars are better, and the theory of the "Living Brand" was right on. The author said that he wanted to take out the fluff, but I think he left it a little too light.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites: Visual QuickPro Guide
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Larry Ullman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Would make a great beginning PHP/MySQL class textbook

I noticed that there is a new edition that covers PHP 5 so you might want to check for the most recent edition.
I liked the book for the clear explainations of the code presented and tips that go along with each section. While experienced programmers might enjoy just seeing code, I appreciate the explainations that accompany the examples. Coming in with no knowledge, a reader will be able to learn a good foundation of skills.