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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
No Java ?

I've been a software developer in C++ for some time. I would have to agree with the reviews that mention that most C++ textbooks rarely show the full scope and power of what this language is capable of, until you look at modern OO languages like Java and how they have been put to use. After all, those are language textbooks, not OO design/philosophy books.
This book, on the other hand, made clear the "why" behind many software library architectures I've used, from the basic Java classes and AWT to things done in MFC, COM and the Stingray MFC extension libraries. Not only did it give an explanation, but it explicitly set out the "how-tos" on using these patterns yourself (complete with diagrams illustrating the structures and interactions), and more importantly when and when not to use particular patterns.
For me at least, the most difficult part of designing an application is not coming up with good algorithms or efficient routines, but is constructing a sensible, easy-to-maintain architecture that will hand the demands placed on it...without writing excessively convoluted code. This seems more all the more difficult the larger the application gets. The patterns in this book clarified many things which I wish I had known earlier. A few patterns that I had "discovered" through much trial-and-error and observation were set out, often in a much cleaner form than I had come up with myself. Several of the patterns in the book were immediately applicable to a project I was working on, helping to speed through what likely would have been another messy and slow design phase.
I would recommend ths book for any OO designer. At the very least, it will enable you to understand why various libraries were implemented in certain ways. At best, it will provide a useful toolkit of proven solutions enabling one to get the most out of an OO language such as C++ or Java, a toolkit that can be drawn on to solve your own architectural issues without reinventing the wheel.
The only warning I would give about this book is to reiterate the warning in the preface's very first paragraph: "This book assumes you are reasonably proficient in at least one object-oriented programming language, and you should have some experience in object-oriented design as well. You definitely shouldn't have to rush to the nearest dictionary the moment we mention 'types' and 'polymorphism', or 'interface' as opposed to 'implementation' inheritance."

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice in C (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: James D. Foley, Andries van Dam, Steven K. Feiner, John F. Hughes
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Complete and easy to understand

The book is definately the BEST around on the topic. It covers almost every aspect of Computer Graphics Programming. Has a real useful 3D Vector Primer and the whole book can be read and understood by beginners up to advanced programmers. Definately a MUST HAVE.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Thinking in Java (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Bruce Eckel
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Don't waste your money

Bruce Eckel wrote one my favorite book - "Thinking in C++". The book was succinct and explained the concepts very well. Making the leap to Java I decided to pick up "Thinking in Java". I suppose if I knew nothing about programming and had all the time in the world I would have had gotten more out of it. However if you know C, and especially C++, pick up Java in the Nutshell (3rd Ed). Java in Nutshell is a lot faster to go through and you will get more out of it than this book.
Besides being long winded it is also tries to be a comprehensive "bible" for Java. The problem is that the sections on swing don't have the depth to tackle real world projects. So you will end up picking up books on specific Java systems anyway.
Java is changing fast and by the time you get through this there will be two new versions out there. Read Java in a Nutshell and you will be ready to go in less than half the time.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Samba-3 by Example : Practical Exercises to Successful Deployment (Bruce Perens Open Source)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: John H. Terpstra
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
This book rocks

I just completed a three day training course based on this book. Every example just worked fine. The explanations are great but you do need the "Samba-3 Howto and Reference Guide" for detailed background information. I am happy that this book does not duplicate information. I manage a samba network and thought I knew a lot but this book has helped me to understand how much more I can learn and immediately use to make my users happier. I recommend this book to every network administrator.