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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Dynamic HTML: The Definitive Reference (2nd Edition)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Danny Goodman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

The other reviewers are correct; this is an indispensable desktop resource. It has instantly become my primary reference source for web-related projects. This is an important and very accessible work. The layout of the material into chapters is so straight-forward and logical that you don't even need the index; you just flip though to the heading you need and then get back to work. It is meant to be accessed randomly and frequently. This book is the architype for all reference works.
Be forwarned; this is not a cookbook, tutorial, or introductory text. The examples are the minimum necessary to convey useage. If you need introductory texts, I have been very impressed with the inexpensive "Visual Quickstart Guides" by Peachpit Press.
The title of this book is almost misleading; I would have called it something more like "The Web Authors Complete Reference." (and then I probably would have ignored it because of the presumptuous title!) Anyone who creates content for the web on any level will be pleased to have access to such a complete reference for this little slice of time. I can only hope and pray that Goodman/O'Reilly issue prompt rewrites as new versions of Netscape and Internet Explorer are released.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: STL Tutorial and Reference Guide: C++ Programming with the Standard Template Library (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: David R. Musser, Gillmer J. Derge, Atul Saini
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Lacks depth and scope

I am afraid that among all this 5-star stimations I would look stupid, but my major criteria for the book is whether you feel the stuff after reading. No, I am not. You will not find "pseudo real-world" examples, but the same a-la "hello world" is repeated again and again. Yet another book about STL. Not the worst one, but definitely far from being perfect. I do not really understand what is the big deal to explain STL - this is not rocket science!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sams Teach Yourself SQL in 10 Minutes, Third Edition
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Ben Forta
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
well written, but not all that useful by itself

This book is a good intro into what SQL can do and how it's used today, but it's important to realize that it's really just an intro. Forta covers pretty much all the main topics, but he really only gives a brief synopsis of each one followed by one or maybe two examples. So if you want to learn SQL, this book alone is almost pointless to buy. It's just far too surface level. However, if you use this book to get acquainted with what SQL can do and then base further purchases off what you've learned in it, you'll probably do quite well. This book is very easy to read, pretty comprehensive (though not very deep), and certainly worth the "money" you'll pay for it. However, you'll definitely need to buy other books. I recommend SQL Queries for Mere Mortals by Hernandez. While that book really only covers query related issues (joins, unions, inner queries, etc.), it covers the topics pretty deeply and gives lots of good examples. I'm giving this book 3 stars because it delivers what it claims but by itself is just not all that useful.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Effective Java Programming Language Guide
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Joshua Bloch
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

It has been an absolute pleasure to read this no-nonsense collection of observations and suggestions.
The author is extremely knowledgeable and articulates his points in a clear, concise and logical presentation, which is a rare characteristic in today's overflowed and low-quality offer of "how-to-become-a-guru" manuals.
The Collections framework is clearly the author's backyard and you will learn about implementation details and rationales that you will not easily find anywhere else.
What I found most useful in the analysis of the various Java aspects was the author's perspective, which is based on the pros and cons of implementation choices, and strongly focused on API construction. Unless you work alone and deliver complete applications, you will define, design and implement an API sooner or later, maybe even without realizing it. With the help from this book you will most certainly design a robust, maintainable and useful API.
I also liked the practical approach that sometimes goes against OO principles: for example, just because Java embraced the OO philosophy does not mean that inheritance is the only way to go. Composition, static factories, singletons, immutable classes and some good old procedural programming are discussed in depth.
Another brilliant characteristic of this guide (and I would like to especially thank the author for this) is that although there are plenty of snippets to illustrate concepts, these are just skeletons, never longer than few lines and therefore they do not force you to waste your time and divert your attention from the core issue by analyzing pages over pages of code when maybe only one line could have served the purpose.
I would say that this book finds its best audience in the experienced developer/architect who does not have a specific Java expertise but is very comfortable with some other programming language. However, everyone can benefit from in-depth explanations of often misunderstood subtleties like the "equals()", "hashCode()", "clone()" or "compareTo()" contracts. Or serialization: are you sure you master it?
You don't need a profound Java working experience to immediately grasp some concepts; I found that this guide was an excellent companion in my learning of Java, you can start reading it from day 0, and you will get back to it every time you want to know more about a new concept.
The best praise I can say about "Effective Java" is that in my opinion only a handful of experts in the whole Java community could rightfully say "This book shall not teach me no thing", and then I would like to work with these people.