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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C Programming Language (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie, Dennis M. Ritchie
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Kick [butt]


Not having this book in your collection is like a preacher without his bible!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: DNS and BIND, Fourth Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Paul Albitz, Cricket Liu
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
DN what?


O'Reilly misses the mark with DNS and BIND. I have several shelf full of O'Reilly books and I think this one is far over complecated. The first example has about 12 machines that need to be configured, what about showing how to set up a caching name server? I have many books from O'Reilly that I have thought were a lot better.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XSLT Cookbook
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Sal Mangano
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Wow! What a great XSLT book!


The O'Reilly Cookbook series is a great place to find answers to really hard problems. I like the series because I can go to the "cookbook" subject I'm having trouble with, leaf through a few pages, and see an answer to a problem that is similar to my own. The XSLT Cookbook is very similar in structure to the other "cookbooks", but with an XSLT flavor.
After going through the various recipes in this book, I can honestly say that I am amazed at the kind of things you can do with just XSLT. You can do more than just reformat XML to look nice on an HTML page-you can even use it to calculate statistical functions! Even if you're not planning on calculating a combinatoric, just looking through some of these patterns will make you a better XSLT programmer.
One nice thing this book provides beyond the recipes is a discussion on how to extend XSLT via SAXON or Java. There is also discussion on how to use XSLT via Perl or Java.
I was very impressed by the amount of time and thought that was put into the creation of many of these recipes-not only are many of them really, really hard to do, but they're also things I've seen a real need for in the real world. XSLT programmers, do yourself a favor and take a look through this book before you hurt your brain with your next assignment.



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
Takes me back... and ahead


When I was a boy, I was obsessed with secret writing (as, I imagine, almost every child with at least one nosy sibling becomes) and read everything the local library's Juvenile section had on the topic. I was disappointed to discover, when I went looking for more material, that there was apparently more cryptography material for kids than for grown-ups! This book not only took me back to those days with its discussion of secret writing throughout history (scytales, Playfair, Vignere...), it's also got an excellent section on cryptography in the World Wars (an excellent companion to Neal Stephenson's novel "Cryptonomicon" in that regard!) and also explains the fundamental concepts of public-key cryptography in a readable, understandable format. As in Singh's earlier work on Fermat's Last Theorem, the people involved in creating and in breaking codes are often the focus, and some of these peope are fascinating. (Singh takes a break from strict cryptography at one point to discuss the "breaking" of ancient writing systems such as Egyptian hieroglyphics and Linear B, and this reminded me most strongly of "Fermat's Enigma," as Singh's narrative carried the mysteries of interpretation from one researcher to the next.) The final chapter on quantum cryptography is a fascinating glimpse into what may be the "final frontier" of cryptography. Of course, any book like this one that discusses a still-evolving field gets dated pretty quickly; it is silly to expect Singh to mention the recent expiration of RSA's public-key patents or the relaxation of US export restrictions on strong cryptography, since these have all occurred within just the last few months, but the book nevertheless feels somehow incomplete without them!