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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Adobe Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Scott Kelby
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Outstanding Reference Manual

Great book. Easy to look-up solutions to common photographic problems. Nice illustrations and organization led me to purchase this book over others.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Better, Faster, Lighter Java
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Bruce A. Tate, Justin Gehtland
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Makes you think

I've had this book for a few months now and I've read and re-read several sections. I also went back and forth as to whether or not I agreed with some of the information so many times I gave up counting. So, I guess if nothing else this book made me think - which is always the hallmark of a good book, in my opinion. The book is organized well and the authors present their case for "Better, Faster, Lighter Java" in a careful and concise manner.

This is not really a "here's how to implement technology X" book (i.e. if you want to learn about Hibernate, pick another book). It does more to promote concepts and ideas to avoid "bad programming". It provides a lot of opinion and argument for and against various frameworks, design patterns, programming methodologies, etc. It is quite obvious the authors are convinced and passionate about their view of software development. If you've ever asked yourself, "why do we have to use such complicated stuff to do even the simplest of things?", then this book will give you plenty of ammunition to backup your argument.

It's a rare software development book that I actually read (let alone re-read) almost cover to cover. While you may not agree with everything in the book, it will make you re-evaluate your development techniques.

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
Best SQL book available today.

Wonderful book for advanced SQL developers. Skips the basic stuff you can read in BOL and gets down to exactly what advanced developers can't find anywhere else.
This book gave me new approaches and ideas for programming with TSQL that I haven't found anywhere else.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Brady Games
Authors: Dan Birlew
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
An Objective View?

Just like what the book's introduction suggested, this book aims to "covers the key elements to get you through the game without giving too much away." Its walkthrough directs you to the next part of the game, and then leave you to explore on your own before directing you to the next part; using sentences such as "in the next area, be sure to get all the partially hidden treasure chest before going through the door to the right", instead of the "in the next area, move up the stairs, down the left stairs, left to where the tree is, right to the treasure chest for potion, and right, left, down, up for a ether. Then cross over to the far right where you see a door and enter" sentence you see in complete walkthrough by most others online. In short, this guide is for the gamer who wants more freedom and wants to depend on his/her gaming and reasoning skills to get through the game instead of following a walkthrough entirely like a zombie (hey, what are you playing the game for then?) This also includes screenshots of areas and happenings, and is particularly helpful in showing you which part of a place you can find a hidden treasure chest. Other than that, it also includes basic information such as abilities of characters (what it does, where you can get this abilities from, etc), items/weapons list, side quest hints and bestiary that includes graphics of enemies.
However, this guide "includes occasional teasers where you can find information exclusively to PlayOnline.com". I don't know about others, but I honestly do not like this system. This means that most of these teasers, such as "Freya can learn a new ability at this time, go to Playonline.com to learn more", means that each time you reach this stage and want to play this part, (but don't know how to get start), you will have to log online to get more information. So, either you get the information beforehand, or you switch on your computer and stay online as you play the game. (Ridiculous, isn't it?) It would have been better if they include this information on the sidebar of the book, or, you can find out on your own without any hint and help. The chocobo guide (side quest) is not of much help either, so you would either have to supplement it with help from other online walkthrough, or again, explore on your own.
Like I said, dude, this guide is for the gamer who need help but wants more freedom and wants to depend on his/her gaming and reasoning skills to get through the game. If you want help from the beginning to the end, go and download an online guide written by other gamers instead.