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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Tales Of Symphonia: Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Bradygames
Authors: Dan Birlew, Phillip Marcus
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Mistakes and Gaping Holes

I honestly cannot believe they published this guide with so many mistakes. There are parts of it where the writing stops, and, when you expect it to turn up in the next column, it's got a new heading and talking about something completely different. Dan Birlew does a decent job explaining the dungeons and everything, but there is no map, and there are times where he gives you just a vague command. The best of the entire guide is the subquest listing. Especially since there are a lot of guides online that don't mention subquests, but just stick to the general storyline. Otherwise, I'd urge you to not spend the money and just find a good game guide site (gamefaqs.com is one I can think of off the top of my head).

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: LaTeX Companion, The (2nd Edition) (Addison-Wesley Series on Tools and Techniques for Computer T)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Frank Mittelbach, Michel Goossens, Johannes Braams, David Carlisle, Chris Rowley
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
For it's topic, extremely complete

This is a very complete concise reference to the PACKAGES of LaTeX. It won't teach you well how to use LaTeX, but more how to use all of the standard packages. It is far more of a reference book than a read-to-learn book. An excellent reference book at that.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Data Mining: Practical Machine Learning Tools and Techniques with Java Implementations
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Authors: Ian H. Witten, Eibe Frank
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5

My goal when I purchased this book was to learn the fundametal techniques and algorithms of data mining, such as C4.5/C5.0 and other popular algorithms, after reading the book my goal is far from being reached, on the one hand the book is not will structured, it covers many topics but with a very weak logical connection among them, on the other hand there's no complete and simple example that take the reader from A to Z illustrating step by step the basic concepts of reducing entropy, rules productions and pruning etc..., finally there's no design explanation of the downloadable code that can give a global view of the "software" architecture and it's building blocks, leaving the reader confused and wishing he saved he's money!.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: How to Break Software Security
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Authors: James A. Whittaker, Herbert H. Thompson, Herbert Thompson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Security testing for QA folks, also good for infosec folks

I'm the type of person who won't buy a tech book unless it's worth reading and referring to, and it didn't take much skimming to realize this was going to be worth it. My opinion hasn't changed since finishing it. I had a specific need for information on non-web application penetration (security) testing and I was surprised to find exactly what I needed in this book, and in a short, easy-to-read package including a CD with two unique tools to help apply what it teaches.

If you're a software tester or in the software quality assurance field, especially if you're interested in security, you need to read this book as it will likely be an eye-opener. It's not full of shocking anecdotes to scare developers into writing better software, it's a handbook of what to look for when testing software after you think you've done all your testing, and at the same time gives developers and project managers good information on how to design, code, and state requirements better.

If you're a security person, especially the burgeoning field of application security, you might also find this book pretty enlightining. Everyone's heard of penetration testing and vulnerability assessment, but typically only in the context of attacking remotely over a network. This book shows you how to attack the (more traditional?) software on your local machine, but not to the level of detail or geekiness of "shellcoding."

While I feel the cover price is a bit steep for such a thin book, especially given the amount of "filler" like illustrations, blank pages, figures, etc., the content is superb and the writing style makes it easy to read. I also appreciate that the points made and examples used tend to get me thinking and I'm able to apply the concepts right away--maybe it's just my "tinkerer" mindset but this book seems to encourage the reader to think outside the box and experiment, which I like. I don't give many 5-star ratings but I think this book deserves it.