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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Brady Games
Authors: Dan Birlew
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
One of the most insulting pieces of garbage I've ever bought

I am totally disgusted with this pathetic excuse for a "strategyguide." Like a lot of people, I always go through an RPG once bymyself then buy the official guide to get all the secret stuff Imissed. Although the FF7 and FF8 guides weren't the best things ever,at least they told you how to get everything and talked about all theenemies.... The book itself is no more than a basic walkthrough,something even I could have written since I already beat the gameonce. Things like jump-roping prizes, Treno monster rewards, andStellazzio coin locations are not in this "official"guide. You must go to the site to find them. Same goes for everythingelse that could be considered a side-quest or extra stuff to enhancethe game-playing experience. The guide is a total disgrace, and I willpurchase the first unofficial guide that comes out, whenever that maybe...

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Effective STL: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of the Standard Template Library
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Scott Meyers
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A worthy successor

Effective STL is a great book. It's a worthy successor to Scott Meyers' other two must-have books, Effective C++ and More Effective C++. In fact, this book should have been called Even More Effective C++.
The format's no different from the previous two books. There are 50 very specific tips on STL usage, ranging from the trivial (call empty() instead of size() to check for an empty container) to the obscure (Understand how to use a reverse_iterator's base iterator).
The best tip in the book is the discussion on judicious use of STL algorithms. STL consists of over a hundred algorithms covering just about every possible need you'll have. In most cases, you can greatly improve your code by preferring STL's built-in algorithms to your own, but there are some situations where using the built-in stuff can just render your code unmaintainable.
My only complaint is that I feel a bit ripped off by the last two items. Item 49 discusses STL error messages, but not in enough depth to be useful. Item 50 is a set of reviews of STL-related websites. It appears that the author ran out of gas just before item 50 and decided to "promote" a couple of the appendices to items.
I guess I'll have to dock the book 1/25 of a star, but that still rounds up to five stars. This is a book that you'll want to have if you plan to use STL. End of story.

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
Perhaps the Best Book on Java I own

Okay, okay, I admit it. I *love* this book. LOVE it.
The first taste I had of the book didn't really hit home for me, as it is organized as a long list of tips. However, once I sat down and started to take it tip by tip, I was very pleased with the content.
Unlike many computer books, this book is not aimed at the novice programmer; neither is it abstract or theoretical. Rather, it is a collection of lessons learned on the battlefield, which an experienced computer programmer can learn from.
This is not a book for the novice java programmer, but if you intend to carry out any serious project in the Java language, I would strongly recommend it. For example, one tip is "Always override HashCode when you override equals" saved me a *lot* of debugging, and paid for the book in seven words. While some of the material is obvious, I cannot think of any Java programmer who would not benefit from adding this book to his collection.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Network+ Exam Cram 2 (Exam Cram N10-002)
Publisher: Que
Authors: Mike Harwood, Ed Tittel
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
An Excellent Study Guide for the Network+ Exam!

I highly recommend the "Exam Cram 2 Network+" by Mike Harwood to anyone who may be preparing to take CompTIA N10-002. In fact, this is the only material I used to study for the exam, and I scored 873/900. (One caveat, I am a CCIE with tons of networking experience.)

The book is laid out in a straight-forward, concise, and cohesive manner. Each chapter opens with an introduction of the CompTIA Network+ objectives that will be discussed thereafter. The information is clearly presented with just enough detail to help the reader understand and grasp concepts, rather than overloading the student with too much. The end-of-chapter review questions test the reader's ability to recall and retain the concepts presented. Finally, the quizzes at the end of the book and on the companion CD are also excellent tools for the soon-to-be certified Network+ technician.

I have two minor faults with the book. First, the text probably provides a bit too much coverage on some of the legacy protocols, such as Token Ring, NetWare and AppleTalk. But you never know, you may still run into those out in the field and would be good knowledge to have. Secondly, I think the text could benefit from one or two case studies or scenario chapters.

Good luck on your certification pursuits!