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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: MCAD/MCSD Self-Paced Training Kit: Developing Windows-Based Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic.NET and Microsoft Visual C#.NET, Second Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Microsoft Corporation, Matthew A. Stoecker
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Touched on most but not very thorough

Overall, the book is fairly complete in its list of topics covered, and the labs do help some to tie together the concepts. However, they tend to fall short of driving the point home and in too many cases the reader is left to his own experimentation. It is written acceptably well, though sparsely in many cases, but requires more rereading than other books on similar topics. Having read Kalani's 70-315 book (for "Web.NET"), I'd suggest looking more closely at his 70-316 book.
This book gives a lot of information in a fairly condensed form. Sometimes, this is done in a fashion where you didn't realize a topic had been covered. The book seems to focus more on passing the test than going to the next level of trying to make sure you understand what is happening. I found myself rereading a lot, but to the book's credit, the reread did generally have some of the information that had not seemed readily apparent until reading through further parts.
If you are new to Windows development, read something else first. Presentation controls (textboxes, grids, etc.) are touched on briefly, but for the most part the book assumes some familiarity with visual designers, managing properties, available controls and their purpose. For example, the book states in chapter 2, "Because an in-depth discussion of the different controls and their functionality is beyond the scope of this book, you should familiarize yourself with the controls in the Toolbox and how they work." Most controls are never described, though many common ones do show up in examples eventually. The "beyond the scope of this book" disclaimer is also given in regards to using XmlDataDocuments (the class, not just the general concept of XML).
Personally, if it's a core piece of Windows Development and/or an objective of the test, I don't see how it can be outside the scope of the book.
The examples sometimes lack "connectivity". For example, its description of configuring trace switches might be a bit more readable to list the entire chunk of XML, e.g., <?xml version="1.0" encoding = "utf-8"><configuration> <system.diagnostics> <switches> <add name="myBoolenSwitch" value="0" /> <!-- following sets the myTraceSwitch to a value of TraceLevel.Info --> <add name="myTraceSwitch" value="3" /> </switches> </system.diagnostics></configuration>
rather than...<?xml version="1.0" encoding = "utf-8"><configuration></configuration>
followed by descriptive text then
<system.diagnostics> <switches> <add name="myBoolenSwitch" value="0" /> <!-- following sets the myTraceSwitch to a value of TraceLevel.Info --> <add name="myTraceSwitch" value="3" /> </switches></system.diagnostics>
In many places information given is minimal. Exception handling, correctly, indicates that custom exceptions should inherit from the System.ApplicationException but makes no reference to why this should be used in lieu of System.SystemException.
Some topics seem to be written specifically for those people already familiar with the subject at hand--presumably not the target market. The relationship between XmlDataDocuments and Datasets at the end of chapter six is a good example of this.
Many of these things are small and possibly preferable for solely trying to pass the exam, but at the end of a chapter, it's a bit difficult to know whether or not you've really picked up what you should have.
Expanding the minimal code snippets into exercises throughout the chapters rather than tying the entire thing together in one or two "labs" at the end might also help to better reinforce the information.
At a rough guess, about 15% of the material on the test was not discussed in the book or was glossed over to the point that the topic did not seem familiar to me. There were a number of times that I wound up reviewing notes from the 70-315 exam book or searching the help file for information that should've been there. Another 100 or so pages and dropping out the attempt to cover VB and C# in the same text would go a long way toward making this book better.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Ocp: Oracle 10g New Features For Administrators : Study Guide (Certification Study Guide)
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Bob Bryla, Biju Thomas
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Effective resource for passing the OCP 10g Exam

This book was effective for passing the exam. There was too much detail in some areas, mainly from chapter 8. From ch.8 the exam mainly covered FGA, VPD (also understand the policy types), and a few questions on materialized views. The ASM section of chapter 5 is very helpful, but review the Oracle Documentation as well. The rest of the book is practically flawless. My second resource for studying was using Self Test Software. This is my ninth Oracle exam using STS and they have been very accurate covering the exam topics and simulating the exam questions; this is a very effective test question tool. It will also help you focus on what exam concepts are most important. Overall, I do recommend this book for helping you pass the test, but the questions at the end of each chapter are not that helpful and do not really reflect the type of questions asked on the real exam. Using this book and STS I passed this test with a good score.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Head First Java, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

I've never had a tech book hold my attention like this. The author uses everything from cartoons to crossword puzzles to keep up interest. The one thing that I was surprised with was how much I was actually able to retain. When I first looked at the book, I though that it would definitely be a change of pace, but I concerned with whether it would be a waste of time. When you first open it you see big, cartoon writing and tons of pictures with cloud captions. These are all well conceived distractions to break up the reading while still reinforcing the topics. The author has a knack for finding creative ways to hammer home a subject. My only regret is that I hadn't found this series sooner.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: User Stories Applied : For Agile Software Development (Addison-Wesley Signature Series)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Mike Cohn
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Agile Requirements with details you may need.

Agile software development uses light-weight requirements, often called User Stories. Mike's book shows you different ways of writing those stories, and of estimating them and scheduling them for implementation. He starts at the basics, and continues to build up information until he has almost certainly covered more than you'll likely need. You'll have a good understanding of what to do now, and what to do when and if further needs arise. Recommended.