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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins Of The Internet
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Authors: Katie Hafner
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5

I enjoyed this book tremendously. The authors capture the mood and history extremely well, and manage to make the reader feel like they are there watching the ARPAnet unfold right in front of them. The book is thoroughly researched, and provides just enough technical information that the lay person can follow. It's been especially fun learning the origins of the internet conventions, such as the @ sign and emoticons, that we take for granted in our daily use. A must read for any regular user of the internet who wishes to understand it a little better.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

This is one of the most deeply brilliant books ever written. Rarely do I meet someone who actually understood it -- it is only superficially about weaving together the seemingly disparate works of Godel, Escher and Bach. It is a masterwork on consciousness, a colossal intellectual argument that parallels the tersely worded wisdom of a zen koan, whose purpose is to hint at truths that are inaccessible to human logic. Hofstadter hints at these truths by probing the godelian limits to self-understanding, the "snake eating itself"-like recursivity of consciousness. Zen koan are meant to provoke enlightenment through the momentary extrication from godelian-limited logic. The excersize of climbing the ladder of Hofstadter's argument will give you the tools to use logic to point yourself in the same direction, of truths beyond the scope of logic.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: CCNA: Cisco Certified Network Associate Study Guide, 5th Edition (640-801)
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Todd Lammle
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Why paperback?

This book is great and all, but why softcover? When I ordered it I didn't notice it until it was mentioned by a friend. When it was received in the mail I traded it with a friend who had the old 4th edition hardcover. Much better, I'll just get the content from him that I missed.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Definitive Guide to Windows Installer
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Phil Wilson
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Very elegant new approach

Many developers who write applications for a Microsoft operating system know all too well of installation hazards. The possibility of introducing DLLs that are incompatible with existing DLLs, for example. Plus lots more things that could fail. Wilson starts off his book with a listing of what could traditionally go wrong in an installation.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this was a wretched state of affairs. You typically had programming expertise in your particular field. But there should have been no a priori reason why this expertise should have to stretch to the installation process. Right?
Wilson gives an alternative. He details how you can use Windows Installer to install and uninstall your application. The process is still nontrivial, mind you. Which is why we have a book of this length. But it shows how, if you fit your application within WI's strictures, then the entire install is now much easier and safer.
Perhaps the single best advantage is that WI makes your install a transaction. Either it all works, or the install will fail and your system will be unaffected. Atomic. We have rollback ability.
Those of you familiar with SQL and transaction processing will recognise this. Wilson shows that WI is in fact based on SQL tables and relational processing. Some people at Microsoft made a nice design! By undergirding the installation with SQL tables. It lets WI have an inner coherent structure, into which third party applications can fit, in a disciplined way. Plus, it allows the panoply of SQL queries. At the right level, it is an elegant approach.