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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Articulates class relationships -- a seminal book.

I had to read through this book a few times to get the full measure of what's going on. I learned later that the GoF book, as it's known, arrived at a time when articulate information on generalized object-oriented design wasn't widely available.
Design Patterns touts itself as a catalog of time-tested formulae for creating simple, powerful class relationships. That's really being a bit modest. It's become the de facto methodology for documenting new, more complex patterns for several OO periodicals I've covered. It's also being used in academia to teach the design aspects of writing maintainable and reusable code.
As something to read straight through, however, add some caffieine to this book to make it. The prose favors a dry and technical style which, in my view, it didn't need. The examples were obscure for me, too. I couldn't relate to issues around coding a word processor, but I suppose it's still better than contrived or "Hello World" code.
I don't think any book deserves five stars for being the first of its kind; if you're filling a gaping hole, people are going to buy it because it's necessary. If it's also very good, well then score one for advancing civilization! This book is still The Book in its field, however, and well-written. You need a copy.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning ASP Databases
Publisher: Wrox Press
Authors: John Kauffman, Kevin Spencer, Thearon Willis, John Kauffman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Exaclty what the title says, no more, no less

Firstly, let me say that this is a great book. It provides some great information on how ASP can be used for database applications, covering the basics such as recordsets, connections and commands. There are also a lot of examples in the book all set out in a very logical way: Here is what we want to do, Here's how to do it, now review what we have done and why.
That said, bare in mind that the title of the book EXACTLY describes what the book does. Do not buy this book if you want to learn about ASP in general, perhaps with a focus on databases, because this book does take for granted that you have a reasonable knowledge of the ASP language. A lot of concepts such as session and application variables and others are not covered, refering these to other Wrox books. Also note that this is the "Beginning" book and perhaps there will be a book titled "Completing ASP Databases" because this book does not cover it all- data security, encryption and other concepts which are also important, especially when your application is destined for the World Wide Web, are not covered here.
That in mind I guarentee that this book will help anyone planning on using ASP to put data on the web - Perhaps I expected a little more depth for my money.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Linux for Non-Geeks
Publisher: No Starch Press
Authors: Rickford Grant
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Cool Fedora

A very up to date book for 2004/5. Grant deals with what would have been Red Hat Linux 10. There is officially no such thing, because in 2003, Red Hat announced that it was concentrating on its corporate products, where it would actually make some money. In retrospect, all us users who had downloaded the earlier free versions of Red Hat had been lucky for years. So independently of Red Hat, volunteers made what is now called the Fedora Core. (Fedora as in 'hat'.) This book comes with 2 CDs for it.
Having used Red Hat Linux 9 and now the Fedora Core, I have to agree with Grant. There are many changes, but clearly evolutionary. Anyone who has used KDE will be comfortable here. The UI has gotten smoother. Even easier to use. And the functionality has increased; evermore RPM packages.
Grant pitches this book towards nontechnical users; he assumes no prior acquaintance with linux. But you know what? Even current linux users may want to check out his writings, looking for new material in Fedora. Certainly, some of you will refrain on principle. You'd rather learn it from the UI. Which is fine for power users. But others may be more pragmatic and consult this book.
One slight caveat is that perhaps in a future edition, he could also discuss running linux on the AMD 64 bit Opteron. There is already a version of Fedora for this. And the chip is far cheaper than Intel's 64 bit offering.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Ethereal Packet Sniffing
Publisher: Syngress
Authors: Angela D. Orebaugh, Gilbert Ramirez
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Queen Mary 2 of Jay Beale's Open Source fleet

"Ethereal Packet Sniffing" is the first book in Jay Beale's new Open Source Security Series with Syngress. It's a great book to lead the way. "Ethereal" is full of helpful tips and clear discussions that benefit newbies and wizards alike.
I've been using Ethereal for around five years, and this book still taught me a few new tricks. The key to the new material is Ethereal's development, from 0.2 in July 1998 to 0.10.3 this year. (The book covers 0.10.0 which is far from being outdated.) The many improvements lend themselves to the sort of explanations found in "Ethereal." For example, my favorite material involved filters. Although chs. 4 and 5 had minor overlap regarding this feature, I learned new ways to manipulate Ethereal's packet search and display capabilities.
Because the entire book focuses on a single suite of tools, it has the space to take in-depth looks at normally ignored components like stream analysis graphs. The book spends time explaining how to write filters with bitwise AND operations, and talks about 'matches' and 'contains' search functions. For programmers, the chapter on "developing Ethereal" gives clues on adding new protocol dissectors. This reminded me of a similar chapter in Syngress' book on Snort.
If you want to really know how to use Ethereal, buy this book. However, it should have been called "Ethereal Packet Sniffer," not "Ethereal Packet Sniffing." The distinction lies in the book's focus; it spends most of its time explaining functions and not analyzing packets. Books on troubleshooting by Bardwell or Haugdahl have more insights to share than ch. 8 in "Ethereal." Nevertheless, I added this book to my recommended reading list for aspiring security engineers. It's worth a close read.