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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Network+ Certification Study Guide, Second Edition
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Media Syngress
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Kiss fifty bucks goodbye!

I used this book plus the Exam Cram book and got a 97. I have 3 yrs experience which also helped of course, but I felt after reading this book that I might be missing some details (and I'm not willing to be unprepared!) The exam cram book was a perfect complement.
I agree with the other reviews, the authors are certainly knowledgeable about MS but their lack of unix knowledge was astonishing (however, they cover enough unix to pass). Overall it's a worthy, albeit MS-focused book. You will appreciate all the lessons/knowledge within, even if some of the info is not tested.
I can recommend this book to beginners if they supplement their studies with another book (Exam Cram gets my vote), I suspect this book alone may not be enough for them. However experienced users may be able to pull off a decent score with just this book. Good luck! Nivek.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Pragmatic Project Automation: How to Build, Deploy, and Monitor Java Apps
Publisher: The Pragmatic Programmers
Authors: Mike Clark
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
May lamp glow green

Project Automation is an investment in the project infrastructure. This investment will pay huge dividends. Few developers want to spend their time fussing over a build or creating the new release, but it has to be done. This book shows how to get it done without sacrificing a developer to the process. At first, I was a little skeptical as to how much automation could be accomplished, but now I am sold. The time and aggravation saved are tangible dividends to this investment.

With anecdotes, coding examples, and a sharp wit, the author progresses from touting the value of project automation to showing how to do it. He starts the process of convincing the reader that automation is a good thing with an amusing story to illustrate the need and the potential. Using readily available tools like Ant and CruiseControl, the author carefully explains each step. While there is sufficient coverage on the use of the tools for the examples, reference documentation will be necessary to "roll your own".

On our last big project, I now realize that frequent automated builds would have saved a lot of time, which was in short supply. Because they became so painful we did them less frequently, rather we should have increased the frequency. I would consider this book an essential part of a technical lead's toolkit. Once the team can experience the benefits of continuous integration and project automation, they probably would not want to go back.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Developing IP Multicast Networks: The Definitive Guide to Designing and Deploying CISCO IP Multi- cast Networks
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: Beau Williamson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Delightful and very very informative the best in my opinion

If you are preparing for CCIE lab don't worry about collecting information on IP Multicast from different sources. This will be your one and only one resource! Excellent! You know when you read a part of the book that explains some complex feature, and you have these doubts/questions pop-up in your head one after another. And you just hope that they will be cleared/answered in one of the next pages. And guess what? This book is perfect in this sense. I haven't had a single question on the topic that wasn't correctly/clearly answered.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows 2000 Server Resource Kit
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Distributed Systems Guide is Four Books in One

Microsoft was saving us money on this volume. If the Active Directory section had been released alone it would have been a 600 page book. But no, Distributed Security was included with about 300 pages and Enterprise Technologies with about 200 pages, and finally Desktop Configuration Management with about 200 pages. I have a permanent crease in my belly from lying in bed with this book weighing me down. Are all these topics related? Yes. Did I find myself paging into other sections of the book to make sense out of something that I read in another section? No.
There is a significant amount of repetition within sections and only a little between sections as new concepts are introduced that depend upon others already explained but I never found myself tempted to go look at an Active Directory concept again while I was reading about the Distributed File System, for instance. I do not understand how keeping these sections in one book enhanced value. It was hard to carry around too.
The Active Directory book earned 2 stars with me. The explanations were cloudy but the detail was good. It was in reading this section that I realized Microsoft was thinking of third party developers when they wrote the Server Resource Kit (SRK). While many references were made to the Software Developers Kit (SDK) in the SRK an attempt was made to lay out the ground work for understanding what it would take to customize tools to work with Active Directory. Much of this material was irrelevant to a network engineer who has to work with what is available without having the option or budget for customization but it seemed to me that Microsoft was showing helpfulness to third parties with this publication.
Distributed Security was written in a fairly accessible manner. Since the technologies covered in this section are new to many organizations I wondered if a special effort was made here to start from the ground up without expecting too much from the reader. I found it refreshing to get this package laid out neatly. This section earned 4 stars with me. The explanations were good but I thought the details on managing a security infrastructure were a little lean.
Enterprise Technologies made up the smallest section of the book and earned a 3 star rating with me. The explanations of Distributed File System, File Replication Service, and Network Load Balancing were okay but not great. The chapter on interpreting the Cluster Log was pretty obscure but I guess you have to be into your own cluster log before this material can get exciting.
Desktop Configuration Management was the last section and earned 3 stars. I happened to work through some CD based training on Preinstalling and Deploying Windows 2000 Professional while I was reading this section and that gave me a comparison with what is possible. The CD based training earned 5 stars with me. I learned more with it in about 25 pages than here in 200. Of course the CD only hit the high points while obscure details are reviewed here but it seemed to me that if you removed the coverage of obscure details the SRK still would not have been as clear in covering the technology.
I have to admit that in the course of reading this volume I began to question my commitment to reading the whole SRK. These presentations do not measure up in clarity to most other material I have encountered. I will continue for several reasons: 1) There is no more authoritative source of information. 2) The reading is getting easier as I go. Many concepts are related and now that I am over 2500 pages in I can read for new details and confirmation of my previously developed understandings. 3) I am stubborn.
I am starting the TCP/IP volume next. Funny how 1000 page books are looking small now. Check back in about 20 days and see what it was like.