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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 16/e
Publisher: Que
Authors: Scott Mueller
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
An old companion becomes less necessary

I have purchased three of the last five revisions of this book, and bought the latest as a matter of course when it first became available. It's the first one where I have wished that I had looked at it physically before purchase, because I would have not purchased it had I done so.

For many years, this volume has been an industry standard, on the desktops of tech support personnel, PC purchasing agents, vocational educators, and hobbyists. It has grown like Topsy with each revision, steadily becoming larger and larger as more and more detail regarding newer releases in x86-compatible desktop and mobile CPUs, bus types, form factors, and compatibility issues evolved. However, previous standards are described often in mind-numbing and wordy detail as well. While some editing has taken place, it's not nearly enough.

If you have one of the last two or three editions of this book, don't buy this one. It's just more paper weighing down your already sagging bookshelf. If you are starting from scratch, this may still be a useful book, but be warned: it's a colossal aggregation of data, much of it of historical interest only.

Much of the "legacy" data is of primary interest to embedded systems designers and developers, but Mueller is strictly a desktop person: embedded people will be frustrated with this volume. Also, Mueller is wholly Microsoft-centric, meaning that there is a lot of DOS and NT stuff in here but no Unix, Unix-like (Linux or Free/Open/NetBSD), or embeddable (VxWorks or QNX) information whatsoever. Considering the average Linux user is going to be far more likely to need this type of knowledge than the average Windows user, one gets the idea that Mueller is just not comfortable with or even conversant with other environments than Microsoft and has elected to dodge the issue. Previously there was a "Linux Edition" of the book, where an outside team simply edited out the Microsoft discussion and put in some coverage of Linux video and sound configuration and some generic boilerplate. I find it a little disturbing because one simply can't consider oneself a computing professional in 2004 without a fair level of Unix competency:it just isn't credible.

Although the text is often shovelware, the accompanying DVD is a disappointment as the bundled software for disk testing and partitioning included in previous editions' disks is no longer included. Some previous editions had some very useful stuff including a fully functioning commercial partitioning program.

In my opinion the book should be blue-pencilled down to about 700 pages with much of the remainder put in .pdf format and put on the DVD. Very classy would be providing a DVD and a bootable CD with a live OS enabling network and web access, disk utilities and so forth. We used to highly value the QNX Demo Disk floppies, the images for which are sadly no longer on the excellent QNX website, and perhaps QNX would allow their OS to be used for a flavorful and functional live CD to enable access of the outside world, M$ file systems on hard drives for copying or repair, and formatting and partitioning of hard disks and rewritable media. A DOS-based bootable CD might be less featureful but would at least enable disk repair and file editing and could be made with FreeDOS. Also, given the nature of the work, perhaps printing the book on "Bible paper" with a ruggedized but flexible cover-such as the Machinery's Handbook and other professional reference works-would be a better choice than the current consumer-quality binding used on most Que hardbacks.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Hibernate in Action (In Action series)
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: Christian Bauer, Gavin King
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good for a first edition

Hibernate is an exciting new technology. This book written by the Hibernate Development Team Leaders explores simple and complex situations you will find when working with new or existing databases. I have found it very useful. However there are some observations:

As it is a first edition, there are several errata that may misguide the new user (It did it to me!) Be sure to mark them in your book before reading it (you can find them in the Hibernate website).

Complement your learning with the online Hibernate Reference. Also take a look to the Hibernate forums whenever you have questions.

There are some areas where the book could have been a little bit more explanative i.e. mapping composite keys, mapping for existing databases, common problems found with existing databases, common errors while mapping, possible origin of error messages, etc. However in general I have to give it a good rating as it definitely helped me. I am sure the next edition will show a big improvement.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A Gift of Fire
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Sara Baase
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5

What's up with the price? It's cheaper at Barnes and Noble...by 7 buck

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Guide to Networking Essentials, Fourth Edition
Publisher: Course Technology
Authors: Greg Tomsho, Ed Tittel, Greg Johnson
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Not for self-study!

Please be aware that this book (and others by the same publisher)are meant for colleges and/or trade schools and thus the answers to exercises, labs, projects, etc are available ONLY to instructors. Furthermore, neither the publisher nor the authors maintain a website for errata so you are on your own if you misunderstand a concept due to typos and false information.