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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Linux Troubleshooting Bible
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Christopher Negus, Thomas Weeks
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Very good. Great assistance information

This book is the best I've ever used for working on my systems. Though it leans heavily on the Red Hat and Fedora distributions, the reader can apply most of the information to their favorite distribution. If I hadn't used it, I never would had known that BIND is now chrooted.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Thinking in Java (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Bruce Eckel
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Four and one half stars, actually. Very good book!

This book goes way beyond the "tips and tricks" explained in so many other Java books. It explains in exhaustive detail how and why one should use the object oriented features of the language to produce professional-grade code. It explains many finer points of scope resolution, syntax, and class design which I have never seen covered anywhere else.
It does not attempt to cover every nook and cranny of the standard libraries, and chooses instead to use the most important ones to illustrate how things work in Java, and to demonstrate instances of good object-oriented design and coding practices. The whole idea is that, once you understand the underlying principles of the language, you'll be capable of using the free Java API documentation without needing everything to be explained to you any further.
I have only two minor quibbles. One is that the examples he provides often strike me as overly simplistic. I understand the need to keep code samples short and sweet, but I find it harder to remember the significance or the relevance of a coding construct when it is just used to push around "dummy" data members for the sake of demonstration. Longer, more realistic code samples would have helped me assimilate and retain the material better.
The other quibble is that I find the wording of some sentences to be a little vague. I sometimes find myself reading the same sentence several times before I feel that its meaning is clear to me. But this doesn't happen often.
Some other reviewers have panned this book. Maybe they were expecting that learning Java was going to be easy. It is not and it never will be. If you feel that you have some understanding of how to hack in Java, C or C++, and now you want to become a skilled object-oriented Java software engineer (and you're willing to put in the time and effort required to achieve this), you will find this book to be worth many times its cover price.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Swarm Intelligence
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann
Authors: Russell C. Eberhart, Yuhui Shi, James Kennedy
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good, but could have been more concise.

Swarm intelligence is burdened with an awful lot of material that is not core to PSO. A great deal of the book consists of the philosophical ramblings of the authors, rather than technical treatment of the topic at hand. An even larger chunk of the book was devoted to what was essentially a survey of AI: neural nets, evolutionary programming, heuristics, etc. Much too much space was devoted to grounding the reader in AI before proceeding. I must admit, however, that, while I found it out of place, the 'AI primer' part of the book is one of the most useful and lucid I have seen; I just think that it should have been a separate book (and this one should have been much thinner). The material that is specific to PSO is a very small fraction of the book, but is thorough and accessible; there really are few alternatives if one is particularly interested in PSO. However, if you are just interested in emergent behavior, and its applications to AI, take a look at Ant Colony Optimization (Dorigo). It covers ACO, rather than PSO, but is more more readable, and provides a much better technical treatment of the topic, if you want to avoid the philosophy and primer.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A+ Certification for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Ron Gilster
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent Preparation For Hardware-Anemic Dos/Windows Prep

I gave this book a 4 star rating because it does such a fine job of preparing one for the Hardware or Core Service Technician Exam.The book is well written with many practical "how-to" lessons in sofar as assembling,reassembling,upgrading and troubleshooting a PC.My only complaint in the hardware section is the fact that the author can't seem to make up his mind as to the maximum length a parallel cable is (either 10 or 15 ft.)The most helpful feature that appears throughout the book are numerous "Labs" where one actually performs real procedures on your computer.Just to name a few examples one will find Labs involving:Installing a Device Driver,Changing the CMOS Battery,Preventive Maaintence on the Floppy Disk Drive and many more.These "Labs" really reinforce the ,if you will, "book learning " the author so aptly details and illustrates. The Dos/Windows portion of the book I am afraid could use some extensive revision and additions.Via a number of practice exams I found that my memory of Dos and Windows 3.1 details had faded greatly from years of disuse and I was compelled to purchase a book devoted specifically to Dos/Windows in order to be well prepared for that particular exam.Granted Mr.Gilster does refer numerous times throughout the book to various Dos and Windows concepts ,I am afraid it is too widely dispersed to really prepare one for Dos/Win testing. Definently make this book a part of your preparation materials,but I would not recommend one rely on this book as your sole source of exam study.