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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Visual Studio Hacks
Publisher: O'Reilly & Associates
Authors: James Avery
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Very Useful Information

This is a great resource for making the Visual Studio IDE even better than it already is. Highly recommended.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Content Management Bible (Bible)
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Bob Boiko
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A wonderful surprise

When I buy technical books I hope for something that is logically laid out, to the point and understandable. I don't want to be insulted with geek humor. I don't want to be buried in jargon. And I certainly don't want to have the author use terms that won't be defined for a couple of chapters yet. I consider it a plus if I don't count my time in pots of coffee per chapter, just to keep my attention focused.
Considering the tedious nature of most writing in the information technology field, having such minimal expectations met is enough for me to rate a book highly. When the rare gem of a book such as Boiko's "Content Management Bible" comes along I no longer have enough stars to offer. On a scale of one to five, this book is at least an eight. The writing is not only competent but actually a pleasure to read. Boiko doesn't just convey information in a straight forward, easily comprehended manner, he makes the field of content management interesting.
This is not a cookbook of recipies or technology specific fixes but an incredible overview of the field, its problems, pitfalls and gotchas as well as its wisdom and growing edges. It is a high level treatment that empowers the mind set to start thinking of specific solutions. I got this book thinking it was just another dry set of instructions but found it inspires me to think more deeply and creativily in my work.
Boike makes excellent use of (cheesy but effective) illustrations and flow charts as well as offering an excellent and logical progression of information. If you need to manage content for a single medium or across multiple media you will be better prepared by digesting this book.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Game Programming Gems 4 (Game Programming Gems Series)
Publisher: Charles River Media
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good addition to the series

The latest in this series of highly successful books delivers 60 new articles covering diverse game development topics. Once again, the articles are written by an impressive group of people that collectively represent a substantial amount of game industry experience. The writing style and editing is very good, as usual, with a professional but casual tone, making the articles easy to read.
Although all of the topics are relevant to game development, because they are typically very narrow in scope, your mileage will vary depending on what exactly you're working on. This is true for the entire series. It's likely that you won't be reading the book cover to cover, but rather a handful of chapters here and there as you need them. This fourth volume is particularly useful in that respect because it includes a comprehensive index of the first 4 volumes
Another noteworthy change is the addition of a physics section. Given how important physics has become in game development, this is a welcome addition. It's also interesting to see a couple of chapters that use Python and Java (though only one for each) for the sample code, rather than the C++ used for most of the chapters. DirectX is used for much of the sample code, with OpenGL being used in a few of the graphics chapters.
This volume does have a few shortcomings, which again are typical for the series. Due to the length of the articles (about 5 to 15 pages each), some of them were a bit too short to cover the topic with sufficient depth. This is pretty subjective, since many people may be satisfied with a more high-level explanation, but it seems to me that the series would be better served with a smaller number of slightly longer articles that go into greater depth.
I also think that the price of the book is rather high. True, it's hardbound, but similar books have been published (notably, GPU Gems, which is hardbound, the same length, and printed in full-color) with notably lower prices. Since the book covers such a broad range of topic areas - only a handful of which will be of interest to you - the value of this book is diminished somewhat.
Despite the price, this book is still an important part of any complete game programming library. If you have the previous volumes, you'll want to pick it up for the index if nothing else.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Telecom Crash Course
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional
Authors: Steven Shepard, Steven Shepard
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent Introduction, in the opinion of a Telecom newcomer

This is a fantastic book if you want an overview that focuses on technical and some business aspects of telecommunications, and are someone that enjoys reading more techie-oriented material. (For the record, I am an MechE by training who is now working for one of the companies mentioned in the book, so this really was my entire Intro course to Telecom, and I plan to continue my learning. This book was an excellent guide for future, more in-depth subjects to pursue.) The book does an excellent job of being ubiquitous and covering all the aspects of the telecom field that you've ever heard about. At the same, I found it easy to skip around in reading chapters, based on my own priorities in buying the book. The chapters are divided very logically into sections on the Telephone network, Access technologies, Transport options, Protocols, etc. (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you will after reading this book :). One of my favorite aspects of the books is that the author is very good at using diagrams to supplement his text, which can be rare in more engineering/technical books. The whole picture-worth-a-thousand-words idea, especially if you take the time to go through the diagrams. Yes, the text can require a few read-throughs - but telecommunications itself is a dense field that really requires one to be patience in reading and gain understanding of the technology. There *is* a lot of detail stuffed through out the chapters, and perhaps not everyone will care to know everything -- but that is alright, there is no harm in skipping the nitty-gritty of sections that do not interest you.
Please, please, please do not let the bad reviews of this book discourage you from checking it out. I just finished reading the entire book, and wanted to log on to share my high opinion of it.