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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Professional SQL Server Reporting Services
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Paul Turley, Todd Bryant, James Counihan, George McKee, Dave DuVarney
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
AweSome Book

This book is not only a great introduction to Reporting Services, but has increased my knowledge of both XML and the .NET data access technologies. Most of the examples were in both languages. I found this to be helpful since my company is migrating to C#.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A Visual Introduction to SQL
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: David Chappell, J. Harvey Trimble
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
All the Basics and More

I used this book when I needed to pick up SQL fast. I worked in an organization where I had to build Teradata Data Bases and used SQL to select and move the data. The illustrations really help visualize every aspect of assembling an SQL program and how it interfaces with the data base. I still use it today when I need to be reminded of a particular syntax. Don't loan this book out if you ever want to see it again. I did and now I'm buying another book!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning XML (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: David Hunter, Andrew Watt, Jeff Rafter, Kurt Cagle, Jon Duckett, Bill Patterson
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
This book Stinks

(This is a review of the 1st edition of this book.) My title to this review may be contradictory, but what I mean is, this is a good book for someone with absolutely no background in XML, as long as that person has some technical background in a related field, like HTML, Javascript, Java, etc. If this is the first book or experience you've had with any web-related technology, then you'll be hard-pressed to keep up.
Hunter does a good job explaining each item and I really like the way he branches into many related technologies, instead of just plain XML. Those related technologies include XSLT and XPath, DOM, SAX, DTDs and schemas. Some of these things, such as schemas and DTDs are essential for learning XML, so I'm glad they are covered.
At the beginning of the book, I thought that Hunter was another Microsoft lemming, just following the Microsoft trends and technologies. But it soon became apparent that he uses MS products where they make sense, but is quick to point out their drawbacks. It irks me to no end how the entire world chooses an internationally-accepted standard, then MS decides to come up with their own. Hunter does a good job of pointing that out.
One complaint is that this book doesn't do much in helping the Macintosh user that's starting into the XML field. That may have been remedied in the 2nd edition, and to be fair, there weren't a lot of tools available for the Mac user when this was written. I did find some Mac tools and found it humorous how the Windows, Java and Unix tools require extensive use of the command line, altering class paths, etc, while the Mac version was "drag the file onto the icon" to accomplish the exact same thing. But that's how the Mac world works.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows 2000 MCSE Core Requirements Training Kit (With CD-ROM)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
MCSE 2000 here I come!

MCSE 2000 is Microsoft's newest certification track as the MCSE 4 exams are retiring at the end of the year. Exams 70-210, 70-215, 70-216 and 70-217 are the four Core exams you must pass and Microsoft Press is has put together a training kit that should make it a little easier to do this.
Book 1, Windows 2000 Professional, is 700 pages filled with lessons that will have learning everything from installation to configuration to administration of the 2000 Professional package. Hands-on exercises make it easier to grasp some of the more complex topics.

In Book 2, Windows 2000 Server, you have over 1,000 pages dedicated to the learning of topics like installation, configuration, file systems, active directory services, administration, routing, security, monitoring and optimizing. Again there are several hands-on exercises for you to practice what you learn.
With Book 3, Network Infrastructure Administration, the 425 page manual has you working with the designing of a network, implementing TCP/IP and NWLINK, monitoring activity, taking care of the HOST File, DNS, DNCP, WINS, RAS, NAT and security.

Finally Book 4, Active Directory Services, is 700 pages filled with exercises to help you understand topics like administration and tools for ADS, implementation of ADS, user and group account administration, sharing, securing and administration of folders, active directory, network resources and policies.

Also included is 2 cd-roms, one with a 120 day evaluation of 2000 server and the other a course supplemental files. Overall Microsoft has put together a package for under $200.00 that may rival may formalized training programs out there.