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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Excel 2003 Bible
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: John Walkenbach
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Exceptional Guide for Advanced and Simple Applications

I usually avoid books about Microsoft software because I can usually muddle through and figure out what I want to do. If in doubt, I seek out a twelve-year-old who knows the answers. But this week I had a desire to create a unique chart for a client, and decided to see if Excel would help me make the chart. I had the good fortune to run across Excel 2003 Bible at the library, and took it home to skim. Within 45 minutes I had all the answers to my questions, and found a way to create a better chart than I had originally planned to make. That was well worth my time. I'm sure that I would never have found the alternatives on my own that the book pointed me to.
Intrigued by the help I got, I went back and read the simple sections as well. I was impressed by how thorough all of the material is. You are given many different ways to accomplish the same task, along with the pros and cons of why to go one way versus another. I also appreciated the many graphics in the book to show what the screens look like.
The book is also backed up with a CD to run simulations and a web site where you can get more help.
If you think you may ever want to do advanced applications of Excel, I strongly encourage you to read this book. I particularly liked the charting and analysis sections.
As I finished this book, I realized that I usually employ Excel to get tasks done faster . . . and hadn't given much thought to how to complete them better. I suspect that much data could be made more usable and valuable for me and others if I think about how to employ all of Excel's tools in advance.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Building Secure Software: How to Avoid Security Problems the Right Way
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: John Viega, Gary McGraw
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Contains many mistakes in Windows-related sections

As a Windows developer, I am little disappointed. The authors have probably much more experience with developing Unix and Java software that Windows software. This wouldn't be necessarily a bad thing, if they did their homework and check things with a Windows expert. But they didn't. The result is that the book contains some incorrect and misleading information in Windows-related sections. For example:
1. In the footnote on page 56 authors state, that there are "no DCOM implementations for the UNIX world". Not true - there is at least one popular DCOM implementation for UNIX - EntireX from Software AG.2. On page 58 authors say, that delegation of identity is not available for DCOM. Wrong - delegation with unlimited number of identity transfers is a standard feature of Windows 2000 and XP.3. On page 382 authors claim that Microsoft SQL server does not support encryption. Again not true - SQL 2000 can use either SSL or standard Windows RPC encryption to encrypt all traffic between the client and the server.
These kind of mistakes almost make you wonder if they were intentional. Anyway, if you are developing on Unix it is probably a good book (I cannot judge - I'm not an UNIX expert). If you are a Windows developer, you should probably treat it more as a general overview of potential software security problems and not rely on it when it comes to details.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Hibernate in Action (In Action series)
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: Christian Bauer, Gavin King
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Masterful, but not In Action

Just about everything I could say about this book has been already said. This is truely a great book.

It is mainly aimed at a developer audience with a fair degree of Hibernate experience. I would not recommend this book to a fledgling. The style is not to present a flowing tutorial, with full code examples explained; instead, this is a topical, how-to book, with code snippets. It is a much more readable form of the Hibernate 2.1 reference guide, providing some glue between the topics.

Having said the above, just be aware that this is not a typical Manning "In Action" book. Even though there is a full, downloadable code example, the book does not walk you through it - except where the code is used to highlight a discussed topic.

The authors are currently writing an update to this book, which the publisher indicated to me would be out perhaps by September or October.

If you cannot wait until then, Hibernate Quickly, published by Manning, should be out in the next couple of weeks. Also, Pro Hibernate will be published in July.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: SQL Server Query Performance Tuning Distilled
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Sajal Dam
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great Book, but where's support?

For the book itself, it's well worth the 5 stars. It can actually bring your sql server skills to the next level, from intermediate to senior. And the layout of the book is very clear, it first lists every item and then talk about it in detail.
But I am frustrated about unable to find the source code from the website provided in the book. Anyone can help me on that?