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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon, Steve Wozniak
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
on The Art of Deception

I would recommend this book as reading for everyone involved in any kind of social activity where anything or anyone is at risk in any way. If you read the book, pay attention with an open mind and use common sense, you will gain tremendous insight into effective ways of implementing security. Mr. Mitnick points out how most of us can be watching the door carefully while the intruder walks past us completely unnoticed. I would recommend reading through this book occasionally to keep the methods fresh in your mind, because the art of deception is exactly what it is about; computer knowledge and programming are only secondary skills.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis in C++ (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Authors: Mark Allen Weiss
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Read description: for ADVANCED data structures course

Many people on here have complained that this book goes way over the head of students not already familiar with some C++ and data structures. To these comments, I refer you to the product description (or editorial review, whichever) that specifically says this is an advanced text. I apologize to those whose professors ordered this book for intro data structures--I can understand why this book would go past the scope of that class. However, if you know any Object Oriented programming (Java or C++ preferably) and know some basic algorithms and structures (matrices, sorts, recursion, trees, queues, etc.) this book will take you far. I don't even mean that you must be proficient in these structures, just have some basic understanding of how they work. For example, you should know what a tree is (root, leaves, implemented with pointers and nodes) and book will tell you how to use trees (B-Trees, Binary trees, etc.). By the point you are using this book, hopefully you'll have taken the math and programming classes needed to comprehend this text. Otherwise, do not blame the text for being targeted to an advanced audience.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Murach's Beginning Visual Basic .NET
Publisher: Mike Murach & Associates
Authors: Anne Prince
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The best beginner VB.NET book, bar none

I rarely write reviews of books. I am a novice programmer but not a novice to technical texts with a Masters in Chemistry and DDS degrees and post doctoral fellowships and board certifications behind me. I felt compelled here. What I needed was a data driven large website. So I started learning VB.NET and I had a block understanding variables and flow of syntax etc. I felt like an idiot. I took home over a dozen books and still couldn't break the shell. Until I read Anne Prince's book beginning VB.NET and Eureka!
You could make the case that I had built a base and this book was the camel-back-breaker but why wasn't title #9,#10 or #11 the one? Any of these was sufficiently downstream on the queue. Actually, the more books I read the more I felt like a retard. Yet another title and I am still not getting it. After finishing her book I catapulted right into advanced topics with no problem. But out of the process I wound up unwillingly doing a sweeping survey of all beginner material out there. I think it is Anne Prince's school teacher style presentation. What all the rest miss over and over is that she completely respects the rule to not to introduce previously undefined new terms. You cannot define a "cat" to a five year old as a "quadruped domesticated mammal". Yet this is so frequently abused, probably because the tech books are often written by people without pedagogical background. The average age of the tech authoring community has some to do with it whether just not enough teaching experience or the overall tendency of younger people to break norms of all sorts. Probably commercial influences also force texts to appeal to broader reader base - some for reference seekers, some with prior skills, some converting from a different technology etc. A good beginning book cannot be all things to all people. The last thing a beginner needs is labyrinths of choices. Remember how back in school they made you jump through hoops and councilors when you sought "choices". Beginners need a heavy handed structured and uniform approach. The author not only defines "cat" properly but she expects you to know that one and only definition in all future feline discussions! Kudos to Anne Prince!
I also like the format of presenting figures on the opposite page which saves you from flipping pages to see figures - one of the most tiring aspects of all technical texts but taken to new nauseating heights in programming books. Even the non glossy parer made a difference - about 10-20% more reading time before your eyes conk out.
The book binding is horrible - it fell apart but that little beef dwarfs before the rest of the cons. I went out and bought Murach's VB.NET Database Programming with ADO.NET only because she was one of the authors. The title wasn't even exactly what I needed - a lot of emphasis on winforms and not the web. I was surprised to see that her name was omitted by amazon.com. However small role she may have in that book she was the sole reason for my buying it.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Thinking in Java (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Bruce Eckel
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best Java Book I've Read

I found Thinking in Java to be an extremely readable book. I read the book pretty much cover to cover and by the time I'd finished I found myself quite comfortable with the concepts in Java. A couple of years of programming in it and I've never felt that I was disillusioned by that (as often turns out when you start actually using something that you think you know).
Learning the syntax of a language is the easy part -- the hard part is understanding why things are done in certain ways and how to best utilize the language features, and I felt this book did a great job of explaining that.
I'm amazed looking through the vastly differing opinions on this book -- so perhaps the best advice is to flip through the pages at a bookstore and see if you like the writing style or not. Or, perhaps look through the table of contents and see if the chapter titles are the types of things you're looking for. My guess is that perhaps this isn't a good book for people who have never programmed before. A few notes from the book's prerequisite section on this:
"This book assumes that you have some programming familiarity: you understand that a program is a collection of statements, the idea of a subroutine/function/macro, control statements such as 'if' and looping constructs such as 'while,' etc... As long as you've programmed to the point where you feel comfortable with the basic ideas of programming, you'll be able to work through this book. Of course, the book will be easier for the C programmers and more so for the C++ programmers, but don't count yourself out if you're not experienced with those languages (but come willing to work hard)."
(Wouldn't it be nice if amazon could list prerequisite sections for all of their technical books??)