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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XML in a Nutshell, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Elliotte Rusty Harold, W. Scott Means
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
XML in a Nutshell

The organization of the book is great. Very useful and well written. It provides quick-reference syntax rules and usage examples for the core XML technologies, including XML, DTDs, Xpath, XSLT, SAX, and DOM. Develop an understanding of well-formed XML, DTDs, namespaces, Unicode, and W3C XML Schema.

This new edition is the comprehensive XML reference. Serious users of XML will find coverage on just about everything they need, from fundamental syntax rules, to details of DTD and XML Schema creation, to XSLT transformations, to APIs used for processing XML documents.

The initial chapter on SAX along with the reference chapter would give me a solid foundational base from which to work. If you need explanation of how a technology works, or just need to quickly find the precise syntax for a particular piece, XML in a Nutshell puts the information at your fingertips. I would recommend this book to someone interested in its topic. This book has earned a valued place on my reference shelf.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Design Patterns
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The classic, and still the best

From all other people's reviews, you have already known this is the classic text on the subject of design patterns. This is indisputable so I don't need to waste time trying to prove it again.
However, I would like to say something to those readers who are totally new to design patterns and C++/Smalltalk -- please do not be intimidated by the seemingly terse, dry and difficult style of this book. Since I myself am new to the world of design patterns, I would like to share with you my own experience and hope you can make a better decision when you pick your design patterns book.
"Design Patterns" is the classic text; its style is academic-oriented, rigorous, and terse. Unlike most popular computer books, you will find reading this book takes a lot of thinking, for each paragraph or even each sentence. Most examples used in this book are adapted from real world systems popular many years ago, so you will likely find you're not familiar with them at all. Moreover, some examples are related to GUI programming, so if you're mainly programming for backend, you will probably feel it's tough to understand some of the examples. Most code example in the book is written in C++ (some in Smalltalk.) If you're a Java programmer and have limited knowledge in C++, it might take you some time to guess what certain C++ syntax means.
These all seem to be negative comment, but my conclusion is to the contrary -- this is the BEST book in the area, and you should read it despite of all the issues I mentioned above. I started my design pattern learning by using a couple of other books, such as "Java Design Patterns: A Tutorial", "Design Patterns Explained: A New Perspective on Object-Oriented Design", and "Applied Java Patterns". I chose these books mainly because they seem to be much easier to understand than "Design Patterns". However, after spending time in these alternative books, I found none of them offers the accuracy and depth as "Design Patterns". Often, after I read a chapter of the "easy" book, I feel I am still kind of lost. I seem to have understood the pattern I just learned, but then I feel it's not quite so. I guess I only learned the pattern in a superficial way, with little depth, and without being part of "big picture." Later, I turned to the classic, "Design Patterns". I forced myself to sit down and try to understand the authors' terse and rigorous writing and their unfamiliar examples. Gradually I found I was getting used to the style and the examples, and I actually started to learn much more from this book than from others. After reading half-way through the book, I felt the rigorous style is actually a big plus for this book, because I can get more accurate and in-depth information.
Therefore, I strongly suggest that you buy and read this book, even if you feel it's difficult to read. Your effort will pay off eventually. Use other books as reference only.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Art of Computer Programming, Volumes 1-3 Boxed Set
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Donald Knuth, Donald E. Knuth
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A Classical & Definitive Work

This is the foundation of any computer scientist's library. While certainly NOT light reading, the wealth of information contained in these volumes is relevant to a variety of real world problems in computing. While few people may be willing to commit the time and effort to read all three volumes, those who do will find themselves among the most informed and fully grounded professionals in computing today.

Product: Book - CD-ROM
Title: Cisco CCNA Network Simulator: CCNA Self-Study, Router Simulation Software for Hands-On CCNA 640-801 Skills Enhancement
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: Boson Software Inc.
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Response to Negative Feedback

This review is merely a response to the negative feedback posted so far, and is not in itself an actual review:

Reviewer: hansen88; Visual Basic has been the industry standard and modern defacto standard for Windows-based user-interfaces for many years. Its interface was chosen due to its stability, it has been debugged by Microsoft for MANY years, and because everyone who has ever used a Windows program before will be familiar with the applications interface. VB.NET was not selected at this time (which has the same end-user interface), because the majority of end-users do not desire to download large file sized patches from Microsoft.

Reviewer: Mark Sevenson "Cisco Kid"; this is an employee of a competitor, same as "Cisco Wannabe", see below, and should be disregarded.

Reviewer: Not Too Ticked Off "Overseas Soldier"; this is simply untrue. A custom licensed version of the software is available, which does not have the standard retail Internet registration requirement (contact boson.com). Internet registration is the defacto standard, even Microsoft now requires it for all of their software sold in the last few years. In addition, a manual registration mode for this retail software is indeed available via telephone or fax or mail, which does permit installation and registration without an Internet connection.

Reviewer: C. Cooke "Cisco Wannabe"; this is an employee of a competitor, and should be disregarded. Look at other reviews by "Cisco Wannabe", and the product they promoted, and I'm sure you can figure out who this really is...

Overall, taking into account the only negative reviews are from a single competitor, this should tell you our competitors are afraid - very afraid - and that this is an outstanding product!!

David Rajala
Boson Software, Inc.