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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Programming Windows with C# (Core Reference)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Charles Petzold
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Best resource I've found for C#

Petzold is a literate writer who effectively uses information (and anecdotal material) from the history of Windows programming, and the broader history of computer programming, to put his technical examples in a rich context.
I find his exposition of C# grounded in practical problem-solving with .Net's Forms and Controls extremely useful. The kinds of problems he poses and solves (with source code in the text and on the accompanying cd) are the types of problems that I face creating user interfaces and interacting with Windows system services.
The book is, as other reviewers commented, focused purely on client-side issues, but I disagree with another reviewer who felt it didn't cover COM : He does mention and show examples of using the InterOp facilities, and, I believe, that since .Net is designed to replace both COM and ActiveX, this is very appropriate. There are a lot of other resources for COM and COM+.
For myself I would rather learn a language bottom-up through studying and using concrete code examples that accomplish real-world tasks than read abstract books on the structure of the language, etc. Perhaps if you are a "top-down" learner who prefers to start with a very formal language definition and Backus-Naur diagrams and then implement some algorithms, and then, finally, get around to implementing the algorithm in a specific OS environment, this may not be the right book for you to start with on .Net.
I have other books by Troelsen, Gunnerson, and Liberty, and they are useful also, but Petzold's book is the one I keep coming back to and re-reading over and over.
The clear technical writing style that Petzold has achieved is, imho, very rare these days. I have the wonderful sense reading the book that I am sitting across a table from a wise friend who is gently and patiently guiding me forward through a complex technical subject.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XSLT
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Doug Tidwell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
XSLT can be hard to grasp

XSLT can be hard to grasp for people (like me) coming from traditional procedural programming, Doug Tidwell is well aware of this issue and try pretty well to address it in the book. I especially appreciated that the author, unlike many other XSLT adopters, doesn't pretend to use XSLT to solve each and every problem, instead it provide good advices and a good amount of common sense on why and where XSLT can be a good choice. The book also include 200+ pages of XSLT and Xpath reference

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Semantic Web : A Guide to the Future of XML, Web Services, and Knowledge Management
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Michael C. Daconta, Leo J. Obrst, Kevin T. Smith
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

This book is an excellent read : strong on substance without getting too complicated. The book does a good job of balancing the vision with the technology that is going on now. While this book does go into details (ontologies, taxonomies, XML technologies, RDF, web services, etc.), it does it in such a way that it is easy to understand. It is good in that there are some chapters that are geared towards businessmen (CTOs), and others geared for the more technical.
Don't think that you can read it all in one sitting, though. I just finished it, but I will probably need to re-read some of the chapters (the chapter on ontologies is very good, but is a lot to digest). I enjoyed this book immensely. Other books I have seen on this subject are way too difficult to understand.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Direct from Dell: Strategies that Revolutionized an Industry
Publisher: HarperBusiness
Authors: Michael Dell, Catherine Fredman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

Dell's greatest strength is its ability to give the customer what the customer wants, and that includes easy ordering, the right product, fast delivery and good value. There are very few businesses that have figured this out. From the customer perspective, Amazon.com comes close, but Amazon.com has yet to become profitable. Part of the reason for Dell's success is its lean inventory and clockwork relationships with suppliers to ship and deliver to flexible and tight schedules. Dell has figured out how to avoid some of the roadblocks or stalls that keep others from winning. I am reminded of an Eight-Step process in THE 2,000 PERCENT SOLUTION that helps executives progress at 20 times the average rate, or get 20 times the benefit or save a huge percentage of the usual cost. This process requires understanding the importance of measurements and measuring everything about key activities, identifying where today's best practice will be in five years and starting to get there, identifying what the best-ever possible best practice could be and beginning to approach that ideal, carefully matching the people, incentive and task to get the best results, and repeating the process again because new and better ideas spew forth each time. Dell will be faced with changing technology, new uses of and for the Internet, new customer demands, new supplier issues and rapid growth. Dell has the history and the culture to develop 2,000 percent solutions to succeed in so many more new ways.