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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: C Programming Language (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Brian W. Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie, Dennis M. Ritchie
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Condensed Cream-Of-C Soup

About 5 years into my programming career, I was mildly interested in learning C, so I picked up this book. At the time, I was deterred - it was very brief, terse, and confusing, so I put it back down again.
But now, years later, with many more languages under my belt, I find myself again drawn to C. So I picked up this book again (2nd edition), and finally, I see the light! It is a wonderful book, I agree with all the glowing comments people have written about it, BUT! It is a book written by a computer programmer, for other computer programmers, not a book written by a teacher for a beginning student.
C is alive and well, and still in use today - it lives "at the core" of most popular languages. You can see its influence on C++, JavaScript, even Visual Basic. If you are ready for it, reading and working through the examples in this book will provide you with a solid base for understanding an amazing variety of 'newer' programming languages.
You have to work through the examples, though. If you 'just read' this book, you'll comprehend and retain close to '\0' (null) of the information presented. It's only by going through the examples, that you really nail the subject matter. Yeah, I know, some of these examples are tough - but they're also real-life, and typical of routines every programmer writes and uses. I myself sweated blood over exercise 3-3, but hours later when I was done, the satisfaction of comparing my answer favorably to others was worth it. :-)
I have the C For Dummies books 1 and 2, and after going through them, I was still a Visual Basic programmer. ;-D If you already are a computer programmer, and want to obtain serious knowledge in C without wasting your valuable time, learn from this book.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Causality : Models, Reasoning, and Inference
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Authors: Judea Pearl
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Wishful Reasoning

This book is fundamentally defective. Now the author stepped in generic causation activities stepping back from the obstinate stalwarts of empirical causation. But still he is missing the point of the matter. There is no geater illusion to human thought than thinking in terms of linear causality even embellished with probabilty and graph theories additions. Apart from the innate symmetricity of structural equation systems, the very definition for the conditional probability as well as Bayes's law of inverse probability unambiguously suggest the reversibility of cause-effect relationships. Such crucial property is the heart of the real world processes, because all of them from physical effects to biological aging to socio-economic phenomena are eventually liable to causal reversal. For car-minded readers it may be well to remember how can work the transmission power train. It is time to stop spawning false beliefs, for any theory on causality, mathematical, physical or philosophical, falling short the reversible causal mechanisms is substantially fallacious, however sophisticated it may be, and it deeply distorts our understanding of the world. So, dear reader, wait other decade when the author will grow up to the evident fact that processes run backwards, that the direction of causality turns the other way round, and that the linear causal ordering was only the desease of the mental growth. Then we eventually get the rightened but completely contrary title:"Reversible Causality: Models, Reasoning, Inference". And it will start with the historical recognition: "A is a cause of B only when B can cause A". Amen.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Windows Graphics Programming: Win32 GDI and DirectDraw (With CD-ROM)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Feng Yuan
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Ok, but code is poorly designed

Given Feng's history with writing printing drivers for HP it is pretty clear that the information in this book covers his experience with GDI internals. The code examples are all in C++ and the sample code and utilities would add nicely to a programmers sandbox. The book covers the basics of GDI and graphics programming and then delves into more advanced image processing (affine transformations, alpha blending, mask blitting, filtering, etc.) There is even more stuff here, but I don't have enough room to type it in. This is definitely a book to have if you are writing shrink wrapped UI intensive applications.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Guru's Guide to SQL Server Stored Procedures, XML, and HTML (With CD-ROM)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ken Henderson
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent on some topics, unfocused overall

There is a lot to like in this book. The chapter on database design is fantastic. The chapter on views is excellent as well. But overall the book veering off topic now and again, which adds to it's girth (760 pages.)

The book starts with a very solid introduction to stored procedures. As I say, the database design portion of the first part is probably worth the price of admission on it's own.

Part two is titled objects, which is a little deceptive since the chapter mainly covers functions, triggers, stored procedures and other structural elements.

Part three is where the book gets into XML and HTML. There is some introductory material on XML and XSL which is too brief to be a complete introduction for someone. That material is better presented in other books. But the material on XML queries direct to the SQL server is unique and valuable.

Part four on advanced topics has some good chapters. In particular the section on query optimization is well done and serves as a good introduction to the topic. But this part is where the book veers off course and into topics like testing, refactoring, XP, and an introduction to the .NET framework and C#. It's all interesting, but it's covered better in other books and the book overall could be shorter and more focused were it not for these sections.

Another downside is that Illustrations are a little underused. But the downsides aside, this is a great book, specifically for the first two parts including the excellent section on database design.