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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The GRE Test for Dummies, Fifth Edition
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Suzee Vlk
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
I like Dummies, but this time go with Kaplan

I didn't grow up in the US education system, but I'm applying to graduate school over here, so I was looking for a book on what to expect from the GRE. I'm a mild fan of the Dummies books -- they're reasonably priced and good for getting a rapid lock on the basics of a new field -- so I bought the Dummies book (and I'm talking about the 2000 edition here, by the way). If you're buying just one book, the Dummies guide may not be the best way to go.
1. It's hard to believe that anyone proofread this edition:- some of the practice questions in the quantitative section are missing (e.g., p.146, second example), - there are some typographic errors (e.g., p.128 states that 39/90 = 13/90), - some text is repeated erroneously (e.g., "Some schools don't use the analytical ability score. Don't use the analytical ability score. Check with each school individually..." [sic]).
2. The layout is mediocre.
3. Coverage of the CAT/CBT is dated -- this book appears to date from the period where the GRE was changing from pencil to CBT. That changeover is now complete.
4. Coverage of the analytical section in this book is weak (50 pages on Verbal, 80 on Quant, but only 10 on Analytical - you do the math); there's not much to help you improve if you're struggling in this area other than working through and reviewing the practice exams at the back of the book.
On the upside the tone is light and ironic which may help if you're running scared and some of the jokes are not bad. The approach to increasing vocabulary power uses less common words in the body of the text and provides synonyms in parentheses immediately afterwards -- a low-threat way to boost your vocab. I found the sentence building for antonyms and comparisons useful, but this is something that all the preparation books stress. On the math section, there were a few shortcuts for finding the area of figures that I hadn't already encountered in other prep books.
The Dummies guide stresses time management; it encourages you to use the examples to discover your weak areas so that, if you're running short of time, you know whether to invest time (it's a question type you usually figure out correctly) or guess (question types that you usually get wrong) when you're getting bogged down on a question. This approach makes sense given the time-limited nature of the GRE, but seems a little defeatist at times.
If you're looking for a book that is easy to read, you don't need any real help on (or don't care about) the analytical section, and you're going for scores in the 50-70th percentile then you might want to consider this book. On the whole, though, if you're looking for one book that will boost you significantly, I'd recommend the Kaplan 'Cracking the GRE' - better layout, almost error free, and, right now, more up to date on the CAT.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Apple Training Series : Desktop and Portable Systems (Apple Training)
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Peachpit Press
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great Apple Hardware Manual

This book is part of the AppleCare training curriculum, designed to be a training manual for people who want to get certified by Apple to be an AppleCare-certified technician. As such, each chapter in the book is a Lesson. Early lessons cover topices such as "General Troubleshooting Theory," and "Safe Working Procedures and General Maintenance."

Lessons 5 through 10 cover common hardware and technologies, including basic computer theory , underlying technologies, liquid crystal displays (LCDs), cathode-ray tubes (CRTs), wired networking and wireless networking.

If you are a person who likes to do your own upgrading and maintenance of your Mac, you'll find this book very helpful. Likewise, if you want to make your living taking apart Macs and replacing parts as repair or upgrade.

This book does not cover Operating Systems. If you want to solve a problem in OS 9 or OS X, you need a different book. But, if you want to see the "Take-Aparts" for certain Mac models, including iMacs, iBooks, mini-towers and PowerBooks, this is for you. Both CRT-based and Flat-Panel based computers are covered.

There is a good section on how to search the AppleCare knowledge base, and doing advanced searches. They recommend you bookmark Apple Knowledge Base document 75178, as it gives good info on how to use keywords to search the Knowledge Base. And another section on locating Apple replacement parts.

The main reason this book has over 800 pages is the copious amount of photos. They support the step-by -step instructions for installing or replacing hard drives, optical drives, RAM, Airport Cards, etc.

I'm glad I got this book, as it will be useful when I want to upgrade the hard drive on our G4 flat-panel iMac and add a second hard drive to my G5 desktop.

Apple states in the beginning of the book, "Whether you are an experienced technician or someone who just wants to dig deep into a Macintosh, you'll find in-depth technical service information as well as a comprenhensive overview of the service tools and procedures used by AppleCare-certified technicians to diagnose, upgrade and maintain Macintosh computers."

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The UNIX Programming Environment
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Brian W. Kernighan, Rob Pike
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5

It might have been the epitome of UNIX development, now it's nearly twenty years old. It didn't age well. Get Stevens (0201563177) if you want something serious about programming, or just ask Google.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Enterprise JavaBeans, Fourth Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Richard Monson-Haefel, Bill Burke, Sacha Labourey
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Well Thought Out

Earlier this year I realized that my woefully primitive knowledge of the Java architecture needed some updating. The Enterprise JavaBean (EJB) architecture was being considered for use in several systems, and I found the standard presentations were not helping me bridge the knowledge gap. In my quest for a useful resource, I came upon this excellent introduction and reference by Richard Monson-Haefel. The author is a recognized authority with considerable experience as a Java Architect, as well as founder of the Wisconsin Java User Group.
The first three chapters focus on defining the problem set that EJB is intended to solve and the architecture of the solution. Chapter 1 sets the stage, covering the definition of EJB's, distributed object architectures, component models, transaction monitors, and server-side component models. In Chapter 2 we are provided an architectural overview of the nature of the enterprise bean component, the use of enterprise beans and the bean-container contract. Chapter 3 completes the 'theoretical' discussion with coverage of resource management and primary services (concurrency, transactions, persistence, distributed objects, naming, and security.
Chapters 4 through 8 provide deeper coverage of the topics touched on in the first three chapters, with a rich and illuminating set of examples. I found these examples as clear as they could possibly be for one with my moderate technical skills. The author makes a continuous effort to keep from getting too far above the head of the reader. He is careful to present alternatives and explain the reasons for design decisions. Chapter 9 is an excellent, if short, dive into some interesting, and often ignored, topics (passing objects by value, improved performance with session beans, bean adapters, implementing a common interface, entity bean relationships, and object-to-relational mapping tools).
Two appendixes cover the EJB API and State and Sequence diagrams for the bean types in the book.
"Enterprise JavaBeans" covers a huge amount of material, and does so in a clear and organized fashion. For most people it could easily be the only reference the need. Monson-Haeful's style is a bit phlegmatic, which means that he does not grab your attention and fascinate. Instead he moves steadily down his path. Thus the reading can sometimes become tedious, especially in the theoretical sections. This, unfortunately, is the price usually paid for such deep dives into technology rich subject areas.