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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Core Java(TM) 2, Volume I--Fundamentals (7th Edition) (Core Java 2)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Cay Horstmann, Gary Cornell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

I am a somewhat experienced programmer and this book was the text for my graduate-level course on Java. I also purchased some of the optional books, and this book is far and away the best purchase.
Sun publishes this book, so it contains the definitive information. In fact, it goes into great detail without being boring or elementary. The sample programs are quick and to the point. I admire that the discussion of the programming language admits the language's flaws as well as its benefits. The book also talks about how the language is really used, vs. how it was designed.
A particular feature of the book are sections where they explain how Java is different from C++. This is very useful for a C++ programmer.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Steve Krug
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent for the Novice and the Expert

This is one book that crosses both lines into the Novice arena and the expert arena. I stongly recommend that thsi be one of the books on your shelf for your web site.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: CCNA Certification Library (CCNA Self-Study, exam #640-801)
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: Wendell Odom
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great for the comprehensive CCNA exam (640-801), but...

First, let me tell you where I'm coming from so you know what kind of spin this review has. I studied for the CCNA about two years ago using Lammle's CCNA book first and then Odom's, but I never got around to taking the exam. Now I'm trying to ramp back up to take the comprehensive CCNA exam (640-801). One thing I can say for certain is the study materials from Odom and Cisco Press have improved over the last two years. In case you didn't pick it up in the description, the "CCNA Certification Library (CCNA Self-Study, exam #640-801), Sixth Edition" contains two volumes: the "CCNA INTRO Exam Certification Guide (CCNA Self-Study, 640-821, 640-801)" and the "CCNA ICND Exam Certification Guide (CCNA Self-Study, 640-811, 640-801)". If you're planning to take the comprehensive 640-801 exam, go ahead and get this Library with the two books - they cover all the material on the 640-801 as well as the material for the two separate exams.
First, the good news:
- One pleasant side effect of Cisco's decision to split the CCNA into two exams is that the Cisco Press review materials are now split into two volumes. Tell me, how many of you resented having to schlep around that monolith 640-607 Certification Guide? Well, now there are two volumes - one for each exam required for the CCNA. Now you have the option of just taking "half a book" with you while studying for the comprehensive exam.
-The INTRO and ICND books were designed to be used together to prepare for the 640-801. The books include a reading map that shows which sections in each book should be read in what order. This lets you get complete coverage of each major topic before you move on to the next. - Another nice feature of the books is the "Do I Know This Already?" quiz at the beginning of each chapter. If you've been involved in networking for a while or you've studied for the CCNA before (like me), taking these quizzes can keep you from wasting time reading about things you already know. Taking them also keeps you from possibly missing some arguably odd things that Cisco deem important enough to include in the exam(s).
- Odom and Cisco Press definitely do a much better job explaining networking fundamentals. If you're new networking and/or the CCNA, you'll definitely want to start with the INTRO volume. Basic concepts are covered there first and, in my opinion, covered well.
- The accompanying CDs include PDFs of the books. Also, the exam and router simulators on the included CDs are a nice bonus, but I already have a couple of 2501's and a 1900 at home I can use for lab scenarios.
Now, the bad news:
- The bane of all technical exam guides: ERRATA!!! Although the number of errors in these books is way down since the 640-607 Certification Guide (49 vs. 80 at last count), to me, nothing is more obnoxious or problematic than a test preparation book with errors. We use these books to learn and study. Whenever there's an error it undermines the learning and that defeats the purpose of the book. What I'd like to know is how those 49 errors got past the *three* CCIE's who were the Technical Reviewers for the books.
- Some of the figures are counter-intuitive. For example, some of the figures in the INTRO book showed data flowing from right to left. We read left to right, so using diagrams that move right to left seemed a little perplexing.
- For some inexplicable reason the PDF versions of the books on the CDs are of the 1st printing while the books are 2nd printings. This will drive you nuts when you start finding errors on the PDFs that aren't in the printed versions.
Even with these problems, this Library is the best bang for the buck when it comes to preparing for either the comprehensive 640-801 or the INTRO and ICND exams. As a bonus, it's written by Cisco Press, so it's much more likely the material you see on the exams will have been part of your reading. If you do get the library and install the exam simulators, make sure you download the update from the Cisco Press Web site; it takes care of some errata in the test engine.
I'm giving this Library 4 stars due to the number of errors in the books and the disparity between the versions of the printed books and the included PDFs. Overall, those may be small quibbles on my part. Regardless, short of attending the Cisco Networking Academy, this Library is the best prep you can get for taking either the comprehensive CCNA exam or the two separate exams.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Peopleware : Productive Projects and Teams, 2nd Ed.
Publisher: Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated
Authors: Tom Demarco, Timothy Lister
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Rethinking the Way We Work and Manage

My boss gave this to each member of our team as a Christmas gift. He admitted that his motivation was quite selfish as he wanted us to adopt the principles outlined in the text. It turned out to be a great gift!
Have you often wondered why you've felt stifled and unmotivated? Have you ever wondered why, despite all of your efforts, you can't get a project completed until after hours? Do you find yourself arriving earlier and earlier and getting less and less done? This book speaks to those issues by describing how the modern, cubicle-studded workplace and unenlightened managers make it difficult to work, produce, and succeed. The authors' insights are easy-to-digest as they give practical, real-life examples of their observations. Additionally, they offer tips on how to change personal strategies and your environment to heighten personal fulfillment and productivity.
On a personal note, I had wondered why my productivity has not been great the past several weeks. While reading this book, I traced the change back to a switch in our office's chemistry. A new team member recently moved into our 4-person office. (This guy is in sales. This requires him to make lots of boisterous phone calls and frequently entertain visitors. I'm a writer who requires quiet and concentration with occasional collaboration. In short, it's a recipe for disaster!) For a while, I contemplated asking for a desk reassignment but thought I was just being picky. This book taught me that I wasn't being oversensitive. I was wasting my time and costing the company money! The result? I have scheduled an appointment with our Office Manager to request a change.
This book profoundly changed the way I think about management. Very highly recommended.