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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: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A fine follow-on to Guru's Guide to T-SQL

I have Henderson's other book and found this one to continue where it left off. Henderson elaborates on many of the topics covered in his first book (for example, stored procedures) and covers them in lucid detail. The book gets into XML and HTML from SQL Server in fine form and leaves no stone unturned. He also gets into T-SQL as a programming language and offers a number of best practices and strategies for achieving optimum performance. It's just what I would have expected from the author of GG T-SQL and, like that book, is already a classic.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning Visual C# (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Karli Watson, David Espinosa, Zach Greenvoss, Jacob Hammer Pedersen, Christian Nagel, Jon D. Reid, Matthew Reynolds, Morgan Skinner, Eric White
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
All over the place and not a beginner book

I'm not from a publishing company or anybody affiliated with other books, thus right of the bat I am not going to recommend any other C# book, since I ordered one, but am waiting to review it.
First of all my background is COBOL for 15 years and have dabbled with VB 6.0, so I wanted to dive into the world of OO programming and threw my hat into C# instead of JAVA and was looking for a TRUE Beginning book that wasn't too trivial but wasn't an intermediate book as well.
As far as this book, there are some people who know the language, but cannot teach others the basics and that is where this author falls into.
It goes all over the place instead of starting with the very basics and building an application where at the end of the book you can actually use the application and learn from it.
I picked up this book off a suggestion that Wrox books are very good, well this one is a dud.
The author doesn't even get into Windows Programming until half way through the book, which I had thought C# was primarly used for (albeit ASP.NET as well).
This book was written for somebody oriented with other OO languages (JAVA, C++) and was switching over.
I wanted a book written for a technical person who has some programming background, but not so easy and basic as the "For Dummies" or "Teach Yourself in 21 days".
The title fools you into believing it is for a Beginner, but buyer beware !!..The best way to really pick a book is to go to a Borders or Barnes and Noble and sit down for an hour or so and read it to see the authors writing style to see if it fits your learning style.
I am getting Murachs C# book, just because I had their Mainframe books which were good, so once I read the Murach book, I'll also write an honest review for those interested or you can go to your local bookstore and review it to form your own opinion.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1: Fundamental Algorithms (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Donald E. Knuth
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Better alternatives exist

It was difficult to assign a "star rating" for this book. It is a classic, for sure. It's definately a good book. However, I don't think I'd recommend it for most readers, and hence the low rating.

Like all of Knuth's "Art of Programming" books, this one is really starting to age. Like other reviewers, I really don't like the MIX assembly examples. (MIX is a fictional computer that he invented purely for the purpose of teaching.) His rationale for using MIX is because he says that he doesn't want to just discuss topics in theory, sometimes it's necessary to show how it's actually implemented. He does this in MIX. He says that he chose MIX, rather than any actual existing machine language, so that it wouldn't be out of date or be tied to a particular platform. Unfortuanetly, there are several problems with the MIX examples:

* First, it's assembly language. I used to do lots of assembly language. (I make video games.) Now I do almost none at all. In general, very few programmers do assembly language programming. I understand how in many cases using a high-level language could possibly have glossed over some of the details. However, still, I think a language like C is sufficiently low level that he could have acheived the same results with C, and it would have been much more readable and accessible to today's audience. Also, when Knuth wrote his first books, C was just being born, and since then, it has become a lingua franca in the computer science community.

* MIX is purposely contrived to be "weird" (6-bit word size???)

* Most importantly, using a fictious computer system introduces an unnecessary extra step to understanding the examples. Not only do you have to learn the material, but you have to wade through learning MIX - information you won't use anywhere else. I know that any of C, Java, Pascal, x86, MIPS, etc would have had people who didn't know that language and so it would have been an impediment to them. Unfortunatly, Knuth has chosen a language that NOBODY knows and so EVERYBODY has this extra learning curve.

The books are also really heavy on the math. I think it's not unfair to say that these books are more math books than they are computer books. Knuth is famous for setting computer science on a mathematical foundation. He proves everything and RIGOROUSLY discusses the math behind every topic. For some readers, this is enlightening. Now I am not shy on math (I wrote a book on 3D math myself) however I usually found the detailed proofs unnecessary. I also wish he would have expressed ideas in English more that equations. For example, Knuth would never write "the elements sum to one" - instead, he'd have an equation using sigma notation. Which is consise and precise and in some sense "elegent" - but it takes a lot of mental "work" to read. I think many readers will share this sentiment.

Some people include the phrase "the information is timeless." Yeah, this is true. But the presentation style is not. There other books with the same "timeless" information, and a more up-to-date style of presentation. I personally use Sedgewick's algorithm's book.

An interesting anecdote on how much I have been actually able to use this book - perhaps it will help you estimate if you will get enough use out of it to justify the price tag. We discovered that the rand() function in the C library on the PS2 was buried underneath several layers of funtion calls and checks for different random number modes, etc, and it was causing a performance problem, and we needed to write a replacement. I was thrilled. Finally, an opportunity to pull the Knuth off the shelf! This book is one of the the bibles on random numbers. I looked for advice on chosing A and C for the linear congruential generator. There was SOOOO much information. (The first 190 pages of the 2nd volume deal with random numbers.) It was all very facinating. Yet in the end, we dug up the gcc source for rand() and just used the numbers they chose!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java Network Programming, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Elliotte Rusty Harold
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Pretty good book, but somewhat outdated and some errors

This is a good book about Java networking, but many of the methods have been deprecated by Java Version 1.1. Also, there are a few minor errors in the code that are correctable by debugging (this actually helped me to learn the topic more in depth - I've been e-mailing the corrections). I hope Mr. Harold comes out with a new release updated for JDK1.1 at least.