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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Speech and Language Processing: An Introduction to Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics and Speech Recognition
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Daniel Jurafsky, James H. Martin
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A Landmark Book

The previous best book on NLP was James Allen's (1995), which was considered ambitious at the time because it covered syntax, semantics and some pragmatics. But Martin and Jurafsky is far more ambitious, because it covers speech recognition as well, and has far expanded coverage of language generation and translation. It also covers the great advances in statistical techniques that have marked the last decade. It is a beautiful synthesis that will reward the experienced expert in the field with new insights and new connections in the form of historical notes that are not well known. And it is well-written and clear enough that even the beginning student can follow it through. Before this book, you would have had to read Allen's book, Charniak's short book on statistical NLP, something on speech recognition, and something else on generation and translation. Like squeezing clowns into a circus car, Jurafsky and Martin somehow, improbably, manage to squeeze this all into one book, but in a way that is elegant and holds together perfectly; not at all the hodge-podge that one might expect. I expect that this book will be seen as one of the landmarks that pushes the field forward.
It's worth comparing this book to the other recent NLP text: Manning and Shutze. Jurafsky and Martin cover much more ground, including many aspects that are ignored by Manning and Schutze. So if you want a general overview of natural language, if you want to know about the syntax of English, or the intricacies of dialog, if you are teaching or taking a general NLP course, then Jurafsky and Martin is the one for you. But if your needs are more focused on the algorithms for lower-level text processing with statistical techniques, or if you want to build a specific practical application, then Manning and Schutze is far more comprehensive and likely to have your answer. If you're a serious student or professional in NLP, you just have to have both.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Backup Book: Disaster Recovery from Desktop to Data Center
Publisher: Schaser-Vartan Books
Authors: E. L. Heiberger, Karsten Koop
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Good, but bloated and a bit sophomoric.

This book would have been great if it was 60% of the pages with the fluff and jokes cut out. Backup is a serious subject, and a few jokes may be cute, but they pervade the book to the point of becoming annoying. There is also too much time spent on the bare basics - it sometimes felt like the author had a page quota to meet.That said, it appears to be the only game in town covering the subject to this breadth and depth, and when the author cuts to the chase, he clearly has a good understanding of the problems and soulutions, with only a few technical errors (amusingly, the errors are just where the author appears to be trying to impress the reader with the depth of their knowledge.)

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Adobe Photoshop CS Book for Digital Photographers (Voices That Matter)
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Scott Kelby
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The best!

I have several books on Photoshop CS, but this is far and away the best one for editing digital photography. If I could only keep one book, this would definitely be it. It's full of practical ideas that cover the full range of topics.

Buy it and go through the exercises. You'll love it.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Professional C# (Programmer to Programmer)
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Simon Robinson, Christian Nagel, Karli Watson, Jay Glynn, Morgan Skinner, Bill Evjen
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
I miss the programmer-to-programmer aspect

I have been using this book for 1 month now, I found it ok the first read-through, but when I needed to go deeper I ended up searching Google for the answers. Four examples:
- when reading about abstract classes (p.115), it was not explicitly stated that they can contain implementation code. Rather drop the section, then do an uncomplete job.
- when reading about ApplicationDomains (p.341), I was missing a justification for them. When would you (in practice) want to use that functionality (rarely, I think)?
- when reading about Remoting and events (p.499), I was missing a comparison to implementing call-back using distributed objects (Corba/DCOM-style), or by using COM+ LCE.
- I was unsuccessful in getting regsvcs.exe to register my COM+ LCE topic, reading about Enterprise services (p.999) did not help.

Since this Wrox series is programmer-to-programmer, I feel that more tips on using the technology is needed, rather than a reference-like explanation of it, a focus on solving real problems. E.g. by discussing together distributed objects, events over remoting and COM+ LCE, instead of doing so seperately. As a comparison, Rod Johnson's book "Expert One-on-One J2EE Design and Development" is an excellent example of how I would like a programmer-to-programmer book to be.

To be fair, I have had lots of use for this book, it just did not fulfil all my expectations.