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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Absolute OpenBSD: UNIX for the Practical Paranoid
Publisher: No Starch Press
Authors: Michael W. Lucas
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent introduction to OpenBSD


This book is a great introduction to OpenBSD. As other reviewers have pointed out, it is a general text that doesn't go into great detail on advanced topics. A lot of things are skimmed over, as it is assumed that the reader has already had some basic experience with other Unix-like operating systems. The book does a great job of covering OpenBSD-specific topics in good detail, while easing off in other areas (e.g. IPsec, mailer configuration, etc.) where you will be able to find other books that cover those topics in much more detail.
As for editing and errors: yes, there are some. More then I would like? Yes. But more than I'd expect? No, I don't think so. The errors that I noticed hardly detract from the overall quality of the book.
After having run an OpenBSD firewall at home for the past year, I still found a lot of nuggets of information in this book that I did not know previously. For newcomers to OpenBSD, especially, I highly recommend this book.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2 Study Guide (Exam 310-035 & 310-027)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
exam simulator not written in java -- need windows or stuck


On the whole this is a very good book to pass the programmers exam. It is well written, has a good sense of humour, and flows nicely.
BUT: The test simulator is NOT written in Java. I use linux, so I had to run the simulator using the latest version of wine working in conjunction with a copy of Windows95 in my file system, and even then it would break on occasion -- which is very annoying if you are trying to pass the exam questions. The author mentions writing this book on Apple, so why should we be forced to buy MS Windows in order to get the full value out of it? An exam simulator is EXACTLY the kind of thing that should be written as a java application.
In fact this seems to be what the book "SCWCD exam study kit" by Hanumant Deshmukh and Jignesh Malavia (isbn 1930110596) has done. So it is possible.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: DNS and BIND, Fourth Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Paul Albitz, Cricket Liu
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
THE book of DNS & BIND


This Book is a must have for anyone seriously doing DNS work today. The upcoming 3rd edition will cover BIND Version 8, but the substance of DNS and how it works on the Internet is fully and delightfully covered in both previous editions. The Authors are completely knowledgeable about DNS and share that knowledge in a straighforward comfortable style that makes DNS & BIND a fun read while imparting loads of DNS wisdom.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: STL Tutorial and Reference Guide: C++ Programming with the Standard Template Library (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: David R. Musser, Gillmer J. Derge, Atul Saini
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Useful, but not Handy


John's reviews are interesting. While I agree with many of the points he makes, I disagree with some. And I found a few to be self-contradictory.
He says, for instance, that "This is a good solid book that will get you up to speed quickly on all the important ideas in STL, and many of its basic usage idioms", but then naievely claims that "there aren't any higher level ideas than those presented here". Does the book cover only basic concepts, or is it that if the book doesn't cover it, it is not knowledge?
The book is full of concrete examples. But my problem was that they were trivial. Reversing or sorting or finding characters within a string is great fun. But it doesn't help me understand who owns the memory within a container. Or how to directly and safely reference an element at an arbitrary position within a container outside of an iteration loop. A majority of the examples use trivial intrinsic datatypes for contained elements; how is using a struct or class different?
All of those issues are important aspects of using the library, and not something I think a busy reader should leave to "a little imagination". While most of the disputed facts are eventually available in the text, they're not easy to find. The organization of the book isn't quite intuitive enough to make it a thoughtful reference or a breezy tutorial.
And, in many cases, once found, they're not clear. John cited page 151 for an explanation of the differences between some of the collections. There, it says "With maps an multimaps, the data items are pairs of keys and data of some other type..." What's that mean? Two keys and data of some other type? Or a key and data of some other type? Does "pairs" mean "two", or an instance of the "pairs" utility class?
The book really is missing information. None of the examples do any error checking whatsoever, and the exceptions that the templates throw aren't described. (Maybe, like priority queues, error handling was formalized after the book went to press. It is showing its age, and there's now a 2nd edition. I haven't purchased it.)
It's ambitious to write a book that tries to serve as both a tutorial and the reference. (Me, I think it's just impossible.) This book does very well, but falls short of adequately completing either goal.
I think that there's a bias against this book because it doesn't fit well with the way these reviewers would have liked to learn the subject at hand. I know that's where I landed. While true masters do indeed make it look simple, making it look simple doesn't help learning. Otherwise, we could all watch Tiger Woods for a few Sundays before taking home a Buick and a six-figure check.