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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Telecom Crash Course
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional
Authors: Steven Shepard, Steven Shepard
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
a scatterbrained mess...

First off, a word of warning: Pay heed to the reader's words from Woburn Mass, all of the 5 star reviews of this book actually are from people who are mentioned in the book's acknowledgements.
I purchased this book mostly to learn about telephony. I already know a lot about data networking, and I wanted to expand my knowledge of other aspects of telecom and optical WAN technologies like SONET and SDH. I knew I was in for trouble after reading about 50 pages. Have you ever read a technical book where you had a really hard time absorbing the info, even when you re-read the same paragraphs over and over again? Well, chances are it's not your fault, it's the author's! I can say this for sure about this book, b/c it described stuff that I already know about, and after reading it, I was more confused than before!
Part of the problem is the author's complete lack of organizational logic. On page 2, he describes all of the "techno-jargon" that permeates the telecom industry, and "often gets in the way of the relatively straightforward task of learning how all this stuff actually works". I totally agree, jargon should not obfuscate. BUT, if you're going to point out this common pitfall, you best avoid it yourself, and Shepard does not! He's all over the board, dropping terms and concepts with little or no explanation. About 10 pages in, it's already a muddled mess.
The mess gets worse. He discusses all of these different approaches to multiplexing, but doesn't take the time to explain what the basic process of multiplexing is all about until page 200! Throughout the entire book, he constantly refers to switching versus routing, but he doesn't explain the basic processes until the final 2 pages! These are just a couple examples that stuck out in my mind.
To be sure, there is some useful information to be gleaned here, but it's hard to sort out from all the "noise". Shepard gets into way too much detail on certain subjects and not enough on others, without any discernable logic. For example, he spends several pages discussing how fiber cables are manufactured, but spends less than one page discussing the basic processes of routing and switching. However, given the topic of the book, isn't the latter subject a lot more applicable? As far as I know, telecom professionals don't need to make the actual fiber cables.
This book is too technical for someone who doesn't know anything about telecom, and it's not practical enough for someone who knows a lot. If you're in between like me, you stand to gain a decent high-level overview of the industry, but the details are murky at best.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Guru's Guide to SQL Server Architecture and Internals
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ken Henderson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A must have

I have read all three Guru Guide books, and this is the best one yet. The emphasis in this one is on the internal workings of Sql Server. There is still plenty of info you can put directly to practical use, but the theory in this book is that you have to know how something works in order to put it to optimal practical use. If you work with Sql Server for a living, read this book from cover to cover.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Administrator's Pocket Consultant
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: William R. Stanek
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Focusses on the essential features you use!

This book is 20 chapters and 540 pages, deceptively small especially when it covers more ground than several of the 1,000 page books I bought before it. In fact, I haven't had a question yet that this book didn't answer and the answers are all clear and concise. I've never seen a daily operations book that compares and I have in fact set aside several of those doorstopper books in favor of this one. I can and do carry it with me everywhere. It fits nicely in my backpack.
Why this book over the others? Windows Server 2003 isn't as much of a jump from Windows 2000 (not like Windows 2000 was from Windows NT) and this book covers everything you need to know about Windows Server 2003 to get the job done. You can start using this book as a desk reference immediately or as I've done, read the book from cover to cover to learn whats new and whats what. The good news is that if you are new to Windows Server 2003, this book has everything you need for your every day administration of Windows Server 2003. I think that regardless of your experience level you will find that this book is written in a very clear manner and exceptional accurate and to the point.
The author explains his topics very well. The book is divided into four parts. The different parts are administration fundamtentals, directory services administration, data administration and network administration. The book has held up well and I've abused it in my backpack taking it with me to job sites and the type is just about the perfect size for comfortable reading. I particularly like Stanek's expert tips and "Real World" advice sections.
This is easily the best book on my shelf right now and I plan to use the knowledge I've gained to help with the MCSE for Windows Server 2003 that I plan to take next year. I think that like the previous book, Windows 2000 Pocket Consultant, it will prove to be valuable addition to my preparation book list. Sure there are plenty of preperation books out there (as there were with Windows 2000) but you will still need a good reference on Windows Server 2003 itself in order to give you the practical knowledge--you know the stuff you are going to use.
Overall, I am very happy with this book. It was money well spent. Go buy it, I'm glad I did. Very highly recommended!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: A+ Complete Study Guide, Deluxe Edition
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: David Groth, Dan Newland
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
A lot of good information, but poorly updated.

I purchased this book to help me, as an instructor of an A+ certification course, better prepare me to teach the new subjects covered on the new exam. This book does it all. It covers all subject matter very well and the CD included gives a great practice test. If you are preparing for the new A+ exam or just want a good reference book, this one will do both. Don't stand around and wish you had that certification, order this book and start studying.