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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming PHP
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Rasmus Lerdorf, Kevin Tatroe
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent Beginner's Reference for PHP Programming

Written in part by PHP's creator Rasmus Lerdorf, O'Reilly's Programming PHP is an excellent beginner's reference for PHP programming.
The book covers language fundamentals--many of which are similar enough to Java, C, JavaScript, etc. that a programmer with even a modicum of experience with those languages will quickly pick up the syntax--and then goes into detail on various aspects of PHP programming, from web programming to database integration.
The book does only touch on some areas; the database chapters, for instance, concetrate mainly on the MySQL interface, though PHP can easily be used with PostGRESQL and even products like Oracle and Microsoft SQLServer. However, there are more in-depth books for readers wishing to explore those topics in detail.
The programmer's function reference and other appendices are useful as well, although at times finding a function in the index will only direct you to a short entry in the function reference, not an in-depth explanation as to its application.
If you want to set up a scripted, interactive web site without having to learn the more difficult (and at times less suitable) Perl, then PHP is for you. As the language exists on both Unix and Windows platforms, PHP can serve as an alternative to other scripting languages as well such as ASP / VBScript. This book is the key to getting started.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Secure Programming Cookbook for C and C++
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: John Viega, Matt Messier
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
A task-oriented reference guide

To be truthful, I bought this book because the "gang" I hang out with is mentioned in the Acknowledgments section of the book. That was the ONLY reason when I sent money to Amazon.Com and purchased it for the dusty collection on my bookshelf.
But, when I got it and chuckled over the Acknowledgements section, I started to mindlessly flip through the book. Mindless page flipping soon turned to semi-conscious scanning. Semi-conscious scanning soon turned to serious reading. I find myself reading the book more and more, jumping back and forth between sections I find interesting and useful.
As a Windows C++ programmer for in-house tools, I do not dwell much on secure programming concepts. Yes, this is very, very bad way to program, so those of you reading this review should not try it at home. This book has shown the errors of my ways, revealed security issues that I have overlooked by accident or on purpose and gave concepts and examples that I can apply in my projects.
This book is one reference that I will be going back over and over again. The authors and editors have done a wonderful job to make the reading flow nice and easy. It is also very well laid out by stating the problem you may encounter, followed by a solution and then detailed discussion section with code samples.
For any C/C++ programmer making software to be used by more than one person, this reference book is a must.
You can still read the Acknowledgments and marvel at my name on there, of course.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Test Driven Development: By Example
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Kent Beck
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
A decent introduciton

This Kent Beck title is an introduction to the world of Test-Driven Development (TDD). The book teaches the concepts of TDD by working through two complete sample projects. Along the way, Beck gives the reader valuable insight into the thought process and techniques behind successful test-driven development. When the reader has finished working through these sample projects, he should know enough about TDD to get started working on a TDD project.
The book is divided into three sections. The first two sections are each walkthroughs of the aforementioned sample projects using TDD. The third section is a collection of notes and useful tips to try to get the most out of TDD. If you've ever read anything from Beck, then you should be familiar with his style. If you haven't, Beck is an engaging enough writer, and the text flows smoothly and is fairly pleasant to read.
It would help to be familiar with some member of the xUnit family prior to reading this book. Beck uses Java and JUnit for the first section, but never really goes into discussing the JUnit API. Readers unfamiliar with xUnit may have no idea how to proceed with writing their own tests using one of these frameworks. True the API is simple enough that its functions may be ascertained simply by reading the code, but this is no reason not to provide explanation. The second sample project is an actual implementation of xUnit, so a bit more information may be gleaned here. Beck made the curious decision to use Python as the language of implementation for the second project, although he does provide explanation of the language's fundamentals. Finally, none of the sample projects are really complicated enough to do more than get us going on the path of TDD. There will still be many hurdles to climb when working on a real-world project.
If you are seeking a basic introduction to test-driven development, then you might enjoy this title. If you are a Java developer interested in exploring TDD more in-depth, there are better books out there.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Unleashed (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Ray Rankins, Paul Jensen, Paul Bertucci
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
A Rating More in Line with Reality

I purchased this book based on all of the 5 star ratings it received. How could so many reviewers be so wrong? It is a decent book that covers all of the SQL 2000 topics you would expect, but it lacks detail on those topics. I was also disappointed in the lack of "extras", like hidden features or tricks/tips. I find it neither helpful as a training guide or as a reference book. Minasi's Mastering NT/2000 is deserving of 5 stars and is the book that I use to judge other IT books. SQL Unleashed, unfortunately, falls short of that mark.