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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming & Customizing PICmicro Microcontrollers
Publisher: McGraw-Hill/TAB Electronics
Authors: Myke Predko
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good Book


I am a professional embedded programmer. I purchased this book so that I could get up to speed on the Microchip PIC architecture and its assembly language.
I read the first 105 pages of the book in detail so that I'd have a basic understanding of the PIC micro architecture for the mid-range family. (I acquired an MPLAB-ICD, from Microchip, which is based on the 16F877 -midrange chip.) Afterwards I went straight to the section in chap. 14 on the MPLAB-ICD and got the ICD kit running.
After that, I went to chapter 15 and did the first 10 experiments using the MPLAB-ICD. Basically, the course that I followed allowed me to get up to speed in the shortest amount of time. Most of these experiments were designed for the 16F84 but they're all easily modified to run on the 16F877.
My findings:
1. The book is sprinkled with spelling and grammatical errors, however so is the Microchip documentation on their chips - this is more frustrating because you're taking Microchip's word as absolute truth.
2. It is nice that Myke included the El-Cheapo programmer circuit board. However, given the time and cost associated with building it, I'd rather use the MPLAB-ICD. However (there's always a however) the El-Cheapo programs quite a variety while the ICD only does the 16F877. (Note: Microchip has a new ICD that programs all or most of their chips. It's low cost and is already built.)
3. Unlike other reviewers, I found the code that I ran to be reliable - I found no blatant errors in the code - errors that would keep the code from running "as advertised." I copied my code from the CD - this was a time-saver.
4. The book is way too long to read from cover to cover. I'd die of boredom if I tried to do this. When I was going through the first 10 experiments, I skipped to the earlier chapters to dig for information. This is a fact of life when programming microcontrollers. You typically don't read whole data books on a microcontroller. Fortunately, I found the Microchip data sheets to have most of the information I was looking for. This minimized my searches in Myke's book.
6. Myke should have provided a road map to assist people with different levels of experience get up to speed in the shortest time possible.
7. To be fair, the book was comprehensive and I was able to find answers to most of my PIC architecture/assembly questions.
8. The index is not easy to read. Take a look at it and you'll understand what I mean. Sometimes, I felt like I needed a magnifying glass. The topics and their subtopics are in the same small font and the subtopics are often numerous - sometimes extending to the next page. Myke, for the next edition fix this.
9. Chapter 13 has quite a deal of information on the YAP-II programmer. This information would have been better kept on the CD so as not to pack the book with too much information.
10. I am specifically interested in the electronic thermometer project on page 957. For my application Myke's approach is not adequate, however it may be fine for you. Regardless, I enjoyed seeing his approach and comparing it to mine. Myke uses a thermistor as part of an RC circuit which is charged to 5 volts. The capacitor is then discharged through the thermistor to a known voltage (2.5v) and the time constant for the circuit is determined from this. This measured time is directly related to the thermistor's resistance which is directly related to the temperature. After reading Myke's book, I implemented a 16 by 16 signed multiply on the 16F877. I used a least squares curve fitting program to derive a cubic equation for the thermistor's data (same one Myke used) and implemented this equation on the PIC using fixed point arithmetic.
I used information in Chap 15 to get the serial port going - by cutting and pasting. I had a friend write a Visual Basic app to display the temperature on a PC. Armed with the PIC information from Myke's book, I implemented a temperature controller that can accurately hold the temp. in an oven to better than 2 Deg. F. (with minimal over/undershoot) and reports the temperature to a PC. The approach I took yields greater precision and requires less parts however Myke's approach is simpler. Maybe I'll write a book on this...
I recommend getting this book if you want to get started with the PIC microcontroller - it's a good reference...



Product: Book -
Title: eBay Secrets : How to create Internet auction listings that make 30% more money while selling every item you list
Publisher:
Authors: Steven Ellis White, Bryon Krug
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Times Have Changed and Bidders Have Too


Being an eBay Powerseller, I thought I'd try this book for the reasonable price. I put up two batches of auctions of 25 items each, diligently using the book's suggestions. One auction before Christmas, and one after. I was hopeful, but the results I got were so disappointing, I won't bother again.

For one thing, bidders are MUCH more sophisticated than they were 5 years ago. They no longer conduct bidding wars throughout the auction term, driving prices higher. They wait, and bid in the last hours of the sale--just like I do--to keep the prices lower. If you start lower, as the author suggests you do,you simply get less. ... $5.00 items don't sell well this way--usually you just break even and wear yourself out shipping lots of $1.00 profit per item envelopes. Not time efficient.

The one technique I have adopted from the entire read is Flat Rate Shipping--it IS simpler.

Glad I didn't follow the author's example and list my Jaguar this way--$1 No Reserve !!!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages, Vol. 1: Core Technologies, Second Edition
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Marty Hall, Larry Brown
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Want to learn how to make your servlets talk to a database?


Chapter 18 of this book alone is well worth the price. Mater of fact the source code for the ConnectionPool class alone is well worth the price of this book. If you want to learn how to make your servlets interface with a RDBMS then don't look any further. Chapter 18: JDBC and Database Connection Pooling will get you going faster than any other book out there.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Core Servlets and JavaServer Pages, Vol. 1: Core Technologies, Second Edition
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Marty Hall, Larry Brown
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Want to learn how to make your servlets talk to a database?


Chapter 18 of this book alone is well worth the price. Mater of fact the source code for the ConnectionPool class alone is well worth the price of this book. If you want to learn how to make your servlets interface with a RDBMS then don't look any further. Chapter 18: JDBC and Database Connection Pooling will get you going faster than any other book out there.