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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: An Introduction to Database Systems, Eighth Edition
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Authors: C.J. Date
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An Introduction for Software Engineers, not Users

Sorry, no full-color graphics, and no included disk full of fill-in-the-blank examples and wizards to build your contact list. This is an old-fashioned academic tome, not a how-to book or thinly-disguised marketing tool for some commercial database system.
I suppose the biggest criticism I could make of this book is that it overestimates the target audience. Unfortunately, many who see the title of this book assume that it will teach them how to work with current database products such as Oracle, or maybe SQL Server and Access. No, this book doesn't show you how to create an invoicing system for your bicycle shop, or a web content management system. What it will show you is the conceptual underpinning of the relational data model, how to understand relational database systems in general (not everything is SQL, you know), and provide some heavy insight into how relational databases should be designed.
In that sense, it can be considered an "introductory" book for software engineers, who might themselves create a new database management system. It can also be considered introductory for database administrators and systems programmers who are looking to expand their knowledge beyond the product-specific practical methods they have been exposed to. In other words, if you just want to know "how things are done" in your industry, don't read this book. If you want some insights into how things COULD be done much better, you might want to read this book.
So, while I might not recommend this book to a junior programmer tasked with creating his/her first web-based ordering system, I might recommend it to the company DBA or systems architect. Even more, I would recommend this book to anyone studying C/C++, and looking to start a career in software engineering, possibly to help create new database systems. This book doesn't discuss specific implementation in C++ or anything like that but it provides an excellent target feature set and language spec for development, as well as a clarification of the formal logic behind relational database management.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Building Secure Software: How to Avoid Security Problems the Right Way
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: John Viega, Gary McGraw
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An Indictment for Applications Development

Many transformations begin with an indictment. Two notable examples are Martin Luther's "95 Theses" criticizing the Catholic Church, which began the Reformation, and Ralph Nader's denunciation of the auto industry with "Unsafe at Any Speed." An indictment of the software industry and its indifference to writing secure software hasbeen published in "Building Secure Software: How to Avoid Security Problems the Right Way" by John Viega and Gary McGraw.
Twenty years into the client-server revolution, and a decade into the Internet revolution, it's a measure of inadequacy of secure coding that only now are the first books being written on how to secure software -- the very foundation of information systems.
Software developers who code without taking security into consideration are potentially as dangerous as a physician prescribing a drug without knowing its side effects. As a society, we should tolerate neither.
While security products such as firewalls, encryption devices, event monitoring and intrusion-detection systems are needed to secure networks; it must not be forgotten that behind every security problem is a common enemy -- insecurely written software.
Building secure software is not rocket science. Writing secure code doesn't mean turning every developer into a world-class cryptographer. It simply means training them in the fundamentals of how software works, including security. If corporate end users can betrained not to send inappropriate (sexist, racist, confidential, etc.) e-mail via corporate servers, then software developers can certainly be trained to write secure software programs.
The revolution needed in software development is to integrate security into software engineering. The current approach in software is to patch problems after they occur. In fact, 2003 saw the rise of many patch management companies; a sector that only came to be recently. Endless patching is a downward spiral that only serves to treat the symptoms, not the true problem, and only in a reactive manner. Had those same programmers been trained in writing secure code, much of the problems would have been obviated and billions of dollars saved in the interim.
It's all the rage to send development offshore in the name of saving money. If companies understood how much more money could be saved by building secure software from the get-go, rather than bolting security on as an afterthought; wouldn't they do the same?
It's frightening to think that in just a matter of years, everything but the food we eat will have an IP address attached to it. When the time comes that your family vacation commences with a flight on a pilot-less airplane, here's hoping the developers of the navigation and control systems knew the rudiments of writing secure software.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Xenosaga Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Bradygames
Authors: Dan Birlew, Bradygames, Laura M. Parkinson
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

As far as strategy guides go, I'm more concerned with how its going to get me through the game, and also if it can get me through the game with ease. That's the MAIN point of a guide is to get you through the game. The Xenosaga Official Strategy Guide does this with ease. There are a couple of gripes present but otherwise very nice.
The first thing I noticed about the guide were the first about 60 pages of the guide are dedicated to a few of the miscellaneous things. The game basics and such. This may not seem like much but the guide explains the basics of the game a lot more clearly than the instruction booklet does.
Character profiles are great. They tell you when characters learn techs in an easy to use chart and they also give a small bio for them without spoiling what their main role is in the quest!
An weapon/armor/item list is availible. Easy to use table that tells you what you should buy and what you probably shouldn't. We all know that in Xenosaga you could spend quite a bit of money and you don't get much. This guide will help you save your money.
A.G.W.S data for them all. This also suggest what you should and shouldn't buy for them, as well as who should pilot them and what attacks you should focus on using.
The walkthrough was perhaps the most helpful part of this guide. This is where a couple of my small gripes come in but believe me they're very small. The walkthrough is easy to use and here's a nice thing to do in using this guide, while a movie scene from the game is playing take the time to read the guide. You'll notice that a lot of the info is extremely helpful.
Most noticeable are the boss strategies. These are VERY helpful strategies but this is where my first gripe with the guide comes in. The boss strategies are extremely helpful on offense. It's great to know what you can do to the boss but it would also be nice if they told me what the boss could do to me in return. Other than that these strategies are unbeatable.
Before you begin each section you'll see a list of enemies, maps with a very handy key, and a step-by-step objective and items list. VERY helpful walkthrough.
My second gripe is minor depending on how you use the guide. The screenshots aren't always clear. Some are rather fuzzy (the smaller ones). It's also nice that with each new area you come to there are mini-bios for the characters who you'll meet there. So the guide is very imformative. The best part? The guide has NO spoilers to the amazing story that unfolds!
Now for those mini-games, side-quests and secrets. The guide will help you to understand the mini-games and play them to success. If you're like me you don't play mini-games much. The guide also covers just about every secret and sidequests there is, again it doesn't spoil the plot.
Clearly this is an extremely helpful guide. You'll love the guide. It's great to use for the game. Just remember that you won't know what to expect from EVERY boss (there's one that can kill you in one hit and the guide WON'T point it out).

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Introduction to Algorithms, Second Edition
Publisher: The MIT Press
Authors: Thomas H. Cormen, Charles E. Leiserson, Ronald L. Rivest, Clifford Stein
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Slightly more fun than the dentist, but not much.

As textbooks go, this one is pretty dry. Granted, it is about Algorithm analysis, but even so, its pretty bad. The explanation of the concepts is poor, and the exercises are not obviously answered in the text, if they are at all. This book is known to actually introduce concepts in the exercises at the end of the chapter. Question: what is X? Index says: see question on X. I have never had a worse text in my life. If you are a teacher, and hate your students, require this book. It more than any other will give your pupils ulcers and sleepless nights.