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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide, 4th Edition
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Michael Meyers
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great book for passing A+ exam

The A+ certification exam is not easy. Using this book will help anyone pass. Michael Meyers has a great way of making topics that many would consider difficult easy. His style of writing does not make it boaring neither.
The first chapter gives an inside look of the PC. He quickly goes through the basic components. The second chapter on microprocessors is very good. He gives an explaination of how processors work and also the differences between each modern processor. In the third chapter he talks about RAM history and how it works. The fourth chapter gives a detailed explanation of the motherboard and the system BIOS. Chapter 5 is an excellent introduction to the expansion bus. This chapter is very important to understand. Chapter 6 - 8 are about power supplies, floppy and hard drives. These chapters give detailed explanations on each of these devices.
He then takes a break from hardware and jumps into software. Chapter 9 on DOS is excellent. It gives an overview of DOS commands and also explains the structure of DOS. The chapter on Windows 9x describes many parts of this OS and how to install and maintain it. The Windows 2000 section describes the differences of the Windows 9x and Windows NT operating systems. It also showed how to troubleshoot and maintain this OS. I felt the Windows 2000 information was a lot lighter than the other operating systems. Chapter 12 on memory managment will give the reader a very good understanding of how memory works in a PC.
The author then jumps back to hardware describing SCSI and the changes it has gone through over the years. The next few chapters go into some basic PC devices (CD-ROM, Sound Cards, Video Boards, Modems). Chapter 18 talks about Laptops. This chapter mostly talks about how laptops handle power management and PC cards. Chapter 19 on printers talks about printers ranging from dot matrix to laser printers. The chapter on networks could have been a bit longer and some of the protocols should have been given more detailed discussions.
The book is very good and the layout is perfect. The book is not structured as the test is (Hardware / Operating System). It goes into hardware then operating systems and back to hardware. This layout works because understanding some of the OS information will help the reader understand the setup of hardware devices like video and sound cards.
If you want to understand the PC or want to pass the A+ exam this book is an excellent choice. It is a great tutorial and reference. For even greater practice get the Lab Manual as well. With these two books you will pass.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Malware: Fighting Malicious Code
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Ed Skoudis, Lenny Zeltser
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Many "big names" in infosec give this a 5 and they're right!

I am fortunate to have an autographed copy from when Mr. Skoudis taught a SANS class I attended; and have had to take a lot of time getting it read in the meantime. This is the book that I would recommend to anyone that would learn the workings of worm, virus, trojan horse and other malware - not how to write them, but how to understand and deal with them. The information on setting up a lab to examine these critters is a good start for those wanting to understand attacks - but like other reviewers have said, this book is not for one without a grounding in computer security.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Pattern-Oriented Software Architecture, Volume 2, Patterns for Concurrent and Networked Objects
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Douglas Schmidt, Michael Stal, Hans Rohnert, Frank Buschmann
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Tools you must have as a programmer and archtitect today

I highly recommend this book! If you've ever wrestled with the varying idiosyncrasies of different operating systems' APIs, the gory details of network programming and/or the complexities of multithreaded programming, then you need this book. Even if you haven't yet and are just now getting into network and concurrent programming, then you will need the tools in this book. The writing style is very very easy to read even though it is tackling a complex subject. You can tell as you read it that it was written by programmers who have been in the trenches of network and concurrent programming.
Almost as important as the patterns presented in the core of the book, are the descriptions of the challenges one faces when architecting and writing concurrent and networked software. For me, getting a clear understanding of these exact challenges and difficulties simplified the entire task of distributed programming. Add to that the patterns themselves and I feel anyone who reads this will have a great deal of confidence and competence in concurrent and networked programming.
Each pattern is clearly laid out and includes real-life examples and sample code. Additionally, there are clear descriptions of how these patterns work together to solve real problems. I was able to put the patterns described in this book into immediate use in the large-scale industrial projects that I was and still am working on. And when I say I was able to put them to use, I mean not just sparingly but rather at the very core of the architecture I was building. I can honestly say that the use of the patterns and techniques described in this book has saved me hundreds of hours of time and headache! This book takes what has been, in the past, the skill of only a few programmers and provides you with tools to tackle the complex tasks of architecting and programming concurrent and networked software.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Code Complete
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Steve McConnell
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Distilled for those without good mentoring.

A lot has been made of the Microsoft Press series onsoftware development, but the intimations that this informationis somehow mere common sense should be directly refuted.
Yes, after reading Code Complete I thought, "I already dothis at work. Duh." Then it occurred to me that I wassurrounded by really smart, highly-evolved programmers andthat the things I did were a result of a solid peer group ofprofessionals, some with 20 years of IT experience. So thedistillation of what I know (and what I learned) is in thisbook specifically, and the Microsoft Press books in general.
None of that explains why Windows operating systems continueto perform dopey things, but I know it isn't because theprogrammers are ill-trained.