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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Effective Java Programming Language Guide
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Joshua Bloch
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
By far the best Java book I own!

This book is far and away the best Java book I own. It reads like a mixture of "Practical Java" by Haggar (Java implementation specific advice) and "Code Complete" by McConnell (Good software engineering advice). The majority of the book covers good software construction practices that work well within the Java framework. The author was involved in the design and construction of the java libraries so he has a great deal of experience as to what is and is not a good design idea. Also, some design flaws in the Java libraries are pointed out as examples of how not to do things.
This book assumes that the reader has a total understanding of Java basics and basic software design so it is not a book to learn Java from.
I found "Practical Java" by Haggar to be a really good complement to what is not covered in this book.
Anyone using the practices in this book will improve their code reliability, reuseability, and debugability (I probably made that word up).

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: CCNA Flash Cards and Exam Practice Pack (CCNA Self-Study, exam #640-801), Second Edition
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: Eric Rivard, Jim Doherty
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Passed Exam!!!!!!

I had to renew my CCNA cert last month so I bought this "Practice Pack". I went through the flash cards twice and they really helped me remember a lot of stuff I forgot and did not know. The CD in the back had some simulations which really helped me on the exam. I bought Boson CCNA exams, but I felt the flash cards and the questions on the CD where way better than Boson and where closer to what I saw on the exam. I passed the exam with a 870 and felt I could of only used this practice kit as my only test prep. Overall a great product.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Developing Microsoft ASP.NET Server Controls and Components
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Nikhil/Datye, V. Kothari, Nikhil Kothari, Vandana Datye
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Finally, a logical progression...

Server controls are extremely complicated beasts. Because of the stateless nature of web programming, we are called upon to consider much more "plumbing and housekeeping" than when developing Forms controls or components. That said, MS has done a great job of providing this plumbing, but we still have to know how to put the pipes together!
This book progresses logically from the conceptual (control execution lifecycle) to the practical (how HTTP handlers can simplify our lives). On the way, it actually builds on what you have learned before. For example, I have read a book on server controls (not naming names) that showed in one chapter how to use ViewState to persist properties, then abandoned it in subsequent chapters! So I was left thinking "huh, do I need to use this ViewState thing for simple properties, or not?". Not so in this book. They teach one thing, then continue to implement it in subsequent chapters, so that if you really feel comfortable with certain topics, you can jump into this book at any point and get something useful out of it. Amazing. A very good read, and achieves all this without talking "down" to you.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Writing Excel Macros with VBA, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Steven Roman
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Not a good primary reference

I was looking for a primary reference for the Excel object model. I have years of programming experience, some VB, and was looking for something to get me started programming Excel VBA. This book is not suitable as a primary reference. Much better are either Power Programming (Walkenbach) or Excel VBA (Bovey) which contain many useful tips and gotchas that helped me out of a few baffling situations. Roman's book seemed to focus on the few examples he developed, rather than be a resource for problems a beginning/intermediate Excel programmer was likely to encounter.