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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Hacking Windows XP (ExtremeTech)
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Steve Sinchak
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great tweak guide for Windows XP users

Don't let the title of this book fool you - there is nothing evil going on here. The word "hacking" in the title refers to all the tweaks, modifications, optimizations, and customizations covered in the book.

If you are a Windows XP user who already knows the basics, this book is the perfect source for making your Windows XP install your own. Steve Sinchak does a great job of guiding even first time "hackers" into the world of system customization.

Contents at a Glance:

Part I: Customizing Your System

Chapter 1: Customizing the Look of the Startup
Chapter 2: Customizing User Navigation
Chapter 3: Hacking the Desktop
Chapter 4: Customizing the Appearance of the Windows Interface
Chapter 5: Hacking Windows Explorer
Chapter 6: Exploring Other Windows Enhancements

Part II: Increasing Your System's Performance

Chapter 7: Analyzing Your System
Chapter 8: Speeding Up the System Boot
Chapter 9: Making Your Computer Load Faster
Chapter 10: Making Your Computer More Responsive
Chapter 11: Speeding Up Your Computer

Part III: Securing Your System

Chapter 12: Protecting Your Computer from Intruders
Chapter 13: Fighting Spam, Spyware, and Viruses
Chapter 14: Protecting Your Privacy

The first 6 chapters are about fiddling with the user interface and some pretty cool eye candy. You'll find out how to change the system bootscreen, building a custom Welcome/login interface, an easy way to recompile explorer.exe to change START button text (with the book it's not as hard as is sounds,) build virtual desktops, create custom themes, and hack Windows Explorer.

Part II was the most interesting to me, and in my opinion is the best part of the book. If you are looking to squeeze every possible ounce of speed from your XP machine, here you will find answers. First you will get a snapshot of your system's current speed situation using some great benchmarking and analysis tools.

Next,this book guides you through shaving time off the boot process by hacking the boot.ini file, tweaking BIOS settings, turning off services you dont need (complete with great explainations of what each one does, and a couple of suggested configurations for maximum boot speed,)and maximizing boot file location on the hard disk.

Once the boot is complete, the book shows you how to make XP load faster by adjusting startup programs, making registry hacks to filesystem settings, and even network IP settings for faster load times.

And when XP is up and running you'll get a look at how the prefetcher works, registry hacks to tweak its performance, boost Intel CPU performance, tune the paging file, optimize Internet connections for maximum speed, and boost the speed of your home network browsing.

The book wraps up with some great tricks for securing your XP install, dealing with Viruses and Spyware, and protectig your privacy.

This title does include a CD, and I generally write those off as a little gimmicky. But in this case, it adds tremendous value to the book. Not only does it come with 45 hacking tools and toys, most importantly it includes .reg files for registry hacks, and many of them have "undo" files if you want to revert to the old settings. Simply double clicking on these .reg files makes the registry hacks automatic, and keeps you from having to trudge through the Win XP registry.

If you are a Windows XP beginner, this book is not for you. This is a great guide for Windows XP power users - those who know the basics, and are not afraid to dive in and do some under the hood work on their system. Recommended.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The J2EE Tutorial
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Stephanie Bodoff, Dale Green, Kim Haase, Eric Jendrock, Monica Pawlan, Beth Stearns
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An excellent deployment primer

I think some of the critics miss the point of a book like this. There are many excellent books about EJB and Servlet/JSP etc, but there are not many which show the precise details about how to get applications up and running on a specific platform.
No, the tutorial doesn't address the higher-level issues of architecting and building working systems. I recommend Ed Roman's Mastering Enterprise Javabeans and/or Monson-Haefel's Enterprise Javabeans 3rd edition for that purpose. The latter book has a small series of platform-specific workbooks to handle the specifics, the best treatment of deployment which I have yet seen.
But this book is good for getting you up and running. Of course you can always use the online version to stay up to date, so unless you prefer the dead-trees version (as I do) use that one....

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
A "must have" for data management professionals

As one of E.F. Codd's closest associates Chris Date has long provided the world with some of the most insightful writings on the relational model of data management. Much to their proponents chagrin, he also writes incisively about the various "improvements" to the relational model.
Those who are looking for a cookbook approach to any specific DBMS platform will be sorely disapointed. This book will not help you obtain your MCDBA, OCP, or any other alphabet-soup certification. However, for anyone looking for a firm foundation of data management fundamentals and the practical implications of such, this is THE book to read.
Chris' style of writing tends to be a bit academic and precise. This quality does turn some folks off, but it is this quality that makes his writing so valuable. Read it, re-read it and learn this stuff! No one can seriously consider themselves a data management professional without a good grasp of the material in this book. This is the book that other authors refer to when they want to get their facts straight.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Internet Routing Architectures (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: Sam Halabi, Danny McPherson
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
good for cisco specific view of bgp, but lacking in places

mr halabi knows his material and has an easy-to-follow writingstyle. however, this book does an inadequate job of providingcomplete examples (especially community usage), which when learning something as complex as bgp, are essential. overall, it is a great book and i recommend it to experienced aswell as novice engineers, if for no other reason than the discussion of some of the politics and history of internetworkengineering (as well as some of the organizations/groups which
exist)this book will teach you cisco's version of bgp - but when youhave cisco's marketshare, why not... you should alse read therfcs for bgp. before you think about trying to set-up bgp readthis, but also do some searching on the web for other resources(the multihoming faq is very useful)