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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft .NET XML Web Services Step by Step
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Adam Freeman, Allen Jones, Adam Freeman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great Book

Comprehensive, but easy to follow. I learned a lot,very quickly and with no problems. Recommended.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A superb book about math, art, computers and the mind.

This book was nothing short of fantastic. The subject matter discussed is as broad as it is thought-provoking. The dialogues are intricate, humorous, and insightful. Don't buy this book if you expect light reading. Some sections took me hours to read, and even longer to fully grasp. Hofstadter is able to explain complex concepts with such simplicity and style that even a semi-moron such as myself can understand them. One of the few books that is capable of fundamentally changing the way you think (and the way you think about thinking).

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Compilers
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Authors: Alfred V. Aho, Ravi Sethi, Jeffrey D. Ullman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great Book

I dunno how many people like me tried to read this book.
* I am not very math oriented.* I dont have a CS degree.* I am generally a dumb dude.
I am reading this purely for fun. I had a lot of trouble just understand the concept of CFG's. Since the text was dense, I had to look up other resources (web) to clarify and understand whats described.
What I dicovered was that book contained the best and shortest description and explanation of the concepts. In other words highly optimized. Every day read a couple of pages and every day this book fills me with new ideas and joy!
Conclusion: The text is terse. For an average guy like me, it is a little hard on the poor brain. With a little effort, hard work and patience this is proably the best book for concepts.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Interconnections: Bridges, Routers, Switches, and Internetworking Protocols (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Radia Perlman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Foundational Reading!

There are moments when this book reads like a detective story with drama, plot, and humor but even when Radia Perlman is simply working through the details of internetworking protocols the writing is clear and crisp. The chapters are well organized and diagrams are used very effectively to make even dense concepts accessible.
What I liked best about Interconnections was being consistently able to understand what the author was saying. While an electrical engineer might get a little more out of her discussions than I did I never felt locked out because my undergraduate education was in the liberal arts.
The material she presents is not always easy. In fact, Radia notes, "Anyone who isn't confused about when routers become EGP neighbors and what the rules are for configuring routers to initiate being EGP neighbors does not understand EGP" (p. 428). And yet the reader who is willing to concentrate and follow her lead can understand everything covered.
Even though this is a marvelously written book it is not for everyone. I would hesitate to recommend it to a network technician wanting to understand networks more fully. While I think every computer science student should spend two semesters working through these 18 chapters, memorizing the Glossary, and discussing the suggested homework problems the book is overkill for the ordinary MCSE candidate wanting to master Networking Essentials for a Microsoft certification exam. Interconnections is foundational reading for those who would design protocols or vendor equipment designed to interoperate with protocols but it is a bit much for someone who just wants to know which port to plug the cable into.
While Interconnections is not for everyone, I think it is essential reading for anyone who makes purchase decisions in an enterprise network. Without a firm understanding of bridges, routers, switches, and internetworking protocols they become far too vulnerable to sales techniques. And Interconnections is an essential reference for the Network Analyst. Radia notes that in the first edition of her book she assumed people would read the RFCs to get details that she omitted but they didn't. As someone who has spent some time trying to digest RFCs I am grateful that she bulked up the Second Edition with what she thought people needed to know. I can figure out what she writes but frequently feel I have wasted the effort when trying to get what I need out of the RFCs. Interconnections is a convenient one stop resource for researching packet headers and the various control messages that analyzer software may capture while sniffing a network to identify problems.
Interconnections, Second Edition is 150 pages larger than the First Edition published in 1992. Radia has reorganized, rewrote, added examples, included new protocols and more fully documented details to make it a better reference book. The Glossary was expanded from 4 pages to 10 but that was not enough. Radia does a good job of defining terms in the body of the book the first time they are used but not again in later chapters. When they are not in the Glossary it leaves the reader having to page around looking for the first definition. And the Index shrank from 15 pages to 5 between the First and Second Editions and thus became less useful for finding obscure terms.
Radia Perlman proposes that, "Before we design a solution, it's often useful to define the problem to be solved" (p. 505). To explain a protocol in the book she typically presents a list of problems and then walks through adding features to an algorithm to solve one or more of them. She discusses how adding one feature may create new problems. It is fascinating to do this exercise in relationship to real world protocols that are used everyday and to realize that some problems could be relieved if standards bodies could more readily agree. And that brings up one of the most enjoyable aspects of Interconnections, Radia sharing anecdotes and criticisms from years of participating on the Internet Engineering Task Force.
One take home message for me from reading Interconnections is that it is always best to keep it simple. Added complexity rarely pays off in anything but trouble. Radia opined, "I think people should be grateful if their packets get there at all" (p.202) rather than jumping through a lot of hoops to insure optimal routing. This is a good message for those who build internetworking protocols as well as those who just plug cables into ports.