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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Guru's Guide to Transact-SQL
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Ken Henderson
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Buyer Beware: Joe Celko does the forward


I must have missed something the other 130 reviewers found so great about this book. There is a dirth of what I consider to be "good T-SQL guides". Unfortunately, this publication is another in a long line of misses. I didn't find the author's technical explanations of his own examples, brillant though they may be, very indepth or complete, even. There seemed to be an excessive amount of multi-page "code listings", which become difficult to follow after a while. Mr. Henderson seems to be styling his writing after his long-winded friend, Joe Celko. Perhaps the holy grail which I seek, in the name of "T-SQL for T-SQL dummies, but for otherwise database and programming Smarties", shall remain interminably elusive.
I also bought Mr. H's Guru's guide to SQL Stored Procs, which on the face of it seems to be more promising. Let us pray.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
hasn't aged well...


When this book first came out, I, along with probably most mathematically and scientifically minded people of my generation, would certainly have considered it one of the best books ever written. Hofstadter has refined the task of writing a book into almost an art form. Drawing on the central theme of "strange loops" (ideas that loop back on themselves in a paradoxical manner, as might be seen in the art of M.C. Escher), Hofstadter successfully draws together ideas from a large variety of different human pursuits. An important idea--shown to be connected to other ideas in artificial intelligence, music, and art--is Godel's incompleteness theorem, which shows that there are limits on our ability to prove concepts that may, nevertheless, be true. This, too, is based on a "strange loop"--these loops seem to crop up everywhere and Hofstadter spends a lot of the book showing how they are pretty much fundamental to human knowledge.
However, after reading the new preface in this 20th anniversary edition, I'm left with the sense that this once great book is now merely good. For one thing, Hofstadter seems to have evolved from a brilliant young man with a lot of great ideas into a somewhat cantakerous middle-aged man. He seems angry at the New York Times, and his readers, for not fully understanding the central message of the book. Yet he also excuses himself from making any attempt to update the book or bring the ideas in line with many of the enormous changes that have happened over the last 20+ years. It seems surprising to me that Hofstadter would constrain his own book to having only one central message--surely he should understand that a book of this complexity will mean many things to many different people, and that indeed is the reason for its popularity.
So, I still highly recommend this book, but I'm left just a little disappointed that Hofstadter seems somewhat at war with his readers and as a result, won't attempt to update the book or try to help us reconcile the many events of the last 20 years with the themes of his book.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Assembly Language Step-by-step: Programming with DOS and Linux (with CD-ROM)
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Jeff Duntemann
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Rather outdated book for beginners only


This book accommodates the beginner who has not yet learned to read hexadecimal. By leaning pedgogically on DOS, the author coaches the reader on programming Linux in assembler; an audacious task for which the author proves well qualified. The approach is gentle. The example DOS program on page 229 is equivalent to K&R's "hello, world."
The NASM assembler, provided on disk and is used in the examples, uses Intel mnemonics; allowing the book to sidestep the issue of AT&T mnemonics versus Intel mnemonics. This will be fault of feature, depending on what you need. Readers programming Linux in C and learning to cope with assembler in the GNU world where we use AT&T mnemonics, will need to supplement this book with assembler HOWTOs.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs - 2nd Edition (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
Publisher: The MIT Press
Authors: Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
<yawn>...


I was quite disappointed with this book. It starts out ok, but after the second half of section 2, the book gets to be incredibly thick and boring. I've never felt so disinterested about anything in computer science, and it's not the subjects, mind you (compilers and logic programming can be fun), but it's the dry, pedantic style, obviously written for the sake and glory of the authors and not for the sole purpose of teaching someone.