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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, John Brant, William Opdyke, Don Roberts
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5

It doesn't happen often that I finish a book within 2 days. This time it is because there is surprisingly little new stuff for experienced programmers. It is well written and probably of use for beginning programmers, but as I went through the refactoring patterns, I kept saying to myself: "yes of course, I do that all the time.., where are the flashes of new insight?".

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: An Introduction to Database Systems (Introduction to Database Systems)
Publisher: Addison Wesley Longman
Authors: C. J. Date
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent, if textually dense ACADEMIC textbook

(Note this review applies to the sixth edition of this book).
If you wish to quickly jump into database design without a full and rigorous knowledge of database theory (by no means a bad thing) then this book is not for you. If, however, you want a thorough grounding in the principles and practice of database theory considered from an academic standpoint, then this book is highly recommended.
Date is one of the giant figures of relational database theory, and this masterful work covers, in exhaustive detail, all the elementary principles of the subject. The book commences with an overview of database systems and management, before moving on to introduce the relational model. Part II of the book covers in great detail the relational model, introducing the relational algebra and the relational calculus (and then showing the formal equivalence of the two). The SQL language is introduced.
Part III discusses database design, with special emphasis on the vital topics of nonloss decomposition, functional dependencies and normalisation. For practical database designers this is perhaps the most valuable part of the book. Part IV covers data protection from the standpoints of integrity and implementation in practical systems.
Part V gathers a miscellany of related topics such as optimization of queries, a discussion of the 'NULL' problem and an introduction to ditributed (i.e. client/server) database systems. Part VI is an introduction to object-oriented database systems, with an examination of the problems faced by traditional relational systems when faced with object-oriented problems.
It is important to note the target audience for this book. This book is first and foremost academic by nature. Rigour is not sacrificed for conciseness or simplicity. It is textually dense, especially parts II and III (far and away the most important parts). The reader will have to put in a lot of work to fully grasp the details of the concepts. For example, Date's definition of third normal form (3NF): "A relation is in 3NF if and only if it is in 2NF and every nonkey attribute is nontransitively dependent on the primary key". To appreciate in detail the significance of this definition requires substantial effort. However, this effort will pay dividends when the time comes to actually design a real-world system. Failure to understand the principles of database theory at this level of rigour lies behind many failed implementation attempts. Not every database designer needs this knowledge, but a manager of a large database project certainly does. I would not recommend this book as an introductory text for an undergraduate course in database design, due to the large quantity of material covered and its highly theoretical exposition. I would, however, strongly recommend it for students at a higher level, professional database designers and implementors of database management systems.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Configuring SAP R/3 FI/CO: The Essential Resource for Configuring the Financial and Controlling Modules
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: David Nowak, Quentin Hurst, Nowak
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5

I have used this book as a reference tool since it has been released and have leafed many pages. I have attended many sap training classes and while in the classes I feel that I have a firm grasp on the specific topic, applying the skills down the road, I have attempted to use the training materials you are sent home with, but have found in most areas that the training materials concern themselves with isolated areas and are far too technical. This book has proven to be a readable yet insightful text. Additionally, chapters are referred to each other in the same manner that modules within FI/CO interact. I recommend this book to anyone configuring SAP.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Advanced Perl Programming
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Sriram Srinivasan
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Why are there so many good reviews for this book?

Having developed in C++ for a number of years, I decided to learn Perl to make more portable CGIs then ones compiled in C. Advanced Perl Programming was the first book I bought, and I made that decision based on the glowing recommendations here on Amazon. However, in reality this book was VERY disappointing. The index is horrible (I believe a good index is mandatory for a reference book), and coverage of basic Perl functionality is wrought with large, gapping holes. For example, let me refer to the one page in the entire book that talks about the open() function that is used to open files. The whole subject of read/write and truncate/append flags for this function aren't even mentioned. That is just one example of many. I gave up trying to get anything useful out of this book and just rely on the various online resources. I wish I had spent my money on a more useful book.