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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Expert One-on-One Visual Basic .NET Business Objects
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Rockford Lhotka
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Outstanding, even for a C# developer...

This book follows probably the most logical progression of any technically oriented book I've ever read.
Architecture and Design Key Technologies Implementing a Business Framework OO Design Business Object Design (using the Framework) Windows, Web, and Web Services Interfaces Reporting and Batch Processing
The premise of this book is that there are best practices that apply when building software systems. We've all heard that catchphrase before, but Rocky does a very good job of distilling it down to a practical level.
The book walks you through from proposed architecture to a fully functioning program, and along the way you learn some very powerful concepts:
Business rule tracking Principal-based security n-Level Undo DataBinding Remoting over HTTP Reflection Transactional methods using both COM+ (Enterprise Services) and native .NET OleDbTransaction and SqlTransaction Lightweight collection objects The true best use of web services
No-touch deployment
My favorite parts of the book were:
1. His approach to data access. Rather than creating a separate Portal object and forcing the UI to create two objects to access data, this framework places virtual methods in the base classes that must be overridden in the business classes. The system then uses Reflection to call back into the business object (from the Portal object) for the implementation of the data portal methods. The UI developer, however, sees none of this. Instead, the UI calls static factory methods to fetch business objects, and a very simple Save() method to add, update, and delete. This is a very intuitive approach, because the abstract nature of a Save() command is very comfortable to a UI developer.
2. Separate, lightweight objects for collections (for display in lists &c). Since this intelligent business object approach can create fairly "heavy" business objects, the framework has some great base classes for collections. Since you usually display only summary information in lists &c, why not create a specific lightweight object just for this purpose? Rocky shows you how to do this using structs rather than objects. This helps performance since they are a value type and stored on the stack. That may seem counterintuitive, but since this framework makes heavy use of serialization to pass objects across the wire by remoting, the gains from using reference types are mostly wiped out anyway.
3. His approach to web services is very practical. Rather than seeing them as a universal savior and placing them as interfaces between every nook and cranny of our code, he takes the approach that they are the "machine interface" to our code, rather than the human interface. This frees us up to develop the business functionality for a specific project, create the forms and/or web UI, then build a specific web services interface to that project/module when the need arises for an external API. He also talks at length about the foolishness of exposing our core business objects to the web services interface. If we do that, we lose the ability to change the interface, because the external contract has been established. Imagine, for example, if UPS suddenly decided to change its web services interface. Mass chaos. Rather, he shows how to create methods that are specific to the web services interface, and are more abstract in their implementation, thus less likely to need changes.
As a C# programmer, I was a little leery of buying this book, but I found out that by having to translate the code in the book, rather than just typing it in, I had to think more about the techniques involved. This helped so much, in fact, that I would now purposely buy books that are not in my language of choice, so that I can better understand the concepts instead of the syntax.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sun Certified Programmer & Developer for Java 2 Study Guide (Exam 310-035 & 310-027)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great book

This book was outstanding! I thought it was a little over kill with the humor but it's written in a way that keeps your attention while instructing. A must read for anyone preparing for Java Certification. By the end, you'll feel more confident! One of the best computer books I've read.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft® Excel 2000 Power Programming with VBA
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: John Walkenbach
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Inaccurate and unclear

This book was given to me by a co-worker who could not use it. It had been given to him by another co-worker who could not use it. I intend to give it away as well. We're all self-proclaimed Excel power users who wanted to learn more about the VBA features of Excel. The examples are not only unclear, they're inaccurate. I tried to follow one, and could not do it. The examples did not match the Excel windows, property fields were not identified correctly. The mistakes are significant. If I find something better I'll let you know. Keep looking for another book.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C, Second Edition
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Bruce Schneier
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
The Tomb of Knowledge

Clearly a monumental work. Easy reading style, thorough treatment of protocols and ciphers of all styles and purposes...if you read this and don't pick up something useful then I want to hire you!
Copious and meticulous references. Consistent style throughout is a big plus. Dry wit (Alice and Bob find a book on Artificial Inteligence lying discarded and unused on the road...)makes for fun reading.
The only thing I would wish for is a clearer delineation between protocols and ciphers in the public domain vs. patented.