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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning Perl, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent first step


This book is an excellent way to ramp up on Perl quickly. It takes you through the in's and out's of Perl at a wonderful pace and covers most of what you need to know. This is the book to get if you're new to Perl and need to learn it quickly. The 200 or so pages are readable in less than a week.
However, there are a few important things to note. This is not a standalone book. You will need to get the Programming in Perl book as well to serve as a reference guide. Also, this book assumes basic Unix knowledge. If you have no exposure to Unix, a couple of things (very minor though) might be a bit baffling. If you've played with Unix, then this book is a breeze.
I managed to ramp myself up on Perl and start writing some sweet scripts within a week. I also bought the Programming in Perl book and now I turn to that book for the more heavy duty stuff.
The long and short of it: this is the best beginners book around for Perl.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The CISSP Prep Guide: Mastering the CISSP and ISSEP Exams, Second Edition
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Ronald L. Krutz, Russell Dean Vines
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
we will see how the test goes


This book is exactly what CISSP candidates need to prepare for the exam. The authors make sure to cover the CISSP Common Body of Knowledge in enough detail, give pointers along the way, and include sample questions to practice for the exam.
Since this is a study guide, the emphasis is on breadth, not depth of coverage, and that's the way it should be.
Several inaccuracies and typos should be corrected in the second edition (e.g. the description of lattice-based control on p. 34, or sample question 9 in Chapter 10 and its answer).
So is this now my favorite survey of computer and information security? Not quite. I still prefer "Secure Computing" by Rita C. Summers, even though it is already 4 years old. Unfortunately it is out of print, and it is a mystery why McGraw Hill wouldn't print a few thousand copies to satisfy the demand.
Another CISSP prep book is coming soon (Mandy Andress, "CISSP Exam Cram"). Let's hope it will be as good as the Prep Guide.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Numerical Recipes in C : The Art of Scientific Computing
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Authors: William H. Press, Brian P. Flannery, Saul A. Teukolsky, William T. Vetterling
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent and Virtually Indespensible, Far From Perfect


I purchased this book mainly for the chapter on Eigensystems and the chapter on Random Numbers, however, I have not been disappointed with any aspect of this book that I have examined thusfar: it has relatively good explanations for how the code is supposed to work on a theoretical level, code examples, and referances for those who wish to read further into the subject.
That being said: their implementation directions are somewhat lacking, as is their code. The way it is written seems like three things were taking place: 1) they were not taking advantage of the language or using it's features; 2) they were trying to fit the code into as small a space as possible; 3) the authors were not that experienced in the language to begin with.
Thus arrays are counted from 1 instead of 0, the code uses variable names that are more than a little lacking (e.g., the array "d" returned the list of eigenvalues), and rather than pass by referance they pass a pointer.
Hence, if you are going to use this book, be prepared to translate the code so that it is both efficient and legible in your own text. This is not difficult, just nominally time consuming and occasionally tedious. Fix this and the book's utility would increase a hundredfold.
Overall I found this book to be worthwhile, despite its shortcommings, and have yet to find its equal anywhere in industry.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Andrew Hunt, David Thomas
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
This one is a keeper!


If you're already a pragmatic programmer, this book positively reinforces that which you probably already know (either innately or through experience ... but usually the latter), while drawing out many tidbits of knowledge that lie dormant in our subconscious.
If you're new to programming and lack the mentorship of a pragmatic programmer, read this book! Be open to the ideas and absorb the wisdom.
I read this book cover-to-cover. I found the content well-organized, and I appreciated the inclusion of exercises (with answers in the back) which tested my knowledge and assumptions. The checklist and quick reference guide is also a nice touch. Overall: an easy read.
As a final note, readers will find errata on the authors' website with the exception of the following: Detracting from an otherwise excellent book are the glaring bugs in the answers to Exercises 7 and 8; specifically, the bison/yacc grammar and Perl code don't handle a range of valid input (e.g., "12:30am").