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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Big Java
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
Authors: Cay Horstmann
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
tough to read

I am only a novice. While I have read several other books on Java; I did so very rapidly and without really trying to work out the problems. When I read "Big Java" I find myself going to other books (e.g. Sun's Java 2 Language Manual; Complete Java ver. 2, etc.) They just seem easier to comprehend -- more straightforward. Mr. Horstmann omits a lot of detail-- he "elides" many code snippets.* When I get through the book, I'll probably love it; it's a class text and I can't avoid it's use. For now ... arrrrrrgh!
Billy Hess
* In case you're wondering "what the heck?" it means to use an elipsis(...) in place of ...

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Pinnacle Studio 9 for Windows : Visual QuickStart Guide (Visual Quickstart Guides)
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Jan Ozer
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great Book for After you Get The Software Loaded.

Pinnacle's Studio 9 is a love it or hate it package. At $99 (retail price) it is very inexpensive for what you get. The problem, people report, has been getting it to work on their system -- I also hear that the newest release of the package is much, much better. It also seems to work better with Intel Pentium CPU's than with AMD and it also likes memory, say a gigabyte.

But as for the book, this is one of the Visual Quickstart Guides. They're great. They use a format of having two columns on each page with the outside column being text and the inside being pictures. Each page is devoted to some small task and handles that task completely. You can start at the front of the book and go all the way through and you'll get a pretty good tutorial on the software. Or you can use the index to skip around and quickly get to the particular detail you are looking for.

Jan Ozer is an excellent writer. He starts out with the statement "you have the manual for the software" and then goes on from there. This is not a manual of how to, this is a what and why kind of book that explains what it is that you are trying to do and then goes on to tell you how to do it. The manual tells you how to do a J-Cut and an L-Cut. This book tells you what they are.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Macromedia Flash MX 2004 Beyond the Basics Hands-On Training (Hands on Training (H.O.T))
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Shane Rebenschied
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Great book, but...

After whizzing thru the Yeung introductory book for Flash MX I was anxious to dive into the Beyond The Basics book. The content did not let me down, it's a perfect fit for my skill level now. My only complaint is that, unlike the first H.O.T. book, some of the important training pieces are ONLY available as Quicktime movies. For instance, the chapter on building the MP3 player is great, but the step-by-step training for building the progress bar and volume control are not documented in the text, there is just a prompt to open movies on the CD. If I wanted to watch movies I would have bought a membership at lynda.com instead of buying a book! Don't be discouraged from buying the book because of this, just thought the author might read this and get a hint for next time.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: MCAD/MCSD Training Guide (70-310): Developing XML Web Services and Server Components with Visual Basic .NET and the .NET Framework
Publisher: Que
Authors: Mike Gunderloy
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A Good Place to Start

I have just passed the 70-310 exam and honestly feel this book was quite helpful. For the most part, Mr. Gunderloy's explanations of the different topic areas helped me to gain a good overall understanding of each one. I would hasten to add that I also read lots of MSDN articles and did a lot of practice coding to get prepared. To pass the exam, I suggest using this book to get familiar with each topic - and then go elsewhere for detailed information. MSDN and lots of other books are good for looking up specific classes, etc. but this book can help you "connect the dots".

I found the test questions at the end of each chapter to be especially helpful for making sure I grasped everything. But don't look for any "braindump" type Q & A stuff in this book. This book helps you understand, not regurgitate. A practice test makes a good complement.

The exam is sort of a "kitchen sink" of a lot of different areas: Windows Services, Web Services, COM+ Serviced Components, .Net Remoting, XML, and ADO.Net - with a wide array of configuration, deployment, security issues thrown into the mix. It's a little different than other tests (like the Windows App and Web App tests), that are more homogenous, and I felt the book generally dealt with this well.

Having said that, I will reaffirm two observations made by other reviewers: First, the coding style is a little curious - line continuation characters (underscores) are used excessively, as if the coding was done on a screen with a horizontal resolution of two hundred pixels. This makes things unecessarily difficult to read. Secondly, ADO.NET is underemphasized; the book does not delve into some aspects of error-handling, data relations, and constraints that are covered in the exam. I would also point out that the test had several questions on DataReader objects, which I don't think the book mentions at all.

I also felt that the explanation of the different types of XML-related objects was not up to Mr. Gunderloy's usual standard. This is an area you will need a good, solid grasp of and I found myself confused over which classes were which. You'll need to know about XMLSerializers for the test. Again, I don't think these were even mentioned.

In all fairness, I have yet to run accross a cert book that serves as a truly definitive resource yet this one reflects a very respectable effort.