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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Elizabeth Castro
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Learns you all fundemental to build a good homepage

This book was a positive surprise for me. To be honest, I didn't expect much of a quickstart book. But, the book learns you most important about HTML and CSS, plus gives you a good (small) introduction to JavaSript.
I knew basic about HTML and needed to learn more HTML and CSS within a few days. After a few days I could build a professional homepage using JavaScript (from the book and from the internet) and of course write HTML and CSS.
Let's avoid misunderstandings. The JavaScript chapter DO NOT learn you to write JavaScript - it learns you the basic, so you can use the examples from the book or from the internet and mayby modify them if needed. So don't expect to write your own JavaScripts after reading this book.
Another positive element is, that Elizabeth Castro everytime she presents a new tag comments the difference between different browsers.
The only negative I have to say about the book is, that sometimes it is a little confusing to read the examples, since the book is printed in only greyscale and red. Often changes are written with red to emphasize it, but it can be confusing (on the other hand, the book is cheap).
Since it is a quickstart book it does not cover in depth HTML - there exist big references book for that purpose. But as a quickstart book you can't get a better HTML book than this one.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning Perl, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Like the Camel Book, only smaller!

This book calls itself "Learning Perl," apparently because it is geared towards beginners. However, upon reading more and more of this book, it becomes increasingly clear that this book is not at all a learning tool, as it is a good reference for those who already learned the basics of Perl. The first chapter should be skipped over entirely if you're a beginner, because it will do nothing more than confuse you and turn you off to Perl. The subsequent chapters covers all relevant topics, but they skimp on providing descriptive key examples which would help you to better understand the concept. This book makes too many references to C and other languages, implying that you already know previous programming languages. The chapter on regular expressions is shamefully cursory and lacking in examples which can be adequately picked up by the Perl novice. The language of the text is not for the beginner user, as it throws around too many Perl-centric terms and definitions. For an intermediate, this may be sufficient, but it will not do for the beginner. I recommend Perl for Dummies as the ultimate beginner's tool. That book doesn't cover as many topics as this book, but it certainly explains conceps in a much more novice-friendly language than Learning Perl. Learning Perl makes the mistake of not keeping it simple. This is a very important teaching idea, when your expected audience are complete novices who need to have everything explained to them in basic layman's terms. This book is more of a sophisticated primer for already skilled programmers.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Secure Programming Cookbook for C and C++
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: John Viega, Matt Messier
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An author's perspective

I thought I'd offer some insight on this book, particularly in light of a recently posted bad review that makes a bunch of criticisms that are quite wrong (I am pretty sure the review is due to a personal grudge held by someone who hasn't even read the book).
First, the goal of this book is to be a reference people can use to find solutions for "doing it right", not an elementary text on secure coding principles that gives a bunch of high-level advice that's still difficult to apply securely in practice. Security-relevant design and architecture principles are followed and discussed, but there's definitely a stated assumption that you have read a more elementary book such as "Building Secure Software", "Writing Secure Code" or the free "Secure Programming for Linux and UNIX HOWTO".
Second, the book covers all common security problems one sees in C and C++ programs, going so deep as to give working code and in-depth discussions. It spends hundreds of pages on how to implement and integrate cryptography into applications securely, a topic that is almost completely ignored in the elementary books (and even ignored in most crypto books, which teach building blocks, more than how to use them securely).
Many security problems that affect programs are largely language independent. We give C++-specific code in the few cases where there are C++-specific issues. But, for the most part, problems apply equally to C and C++. In those cases, the code is written in a subset of C that will work directly in C++ programs, but we don't take advantage of C++-specific features. To do so would result in a book nearly 1500 pages long!
All topics are covered for both Microsoft and Unix platforms (much of the code is cross-platform, and was tested on both). There are a couple of instances where a problem or solution doesn't apply to a particular platform. For example, "shatter" attacks are Windows specific, and the jail() protection mechanism works only on FreeBSD, not Windows. We have no platform bias, and even had the leading Windows secure programming expert from Microsoft review things.
This book gives detailed solutions for secure programming in a level of detail that no other book yet does, covering many topics that other books completely ignore.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java Reflection in Action (In Action series)
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: Ira R. Forman, Nate Forman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
If only it could do everything marketing promised.

I spend most of my life re-doing old code that for some reason needs to be expanded, changed, fixed or whatever. The old story about writing the program is only 10% of the effort, (really it may be 2%) is true. If you could double the time spent writing the program itself it would be well worth it (if the world would let you). Wouldn't it be nice to have programs that - without work on your part - could exmanine itself and then change to do something else depending on what it finds.

Reflection won't take twice as long to code. But it will a bit take longer in the design phase. Nor can reflection promise to do everything that the salesmen can promise to the new prospects, nothing can do that.

Reflection is a technique that can be of great value in some instances, it's ceratinly something you need to have in your mental toolbox.

This book is by one of the pioneers in reflection, and his son who uses reflection to solve day-to-day problems.