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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Windows 2000 Scripting Guide
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Microsoft Corporation, Microsoft Corporation
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The Ultimate WSH book for System Administrators

I won't claim this is the only scripting book you should ever buy. I WILL claim that it is the WSH "missing manual" for system administrators. The short story is that it provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of WSH admin scripting with excellent code examples, and as such is a rare combination of instructional use and long-term reference value. Personally, I haven't thought a book on WSH in the last three years was worth buying; this is the one I've been waiting for.
As a comprehensive reference, this book stands alone. System administrators have been historically short-changed when it comes to scripting books; most written for Windows tend to be generically focused on languages rather than on the details of WSH, and usually cover only a handful of the technologies. This one is written by scripters who appear to use it every day, and they cover the breadth of topics: interactions with everything from system logs to ADSI to WMI. Although the code is almost entirely in VBScript, the focus is on application, not language tricks. If you want to any other Active Scripting language as your host, the code is plain vanilla enough to be easily translated.
In providing depth, the authors had some special advantages and they used them to the hilt. It was written by Microsoft insiders who know the internals of the technologies such as COM, ADSI, and WMI which well-rounded scripting uses. When covering the range of topics for admin scripters, the authors pushed explaining the why and how in unequaled detail, and made liberal use of charts for explaining difficult concepts where appropriate.
Coding quality is a critical factor as far as I am concerned in any book about programming or scripting; after all, good code is the test of a good coder, and in a book on scripting it shows that the author knows more than just the layout of a few random object models. Even judged on this alone, Microsoft's "Windows 2000 Scripting Guide" sparkles. Most topical scripting books have appalling code style; not this one. Code is explained carefully, and with few exceptions is written in the form of well-wrapped procedures which can be dropped into your own scripts and used as-is - variables are declared, input/output is separated from calculations, and most importantly, the procedures appear to be written with the explicit goal of making purpose and technique clear for the reader.
There are very few books out there which do an enduring job of teaching a concept, showing useful code, and providing critical reference material. This book does all three; if you get it, it will be your main WSH scripting sourcebook for years to come.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A+ Certification for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Ron Gilster
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent Book!

This book was a good overall review, but I felt it did not prepare me for the actual test. There were many areas on the A+ test that this book did not cover. I passed the test on my first try, with an 80% on the Win/Dos and an 85% on the Core module, but my main comprehension came from another source. The areas this bood did cover were a great review, but if you need to understand the whole picture, I recommend you buy another study guide.
I feel this book is a good investment, but only if you are planning on studying out of another study guide as well. Don't put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Java Development with Ant
Publisher: Manning Publications
Authors: Steve Loughran
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Without question, the best Ant book so far

This should be required reading for all Java developers. Java Development with Ant shows how to automate most of the drudgery involved with large Java projects. The authors included a lot of great examples and practical advice covering the essentials of Ant, building, testing, and running code.
Despite its size, the book is not full of endless code listings or mundane command references, which are available for Ant elsewhere anyway. They do include a brief (60 page) appendix which is useful when you are reading away from your computer.
The first two chapters are great for a new Ant user. I had used other people's build files before reading this book, but had never created my own before. The first chapter told me want Ant is and the second helped me create my first build file.
The third chapter explains the nuts and bolts of Ant datatypes and properties. The third chapter was a little too dense for my first read (or maybe I was too dense for it). No matter, I read it and figured I would refer back later.
The next four chapters teach you how to integrate jUnit, run programs using Ant, package a JAR (or WAR, or EAR), and deploy it. Chapter 8 recaps everything from the first section with a reasonable sample project. Large enough to be real, small enough to understand.
Part 2 is titled Applying Ant and includes many interesting chapters. Each chapter is like an article about a particular application of Ant such as XDoclet, XML, EJBs, etc. These are great reads and work independently of one another, so you can skip around to what you are interested in.
Part 3 talks about Extending Ant by writing tasks, mappers, and filters. Here again, they avoid printing out the API by focusing on practical examples.
The appendices have good info as well. The installation section is nice and the XML primer might be helpful for a newbie. Appendix C gives a tour of a number of IDEs and their Ant integration.
Appendix D is a real gem. "The Elements of Ant Style" is a brief set of guidelines for the buildfile author. Not only does it provide recommendations, they even followed my favorite maxim from Strunk & White, "Omit needless words." The whole appendix is only 16 pages.
Great stuff; highly recommended.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Protocols (TCP/IP Illustrated, Volume 1)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: W. Richard Stevens
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent source of TCP/IP information

TCP/IP Illustrated: Volume 1 is an excellent resource that is nothing short of amazing. It provides an outstanding amount of accurate and concise technical information that can lead to a well educated understanding of IP.