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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: MySQL (3rd Edition) (Developer's Library)
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Paul DuBois
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Want to set up and manage MySQL? Look no further!

This is the definitive book on MySQL. I had to deploy MySQL on a Solaris e250 and had ZERO knowledge of MySQL. I found all the answers I needed to setup and manage MySQL. I also had referenced this is a much more thorough book than the offering by O'Reilly (MySQL & mSQL). If you need a database you can manage with little or no hassle, and do it quickly this is book you need. It is also pretty good at explaining the options for connecting to the DB via various interfaces/languages. For a web-based interface I recommend PHP, and the book "PHP Essentials".

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Hot Text: Web Writing that Works
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Jonathan Price, Lisa Price
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Outstanding and comprehensive guide to writing for the Web

If you're interested in writing for the Web, "Hot Text: Web Writing That Works" by the prolific Jonathan and Lisa Price is the best and most comprehensive guide thus far published.
The book is at its best in the section aptly titled "Write Like a Human Being." Here, you'll find dozens of practical tips and techniques for Web copywriting. From "Shorten That Text" to "Write Menus That Mean Something," the Prices not only tell you how it's done, but demonstrate it in "before and after" samples. And each tip is evaluated in an "Audience Fit" grid that assesses how well it suits various types of site visitors. These five chapters alone (covering nearly 200 pages) are worth the price of the book.
Hot Text is much more than a style guide. Another 150 pages discuss how to write for the various genres found on the Web--help text, FAQs, marketing copy, PR and news releases, 'zines, e-mail newsletters and (yes) Weblogs.
Throughout, the book is extensively supported by a wealth of useful references (many of them available online) and pertinent callout quotations. And just when you think there couldn't be any more good stuff, you'll find helpful information on how to find a job as a Web copywriter.
I have two major quibbles with Hot Text. For a book that emphasizes clarity of expression, it begins on an odd foot. After a brief introduction to some general principles of Web-writing, it jumps into a discussion of object-oriented writing that is bewildering to novices. The normally crisp text slows to a snail's pace as they wax a little too theoretical. Don't get me wrong--this is important stuff, but it is the least successful part of the book.
Second, as an information architect and Web writer, I'm intimately aware of the strong connection between information architecture, user interface, menus and text. Attempting to draw clear boundaries between them is well-nigh impossible.
Unfortunately, the Prices cross those lines too often by assigning IA tasks--for example, menu structuring and user personas--to the copy writer. While I'm certain that many Web writers are indeed saddled with such chores due to budget limitations, IA activities are best left to those with the appropriate training and experience. Yet "information architecture" isn't even included in the index! The Prices' readers would be better served by a chapter or two on the makeup of Web project teams and the central role of collaboration in site development.
Keep these in mind and Hot Text will find itself a well-thumbed addition to your bookshelf.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Developer's Workshop to COM and ATL 3.0
Publisher: Wordware Publishing, Inc.
Authors: Andrew Troelsen
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Simply put, Toelsen is the Petzold of ATL.

At first, when I read this book I had absolutely no knowledge about COM (minus VB's implementation); However, the book itself was so thorough in explaining the basic concepts of COM from the ground up that it didn't matter--it explained COM in the best detail I've ever seen in any book. The author explained things so well, in fact, that I was able to start working with COM libraries (such as ADO) within just a few days of reading the book! I remembered looking at ATL code just a few days before I read this book, and I said, "I can't read this at all!" Almost about a week later, after reading the book, I looked at that same chunk of code, and to my sheer amazement, it made perfect sense.
This one is DEFINITELY a keeper, right up there with Jeff Prosise for MFC, and Petzold for Win32. This is the best ATL/COM book I have read, hands down.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Core JavaServer Faces (Sun Microsystems Press Java Series)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: David Geary, Cay Horstmann
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
It tells you how, but not why

Core JavaServer Faces, by David Geary and Cay Horstmann, is a decent introduction to JavaServer Faces. But it's really just a "how-to" book: probably half the book is simply code listings, which are available online. Why waste the paper?

Once you get JSF installed into your servlet container, the book does an acceptable job of explaining how to perform most tasks. But it doesn't go into enough detail on the background behind JSF and comparisons to other technologies (raw JSPs, struts, etc.). It needs more "why", not just "how to".

If you want to know what to do, and why you should do it, read JavaServer Faces by Hans Bergsten (one of the Apache Tomcat developers, and contributor to JSP 2.0, JSTL, and JSF).