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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Practical Unix & Internet Security, 3rd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Simson Garfinkel, Gene Spafford, Alan Schwartz
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A thorough book in an ever changing environment

This books is a very thorough hands-on guide to the subject of security for unix computers connected to the Internet.
It starts with basic subjects, such as passwords, backups, security auditing & logging, and physical security, and then continues with networking subjects, such as modems, TCP/IP, NFS, kerberos, firewalls, proxies, etc. important issues and terms are interwined - such as what is the rainbow series and legal issues.
The subject of computer & Internet security is changing quickly, and as other reviewers have written a book written a couple of years ago (I have the 1996 edition) is no longer up to date.
But I think it's a minor issue.
First, because one must still learn and protect against older attacks - an intruder will not shy away from trying to use an old security hole just because it's two months old. Hacks are not cheese, and cant be thrown out after two weeks.
Second, a sysadmin should get the basic information, terms, ways of thought, etc - and this book will teach this well - and then continuously look for new information and information sources.
This includes finding out about bugtraq, ntbugtraq, phrack, and any other new mailing lists and web sites regularily.
So I highly recommend this book to anyone who deals with the subject of unix & internet security.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The C++ Programming Language (Special 3rd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Bjarne Stroustrup
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Ultimate Reference

Granted, you must know syntax and programming techniques to understand this book, but once you are there, this book tells all about the background happpenings. It explains how something is done so you can be a better programmer.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Working Effectively with Legacy Code
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Michael Feathers
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Fixing legacy code and preventing new code from going bad

Almost every code base I've worked in previously, whether fifteen years old or just a few weeks, fell into the category of legacy code for exactly the reason mentioned in this book. There were no unit-level tests. Without the presence of tests, design had gone to pieces once the architects were no longer looking (if any architects had ever existed!). Without tests' presence, the code had no need to be easily isolated and changed - so it wasn't. This book provides a set of steps to clean up that sort of legacy code in as safe a way as possible, always moving towards a system that is a joy and productive to code in.

Additionally, this book codifies good design patterns and ways to think about new code during code reviews. Even "green field" developments can benefit from reading this book and ensuring that early-on work is being done to ensure that it never starts the downward legacy spiral. I would encourage developers starting from scratch to ensure they're following the patterns in this book any time that a bad piece of code sneaks in to keep it from spreading - we have on my team, and it's done wonders for our quality level, productivity, and morale.

The only thing I'd like to have seen improved is that there's a an assumption that the code is all in one place - there are no external, uncontrollable sources who build on this code, there are no versioning requirements (i.e. API stability for N years), etc. While I'm sure the majority of this book's audience doesn't have to deal with it, for those who do, noting what constitutes a breaking change and what doesn't (particularly to ensure that each chapter has at least one that isn't) would've really helped for those of us who have to build platforms.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache in 24 Hours
Publisher: Sams
Authors: Julie C. Meloni
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
The Longest Day

I have been a mainframe programmer for 13 years and have done web design for the past year. The following is my experience with this book.
First the good news: 1. I was able to successfully install PHP, Apache & MySQL.2. I was able to successfully complete all the projects in the book.3. I published one of my projects on a website.
Now the bad news:
1. There were critical typos in the book--not just captions under the wrong pictures but incorrect code. I spent many hours debugging the PHP code for the projects. The code errors I found were not in the errata on the SAMS website OR on thickbook.com. I sent one code correction to the editors and received an acknowledgement, but I just checked and the code typo is not included in the errata. There are code errors on pp. 245, 406, 417. E-mail me if you are also having problems with the code on those pages as the SAMS people do not seem to be concerned or aware of these errors.
2. The installation of the products did not go as smoothly as I hoped either. The instructions on what to download did not match how the websites now look. There was some missing information. I was able to get it all working only with a lot of trial and error.
This book contained projects that I was interested in learning: address book, storefront, shopping cart. With a little more diligence on the part of the proofreaders and technical editors, this book would have been great and I would have given it 5 stars.