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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Inside C#, Second Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
More great teaching from a master

Tom Archer has been training developers for more than ten years. He's written many books that have helped developers overcome the learning curve for C++, Java, and Web development. And Tom reached millions of developers as the Web master at Code Guru.
This book is a continuation of Tom's contribution to developers. If you need to learn C#, this is a great book for you. Tom walks you through explanations, and then gives you examples. I already know C#, but still picked up additional insights as I read this book--so even seasoned C# developers will benefit.
Among the field of C# and .NET titles, this one stands out as a 'Must Have'. You'll refer to it often, just as I did for years to my K&R book when I was a C programmer.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Final Fantasy IX Official Strategy Guide
Publisher: Brady Games
Authors: Dan Birlew
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Worst game guide ever.

I bought this guide thinking it would shed some light on some of the side quests, but I was wrong. The only things in this guide are the things that you should not need any help with, and whenever there is something intresting they give you a little note and say "For more info check out www.playonline.com." I am sorry but I didn't buy a guide so that I have to log on to the net every time I want to know something. I live in Taiwan so I bought this book with out seeing first, if I had been able to see it, I would never have bought it.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Kevin D. Mitnick, William L. Simon, Steve Wozniak
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Personalities aside, an original, entertaining, scary book

There's nothing new about debating a criminal's right to publish his story. Frank Abagnale Jr, hero of the excellent "Catch Me If You Can" movie, wrote two books about his escapades. Concentrate on the message, not the messenger, and you'll learn something from either Mitnick or Abagnale. Mitnick's message is frightening: the easiest way to get what you want may be to ASK for it. "The Art of Deception" (TAOD) is built around dozens of realistic scenarios, showing how con men (and women) deceive victims and defeat security. It's easy to dismiss Mitnick's insights as trite. For example, it makes sense that "valuable information must be protected no matter what form it takes or where it is located. An organization's customer list has the same value whether in hardcopy form or an electronic file." (p. 227) This "Mitnick Message" seems obvious at first glance, but how many company's act on that truism? "TAOD" shares technical, procedural, and psychological insights which aren't normally discussed by security personnel. Mitnick mentions secrets of the telecom system, like reprogramming caller ID on phone switches. He dances across company lines, shuttling information among secretaries, fax machines, voice mail, and other vulnerable parts of business life. His understanding of human nature shows he treats his craft seriously, believing security awareness is the best defense against social engineering. I found his "Security at a Glance" chapter indispensable, especially its 'Warning Signs of an Attack' and 'Responding to a Request for Information' sections. Mitnick's security policy recommendations in chapter 16 appear to be squarely based on military information handling guidelines. I followed all of his ideas, like data classification, need to know, cover sheets, and so on, as a military intelligence officer in a top secret facility. The corporate world, particularly the financial sector, is implementing some of these practices already. It's still too easy to defeat the technical defenses of many organizations. Those who do have their networks locked down leave social engineering and insider fraud as the best ways to steal information and money. As more organizations fall victim to "the art of deception," they will turn to the wisdom of books by Mitnick and others. While they won't follow Mitnick's advice to provide "copies of this book to all employees" (p. 257), they will learn how to improve their "human firewalls."

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Test-Driven Development in Microsoft .NET (Microsoft Professional)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: James W. Newkirk, Alexei A. Vorontsov
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Disappointing but still decent

I give this book seven out of ten
What I liked about it:It is easily to read. The topics are well presented and clearly defined.The book introduces the concepts behind TDD (Test Driven Development) Some of the less trivial aspects of TDD are discussed, like testing web services or using transactions.Refactoring is introduced very well in chapter three.The concepts of FIT are well explained and demonstrated.
In order to get a ten:The book needs to decide who the target audience is. The material seemed too hard for a first introduction book and too simple for advanced developers. As the book is about TDD it should have spent more time examining the benefits of developing software using this approach.I would have liked to have seen more real world (hard to solve) problems tackled.