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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Starting an eBay Business for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Marsha Collier
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I might quit my job now

I found out about this book after I met the author at an eBay University event and I've been patiently waiting for it to come out. I've only had it a couple days and can say this is the book you need if you're ready to make selling on eBay your full-time job.
The other eBay Dummies book is great if you're just getting started, but this is the one you need when you're ready to start getting serious. I especially like all the non-eBay buisiness advice that you usually have to buy another book to get.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning Perl for Bioinformatics
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: James Tisdall
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Very timely introduction to PERL

Finally someone has written a beginning book on PERL for biologists, and has also done an excellent job of doing so. This book assumes no prior programming experience, and therefore suits the biologist who needs to concentrate on using computers to solve biological problems, and not have to become a computer scientist in the process. PERL can be a very cryptic language, but it is also extremely concise, and PERL programmers frequently and rightfully boast about their "one-liners" that accomplish complicated tasks with only one line of code.
Since it is addressed to readers with no programming experience, the author introduces some elementary concepts of programming in the first three chapters. These include what text editor to use, how to install PERL, how run PERL programs, and other relevant elementary topics.
The author then gets down to writing a program to store a DNA sequence in chapter 4. Very basic, it merely reads in a string and prints it out, but serves to start readers on their way to developing more useful programs. Later a program for the transcription of DNA to RNA is given, which illustrates nicely the binding, substitution and trace operators. Block diagrams are used here, and throughout the book, to illustrate basic PERL operators. The author shows in detail how to read protein sequence data from a file and how to use it in a PERL program. The reader is also introduced to the most ubiquitous data structure in all of computing: the array. Already the reader gets a taste of the power of PERL to manipulate arrays, using operations such as 'unshift', 'push', 'splice', etc.
The next chapter introduces conditional statements in PERL, as a warm-up for the discussion on finding motifs in sequences. The reader can see why PERL is the language of choice in bioinformatics, with its ability to find substrings or patterns in strings. Things do become more cryptic in the discussion of regular expressions, but the reader can get through it with some effort. Interesting programs are given for determining the frequency of nucleotides.
Since the programs have become more complicated to this point, a discussion of subroutines follows in the next chapter. And, for the same reason, the reader is introduced to debugging in PERL in this chapter also. The greater the complexity of the program, the harder it becomes to avoid making mistakes, and even more difficult to find them. The very important concepts of pass by value versus pass be reference are discussed briefly in this chapter.
Random number generators, so important in any consideration of mutations, are discussed in chapter 7. It is shown, via some straightforward programs, how to select a random location in DNA and mutate it with some other nucleotide. In addition, the author shows how to use random numbers to generate DNA sequences and mutate them in order to study the effect of mutations over time.
The next chapter is the most interesting in the book, for it shows how PERL can be used to simulate how the genetic code directs the translation of DNA into protein, the hash data structure being used extensively for this purpose. The author shows how to read DNA from files in FASTA format, and discusses in detail reading frames. He gives a useful subroutine to translate reading frames.
The author returns to regular expressions in chapter 9, wherein they are used as 'wildcards' to search for a particular string in a collection of strings. In addition, the range operator is used to find restriction sites. Regular expressions are also used in the next chapter to manipulate GenBank 'flat files'. The author does however give URLs for more sophisticated bioinformatics software. This is followed in chapter 11 by a discussion of the use of PERL to work with files in the Protein Data Bank. Recursion, one of the most powerful techniques in programming, is introduced here.
Chapter 12 covers the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST), wherein readers get a taste of the field of computational biology. This extremely popular software package is used to find similarity between a given sequence and a library of known sequences. The author does discuss some of the basic rudiments of string matching and homology, and encourages the reader to consult the BLAST documentation for further details. In addition, the author briefly discusses the Bioperl project in this chapter, and shows the reader how to run some elementary computations using it.
This book definitely is a timely one and it will serve the needs of biologists who need to obtain some programming expertise in PERL. There are helpful exercises at the end of each chapter that serve to solidify the understanding of the concepts introduced in the chapter. After a thorough study of it, readers will be well-equipped to use PERL in bioinformatics. With more mathematical background, readers after finishing it will be able to enter the exciting field of computational biology, a field that is exploding, and one in which will require imaginative programming skill in the future.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Thinking in Java (3rd Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Authors: Bruce Eckel
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent Book!

This is a very good book, following up the 1st Edition which also was very good. The new edition is updated with the latest Swing and other improvements to Java. There is a companion CD audio/visual course that goes along with it sold on the author's website... It is actually all the audio and slides from a 3 day class the author teaches from time to time, which he uses the book as a reference and also uses the exercises out of it. I highly recommend buying the book and then buying the tutorial that goes along with it.
It is a good book both for those starting out in Java,and for those experienced in Java needing both a review and an update on the more subtle aspects. The author explains Object Oriented Design quite well for those who are new to it also.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: OCA/OCP: Oracle9i DBA Fundamentals I Study Guide
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Biju Thomas, Bob Bryla
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Enough to pass, i might even keep it

I passed the test with 51 right out of 60. This book definitely helped clear up some concepts I had been hazy on in the past, like the relationships between segments and extents. I might even keep it around as a reference just because it's got enough condensed info on a wide range of topics that it might prove useful at some point when I need to create a profile or a partitioned index.
If you have the extra dough, spring for the practice tests at selftestsoftware.com. Some of those questions showed up almost word for word on the exam.