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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A Visual Introduction to SQL
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: David Chappell, J. Harvey Trimble
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent beginners book in SQL


I used this book when I needed to pick up SQL fast. I worked in an organization where I had to build Teradata Data Bases and used SQL to select and move the data. The illustrations really help visualize every aspect of assembling an SQL program and how it interfaces with the data base. I still use it today when I need to be reminded of a particular syntax. Don't loan this book out if you ever want to see it again. I did and now I'm buying another book!



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming ASP.NET, 2nd Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jesse Liberty, Dan Hurwitz
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Not the Best


I have one word for my experience with this book - "frustrating." I don't regret the money for the book. But I do regret the weeks of time I put in this book.
Yes, this book has an easy-to-follow coverage of the "theory" of ASP.Net, but maybe too easy. I wrote my first 2-star review of this book in October of 2002. Now I feel even stronger that this book is one of my worst buys in technical books. I think this book has 3 fatal flaws:
1, it doesn't give you a clear illustration of the .Net framework. ASP.Net uses object-oriented programming and compiled code, which is drastically different from classic ASP, and more like servlet/JSP. How does the .Net framework handle inheritance, namespace, and so on? What methods does one system class have? And what methods are inherited from the parent class? How are .aspx files, .cs files, the project, and the solution related to each other? Without a thorough coverage of the code-behind, resource files and their relationship, it's difficult to tell why things work or break. Unfortunately this book lacks this coverage. From this ASP.Net book, you are taught to be an auto-transmission car driver who doesn't know how to change motor oil. In comparison, a typical servlet/JSP book starts from servlet then moves on to JSP. A good one explains the nuts and bolts that make up your web.xml and other resources. The servlet/JSP approach teaches you to be a driver/mechanic combo so you are sure how your little car or app runs.
While other OOP books use UML to illustrate class inheritance and user interaction, this book doesn't have a single diagram to illustrate the .Net framework and ASP.Net. That's even worse than Alex Homer's classic ASP book of 1997. If you used classic ASP and Java/J2EE for several years, you've certainly seen better programming books than this ASP.Net book. Liberty's writing style is far behind and backwards.
2, this book doesn't work well with Visual Studio .Net. If you choose VS.Net, it's hard to even start with this book. I tried about ten of the examples from Chapter 4 through Chapter 11. Most of my test pages broke, even though I imported the code directly from the book's website. In order to make the examples work in Visual Studio .Net, you have to follow a specific order in setting up the files, or you have to make changes to the source code from the book. You assume all these steps and changes are covered in the book? Nope!
It's possible that Liberty wrote the script before the official release of VS.Net. Yeah, we know beta of VS.Net [was bad]. But then the value of this book is very much discounted. Visual Studio .Net has its own rules of the game - how projects are set up, how resources are called and what files are involved. This book doesn't give adequate coverage on this topic. For instance, how do you take several existing files, copy and replicate their business logic in Visual Studio .Net? Where to find documentation of a specific class from within Visual Studio .Net? If existing data sources don't work in ASP.Net, how to let Visual Studio .Net help you create new data sources? These tasks are easily doable, but don't expect this book to tell you how.
3, you don't see industry-strength samples in this book. Most of the sample code can only be classified as junior-level play code. Look at real world websites using ASP.Net, then look back at this book, you know the difference is like that between a scooter and an SUV. Just having an ADO.Net page to list customer names is far away from satisfying your customers. Coverage of ADO.Net in this book is less than modest. Without database programming, what real world job can you do with ASP.Net? And Liberty spent 140 pages just on server controls, including that Calendar control! Doesn't a technical writer need and have a focus for his book? Sample code in Chapter 11 of the book works, but is not clean. It won't pass the code review in my team, at least.
This book is fine, only if ...you don't expect to understand the object-oriented side of ASP.Net, or if you don't plan to use Visual Studio .Net, or, if you don't want to write real-world applications using ASP.Net. Otherwise, your valuable developer's time is on risk - high risk, that is.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Teach Yourself HTML 4 in 24 Hours
Publisher: Sams.net
Authors: Dick Oliver, Molly Holzschlag
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Heaven 17 for HTML Beginners


Excellent guide to HTML starting from the very basics. Easy to understand format for those curious enough to take the first steps into writing their own web page. Text is easily understandable and examples given are clear. A must for those wanting to learn HTML



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs - 2nd Edition (MIT Electrical Engineering and Computer Science)
Publisher: The MIT Press
Authors: Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Not terribly fun


Well, considering that I'm a computer science major, i figure that I know a great deal about programming and the such. However, I found this book to be simply incomprehensible. I've never wasted more time than I did trying to read this book. Worse than its failed attempts at instruction are its failed attempts at humor to "liven up" its instruction. After taking my class, i burnt this book.