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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learning Perl, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Phoenix
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Useful, but unclear in several parts.

This book is NOT for beginning programmers. We are using this book in a Summer School 6 week session and everyone at this point (week 3) : scrambling to come up with alternatives. This book: NOT ENOUGH EXAMPLES IN BOOK. ASSUMES PROGRAMMING KNOWLEDGE. We've already lost 50% of class due to dropouts from being completely confused!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Computer Systems Organization and Architecture
Publisher: Addison Wesley
Authors: John D. Carpinelli
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent book for Computer Architecture.

I used this book in Com. Architecture course. It's cover everything from state machine design to parallel processing. Every topics come in correct order and very clear in explanation and example. A lot of pictures and excellent organize.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Web Applications (Hacking Exposed)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Joel Scambray, Mike Shema
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
The best web hacking book today

I just finished reading Hacking Exposed Web Apps and was coming back to Amazon to fwd the recommendation to a friend who is a CSO at a Fortune 500 firm when I stumbled upon the review from hermie. I have to say that I disagree completely with hermie's assessment, and felt compelled enough to say so in print! First of all, the book does cover a number of web platforms besides IIS -- it's the only one I've seen that talks about web services in any detail (SOAP, UDDI, XML, etc.), and it also devotes entire chapters to both web app management and web client hacking as well (very salient but often overlooked topics in other books). Main author Scambray may be a Windows security expert, but the non-Windows expertise is very visible in the appendix on libwhisker and the chapters on surveying the app, attacking session state, and input validation, etc. This also calls into question the criticisms by hermie of the specific detail versus the depiction of broad concepts -- if you are after ancient security concepts, then you plainly shouldn't be reading the Hacking Exposed series! That's the point of each book in the series -- use fresh, relevant technical details on how to hack to illustrate cutting-edge *concepts* in computer and Internet security. I think hermie really missed the boat here. Finally, the straw that broke the camels back for me was the comparison to "Web Hacking" by McClure. McClure is an executive now running his own start-up, and the knock that I've heard on this book is that it is really non-technical and out-of-date in sections. McClure brought in strong contributors to drive the details, but apparently couldn't glue the right pieces together to make this book competitive. I have a borrowed copy on my shelf, but frankly could not get past the first three or so chapters. Sigh -- I guess that's the breaks when anyone can post their thoughts here in the review section :)

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
Publisher: Basic Books
Authors: Douglas R. Hofstadter
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Thought, Art and Criticism an endless natural ACT.

What marks a book as distinctive? What makes a book THE ONE, which you would never dream of lending, even to your mother?
Leave aside that it deals with a very basic subject, something that is the very core of 'being human'. Leave aside that even if the content was not up to standard, the presentation itself would have succeeded in winning the day. Leave aside that every sentence brings out not only the power of the author's brain, but manages to bring out the power of the reader's brain too.
What would still make it distinctive is the amount of passionate discussion it has, and to my continuing surprise, goes on generating.
Whether you agree with the thoughts of the author or whether they make u rail in outrage, the fact remains that is one of the best thought-provoking books you can lay your hands on. Personally, i agree with DRH that 'full blown' AI is just a matter of time and computing efforts. But even those who are enraged by this thought and who think that Intelligence is 'God's gift' much as the early christians believed that the earth was the center of the universe cannot deny the value of this book in stirring up meaningful debate on that basic question.
The way DRH moves the reader, with entertaining Achilles-Tortoise dialogues and mind-bending escherian prints, through an understanding of thought and current AI concepts and where in the future the twain would probably meet, is nothing short of masterful. The hidden loops and meta-loops add a delightful tang to the book and makes every re-read seem like a fresh one.
To conclude, there are precious few books worth buying, reading completely, possessing jealously and re-reading. Without doubt, this is one of them.