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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Essential COM
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Don Box
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
A masterpiece

A must buy, a masterpiece, for anyone interested in knowning how COM works. But keep in mind that this book would/can be better appreciated if one has a good understanding if C++ object layouts. I would recommend reading Lipman's "Inside the C++ Object Model" before reading this one. I would reiterate Charlie Kindel's statement that "No one explains COM better than Don Box".

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Visual Basic 6 for Dummies (for Windows)
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Wallace Wang
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Solid for Start

I decided to learn VB on my own, a lot of people have, and so I took a book home from the library and started reading. I was asleep 3 minutes later. But since I had a genuine desire to learn the program I bought VB for Dummies and to my surprise the book is just fantastic. I've become a fan of the ...For Dummies books just because of this book. If you are serious about learning Visual Basic, then there is no better place to start.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: MCAD/MCSD Self-Paced Training Kit: Developing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual Basic .NET and Microsoft Visual C# .NET, Second Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Microsoft Corporation, Jeff Webb, Microsoft Corporation
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
Prepares you for using ASP.NET but not for passing the cert

Microsoft approaches certification exams the same way that the Educational Testing Service approaches SAT, GMAT and GRE college entrance exams.
ETS discourages people from using SAT preparation classes and books and, rather, encourages people to just work on their verbal and quantitative skills. They suggest that doing so is enough to do well on the exams. We all know better.
Microsoft takes the approach that, if you have a good mastery of the subject being tested then that is all you need to pass the certs. The Microsoft Self-Paced Training Kits (known as the "redbooks") do a reasonable job of teaching you the concepts of ASP.NET (and WinForms and the VB.NET/C# language and other tested topics), but they do a poor job of preparing you for the certs.
It's true that, if you review vocabulary words a lot and practice intermediate algebra and 10th grade geometry problems in the weeks preceding your SATs you may improve your score by 3 or 4%. But if you use that time to review sample test questions and analyze the structure and logic behind SAT questions using Princeton Review or Kaplan etc., then you will improve your score by considerably more than a few percentage points. The same goes for Microsoft certs. If you master the topic being tested (in this case, Web apps, ASP.NET), you may still pass the exam or, at least, slightly increase your score. But knowing the topic is not enough. You must know the exam, as well. This thinking goes against Microsoft's view of their own certification exams. Microsoft's thinking and point-of-view is reflected in their "redbooks."
Therefore, if all you want is to learn ASP.NET using either of the dialects of the VB.NET/C# language, then this book is OK (if a bit pricey compared to other "cert prep" books). But if you are looking for certification preparation (as opposed to just learning the topic), then a combination of one of the cert prep products such as TestKing or Transcender along with a book like Kalani (ISBN: 0789728222) is a much better approach. These tools will help you pass the exam. Kalani, in particualr, will help you master the topic AS WELL AS prepare you for the exam. TestKing and/or Transcender will give you practice with close-to-actual exam questions. No, they don't repeat real questions but they do give you examples of the TYPES of question to expect and give you practice with the nuances, languages and tricks that are part of the cert exam questions.
You can't pass the certs without understanding the topics (and I would never hire anyone who passed the exam by memorizing questions -- believe me, I can tell). But knowing the topics alone is usually not enough. The "redbooks" teach the concepts and prepare you for using the ASP.NET tools, but the "redbooks" do not prepare you for the exams.
If the books were cheaper (or if you can share with 2 or 3 friends), and your goal was just to learn how to program (but not necessarily pass a cert) then I would recommend this book for learning the topic. For cert preparation, however, use something else.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Inside LightWave 8
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Dan Ablan
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Great book for newbies

This book has helped me so much, and I have only had it for two weeks. I was brand new to lightwave, and look at a lot of online tutorials and never could get them right. After I got Inside lightwave 8 I have made serial models from the work section, and some of my own. Great book, must have for newbie's.