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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C, Second Edition
Publisher: Wiley
Authors: Bruce Schneier
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Schneier is to crypto like Fowler is to English


The mathematics, not to say sheer logic, is likely to scare a lot of people. I find when I lend the book that most people go through quickly and read what might be called the cryptographic purple patches -- pure prose sections, summing up which ciphers are weak and which aren't, some of the history, and such things. The rest they leave. I've found myself in the position of trying to explain all this stuff to CEOs and other execs. It is hard. I wrote a CEO-friendly summary (www.viacorp.com/crypto.html) and it worked fairly well. The people who need to know this are also the hardest to get into the topic. Maybe Bruce Schneier would like to try writing a non-mathematical summary for the intelligent layman -- like Einstein did in The Evolution of Physics.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Microsoft Access Version 2002 Inside Out (With CD-ROM)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Helen Feddema
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good, not brilliant !


In any book with over 1,100 pages, a few editing errors may be inevitable. If the book comes with a free CD, maybe it's nitpicking to expect perfection in every routine on the CD.
However, when I'm depending on the book and CD to teach me how to use computer software, editing oversights are especially frustrating. I follow the instructions and they don't work, so I fear that my software has a bug or I'm failing to understand what should be obvious.
To Helen's credit, when I emailed her about one of the errors (on page 554, the 0 should be a 1 in steps 3 and 5), she did respond with a thanks and said she'd file a report with Microsoft Press. (As I write this, the correction is still not posted at mspress.microsoft.com/support/search.htm, though.)
Many of the errors in the book are so obvious that you can make the correction yourself. Still, if they are that obvious, why didn't the editor catch them? Here's an example from page 228: "...only four events: Updated, Enter, Exit, Got Focus, and Lost Focus."
But all that is a minor nuisance in the context of a wonderfully informative and systematically written tome. As I worked through the text and activities, I felt that Helen really cared about her readers getting it all. Just notice how many times the word "simply" appears in the text.
I highly recommend this book, as long as you realize the mistakes you make may not be your own.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Managing Projects with GNU make, 3rd Edition (Nutshell Handbooks)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Robert Mecklenburg
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
This book was a lifesaver


I'm taking an operating systems class. As part of that class, we had to modify an existing operating system. To do that required modifying the makefile system to add our modules. I tried understanding make from the man pages and tutorials on the web. They are either a reference or cover too small a subset of tasks. This book covers the topic thoroughly but in an instructional manner which is easy to learn from. My only complaint is that sometimes there is functionality talked about without accompanying examples. That makes it hard to understand how things work together.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Troubleshooting, Maintaining & Repairing PCs (Troubleshooting, Maintaining & Repairing PCs)
Publisher: Osborne/McGraw-Hill
Authors: Stephen J. Bigelow
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
PC repair for everyone, even computer illiterates like me


I'm not a computer technician. Heck, I can barely operate a computer! I "grew up" (computer-wise) with Macs, which never seem to need fixing and seldom wear out, but because my husband had a typical PC person's prejudice against Macs, I started using PCs. Toshibas, IBMs, Dells -- each and every one sooner or later had problems. Tired of talking to technicians from Wales to Holland, I decided to take an online course in computer repair and this book was required reading.
Voila! Help at last.
Information is thorough and easy to find. Fixes work.
If you HAVE to have a PC and you run into problems, this is the book to have.