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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Martin Fowler, Kent Beck, John Brant, William Opdyke, Don Roberts
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
An Inhibited Programmer is often a Less Productive One

Before I read this book, when someone mentioned refactoring, I would imagine it would be either "code cleanup", e.g., refactoring out the common behavior to the base class or a subroutine or "total redesign", e.g., breaking up current architecture, all these two can be avoided and unnecessary if we analyze the problem right, abstract the model right, architect the application right, design and code right.
I am a bigot of OO technology, design patterns, iterative software develop process from analysis, architure, design, construction to testing, and I know to get all the above things "right" would be very hard if not impossible at all. But that is what our designers and developers' job, facing the challenge right? So how is refactoring going to affect us as designers and develoers?
The first chaper(example) is particular interesting and attractive to me, as it just pointed out some signs of "evilness" in the design, e.g., a lot of tag/case for runtime type checking, responsibility was assigned to the wrong class, inaccurate/insufficient abstraction. Actually, it is this chapter which made me decide to get the book and see how the author would correct these problems. Mr. Fowler did excellent job on this topic.
Most Software developers may not have the luxuery to always work on the new project from start, we may inherit legacy codes which was not designed to solve today's problem, even an initial good design could go decayed, be it lack of documentation, insufficient of communication, different levels within the develop team, etc. Now with this book, we can take a breath and start refactoring the existing design/code to make it solve today's requirement, to even make it extensible for tommorrow's change. Initial design is no longer a huge burden, as it can be refactored, extended to fit the unseenable things when it was made.
The only thing in this book that annoys me is the verbosity of the refactoring steps in each chapter. It exposed to much details. I think the text decription and UML notation would be enough for any experienced developers to see the design problems and how to correct them. All those steps would only serve the needs for refactoring tools developers. But even with all the details, it is a "light" reading :-)

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Mike Meyers' Network+ Certification Passport
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Mike Meyers, Nigel Kendrick
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Very Brief...Not Comprehensive

This was my first venture into the Passport series. The book is quite readable and provides what amounts to a whirlwind tour of most of the objectives of the exam. For vetarans in the field, the book will provide a pretty good refresher, should fill most gaps, and should give you confidence in your own knowledge to pass the exam.
This book most certainly is not for the new tech treading in unfamiliar waters. The book does not treat any area in great detail, and in fact misses more than a half-dozen of the objectives on which the Network+ exam tests. In particular, the book mentions little if anything on the following: 802.2 (LLC) AppleTalk POP3/IMAP4 RARP NTP VLANs SOHO Networks (particularly troubleshooting DSL and Cable)The book itself admits that it is Microsoft-centric because the Network+ exam is that way, but you will get burned by the non-Microsoft questions if you have no other experience or reference. If you are new to the field and are looking to this book as your only resource, it certainly will fool you in thinking you will be prepared to be successful on the Network+ exam. The questions offered in the text are considerably simpler than those you will see on the real exam. The questions offered on the CD are a little closer but still too simple. I strongly suggest additional material (a comprehensive study guide from your favorite publisher, as they are all very good anymore) and a stronger exam prep simulator (...).
The book does the best it can in fewer than 400 pages, but unless you are a network veteran you will need more support to pass the exam.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Business Data Networks and Telecommunications (5th Edition)
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Ray Panko
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Six Stars!

I've recently completed a course using this textbook. Excellent!!! It has been a long time (if ever) since I have actually enjoyed reading a textbook. I feel it should be mandatory reading for all authors and potential authors who will ever feel the need to publish a textbook for undergraduate level work in a technical field.
Most of the many corrections on the online corrections page are minor and insignificant (i.e. typos) and would probably go unnoticed by the reader. With press deadlines in technologies being what they are, it is fully understandable. The choice to include those corrections (a) gave me a sense of security in that it demonstrated the author's thoroughness and (b) proves that you don't have to cut a new edition of your work every six months (which can be quite annoying for anyone who is looking to get a specific edition for class).
I was pretty much convinced that it was impossible to design and publish a textbook in a technical field of a caliber such as this. In general, technical authors either confuse the reader by over complicating the layout and material or they put the reader to sleep by being overly shallow and overly redundant. This is not the case for this book. In the words of Goldilocks, this one is "just right". I strongly recommend it to anyone, whether they have a class requirement for it or not.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Elizabeth Castro
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
A bit confusing for beginners...

This was an excellent book. I already am a very proficient HTML programmer and wanted to update my skills with XHTML & CSS. This was just what I needed. I don't know how someone who has no experience would view it, but I found the relating of the XHTML & CSS to HTML most helpful.