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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XML in a Nutshell, Third Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Elliotte Rusty Harold, W. Scott Means
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Covers almost every major XML standard

This is a combination field guide and terse standards reference for XML. It covers an amazing variety of XML standards. From the fundamentals of XML, through the document standards, and into transformation technologies like XSLT. Standards include; XML, XPath, XLink, XSLT, XSL-FO, XML Schema, DTDs, among others. The book also cover some standards that use XML, like SAX and DOM.

The book is fairly high level. It assumes that you know the basics and need a complete reference for the technologies. This is that case with all of the Nutshell books, but given the amount of technologies this books cover, the coverage is fairly terse.

The organization of the book is great. There are only a few illustrations and they are used effectively. A solid reference for anyone who works with XML technologies on a daily basis. Highly recommended.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Learn to Program with Java
Publisher: Osborne/McGraw-Hill
Authors: John Smiley
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Like Being In Class

I like the fact that this book was more light-hearted in it's teaching approach. All too often technical books are just that, too technical, putting you to sleep after reading page after page of computer code. This book, however, gives you the technical experience to understand Java and it's syntax, but does it using a "classroom experience" approach, including student-teacher dialogue, that breaks up the monotony often found in the average techno-manual. I would highly recommend this book to a first-time Java student or anyone wanting to get into their first experience with object oriented languages.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Network+ Training Guide
Publisher: Que
Authors: Mike Harwood, Drew Bird
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I read this book cover to cover and it's the bomb!

Passed the Network+ exam with an 845 out of 900. This book is much more effective - written very well - the info seems to sink in a lot easier. The practice exam on cd is very realistic. Good luck!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Agile Software Development
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Alistair Cockburn
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Good, But Way Up In the Ivory Tower

This is a good book to read if you are thinking about going into business as a software design methodology consultant. But it may not be so good if you want to know the 'what' and 'why' of agile processes.
Much of the book is very abstract, which the author acknowledges in his introduction, and very 'touchy-feely'. I view several of its insights as cliches--"Software development is a cooperative game of invention and communication", and "programming teams are ecosystems" come to mind. I question whether these concepts are as groundbreaking as the author believes. Most managers learn them these days in basic training.
This book is basically about about how process methodologies are constructed. If you want to formalize or document your existing process, or modify a formal process in a very rigorous way, then this is a very useful book. But if you simply want to understand what agile processes are all about, this book will probably disappoint you.