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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
Superlative book - But understand where it fits on the shelf


I bought and read this book about 16 months ago.
I've re-read it twice since then. This is not because I didnt understand the book the first time -- its because there are so many layers of information in the book.
Some authors seem to be able to write 20 books on a subject -- You've seen the authors that do 3 C++ books a year, or 3 COM books a year. This is great for publishers, and the successful "serial author". (I am aware that Stroustrup has 2 other C++ books and Don has taken part in Effective COM -- but they're not on the same subject material)
Don takes a different approach. He's only going to write one COM book and do it properly. He does. This book is the most dense in terms of giving solid information to help you understand whats going on. Whats going on when your product is about to ship and there's only 3 "showstopper" bugs left. Thats when understanding it properly matters. It also matters when you want to design something. These details also matter to VB projects when they ship, or when they're being designed.
I generally read any COM book I see sitting around. So I've probably read about 6000 pages on COM. I've seen about 1000 wizard screenshots. I've seen 40 analogy-riddled COM explanations. I've seen "cute and funny" examples. This is the only one I've bought and I've never regretted it or covetted my neighbour's book.
Similarly with C++ books, there are authors who sell a rehash of the same material 20 times. I read any of these lying about too -- another 10,000 pages with 50 useful per book. I only _bought_ Stroustrup.
It's not (nor was it intended to be) _the_ tutorial. It doesnt have screenshots. Its not 'funny'. Depending on your initial level of knowledge, you should probably read one or two other books such as Inside COM (or intros to other books of that ilk) -- in fact the best primers are probably articles in MSDN. Use these as a primer as necessary. When you've read 1500 pages of these, come back to Essential COM, and you'll have any gaps in your knowledge filled in.
If I was allowed to own only 3 books on C++/COM development, they would be Stroustrup, Box and Effective COM. (Although Mr Bunny's Guides would come close :)
Finally, would people, regardless of positive or negative opinions held, please be kind enough to give their identity -- IMHO it invalidates your opinion if you're not willing to stand behind it.



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: An Introduction to Database Systems (Introduction to Database Systems)
Publisher: Addison Wesley Longman
Authors: C. J. Date
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I came to know the book is excellent, help me $ to buy.


I used this book for a college level database course. The author has done a superb job overall.
Superb job at covering major DB concepts.
The writting of the book as well as exceptional orginization of the book show that the author is indeed an expert on the topic. I found that while the author is not the best at explaining the concepts in the book, he is still very good. This leaves the reader with some thinking to do in order to fully understand the material (which is fine).
The book is very wordy. This is positive becuase it keeps the book interesting and not dry. (The author is very good at connecting with the reader, something not found in many computer books). On the negative side it opens the door for more error of interpretation(although the author's skills prevent this, mostly). On complicated issues in which a section needs to be re-read several times, there is much more to read.
Last, b/c of the wordiness most of the book cannot be used as a quick reference guide. (So students make sure to underline, highlight...)
Plenty of practice questions and suitable answers.
In general this is a superb book for an introduction, the concepts will stay with the good reader for many months. A definite buy!



Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: The C++ Programming Language (Special 3rd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Bjarne Stroustrup
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Excellent material but not a tutorial


I enjoyed C++ Programming Language but it takes some time to grasp all the concepts presented. I understand that this was to have been more of a tutorial than previous editions but I question that. The author gives a brief example of a particular topic without much explanation and then moves on to the next leaving much assumption to the reader. His tone at time takes on a "but of course you would have know that already, right?" kind of attitude even when his point may not be completely clear. Now I've read several C++ books and am what I would consider myself an avid C++ programmer. As such, I was able to eventually make sense of most everything. However, I would not recommend this book to someone who has no previous background in C++. The tone and style are definitely more suited to someone with prior experience in C++. One very nice thing about the book, though, was the author's insight into the language itself and it's evolution. Very nice.



Product: Book - Paperback
Title: ActionScript Cookbook
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Joey Lott
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Sweet Receipies


This is how more how-to books should be written. Action Script is the real power behind putting zoom and power into Flash projects, but with its full feature set it can be intimidating to learn how to use properly and many books fail in really explaining the why and how or fail to give any practical real world examples and quickly go off the deep end on wordy explinations of the syntax leaving you hanging, wanting some practical how do I USE what I just read.
This book is different! Its loaded with PRACTICAL, useful well commented examples of USING the code explained with hundreds of code snipets that you can use immidiately as-is or with little modification.
Starts with simpler things like lucid explainations of common pitfalls of checking equality and comparing values to if else expressions, while loops, more complex conditional testing then moves into areas most newbies want to learn how to do, but don't really have any practical examples like how to change a movie's transparency, drawing tricks, masking, etc.. Then it moves into examples of arrays, targeting, making objects dragable, swapping levels, interaction with buttons, validating forms and so on.
The book is well written and while there is plenty of technical information it never gets bogged down under the weight of excessive theory, minutia on details you'll rarely use and quickly forget anyway. Its much more of a friendly 'how do I do this' kind of approach that probably will make you reach for it again and again as a quick reference to solve common problems.
The last 200 pages or so give details of several more meaty projects. Unlike several books that 'explain' Action Script but all too often leave you hanging on how to actual use it, here you see how to use it in real world conditions which will save you hours of frustrating trial and error.