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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Introducing Microsoft .Net, Third Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: David S. Platt
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good introductory information

As a programmer, I get a lot of books, esp. when looking at new technologies, like .NET. From my viewpoint, right on the bleeding edge, this book is a bit too simplistic. If you have been working with .NET since the PDC beta, this is probably not the book for you either.
Now, before you step away, let's put this in context. Mr. Platt has not written a book for those of us who have been on the bleeding edge of this technology for the past year (well, almost). This book, instead, is written to give a good overview of .NET for those who are just starting out.
Who is this book for? This book is aimed for anyone who wants a 20,000 foot view of the .NET Framework. While there are code samples, this is not designed to be a tutorial as much as an overview.
Overall, I would recommend this book as a nice overview. As much of the information in the book is overview, most of this one, unlike the MSDN books recently released, will still be applicable in a few weeks. Looking at the MSPress site lately, even Microsoft is embarassed at the MSDN books, as even an ISBN number will not pull up the books.
Unfortunately, even some of the info in this book may change before the gold release of .NET. One good sign, is the fact that the author points out which sections are likely to change. This type of honesty is unusual in the seemingly cutthroat business of computer book publishing.
Summary: This book is definitely a beginner's book. If you are already developing .NET applications (playing with .NET), you will not find a great deal of new information. If you are looking for a developer's book, pass on as well. If you would like to know more about what .NET is, however, this is a good choice.
My Rating: I feel this book is a 4 in context with the audience it is aimed for. For developers, I would subtract a star. For those already working in .NET, I would take off two. For those who have really worked through .NET, I would say 1 star is about all of the value you will get out of it.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Cisco CallManager Best Practices: A Cisco AVVID Solution
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: Salvatore Collora, Anne Smith, Ed Leonhardt, Anne Smith, Ed Leonhardt Salvatore Collora
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A great book for experienced IP Telephony engineers .

Cisco CallManager Best Practices is a very well written book with plenty of useful information. However, please note, this is not an introductory book for Cisco IP Telephony. As its name implies, this book provides "best practices" for installing, running and optimizing an IP Telephony network. Thus, this book should be used by experienced IP Telephony engineers in order to plan new deployment or optimize existing IP Telephony networks.

Beyond that one caveat, I highly recommend this book. It is well written and has very good information. I did not find any errors and found the technical information very in-depth and thorough.

I particularly liked Chapter 6: Securing the Environment. While obviously slanted toward IP Telephony, this chapter provided detailed security practices that should be applied to all networks. This chapter focuses on how overall network security leads to secure IP Telephony environments, which is the way security should be approached. By simply securing your IP Telephony assets (CallManagers, Gateways, etc), but not implementing standard security technologies (private VLANs, ARP inspection, 802.1x, etc) engineers will still leave their IP Telephony network subject to attack. Rightfully so, this chapter explains how IP Telephony is just a part of overall security, and then explains basic security technologies with an inkling toward IP Telephony.

My only complaint about this book, and why it only received 4 out of 5 stars, was its lack of flow. Chapters did not build on one another, despite appearing that way from the Table of Contents. Each chapter started fresh. However, I think this may be a factor of the book's purpose: providing "Best Practices" and not laying out a step-by-step process for IP Telephony deployments. As I mentioned above, this is not a book to use for someone new to IP Telephony or for your first deployment. This book should be used by experienced IP Telephony engineers to enhance their knowledge for new deployments and bolster existing IP Telephony networks.

Michael J. Morris
CCIE #11733, MCSE

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming Perl (3rd Edition)
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Larry Wall, Tom Christiansen, Jon Orwant
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
For Serious Perl Programmer

This is not a book to learn Perl from unless you have a solid programming background, even though Perl is supposed to be usable by anyone. I found it a challenging read. In part, it was because the language is so radically different from C++/C/Java/etc. The rules of the language are very flexible, kinda making Perl a "There's Too Many Ways To Do It" language. I imagine debugging someone else's Perl code must be difficult. If you are solid with skills such as c/c++/UNIX shell scripting/XSL/Javascript(Expressions), you will benefit from this book. If not, you will probably get frustrated, and should probably start with an easier "Intro" type Perl book. In school I was never a big fan of Lisp/Scheme, but I respected them. Same goes for Perl. Its an awesome "glue" language that I now feel comfortable using. Although there are reams of information and examples (THANKFULLY!) in this book, the author often shows code that is not explained until later in the book. I had to read ahead far more often than I wanted. I am a big fan of buying books by the authors of technologies, because they expose most everything - simple to advanced++ - I need to know as a professional. This book falls into this category. One final note, the author has a good sense of humor, which - in an over 1000 page tome - does help make potentially drab technical praddle easier to digest!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Photoshop Elements 2 for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Deke McClelland, Galen Fott
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
photoshop elements 2 for dummies

I really like Deke McClelland's books. He's a great writer and makes his subject very understandable and approachable. If you're looking for a book to help you get started or move from beginner to intermediate user, I think it's very unlikely you'll find a better book...