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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Effective STL: 50 Specific Ways to Improve Your Use of the Standard Template Library
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Scott Meyers
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
He did it again!

I continue to be amazed at how well Scott Meyers' formula works: Pick a topic, set out to write exacttly 50 tips about it, and do it! The secret why this author is so successful with his formula (and never comes across as formulaic) is that he is both deeply knowledgeable about what works in the areas he writes about and has excellent intuition or experience about the areas in which other programmers working in the field are most likely to stumble.
This book is not a user's guide to the STL (And I won't hesitate to, once again, recommend Nicolai Josuttis' _The C++ Standard Library_ for that), but you will find this an excellent use of your time and money as a second book on the STL.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Web Applications (Hacking Exposed)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Authors: Joel Scambray, Mike Shema
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Yet Another Excellent Hacking Exposed book

There is an unofficial time cycle called an ohnosecond, which is the amount of time between when you realize you left your keys in the car, and when the car door locks. While its frustrating paying the locksmith $100.00 to open the car door, it is also exasperating to the person paying the $100.00 that a good locksmith can open the car door in under a minute.
While a car door is a entrance to one's automobile, web servers are portals to corporate intranets, e-commerce offerings, and much more. And while a locksmith or thief can open a car door in a minute, so too can adversaries often penetrate corporate web servers with similar ease.
For those that don't accept the comparison, reading Hacking Exposed Web Applications will clearly open one's eyes. Forgetting for a minute the myriad vulnerabilities that effect many software products (including Windows, Apache, ColdFusion, and more), both books show how poorly written software, and misconfigured web servers make the penetration of web servers child's play.
The book provides step-by-step instructions in a easy to read style for hardening web servers against attack. For those that have read previous and are comfortable with books in the Hacking Exposed serious, Hacking Exposed Web Applications uses the same easy to read and well organized style.
The book has a lot of value even for those who are not so security conscious. For those with an interest in security, one's eyes will be open to the myriad places where vulnerabilities lie, from software, to scripts, mark-up files, and more. Anyone concerned with web server security should definitely read this title, or at least ensure their system administrators do. If not, think of your web servers as being Gone in 60 Seconds.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Programming Windows, Fifth Edition
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Charles Petzold
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5

I bought this book after having read the glowing reviews about it. I really didn't like it. I was learning the Win32 API - perhaps the book is better for experienced Win32 programmers. My primary complaint was that, in the code examples, it presented the material it was trying to illustrate alongside copious amounts of material that had never been discussed. The part you were trying to learn was sandwiched among many unrecognizable things. This fact made the code examples almost worthless to me. In addition, the book leaves out the subject of the Windows Common Controls entirely.
There seems to be a shortage of good books on the Win32 API. I don't think the Platform SDK documentation does a good job of helping students learn it either. There is another Win32 API book, Win32 Programming, by Rector and Newcomer, that I liked better than Petzold. I also prefer it to digging through the Platform SDK.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming C#, 4th Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jesse Liberty
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
easy transition to C# from Java, if you want to

[A review of the 4th edition 2005]

As a java programmer, reading a C# book is like wandering into a parallel universe. Most things are different, but everything is recognisable. Liberty walks us through the syntax of C# and then how to program in it. All the nice things in Java can be found in C#. Strong typing. Automatic garbage collection. Interfaces. Introspection... As the author mentions, C# came out in 2000, while Java did so in 96. Those 4 years let C#'s designers effectively make it a superset of Java.

Some of you who might be tempted to read this book will be Java programmers. Well, as a Java programmer, I'd have to say that if you like Java, then intrinsically, you should also like C#. If you have to shift, for career reasons perhaps, then this book might be reassuring. You can re-express your expertise in C# with relatively little effort. The syntax is not too dis-similar. Likewise, the code snippets, necessarily short though they are, will probably follow the same logical ordering as in Java.