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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Programming C#, 4th Edition
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Jesse Liberty
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Clear, Complete, Excellent

This book begins with a complete introduction to the C# language, with special tips for C++, VB6 and Java programmers. The writing is excellent, to the point, humerous but not silly, no wasted words but plenty of examples.
Part 2 of the book introduces the major types of applications you might build with C#, with a good introduction to ASP.NET, web forms, web services and also to ADO.NET.
It is in part 3 that this book stands out from all the rest, with a thorough explanation of many aspects of the CLR and the Framework Class Library, including lucid and very well written explanations of Assemblies, versioning, attributes, reflection, marshaling, threading, synchronization mechanisms, streams, async i/o, and com interop. Each of these topics can be a book in itself, but this book, Programming C#, provides enough introduction to make you productive and to lay the foundation for further reading.
I've not seen a better introduction to C#, and Liberty has a gift for making technical material crystal clear.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Designing with Web Standards
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Jeffrey Zeldman
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Worth every penny...

If you already believe that CSS/XHTML is the present and future of web page design, much of this book will be useless for you. Zeldman devotes a lot of ink to defining these technologies and convincing the reader that it is time to use them.
However, there are some good tips inside, and the writing style is easy to read (if often overly flip).
On the other hand, if you are still building HTML 3 or HTML 4 pages, or didn't know that HTML had version numbers, then this is the book for you!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Data Structures & Algorithms in Java (Mitchell Waite Signature Series)
Publisher: Waite Group Press
Authors: Mitchell Waite, Robert Lafore
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Extremely helpful in illustrating how data structures work.

When I started studying data structures, I was quite taken aback by the descriptions given in my college textbook. The examples were convoluted and shied from giving the reader an understanding of the basic concepts. Rather, it chose to focus purely on algorithmic analysis. That approach required too many mathematical proofs and other complex notation. Fortunately for me, this gem by Lafore came to the rescue.
Lafore's illustration of data structures is concise and easy to follow. In each section the data structure is discussed in general and then further dissected into easily understandable subsections. An added benefit is that each chapter has Java code that illustrates the main functions of each data structure discussed. The code is included on a CD that also contains interactive Java Applets. I found that the applets really helped illustrate how some of the more complex structures work.
There is no code in the chapter on Red-Black trees or in the chapter on 2-3-4 Trees and external storage. This is okay however, since presentation of the code might have consumed too much space and have been difficult to follow (Fortunately, There are insightful applets for these topics). My only regret is that the book doesn't give as much in-depth information on certain functions of B-trees and B+ Trees as it does on the other topics. More than less likely this is a little (too?) picky on my part.
Overall a great book to get if you are interested in learning essential Data Structures.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Definitive Guide to Windows Installer
Publisher: Apress
Authors: Phil Wilson
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Very elegant new approach

Many developers who write applications for a Microsoft operating system know all too well of installation hazards. The possibility of introducing DLLs that are incompatible with existing DLLs, for example. Plus lots more things that could fail. Wilson starts off his book with a listing of what could traditionally go wrong in an installation.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this was a wretched state of affairs. You typically had programming expertise in your particular field. But there should have been no a priori reason why this expertise should have to stretch to the installation process. Right?
Wilson gives an alternative. He details how you can use Windows Installer to install and uninstall your application. The process is still nontrivial, mind you. Which is why we have a book of this length. But it shows how, if you fit your application within WI's strictures, then the entire install is now much easier and safer.
Perhaps the single best advantage is that WI makes your install a transaction. Either it all works, or the install will fail and your system will be unaffected. Atomic. We have rollback ability.
Those of you familiar with SQL and transaction processing will recognise this. Wilson shows that WI is in fact based on SQL tables and relational processing. Some people at Microsoft made a nice design! By undergirding the installation with SQL tables. It lets WI have an inner coherent structure, into which third party applications can fit, in a disciplined way. Plus, it allows the panoply of SQL queries. At the right level, it is an elegant approach.