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Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: CCIE Routing and Switching Exam Certification Guide
Publisher: Cisco Press
Authors: A. Anthony Bruno, Anthony Bruno
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
3 1/2 Stars - needs a few updates.

Having been working with Cisco and networking over the past several years I found the exams to quite challenging and very tough. Having worked with 2 CCIE's over the past couple years the CCIE exam would have to be the toughest exam of all, this training guide maybe a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

What the author does in this book is create a prep guide of 70 plus pages for the written exam. His understanding of what it takes to pass the exam is what makes this book one of the best I have seen on the market today.

To ensure you best shot at passing the exam each chapter has both a pre and post assessment test. Also the book has you working with over 15 scenarios and judging from the content it would appear that the scenarios were taken from real life situations.

Covering the topics like the OSI model, number conversions, RIP, IGRP, EIRGP, OSPF, VLANs, BGP, MPLS, IS-IS, firewalls and NAT to name a few, you are given router screen shots and step by step instructions to help your learning experience.

There is also a cd included with over 200 practice questions, so overall you have a very good tool. With a few grammar errors that need fixing this book should provide a great of help either for the exam or for the real world.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Ultimate History of Video Games: From Pong to Pokemon--The Story Behind the Craze That Touched Our Lives and Changed the World
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Authors: Steven L. Kent
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Complete, well written, but where's Europe in all this?

This book covers over 600 pages of entertainment history, starting at the beginning of the previous century up until the year 2001. It tells about the development of the entertainment business from the early novelty games and the development of the pinball machine, through the invention of the first computer and television games to the rise and fall (and rise again) of the coin-operated video game arcades which eventually lead to the development of game consoles and hand held computer games. Many of the well known and lesser known companies are present: Atari, CapCom, Sega, Nintendo, Namco, Activision, Electronic Arts, Coleco, Commodore, Mattel, Rare, etc.
The book reads as a novel and the story is told by the people who made video gaming history, through interviews held by the author. There are many anecdotes and quotes that really paint the picture of this colorful history, which will coincide with the history of many of this book's readers, making the book that more interesting to read.
There is a small section of 9 pages with black-and-white pictures showing some of the people who played a significant role in video gaming history. Also there are enticing pictures of a "centipede" assembly hall and a storage facility full of "donkey kong" games; cabinets that are now very hard to find in good condition.
Less glamourous but certainly part of history are the chapters about court cases and congressional investigations into violence, and the reactions of the game mannufacturing community.
Towards the end the book is more about the business than the actual games, listing the numbers consoles sold and the amount of money earned by some of the leading companies. This gets boring and while offering insight into the relative successes, it does not hold much historic value.
American and Japanese readers will probably not notice, but Europe is hardly mentioned in this book, leaving readers from this part of the world feeling underappreciated. While Europe played an important part in video gaming history, especially when America's video game business was failing, almost of none of this information is contained in this book. Even events, like the following, that played a major role aren't even hinted at:
"By 1980, Magnavox had become a subsidiary of North American Philips (NAP), a Dutch electronics conglomerate. As a result, Philips released the European equivalent of the Odyssey˛ (the Videopac G7000) under its own company name. The Phillips Videopac G7000 was more successful than its American counterpart. There were many different versions of the system around the world, and one version (the G7200) even had a built-in monitor.
"The G7000 inspired a larger following and enjoyed a longer life span in Europe than the Odyssey˛ ever had in the U.S. As a result, more games were created for the European market. If anything, the console enjoyed an even greater following when it was released in Brazil, where it was called simply the Odyssey. Brazil was treated to practically the entire release library of both the U.S. and Europe, and received a couple of exclusive titles (Clay Pigeon! and Comando Noturno!) as well.
(quote from www.classicgaming.com, 2004)
The lack of complete information is compensated by a strong focus on Atari and Nintendo. Although these companies obviously played an important part in the history of computer games, it appears to be a slightly skewed representation of the entire playing field.
Apart from that I give the book a big thumbs up for detailing a very important part of history and being so well written.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Ethereal Packet Sniffing
Publisher: Syngress
Authors: Angela D. Orebaugh, Gilbert Ramirez
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Nice new functionality

How anxious (paranoid?) are you about your network? Has a cracker taken over one of your machines and is using it to sniff your traffic? Or maybe to propagate worms, or emit spam, especially the phishing variety, which needs a server that cannot be directly owned by the phisher. For all these reasons, and as a prophylactic measure against them, sysadmins often use network analysis tools that come with their operating systems, like tcpdump under linux and unix and windump under Microsoft.
But these tend to be limited in their analytic capability. A group of people wanted to improve matters. They banded together and called their product Ethereal. It is offered freely as open source, and has been tested on linux, most unixes and various Microsoft OSs. Strictly speaking, it has not been officially released. Which makes this book a little curious, on first glance. The book documents version 0.10.0, and has a CD with all the necessary code. The authors felt that pragmatically this version is stable enough and offers significantly better functionality over the alternatives.
Granted, you may be trepid about installing beta code, on principle. But the authors argue persuasively that the Ethereal functionality, both in a GUI and at the command line, warrants a serious consideration by any sysadmin.
Another reason to install Ethereal has to do with the case where you are already using some proprietary network analyser. If you also run Ethereal, then the two analysers act as cross checks on each other. While Ethereal may have some bugs, so too might that other product. But how might you ever know about the latter, without using Ethereal?

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning Visual C++ 6
Publisher: Wrox
Authors: Ivor Horton
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Perfect starting place: not too hot, not too cold...

I am a hard science and math guy who knows next to nothing about programming. At last, I have the ideal introductory programming book in my hands!
The "Dummies" books are fine for mastering the basics of operating systems, and some applications like quicken, but programming is just too big a topic.
The OReilly books are outstanding, but they just don't cover introductory microsoft PC programming. Their C++ books are great but you will come away from them without knowing the essentials of the MS version of C++...
I have put aside my "Visual C++ for Dummies", and (O Reilly)"Practical C++", in favor of Horton's excellent book.
If you are new to programming, this is a very "meaty" book to get going with.