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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Head First Servlets & JSP
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Bryan Basham, Kathy Sierra, Bert Bates
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Head First Servlets & JSP rocks!

Looking for either an enjoyable intro into JSP and Servlets or material on passing the Sun Certified Web Component Developer exam? Grab a copy of Head First Servlets & JSP by Bryan Basham, Kathy Sierra, and Bert Bates. It rocks...

Chapter list: Intro; Why use Servlets & JSPs; Web app architecture; Mini MVC tutorial; Being a servlet; Being a web app; Conversational state; Being a JSP; Script-free pages; Custom tags are powerful; When JSTL is not enough; Deploying your web app; Keep it secret, keep it safe; The power of filters; Enterprise design patterns; Final mock exam; Index

I've stated my preference in the past to learning subjects with a bit of humor thrown in. OK... a *lot* of humor. If I have a chance to pick up a new tech skill with a study guide that makes me laugh and stay interested, I'm in heaven. Is it any wonder then that I absolutely love the Head First series? Bates and Sierra have created a concept that is unlike anything else on the market. Through the use of cartoons, hand-drawn examples, off-beat questions, and other various types of learning material, they engage your brain on a number of levels. And as a result, you're sucked in and learning stuff in spite of yourself.

In this installment, they tackle the subject of servlets and JSPs. Rather than try and explain things "technically", they have a common cast of characters throughout the book making observations and points about the material. Using the hand-drawn notes around illustrations and code, you quickly understand the underlying concepts of what happens with servlet requests and responses, and how JSPs interact with the web server. And given that there are exercises and questions at the end of each chapter (along with the answers), you have a chance to reinforce your learning immediately.

There are two uses for this book. The primary goal is to help you pass the Sun Certified Web Component Developer exam. If you already know about servlets and JSPs, get the book for the mock exam and the questions at the end of each chapter. The authors helped write the actual Sun test, so you'll get a good feel for the types of questions you'll face. The other use of this book would be to learn and understand the subject matter, like a tutorial. Once again, an excellent choice for that purpose. You'll still need to get some sort of "official" reference book of some sort if you get deeper into the material, but this is a perfect way to get started.

Once again, another winner from the warped minds that created the Head First concept. May they continue to thrive for a long time!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Essential .NET, Volume I: The Common Language Runtime
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Don Box
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A must read for CLR Insight

If you havn't read this book, Buy it! I really enjoyed the style, flow, and great insight into the CLR.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Cocoa(R) Programming for Mac(R) OS X (2nd Edition)
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
Authors: Aaron Hillegass
Rating: 2/5
Customer opinion - 2 stars out of 5
rehash of online documentation and biased against java

When I first learned about this book, I was eager to get my hands on a copy. Now that I have, I'm disappointed. The content is mostly a rehash of the documentation that Apple has made available online (for free!). But what bugged me the most was the author's recommendation for developers who are interested in Cocoa NOT to use Java, because "Cocoa was written in and for Objective-C". He argues that Cocoa applications written in Java take longer to load, are slower, and use more memory than if they are written in Obj-C. Well, if I was going to write the software to control the next probe to land on Mars, then those would be major concerns. As it happens, today's Macs have more memory than most applications know what to do with and also they're sufficiently fast that half-a-second or so longer to load an application is imperceptible to the user. And most applications are not so mission-critical, anyway, for those concerns to be truly valid. Apple's decision to make Cocoa available to Java programmers was a smart one and the author of this book should have supported, not undermined, it. I hope Apple will keep working hard to integrate Java and Cocoa. I also hope to see more books on Cocoa from the perspective of a Java programmer. Feiler's book is a good start, but is far too verbose on issues that are not so relevant to the programmer who wants to start coding right away.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Mac OS X All-in-One Desk Reference for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Mark L. Chambers, Erick Tejkowski, Michael L. Williams, Mark L. Chambers
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Good and fun to read

As usual with Dummies books, this one is a good foundation for using the subject matter, and fun to read. However, too much time is spent on the differences between MAC OS whatever and OS X. Some of us didn't have a MAC before OS X and we don't care about the differences. We are coming from Windows and we want to know all we can about the MAC OS X and the UNIX underpinnings. That is what makes OS X exciting. I like this book, and found it very useful for specific questions that were not too complex, but there is too much about programs out there that cost too much that you can buy as add ons. I want to know how to use the OS and the features it came with more than what to spend even more money purchasing. Still, this book is very good and easier for many people than some of the other books out there.