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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: The Code Book: The Science of Secrecy from Ancient Egypt to Quantum Cryptography
Publisher: Anchor
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Takes me back... and ahead

When I was a boy, I was obsessed with secret writing (as, I imagine, almost every child with at least one nosy sibling becomes) and read everything the local library's Juvenile section had on the topic. I was disappointed to discover, when I went looking for more material, that there was apparently more cryptography material for kids than for grown-ups! This book not only took me back to those days with its discussion of secret writing throughout history (scytales, Playfair, Vignere...), it's also got an excellent section on cryptography in the World Wars (an excellent companion to Neal Stephenson's novel "Cryptonomicon" in that regard!) and also explains the fundamental concepts of public-key cryptography in a readable, understandable format. As in Singh's earlier work on Fermat's Last Theorem, the people involved in creating and in breaking codes are often the focus, and some of these peope are fascinating. (Singh takes a break from strict cryptography at one point to discuss the "breaking" of ancient writing systems such as Egyptian hieroglyphics and Linear B, and this reminded me most strongly of "Fermat's Enigma," as Singh's narrative carried the mysteries of interpretation from one researcher to the next.) The final chapter on quantum cryptography is a fascinating glimpse into what may be the "final frontier" of cryptography. Of course, any book like this one that discusses a still-evolving field gets dated pretty quickly; it is silly to expect Singh to mention the recent expiration of RSA's public-key patents or the relaxation of US export restrictions on strong cryptography, since these have all occurred within just the last few months, but the book nevertheless feels somehow incomplete without them!

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Mastering Crystal Reports 9
Publisher: Sybex Inc
Authors: Cate McCoy, Gord Maric
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
has to be the worst

This has to be the worst title I have picked up in a while. The author rambles on and on and on about things that have nothing to do with Crystal Reports. Endless filler material here with sample code that looks like it came straight from the Crystal web site. In terms of report design and use, Crystal: The Complete Reference (Peck) is a much better book and I wish I could swap this one for it!

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Inside Microsoft SQL Server 2000 (With CD-ROM)
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Authors: Kalen Delaney
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Lots and lots of errors

One thing is very clear to me after reading this book. Delaney is not a practicing DBA. He spends far too much time on things DBAs couldn't care less about and far too little on the real important stuff. The worst part of it is the book is loaded with errors. Lots and lots of them. There are three errors in the discussion of RAID that any practicing DBA worth his money should be able to get right. There are numerous errors in the discussion of the query optimizer. I feel sorry for him that he doesn't know the technology any better than this. On top of all this, this is some of the dullest writing I've ever read. I liked the 6.5 book, but this one bores me to tears.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Beginning ASP Databases
Publisher: Wrox Press
Authors: John Kauffman, Kevin Spencer, Thearon Willis, John Kauffman
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
IF Knowledge = Nothing THEN Buy ELSE Read Review

I recently purchased this book and it was exactally what it said, Beginning ASP Databases. If you are a beginner and you have never worked with ADO or Databases in ASP this one is DEFINATELY FOR YOU. If you are comfertable with opening databases in ASP and performing the basic, select, insert, and delete. Look for something a little more advanced.